Tuesday, April 19 - 1:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will call the House to order. We will proceed with prayers.
Speaker: Introduction of visitors?
Returns or documents for tabling?
Reports of Committee?
Introduction of Bills?
Notices of Motion for the Production of Papers?
Notices of Motion?
Statements by Ministers?
Yukon College: Northern Studies Program
Mr. McDonald: It gives me great pleasure to inform the House today of the creation of Canadas first northern studies program in the north, based at Yukon College.
This represents a major advance in the educational policy of the Yukon government and in the concept of Yukon College. It represents the Colleges first step beyond technical training and beyond extension services, towards self-sufficiency in higher education.
It is a result of local needs and local ideas to meet those needs. It is a result of imagination, determination and cooperation, and I believe it will result in Yukon students reaching higher educational goals.
All Members are well aware, of course, that our Yukon students have always had to go outside for almost all or most of their university studies. Many may still want to do so. But many will want to study here, at home.
The heart of this program will be a two-year diploma in northern studies. This will prepare students either for entry-level professional jobs or transfers to degree programs elsewhere.
Students will be able to specialize in one of three areas. Native studies will focus on northern anthropology, sociology, psychology and history. Northern science will focus on biology and geology. And the third area will be northern outdoor training and environmental issues.
A northern studies program will offer many social and economic benefits to the territory. Students will gain access to jobs in pure, applied and social sciences. Now, these are usually filled by outside researchers.
Students will be able to transfer their credits easily to universities elsewhere. And, if I may speculate about the future, I believe students who spend their first two years here are more likely to make the Yukon their home and put their skills to work there.
Individual northern courses will also be available to students in other programs at the College, to professionals working in the territory, and to Yukon people who want to know more about this special part of Canada they call home.
Looking beyond our own boundaries, a northern studies program can attract students from across Canada as well as other talented faculty and grant funding. Such a program offers a practical and affordable base for the promotion of northern research here. In time, I think we can picture work being done in areas as diverse as northern agriculture, mineral processing, ethnography and history.
While this government is committed to creating a northern studies program, it will want to move carefully. Consultation will be extensive, both in the Yukon and with northern studies institutions elsewhere. Curriculum must be developed. Transfer credit must be secured.
For these reasons, we are planning to phase in our northern studies program over two to three years,
When it is complete, it will be unique in Canada. While several northern studies programs exist at southern institutions, this will be the first one north of sixty. It will be a program about the north, in the north, and for the north.
Mrs. Firth: This is a positive initiative on behalf of this government, and we are pleased to see that there are some advances being made. However, I would like to point out one thing: I think our preference would have been to not criticize without giving an alternative. Our preference would have been to see the first step taken on a more pragmatic and balanced approach. I notice that this program concentrates very heavily on academic sciences or the pure applied and social sciences, as the Minister mentioned in his ministerial statement. We would have encouraged the government to pursue some of the engineering sciences as well, particularly in light of the fact that mining is the number one industry in the Yukon Territory; we would have preferred that they look at some areas of petrochemical development, the construction systems and northern conditions. I know that the university in Alaska is leading the way in a lot of development in northern conditions. So, not to belittle the pure applied and social sciences, I think some programs in the particular area of mining and the engineering sciences could have provided a more balanced curriculum for our young people - especially for the mining industry, which is really a productive area of the economy of the Yukon Territory.
However, we have different approaches and we like to make them known. We look forward to seeing how the government is planning on developing this program.
Mr. McLachlan: I am pleased with the initiative the Minister has announced today, and I am especially pleased to see the accent on the physical sciences of biology and geology, because I have always felt that the norths mineral potential is one that has many areas to be explored and often it should be done by local people.
What is perhaps not apparent in the ministerial statement is whether it is the intent of the Department of Education to make Yukon College an industry here in the territory; I am wondering whether, at some point, the Minister will be announcing courses that will invite applications from many areas outside the territory to study here.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am sure that we will have plenty of opportunity to discuss the details of this program and the various initiatives that the government has taken to supplement what had been traditional training activities for such industrial sectors as the mining industry and the development of the mining institute to establish the training needs for that industry.
It is fair to say, in response to Member for Faros question, that we would like to see the college, as an institution, take a much more prominent role, not only in the Yukon, but also in northern Canada. To that end, we have already engaged in discussions with the NWT and Alaska to establish what programs, courses and what effort we might want to make in our institutions that would not overlap and dilute the efforts of other institutions.
In the Yukon, this step has not been taken in the past. It is not meant to be an all-encompassing, all-comprehensive answer to everything that is northern, but it is a pretty fantastic first step, and we are looking forward to seeing it thrive, and take on the prominence that we think it will take in all of Canada.
Question re: Land claims/Teslin land selection
Mr. Phelps: I have a couple of questions about land claims and the land selection process and, in particular, questions arising from the release of the Teslin land selection maps. Yesterday, the Minister said land selection rules regarding such things as no strip selection and not allowing selection on both sides of navigable rivers such as the Nisutlin River still apply. The Council for Yukon Indians has publicly announced that they do not.
What is the Ministers position in light of that? Can he reassure the people of the Yukon that this government intends to follow the fundamental principles regarding land selection as he said yesterday they would?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I told the Member and the House yesterday that our interests are in ensuring that land selections are fair and that they will accommodate all interests. Our position at the bargaining table appears to be different than that of CYI. Our interest is in ensuring that selections do not take land on both sides of highways or waterways in such a manner that commercial or residential or access to recreational uses of all Yukon people cannot be realized. I hope I made that clear yesterday.
Mr. Phelps: The concern I have, along with a lot of Yukoners, is there is obviously frozen land and strip selections on both sides of a very important navigable river in the Yukon. This has led to a situation where there is land frozen by Order-in-Council yet the message has not been made clear because those principles are reputed by the Council for Yukon Indians.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: As the Member will know from his experience in the land claim negotiations, if the parties all had identical points of view, the negotiations would not take any time at all. What I am concerned about is the that Leader of the Official Opposition, who is among the more knowledgeable people in the territory on this score, does not understand that the interim protection is designed to ensure that new third party interests are not created on identified land, which may prejudice our flexibility in negotiating final land settlements. We should remember that interim protection does not bind the parties; it simply protects the land pending final negotiations.
Mr. Phelps: That is fine to say, and we have heard it said, but in practice, have we not got a huge problem now? We have strip selection along both sides of the Nisutlin River, the Wolf River, along one side and in part along both sides of that navigable river, and Teslin Lake. Those lands are frozen. There seems to be a very fundamental misunderstanding..
Speaker: Would the Member please get to the supplemental question.
Mr. Phelps: Does the Government Leader not recognize this as a serious problem?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I recognize that there is a difference of opinion and maybe some competing interests here. The Member opposite would not want to create the impression that interim protection prevents or denies access to any citizen for recreational use of this land. What it does is prevent the kind of staking or alienation of land that has been selected and pending final negotiations prevent that land being alienated, which compromises the bargaining position of the aboriginal people. I am sure the Leader of the Official Opposition would not want that to happen.
Question re: Land claims/Teslin land selection
Mr. Phelps: Surely the issue is a serious issue. We do have lands tied up, and the purpose of tying up these strips of land seems to mean one thing to this government and another thing to the Council for Yukon Indians from what we, the public, are hearing. Mr. Whittington, in an interview today on CBC, said that he could not assure third party groups such as Fish and Game that access to one side of the river such as Nisutlin would be maintained. That assurance was up to the principals, meaning this Minister and the federal Minister.
As a principal, will the Government Leader now give his assurance that the basic land selection principles, and I am speaking mainly against strip selection and against both sides of navigable rivers being selected, will be followed?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The Leader of the Official Opposition should understand that this government is very interested in the question of access and will negotiate hard to maintain access, even on the settlement lands.
What is different here from the days when the Member opposite was negotiating is the interim protection process, which opens up the negotiating process and allows other interests to be considered, and allows other interests to have an opportunity in each community to express their interest before the land selections are finalized.
Judging by the CYIs reaction to what they regard as very hostile reactions in the last couple of days, they are going to be having second thoughts about the wisdom of this process. For myself, as someone who wants to see the settlement, wants to see a quick resolution, and wants to see the public have access to the potential settlements and be able to comment on them, I would want the interim protection process we have put in place stand, because I do believe it is in the public interest of all the people in the territory.
Mr. Phelps: In the previous Order-in-Council, land maps were all public, and any member could go to the mining office and get them. Arising from all this is a question with respect to strip selection. The maps that we tabled and made public have miles of land in strips along rivers and along the lake, from the 3,000 foot contour down to the edge of the lake and rivers. Yesterday, the Government Leader said most of the land to be selected would come from the frozen lands.
If that is the case, how can strip selection be avoided, because most of the new lands that new lands that were frozen under the recent Order-in-Council are in strips?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: What is different about the process now is that the public is having a chance to see the selections of the aboriginal people before the negotiations are complete, and to have an opportunity to react and comment on those selections. That is as it ought to be.
I also indicated to the Member yesterday that the view of the government stood, in terms of selections on both sides of a highway or waterway. If the selections are without prejudice, we have given interim protection to the selections of the band pending final negotiations. As far as this government is concerned, the final negotiations will be advised of the input we have from other citizens in each of the communities where selections occur. I am sure the Leader of the Official Opposition would want it that way, as well.
Mr. Phelps: One of the key principles is no strips; the land in blocks is representative of the terrain. My question is: why is all this land, or a huge portion of it, now frozen and is going to be used in the selection process, between a lake or river shore and the 3,000 foot contour on the maps?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: As the Member knows, this is a selection by the claimant band and will be subject to negotiation in the final selection according to principle that are agreed by all parties and established in the agreement in principle. Hopefully, if we can keep people concentrating on negotiations rather than diversions, this will happen very shortly. I think, with all seriousness, I must ask the Leader of the Opposition whether he genuinely and sincerely wants to see a land claims settlement soon and quickly, one that is fair to all Yukoners, or whether he wants to inadvertently in any way contribute to a process that disrupts those negotiations or derails them. I am sure he would not want that to be the case.
Question re: Robert Campbell Highway/flying rock
Mr. McLachlan: I have a question for the Minister of Transportation Services. Yesterday, we heard a great deal of debate about flying rock on the Robert Campbell Highway and in the past 24 hours I have been inundated by a number of complaints from residents of Faro and Ross River. The Minister went public on Friday and announced he was spending an additional $293,000 on upgrading and repairs on that road. My question is: will the Minister now do the right thing and spend some of that $293,000 and schedule emergency overtime on that highway on weekends and an extra two hours per day in order to get the road back up to the point where it is going to be safe for the travelling public?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It has been the mandate for the Department of Community and Transportation Services to ensure that all roads are maintained to a safe travelling standard. If the Member is suggesting that the road is currently not safe, then I would like him to state that on the record.
