Monday, April 25, 1988 - 1:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. We will proceed at this time with Prayers.
Speaker: We will proceed with the Order Paper.
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS
Speaker: Today it gives me great pleasure to introduce the Grades 4, 5 and 6 from the Teslin Elementary School, along with their teacher, Miss Collyne Bunn, the principal, Bill Virtue, and their two chaperones, Kelly Johnston and Rita Grant.
Are there any further introduction of visitors?
Returns or documents for tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I have for tabling the Fourth quarter Statistical Review.
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I have for tabling a response to questions.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I have for tabling a response to a question from the Member for Faro.
Speaker: Reports of committees?
Introduction of bills?
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
Bill No. 71: First Reading
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I move that Bill No. 71, entitled Interim Supply Appropriation Act, 1988-89 (No. 2), be now introduced and read a first time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Government Leader that Bill No. 71, entitled Interim Supply Appropriation Act, 1988-89 (No. 2), be now introduced and read a first time.
Motion agreed to
Are there any notices of motion for the production of papers?
Are there any notices of motion?
NOTICES OF MOTION
Mr. Phelps: I give notice of motion
THAT it is the opinion of the Yukon Legislative Assembly that it would be in the public interest for copies of the maps showing the overlapping claim in Yukon by the Atlin Tlingit to be tabled in this House;
THAT the Speaker communicate, on behalf of the House, a request to the Yukon Government Land Claims Negotiator and the federal office of native claims for copies of these maps; and
THAT the Speaker table the copies of these maps at such time as they are provided to him.
Mr. Lang: I give notice of motion
THAT it is the opinion of this House that the home owner tax refund known as the Home Owners Grant should be increased by an additional $50.00 per year.
Mrs. Firth: I give notice of motion that
THAT it is the opinion of this House that the Yukon Housing Corporation should immediately change its policy to allow pets in seniors housing facilities.
Mr. Nordling: I give notice of motion
THAT it is the opinion of this House that the federal Mine Safety Program should be transferred to the Department of Economic Development: Mines and Small Business rather than the Department of Justice.
Mr. Phillips: I give notice of motion
THAT it is the opinion of this House that the planned Government of Yukon moves to the old Yukon College may have an effect on the traffic flow in and out of Riverdale; and
THAT this House urges the Government of Yukon to participate directly with the City of Whitehorse in sponsoring the study of Riverdale traffic.
Mr. Lang: I give notice of motion
THAT it is the opinion of this House that the Government of Yukon immediately review and make a decision in respect to the extension of the main power transmission line from Rock Creek to Henderson Creek.
Mr. Nordling: I give notice of motion
THAT it is the opinion of this House that income taxes paid by Yukon Electric Company Limited and returned to Yukon by the Government of Canada should be used specifically to assist electrical ratepayers rather than going into general revenue for Yukon.
Mr. Brewster: I give notice of motion
THAT it is the opinion of this House that the Government of Yukon should proclaim one week in 1988 to be known as Trapping Awareness Week in recognition of the contribution of the trapping industry to the Yukon economy and its way of life.
Mr. Phillips: I give notice of motion
THAT this House should cause a public inquiry to be made into the operation of the Whitehorse Correctional Centre and that this inquiry should be carried out by an independent body or individual who shall report the results of the inquiry back to the House or to each Member of the House if the inquiry is completed when the House is not sitting.
Mr. Lang: I give notice of motion
THAT it is the opinion of this House that the nursing station in Dawson City be designated as a cottage hospital.
Mr. Nordling: I give notice of motion
THAT it is the opinion of this House that, during its review and renegotiation of the Canada/Yukon Economic Development Agreement and the Subagreements, the Government of Yukon should advocate a revolving fund which would be utilized to provide low interest loans rather than grants.
Speaker: Are there any Statements by Ministers?
Policy on Fire Protection Services
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am pleased to announce the adoption of a policy respecting the establishment and operation of fire protection services by the Government of Yukon. As the Members are aware, requests for fire protection to areas presently unprotected and to upgrade fire protection in existing fire stations are often made to the government. In order to be able to reasonably respond to these requests it is now felt that some guidelines need to be established specifying under what terms fire stations will be provided and the extent of protection that would, in fact, be included. The policy also deals with fire truck replacement, rates of remuneration for volunteers and training standards for fire fighters.
Under the policy a formula has been developed to determine the level of fire protection this government will provide to any given area. The formula takes into consideration such things as population, the assessed value of property to be protected, number of dwelling units, number of rental units, vehicle campsites and special hazard properties such as schools, community halls, service stations and bulk fuel facilities. Two levels of fire protection are provided for, based on the formula. The main difference between the two levels is the size of the fire truck and the amount of fire fighting equipment to go with it. No existing fire departments will be downgraded as a result of this policy, as it applies only to new fire halls or upgrading existing fire halls.
Three communities presently have fire trucks that are over twenty years old. Several more communities will be in that position in the next two or three years. The replacement program for fire trucks will therefore be accelerated over the coming years in accordance with the policy to ensure that the maximum age of any fire truck in the future will be not more than 20 years. This is considered to be the maximum life of a fire truck given normal usage and a regular maintenance program.
Volunteer fire fighters provide a valuable service to the communities in which they live and to its individual residents. Their dedication requires a great deal of their spare time to be spent training and on practice sessions so that they are well prepared when fires occur. In recognition of their contribution and community service the rates of remuneration are to be increased. Rates of remuneration established in 1975 are seven dollars for attending a fire and five dollars for attending a training session. The fire chief receives $100 per month for looking after the fire hall and equipment and organizing training sessions. These rates will now be increased to $15 per hour for fire fighting and $10 per session for attending a maximum of two training sessions per month. The fire chiefs will continue to receive $100 per month for looking after the fire hall and equipment.
