Thursday, April 21, 1988 - 1:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. We will proceed with Prayers.
Speaker: We will proceed at this time with the Order Paper.
Introduction of visitors?
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS
Mr. Nordling: I would like to introduce the grade six class from the Jack Hulland School in Porter Creek West and their teacher Ms. McGlynn. They are here to watch Question Period and see how the Yukon Legislative Assembly works.
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Speaker: I have for tabling an addendum to the Report of the Chief Electoral Officer on Contributions to Political Parties During 1987.
Are there any further returns or documents for tabling?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I have for tabling answers to questions respecting community television and radio contracts.
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I have for tabling responses to questions by the Member for Kluane.
Speaker: Are there any reports of committees?
Are there any petitions?
Introduction of bills?
Are there any notices of motion for the production of papers?
Are there any notices of motion?
Are there any statements by Ministers?
Policy Respecting Yukon Ambulance Service
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am pleased to announce the adoption of a formal policy respecting the operations of the Yukon Ambulance Service. This policy arises out of a major review of the ambulance service recently conducted by the Department of Community and Transportation Services. In particular, the policy deals with training standards for full-time and volunteer ambulance attendants, capital equipment replacement, remuneration rates for volunteer ambulance attendants, medical liaison for the ambulance service, provision of ambulance service within municipalities, and emergency communications.
Briefly, the level of training to be offered to ambulance attendants will be increased from the current St. Johns Ambulance Standard First Aid for volunteers. The new courses being offered are St. Johns Ambulance Advanced First Aid, CPR and a special Yukon emergency care program directed specifically to ambulance attendants. Emergency Medical Assistant, Level 1, EMA1, will also be available to volunteers in all communities. Regional trainers will be established to facilitate this and ensure a core of highly trained volunteers will be available at all ambulance stations. Full-time attendants located in Whitehorse will continue to be trained to the minimum EMA1 level, and full-time supervisors to the EMA2 level.
Although individual ambulances purchases recently are properly-designed units, previous ambulances were converted vans that are now aging up to 18 years. Under this new policy, the replacement program for ambulances will be stepped up to ensure that all ambulances are replaced, when they reach 12 years of age, by fully equipped units suited to the new skills of the attendants. This is considered to be the maximum life of an ambulance, given normal usage and a regular maintenance program.
Volunteer ambulance attendants throughout Yukon provide a valuable service to all residents. In recognition of their dedication and hard work, the remuneration paid to these individuals will be increased. Volunteer ambulance attendants are presently paid a flat rate of $20.00 per call, or 26 cents per kilometre traveled in responding to a call, whichever works out to the greatest amount. Unfortunately, this method does not recognize the amount of time, work and strain that can often be involved in a call close to the ambulance station. The new policy provides for increasing the rates being paid to volunteers to the greater of the mileage rates established under the current Management Board travel directive13/84, or $15.00 per hour per call. In addition, these volunteers will be paid $10.00 for attending organized training sessions up to twice per month. Volunteer ambulance supervisors will be paid $100 per month for looking after the station and ambulance and seeing that training is carried out.
Formal arrangements will be initiated with the Yukon Medical Association to seek medical input into the ambulance service on an ongoing basis. This will provide the department with much needed medical expertise and assistance in both monitoring and improving the level and quality of the service.
Most Yukon municipalities in which ambulances are located contribute to the operational costs of the service by providing suitable storage space for the ambulance. A formal agreement will be initiated with each municipality to satisfy this need and to ensure they are involved in the administration of the service through the municipal managers.
Additionally, communications to hospitals and other emergency agencies will be greatly improved through the provision of new VHF facilities. Radio base stations will be placed at all regional hospitals to enable the attendants to communicate directly with the nearest hospital for medical advice, and to inform those hospitals of the emergency conditions they may need to prepare for. As well, a new 911" emergency number is under active consideration to enhance the publics ability to contact the required emergency service in a timely manner.
This policy is extremely important to the department and this government in its operation of ambulance services. Additional costs to increase training, rates of remuneration, medical liaison and improved communications in accordance with the policy is anticipated to be $111,170 per year. Funds to cover these additional costs have been reallocated from within the department so that addition O&M funds will not be required. Traditional capital expenditures are $65,000 per annum. Commencing in the 1989-90 fiscal year, it is anticipated than an additional $110,000 per annum will be budgeted to upgrade the ambulances over a three year period, in order to maintain the maximum age of 12 years per ambulance, as required by the policy.
Speaker: This then brings us to the Question Period.
Question re: Young offenders facilities
Mr. Lang: In the last day or two we have been informed by the media that there are some major problems in another area in justice, as far as the facilities are concerned. We have been informed that two boys escaped from the assessment centre on April 11. They were captured a few days later and then one of them escaped again. On April 12 three teenagers slipped out of 501 Taylor Street; two of them were caught a few days later, and again they escaped. The third teenager gave himself up, and then two others ran away this past Sunday to Alberta. Last night we were informed that a young offender vandalized at least a portion of 501 Taylor. Reading this almost sounds like a script for Wayne and Shuster except I assume that it is true.
My question to the Minister of Health and Human Resources is: could she tell us how many young offenders have either escaped from or vandalized these facilities in the past two weeks? I think that it is very confusing for the public who is watching this with a great deal of amazement.
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I do not have the exact figures. I have received reports of some of those young offenders. The figures that were mentioned by the Member for Porter Creek East are correct. I have been given that information and I have asked for a report from the youth services program to find out how many of those young offenders have left the open custody facilities. I have that information in my office and I would be willing to table it in the House.
Mr. Lang: I would think that by this time the Minister would be fully informed with respect to how many young offenders we are dealing with, to begin with, in order to assess the situation and see what could be done. Yesterday, the MLA for Faro asked the Minister of Health and Human Resources about the security of the facility, and I quote: the hon. Mrs. Joe replied, The doors are all locked ...
Speaker: Order, please. Would the Member please get to the supplementary question.
Mr. Lang: Why, in last nights Whitehorse Star, did the juvenile director in charge of this area of the department state to the media that, the open facilities are supervised but they are not locked and cannot prevent offenders from getting out.
Are they locked, or are they not?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: There is a facility that is locked. The assessment centre is a locked facility and the young offenders there can get out if they want to, but is not locked as securely as a secure facility would be. It is not a secure facility situation because 501 Taylor and the assessment centre are open custody facilities.
Mr. Lang: We have a very serious situation here, a very serious situation. We have the public safety to think of, the safety of the individuals involved, the young offenders and the safety of the supervising personnel. My question to the Minister is this: as the Minister of Health and Human Resources, what steps has she taken since this occurred, at the beginning of this week, to put in place various policies so that this can be prevented in the future?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: We have children in our care, people who are either in detention or awaiting trial; they are there because they have been sentenced by the courts to open custody, and we have provisions for those young offenders. We are not dealing with the ordinary kid on the block; we are dealing with young offenders, and it is our job to try to rehabilitate those young offenders who are in our care. One does not rehabilitate those young offenders by locking them up so they cannot leave. If they were sentenced to secure custody, we would be required to lock them up, but they are in open custody.
Question re: Young offenders facilities
Mr. Lang: We are not dealing with children here; we are dealing with young offenders who, according to newspaper reports, assaulted two female guards, forced them into a storage area, stole a vehicle and drove south. That is just one particular case. I think it is a legitimate question to the Minister: in view of the type of individuals the department is being forced to deal with, what steps are we taking to prevent this type of thing occurring again?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: We are dealing with young people between the ages of 12 and 17 years - not much older than some of the young people sitting in the Gallery. We have an obligation to look after those young people who are sentenced to our care and we have to treat them accordingly. We get different kinds of young offenders in our care. Some of them may be a little bit more troubled than the others, and we cannot lock those children up. Programs are being developed to look after those children under the juvenile justice program and we are always looking at ways to try and improve the existing programs.
Kids run away all the time; they run away out of their own homes; there are people out there who have never ever committed a crime before, who are now going out and breaking the law. We have to ...
Speaker: Order, please. Could the Member please conclude her answer? First supplementary.
Mr. Lang: If you, Mr. Speaker, or I took care of our families like that and this occurred, where the teenagers consistently ran away from home, the government would swoop in with a vehicle and take those children and put them under what they would consider better supervision.
Speaker: Order, please. Would the Member please get to the supplementary.
Mr. Lang: My question to the Minister is very simply this: is it the policy of the government to just permit these young offenders to go in when they feel like it and tie up supervisors and then leave the facility? Is that the policy of the government?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: Of course that is not the policy of the government. It is something that happens and is something we are concerned about. We will have to deal with it. The department and I have been trying to deal with the situation for days. We are not sitting back doing nothing. The Member for Porter Creek is wrong, we do not swoop children out of homes where they continue to run away.
Mr. Lang: My concern in part is the safety of the personnel that work there. Surely the government has reviewed the policies and procedures to see what they can to do prevent this from happening again. For those young offenders who have caused this much trouble, what steps has the government taken to prevent this from happening in the future so personnel are not threatened?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: We have no control over what those young people are sentenced to. If they are sentenced to open custody they go into our facility for open custody. If they are sentenced to open custody and we put them in secure custody then we would be breaking the law. We have programs in our department that are being used. They may not be working but we are always looking at ways to improve them. There is a situation right now that we are concerned about, and we are not ignoring that situation.
Question re: Meech Lake
Mr. McLachlan: I have a question for the Government Leader. We have been debating the budget of the Executive Council Office and one of the things the Government Leader referred to is the cost of carrying the Meech Lake forward in whatever form. Last weekend television covered stories of a large conference in eastern Canada in the province of New Brunswick where a large amount of protesting is occurring against the Meech Lake Accord. Can the Government Leader inform us if any representative of the government was present at that Meech Lake meeting in eastern Canada on Saturday and Sunday?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am pretty certain that no representative of this government was at those meetings, at least not in a capacity representing this government.
The Member should know that I have had personal communications on a number of occasions with both Premier Ghiz and Premier McKenna, as well as other officials in their governments, about our concerns. There has been established a national coalition of groups that are opposed to Meech Lake and we are invited to be part of that national coalition. We have so far declined to do so because our position is that we do not object to the Meech Lake Accord as a whole; there are specific positions within the Meech Lake Accord with which we have problems. Most of the other groups in the coalition want to attack, undermine or undo the fundamental principles of the Meech lake Accord, and that has not been the position of this government.
Question re: Flow-through shares
Mr. McLachlan: On the same type of situation, there have also been very large meetings in Ottawa and recently in Vancouver, with groups who are dedicated to saving the flow-through share mechanism. We have heard on a number of occasions from the front bench about...
Speaker: Order, please would the Member please get to the question?