There have been some stretches of road that have broken up due to the thawing conditions near Drury Creek, which the Member spoke of yesterday in the Estimates debate; in that particular case, as the Member knows, because he communicated directly with the department, the Director of Highway Maintenance was on the scene within hours of the first complaints in order to do remedial work immediately to ensure that the road surface was maintained to a safe driving condition. Given the weather conditions, the thawing conditions of this particular road, and the amount of truck traffic on the road, the Department of Community and Transportation Services is working to great length to ensure the road is maintained to a safe driving standard. That is their mandate; that is what I am told they are doing, aggressively.
Mr. McLachlan: Last week we debated a motion on the Alaska Highway. Members at that time talked about taking the hon. Stewart McInnes on the north Alaska Highway in order to show him. Will this Minister drive the road? Failing that, will he send someone who can report back to him on the conditions? Then he will understand what we are referring to when I say that he has to schedule emergency time. Will he do that?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Right now, I am too busy in the Legislature trying to justify an incredible increase to the maintenance budget for the Robert Campbell Highway. That is what is preoccupying my time now so that I can get the necessary resources to increase the maintenance standard of this road.
I have already indicated to the Member for Faro that the Director of Highway Maintenance was on the spot immediately. He is the person who is most responsible for highway maintenance. He assessed the situation, and along with the superintendent for the district, took what action needed to be taken to make sure that the road was maintained to a safe driving standard. That is executive action by highway maintenance taken very quickly to address the problem that the road was having at that time.
Mr. McLachlan: It was about twelve months ago at this time that I presented a petition in the Legislature drawing to the attention of government this very problem. One of the solutions, at that time, as the Minister pointed out, was to post a number of highway signs asking the motoring public to reduce speed when meeting oncoming traffic. Would the Minister now approach the management of Yukon Alaska Transport and ask them to reinforce the idea that the sword cuts both ways? Would he ask the Yukon Alaska Transport trucks to slow down when they are meeting traffic coming the other way?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: That was done approximately eight or 10 months ago, and it has been done in regular meetings with Yukon Alaska Transport and highway transportation branch to make them recognize that their actions on the road has a significant impact on the rest of the travelling public. Any remedial action that they might be able to take in terms of their driving habits ought to be taken to make the road as safe as possible. That is the direction that the highway transportation branch has received, and they have undertaken to do that.
Question re: Business Incentive Program
Mr. Lang: There is another major outstanding issue that is of importance to the economy; it is the governments Business Incentive Program. The Government Leader knows that there is a great deal of concern amongst Yukon contractors who have worked here for years, who hire locally, who purchase locally and contribute to the Yukon 365 days a year. They have voiced very major concerns about the policy direction that the government is taking in the allocation of public dollars.
Can the Government Leader confirm today that, in his meeting of last February with the Contractors Association, he told them that he would not be putting the Business Incentive Program into effect unless the contractors agreed to the principles contained in it?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: No, I did not.
Mr. Lang: Could the Minister inform this House exactly what commitments he did make? I am going by the press statements that were made shortly after that meeting.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: For a start, I am not the Minister responsible for putting the program in place. In the absence of the Minister of Government Services, who was away on business, I did meet with the Yukon Contractors Association. I explained to them at great length why the government was proceeding with this policy and the economic necessity for it, in terms of the health of this territory. They discussed with me particular concerns they had about the particular application of the policy. Because the Deputy Minister of Government Services was there at the meeting, I gave the assurance that their concerns would be considered prior to the policy being put in place in its full form.
Mr. Lang: Has this policy, which is of major concern to the business community, gone to Cabinet?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: There has been substantial discussion about exactly when this policy has gone to Cabinet and in what form. If my memory serves me, the policy has not gone to Cabinet since the past discussions, except to change by temporarily deleting one aspect about supply.
Question re: Business Incentive Program
Mr. Lang: This is a major concern. The Government of Canada has graciously transferred about $100 million for capital work under the auspices of the Government of Yukon. Yet, we are almost into May and the rules still have not been established with respect to the overall bidding policy that is going to be required.
When is a decision going to be made on the revision, or revisions, that are planned for this particular policy?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: The Member for Porter Creek East stated the rules have not been established. That is not an accurate statement. The rules are clearly established, and they are known by the contractors when they tender on any particular job.
Some aspects of that policy are under review, but the present rules are known. If any changes are made, they will be known. As to any changes being made, I am unable to be specific about a date.
Mr. Lang: I was so inaccurate that the Minister just confirmed to the House they were under review. That is how inaccurate my statement was. Perhaps we could go to another area of contracting. Tenders are not being called for a good part of the Capital Budget that was debated and passed last fall for the purpose of early tender calls. Could the Minister tell us when the overall tenders are going to be released so the contractors can bid and have the tenders opened in order to get these jobs?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: In the Members characteristic manner, he essentially asked a question in the preamble and then asked a different question. The fact that a particular part of a policy is under review does not mean that the rules are not established. The present rules are established and, in some small part, they may change. When they do change, they will be clearly known. It is not accurate to say that tenders have been held up, or to suggest that tenders are held up. The intention of the government is to release tenders in an orderly way so that contractors can efficiently deal with them, and that is being done.
Mr. Lang: That is my point. I should point out to the House that I have been approached by five different contractors who have asked where the tender calls are that have been discussed in this House since last fall. Would the Minister provide this House with a copy of the contracts as they are going to be called so they can be provided to contractors?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I am not precisely sure what the Member is asking for, but I think what he is asking for is a copy of contracts as they are tendered. When they are tendered, they are clearly public knowledge so that is unnecessary. The expectation as to on what date a particular project will be tendered, I am unable to provide from Government Services as it depends on the approvals of the various departments. The Contractors Association and the government have discussed the general situation, and the discussion has been along the lines of spacing these contracts out in an orderly fashion so the contractors can deal with them one at a time and not all at once.
Question re: Business Incentive Program
Mr. Lang: I agree with the principle that the Minister is espousing that it should be done in an orderly manner. My concern is that it is being done in such an orderly manner that the majority of the tenders are not being called for. I would like to have a projected time line for when these tenders are going to be called provided to all Members of this House, as well as the Contractors Association and anyone else who is interested. I recognize there could be a change of dates if something happens, but at least a projected time line or date line so I can inform my people that this is about the time they will be called for public tender.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I understand that question and I recognize it as information that would be useful to contractors, and I will do my best to get that information available to contractors and the general public as soon as possible.
Mr. Lang: Knowing the Minister and the way he plays with words, does that mean I get a copy at the same time?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: Yes.
Question re: Northwestel
Mr. Nordling: I have a question for the Government Leader with respect to the purchase of Northwestel. As this government is considering submitting a bid, along with several other parties, to purchase the assets of Northwestel - which I understand are valued somewhere in the neighbourhood of $130 million - I would like to know if the Government Leader can tell us today who the parties are to this potential northern consortium?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: For reasons I explained yesterday, I cannot today add to the information I gave to the House yesterday. As soon as a decision is made one way or the other, I will advise the House.
Mr. Nordling: The government wanted to organize a single northern consortium to bid. Yesterday, the Government Leader told this House that BC Tel was included as a potential party. I would like to know who is representing the Yukon government in putting together this northern consortium.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: A number of officials in this government are representing the Yukon government, including Mr. Graham, who is acting deputy minister in Community and Transportation Services, Mr. Alwarid in his capacity as representing the Development Corporation, and other officers of the Development Corporation.
The red herring in the preamble about BC Tel is, of course, nothing to do with the question, but I will respond to it anyway. The Member may know that part of the service area of Northwestel covers part of British Columbia and Mr. Hougen, in putting together his group of people, has included BC Tel from the beginning, for that reason.
Mr. Nordling: Can the Government Leader tell us when the next meeting is going to take place for the formation of the consortium?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: As I indicated yesterday, there are discussions going on between the various parties all the time. I believe the agents of the parties are at work now and may be meeting at this moment for all I know, with a view to expeditiously making a decision about a bid. Once that decision is made, as I said to the House previously, it will be made public.
Question re: Northwestel
Mr. Nordling: I would like to express my concern that a foul-up in handling this issue will cost the Yukoners a lot more than messing up the lottery licensing or wood stove regulations, and I would like to know if the Government of Yukon or the Yukon Development Corporation will be submitting a bid for the purchase of Northwestel even if the formation of the single northern consortium is not achieved?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am sure this issue will resemble the way we screwed up the Faro deal, the NCPC deal or the Watson Lake deal. In other words, it will not be screwed up at all. The possibility raised by the gentleman opposite has not been considered by us.
Question re: Land claims/Teslin land selection
Mr. Phelps: I just got a copy of the transcript prepared by the government of the CBC Yukon news for 12:30. The actual quotation from the chairman of the Council for Yukon Indians is this, The 1984 rules for land selection do not apply at these negotiations. That is an obvious contradiction to the statements made by the Government Leader in this House yesterday and today. At the very least, there is an obvious misunderstanding between the parties, and one that is a great concern to the public.
We are in the middle of this and just want to find out where things are going and what rules for fairness are in place. Will the Government Leader take steps to make sure there is a clear understanding that the land selection rules do apply?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: As I am sure the Leader of the Official Opposition knows, I cannot comment on media reports or statements made outside this House. I am sure the Member opposite would not want me to wed myself to the statement made by Mr. Smith, any more than he would of Mr. Smiths statement that the Conservatives want to derail the land claims process.
Yesterday and today, I said our approach in these negotiations, in terms of the issue of strip selections, selections on both sides of a road or river, remain the same. We will be negotiating accordingly.
Mr. Phelps: I am concerned about the red herring the Government Leader seems to be trotting out in an attempt to take a cheap partisan shot. We have a duty to try to ensure the land claims settlement is fair to all Yukoners. We also have a duty to inquire, no matter how unpalatable it may seem ...
Speaker: Order, please. Would the Member please get the supplementary question?
Mr. Phelps: We have a duty to find out what is going on on behalf of the public. I am asking the Minister to take steps to ensure that all this work being done is not being done under a set of assumptions that are different for the parties. Does he understand that?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I understand the question very well. I am sure the Leader of the Official Opposition understands, and I am sure he would see it as his duty as a Member of the House, as a knowledgeable person about this process, and as a lawyer to inform people that the interim protection process is about maintaining the status quo over the lands identified by a claimant band, and that the negotiating approach of this government, as I have indicated several times now in answer to questions yesterday and today, remains as it was in 1984. I am not, and cannot be, accountable for any change in positions of other parties. The positions we have taken remain the same, and have been communicated clearly. What is different about the interim selection process is that it protects land selections in the interim from further alienation by third parties. It does not do any damage to the interests of existing third parties there, and it allows the public to react in advance of the final settlements and, accordingly, to advise the negotiating teams so they can act accordingly.