Training standards for volunteer fire fighters will be based on national fire protection association standard number 1001, level I. Advanced levels II and III will also be offered to fire fighters who wish to take this level of training. This is a national goal aimed at standardizing training so that it will be recognized in any jurisdiction. The Yukon, in fact, has been working towards this standard for a number of years and is simply undertaking to now enshrine the standard in policy.
The government considers this an important matter and is therefore injecting an additional $26,750 per year into training and remuneration. These O&M funds have been reallocated from other sources within the department so that no new financial resources are being sought. Commencing with the 1989-90 Capital Budget, an increase from the present $110,000 to $270,000 annually will be sought over the next three years to upgrade the existing fleet of fire trucks in accordance with this policy. This will ensure that all communities have a reliable fire truck and the necessary equipment with which to control fires.
Speaker: This then brings us to the Question Period.
Question re: Bilingualism
Mr. Phelps: I have a number of questions with regard to the issue of official bilingualism and Bill C-72 that is now before Parliament. The Government Leader has stated he intends to travel to Ottawa to present Yukons position regarding this bill. Can he confirm that now and tell us when?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Yes. Further to discussions with the Leader of the Official Opposition in which he agreed to pair with me, it would be my intention to travel to Ottawa tomorrow evening in connection with this issue. I would also say it would be my intention to make a Ministerial Statement on the matter prior to my departure tomorrow.
Mr. Phelps: Can the Government Leader also confirm that the position being taken will be in accordance with the motion that we put forward on December 16, 1987 in this House and that was passed unanimously by all parties?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The position taken by this government will be in accordance with the position I laid down during the debate on the motion that was referred to by the Member opposite. I believe that is fairly well understood by him.
Mr. Phelps: Has the Government Leader received any correspondence from the federal government with regard to that motion?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I cannot recall if, other than the usual acknowledgement, we have heard from the federal government about the text of the motion. The Member should know that we have been, of late, in almost daily communications on this question.
Question re: Bilingualism
Mr. Phelps: I received correspondence from the Minister of Justice in February that indicated that the governments were on the verge of a breakthrough. He stated in that letter, We hope that we will be able to accommodate the interests of both governments. Is there any indication that the federal government is prepared to amend that part of section 3(1) that is so offensive to Yukoners?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I hope so. Let me say that I am extremely cautious about trumpeting a potential breakthrough since on two separate occasions we had agreements at the officials level, which were rejected at the last minute in Cabinet. Until such time as we have an agreement that is approved by the federal cabinet, I am not inclined to make any announcement to that effect.
Mr. Phelps: Does the Government Leader know what time frame is being pursued now, and what critical path the bill is on? Will there be an opportunity for representation to be made to a special committee?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Apart from any negotiations that might take place in this matter, the principal purpose of my scheduled visit to Ottawa is to appear before the committee of the House dealing with this bill on Thursday, and to make a presentation on behalf of this government. In the course of these things, I hope an agreement may be possible prior to my appearance. If that is possible, what I have to say will be substantially changed.
Mr. Phelps: Does the Government Leader have any idea how long that particular committee is going to be sitting with respect to this bill?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am sorry that I cannot say with certainty, but I believe that the number of people who wish to make appearances exceeded the budgeted amount of time the committee had. Therefore, I do not know whether the committee has decided that it would have to extend its hearings or sit extra hours, or whether it is going to have to be selective about the requests for presentations. I believe that information is correct.
Question re: Young offenders facilities
Mr. McLachlan: On Friday of last week, the Yukon public was treated to the spectacle of the director of juvenile justice giving a press conference on behalf of, or in defense of, the Minister of Health and Human Resources with respect to runaway young offenders. All this, after being followed on the heels of a Mr. John Walsh quoting and giving press releases on behalf of the Government Leader.
Why does the Minister of Health and Human Resources not stand up and admit to this Legislature that the reason a number of these young children are running away from the homes is that the programs for their rehabilitation are just not working?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: The Member has said there was a press conference by the director of juvenile justice. I called the press conference. We talked to them about a number of issues, and they chose to use some of the things said by the director of juvenile justice. I do not have to admit here that the problems are because our programs are not adequate. They are programs that have been used for a number of years and are always being improved upon. They are going through a period right now where they are looking at all the programs, and they are looking at ways to improve them.
Mr. McLachlan: Perhaps that is the problem. As the Minister has enumerated, they are old programs from years ago and are not working.
How many new programs has this Minister instituted since she assumed responsibility for the portfolio almost three years ago?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: There have been a number of new initiatives in the juvenile justice program. There are numerous ones, and I would be quite willing to make sure those are tabled this week so the Member can read what they are.
Mr. McLachlan: The Minister has obviously done some hard thinking over Thursday and Friday about this whole problem and has attempted to use the press conference to deflect a lot of the flak over the issue.
What new initiatives, what new programs, what new directions have been given to the staff over the past week that the Minister, in so doing, is attempting to stop the children from running away from the young offenders facilities?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: A program cannot be developed in one week to stop the children from running. You would assume that there had never been runaways under the former government. A number of things have been done, and one of them was to add another youth worker for the evening shift so that there would be two. That was done prior to the night that the two young people escaped. I have tabled information in the House today that talks about the emergency process whereby there is someone on call, and if they feel there is going to be a problem then they will have an extra person on call, which they did that night.
Question re: Health services in rural communities
Mrs. Firth: I have a question for the Minister of Health and Human Resources regarding her department. On the 12:30 p.m. news, we just heard about an unfortunate tragedy in the community of Faro, and the Faro residents are now appealing to this government to have the services of a doctor put in that community.
I would like to ask the Minister of Health and Human Resources about some comments she made when we were debating a motion two years ago, December 17, 1986, regarding the designation of the status of the Dawson City hospital. In that debate, she talked about her department and the federal authorities having agreed to do a review of the facilities, meaning all of the community facilities - their effectiveness and their services; the services that are required in the communities - of Dawson City, Mayo, Faro and Watson Lake. She said, at that time, and I am quoting from Hansard, page 341, 1986, December 17: I have instructed my department to proceed with that examination and to look at the long-term care needs and the in community health services and evaluating the options of local versus regionalized service delivery. My question to the Minister is: did that study get done?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I believe that is the study that is going on right now.