Mr. McLachlan: ...how important the mining industry is to the territory. Were there representatives from this government present at the save-the-flow-through meetings in Ottawa and Vancouver?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: To my knowledge, as the Minister directly responsible, we have not been asked, as a government, to participate in any such coalition. Both the national and local associations of the mining industry, prospectors and developers and others have asked for our support on this question as have the individual mine operators of the Yukon Territory.
In every case, we have done what was asked of us, which was essentially to lobby Mr. Wilson directly on this question. That is what we have done. That is what this Legislature has done. This is what this ministry has done. We have not been asked to participate in other industry-based coalitions on this question.
Mr. McLachlan: Do we have to have an invitation all the time to go to meetings like this that affect the territory? Are we really short on manpower, funding or travel time or all of the above? I do not understand why we have to have an invitation all the time.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Judging from questions from the Member opposite about travel by people from this territory to points south and the money associated with that is an issue. The Member will have to understand that we get requests to participate in groups, to fund groups or to fund worthy causes weekly. As a general rule, the history of this administration and the previous administration, has not been to respond as generously or with such open pockets as some of the more populous and more wealthy southern provincial governments have done.
The experience of participating by way of contributions to national bodies has, for most of the provinces that have started down that road, is that once they are in they are in forever. It is very hard to get out. I recall discussing with some provincial premiers a contribution to an arts festival in Charlottetown, which they began in 1967 and which provincial governments in western Canada have had supplications from that province to do so ever since. It is very much a worthy cause, but it is something that we have to be concerned about contributing to on a continuing basis.
As a preference, if we are given a choice between making an expenditure here and making an expenditure outside the territory, we will always expend the money here.
Question re: Young offenders facilities
Mr. Lang: I would like to go back to the question of the inadequate facilities for housing young offenders, whether it be in open or closed custody. We do not have a secure custody facility yet. Why is the government not able to put a young offender in a secure portion of a facility for at least a short period of time? Could the Minister explain to this House why a portion of these temporary facilities have not been designated as secure facilities so that we do not have the situation where there are five or eight young offenders out on the street?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: What the Member opposite does not realize is that this is an age-old problem. It is not something that has developed in the last two weeks. We had the same situation under the former government, as well as the one before that. The young offenders run away all the time. They ran away from Wolf Creek; they ran away from a number of other institutes we had for them. I keep saying that we are dealing with young children who are in our care. We are trying to put programs together and improve them all the time. We are looking at rehabilitation, and you do not lock up those young offenders who are maybe sentenced to us for a year, so they cannot do anything. They are young children between the ages of 12 and 17, and some of them may be a little bit more violent than the other, but we never know when they are going to have an outbreak like that. It is an age-old problem.
Mr. Lang: If there was one isolated issue, I would agree with the Minister. We have a group of five to seven young offenders, at one time or another, out in the street. We have a problem. We obviously cannot secure the facility so they cannot get out. Why did the Minister say yesterday that the facility was locked, when the person running that particular branch of the department says it cannot be locked?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I answered that question already. I do not have to answer duplicate questions, if I have already answered them.
Mr. Lang: We are in the situation where we have five to eight young offenders who cannot be kept safely and can leave at will. Do we have the ability, either in the assessment centre or at 501 Taylor, to put one or more of these young people in a secure portion of the building, as opposed to the situation where they can just jump out the window and leave?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: We had a place at Wolf Creek that was a secure facility for young offenders, so to speak. It was locked, and they ran away all the time. Young offenders are going to run away if they choose. We cannot lock them up. We have to be able to do our best to rehabilitate them. It is not a new problem, and I continue to say that. I am not pleased the young offenders are running away. I am as concerned about it as the Member for Porter Creek East is.
Question re: Young offenders facilities
Mr. Phillips: The Minister is consistent in the fact that, for three years, she has not built a young offenders facility, and that she has not answered one question here today. She talks about the Wolf Creek facility. That same Minister stood up in the House many times and criticized the government at the time for young offenders escaping. Now, she has been in government three years, and nothing has changed.
Is the Minister going to build a young offenders facility, and when is she going to finally get around to building it?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: The Member across the House continues to say that I do not answer questions. They do not like the responses that I give them; they do not listen to them. We had a problem with the young offenders facility. There are problems with finances and we had to secure those finances before we could make a decision to build a young offenders facility. It was not done before. The tender will go out and we will build that young offenders facility, but we had to make sure that we had the money, first, before we decided to do it.
Mr. Phillips: Again, I rest my case. I asked the Minister when the government was going to build the young offenders facility. All she said is that the tender is going to go out and we are going to build one. We are tired of hearing that. We have heard that for three years. When is the Minister going to build the young offenders facility?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: The tenders will go out, the bids will come in. I cannot say when the contractor will start to build the facility.
Mr. Phillips: When will the tenders go out, and when is the closing date for the tender? Could the Minister tell me at the same time when the facility will be built?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: The tenders will go out next week. There will be a closing date and the construction will start this year.
Question re: Young offenders facilities
Mrs. Firth: I want to go back and follow-up on the question about the employees who are working with these young offenders. The Minister said that she was not ignoring the situation and that they have been having discussions for days. There is something new about the situation that has been going on, and the new thing is that the government does not seem to be handling the situation, and does not seem to have control of it.
What protections are in place for the staff as they have to continue to work under these kinds of conditions, in the event that these incidents should reoccur?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I have already mentioned that we have been discussing the situation with department officials. We will continue to do that. We will be having meetings in the future. When those youth services workers are hired to do a job, they know that we are not dealing with the ordinary kid on the block, but that we are dealing with children who have problems. Those youth services workers know the kind of situations that they are going to get into because the majority of them have been trained for those kinds of situations. Each young offender who comes into our care has different problems. They are not all the same and cannot be treated like adult offenders.
Mrs. Firth: The Minister, with all due respect, did not answer the question. I asked what steps were in place to give some extra protection to the individuals who are working with the young offenders. The Minister said that they know that it is a dangerous situation. That does not mean that we say: You know that it is a dangerous situation, and you are on your own.
What steps has the Minister and her department discussed and what steps are in place to ensure that there are some additional protections in place for the staff members who are working in these facilities?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I do not know what kind of steps she is wanting me to take. There are many different situations that arise. If she is asking me to find out whether or not we can lock up the young offenders so they will not attack anybody, we are not doing that. We are going to be sitting down and discussing further the situation and we will be including the people who work with those young offenders. There have been problems there ever since we have had a young offenders program and there always will be. If we can come up with a solid solution for how we are going to deal with the protection of those youth services workers, then we will look at that type of protection, but up until now each situation is different.
Mrs. Firth: Again, the Minister did not answer the question. I am asking the question in a very practical way, and have some practical recommendations. There are steps that can be taken; I will suggest a couple and I would like to know if the Minister has done anything about this. We are told we never offer any positive solutions, and I would like to ...
Speaker: Order, please. Would the Member please get to the supplementary question.
Mrs. Firth: Yes, I will. I would like to ask the Minister if they have made any special arrangements for extra staff to be called in or for assistance from the RCMP, or some kind of buddy system? I am asking, and in a very practical sense, for a reasonable answer. We are not making it complicated. This is what we mean by the Minister not doing her job.
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I am doing my job. It is not the easiest job to do, but I do not mind doing it. I do not even mind getting questions from the other side of the House, such as they are, but it is something one just cannot do in a day. There are many things that have to be taken into consideration before guidelines can be laid down for certain things, such as protection for the staff. I do not know if the staff out there is saying: Madam Minister, we need protection from these young offenders. There are a lot of things we have to take into consideration. We have to take into consideration the laws we have to abide by and we also have to take into consideration that we are trying to rehabilitate those young offenders.
Question re: Young offenders facilities
Mrs. Firth: If this Minister cared about her staff and the situations and working conditions they are in, they would not have to come and ask her for anything.
This Minister said that she has been discussing this for days. I asked her a very simple question, and in the question even made some recommendations. I used to work at the hospital where nurses were put into dangerous circumstances, too, but the administration took steps to see that there were policies in place, even if they were interim, to safeguard the working conditions of the staff. I asked the Minister if any interim steps has been put in place, is there a buddy system, is there a special call system, is there anything in place for the staff to utilize?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: We do have policies for dealing with our young offenders in secure and open custody. Those policies are written down and I would be willing to table those policies in the House, although the Minister could get them anywhere she wanted to if she chose to.
Up until now, we have not developed an interim policy to deal with this situation. As I said, the situation is ongoing; it happens more often in the springtime, and that is a fact of life.
Mrs. Firth: We finally got an answer. There is nothing that has been done to protect the staff. There are no interim steps.
I would like to appeal to the Minister that as soon as possible she develop some interim steps to ensure that there is some protection for the employees who are working with these young offenders.
Hon. Mrs. Joe: She does not have to appeal to me. Those things are already being done. We are not ignoring the situation.
Question re: Young offenders facilities
Mr. Lang: We have had two staff members assaulted, tied up, and two young offenders stole a vehicle and drove to Edmonton or Dallas, Texas, for all I know. Is there not a system in place where someone, whether it be the department or the RCMP, checks on these facilities on an ongoing basis over the course of a 24-hour period, or were these two female supervisors strictly left on their own, and the people replacing them found the condition they were in eight hours later? Is that what occurred?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: As I mentioned before, we had the required number of youth centre workers on that night. They were not discovered eight hours later, they were able to get out of the room while the young offenders were still there. The young offenders had pulled the telephone out of the wall and the workers had to go to the police station. Within minutes they were down there.
Question re: Service contracts
Mr. Lang: I have a question on the government contracts of 1987-88. As the Minister of Government Services knows it contains approximately $60 million worth of contracts, both publicly tendered and all the ones that had not been publicly tendered through service and consultant contracts.
Why are the Yukon Housing Corporations service contracts not included in this document as they have been in past years?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: The intention of the government is to publish all of the contracts. We are developing the systems and improving it year by year. This year we have all of the service, construction and consulting contracts for the government. It was always the intent to publish the contracts for the government. What remains are purchase contracts and leases.
In future years, and possibly later this year, I am hoping to have the information in a form that is more usable to the private sector. The requirement is to publish the contracts of the government and that is what we are doing.
Mr. Lang: Since the Yukon Housing Corporations contracts were available last year, can the Minister tell us when they will be made available to us this year?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I will refer that question to the Minister responsible for the Yukon Housing Corporation. It has always been my intention, and the policy of the government, that the contracts that are gathered on the computer in Government Services are all published. That is the technical capability we now have.
Mr. Lang: Could we hear from the czar of housing?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I did not know if the Member was referring to me or some ancient designation for a leader of a kingdom of some sort. In reality, they are talking about a minister responsible for a very good, effective corporation, which is to deliver a very important housing policy for the government.