Mr. Phelps: Surely the Government Leader will admit that the agreement in principle provided for the selections of 1984 be made public and discussed before the final agreement. Surely, he would admit that once we have an Order-in-Council, it is necessary to make the boundaries of the frozen land public so that staking on those lands can be prevented.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: That is right, but we are talking about the interim selections getting that protection and not the final selections. I want to make it clear again. The Member talks about public information. I do not want to keep harping on this, but as Leader of the Official Opposition for six years, I knew nothing about what was going on, and I could not be told what was going on in the land claims negotiations when I sat in the Members chair. I was told that if I got a briefing, I had to undertake not to ask any questions.
The situation is different now. We are trying to give the public relevant, valid information without compromising the negotiations. Our main purpose is to try and get an agreement.
Question re: Education/decentralizing authority of principals
Mrs. Firth: A few weeks ago a report that had been written by the Department of Educations northern regional superintendent outlined various problems with the northern schools in the Yukon. About 10 days or two weeks ago, the Minister of Government Services made some announcements in the newspaper about decentralizing the authority of the school principals to allow them greater autonomy.
Can the Minister of Education tell us when this new policy will come into effect?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I will answer in my capacity as Minister of Government Services. The policy about local purchase and providing for the limits or the signing authorities of rural people is still under review. I cannot give a specific date as to the announcement of a new policy. However, I expect it will be this spring.
Mrs. Firth: I would like to direct my supplementary back to the original Minister, the Minister of Education. Is he in agreement with this policy direction? He is shaking his head. I do not know if that indicates that he is not in agreement with it or he is not going to answer the question. Who is making the decision regarding the autonomy of the principals in the northern region?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Member knows full well that it was out of order to ask a Minister for a personal opinion about a government policy. If the Member is asking whether I am in agreement with government policy, the answer is yes. If the Member is asking me whether or not I am aware of the issue with respect to purchasing, the difficulties the administrations of the schools have experienced with purchasing, yes I am. I would like to clarify that when we develop any policy along the lines the Minister of Government Services mentioned, we will be doing it for all schools in the territory, not simply for the northern schools. I am aware of the issues that have been identified and have had an opportunity to discuss those issues with not only the school committees, but with the department. The actions we will be taking will be showing up in policy changes and also with respect to budget initiatives which will be discussed in due course when we get to the Main Estimates of the Department of Education.
Mrs. Firth: I know that you are going to rule me out of order if I try to get my point out. I did not ask the Minister for a personal opinion. I asked about policy in departments that he is responsible for. The Government Services Minister made an announcement about decentralizing authority. The Minister met with concerned groups, so I would like to know who is making the policies? I would like to know when this policy is going to come into effect.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Minister of Government Services answered the last part of the question. The Government of Yukon, in consultation with school committees and school administrations, will be making the policy. In this particular instance, the Departments of Government Services and Education jointly are reviewing the issues that we know to be outstanding with respect to purchasing of supplies. The objective is to make the purchase of those supplies as cost effective as possible for the schools.
Speaker: Would the Member conclude his answer.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: We will discuss it in the Main Estimates for Education where the issue belongs.
Speaker: Time for Question Period has now elapsed. We will proceed with the Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
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 the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
Speaker leaves the Chair
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Chairman: Committee of the Whole will come to order. We will recess for 15 minutes and return to Bill No. 50.
Chairman: Committee of the Whole will now come to order.
Bill No. 50 - Second Appropriation Act, 1988-89 - continued
On Community and Transportation Services - continued
Chairman: Continue with the Transportation Branch, general debate.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Maybe we could quickly return to a few of the items that are outstanding from yesterday, so we have a sense of where we are going on those.
There was a question with respect to where the 20 rural residential lots in Carcross are situated. The information is that there is apparently a push on land approximately three kilometres this side of Carcross, on the right hand side as you go from Whitehorse to Carcross, where there is a parcel of Commissioners lands that is considered to be available and is perhaps suitable for the creation of 20 rural residential lots, depending on site feasibility work. We are looking at low cost land. We are looking for land where even individual staking can occur for lots in that particular area.
The community will be consulted. That is the next step in determining the optimum location. We have basically identified three areas and have chosen one we think is the best. That could change after public consultation. We would anticipate that we would be able to go to sale mid to late summer of this year.
The standard of roads in this particular area would be considered a low standard road. We would perhaps allow for lot staking, depending on the terrain and on the size of the parcel of land that is considered available for staking.
There was a question with respect to mobile home lots in the City of Whitehorse. In February, we asked the City of Whitehorse to recommend an area for development. Early this month, the city responded, firstly by indicating where their official community plan suggests sites for suitable mobile home development, and also by indicating where they thought the best location might be, given the location and status of water and sewer mains in the various areas. They expressed some concern about the sewer and water mains along the road.
They have asked us to consider the Hamilton Boulevard area for development, because the water and sewer mains are in place. In response, the Yukon government has asked an engineering firm to undertake an analysis of both Range Road and the Hamilton Boulevard area, with respect to the water supply, storage and sewage collection and treatment.
We expect a response from them in a couple or three weeks. A decision for location of a mobile home area will probably be made by the end of May. A lot depends on the city recommendations.
Another consideration is to encourage private land development and tender Commissioners lands for sale with a view to encouraging mobile home park development on the land adjacent to Northland Trailer Park.
There was a question on the lands act review and what problems have been identified. We are talking about the Area Development Act and the Yukon Lands Act. With respect to the Area Development Act it is important to note that it was established as a fancy community zoning by-law vehicle for highway access. There are a number of problems with that act in that it does not integrate the new development taking place with public expectation on planning and the respective roles of government and the people in a particular district. A good example of that would be the issue of Golden Horn development. I am sure the Member for Hootalinqua is familiar with that. It does not integrate either with other resource management issues, such as forestry, and does not take into account any further responsibilities. It is felt that the Area Development Act and the Yukon Lands Act ought to be flexible enough to assume more responsibilities from the federal government.
The Yukon Lands Act has a number of problems, which include the fact that it does not allow for temporary use of land as the federal lands legislation does. Right now we can only lease or sell land. We cannot give a license for occupation or provide for the kind of temporary occupation that the federal act allows.
We also have archaic trespass laws, which were certainly made clear to us when we undertook the Squatter Policy and those need reworking. The issues here include the transfer of administration and control from the federal government. It has to deal with a fundamental constitutional issue. There apparently is a battle among lawyers about whether or not there is something referred to as Yukon lands or Commissioners lands and what the relationship is between those lands, and what we call Yukon lands or Commissioners lands and federal lands; all of which has to be resolved.
That would have to be resolved prior to any test in the courts. A land claims settlement ultimately will have impact on our lands legislation in terms of the establishment of joint boards et cetera, which we will take into account. There are a number of things that we do as the Yukon government that are not the same as what provincial authorities do when they own the land. We are looking at establishing our own registry for land survey plans and mapping capability, and there are some issues to be resolved through the legislation there. I have more information on this and I will go through it in a few minutes.
There was a question with respect to the maintenance of the Campbell Highway, the maintenance of the road between Bearfeed Creek and the Mitchell Road. This was an issue that was mentioned also in question period - about the gravel surface thawing and peeling off. As I indicated in question period, the Director of Highway Maintenance was up at the end of March and, along with the superintendent for the area, established remedial action to be taken - in this case, bringing fresh gravel in because the graders cannot plow the road until there is a full thaw. Remedial action is being taken until weather conditions are appropriate to do a more thorough reconstruction of the road.
There was a question with respect to the dollar analysis for Bearfeed Creek to the Mitchell cutoff. The information I have been able to pull from the department at this point is that the Drury Creek camp spent, to February 24, $770,000, and the Carmacks camp, which covers the section from Bearfeed Creek to Carmacks, spent $521,000. On a per kilometre basis, that equates to just over $8,000 per kilometre between Bearfeed Creek and the Mitchell cutoff, and just over $6,000 per kilometre between Bearfeed Creek and Carmacks.
I have asked for information with respect to the maintenance costs for the South Klondike Highway and here it is. The actual forecast figures for maintenance costs on the South Klondike Highway for 1987-88, for the stretch between the U.S. border and the BC-Yukon border was $995,897.
The stretch between the BC-Yukon border and the Alaska Highway was $408,457. The estimated budget for the stretch between US border and the BC-Yukon border for this next budget year is expected to drop somewhat to $891,000 because it is expected that the weather will be better. Last year, the warming trend and the heavy precipitation was unusual.
For the section between the BC-Yukon border and the Alaska Highway, the budget is expected to climb to $531,000 because there is a project to increase the repairs on the BST on various sections. That is the information that I have to date on the maintenance of the road between the Alaska Highway and the US-British Columbia border.
There was a question about what was requested from the federal government for Alaska Highway funding for this year. The Department of Community and Transportation Services made a request last fall for $9.953 million plus the administration fee. That was basically an increase over last year from $9,483,000. The projected funding that we will be receiving from the federal government is that amount plus $440,000.
I was reminded that the amount of maintenance funding depends heavily upon what capital is put into the roads. The more capital that is put into the roads can reduce the Operation and Maintenance Budgets. In the first two of the last five years, there had been some respectable capital funding for the road. In the last three years, there has been next to no capital funding for the road, which has caused the Operation and Maintenance Budget to increase somewhat, even beyond inflation.
When we are talking about the Alaska Highway in global figures, it is often the case that we roll in the Haines Road. We have no hesitancy in saying that the funding we receive for the maintenance of the Haines Road is good, largely because the capital expenditures on the road have been fairly aggressive, even though it is being cut back on an annual basis. It is the normal thing to do to reduce operation and maintenance expenditures when the capital expenditures rise.
There was another question with respect to the bridge testing. Information was requested with respect to what Curragh might be looking at in terms of requesting an increased load limit. I am told that Curragh has not made any formal request to increase its load limit, but they have said they would like to look at 170,000 pounds. As Members know, it is currently 160,000 pounds. For our part, we would like to have more details about improving or fine tuning the safety factor on the bridges, as the bridges have now been transferred to us. We are interested in doing that, not only on the bridges for the ore haul, but for the bridges around the territory. A highly technical bridge study for the ore haul would probably be in the neighbourhood of $60,000. It would be a highly technical study. We would only do that, and look at 170,000 pounds, if that was cost shared with Curragh, which they have tentatively suggested they might be prepared to do. If they are not prepared to cost share it, we would not undertake the project.
Mr. Lang: I want to start by commending the Ministers staff for getting the information that has been provided to us today. I recognize it takes time and effort and things do not materialize out of nowhere. I appreciate the obvious priority that has been put on the information, so it can contribute to the debate and we can get on with the issues at hand.
I would like to move back over the Alaska Highway agreement. I do not quite understand this. In the supplementaries on page 17, we are asked to vote $10.4 million for the operation and maintenance recoveries of the Alaska Highway agreement. In this particular budget, we have budgeted $7.9 million for the Alaska Highway maintenance.