Mrs. Firth: I asked her about a study she announced two years ago - 1986, December 17. I would like an answer: did the study get done that she talked about two years ago?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I talked about a study that was going to be done, and the study has just now started.
Mrs. Firth: Is the Minister telling us, then, that the study she announced two years ago is, in fact, the same announcement that she just made about a study being done for $118,000 to review health services in the Yukon?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: Yes.
Question re: Health services in rural Yukon
Mrs. Firth: I would like to follow up with this question to the Minister of Health and Human Resources regarding the announcement she made. I believe she did not say they were going to look at doing the study; she said, I have instructed my department to proceed with that examination. Could she tell us why they did not proceed?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: There are a number of reasons why that project did not get off the ground. I mentioned to House that it would happen, and I asked my department that they do that. A number of things had to be done, and first of all we had to find out whether or not the money was going to be available to hire staff to do the job because we wanted a good job done.
Mrs. Firth: This is totally unacceptable. Two years ago, the Minister told us the study was being done. We have had tragedies in two communities that were supposed to be involved in this study.
Speaker: Order, please. Would the Member please get to the supplementary question?
Mrs. Firth: Could the Minister tell us what time line was put on this study? When is it going to be completed?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: The Member is giving the impression that the tragedies are a result of the lack of doctors in the communities. We have been working with Dawson to try to recruit a doctor. We have even paid to have a doctor sent there to find out if he wanted to be there, and he chose not to stay there. Right now, they are looking at a couple of other options.
Mrs. Firth: I am talking about the information that is brought to this House and to the public by this Minister. Two years ago, she said that we were going to have this study. Now we have a big announcement about a $118,000 study that is going to be done.
Speaker: Order, please. Would the Member please get to the supplementary question?
Mrs. Firth: The Minister just casually announced it in her Throne Speech response. I would like to know when the study will be completed? Is the Minister just recycling her old speeches. When are we going to get an answer to this study? When will we have a date when this will be done?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I am getting sick and tired of the attitude from that side of the House and their questions. They can ask questions without the attitude that they are expressing here. The study has started and will last six months.
Question re: Mine Safety Program
Mr. Nordling: My understanding is that the Yukon Federation of Labour passed a resolution at their convention last weekend asking that the federal Mine Safety Program be transferred to the Department of Economic Development. Is the Government Leader reconsidering his decision that this program will be transferred to the Department of Justice?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I too heard the news report referred to by the Member opposite. I have not seen the text of the resolution referred to by the Member. Once we receive the text of it, we will study it seriously.
Mr. Nordling: On April 11, when discussing this transfer, the Government Leader said that the industry demonstrated a misunderstanding of how government works. Is the Government Leader now saying that the Federation of Labour has also demonstrated this misunderstanding?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: No, if anything, perhaps the Federation of Labour has demonstrated a change of heart, but I do not know that until we actually see the text of the resolution. I can tell the Member that prior to this weekend it was communicated to us by the most forceful terms by the people who work in the industry that they felt safety would be potentially compromised by having the department located as the Member proposed, and in the interests of integrated and coordinated approach of Occupational Health and Safety that mine safety should be managed by the department that is responsible for Occupational Health and Safety in this government, which is the Department of Justice.
Mr. Nordling: When will we hear further on this issue from the Government Leader?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Cabinet agendas are not something we make up on the floor of the House during Question Period, but once we get the text of the resolution passed by the Federation we will have a look at it and take the matter under consideration. My colleague, the Minister of Justice, and I will discuss the matter and at some appropriate point we may take it before Cabinet.
Question re: Service contracts
Mr. Lang: I want to turn to the service and consulting contracts issued by this government. As the government knows, there is approximately $60 million worth of contracts issued through this manner - some of them public, and a good majority of them through service contracts. The Minister of the Housing Corporation committed himself on Thursday to providing the service and consulting contracts issued by the Housing Corporation. When can we expect to have those service and consulting contracts tabled in this House?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I cannot give the Member any specific time. I have indicated indirectly to the Yukon Housing Corporation already that I do expect a list of the contracts to be provided to me. When I have a chance to speak to the Housing Corporation I will ascertain when the list can be made available.
Mr. Lang: There is another area of government that does rely directly on government financing. I would ask the Minister of Justice, who is responsible for the Liquor Corporation, when we can expect the service and consulting contracts issued through that agency to be tabled in this House?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I was not specifically asked about that in the past and I will ask the Liquor Corporation about those contracts. As to the time frame, I can only take that under advisement.
Mr. Lang: In order to make this particular document complete for service and consulting contracts, there is also the Yukon Development Corporation that is a direct and indirect recipient of government financing. When can we expect a list of the service and consulting contracts issued through this particular body to be tabled in this House and available to the general public?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I do not believe it was ever contemplated in the establishment of this or other crown corporations that the day to day business or contracts of the corporations would be tabled. I would, therefore, have to take that matter under advisement.
Question re: Service contracts
Mr. Phillips: I have a question about contracts, as well, and my question is to the Minister of Justice. In going through the contracts I have discovered contracts valued at over $300,000 for outside legal advice, in spite of the fact that the government currently has seven lawyers working for it, three of whom were hired in the last two years. How does the Minister explain this outside legal expenditure, in view of the almost 50 percent increase in our government legal staff?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: The largest item there is for Meech Lake, and that is the largest single reason for legal contracts in the last year.
Mr. Phillips: I understand Meech Lake was only about $50,000 of that, and that leaves $250,000 unanswered. It would be interesting to know how much of this $300,000 was donated to legal fees to help keep this particular Minister of Justice out of trouble.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: None.