If the contract list does not include the Yukon Housing Corporation contracts, I will ask the corporation to compile a list and table it in the Legislature.
Question re: Service contracts
Mr. McLachlan: On that same issue, are the contracts for the Yukon 2000 also in that document?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: Yes. I was asked yesterday about a contract for Mane Masters for $200. That was a contract within the Department of Education for the rental of those facilities for the performance of the apprenticeship tests and examinations. It was not for the services of the facility, except the use of the real estate and the various appliances there.
Mr. McLachlan: That last answer greatly reassures me that the government is really looking after the funds well. On the Yukon 2000 contracts, are they recognizable by any special coding and, if so, by what coding?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: The answer is partially, but not completely. This is part of the whole problem about publishing these long lists. The Yukon 2000 contracts are in the Department of Economic Development, which is coded in long numbers in the list. They are identifiable in that department, but that is not the complete answer.
The Minister responsible has provided information in the past, and it has previously been made available in the House, up to the last estimates.
Mr. McLachlan: I think the Minister should reread that answer tomorrow in Hansard. It still does not say much.
For example, there were special contracts awarded for the development of a tourism strategy. Is the Minister saying the development of the tourism strategy is coded so it is representated in Economic Development?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: The contracts are coded by department, and also by date and some other listings. The contracts for Yukon 2000 can be identified and have been here in the past. I am confident that the Minister responsible is able to answer those questions in some detail at the proper time, during the debate on the Estimates, both Interim and the Main Supply.
Question re: Service contracts
Mrs. Firth: I would like to ask the Minister of Government Services a question about the contracts and the booklet that he tabled for us. I have noticed that there are no contracts for the Yukon Development Corporation listed in the book. Could the Minister tell us why that is, and is he prepared to get us a list of the contracts for the Yukon Development Corporation?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: The principle of that question is the same as the previous question about the housing corporation. We were asked about the contracts for the government. There are voluntary agencies that we fund and which contracts are not included. The Workers Compensation Board contracts, the Liquor Board - those things are not collected within the computers of Government Services, and we have tabled the information that is available to us.
Mrs. Firth: However, in a legal sense, the Minister cannot deny that all the corporations are agents of the government, and according to the Financial Administration Act, the corporations, because they are agents of the Government of the Yukon, also are open to public scrutiny.
Is the Minister prepared to bring the contracts for the Yukon Development Corporation, as the Minister for Community and Transportation Services gave us a commitment to bring the Yukon Housing Corporation ones?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: The Member says that of course I cannot deny that these agencies are agencies of the government. More than that, I have never, ever tried to. In fact, I would clearly state and agree that yes, that is the case, and always has been. There are some different considerations. For example, for the Yukon Development Corporation, there is a commercial environment and a commercial value to the confidentiality of some information. That is an additional consideration -
Speaker: Order, please. Would the Minister please conclude his answer?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: The short answer is: I will take the question under advisement.
Mrs. Firth: Confidentiality is a rare thing when it comes to expenditure of taxpayers money. I will be looking forward to hearing if the Minister will bring forward those contracts. On the converse, I will be looking forward to why not if he will not. Will the government also bring forward the contracts for the Human Rights Commission?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: The Human Rights Commission reports to the Legislature, not to the government, as the Member well knows. However, as one of the Members of the Legislature, I will specifically communicate with the commission and ask for their contracts to fulfill that request.
Speaker: Time for Question Period has now elapsed. We will now proceed with Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Speaker: Government bills?
Bill No. 22: Second Reading
Clerk: Second reading, Bill No. 22, standing in the name of the hon. Mr. McDonald.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that Bill No. 22, entitled Arts Centre Act, be now read a second time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Education that Bill No. 22, entitled Arts Centre Act, be now read a second time.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It is with pleasure that I rise today to speak to the second reading of the Arts Centre Act. What you see before you is a product of a very productive consultative process with the arts community in the Yukon.
I wish first to provide you with a short history leading up to the development of the legislation. In 1980, individuals who represent various interests in the arts community met to discuss what has long been the dream of many people in the territory, the construction of a first class facility for the performing visual arts.
In that year, they established a society called Arts Canada North that was given three central objectives. The first was to pursue funding for the construction of an arts and cultural facility in the Yukon, the second to develop a long-term management scheme for such a facility and the third to oversee the design and construction of a facility so that the interests of the various arts groups in the Yukon would be well represented.
In pursuits of ACNs first and third objectives, the society approached this government in the summer of 1986 asking that we commit funding for the construction of an arts centre. As you are aware, we agreed to provide considerable support for this development.
It was discovered at the time and indeed remains so today that the commitment of capital funding for the centre serves to augment one of this governments central goals, the development of a strong and well-rounded educational system. In achieving a compromise that modified the communitys plan for the new Yukon College and adopting the best features of an arts centre, the government was able to successfully meet broad community aspirations.
The arts centre, we believe, will complement the range of facilities being developed at the Yukon College site. As well, the centre will greatly contribute to the realization of this governments goal on establishing a facility to serve educational needs, not only in the trades and academic fields, but in the cultural and artistic fields as well. Construction of the centre will begin this year when the design drawings have been completed. The dream of many Yukon people, the construction of an arts centre, will soon be a reality.
The second objective of Arts Canada North, the development of a long-term management scheme for the facility, will be met through the passage of the legislation that we are now reviewing.
In October of 1986 I was given a mandate by the government to consult with Arts Canada North as to the appropriate legislative provisions for the management of the centre. Senior officials in Education and I have worked closely with the society to develop an act which will meet the needs of the arts community and the government. We see before us the product of those deliberations.
The Arts Centre Act provides for the establishment of an independent Yukon Arts Centre Corporation that will oversee the operations of the centre. Under its objects, the corporation will establish programs for the development for visual and performing arts at the centre and will have the mandate to assist other arts groups in the territory. As an independent corporate entity, the arts centre will be given the flexibility to run its own affairs as a nonprofit organization thereby creating an environment where those involved in the arts centre can set directions for a facility dedicated to their interests.
This act clearly outlines the governments intent. We want to see this facility become a place where all arts groups have an equal opportunity to work toward their artistic goals, give performances or show their works, and, by so doing, add greater depth to a rapidly growing artistic community.
It is also in this act that we have legislated the governments interest in this centre providing an avenue for educational pursuits. Both the college and other departments of the government will be given fair access to the facility to meet their various educational goals. The government will appoint the members of the board. These appointments will be primarily based on the recommendations of the various artistic interests in the territory. Once again this is a facility for the arts groups of the Yukon, and as such should be managed by representatives of those groups.
The government anticipates that the centre will require private and public support for its activities beyond that provided through revenues generated by performances and exhibitions. Various channels whereby the centre can receive financial assistance have been opened through this legislation.
By establishing the corporation as a nonprofit entity an avenue is available for the board to attract private donors. At the same time, the act sets out options for government to extend grants, and enter into contracts with the board.
Considering this governments substantial commitment to the capital development of the centre, and in anticipation of our potential contributions to the operation and maintenance of the arts centre, we have included a provision for audit and a requirement for the corporation to provide the Executive Council Member with an annual report of the work of the corporation.
Furthermore, there is a commitment within the act for government to set the report before this Legislature thereby ensuring appropriate review of the expenditure of public funds.
This government is enthusiastic about the development of this facility. The Yukon is now a very small step away from seeing the development of a first class arts facility, one that will rank among the best arts facilities in Canada. By legislating the establishment of a board to manage the affairs of the centre we will have assisted greatly in the realization of the goals of the artistic community of the Yukon. As a facility with a strong linkage to Yukon College we will have moved towards meeting both artistic goals and educational interests of the Yukon.
Mrs. Firth: I rise to speak on behalf of my colleagues and myself in support of this piece of legislation. I have talked to the members of Arts Canada North, and they are very pleased with the initiative that the government has taken in developing this Arts Centre Act and the independent Arts Centre Corporation to manage the affairs of the new arts centre.
It has been a long time in the planning. I remember the arts groups coming to me, as the Minister, some five years ago or so and seeking funds to study the feasibility and look at the future of an arts centre. In that five years, we have just about achieved the objective of that by having the arts centre in place. Even though there are still some public debates regarding the facility, I think it is a prudent step for the government to proceed with the legislation, so it is not held up and we are making some progressive steps forward.
We like the idea of the independence of the corporation. It is not anything new to have the appointments made by the Minister upon the recommendations of the arts groups. We agree with the principle of tabling an annual report and look forward to Committee of the Whole debate. I do not anticipate any controversies with the passage of the bill.
Mr. McLachlan: I presume by the legislation we have before us, it means we are finally going to get an arts centre. There was some question at one point as to whether we would or not, and in what form. I guess it is quite acceptable to have the corporation set up. We had a Yukon Development Corporation and nothing in it at one point.
During Committee of the Whole debate, I want to serve notice on the Minister that questions will be asked on the structural setup of the operation and, also, the fact that the government has gone to great lengths to make such statements as: The Financial Administration Act will not apply, and The corporation is not in any way an agent of the government.
At some point, the question will arise, at the end of each year, if there is not enough money to pay all the bills, who will pick up the tab? Will the government divorce itself entirely from red ink? Will the government fund or loan money on a temporary basis? The possibility does exist in my mind that that situation could happen. We have seen it happen in other situations, and we would like some explanation in Committee of the Whole debate about the exact situations that happened, when and if that should become a possibility.
Speaker: The hon. Member will close debate if he now speaks. Does any other Member wish to be heard?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: We will be dealing with the questions that both Members may have with respect to the legislation. A great deal of thought has been put into the operation and maintenance of the centre, because it was made clear to the government at a very early stage that the operational costs of centres of this sort are usually so significant that the arts community and arts expenditures cannot support them. That is something the government recognized at the outset. When we get into Committee debate, we can talk about projected operation and maintenance commitments.
At the same time, it would be very important to not give anybody the impression that, irrespective of what they spend, as independent as they are, there will be some blank cheque waiting for them to pick up the tab. That is something that it is important to say at the outset. A lot of thought has gone into the operation and management of this centre. I will give Members my thoughts as to what the projections will be.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. Porter: I move that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Government House Leader that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
Speaker leaves the Chair
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Chairman: The Committee of the Whole will now come to order. We will recess for 15 minutes.
Chairman: The Committee of the Whole will come to order. We will continue with Bill No. 60, Department of Community and Transportation Services, general debate.