Even if we add those together, and take the Haines Road in conjunction with the Alaska Highway, which is what has happened in the supplementaries, we are still up to $9.5 million for 1988-89, as far as forecasts are concerned, recognizing that the Haines Road is going to cost us less this coming year, because of the major construction that is taking place around the Dezadeash area. That gives us more money for operation and maintenance on the Alaska Highway. It seems to me that we are very close to meeting our objectives to keep the highway to standard with the dollars you are asking us to vote. You tell me how light we are, but how much more money do you need for the purposes of maintaining the Alaska Highway? You still have not given us a figure.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Firstly, we have to consider the difference between the budget estimates and forecasts. Secondly, we have to take into account that there is a 6.5 percent administration fee we have to add any time we considered an expenditure. Recoveries differ from the actual expenditure because we recovered not only the expenditure but also the administration fee. That is true for both the Alaska Highway and the Haines Road.
In the forecast for 1987-88, under the Haines Road there is expected to be an increase largely because we experienced a good winter. We can only claim what we spend. In the 1986-87 actuals, we spent $1,525,000 on the Haines Road. That is a difference of only $13,000 from the 1988-89 estimate, which is two years later. The difference in the forecast is that we experienced good weather this last year. Even though we projected an expenditure we would not claim it unless we spend it. That is the reason for the fluctuation on that particular road.
On page 56 we are talking about the Alaska Highway and the 1986-87 actuals show $8.5 million. From the latest projections, the forecast for 1987-88 would be closer to an $8 million forecast. The estimate of $7,974,000 for 1988-89 was established in October and we expect a $70,000 cut.
I hope I explained why there may be fluctuations on the Haines Road and showed that even though wages and other things have increased it has stayed the same in dollar terms, largely because of the Capital program.
On the Alaska Highway we have showed a dollar decrease over the last three years because the funding levels have been cut back.
For any comparison you have to add a 6.5 percent administration fee as well.
Mr. Lang: Is the Minister trying to tell me that the 6.5 percent figure is not included in the $7.9 million that he is asking us to vote for the Alaska Highway?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: That is right. These are expenditures. If you look at recoveries on page 73 you will see an expenditure recovery of $10,130,000. Incidentally, we expected the forecast figure there to be too low for 1987-88, but as I indicated, it would be too low because the Alaska Highway expenditure forecast was expected to be more than what is shown on page 56. It is much lower because we experienced good weather conditions, which lopped off a fair chunk from the actual expenditures. We can only claim actual expenditures.
Mr. Lang: I do not understand this. The government goes off to the Government of Canada, and I do not have a problem with that if they are not fulfilling their obligations. I do not have a problem with that, and I will support you, which I have done in this House. The more I get into the figures, the more suspect I am about what the government is doing. The Minister says what we need, and that seems to be very close to what the Government of Canada is giving us when it is all added together.
My understanding now is that the government is applying for $8 million. The Supplementary Estimates say that we are giving $628,000 back to the Government of Canada from last year. Two years ago we gave $1 million or $1.5 million back to the Government of Canada because we did not spend the money. We cannot have it both ways.
If we give money back like we did two years ago, how can we go after the Government of Canada saying that we need more money. I understand the capital side. There is a major concern here where the government has cut back on the capital expenditures, the continual upgrading of the highway in the Teslin and Swift River areas for example. I would like to see some reconstruction on some sections.
The Minister still has not answered my question. He is saying that we are short on the operation and maintenance side of his budget. By how much are we short?
I do not want him to tell me to add 38 percent, because he just told us that there is another variable involved in these figures, and that is the Haines Highway. How much has the Minister requested from the Government of Canada above the budget that he has brought forward?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: That is exactly the information I just gave. Yes. I did give the information. Will the Member please listen to me? We requested $9,953,000. We expect to get $9,512,000.
Mr. Lang: Could the Minister please repeat those two figures? Is it correct that he requested $9,953,000?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: We requested $9,953,000. We expect to get $9,512,000. Add the administration fee on top of that. Those are expenditures only.
Mr. Lang: Has the Government of Canada committed themselves, per the agreement, to the six percent administration fee over and above the $9,512,000?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: That is the standard commitment that has always been provided. That is 6.5 percent.
Mr. Lang: According to the figures that have been brought forward to us, we are basically $400,000 shy of meeting what the department would like to see. Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The department, based on what they thought they could get from DPW, using the previous year as a fiscal base, worked out their budget and thought they could probably get about a four percent increase - not to say they were entirely happy with what they were getting in 1987-88. They asked for something they thought was realistic and they got what they wanted, minus $440,000.
Mr. Lang: The realistic budget that the Minister talks about is $9,953,000 plus six percent administration fee to meet all the objectives the department feels they have to meet? I just want to get it clear for the record as to what we are talking about.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I know exactly what the Member is trying to do. I am saying that the department put forward this proposal for funding because they thought it was realistic in terms of what they could get from DPW to do the job on the road. I am not saying it is the ideal sum of money; it is what they put forward and what they thought was realistic based on what they got from the previous year, recognizing the realities of the situation in Ottawa. In 1987-88 the budget estimate in October was $9,483,000; they requested $9,953,000 and, as I indicated, they project that they might get $9,512,000.
Mr. Lang: Could the Minister table any letters he has with respect to documentation requesting more financial assistance from the Government of Canada for the maintenance of the Alaska Highway?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Would the Member clarify that question? I do not understand it.
Mr. Lang: I have heard the Minister stand up and, on a very continuous basis, condemn the Government of Canada. I defend his right to do that, but at the same time, I am talking to him as a Minister. If we have a problem with the Government of Canada and they are not meeting their obligations, surely the Minister has written and explained concisely, in dollar figures, what we are short of with respect to meeting our obligations? All I am asking him to do is to table those letters.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The correspondence and discussions have been undertaken at the officials level. I have not indicated specific dollar commitments to the federal minister. I have written to the federal minister with respect to our concerns about O&M funding for the Alaska Highway, and I have tabled those letters. The ongoing negotiations are conducted by the officials at the officials level; it is done by the people in the engineering branch and the highway maintenance branch and DPW.
Mr. Lang: Is the Minister telling this House that he has not asked for or specifically requested at the political level an increase of X amount of dollars for the purposes of maintenance of the Alaska Highway?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I have expressed concern to the federal Minister with respect to the operation and maintenance funding. I have not personally negotiated, nor tried to draw the federal Minister personally into the negotiations for the funding. I have expressed concern to him about the operation and maintenance funding in letter form. I have tabled those letters in the House.
Mr. Lang: I do not understand how the federal Minister knows what the situation is unless we put it in letter form, pointing out what the problem is and how much money we need. It does not make sense to me to stand up in this House and have any side of the House condemning anybody until we are told how much money we are talking about. I feel that we, as a government, have been remiss in not clearly outlining the exact financial requirements for the maintenance of the Alaska Highway.
If the Minister of Highways cannot stand up in this House and explain to us exactly what the Department of Highways needs, or is lacking, as far as resources are concerned, how the hell is somebody 3,000 miles away going to know? I think the Minister should be hanging his head. It is ridiculous that the Minister cannot tell us in one concise line exactly what is outstanding. You might as well have written a letter to Russia registering your complaints about the Alaska Highway, for all the good it is going to do, if you do not outline what your financial requirements are.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I have never in my entire life heard such a ridiculous thesis that the Minister has to communicate detailed budget figures - always done at the staff level in this government and other governments - with the federal Minister and personally undertake to negotiate details with respect to the Alaska Highway agreement or any other financial agreement with federal ministers. I have never heard anything so ridiculous in my life, that the Minister for Community and Transportation Services has to let the Minister for the Department of Public Works know, because the federal bureaucratic structure has broken down so completely that none of this information will ever sift to the top, and will always be held somewhere at the staff level.
As I have indicated many times before that deputy ministers have gone down to Ottawa to discuss capital and operation and maintenance requirements for the road. I indicated that the discussions and negotiations started locally with DPW and the highway transportation branch. I also indicated there have been discussions at the federal level with DPW in Ottawa, with our people traveling to Ottawa in order to discuss these problems. I talked about all the negotiations that have been undertaken between the staff to discuss the operation and maintenance requirements and the capital requirements of this road. To make the ridiculous suggestion that if the Minister of Community and Transportation Services does not send a letter directly, or phone the Minister of Public Works directly, we can never expect the Minister for Public Works ever to know.
I know exactly what the Member is trying to do. He is trying to get the political leadership of the federal government off the hook. Nobody could possibly suggest that the communication signals between the federal government departments and the politicians have broken down so completely that, unless we personally inform them, they could not possibly know. That is ridiculous. Further to that, I have indicated exactly to the federal Minister that we are concerned about operation and maintenance funding, and I have been in his office, personally, twice to talk about operation and maintenance funding, indicating to him the decline in funding as a result of the slashed maintenance program and no cost of living increases to the amount of money the Yukon receives for the Alaska Highway. I have indicated to him exactly what that is going to do. I indicated that to him better than a year ago, long before this became the kind of public issue that it has in the past couple of months, because the cuts are beginning to hurt too much, and gave the federal Minister all kinds of opportunity to sit down with his staff, look into the budget requirements and look into what they were spending. They had done a study of the capital and operation and maintenance commitments for this road, which they published. They provided us with a copy, which detailed what was necessary for the capital upgrading of this road.
They provided us with a copy, which detailed what was necessary for capital upgrading of this road and what was required in terms of operation and maintenance, and a detailed analyses of what would happen if capital funding did not continue in the Yukon, and what that would mean to the operation and maintenance requirements of this road. This is a study DPW has done. I am prepared to inform the federal Minister what this department is doing, but I do not think the communications links have broken down. I realize that in terms of federal commitments across this country maybe the Alaska Highway is not the biggest, but I have had personal meetings with the Minister. I know the Minister spent at least an hour on this issue because he spent two half hour meetings with me. I know he is aware of the general problem and has access to all the details because most of the details are being generated by his own department. It is ridiculous to suggest that the only way the Minister is going to know is if I personally tell him what his department is doing.
Mr. Lang: Then why did the good Minister go to Ottawa? To have a free lunch? Give your head a shake. I asked how much more money is required to get the Alaska Highway to a standard that is acceptable.
The Minister had two half hour meetings with the federal Minister. How much did he indicate would be required to meet the objective of keeping the standard of the Alaska Highway to the standard we have grown accustomed to?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I have spent a lot of time answering questions in great detail for this Member. I have gone through two debates and discussed operation and maintenance commitments, and exactly what the Highway Maintenance Branch have identified as problems. I go to Ottawa and spend two half hour meetings with the Minister so I can impress upon the Minister the importance of the issue. That is why I go to talk to the federal Minister. He provided no lunch, incidentally.
We had two business meetings and talked about the importance of the Alaska Highway to the Yukon economy. I identified exactly what the issues were. I do not understand what the Member continually asks for because I continually provide figures on the record and he continually asks me to repeat them.
I can do no more. Thats it, I can do no more.