Mr. Phillips: Could the Minister of Justice take the time to go back and check the record and bring the real facts forward in the House? I think a lot of Yukoners would be really interested in finding out how much it has cost to keep this Minister out of trouble. Does the Minister not have confidence in his own legal staff to provide the advice he needs? Why is he continuing to go outside of government for all of this legal advice, especially when he has increased our staff by 50 percent?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: There are various reasons for hiring legal counsel, which are not staff counsel. The practice of the government in this territory is no different than the practice of the previous government or other government around the country, and indeed, around the world.
Question re: Service contracts/homesteaders/squatters
Mrs. Firth: I would like to direct my question about contracts surrounding the homesteaders/squatters policy to the Minister for Community and Transportation Services.
Can the Minister tell us whether this contract was public or invitational?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I will take the question as notice.
Mrs. Firth: I had expected the Minister to know something about this contact; it is a very expensive contract. Can the Minister, when he finds that information, tell us how many proposals were submitted, as well?
I would like to ask the Minister, in my first supplementary question, whether or not, given the terms of reference, confined to the $22,000 contract, were any of the subsequent amendments or new contracts made public, or sent to public tender, or were they by invitational tender?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I will take that question as notice, as well. I certainly am familiar with the contract as a whole, with Mr. Carruthers, who has been doing a superb job in handling the squatters policy. I know that the Members are aware because the Leader of the Official Opposition asked a question for copies of all contracts, which I have supplied to the Members opposite. I am sure the Member for Riverdale South has copies of all the contracts. I will take the question with respect to whether or not the contract was invitational, or the amendments were invitational, as notice, and will report back to the House.
Mrs. Firth: We are not just talking about another little contract. We are talking about a contract that started out at $22,000 and went up to almost $200,000. When the Minister brings back his information, I would also like him to indicate whether the whole scope or magnitude of the total...
Speaker: Order, please. Would the Member please get to the supplementary?
Mrs. Firth: I am asking the question. When the Minister brings back the information, will he please bring back whether the whole scope or magnitude of the total contract was identified in the terms of reference?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: On quick reflection, I have no idea what the Member is asking me to do.
Question re: Service contracts/homesteaders/squatters
Mrs. Firth: The Minister did not have any trouble spending the money. I am trying to find out how this contract started at $22,000 and escalated up to $200,000. Were the whole terms of reference identified in that contract, as well as the anticipated costs? There are certain rules the government has to abide by. The rules are that contracts over $25,000 must be put out to public tender, or at least to invitational tender. The Minister cannot even answer that question on a huge contract of this amount of money.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Member does not have to stick her chin out to indicate the importance of her question. I am aware of the contract and aware of the progress with respect to the administration of the squatter policy. I am aware of the persons involved with the respect to the squatter policy, and I am aware of the amendments to the contract.
As to the invitational nature of the contract, which is handled by the administration of Community and Transportation Services, I will bring back the information the Member asks for. I am aware of the rules of issuing contracts with the government, and I will ensure the Member is made aware that the rules, as per usual, have been followed in this case, too. The significance of the contract and the significance of the policy are very important to the government.
Mrs. Firth: It is a bit late to check and see if the rules were applied after the contract has been awarded.
The Minister has given a commitment that he will find out whether it went out to invitational or public tender. I look forward to getting that information tomorrow.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I fail to detect any question, but, of course, the rules of Question Period has evolved considerably in the past three years. I have to be very careful, as Minister, to respond to simple allegations made by Members opposite. In my experience here, their credibility has suffered considerably in the last couple of years, and I have to be sure that I understand not only the questions, but that the alleged facts being presented are true. That is my responsibility and, given their track record over the past couple of years, it is doubly important that we check for the truthfulness of the facts they present to the Legislature.
Question re: Tourism subagreement
Mr. McLachlan: I have a question for the Minister of Tourism. Before he answers, this side understands that the Ministers previous war injury is bothering him and he may not be able to stand to answer the question. He need not ask for permission to answer it sitting.
Each year at this time, the Canada/Yukon Tourism Subagreement receives a number of applications for tourism assistance and the department does not honour those until the new year, April l, money becomes available. What happens is that this backs up applications, 18 or 20 of them, and the department cannot handle them. The Member for Klondike has a number, I am sure the Member for Kluane has a number, and I have a number from my riding. I want to ask the Minister if anything can be done to streamline the application process under the Canada/Yukon Tourism Subagreement, as he sees it?
Hon. Mr. Porter: The only way in which that can be taken care of is by increasing the allotment in that specific fiscal year for payment to applicants. The way the system works is that, if you are over applied, you simply cannot spend the money that is not there. You simply reserve from your next fiscal years budget the necessary funds to cover off the over applications.
Mr. McLachlan: Part of the problem also is, as enumerated by the Government Leader, the channelling of the applications must go through the business development office of the Department of Economic Development; instead of streamlining the process, this is having exactly the opposite effect. They are backing up, because only one person ...
Speaker: Order, please. Would the Member please get to the supplementary question?
Mr. McLachlan: Only one person deals with those applications. My question is: can the Minister look into the application process in the business development office and see what can be done at his level to streamline the system of applications?
Hon. Mr. Porter: Yes. I believe the question was for the Minister of Economic Development. I will ask him to review the matter.
Mr. McLachlan: The other thing the departments do is to only have one meeting a month. I have to ask why, when the applications are there and the season for building or getting the infrastructure in place is short, why cannot the number of meetings between the federal/territorial officials be done twice per month instead of once?
Hon. Mr. Porter: I will look into the specifics of the question. My understanding is that the management committee met on an as-needed basis, and if it is only once a month I will review that with the Minister of Economic Development.
Question re: Service contracts
Mr. Lang: On Thursday, I asked a question of the Minister of Community and Transportation Services with respect to the Taxation Assessment Act, as follows, and I will quote: Is the Minister of the department experiencing major problems in the area of taxation and assessment and, if they are, could he report to the House? The response from the Minister on Thursday was: I am not personally aware of a problem.