Bill No. 60, Fourth Appropriation Act, 1987-88- continued
On Community and Transportation Services - continued
Mr. Lang: There has been a decrease in the $628,000 for the Alaska Highway agreement. We have had a fair debate as to exactly what we need for the maintenance of the highway. Then we get a Supplementary Estimate where there is a substantial decrease of $628,000. Perhaps the Minister could explain that to the House?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: When the Operation and Maintenance Budget is established, there is a general expectation about what will be recovered through expenditures and administration from the Department of Public Works. By the time the Supplementary Estimates comes forward, the term figures are known and Public Works decreases its budget by a certain amount.
We agreed, through the contractual arrangement, to work within the budget. Public Works establishes what the figures are to be. There are some negotiations at the administrative level to determine what is desirable. In part, that is what we base our initial projections on that. Ultimately, the final budgeting is not done at the administrative level in Ottawa. It is done higher up than that. The money basically cannot be spent because we do not have an agreement to spend it through the contractual arrangement when the final details are established.
That is the reason why the figure has been reduced by this amount. The other small portion, which is a reduction on the Haines Road, is because that road experienced a lighter winter than was expected. That reduced the actual expenditures for the Haines Road somewhat, along with the capital that was undertaken last year. It would have been unreasonable to spend more money there.
We simply had to cut back on the Alaska Highway because we have to work within the budget that we are given. There was no alternative.
Mr. Lang: I hate to contradict the Minister, but I do not think that is an accurate statement; not about the Haines Road, but the Alaska Highway. Is it not correct that when we come in again and you ask for further supplementary estimates, probably about $550,000 or $600,000 will have been additionally spent on the Alaska Highway between when this budget was drawn up, which would have been December, variance nine, I believe, and this period of the intervening three months? Is that not correct?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: This is a budget based on the variance and, depending on what the conditions are like, if winter conditions are heavier, we will know when the final estimates are brought forward for this year. There will always be a final accounting period. Right now, we have 13 accounting periods. There will be an adjustment, but if the Member is asking me whether we only budgeted for nine months of the year and will be budgeting for a further few months, the answer is no, that is not right. We projected the expenditures based the total budget that we knew we were going to get, and then also took into account the weather conditions we were experiencing and determined what the projected expenditures were going to be. We projected to the best of our knowledge what the expenditures were going to be at this variance. After that, a lot depends on weather, et cetera, for what is actually spent. They try to work within the budget. Members may remember that, in 1985-86 we had to give money to the federal government because we over expended beyond what we were allotted in the year before; so what happened was that we did a projection of period nine, we determined exactly how much we thought we were going to spend, budgeted on that basis and, when the balance of the year was finished, we had overspent. We turned money back.
Mr. Lang: I want to get this clear on the record. My understanding is that, of that $10.4 million that has been voted to date, when it all finishes and we have our year-end accounting, we will be very close to that figure in final expenditures - perhaps within $50,000. That is the information I have, and I want it confirmed; otherwise, what is being done here really brings into question the credibility of the government. On the one hand they are saying the Government of Canada is short changing us on the O&M but that they are going to give back $628,000. Is the agreed amount that could be expended on the Alaska Highway not $10.4 million? If you go over and above that, obviously you will be in a different situation. Is it correct that $10.4 million is the agreement for this past year, between the Haines Road and the Alaska Highway?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: That is what we budgeted. The figure was reduced after the budget was enacted because the Department of Public Works directed that they were only going to spend a certain amount of money. When the final variance comes forward, we will know exactly how much we spent and it will be less than $10.4 million.
Mr. Lang: It is like shadow boxing. Maybe I am not asking my questions properly, but what I would like to know is what, then, under the Alaska Highway agreement, can you spend for the 1987-88 year? Under the present agreement are we talking about $9 million or $10 million?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I see what the Member is asking. The impact on recoveries, as a result of a change in the agreement, was a $300,000 reduction, as a result of a DPW reduction. That includes the administration fee. From the original forecast we reduced it by $300,000 because we were directed to reduce it by $300,000. We project to reduce it by more because of weather, largely because of the Haines Road, for a total of $628,000.
Mr. Lang: I leave this open to the Minister because I do not want to pursue it further. We will have another forum to discuss this, later in the Session, I am sure, if we need to. I am not clear in my mind here. The Government of Canada and the Government of the Yukon have agreed that we are giving back $628,000. Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: That is right. The $10.4 million in recoveries that was originally budgeted includes the administration. What we projected to spend - the $10.4 million - we had to reduce by about $300,000 because of direct cuts. At the same time, we projected that there would be a decrease on the Haines Road because of the weather, as I mentioned in the explanation of the forecast. You can only recover what you spend. If the weather is good in a particular year you only recover what you spend. That is the reason why we would reduce it another $328,000, for a total of $628,000.
Mr. Lang: If there is going to be a correction the Minister can bring it back so people can have a look at it. The information I have is that you may well be spending all this money, within $40,000 or $50,000, and I want to see if it shakes down by the time it all finishes.
I have a cost question on Stewart Crossing staff quarters. How many staff quarters are there?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There were originally five and two were put together for one large one for a total of four, plus one central unit.
Mr. Lang: My understanding was the initial planning was for five and is now corrected to four. I thought after all the planning that this particular condominium by the river would have been built to meet the specific needs of the community. I do not understand why we did not build four instead of five. What caused us to change the plan, and how much was the cost to do that?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The plan was changed because the highway camp foreman has a family who require more space than was allowable within the size of one unit. It was in recognition that there could always be family size accommodation required in the future. It changed while the building was being constructed and I do not know how much the change order would have been for. It was minimal because it was basically a shell when the change was done. There were some redesign changes to make two units into one unit with three bedrooms. The others would have one bedroom in each. The total cost turned out to be $520,000.
Mr. Lang: I think we would have been in a much better position to go with separate units and preferably log homes. It would have been much better for the people working there. Is it true that a number of them actually live in Mayo and commute to work?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Yes, that is true. I have to check, but I think there is one heavy equipment operator and one labourer who commute. They are hiring a new mechanic. I do not know the exact details, but I know these people do commute.
Mr. Lang: We have a half a million dollar facility here and a workforce, in part, commuting to and from Mayo. This will probably continue?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I do not want to leave the impression that this is an optimal situation and it meets everybodys best interests. The people who commute from Mayo to Stewart Crossing do so at their own expense, and it is not the best situation for them. I do not assume it is going to continue for a long time at all. The point is that there ought to be living accommodation provided at Stewart Crossing, which is 35 miles from Mayo. They have not always commuted. Most of the time I have been there, there has not been commuting going on between Mayo and Stewart Crossing but, right now, there is.
I would project the commuting will stop as soon as certain personal situations are ironed out.
Mr. Lang: Is the Minister informing the House that we have an number of the units vacant at the present time because of the situation that exists right now? Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: That is correct.
Mr. Lang: Of the four apartments, how many are empty?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I will have to check that, because I do not know whether or not any others have moved out. I will check that detail.
Mr. Lang: I want to move on to the question of the Ross River arena. Since we started the infamous Piers McDonald memorial arena, could the Minister tell us how much we spent as of April 1, 1988?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: As Members will note, we originally budgeted $500,000 for the arena the first year, of which $50,000 was spent on design in 1986-87. It turned out to be the most expensive $50,000 we have ever spent. We budgeted $300,000 for this last year in the 1987-88 Capital Main Estimates to accommodate the community hall addition, for a total of $800,000. It was changed in scope from arena to arena/community hall.
This year, we project to spend $1,580,000.
Mr. Lang: Does that total $2.3 million?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: No. We budgeted $500,000 and carried it over to this year. Now, we have to vote the $500,000, because we did not spend it. We did budget $300,000, for a total of $800,000. So, the project total is now $800,000. The project to date, in actual expenditures, is $1,580,000, spent so far. This budget, in terms of the Supplementary Estimates, has to accommodate the $500,000 minus the design that has been rolled into this year, plus the overage beyond the $300,000 we spent. We had $300,000 in the Main Estimates, we have to pay now for approximately $450,000 that we did not revote, and we are revoting now from the first year and, also, the difference between that and the total project so far of $1,580,000.
Mr. Lang: Forget where all these dollars are being rolled in from; we are moving the money around. We have, to date, spent $1,580,000. Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Yes.
Mr. Lang: I will now talk to the financial wizard of the government. What will the final figure for this facility be when it is completed?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It depends upon what we want to do with the final facility.
Mr. Lang: What are the Ministers plans?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The long-term plans of the government are to support the communitys aspirations for its recreation complex. The immediate plans are to finish the arena/community hall. We project that it would be in the neighbourhood of $200,000 to $300,000 to finish the arena/community hall. The arena is basically finished, but the interior of the community hall has to be done.
Mr. Lang: The Minister is informing us today then that the community hall and the arena will cost $1,880,00 when they are finished. Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: That is the best projection that I can get.
Mr. Lang: I will be marking today down as a very, very great day in Yukons Hansard. This facility has been a very contentious area. It is a shame that it has to become a matter of public debate.
The Beaver Creek swimming pool - $280,000. What was the full amount that was expended for that? What are the costs to date?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It is $450,000.
Mr. Lang: Is it finished now, or will there be added costs?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I do not know the details. I am not handling the construction. The project is finished, I believe, except for some minor deficiency work, but I can check on that. It was projected that it would be finished by $450,000. I will check.
Mr. Lang: We initially voted $300,000 for this project. We are at $450,000, and the Minister has indicated that there may be some added costs even though they may not be astronomical. Now we have, once again, the question of who is managing the ship. The one in Pelly Crossing cost $325,000. Now we are up to $450,000 for this pool. That seems to be an astronomical leap.
Is there a reason for this over expenditure? Was it over designed? What is the reason for the $150,000 increase? Was it the cost of the moat?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Certainly, the engineering deficiency had to be rectified. My understanding is that the design is the standard pool design. It is really no different from the Carcross design. The tender went out, the bids came in, and the cost was higher. We have a standard class design. It may easily have been that the distance to be travelled between here and Beaver Creek accounted for some of the difference. When the department puts estimates in, they are put in as class five estimates based on what might be projected to be the bid price, which is I guess, according to the people in Government Services who put the bid together, a bit of a guesstimate. It is not as though the design is not known; it is a standard design, at least as far as pools are concerned. Community halls can change. The classic pools we have in Pelly Crossing, Carcross and Beaver Creek are a standard design. The only thing that would fluctuate from community to community would be the ground conditions. I have been through the changeroom myself, and it is basically the same design as the one in Carcross. I am not a construction engineer, but I did not notice any differences.
The bids were higher. That is the only way I can explain it.
We have had this discussion before about projects coming in over budget. There are lots of projects, road projects for example, where we talk about them for half an hour or 45 minutes and we see they are practically all coming in under budget. That would be great news, and I do not expect the Members opposite to spend a lot of time on that good news; but certainly, in construction projects, building construction, it has been more difficult to keep projects on the budget originally estimated. It may be a reflection, in part, of the construction industry, as we have discussed before, having a fairly healthy number of projects on the go. Sometimes, quite often community consultation will enhance a project and you have to cut back as much as you can, if the project goes over - such as the Elsa curling rink.