Mr. Lang: How much more money did the Minister of Community and Transportation Services from the Yukon Territory request to be put into the Alaska Highway agreement over and above what was being projected in order to meet standards for the maintenance of the highway?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Member for Riverdale South says that the Minister of Community and Transportation Services did not make the request. I would like to know where the Member got that information. Is the Member just being flippant? Is the Member being highly speculative in her usual fashion? What is the issue?
I have indicated exactly to the federal Minister what happened to the purchasing power. The agreement that was struck and was in place a number of years ago demonstrated exactly what was needed. The money that was required could only be brought down through an aggressive capital program, of which none existed in the Yukon over the last three years. I indicated exactly what the loss of purchasing power was. I indicated what the department had requested for this year in the figures that I have already delivered to the House. I indicated that we are projected to get considerably less than that. That is what I indicated to the federal Minister for the information of the Member for Riverdale South.
Mr. Lang: This is like pulling teeth. How much more money is required by the Ministers department in order to do the maintenance of the Alaska Highway. All I asked of the Minister was what he requested of the federal Minister of Public Works over and above the financing that he thought was available. Could he provide us with that figure?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I guess this is a filibuster. I cannot see any other reason for it. I have indicated exactly what I told the federal Minister. I have indicated exactly what the figures have been for expenditures over the last few years. I have indicated what we have respected for capital expenditures for the road. I have indicated what we requested for the operation and maintenance expenditures for the road.
I have given the Members all kind of figures. I have drawn comparisons when they attacked the question from a number of angles. I have provided figures to support those comparisons. I have indicated exactly what I said to the federal Minister, that a number a years ago there was a maintenance agreement in place, that there is an expectation that the Operation and Maintenance Budget would have to increase even beyond inflation because the road deteriorates.
I indicated exactly what was required in terms of loss of purchasing power, that there was not going to be a capital program. If there was going to be a capital program, it would drop down the need for operation and maintenance expenditures on the Alaska Highway. I drew a comparison with the Haines Road and demonstrated that on the Haines Road, the capital expenditures have significantly increased; therefore, operation and maintenance expenditures have legitimately dropped off. I have indicated that on the Alaska Highway, there are severe problems now because there has neither been an increase in the operation and maintenance expenditures, nor has there been a capital program.
I have indicated all that information. I do not know what more the Members want. If the Members want to tackle it from another angle, I am prepared to have the department officials give us even more figures. Maybe the Members want to ask another question on the same subject, and I can pursue it from a different angle.
Mr. Brewster: Perhaps we can go about this another way. We fought for quite a while here about fisheries, and the Minister of Renewable Resources laid down a figure of what he wanted; I personally thought it was big, but he went in with it to negotiate. We are simply trying to ask you, what figure did you take to Ottawa? Surely the Minister did not go there and accept their figures without putting his figures up and having a fight? What amount did he need to get that road into shape? He may not have got it; we are not arguing that. We are asking what figures he went down there with. Did he go there with his hat in his hand and ask what they would give us?
They turn around and say they should not negotiate; it should be in the department. It is like any other business - the buck stops with the man on top. When they are not getting along and the Minister is not getting what he wants, he should be there pounding and hammering. I am beginning to suspect - and I am not very popular in Ottawa - I have gone after more Ministers down there than the government. Probably they are more popular than I am, because I am not a very popular man down there. Certainly, when I do not like what they do, I let them know about it; and I let them know two or three times if I have to.
I think this government had better get a little tougher and they had better have figures when they go down there, not go down there with their hats in their hands.
Chairman: Order. A point of clarification here. Does your question relate to a request for capital funds for the highway?
Mr. Brewster: No. It refers to maintenance. The Minister has to know what the O&M funds are going to be. Is that not correct? All I am asking is what he requested for the operation and maintenance costs. I am not talking about the capital.
Chairman: Thank you. You have clarified the situation for me.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There seems to be the mistaken apprehension that the Minister of Community and Transportation Services, if he is concerned about the road maintenance on a particular highway, should go down personally and get a meeting with a Minister and detail the negotiations with the Minister up until that point and try to secure a final agreement. What I did, in fact, given that the federal Minister could realistically only give me a half an hour to an hours meeting, was to go there and detail the problems associated as a result of funding cutbacks; problems that were substantiated by the Ministers departments own report on the road, and which were expressed in much more chilling language than I did in the civilized environment of the Ministers office. I indicated to the Minister exactly what the problems were - not just the problems with respect to the detail of what happens to a budget when there is a hold-the-line and what happens to a budget when there are no associated capital expenditures relative to the O&M budget. Not just that. I indicated how important this issue was to the Yukon and its people. That was a message I felt I should be delivering as politician to politician, and that is what I did.
I did indicate what was required with respect to capital expenditures, because they do impact on operation and maintenance expenditures. I indicated exactly what it would cost in terms of total reconstruction for both the road in the Yukon south of Whitehorse and north of Whitehorse. I did not ask the federal minister to give the Yukon a grant of $200 million for the Alaska Highway, for example, north of Destruction Bay. I did now say, give us $200 million and we will call it quits. No more criticism, and you will be a hero in the Yukon. I did not say that. I realize the minister is working under funding pressures, like ministers are here. I indicated there were certain historic levels of funding on the capital and operation and maintenance side, which were slowly upgrading the highway, in times gone by, and maintaining it to a decent standard. I said that if those historic levels could be maintained, he would get no complaint from Yukon, because Yukon will know that, ultimately and in our lifetimes, this road will be upgraded and will be maintained to a safe and dependable level. That was the message that was left with the minister, and that was the message the minister understood. I did not ask for the sky. I asked to maintain the old standards, which were modest but were significantly more than are being provided now. I indicated exactly what they were.
On the capital side, it was requested that the old figure of about $15 million annually would be sufficient to meet the upgrading requirements of the road, because the capital does impact on the operation and maintenance. Along with that, if we could get the message across with respect to exactly what the issues were, if the capital was applied, then reductions annually could be tolerated on the operation and maintenance side for the rest of the highway. What I said could not be tolerated were: no capital expenditures, a hold the line operation and maintenance stance, even to by inflation and even into further, because the capital is not being undertaken, the road deteriorates, and you have to put some of the road that had been surfaced back to gravel. That was the message that was left.
I did not pass the minister a list of figures. I did indicate double figures - $15 million. I indicated what we had asked for this past year. If we had a capital program and that for the operation and maintenance program, we would be satisfied. I indicated all those things, but left the message to him in a way I think a busy minister can remember, given he has about 50 appointments every day of the year. I do not think the minister will forget the message.
Mr. Lang: He obviously has forgotten because we are discussing the issue today. The Minister made quite an impact. The Minister makes it sound like he is the first one in the world to ever have a meeting with the Government of Canada in an official capacity. I do not understand why in those discussions we would not be stating a figure that was needed for the operation and maintenance side of the budget.
If the Minister got $9,953,000 plus the administrative fee that comes with the agreement, could we meet our obligations on the operation and maintenance side for the purpose of maintaining the Alaska Highway for 1988-89?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Member is asking the same question a million times. He tried to get the Member for Kluane to ask the same question and now he is trying to get the Member for Faro to ask the question. He will ask the Member for Riverdale South or Porter Creek West to ask the questions.
I will give answers to the Member for Kluane, the Member for Faro, the Member for Porter Creek West or any other Member who is fool enough to take up the question the Member for Porter Creek East continues to ask.
I indicated exactly what we needed, in order to bring the road to a decent standard, to upgrade the road to the expectations of the people of the Yukon. I indicated exactly what we had requested. I gave him the figures he requested and that if we had that money we would be satisfied.
I do not know how much more I can give the Member for Porter Creek East. It is a filibuster. I cannot do anything more.
Mr. Lang: It is not a filibuster. The Minister gave me a figure of $9,953,000 that was requested by the department. If Highways Branch got $9,953,000 could they do the job that is required to keep the Alaska Highway up to the present standard that we have enjoyed in the past? That is all my question is.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: As I have indicated before, if there is a capital program associated with this road then we think we could maintain the road for this money, if there is no deterioration of the condition of the road.
Mr. Lang: We know there is no capital budget for this year unless the contracts come in lower than what is expected in the Muncho Lake area. Now that we know there is no capital program for the Alaska Highway, how much money will now be required to meet the standards that he speaks of?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I have indicated exactly what I requested of the federal Minister. I indicated exactly what I requested of the Department of Public Works. That funding request is sufficient to not only maintain the road but also to upgrade it. I have indicated exactly what will happen if there is no capital program - that we can spend $9,953,000, but we will have to make hard choices on what we will do with the road.
We can maintain it to a safe driving standard even with less month. The road surface will have to be plowed under. We have indicated that the standard of the road will be less. If we get $9,953, million or an amount less than that, we will spend it. We will take into consideration that there is no capital program, that there is even less operation and maintenance money. We will do what we can to maintain the safe standard of the road.
We will do whatever is necessary with whatever resources we have. If it requires plowing the surface under because we cannot maintain the surface with the amount of money that we have, we will do that in order to keep it safe.
Chairman: Is there any further general debate on the Department of Transportation?
Mr. Lang: I am not going to belabour it. We did not get a straight answer, however, on the requirements of the financing. The Minister had a responsibility to provide us with the figures that are required, and it has not been done. If the Minister does not know the answer, I would advise him that is much better off just to take the question as notice instead of trying to run down the Member for Faro, the Member for Kluane or me and then try to filibuster us to avoid answering the question.
When the Minister gets the numbers of the full amount from his staff, who are only 200 feet away from him, then perhaps he can provide us with those figures in the Supplementary Estimates. I would appreciate knowing exactly the number of dollars we are speaking about.
Could the Minister report back to us on the contracts on the Granger Subdivision? He was going to check to see if there would be any possibility of tendering the Granger Subdivision project to ensure that we get the top competitive bid along with the top quality of work. Could he report back to us at this time?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I will not belabour the point on the Alaska Highway either, as my remarks are on the record. I would be surprised if there was anything more I could say.
With respect to the Granger Subdivision, I did talk to Lands Branch about the tender call and the number of packages that have been picked up. They indicated the Lands Branch had advertised extensively in southern Canada for this particular project. They had worked jointly with the city in land development projects, and the city had already undertaken a trip to southern Canada to try to drum up business. Everyone who was at all interested in any of the city projects were very familiar with the Granger project. There were 50 packages that had been picked up for the water and sewer, and I recognize not all would be picked up by general contractors, as some would be picked up by people who wanted to learn about the pipe specifications and other things. There were a number of packages that had been picked up by people who were southern contractors. The Lands Branch was very surprised and pleased at the amount of interest that was shown, not only at the pre-tender meeting they held on this project, but also in terms of the numbers of packages that had been picked up.