Over the weekend, I had the opportunity to go through the service and consulting contracts issued by this government, and I find that in the eighth month of last year there was a $32,800 contract let to Steveson, Kellogg, Ernst and Whinney of Victoria, BC to do a Yukon property tax regime research study. Could the Minister explain to this House why such a study was undertaken at such a cost when he informed this House on Thursday that we were not experiencing any problems in this particular area?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The context in which the question was put was whether or not the government was experiencing any problems with respect to the enforcement of the act and the enforcement of the assessment procedures under the act. I indicated to the Member that it was my understanding that there were no problems. I indicated quite candidly that I had received complaints in the past from my constituency on this matter.
When I answered the question, the answer that I gave holds true now. I experienced no problems with the enforcement section of the act. If the Member has information to the contrary, I would be pleased to review it.
The consultants study was done to review the procedures within the department. If the Member wants a copy or more information, I will be happy to return it to the House.
Mr. Lang: During the start of the Main Estimates last year, the Minister was very good at outlining all the studies that would be undertaken. When we met over the past two weeks, since we have started this session, the Minister gave us an update as to where we were on the studies and the expenditures in the department.
We are talking about $32,800. Why were we not informed that there was a major study being undertaken on the tax regime of the Yukon?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am not sure that the Members were not informed. I will check on that statement and see if it is the case. I did put myself in this chair for approximately 18 hours of discussion on the Operation and Maintenance Supplementaries and the Main Estimates to review exactly what the Members had in mind and to answer any questions that they had.
Mr. Lang: The Minister was not the only one here for those 18 hours. There were a few others, as well as Mr. Speaker, who were here for those 18 hours. Can the Minister provide this House with a copy of this document within the next day or two.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am aware that other Members had to suffer their way through the long, sometimes rambling question and answer period between the Member for Porter Creek East and myself over the 18 hours. I offer all Members my sincere apologies for such a long and drawn out spectacle. I cannot guarantee that I can provide the information within a day or two, but I will provide it as soon as I can.
Question re: Service contracts
Mr. Nordling: I have also been looking through this list of 3,427 contracts worth about $61 million. I will be requesting copies of a number of them. There appear to be quite a few contracts concerning the Yukon 2000 process. I would like to know the Minister of Economic Developments policy on reviewing the results.
For example, I am curious to know what the Rawson Academy of Aquatic Science was doing reviewing the Yukon 2000 results?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: It sounds like an excellent question for the Estimates. We will take it as notice and I will provide the information to the Member who is responsible.
Mr. Nordling: I would like to know if the results of the Yukon 2000 process were reviewed in every area by outside consultants?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I would be extremely surprised if they were but again I will take the question as notice.
Question re: Service contracts
Mr. Phillips: I have a question for the Minister of Health and Human Resources. I noticed a contract for $17,150 for childrens facility services study. This contract, interestingly enough, was done by a former ministerial assistant to the Minister of Justice. It appears to be an obvious case of patronage. Why could this contract not be done in-house?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: We usually try to get the best people for the jobs when we contract certain projects out. That is probably what we did in this case.
Mr. Phillips: So the Minister is telling us there is no one within the Department of Health and Human Resources who can do a childrens facility services study?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: The people employed in the department have jobs they have to do on a daily basis. This required something extra.
Mr. Phillips: I would have thought that it would be part of their job.
Does this contract have anything to do with the Young Offenders Facility Study? We have already done $75,000 worth of those studies. Does this contract have anything to do with that?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I believe that it was for group homes and other facilities, but I will get that information back to the Member.
Question re: Service contracts
Mr. Lang: We are going to be debating a Motor Transport Act that was, I believe, written by one Mr. Barry Bergh from Vancouver, B.C. On page 99 of the contracts that were made available to us there was a series of contracts let to the individual involved: one for $15,000, one for $23,000, one for $22,000, one for $4,480, one for $3,000, one for $23,600, one for $2,787, and that completes the list for this one. Was this put out to invitational tender for this type of service?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It would be a help if some of the questions could be provided to the government in advance so the Minister would not have to try to memorize hundreds of contracts. I believe the drafting contract of the Motor Transport Act was single source.
Mr. Lang: This should not be a new item to the Minister. I raised it last week with respect to the amount and expense that was involved. There was hundreds of thousands of dollars going out for the purpose of drafting legislation by somebody who does not even live here or understand the Yukon.
Could the Minister explain to me and to those who do not understand what he means by single source?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It was not an invitational tender.
Mr. Lang: Who made that decision? Was it the Minister?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: No.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now elapsed. We will now proceed with the Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Bill No. 37: Second Reading
Clerk: Second reading, Bill No. 37, standing in the name of the hon. Mr. McDonald.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that Bill No. 37, entitled Motor Transport Act, be now read a second time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Community and Transportation Services that Bill No. 37, entitled Motor Transport Act, be now read a second time.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Road transportation is the most significant way of moving goods and people in the Yukon. Efficient transportation of goods and people is a key factor in Yukons economic development. Nationally, governments have encouraged road transportation development through policies on tourism, 78 percent of which is by road, and on industry by shifting from rail to road for goods movement.
In the last few years, there have been major changes in commercial motor vehicle transportation in the United States and in this country. In the United States, there was a sudden shift to deregulation of this industry similar to the deregulation of the airline services in that country. There were major concerns raised about safety and the effect of unregulated competition.
In Canada, the federal, provincial and territorial governments have cooperatively planned the regulation of the commercial vehicle transportation industry. We have participated in that planning. We have insisted that, while the benefits of increased competition should flow to the transportation user and, ultimately, the consumer, there can be no decrease in safety on the road. Indeed, there will be new and more vigorous attention paid to safety of commercial vehicles in Yukon, as in all other Canadian jurisdictions as a result of this planned approach to changes in the industry.