It is not as if this is the first time this has happened. I remember, as soon as I came into office, the very first capital project I faced was the Mount McIntyre Recreation Centre which came in $900,000 over budget on basically a $2 million project. That was a major shock, right off the bat.
I do not know what more I can do to explain this particular situation.
Mr. Lang: I hope that the Minister is not giving the impression that we should not be asking questions. We have been told certain things in this House and we come back and find out that, in some cases, the costs of projects have tripled, the costs of projects have doubled, and the list goes on. Some of them are still trying to figure out whether they are working in imperial or metric.
My concern is that I can see a deviation of 10 percent, and I would be prepared to accept that, as a Member of the House, saying, Yes, there is some leeway here and certain things may have happened, but when you see a figure double, then I think the Minister, as well as ourselves, have a responsibility to ask why, and what are we doing? Maybe it is a lack of respect for the House, or whatever.
For an example, I go back to the Ross River arena project. I recall when we were at $1.5 million and the Minister stood up and gave a real good, tough, financial speech and said that it was $45,000 and that was it, the party was over. They would be outside on a breakway on the Pelly River if they did not do it within that $45,000. It just seems to me that we are getting different stories and different financial figures. Nobody is arguing, for example, that there should not be a facility in Ross River, or a facility in Mayo, but the question is, how are we are going to accomplish the construction, and how can we get the best bang for our dollar?
My next question is this: has there been a decision regarding the awarding of the Elsa curling rink contract, and if so, for what amount?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I take exception to the suggestion that there is a lack of respect for the House in providing information to the House. I have been as accurate as I can be with respect to the information being provided here.
The budget for the Beaver Creek swimming pool was $350,000. It would be unfair to characterize the move from $350,000 to $450,000 as a doubling of the budget. The objective person would say a doubling of the budget would be $700,000, to be fair.
I am trying to get things clear here. The Member is trying to be flippant. I am not saying that a $100,000 is not a significant increase. It is something that I am concerned about. I think that it is perfectly legitimate to be asking questions about that, but we ought to be fair when we are talking about characterizing the problem.
There has been no decision made on the curling rink in Elsa. I do not know what the state of negotiations are with respect to the price.
Mr. Lang: How come we can build a curling rink in Teslin for $450,000, yet in Elsa we are talking over $800,000?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: First, in Elsa we are building the curling rink on the hillside. Secondly, we are building a curling rink addition to the community hall, which requires a fire wall. Thirdly, we are building a library and a hamlet council office, along with the curling rink on the second floor of the curling club itself, as I indicated, when we were talking about education estimates a couple of years ago.
Mr. Lang: Who owns the land that the curling rink is being built on?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It is leased by the Elsa Recreation Association.
Mr. Lang: From whom?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: From the Government of Canada. In Elsa, the Elsa Recreation Association has leases underneath the properties over which they have control. The surface lease area around that, in the town site, is almost exclusively leased by United Keno Hill Mines from the federal government.
Chairman: Is there any further general debate?
Mr. Lang: I have a constituency question with respect to assessment and taxation. As the Minister knows, there is a major assessment going on in town in Whitehorse in the Porter Creek area. Is the Minister or department experiencing major problems with this particular area in the area of taxation and assessment and, if they are, could he report it to the House?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am not personally aware of a problem. I will ask the department if they are experiencing problems and get back to the Member.
Mr. Lang: When the assessor comes around to your property, is there any requirement that you must let him or her into your home?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: If my memory serves me correctly, there is a procedure whereby an assessment officer must inform persons in the home that the assessment officer wishes to enter. In the act, I believe the assessment officer can enter a home after giving notice, but I know there are some very severe restrictions on this, because I had a constituent who did not want the assessment officers either in their home or on their property. I remember the restrictions were fairly severe, but I will check the details of that. I know that assessment officers cannot simply walk up to the front door and barge in. There are some controls under the Assessment and Taxation Act.
Mr. Lang: On the question of land, yesterday or the day before when I raised the question of how one appeals under the squatter review process because he or she had missed the various deadlines, the Minister informed me we would have to go to an appeal procedure. He was not quite sure who it was. I have made some further inquiries and have been told that if you have missed the deadlines, there is no appeal. It concerns me in that I think I have a legitimate situation where an individual who has lived here all his life will not have the ability to at least be heard by this process. At the same time, we have people who have just moved into the Yukon and spent three years here and, in some cases, are getting very choice pieces of real estate, which a lot of citizens would have liked to have had who had been raised here, but have abided by the rules that were in place at that time.
Would the Minister be prepared to instruct the squatter review process that, in cases where there can be proven bona fide reasons for not meeting the deadlines, and it can be proven that they have, in one manner or another, lived on the land we are speaking of, can get a hearing?
Can the Minister assure me of that? Otherwise, I am at a dead end. I made inquiries early this morning with respect to the situation.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I know there have been people who have indicated to the squatter program administrators that should they be unable to meet the deadline they should still be allowed to make an application. I know there have been a number of appeals heard. I do not know the details the Member is mentioning, but I will take a personal interest in the case. If the Member will give me the information I will see what might be done. Clearly, it has to be understood that there are deadlines that will have to be respected or it will be a never ending process. If the Member will give me the information, he and I can work on it.
Mr. Lang: I will get together with you and hopefully we can resolve it to the satisfaction of the parties involved.
I want to go back to the assessment situation. Has the Minister had any requests to make major changes to the way the Assessment and Taxation Act is being applied?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: No. I have not received any requests to change the act. There may have been a case or two over the last couple of years, but nothing that has really impacted very much. The only concerns being expressed are constituency concerns of mine about the actions of assessment officers and the need to respect individual privacy and private property.
Mr. McLachlan: Has there been any decision as to what to do with the aborted government camp at Swift River?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I understand that at this moment Community and Transportation Services and Government Services are trying to work out a solution. I will let the Minister for Government Services provide some input.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I can answer, emphasizing two issues: one, the sorting out of the situation as it exists today; two, the building of the facility. The facility will be built over the construction season and I am expecting occupancy in the fall. The situation is that the government and the contractor were attempting a mediated settlement last week and this week and we are very optimistic that a settlement will occur to avoid a law suit.
Mr. McLachlan: I have a procedural question to ask the Minister with respect to the new facility to go into Drury Creek. It is budgeted for a certain number of units. My concern is the number of units that are slated will determine the exact number of employees to work at that camp - in this case, four, yet there are five other units presently on site, some of them old, and perhaps some of them should be removed. Is it the intention of the government thatwhen a new camp, like Swift River or Drury Creek, goes into operation, to put up for public tender all the housing that was previously occupied, or does the government give any consideration to the possibility of holding onto one or two for temporary summer overload in those isolated cases when there are no other facilities in which the employees can live?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I think the answer is the latter. The Department of Community and Transportation Services will hold on to whatever housing it may feel it needs to handle surpluses.
Because of the costs of maintaining vacant units, they will be fairly tough in their figuring as to what is needed for surplus and the rest will be sold as per the appropriate government procedure.
On Management, Policy and Planning, and Administration
Management, Policy and Planning, and Administration in the amount of $68,000 agreed to
On Highways and Transportation
Highways and Transportation in the amount of a reduction of $197,000 agreed to
Lands in the amount of $64,000 agreed to
On Community Services
Community Services in the amount of $753,000 agreed to
On Municipal Engineering
Municipal Engineering in the amount of $42,000 agreed to
Operation and Maintenance Expenditures in the amount of $730,000 agreed to
Chairman: Are there any comments on recoveries? If not, we will go to Capital Expenditures - Transportation
On Highway Construction
Mrs. Firth: Last evening, when the Minister gave his description of what that money was for, he talked about activities that had been reduced. Could he elaborate on that somewhat? Was it highway construction that had been planned but which they decided not to do, or what is he referring to when he says reduced activities?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Most of the savings here are savings because the road construction projects tendered came in under budget. It was a good year for road construction. That was the primary reason.
The only project I would call reduced intentionally was the Kusawa Lake Road project, which is on hold until such time as more consultation has taken place with the residents on the road and with the Department of Renewable Resources with respect to future plans for the area.
The projects that were undertaken, which required work, as I indicated were the Dome Road and the Fish Lake Road, which were accelerated.
Mrs. Firth: From what the Minister says, it is strictly a reallocation of money; is that correct? Is that done within his department or does he have to get management board authority to do that? Does he make the decision himself? How does that process work?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It does not require Management Board approval. Generally, on major projects, the deputy minister consults with the Minister before significantly enhancing new projects. Where minor projects are undertaken, the work is done. If the process to establish the projects is done properly, there is not a need to come to the Minister to seek approval. When we talk about major projects, I do expect the department to discuss it with me prior to making any decisions. They did do that with the projects I mentioned.
Mrs. Firth: Perhaps the Minister could tell us what he means by major and minor projects?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I would characterize major road projects as being projects in the neighbourhood of $50,000 to $100,000 or more.
Mrs. Firth: It is not based on any delegated spending authorities then. It is just a policy within the Ministers department that he has established. Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: That is correct. The spending authorities for the deputy minister are established by Management Board directives, and they cannot be waived unilaterally by the Minister of the department. They are adhered to.
Mrs. Firth: I am familiar with the spending authorities and what they are. I am also familiar with the fact that the spending authorities are more restricted when it comes to the same project. When we move onto a new project, however, the spending authority increases. For example, the deputy ministers spending authority increases considerably if he is going from an ongoing project where the spending authority for some deputy ministers expires at $250,000. If a new project is being started, his authority automatically goes up to $1 million.
Having been on the Public Accounts Committee and seen some of the work orders that were done, I know the Minister has stepped in and signed some work orders when the spending authority and the reallocation of funds exceeded that of the deputy minister. The Minister had a greater authority so his signature was on the work order.
How are those priorities set? The Kusawa Lake project could not go ahead because of consultation or whatever. Because there would have been a certain amount of money allocated of that, it was reallocated to the Fish Lake Road and maybe some other project. Are those decisions and allocations made just by the Minister? Are they made by the deputy minister? Are they made by the whole Cabinet? Are they made by Management Board or is it something that is flexible? I would like to know how these decisions are arrived at?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: First of all, a certain amount of judgment is called into play. There could be a project of a very minor nature but, if I, as Minister, have taken an interest because of complaints that have been levied with me with even a small project, they know that I will be interested.