That tender closes shortly. I think it is April 21 and 28, respectively, for water, sewer and roads. They are only days away from the tender closing. It is my view that trying to drum up more business by sending people to southern Canada is not something that should be done for this project, largely because they would not have time to put together a bid, even if there were people we could scare up. Secondly, there is good reason to believe that there is a tremendous amount of interest being shown in this project already. It is one of the most competitive situations we have experienced. The cost of delaying the project is not tolerable, in my view, given the amount of interest that has been shown in this subdivision development.
The Member had made the point that consideration should be given to drumming up business in the future, and that is something I have discussed with Lands Branch. There may be some merit. We will have to determine exactly how that might be done for future projects.
Mrs. Firth: We are still in general debate on Highways and Transportation. Has there been some policy change or reallocation of priorities or funds within the department? When I look at last years budget and the supplementary information, the road equipment reserve fund this year used to be called the road equipment replacement account. Why have they changed the name of it? The figures have been adjusted, in the sense it appears there could be some priority changes. The estimated cost last year was $531,000. I believe that is more than triple this years estimated cost of $1,749,900, which increases the estimated total purchase by double.
Has there been any priority realignment or any policy change that has resulted in this?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The change of name was merely to better reflect exactly what the fund was all about. The purpose of the reserve accounts will not change; the policy of who is running the reserve account is not changed. There are, as usual, certain type changes that can be made and they are identified in the book; but my understanding is that increases are warranted from time to time in these accounts due to price increases. There has been no policy change with respect to increasing the numbers of parts, to my knowledge, that may be held in the parts inventory accounts. Changes may be made in terms of purchasing certain parts because of changes in the type of equipment. The Member is asking me if there is any policy change; to my knowledge, there has been none.
Mrs. Firth: Is the Minister saying, then, that there is more equipment listed and it is more expensive, so that is the reason for the estimated costs tripling and the total purchase costs doubling? I quite often have people ask me about this, when we drive up Two Mile Hill and see the government yard full of brand new tractors, graders, water pumps and so on. Is the government stepping up the purchase of their equipment? Perhaps the Minister can give us some explanations of those rapidly increasing costs?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There is no policy change to increase the amount of equipment in the governments fleet simply for the sake of having more equipment around or doing more of what used to be done by the private sector. There has been no policy change there whatsoever.
Under projected replacements, for example, on page 51, seven motor graders are projected to be replaced one for one. Motor graders do get more expensive from one year to the next, and that is the reason why prices do increase and that is why the upper limit of the funds have to increase from time to time.
That is the only change of which I am aware in this item.
Mr. Phillips: I see, on page 52, there is a purchase of one four-door sedan for law enforcement. Do we already have one of those now? I see one sitting up at the scales; is that the type of vehicle we are talking about?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The truck parked at the weigh scales is for the Highway Enforcement Officer and that person has responsibilities that we have discussed in the past. The reason for the sedan is that it is more cost effective and there is no need for a bigger vehicle, such as a Bronco.
Mr. Phillips: The Minister is talking about the Bronco we see sitting at the weigh scales. For the last three weeks we have also seen a sedan that looks very much like a police car but in white, black and orange colours. It is obviously a YTG vehicle. Is this the type of vehicle we are talking about here? Do we have two of them?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I will check.
Mr. Phillips: While we are checking that, does this mean we are getting into the highway patrol business and taking over from the RCMP? These cars no longer look like the highway inspector type vehicle we used to have. Are we taking over highway patrol in the Yukon?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: No. As I indicated sometime ago when we sent through this, we are not looking as displacing the RCMP. The RCMP have a role to play and we are asking them to continue that role.
With respect to checking rates and carrying portable weigh scales, et cetera, that is the job for the mobile enforcement officer. There was a feeling that a bigger truck was not necessary and a car was more cost effective. That is the reason we switched to a car. I will check on the number of cars.
Mr. Phillips: The intent of these vehicles then is not to take over any of the jobs of the RCMP on the highways to enforce load limits, it is some kind of enforcement with the carriers that travel up and down the highway and not the type of enforcement the RCMP do.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: No. The RCMP will still be out there ticketing for speed. The mobile enforcement officer is primarily used for the trucking industry and to check truckers certifications of authority and check for load limits, the road worthiness of the vehicles. They have been reviewing Yukon Alaska Transports operations for everything from speeding to bunching, courtesy of the drivers, and so on. Their primary role is to deal with the trucking industry; the RCMP will continue to do what they have done and we expect no change in that role at all.
Mr. Phillips: Is the vehicle equipped with radar? Do they actually sit on the side of the road like the RCMP, check on the truckers speeds, pull them over if they are speeding and do the same for private vehicles?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I will check on the radar. They do check truckers for speeding because that is part of their job description. That is not expected to change.
Mr. McLachlan: Is the snowblower expected to go to Faro? Who gets the crawler tractor and what size is it?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I will check to see who get the crawler tractor. I did not catch the other question. I am not sure if the snowblower goes to Faro. I think it is to be used on the highway system. The snowblower for Faro is to be a dedicated piece of equipment for the airport to be purchased by us on behalf of the Ministry of Transport. I assume that will be the case. I do not think that the crawler tractor is going to Elsa. I will check on it.
Chairman: Is there any further general debate? If there is nothing, before I move on to the first item, we will take a break?
Chairman: Committee of the Whole will now come to order.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There are two sedans, one in Watson Lake and one in Whitehorse. The one in Whitehorse has a radar gun; the one in Watson Lake does not. The one in Watson Lake is used by the weigh scale supervisor; the one in Whitehorse is used by the enforcement officer. The Bronco is being kept. There is a proposal to get a native training officer. The vehicles are used to monitor commercial vehicle traffic.
The snowblower is going to the Dempster Highway, and the crawler tractor is going to the crusher crew.
On Branch Administration
Branch Administration in the amount of $1,181,000 agreed to
On Highway Maintenance
Mr. Lang: Is this strictly personnel increased costs?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Primarily, although there are minor variations that do occur from road to road. For example, on the Klondike Highway there will be the Stewart Trail, and there is a projected reduction in maintenance for that road because of the capital construction on the road. There will be changes like that, apart from the Dempster Highway and the ore haul, which I indicated in the opening remarks, that will be increased. On the Dempster Highway, we are starting surface operation and maintenance, now that the road has been pretty well reconstructed. There is now a requirement to surface part of the road every year on an ongoing, cyclical basis. We know the reasons for the the ease on the ore haul route: to provide more calcium chloride, to use a compactor with the grader to make it more firm.
Apart from that, the general variations would be strictly due to the capital program that is undertaken in various areas.
Mr. Phillips: With respect to Wickstrom Road, there is a portion that is gravel, and there are quite a few residences on it. Many of those residents pay high taxes. Especially at this time of year, the road develops quite a few pot holes and is in pretty poor shape. I mentioned to the Minister last year about the quality of the road and if they would improve it and what kind of maintenance there is for that road. Could he update us now on what the plans are?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I will take the question as notice. I do not know exactly what the plans are for the maintenance of the road or the capital for the road; I will ask the department to produce these figures and to produce an answer for the Member.
Mr. Phillips: I feel like the Member for Kluane, that my area has been forgotten about, my little corner of Wickstrom Road. I wonder if the Minister could consider some maintenance on the road: grading of the road there at the one section at the end of the pavement where there are a lot of potholes and an awful lot of dust. There are now quite a few children of families living along that road and I think, since it is under the Government of Yukons responsibility, they could look at some type of upgrading or control to better the road conditions in that area. Those people do pay pretty high taxes and they seem to be forgotten on that side of the river.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The government has not forgotten any residents of Wickstrom Road. The road means a lot to us. I am sure I can provide the Member with the information with respect to what the governments responsibility is for this road. We would do so irrespective of the taxes those people pay; we would do so depending on the need and usage of the road. That is the policy around the territory. Certainly, the government is not ignoring the residents along that road.
Mr. Phillips: I will look forward to the Minister getting back to me shortly on that, because of spring conditions, the road is deteriorating and this would be the time to get at it. I look forward to the Ministers response.
Mr. McLachlan: I would like to ask the Minister about statements he made yesterday about the movement of the superintendent to Faro. Is this a new position? When will the anticipated move take place?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It is a relocation of an existing position and the move will take place some time this year.
Mr. McLachlan: Will this superintendent, based in Faro, be also responsible for the highway detachment at Carmacks? Will his responsibilities extend that far to the west?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Carmacks highway maintenance camp will likely be shifted from the western area to the eastern area when the relocation occurs.
Mr. McLachlan: Is it the policy of the department to have the superintendent based in Faro because of the large amount of capital upgrading work that must be done on the Robert Campbell Highway over the next five years? When that job is finished, will he then be moved out, or is it intended that he will be permanently based there?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The initial reasons for moving the superintendent to Faro include the desirability to upgrade the Campbell Highway; also because there is the expectation that the North and South Canol Roads are going to see a lot more activity in future years - mining, staking, et cetera; and also, for reasons the Member will note, because a good deal of mining activity exists currently on the road, not only from Curragh but also from Canamax and the Coal River gold mine. That activity will help to justify putting the person in Faro. Ideally, I think it is obviously that it would be desirable to diversify the Faro economy. In this case, I realize it is only the relocation of a government employee but there are obviously a number of factors to take into account. There is housing available in Faro, too, of which there is a fair surplus, and it helped us make this decision.
Mr. McLachlan: Can we also assume that all of the divisional points for responsibility for the highway maintenance crews will not change, that is the Tuchitua camp will come to the same area as they now come, and the Ross River camp will still go south to the same area, and that it will just be the reporting authorities of those foremen at Ross River, Drury Creek and Carmacks that will report to this location in Faro. Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The road maintenance responsibilities of each camp will not change as a result of this move. The reporting relationship between the camp foremen and the superintendents will change, of course. They will be reporting to someone in Faro rather than to someone in Whitehorse. The person in Carmacks will likely be reporting to someone in Faro as well.
Mr. McLachlan: Can the Minister update us about any further negotiations between the Government of Yukon and Curragh Resources to take over the maintenance, for a fee, of the road between the townsite and the minesite. Have any further discussions taken place in that area?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: On occasion, Curragh Resources will bring up the subject of the maintenance of the road. They have not done so, in my presence, over the last six months or so. The department reiterates the position of the government on cost recovery for the maintenance of this road. Usually that is where the conversation ends.
Chairman: Is there anything further on highway maintenance?
Highway Maintenance in the amount of $28,161,000 agreed to
Airports in the amount of $1,594,000 agreed to
On Transport Services
Mr. Lang: Who prepared the amendments for the new Motor Transport Act and at what cost?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Motor Transport Act was reviewed initially following public consultation, and identification of issues was undertaken by Trans Mode Consultants.
Mr. Lang: Who?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It was Trans Mode Consultants. I do not know where they are from, but I can check it.
The analysis of the issues and drafting instructions were undertaken by Barry Bergh. The total of those two projects was $95,000. There were some incidental costs for advertising for public consultation tenders and that sort of thing, for a total of $7,000.
Mr. Lang: It is $102,000 to develop and put into place the Motor Transport Act that we have to table in the House for debate later this session? Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: That is correct.