New legislation was needed to give shape to this new regime. For their part, the federal government in 1987 passed new transport legislation entitled the National Transportation Act, which addressed all methods of transportation, and a Motor Vehicle Transport Act, which specifically dealt with highway transportation.
The Motor Vehicle Transportation Act, came into force on January 1, 1988. Changes instituted by the new legislation provided for a uniform national regime, which makes for a simpler application process across the country and, therefore, less burden to the industry. This uniform process for simpler application and evaluation procedures in all provinces and territories in Canada has been openly endorsed by the trucking industry nationally.
The new system instituted allows for an individual who is fit, willing and able to do business the authority to do business, unless the undertaking is proven to be detrimental to the public interest. This review process is commonly referred to as reverse onus. The Yukon Motor Transport Board administers the extra-territorial trucking industry under the federal Motor Vehicle Transport Act. This is provided for in the federal act partly for administrative ease but, also, for the practical reason of providing local input within a nationally-regulated trucking environment.
This same Motor Transport Board administers the point-to-point trucking industry in the territory as well. Again, this government can provide business people with a one-window administration process. In order to make the processes as consistent as possible for the extra-territorial and intra-territorial trucking concerns, many of whom operate both inside and outside the territory, it is desirable that similar procedures and approaches be taken inside and outside Yukon boundaries.
What I have summarized for the Members present is a brief outline of the events leading up to the reasons for debating the bill today. I am sure that all Members are aware that this government, in 1986, commenced the ambitious initiative of updating Yukons three major road transportation acts, to streamline them and to address any conflicts, omissions, and ambiguities. The affected acts are the Motor Transport Act, the Highways Act, and the Motor Vehicles Act. The Motor Transport Act was the first of the three road transportation acts to be reviewed. Following passage by this Assembly, the act will be scheduled to come into force September 1, 1988.
The Motor Transport Act has been organized into four parts, for better understanding and ease of administration. The first part is the interpretation and administration section. Within this part you will find definitions of the key words used throughout the act. The definition section was expanded from the previous act to ensure complete understanding and to eliminate differences in word interpretations between this act, the Motor Vehicles Act, and the Highways Act. Included also in this part is a statement for requirement of an operating authority.
The second part defines what the Motor Transport Board is and how it is to be structured, explains duties of the board and what authority the board has, its delegation powers, the rules that it must follow during the hearing process, investigation authority, appeal process, and powers of inspectors appointed by the board.
The third part, titled Certificates and Temporary Certificates outlines the application process, objector requirements, hearing process, issuance, amendment and revocation of certificates and temporary certificates, renewal process, and the authority identification plates. Included also in this part are the offence and liability sections.
Part four includes the regulations authority in the transitional period between the old and new acts. As mentioned earlier, the Motor Transport Act is the first part of a three act review project. Review of the existing legislation, in consultation with the industry and interested parties, began in August, 1986. From this review and consultation process, the regulatory principles were established and became the foundation of the new bill. In early December, 1987, a public consultation document was circulated to all persons, companies, associations, and interested parties who participated in the initial consultative review.
The consultation document summarized the concerns and recommendations of the review and provided a brief overview of what the new legislation would contain and address. The working draft of the act was then completed, which then went through an extensive review, not only by government officials, but with the persons and groups who would be affected by this legislation. During February and March of this year a clause by clause review was undertaken with representatives of the Motor Transport Board, the Yukon Transportation Association, and the Federation of Labour. Their comments, concerns and recommendations are reflected in the bill before you today. I would now like to highlight for you a few of the changes to be found in the new legislation.
The first change places clearly in the legislation the practice of the Yukon Motor Transport Board of the reverse onus principle. The burden of proof is on the objector to the application to prove that approval of the application would be detrimental to the public interest. The second is that the Motor Transport Board may issue a temporary cease operation order, without a hearing, to a maximum of 21 days. This section will allow the board to immediately respond to a situation where safety of the public is involved. The third change is that the Yukon Motor Transport Board can issue an operating authority certificate without a hearing, if no objections to an application are received.
The act clearly lays out the hearing process. Persons appearing before the Motor Transport Board under this act will know in advance of the hearing what can be expected of them in the process to follow. On hearing an application, the Motor Transport Board must consider if the application is in the public interest. If a service sought is found to be beneficial to the public, the application must be approved.
The next change provides for a renewal of operating authorities to a term determined by the board. This will allow periodic review of the certificate holders safety and fitness, and for identification of non-utilized authority.
The next change is that the Motor Transport Board may, for cause, suspend, alter, amend, or revoke an operating certificate, whereas the existing Motor Transport Act made no provisions for changes to certificate status; it was either existing or canceled. There is now a mandatory requirement to file, along with the application, notification of liability insurance and cargo insurance.
Separate identification plates to identify for hire carriers are not linked to the vehicle registration license plates. Separate identity plates provide for certificate holders ease to increase or decrease their fleet as the market demands without dealing with a lot of red tape and paperwork.
Powers of the board and inspectors are fully spelled out in the act. The board is now limited to the hearings and the issuance process only. The powers of the inspectors appointed by this act are very specifically stated.
In closing, I would like to leave you with some thoughts as to what the new act will provide: a complete up to date Motor Transport Act which meets the requirements to ensure safety to the public; mandatory requirement for insurance; mechanical fitness of the vehicles; and trained, professional drivers as provided under this act for all for hire bus and truck undertakings operating on Yukon highways.
It addresses any known conflicts in the Charters of Rights and Freedoms. The legislation is written in everyday English rather than hard to understand legal jargon. It solidifies an arms length relationship between the government and the Motor Transport Board. It allows for the small operator to be evaluated on his or her own ability if fit, willing and able. It benefits the user of the transportation services, which is a major consideration when evaluating the application of supply and service.
There is a provision for the board to ensure scheduled bus services continue where these services currently exist.