The general rule of thumb is that projects that are considered to be major projects of a certain size - and I indicated $50,000 to $100,000 - or projects that initiate long-term commitments, whatever the size, people do seek clearance from the Minister. If there is a project that initiates a long-term commitment or a long-term expectation, as a matter of course I will seek Management Board approval, because I would want to be assured there was some long-term commitment from the government for the project. Management Board will approve the main budgets in the future.
Generally speaking, what I have asked the departments to do is fulfill the Capital Budget as per the budget. There has not been a lot of manipulation of the Capital Budget, once the budget is in place. I am interested in seeing the departments carry the budget out.
Mrs. Firth: I always get concerned when I hear Ministers use terms like generally speaking, and the general rule of thumb is, and judgment is called into play. Has the Minister just made up his own policy and his own rules within his department, or is there some government-wide policy that determines how priorities are set and how funds are reallocated or, if activities are reduced, what other activities will the money be put towards?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: If the Member is asking me what the procedure is on all capital projects, there is a myriad of small projects that Community Services undertakes at any given time in a given year. It would be impossible for a Minister to review every single small project commitment personally. There are certain guidelines that have to be undertaken, and there has to be financial controls. Those controls are adhered to religiously.
The guidelines I establish, in terms of the control I expect and the processes I expect the department to follow, are things I do for the departments I administer. I expect community consultation to be undertaken. I expect proper procedures, whether it is land development or others, to be undertaken as well. If I am satisfied that the departments will do that, they do not need to come to me with every change order and every request to upgrade somebodys road near Marsh Lake. If I were to do that, I would lose sight of the policy and the general directions of the department and the government. I would be deep into the details of the department every day.
Some discretion is given to the administration. That is the way the system, in my view, has to work, given the size of the budgets, given the controls that are in place. I have indicated exactly what I think I expect in terms of major projects, projects that there may be some public sensitivity to, projects that initiate a long-term commitment that has not been considered in the Capital Budget. I expect those projects to be cleared through me, and I always, to my knowledge, get what I expect.
Mrs. Firth: I am not talking about the Minister getting involved in the everyday activities of his department and every little decision that is made. I am concerned about a protection for the Minister and his spending authorities, his accountability to the Legislature, and the Legislative approval of funds. We approved funds, at the Ministers request and direction, for the Kusawa Lake project, yet we had no input to the redirection of funds, say, to the Fish Lake Road. I want to know what safeguards are in place and what policies are in place to ensure that the decisions are not being made at random and that some policies are in place to protect the public purse, so that someone cannot just come along and reallocate the money to some other area. I am sure the Minister would be interested in that, for his own protection, because I do not think that he wants to have the department come and say to him, Well, we did not do that project. We put it over here, and then find out that maybe it should not have been put there, that if he had gone back to his colleagues they might have wanted it put in some other area. Then he is in the position of having to stand in the House and trying to defend why the money was put there.
I am asking for a general set of rules and policies that the Minister operates under. I get the feeling that he has determined some for himself and for his department. I can ask the General Leader, in a general sense, in the debate later on, as to whether all the other Ministers abide by the same rules, or how the decisions are made and priorities set, so that there is a full process of accountability.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am sure that the other Ministers can speak for themselves. I deal with two departments that have fairly large capital budgets, I know that. I also know that political controls are required, on a regular basis, apart from the budgets that are passed in the House, because once the budgets are passed there is authority under the Financial Administration Act to work within votes. There are clear objectives as to what can be done within that vote. There is also, as there should be, a Minister who is accountable for all the spending, irrespective of whether or not he is personally able to oversee every dollar spent, as a Minister who is accountable to the public, for even five dollars worth of expenditure.
There is a certain expectation at the political level within the votes that are taken with respect to what kinds of monies will be spent in what direction, what will be spent on infrastructure, transportation, community facilities, et cetera.
There are times when Cabinet will be interested in a particular project such as Yukon College or a school. It is incumbent upon the Minister to keep the Cabinet and Management Board informed of pending decisions prior to them being made. There is no formal procedure that I am aware of that suggests that should happen, but nevertheless that is what happens.
On the roads budget, there is a traditional figure called Other Roads that covers everything from the Shallow Bay Road, Kusawa Road and general upgrading of roads. When the budget is voted, you are petitioned to improve a road for a particular area and the next year when you come forward with plans the public requires more consultation and the project is delayed, or cancel you them altogether. At the same time, after the vote is made requests come from the public or Members of the House for certain projects to be undertaken. If, within a vote, the Minister can accommodate those interests, where justified within the general guidelines, it has been my practice to do that within the vote. It is not always the case; there has to be a demonstrable need.
In this particular year we are turning back money that could not be spent and also that the department and I could not spend in any other area to meet the objectives of the government at this time. The money is better spent in other areas and so the money is being turned back.
Those are the basic rules.
Mrs. Firth: It was a nice try on behalf of the Minister to explain the rules. I do not know if we are further ahead.
The concern I have is that we recognize what can be done within a vote. There is some maneuverability within that vote. We know that Management Board has the authority to change that vote.
The accountability process that I am concerned about is that decisions are not being made out of the parameters of the rules of the Financial Administration Act. When I asked the Minister how he determined if he was going to go to Management Board regarding a reallocation of funds, I would like to get some idea as to what kind of expenditure he feels he can safely undertake without going to Management Board.
I am sure other Ministers may have different opinions or ideas as to what their authority is. There is a specific spending authority that the Minister has to abide by, but there are also some other decisions that can be made. Is there a general policy of consent, of is the Minister making up his own rules in that regard?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: If it would be helpful to move things along, I will be quite happy to tell the House what the rules are that all Ministers observe. The departments can move money between activities within programs. Management Board is required to move money between programs in each department. Only the Legislature can move money between departments or votes.
This is, of course, per Management Board directives. In any events, all budgets and the Supplementary Estimates are reviewed by Management Board before they come for tabling in this House.
Mrs. Firth: I do not want to dwell on this. We have had debate in this Legislature before where we found that Management Board had a lot more leeway in moving money around than we thought it did and what it stated in the Management Board directives. I am just trying to establish for myself some idea as to the Ministers understanding of their ability to move money around.
There have been a lot of projects for which funds have either lapsed or the projects have been cancelled for one reason or another. Money has then been reallocated. We have to have some ability for an accountability process for that kind of reallocation.
Chairman: We will now recess for 15 minutes.
Deputy Chairman: Committee of the Whole will now come to order. We are resuming debate on capital expenditures, highways and transportation.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: During the break, I was informed of the assessment procedures for gaining access to someones home. They are laid out in the legislation. The procedure is that the assessment officer requests entry into a home they feel should be reassessed. If they are denied access, they are to write a letter to the occupier of the home. If they are denied access, they do the assessment, in any case. If the home owner disputes the assessment, the onus is on the home owner to prove that the assessment is wrong.
Highway Construction in the amount of a reduction of $1,105,000 agreed to
On Regional Resource Roads
Regional Resource Roads in the amount of a reduction of $190,000 agreed to
On Facilities & Equipment
Mrs. Firth: Was that strictly the cost savings for the Stewart condominium, or was there something else?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It is referred to as the Stewart Crossing staff quarters. Yes.
Facilities & Equipment in the amount of a reduction of $375,000 agreed to
Airports in the amount of a reduction of $293,000 agreed to
Lands in the amount of $64,000 agreed to
Mrs. Firth: This was another line the Minister said some costs were offset by the projects. What other projects offset this cost?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Hamilton Boulevard came in under budget largely because the tenders for paving were very attractive this last year. The Hillcrest project came in under budget for the same reasons.
Some of the projects undertaken were Riverdale, Block 275, Porter Creek Grove Street work, Old Crow residential land, and some preliminary work on Granger Subdivision.
There were over expenditures on the Mendenhall project for $49,000; Bear Creek remedial work; Mary Lake stage two was accelerated for $239,000 and the Robinson Homestead was a new project for $174,000.
There were miscellaneous small projects all over that had been budgeted for and were either up or down.
Mrs. Firth: I have a question about priorities and how decisions were made. The Robinson Homestead was a new project for $174,000. Was that a decision made by the Minister?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Primarily, yes. A certain amount of money is available for land development. The consultative process in land development has a tendency to be lengthy and controversial. The government has to develop land where the consultative process peaks and takes advantage of general consensus that a land project can go ahead. In the Robinson Road area, there was an opportunity to develop rural residential or homesteader-style lots with low volume roads and the government took advantage of the opportunity.
There is work projected to take place in the Carcross area that was not budgeted for. That will be coming forward in the next year because there seems to be a window where some land can be developed in that area.
Other projects which were scheduled to go ahead take time and are delayed because consultation takes longer than anticipated, and those projects are put off. As I said, I like to keep as much as possible to the Capital Budget; generally speaking, I think that has been demonstrated in the budgets of the last three years. Opportunities do evaporate between the time the budget is voted and the construction period in the summer when the work is expected to be done. Other opportunities arise in the same area - whether it is homesteader land or rural residential land or whatever - and the government moves where there are opportunities.
Mrs. Firth: It would appear that money evaporates, too, here by the million.
Can the Minister tell us why he decided to go ahead with the Robinson Homestead instead of, say, speeding up the Granger Subdivision, for which obviously there was a demand and a need? Why would that project not have been enhanced?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: We went as quickly as we could with both. The reason we went ahead with the Robinson project is that there is a very significant demand in this area to have low-cost land available within commuting distance of Whitehorse. That demand is very severe. I am sure if the government had developed no lots of this sort near Whitehorse, we would have been rightfully criticized for not having had the foresight. So we worked out, with Lands Branch, where the optimum areas were and then we initiated consultation with groups who would be affected; and we moved on the Robinson Homestead area.
One of the special reasons why there is a severe demand for land of this sort is that the squatter policy is about to be complete, and there will be some people who will be requested to leave the land they are on. Those people will have to locate in some area where there is low-cost land available, and this and Mendenhall were the governments first opportunities to secure a low cost land development. That is the reason why we went with Robinson.
Mrs. Firth: The Minister has twice referred now to tenders coming in under budget; he talked about it in the area of highway construction and he is talking about it also in land development. Is there any pattern that has developed? Can the Minister tell us why this seems to have happened to quite an extensive amount in these two particular areas?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The biggest and most remarkable change was in paving contracts. The Hamilton Boulevard land development that I referred to was for the paving. If we saw bids come in that were approximately up to one-third of what was budgeted for city and territorial projects, that was a remarkable saving from what was anticipated to be the cost of the project.
There is a very aggressive competitive environment for road construction projects. There is not as much road construction taking place in BC, and we do have a large number of outside firms bidding very competitively on our projects even with full for northern preference. That is one of the factors that is keeping the project costs down.