Transport Services in the amount of $1,072,000 agreed to
Transportation in the amount of $32,008,000 agreed to
Mr. Lang: I have a question regarding the squatter policy review process. One of my constituents was on a lease that was leased by his brother. Through a series of events, the lease lapsed. The brother who was actually on the land was not aware of lapse in the lease, for whatever reasons. Through a series of events, they missed out on renewing the lease. So, that was not done and, simultaneously, they missed out on the squatter review process. I know there have been dates set for cut-off periods, which I do not disagree with, but we have an individual who has had a number of assessment notices for the last 10 or 15 years, which can be proven. It is a bona fide situation where an individual has been there. It is not a case where there is no record or documentation.
What leeway is there in the policy for that individual to get a hearing in order to see whether or not his or her application is legitimate and could be legitimized in the squatter policy review process?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Firstly, it is my understanding that when a lease is scheduled to expire, there is generally a notification. Under the squatter policy, there were a number of appeals that were made on the basis that the person either was not going to be in the territory at the time the hearings were scheduled to be held. There were appeals for a number of reasons, relating from people being illiterate and could not read notices. What is happening is that these people are permitted to appeal whether or not they are going to be heard by the review committee or the appeal committee.
If you miss the deadline you can appeal to the appeal committee to see whether or not you can be reviewed by the review committee. Some appeals have been denied and some have been accepted as being legitimate. For that reason, some people have been allowed to miss the deadline. It is all done at the committee stage.
Mr. Lang: Who is the appeal committee?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The appeal committee has as representatives the Director of Lands, Bruce Chambers from Federal Lands, Ione Christensen as a public member, Rudy Couture is the AYC representative, and Ruben Fendrick Wildlife Advisory Board representative. The CYI members are James Allen and Joe Jacquot. They form the core of the appeal board.
The review members are dependent very much on the district where the review is being heard. The members for the review board are Perry Savoie, Manager of our Lands, Linda Dunajski and Lorne Gay of Federal Lands. There are band members and municipal members where the applications are made in a particular region, all except for Carcross where the band refused to participate in any way whatsoever.
Mr. Lang: My understanding is that in Carcross the Minister made his application to Stanley James and cut the red tape. I am still not clear. Do I put a letter of appeal to the Chairman to see whether or not this individual can be heard under the auspices of the squatter policy? Is Perry Savoie the chairman? Who do I send this guy to?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The person managing the squatter policy and public consultation is Dan Carruthers. I will provide an address. He provides the secretariat services to the board and would refer it to the relevant board and make sure the appeal is heard. That is the person to write to. That is the person to see. Number one would be to see our Director of Lands if possible, too.
Chairman: Anything further on Lands general debate?
Mr. Lang: I think he should outline how he is spending the money a little bit. He is asking for $990,000.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The change is largely due to personnel costs. There is an increase of personnel costs of $127,000 and, also, the addition of the land availability bank and consultation term position, which was $45,000.
There is the addition of the assistant agricultural coordinator auxiliary position. What has been removed is a reduction in contract services of $24,000 and a reduction in travel of $10,000. If the Members want more detail, I can provide them with it.
Mr. McLachlan: When one is developing a quarry not within the boundaries of a municipality, be it coal, sand, gravel, limestone, et cetera, why are the regulations controlled by the Government of Yukon, rather than the federal Department of Mines, if it is very similar to an open pit mining operation? What is the difference here?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: For domestic use of quarry gravel, there is very little the mining industry has to do with a quarry. Highways has the ability to manage quarries. They use them on a regular basis for the Government of Yukon purposes. They also control road access to quarry sites and are the only obvious body to regulate quarries. Speaking as a miner, there is not a lot in common between a quarry and even an open pit mine.
Mr. Lang: I think we covered everything fairly well in general debate with respect to what the problems were. I was concerned with the purpose of the land development and quantity that we are looking at. I think the government is not taking a long enough long-term view in respect to the amount that should be developed. That is my observation with respect to what the plans are.
Mr. Phelps: Could the Minister have his officials let me know where the 20 rural residential lots are going to be in Carcross?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I will send the Member over a map of the lot sites. As I indicated at the outset this afternoon, the preferred location is approximately three kilometres this side of Carcross, on the right hand side of the road as one proceeds from Whitehorse to Carcross, near the gun range. There are other sites that have been identified in the market assessment and site identification study. There are five sites in total, three being major ones. The map will identify these for the Member. The study, as I mentioned, is in draft form and will be made available to Carcross residents for review shortly. We expect site feasibility work to be undertaken as soon as community consultation has taken place. We are talking about low volume, low standard roads; we are talking about perhaps allowing staking to occur, which removes the obligation of the government to go in and define lots. It is more of an open homesteader style development, even though we are talking about rural residential land lots.
The projection right now is scheduled for mid to late summer for the sale of these lots, and these are beyond those six that I mentioned the other day. I will send the map across, and the Member can keep it.
Lands in the amount of $990,000 agreed to
On Community Services
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There are a number of reasons for the increase here. There are, of course, increased personnel costs but it is not a large department in terms of numbers of employees so the increase in personnel costs are projected at $46,000. There is an increase in program materials related to department specific training and a conference, scheduled to be held in Whitehorse this fall - the Government Financial Officers Association for Western Canada - at which it is projected that 100 to 150 delegates will attend. There is an increase in transfer payments, which is primarily the grants in lieu of taxes, conditional municipal water and sewer grant and the municipal operating grant that we had already identified when we passed the legislation. There is also an increase to Whitehorse Transit, We cost share 60 percent of the deficit.
Mr. Lang: I have some concern over the transfer of dollars to these organizations. Some might not have tendering bylaws in effect. The Minister was going to check to find out which communities had bylaws and which did not. Could he give the House an update on that?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I did get a briefing note on that, but I just do not have it with me. I will make sure that the information is in the Members hands prior to the debate tomorrow.
Mr. McLachlan: Can the Minister tell us if there is any change in the status of Elsa since it has a special connection with the Minister. Is it changing its status to a municipality? That is the way it is listed on page 65. Will that have to be changed?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: We changed that some time ago. It has hamlet status. There is an advisory council on municipal matters affecting the Community of Elsa. That is one of the first things that I did in the government in conjunction with the community organizations in 1985-86.
Mr. McLachlan: I am referring to the election of the mayor and four or five councillors as opposed to all the other municipalities that are named in the same way. Elsa does not have that. Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: That is correct. They do not have a mayor. If there were a mayor, he would have certain roles and responsibilities as outlined in the legislation. They have an advisory council with a chairperson. That removes any fuzziness about the respective roles and responsibilities. It is an advisory council of the government, and it has no legislative authority to do anything other than to advise the government.
It can be a receptacle for work that may be devolved to it by the government on a project by project basis, including such things as dog control, et cetera. It is simply an advisory council. In practical terms, it is a council that speaks on behalf of the municipality and has a lot more in the way of influence with the government than would a community organization with a lesser mandate. It is elected in the same manner as our municipal councils, at the same time and according to the same rules.
Mr. McLachlan: Can the Minister advise us if Mayo has managed to secure its final alderman position that it has been trying so hard for over the past six months?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: My information is that it has. It is often the case that municipalities have a great deal of difficulty getting nominations from the community. In some cases, it necessitates us to pass an Order-in-Council to allow for further nominations. It is one of the changes I would like to see made in the Municipal Act we have tabled. There are various times when people are not prepared to step forward to fill a vacant position, and there are all kinds of reasons for that. The situation has occurred in Mayo a couple of times in the recent municipal mandate. It has happened in Carmacks and in Teslin, as well. It is an unfortunate thing to have happen, but sometimes people are busy and over-extended and cannot find the time.
Mr. Lang: With respect to Target Downtown, I see the decision has been made by Community Services that they are going to discontinue financing that particular organization with the City of Whitehorse. Is that a final decision that no money will be forthcoming from YTG for the support of that particular organization?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: We have indicated, as Community Services section, that it is our intention to cease funding Target Downtown through the City of Whitehorse, as of last year. As Members will note, it was the fourth year of a three year program, which we did fund. There was some expectation at the outset that there would be some support from members of the business community towards the program, but it was only partially forthcoming.
In the interim, Target Downtown has been offered to take advantage of programs preferred by Economic Development: core funding for community groups. They have indicated the level of funding under those programs is not sufficient to meet what they think they require to undertake the programs they would like to undertake and the intense activities they have undertaken. Recently, the Government Leader and I had a meeting with the mayor of Whitehorse, the city manager and representatives of Target Downtown, as well as a federal association representative, who was at the meeting observing. He had connections with a national organization that encourages the revitalization of downtown cores.
We discussed what Target Downtowns future would be. I indicated that, as Community Services Minister, block funding on the operation and maintenance, as well as the capital, side would be inappropriate for the Government of Yukon to provide funds for the revitalization of Whitehorses downtown core, without providing funds for the revitalization of the community cores of other communities in the territory. It was made clear that there is a special relationship between a territorial/provincial government and its capital. We undertook to discuss with the City of Whitehorse what sort of arrangement or relationship might be developed between the two governments, and we agreed to speak again on that subject.
I would imagine that there are some legitimate territorial interests in supporting the capital city, but also being concerned that the principles established under block funding and operation and maintenance funding be maintained. If there was a special relationship beyond those funding principles under existing government programs, we would identify them for future negotiations with the government. We left that for the time being and will get back to the City of Whitehorse on the whole concept of developing that relationship and the shared interests at a later date.
Mr. Lang: Do I take it that the government will support a policy that will have to be worked out to support directly the city in its efforts to keep the downtown core to a standard that is acceptable for a capital city?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It is premature for me to indicate whether the government will provide financial assistance to support the downtown core. We are discussing with the City of Whitehorse what our relationship might be and what sort of financial participation could be expected.
Mr. Lang: I would like to have the Minister give us some idea of the time frame he is working on with respect to this. Finances for downtown are totally expended by the end of August and subsequently a policy is needed within the next couple of weeks. Is the Minister telling this House a decision will be made by the end of April?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There is an implication in the Members question that whatever the funding for the downtown core revitalization, it has to come from the territorial government and the territorial government has to develop policies in order to accommodate it. It is my view that the City of Whitehorse bears some responsibility here. The principles established in the initial program funded by the territorial government were maintained by this government and the government did give more than adequate warning when it indicated that the program was over, as per the original agreement.
What is happening now is that the Government of Yukon and the City of Whitehorse will be discussing what the relationship is within weeks. There is no guarantee that we will come to firm conclusions within the month. We will discuss the relationship between the territorial government and the City of Whitehorse and what transpires in those negotiations will determine how much participation there will be, if any, to the downtown revitalization or the waterfront.