Mr. Lang: I think all Members, as well as the general public, know that this party supports the principle of deregulation, with some standards, as far as the trucking industry is concerned. It is safe to say that this process started in the early 1980s and finally we are coming to the culmination where legislation is required to put into effect the various policy decisions that have been made over the last four or five years with respect to this area.
One thing that should be put into the record is that prior to these changes it was more difficult for a trucking company to go from the Pacific to the Atlantic and through the various provincial borders, and also be in a position to apply for the permits, meet the necessary licensing and requirements. It was more difficult for a trucker to do that than to go through 10 or 12 European countries. That does not make sense to the consumer, nor to the people in the industry.
My concern, in part, is the cost that the taxpayer is being asked to bear to bring forward a piece of legislation that is 15 pages in length, along with some regulations that would be put into place in conjunction with the Transport Act. I believe we were informed on Wednesday or Thursday that the cost of writing this act was in the neighbourhood of $70,000 to $90,000. My point is that this government has seven lawyers plus a legislative draftsman on staff, and I have to question why we were not able to do this in house.
We have not been presented with major pieces of legislation in this House and we have an individual on staff who is available for any department at any time for the drafting of legislation.
The Minister has given the impression to this House, as well as the general public, that we do not have a motor transport act in place. We do, and there are people qualified within that branch to bring the various principles and ideas forward, in conjunction with the staff that we have available, as far as legislative drafting is concerned.
I want to register my serious concern about almost the flippant attitude given by the side opposite that we cannot do it at home and they only know better down south. Over and above this so-called local hire policy that is in effect, we have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars going outside for that particular expertise.
We will be supporting the general principle of the bill. I will have some questions about licensing and what some of the implications are with respect to some of the safety requirements and what it is going to do to the trucking industry as we know it today. The one area that is of major concern - and I do not know how it applies to this bill - is the question of permitting an individual who is a professional truck driver to only drive certain hours and a certain number of hours. That is of major concern to constituents within my particular riding and, I am sure, it is shared in many respects by people who have made this a way of making a living. In order to be successful in that business, one of the requirements is they have to be able to work long hours. That may be a subject we could further debate in Committee of the Whole. I understand that also comes under federal legislation. The Minister has access to the federal government with respect to issues of this kind, and it is something that I want to raise. It has been brought to my attention by a number of my constituents.
I look forward to debate of the bill. I am pleased to see the combination of the many years of work that have gone into it via the various levels of government. It is nice to see that Canada can get together on issues of this kind that, in the long term, are going to be better for Canada and for our consumers, as well as those in the industry.
Mr. McLachlan: I want to reiterate some of the remarks the Member for Porter Creek East has mentioned in his address. There is no doubt in the territory that trucking is a major part of the industry and our economic survival here. The new piece of legislation, which makes it easier for a number of our truckers to operate and to interline with other jurisdictions of Canada, will only be of ultimate benefit to that industry.
I want to serve notice on the Minister that when we get into Committee of the Whole debate, there is a section of the legislation that appears to be missing. It has to do with the application or issuance of temporary certificates. Section 44 talks about applications and section 45 talks about issuance, but I cannot find how one moves off temporary on to full-time licences, or how long temporary certificates are issued for, and what happens to lose those. During Committee of the Whole debate, we will be pursuing other elements of the legislation at length.
Speaker: The hon. Member will close debate if he now speaks. Does any other Member wish to be heard?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I will be happy to clarify the points that the Member for Faro brought forward with respect to the application for temporary and permanent certificates. Moving from a temporary to a permanent certificate, the short answer, of course, is to apply for a permanent certificate. The temporary certificate refers to a particular job of work. It does not restrict a person to carry goods, for example, from Yukon to Edmonton within a certain time frame; it just allows that person to undertake a particular piece of work, one way.
In any case, we can talk about that when Committee debate takes place.
The Member for Porter Creek East gave the impression, I think, that the policy decision to establish this act was taken by the previous government and basically this government blindly followed suit and continued the direction of the previous government. That was hardly the case; in fact, as a matter of course, I took with a great deal of suspicion policy decisions that had been made by the previous government and wanted to ensure for myself that the direction in which we were going was not only good for the Yukon and good for Canada but also I wanted to understand the impact on the industry and on the public with respect to changes of this sort. It is that reason why the policy decision was, in large part, retaken by the Government of Yukon in 1985 and basically all the work we have done in order to implement it from that point onwards. There had been no previous work that I am familiar with at all that went into implementing the simple policy decision taken by a minister from the previous government.
The Member has made, in Question Period and in this House, a lot out of the fact that some legal expertise provided to the government was done by a person who the Member considers to be an outsider. For that reason, the Member has - depending on what the Member has to say in the future - tried to slander the reputation of the person involved. I think this is truly, truly unfortunate.
I would be happy to go into detail with respect to the costing of this legislation and I am prepared to discuss that at great length. I will only say this: in my view, the work that has been done to determine the effect of the policy initiatives in this legislation and the consultation that has been done was worth every penny we have spent. I am happy that the transportation industry, the Federation of Labour, the Motor Transport Board and others are pleased with the results of this legislation. Gone are the days when the government expects a public servant to draft legislation in their spare time, on weekends, without a lot of public consultation. We have now come to a time when the public is fully informed of not only the changes that are being made on the national level but also of changes that could be undertaken at the territorial level. I would be happy to discuss that with the Members from the Conservative Opposition.
The Member for Porter Creek East suggests I am going to be suffering my way through this bill; I will stand here toe to toe until mid-summer if I have to, to get this bill through over all of the Conservative Oppositions opposition to it or to whatever measures are contained in it, because I feel the bill is important to the Yukon and to the transportation industry.
The Member for Porter Creek East indicated that he had another concern, and that was the hours of work associated with the National Safety Code, which is referred to as a companion piece to this bill.
I indicated to the Member for Faro that the National Safety Code approved the national operating framework for safety regulations. That is something that contains some flexibility on the hours of work. It was the Yukon that made the appeal at the Ministers table to ensure that some flexibility with respect to hours of work was permitted.