There are not that many local contractors who have the ability to take on some of the road construction projects of the size that we have been tendering. We worked on the South Klondike Highway where $2 million and $3 million projects are tendered at a time. We have a few local contracts who can bid competitively, but there are not as many local road contractors as there are general building contractors. For that reason, there is a fairly aggressive competitive mood from outside contractors. That has kept the cost of road construction projects down.
Mrs. Firth: Did I miss it, or did the Minister answer the question about the land development costs? I will read it in Hansard.
Development in the amount of a reduction of $401,000 agreed to
On Central Services
Central Services in the amount of a reduction of $112,000 agreed to
On Community Affairs
Community Affairs in the amount of $On Public Health & Safety
Mrs. Firth: The Minister talked about the Teslin and Dawson City sewer systems being offset. Is that the total amount?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: That was the Dawson City dike and the Teslin water and sewer system.
Public Health & Safety in the amount of a reduction of $588,000 agreed to
On Roads & Streets
Mr. Nordling: Could the Minister tell us what the saving was?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The saving was a combination of planning and pre-engineering. We budgeted $50,000 for planning and engineering. We expended $70,000, so there was an over expenditure of $20,000. We spent less on the Old Crow garbage dump and not as much on Old Crow roadway improvements - $25,000 less. We spent $34,000 less on Keno City community streets. We expended approximately $30,000 more on the Burwash Landing road access improvements. We spent $51,000 less on Carmacks Indian village road improvements in purchasing crush, but we spent more than we expected on the chip-sealing of the streets, so that netted out to zero. On Pelly Crossing roads, we spent an extra $43,000 on purchasing crush for road development. I hope that nets out.
Mrs. Firth: It sounds like they desperately tried to spend every cent, but were not able to. If there is a schedule like that for the $86,000 that is being turned back, are there similar schedules for the larger amounts, or do they vary? Is there a lot of maneuvering around with over expenditure here and under expenditure there?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It is seldom that the project actually comes dead in on target. There is a measure of bouncing the money around from one little project to another. Some money may not be spent in Carmacks that will be spent in Burwash. Generally speaking, that sort of thing happens all the time. The projects are basically the same projects; there are just minor enhancements and minor reductions.
I would not characterize it as the department grubbing away trying to spend every last dime, so they do not have to turn any money back. What they try to do is balance off the relatively different construction schedules for a variety of projects. They try to accommodate the Legislature but, also, they try to accommodate the public. The public does not always dance to the Legislatures tune, when it comes to the budgeting. They expect projects to be done according to their schedule, so the department has to work those things out and respond to the Legislature at the same time.
Mrs. Firth: I do not think we implied that the department was running around trying to spend every cent. I am prepared to clear that item if we could move on the next one. What were the other projects? The Minister gave us a schedule yesterday that totalled $1,230,000. There was the Ross River arena, the Teslin curling rink and another project for $280,000. Could he give us the balance of what that was for?
Roads and Streets in the amount of $86,000 agreed to
On Recreation, Community Facilities/Services
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The money totals $1,280,000 for the Ross River arena project. The budget was $300,000 and there were carry-overs from the previous year. They were not revotes. This is the revoting time now. Also, there was funding for the Beaver Creek swimming pool. In the Main Estimates, the budget was zero; the forecast was $450,000. There was a carry-over from the previous year. We did not budget any in the Main Estimates, but there was a revote from the previous year of $450,000. The Teslin curling rink construction budget was zero; the forecast was $280,000 for this year. That was also a carry-over from the previous year. So, the Main Estimates showed zero but, because it was a revote from the 1986-87, it shows up now.
Mrs. Firth: The figures total up to over $2 million, and the Minister is asking for $1.8 million.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: We saved $10,000 on the Keno City community recreation centre. The money for the Elsa community recreation centre renovation was not spent: $50,000. The money for the Upper Liard community hall renovation was not spent: $30,000. The money for the Upper Liard outdoor skating rink was not spent: 20,000. There is a variance in the Rural Electrification Program of $100,000. You only spend as much as there is application for, and we had budgeted $150,000.
I believe that is the end of the vote.
Mrs. Firth: It is closer but it still does not balance. The six items the Minister mentioned come to $210,000 and the figure is $195,000.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There is a $15,000 over expenditure on Stewart Crossing Community Club septic tank.
Mr. Lang: The Minister said there was a variance on the rural electrification program. Can the Minister tell me if there are any active applications under consideration and if so where?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am not aware of any. This is a costly program and we will try to meet whatever interest there is. If the Member wants to know about active applications I will check with the department and let him know.
Recreation, Community Facilities/Services in the amount of $1,815,000 agreed to
On Local Employment Opportunities Program
Mr. Nordling: Perhaps the Minister can give us a breakdown on the new and worthwhile programs for $l.5 million.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I do not understand the question. Is the Member asking where we spent $1.5 million?
Mr. Nordling: Voted to date for the project is $2,146,000, and the Minister is now asking us to vote another $1.5 million for the program. I would like to hear a little more about the program and the projects that have increased the budget by what is a considerable percentage of what was originally asked for.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The program has not yet been voted in the Main Estimates. It was not voted in the Main Estimates last year, nor for 1988-89 either. This program is budgeted at $3 million for the past year. The money for Supplementary No. 1 was money we spent during the two fiscal years. The program basically runs from November to May; it crosses over two fiscal years. When we vote money in the Supplementary Estimates, we are voting money for the previous years program. When we vote money for this Supplementary Estimate, we are voting for the money we expect to spend up to the end of the fiscal year in the Local Employment Opportunities Program. We will therefore be voting money in the future to finish off the years program of $3 million. The program is a total of $3 million per year. The reason why it is an increase is that it has not been voted in the Main Estimates; it was voted in the Supplementary Estimates.
Mr. Nordling: I have just one more question on this. The revised vote is going to be over $3.6 million. Is this program going to be an average of more than $3 million a year, or are we going to see less, which makes it an average of $3 million? The Minister talked about overlapping years, but the average should be $3 million a year.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The average will be $3 million a year, except the first year, which was $2 million. It was $3 million the second year and $3 million this past year. The program has been operating for three years and, when you take a look at all three years expenditures in the Supplementary Estimates, you will see that the first year was $2 million, the second year was $3 million and the third year was $3 million; but the money as is voted in the Supplementary Estimates at times is less than what would be projected to be spent in the year, or more. If you look through all the years, you will see that no more than $2 million, $3 million and $3 million have been expended in the last three years.
Local Employment Opportunities Program in the amount of $1,500,000 agreed to
On Communications - Community TV/Radio
Community TV/Radio in the amount of a reduction of $82,000 agreed to
On Block Funding Project Assistance
Hon. Mr. McDonald: These are expenditures made to support community capital projects undertaken at the communitys request; they are charged back to the community and the community must pay. They are expended here, but we will recover it later.
Our municipal engineers were charged against the Capital Budgets for the time that they spent on a particular project. For example, Haines Junction water and sewer improvements cost $5,000 worth of time. That money is charged to the community for the time spent. It is merely an expenditure that we have to show and there is a recovery that we then claim out of the capital projects.
Block Funding Project Assistance in the amount of $92,000 agreed to
Capital Expenditures in the amount of $175,000 agreed to
Deputy Chairman: Are there any comments or questions on Capital Recoveries?
Community and Transportation Services agreed to
Deputy Chairman: We will now move to the Department of Education, general debate.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I will begin with an outline of the areas that require additional funding under the Operation and Maintenance Budget. The major reason for additional funding requirements is a result of collective agreements that were negotiated in 1987-88 with the YGU and the YTA as managerial salary increases.
These increases account for $1,154,000 of the $1,477,000 vote. The remaining $323,000 is a result of a variety of unforeseen needs that should be met. Additional costs have been incurred to provide for additional busing for Canyon Creek and Whitehorse to meet new needs, the provision of Yukon Hall dormitory to meet the increased demand for accommodation for rural students and recruitment relocation costs for teachers as a result of a turnover of 60 for 1987-88 compared to an average of 35 over the past five years in the schools.
In the Capital Supplemental vote, a total of $2,698,000 will be lapsed, mainly as a result of the extended public consultation for various projects. As Members note, the multi-years projects are very hard to divide into neat parcels of exact dollars for each year of the project.
Most of these major projects will be extended into 1988-89 with some of the final completion costs occurring in 1989 or 1990. The main areas of delayed timing include: design of the St. Elias dormitory expansion, construction of the Robert Service School in Dawson City, construction of the gym at G.A. Jeckell and design of the Watson Lake high school.
There is a capital recovery of $100,000 that is the result of an agreement reached with the Town of Faro that they would absorb some of the costs for renovating the Faro Recreation Centre, which is used by Del Van Gorder School as a gym.
Mrs. Firth: I would like to know something about the managerial salary increases. How much did that involve, what level was it and how many salaries?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The salaries are finance and administration, which is the major portion of the managers pay, along with YGEU increases, and is $200,000. I will have to check on how many salary increases there were.
Mrs. Firth: We often hear about the large administrative complement of the Education department, and I would like to get a grasp on the costs. I know the person year complement. If there are increases in that area, I would like to have that information, and I will wait for the Minister to bring it back.
The Minister has enhanced the busing contract again, and I will get into that in the Operation and Maintenance Budget.
Are there any new programs or initiatives that were undertaken that are included in this Supplementary Estimate?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Certain initiatives that have been undertaken for the Public Schools Branch include $130,000 to hire aides for the special handicapped students, which is a marked increase; $45,000 increase to the Yukon Native Language Centre; $34,000 for the lease of the Faro gym; expansion of the core French program to Robert Service School, Takhini and Jack Hulland; the expansion of French immersion into grade seven; and just over a $10,000 increase to the Child Development Centre. These are new initiatives for the department, but not necessarily initiatives for the Supplementary Estimates.
Libraries and Archives Branch have extended library hours for Haines Junction, Watson Lake and Elsa. There are a number of projects I am sure the Member has heard of before, like the Career Services Programs, the YTAP, increased funding for student grants of $200,000, training allowances for $93,000, which is a projection of not only the increase of the amount allowed, but an increase in the take up. There is funding to Project Wordpower of $82,000. The Faro Community Campus was established. These are not new new; they are new old.
Mrs. Firth: I think that the Minister is trying to baffle. I am talking about a new initiative. I asked the Government Leader about any new projects that were started and that were not programs already in existence. That is what I am looking for. Was any new program started that will be carried on into the next budget year?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Not really. This year is the year of action. Last year was the year of establishing exactly where we are going.