Mr. Lang: I want to register my concern in this area because I think the Government of Yukon has a certain obligation to the capital city with respect to the downtown core. Over the years, that has been exemplified by the fact that the dollars were transferred by the Government of Yukon to the City of Whitehorse for downtown revitalization. As a citizen of Whitehorse, I can say that it is very much of a pleasure to walk down the main street of our city now, as opposed to the way it was four or five years ago.
My concern is that I would hate to see the work that has been done deteriorate because an understanding cannot be reached between the two levels of government. I think a long term effect this will have will be, when one looks at reports such as 2020, that if we do not have a community capital city or the community of Dawson City or the community of Watson Lake in a situation where people enjoy themselves and be in nice surroundings, that will affect our tourism industry, not only just ourselves as citizens within the community.
I want to say to the Minister that I know there are special things done for certain communities throughout the territory, whether it be the community of Mayo, whether it be the community of Watson Lake, or the community of Haines Junction or Dawson City. For example, in Dawson City the facade program was put into place specifically for Dawson City. My understanding now is that some of that has been made available to the City of Whitehorse, but it was initially for Dawson City. I want to assure the Minister that, from our point of view, we understand that in certain situations certain policy decisions have to be made to offset various things.
I just want to put on record our position with respect to this. If Target Downtown changes in some degree, I am not going to get into that argument; I believe that is between the city and the organization involved, and not really YTG. YTGs fundamental interest is what can they do to assist and help the city in encouraging that much nicer a community, not only for ourselves but also for our visitors. I want to make it clear to the Minister that we are going to be watching this closely and I feel we do have a certain obligation and I think it should be met with an open mind. I do not think the Minister can claim poverty; he is having a tough time spending all that money - we are talking $300 million, and the amount of money we talking about here is very small in comparison to the overall budget. So, whether it comes from his department or the Department of Tourism, I do not really care, frankly, but I do think something should be done.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The government certainly recognizes the value of the work that has been done to revitalize the appearance of Whitehorses downtown core. I personally think that far too little has been done in this country in remodelling downtown cores, and I was more than proud to see it happen in Whitehorse. I was proud at the time also to provide funding to the City of Whitehorse to assist Target Downtown.
We are at the stage now where we are going to have to formalize a relationship between the City of Whitehorse and the territorial government. The relationship must be perceived to be fair and open to all communities. This is going to be ongoing for as long as the capital rests in this community. We share the same views with respect to the need for providing a certain kind of support to our territorial capital.
Once we get the arrangement established, and there are all kinds of ambition on the part of the City of Whitehorse to see this relationship established, we can talk about funding commitments and the long-term projects, such as downtown revitalization or the waterfront development, which might take place over the course of decades.
Mr. Lang: Could the Minister outline what monies he has for professional services for the purpose of contracting out various studies?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I have no contract services shown here. I have the total $6,178,000. I have $378,000 in salaries and wages; $25,900 for employee travel in the Yukon; $2,800 for employee travel outside the Yukon; $2,000 for other travel in the Yukon; honoraria, $3,000; entertainment, $2,000; rental expense, $2,000; supplies, $11,200; program materials, $19,200; advertising, $5,900; telephone, $5,700; plus the major portion, which is transfer payments. This is the increase to $5,720,331.
Administration in the amount of $6,178,000 agreed to
On Protective Services
Mr. Lang: There has been a substantial increase here of $350,000. Could the Minister explain why?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There is an increase of $45,000 for support staff including support for the Dawson regional inspector and the Dawson regional inspector. The major increase here of $161,000 is for the nonpersonnel costs, which are increases to fire and ambulance volunteers, fire and ambulance equipment servicing, fire and ambulance training fund and improved communications for fire and ambulance volunteers.
I indicated that I would be making a statement on the fire and ambulance policies for the government, and I will do that shortly. This is the cost for the increase to the fire and ambulance services.
Mr. Lang: Is it not true that the building inspector position is one that is vacant here and is being transferred to Dawson City? Why has $45,000 been allotted to that position?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: No. The building inspector position for Dawson City is expected to be an additional term position given the increased construction in northern Yukon, primarily on the Robert Service School. It is a term position because we do not project the level of construction activity to continue beyond the next two years. It may, but there are no plans to do so at this point. The existing complement of building inspectors will be maintained to do the work that they have been doing up until now.
Mr. Lang: We have $161,000 for nonpersonnel costs. Last year Protective Services was projected at $1.5 million, and we had money for the various firefighters. What has caused an increase of $160,000 over last year?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The increase is payments to fire and ambulance volunteers. There is an increase to fire and ambulance equipment servicing. There is an increase to the training that is projected, and there is improved communications for fire and ambulance volunteers.
Mr. McLachlan: Can the Minister advise if the building inspector will also go to Old Crow for work that will be done there as well?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Yes, I believe. I will make sure that that is correct and report back to the House.
Mr. McLachlan: Will he similarly go as far south as Stewart Crossing, Mayo, Elsa and Keno City and cover that area as well?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Yes, he or she will.
Protective Services in the amount of $1,867,000 agreed to
On Emergency Services
Mr. McLachlan: In view of the fact we have had four or five earth tremors here in Whitehorse, the individual who is in the job has been there for about 12 months now. What is the state of the emergency measures around the territory that are coordinated by this individual in Whitehorse in the outlying municipalities?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: First of all, there is a Yukon Disaster Committee, that is chaired by Doug Bell. This person, with personnel from my department, are on the committee. They are responsible for establishing, with municipalities, emergency plans for those municipalities and for those districts. The person is also responsible not only for establishing the plan and making sure they are up to date and people are aware in every community of what the plan is, but also responsible to ensure that the necessary training is undertaken by Emergency Measures Canada. This is funded by the federal government, and we regularly send people out to be updated in emergency measures procedures.
This position requires ongoing attention to the plans. There have been a number of dry runs undertaken by the person to review procedures for all communities in the territory. In those ongoing reviews, people are brought up to date as to the necessary procedures to follow in different kinds of emergencies. Any problems that crop up, with respect to communications or confusion of roles and responsibilities, are established thoroughly with the coordinator. That is done regularly, and will be done on an ongoing basis for a long time. There will always be the need to upgrade the peoples understanding and skills for dealing with emergency measures.
Mrs. Firth: Could the Minister specifically tell us what emergency measures the individuals are trained to deal with?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Earthquakes, floods, airplane disasters, major fires, fires threatening a community. There was one recently in Haines Junction, which I believe was a bus accident. I believe a bus had crashed and there were a lot of severe demands being placed on limited resources in that community from a large number of accident victims. A variety of scenarios were tested. The local resources are put into play to determine how well they respond, whether it is a local nursing station, a doctor, police, highway crews, municipal government, et cetera. Under our legislation, if it occurs within a municipality, the municipality is charged with the responsibility of assuming direct control for the first 48 hours of an emergency. It is important to establish who is in charge, peoples roles and responsibilities, so there is no confusion of that when a disaster does occur.
Mrs. Firth: I am familiar with the procedures, having participated in disaster plan routines myself. Do they have a current policy manual that states the procedures for each particular emergency? When was it last upgraded?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: We did an EMO study in exercise design this last year. This is used as a general blueprint. It is not done on a community by community or disaster by disaster basis. The EMO Coordinator is charged to translate the design into action depending on the emergency in a particular community, ensuring the people are brought up to speed, have the necessary training and know their responsibilities when a disaster takes place.
Mrs. Firth: Is that study available for us to have?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I can supply that.
Emergency Measures in the amount of $81,000 agreed to
On Sport, Arts and Recreation
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There is the appearance that there is a reduction in the estimates from 1987-88 to 1988-89. What is being shown for the first time is that the top up funding that had been annually undertaken by the Lottery Commission was shown as an expenditure for 1987-88 and not shown as an expenditure for 1988-89 until the top up is known, in which case a supplementary would show what the top up would be. There has been no reduction in funding from the Yukon government to Yukon Recreational Advisory Committee.
Mrs. Firth: Is the Lottery Commission annual report going to be tabled before the end of April?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Yes.
Sport, Arts and Recreation in the amount of $1,255,000 agreed to
Mr. Lang: What is the substantial increase for?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It is due to the increase in personnel costs as a result of the collective agreement and the increments.
Assessments in the amount of $426,000 agreed to
Hon. Mr. McDonald: This is due to an increase in personnel costs of $5,000. One person was transferred from finance to the community services section. There is an increase of $73,000 in what is projected to be increased home owner grants related to the increasing number of properties that are eligible as a result of the increased assessed value that were made this past year.
Taxation in the amount of $1,150,000 agreed to
Total in the amount of $10,957,000 agreed to
On Municipal Engineering
Hon. Mr. McDonald: This is a fairly small branch on the O&M side, largely because, as Members will know, most of the persons who work under municipal engineering work under the capital program and are charged against capital projects. There is an increase in personnel costs of only $4,000 and a decrease in nonpersonnel costs of $9,000 - which tells us that supplies have been raised by $7,000 plus some minor smaller amounts. That is the reason for the slight decrease in administration.
In unincorporated communities, there is an increase of $18,000 due to increased sewage eduction in Old Crow. There is projected to be additional water delivery in Keno City of $1,000, and increased garbage dump maintenance, sewage eduction and water delivery in general of $6,000. This is offset somewhat by a reduction in repairs and maintenance of $10,000, a reduction in rental expense of $2,000 related to the rental of the backup water in Carcross, which is no longer required, and reduced supplies of $3,000 and minor smaller amounts. Special services, by the way, for unincorporated communities are basically the water and sewer systems, garbage dump maintenance and that sort of thing.
The last item, special programs, is almost exclusively the mosquito control program. It is not projected to change in any way.
Mr. Lang: As the years go by here - and I recognize that perhaps it is not a priority with some people - a major concern I have is in respect of the Porter Creek C and the disastrous construction job that was done initially when the water, sewer and pavement were put in. There was court action proceeding, and I would like the Minister to update us here in the House because we are talking about a million to a million and a half dollars. Is anything taking place there and, if so, what? If not, why not?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: When I first became a Minister, the question was put as to whether or not I thought it was important that the government proceed with this litigation; I indicated that absolutely, 100 percent we should be proceeding. The government has been sending to Vancouver, where Examinations for Discovery have been taking place. It is a long and protracted process I know. I have asked them whether or not they can speed up trial dates or anything of that sort, and they have basically indicated that they are not in control of this.
The department is also eager to get this thing over with successfully. Examinations for discovery are just about complete, and the trial date will be set shortly. When that it will be up to the judge. That is something that I will check into. I am very much interested in pursuing this matter, however long it takes, with the contractors. It is important not only to recover the money from this botched job but also to send a clear message that when work is done for the government, it has to be quality work or legal action be taken. We will follow through on this.
I move that the Chairman move progress on Bill No. 50.
Chairman: You have heard the question. Are you agreed?
Some hon. Members: Agreed.
Hon. Mr. Porter: I move 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 has considered Bill No. 50, entitled 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
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
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: The House now stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. tomorrow.
The House adjourned at 5:30 p.m.