Mrs. Firth: The last three years we have been trying to establish where we are going in Education. Believe me, we will all be pleased to see some action but we see no signs of it yet. On the Joint Commission on Indian Education and Training there was one announcement. We have been waiting and waiting. The Minister talked about major projects that were going to be carried on into 1988-89. He mentioned three or four schools and the college. Are there any other major projects, resulting from the public consultation, that are going to be carried on? What other ones is he referring to?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There are no other major projects of that size going forward. I do not want to get into debate about what Education has been doing in the last two or three years but certainly it is my considered view that quite a lot has been done, not only to establish clearly the proper direction, policies, and legislative framework for Education, but also a number of things have been undertaken, which I think are proud accomplishments for the department. I realize that this is not the best time to debate these things but nevertheless, I am proud of what has been happening up to now. On the capital side, the projects that I mentioned are the projects of the size that will be carrying over, ultimately, as revotes.
Deputy Chairman: If there is no further general debate, the first line item under Operation and Maintenance expenditures, Finance and Administration, an increase of $277,000.
On Finance and Administration
Mrs. Firth: The $200,000 was for salaries in the collective agreement. What is the other $77,000 for?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It is for extra busing for Canyon Creek and a half-time bus for Whitehorse, for an increase to the security contract - which is Canadian Janitorial Services, the bids came in high -, for approximately $36,000. There was a slight reduction of $11,000 in the transportation subsidy costs, as a result of added busing.
Mrs. Firth: Where does the teacher recruiting come in?
The Minister mentioned relocation costs for teachers and recruiting costs.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There is an over expenditure due to YGEU and YTA increases here and vacation payouts of $603,000. There are extra salaries required to staff the Yukon Hall dormitory. There are 18 more students at Yukon Hall. This is $38,000. There is an over expenditure due to the secondment to land claims of Mr. Reidl and the replacement for $19,000 for a portion of the year. There is an over expenditure for substitute teacher salaries of $82,000. There was a teacher on half-pay while he was suspended of $34,000. There was an over expenditure due to hiring two teacher aides for exceptional children of $26,000. Those were at FH Collins, Christ the King High School, Jeckell and Jack Hulland Schools. They were all part-timers. There was an over expenditure due to native language instructors and the teacher aids being put on grid of $61,000. The challenge program teachers were hired at a higher rate than budgeted at $18,000. There were teacher recruitment and relocation costs of $345,000. There was a payment to the YTA, according to the collective agreement, for the annual professional development fund of $3,000.
Mrs. Firth: Why does the Department of Education have to pay for the land claims portion? Why is Land Claims not paying for it? They have lots of money. We could use the $19,000.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: That was the way the situation was negotiated. That was the agreement.
Mrs. Firth: The relocation and recruitment money of $345,000 is extremely high. Can the Minister give us some explanation? Have we had some difficulty recruiting teachers? Are there observations being made within the department that it is becoming more difficult to get teachers to come to the Yukon? Is there more movement within the Yukon itself, of teachers coming from the communities to Whitehorse? I would like to find out and be updated on the status of the teacher recruitment, generally.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There are a number of things that cause this expenditure. Firstly, the policy of the government has changed slightly with respect to the hiring of principals. They are hired now at the concurrence of the school committee. In Old Crow, for example, there were two outside candidates; one local candidate was brought to Whitehorse; the school committee was brought to Whitehorse to interview the candidates, and the successful candidate was flown to Old Crow to view the school and his accommodation. Two attempts with three candidates each were made to conduct interviews in Dawson City before a successful candidate was found. For Faros principal, four candidates were taken there; three candidates were taken to Pelly Crossing; there were three for Christ the King High School, of whom two had travel expenses. For Whitehorse Elementary School there were three candidates, of whom two had travel expenses. For FH Collins vice principalship, there were seven candidates, one of whom had travel expenses. Of the teachers, there were 17 who had relocation costs. There were eight positions to be hired after September 1 who had relocation costs - one in Old Crow, one in Pelly, three for Faro, Destruction Bay, Whitehorse and two for French programs.
In terms of a general view, it is the feeling of the department at least that, in good economic times, there is a higher turnover, in their experience, of teachers and administrators than normal; this past year was out of the ordinary. We expect it to be up next year, but we do not expect a repeat of this last year.
Mrs. Firth: I do not imagine the Minister has this information with him, but I would like to know how the recruitment costs have been changing over the last, say, two or three years - two years particularly. Have they been going up every year? If so, by how much? If the Minister could bring that information back for me, I think it would be very interesting.
There seems to be a lot of mobility and I would anticipate from these figures that we are having some difficulty recruiting teachers. If that is not the case, I would like to hear the Ministers defense of that. It would appear that a lot of teachers are coming from outside the Yukon, if our costs are escalating, and I have had teachers come to me, who live here in the Yukon, saying that they are unable to get jobs with the Department of Education. I wonder if the Minister could tell me what the comparison is of locally-recruited teachers to teachers who come from outside the Yukon?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I can provide the information that the Member requests on comparative analysis of teacher relocation costs. I would not characterize it generally as being hard to find new teachers except in specialized areas. The French Language Program has always been difficult. As the western and the eastern provinces get more deeply into French immersion and French programming, they put a heavier demand on the available French-speaking teachers, and we are all, as a result, because we do not have a large indigenous populations of French speakers, competing for the same group of teachers being produced out of the French-speaking provinces.
Therefore, it is difficult to find French teachers, and it is also difficult to find, at times, science and math teachers with specialized skills. Quite often, the department has to find teachers who are not only experienced in math and science but who can teach industrial arts and who can take a turn at grade 10 geography for rural schools. They have to balance off the requirements of the school with what they can find in the applications that we receive. That has always been a difficult process. It did not start in the last two years.
I understand that in the last year, a large number of applications were made for the teaching positions here from outside candidates. There were probably a number of reasons for that, and I would not speculate on that would be. The Member did mention that there are teachers in Whitehorse who feel that they would like to teach within the system. We have reviewed this, at some length, with the department. They have been very careful to catalogue all known teachers in the Yukon who have expressed an interest in teaching. They have also catalogued their qualifications and where they would prefer to work.
Many teachers may want to teach elementary school in Whitehorse. However, there is also the competing factor that there are teachers outside of Whitehorse, employed by the department, who want to transfer. Those teachers are generally given preference over new hires.
It is difficult sometimes to find an open position in Whitehorse for certain types of teaching positions. It is relatively easier to find open positions, of all sorts, in many of the rural communities especially the remote rural communities.
The department has gone to great lengths, however, to advertise for a teacher bank, so that teachers who express an interest or who have been out of the system for a while and want to get back in can have a standing application with the department. If a job comes up that meets the departments needs, the local person will always be given preference.
Mrs. Firth: I have a concern for teachers who have been in the system who live in Whitehorse and want to teach in Whitehorse, because I get the feeling they get put to the bottom of the list. Because there are so many specialized areas teachers are required in, they have to compete with teachers in the communities with seniority who want transfers to Whitehorse. Then they have to compete with the specialized areas so people outside would be hired before they would because they cannot fulfill requirements. It puts them in a limbo where they have to wait for some special position to come available that they are suited to fill. I know there are a lot of teachers in that category in Whitehorse, because I have had many of them have come to see if I can help them.
What does the department do to encourage teachers to get more professional skills or training, or enhance their skills, knowledge and teaching abilities and credits they already have? Is there anything being done?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Member is correct when she says that the teachers already in the system have preference when it comes to new jobs opening up in the territory, including Whitehorse. There are times when jobs do open up in rural communities where, if a local Yukon person wishes to transfer to that community, then they would be given preference.
Professional development of teachers is something that is ongoing and done jointly in large part with the YTA. Firstly, the government provides four paid teaching positions for teachers to take professional development leave some place out of our system. Beyond that, there is regular inservicing of existing teaching personnel that is done by the regular process.
There is also activity between the YTA and the Department of Education so upgrading of teaching skills is and has been a priority with the department and the YTA.
If the Member is asking primarily about teachers who are not currently employees of the Department of Education and what might be done to assist them, obviously what is offered at Yukon College is something we do provide. If there is something special that could be considered for teachers, and if there was enough demand, I think we would be prepared to entertain something. At this stage no one has come to me asking for upgrading of any special skills for teachers who are living in Whitehorse or would like a job in Whitehorse and would like to upgrade their skills.
Mrs. Firth: If that is an invitation for me to send people to the Minister, I will see that he has several on his doorstep as soon as possible.
I would like to know about the problem that the Minister has raised in finding teachers with special skills and abilities - like the French language instructors. Concerns have been brought forward to me about the quality of the programs that are offered, because of the great difficulty in getting teachers. Is the Minister aware of this as a concern of some of the parents, and could he tell us what is being done to address it?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Some parents have, in the last three or four years - it may have been earlier than that but my memory only goes back the years that I have been Minister - suggested that the teaching personnel that have been hired are not as proficient in the technical use of the French language as they would like. This is a matter that has been disputed, furiously disputed, by the French language coordinator, who is largely responsible for hiring French teachers. In fact, there is the view that, by and large, the teachers that we have been able to secure for the French Immersion and French First Language program are of a high quality. I realize that some people who do not even speak French have complained about the French-speaking ability of others. It is impossible for me to evaluate special competence, but I do know that we have taken great care to ensure that the teachers are of a high quality. We do have recruitment trips to Quebec to thoroughly interview the candidates as they come forward. We have a French language coordinator who is highly skilled, has extremely good academic credentials, and who ought to be a good judge of professional quality. Beyond that, this issue of whether or not the programs themselves are up to snuff - and as I said, we have had, so far, good reports from the Secretary of State. We are also doing an independent evaluation, through Simon Fraser University, of the French Immersion program, and we expect that we will receive a fairly good bill of health from them, but we are prepared to take any criticism they may levy, too.
Mr. Deputy Chairman, perhaps, given the time of day, I would move that you report progress on Bill No. 60.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. Porter: I move that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Deputy Chairman: It has been moved by the hon. Government House Leader that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Motion agreed to
Speaker resumes the Chair
Speaker: I now call the House to order.
May the House have the report from the Chairman of Committee of the Whole?
Mr. McLachlan: The Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 60, Fourth Appropriation Act, 1987-88, and directed me to report progress on same.
Speaker: You have heard the report from the Chairman of Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
May I have your further pleasure?
Hon. Mr. Porter: I move that the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Government House Leader that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: This House now stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m., Monday next.
The House adjourned at 5:27 p.m.
The following Sessional Papers were tabled April 21, 1988:
Addendum to Report of the Chief Electoral Officer on Contributions to Political Parties During 1987 (Speaker - Johnston)
The following Legislative Returns were tabled April 21, 1988:
Contract on TV maintenance (McDonald)
Oral, Hansard, p. 235
Assistance to patients on medical travel status, internal program review (M. Joe)
Oral, Hansard, p. 222