Having said that, I will reiterate the answer that I gave the Member for Faro before. The safety of the travelling public is our primary concern. We recognize that the longer the hours that a trucker can put in can be beneficial to that truckers business. At the same time, if truckers are operating long hours, their perception fails them as a result of tiredness, and they become a danger on the road. We want to ensure that there are guidelines in place so that the safety of the public is ensured.
The rules that are established in the National Safety Code, which were agreed jointly upon by all provincial and territorial governments and the federal government, will provide for a safe operating environment for the public. That is one of the major concerns that we have. I do not think that it is shared by the Member for Porter Creek East, but it is certainly a concern that this government has.
We have cut a fine balance here for the safety of the travelling public with as little regulation as possible. We have adopted a reverse onus test, and I believe that we have a fine act in front of us. I will be happy to defend it, and I will be happy to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous conservative fortune in doing so.
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: Committee of the Whole will come to order. We will now recess for 15 minutes.
Chairman: Committee of the Whole will now come to order.
Bill No. 60 - Fourth Appropriation Act, 1987-88 - continued
Department of Education - continued
On Public Schools
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There were a few questions that were asked during the Thursday session in Committee with respect to managerial salary increases. A question was asked as to how many increases there were. The number is 19. I can give the Member for Riverdale South the job titles, if she wants.
One Member also asked a question with respect to the cost of teacher recruitment relocation over last years compared to this year. The total last year was $588,700. The total this year is $613,400.
Mrs. Firth: I listened to the Ministers comments quite closely about various issues when we were last sitting. I would like to follow up on the comments he made about the French immersion program. He talked about the evaluations that had been done. Has the evaluation been presented to the people who participate in that program? Some years ago, I recall the first part of the evaluation was done, and it was made public. I believe it was the former government that did that. Is the evaluation complete, and when will it be made public?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: A number of things are anticipated to happen. The final report is anticipated at the end of August, 1988. That is a lengthy time, but there is a computer analysis that will have to be reviewed and, also, the results of the testing of students, which is to be undertaken the beginning of May.
The preliminary report is due at the end of this month. The report is going to include opinions of the program participants, and that includes everybody, including the teachers, parents, students and principals, the classroom processes and resources, the student test results, their skills and their English skills in Grades 5 and 6.
The final report, as I say, is due at the end of August of this year. It was scheduled to be undertaken over the course of pretty well a full year.
Mrs. Firth: I believe the Minister is talking about this new independent evaluation by Simon Fraser University. He is nodding his head indicating yes. I would like to know what happened to the ongoing evaluation that was started by the previous government and was to be finished up in a couple of phases. Phase one had been published, but nothing has been made available since. Could the Minister ask what happened to that? Did they stop the review?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: No, that report was completed at the beginning of 1985. It was received by the Minister in January of 1985. The report made a number of recommendations, including the continuing establishment of core French education at schools around the territory. Members will remember that the Minister of Education was Howard Tracey. He announced at the School Committee Conference that the government had adopted several provisions of the French language report and announced that the initial action would be taken by the government at that time.
Mrs. Firth: Has the Minister been receiving complaints or concerns from parents regarding the ability of the children in the French Immersion Program? I have had some parents call to ask me about taking their children out of the French Immersion Program because they were told by the teachers that the children are not suited to the French Immersion Program, or that their linguistic skills are not developing as they should be. I would like to know what the Minister feels about this and whether he is aware that there are some concerns. Parents have been anxiously awaiting for some reports or evaluations as to how the children are doing.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: We had heard concerns from various people. Certainly, I had a delegation in my office expressing disappointment with respect to the success their children were having in the French Immersion Program. They indicated to me that they would like to see an independent evaluation done of the program; hence, an independent evaluation is being done. The reviews that we have had undertaken by the Secretary of State indicate that our program, by national standards, is doing very well. Nevertheless, that has not calmed the fears of some people who have had their children enrolled in the immersion program.
I should say that the French Immersion Program in the country has a very high attrition rate. I just read a newspaper article yesterday on the lack of success the immersion program is having in Edmonton with large numbers of students dropping out. We obviously are not immune from that national trend. I do not have the figures with me, but there are a number of kids who are leaving the program. Nevertheless, we do take great pains to ensure, to the extent possible, that we have the highest calibre teaching staff and that the curriculum materials and the classroom setting is as friendly to the students as we can possibly make it.
I think that the analysis that has been done by our coordinator is very good; however there appears to be some lingering problems and there certainly is a problem of perception with some parents that the program, as a program in the Yukon as opposed to a program that exists elsewhere, is failing the students. I think the problem is discussed more on a nation-wide basis and it is not unique to the Yukon. This prevents us from trying to improve our situation, and hence, the thorough evaluation, which is carried out by the Secretary of State, is being undertaken by consultants from Simon Fraser University. They are recognized as being amongst the best in western Canada in reviewing French programs. They have done a number of these evaluations before, so we are hoping that we stack up well, and we feel that we will be stacking up very well in comparison to other jurisdictions in western Canada.
That may not alleviate the whole problem, because the problem is obviously endemic to the whole country, and certainly to western Canada where you have English-speaking students trying to learn their course of studies in French.
Mrs. Firth: Has the Ministers department done anything to address this particular issue, or are they just sitting back and waiting for the independent evaluation to come in?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: We are not sitting back and waiting. As I have indicated, they have been discussing thoroughly with the school committees, Association des Franco-Yukonnais and CPF as to how the programs can be improved. Great care is being taken in terms of hiring the best staff possible. As I indicated on Thursday, we do have difficulty hiring quality teaching personnel, given that the competition for bilingual teachers in the country is extremely high. I am told that the quality of personnel that we have received is generally very high. The department is trying to improve things.
There are a number of other areas, of course, where the department is trying to make improvements. One is in the area of French language materials that are available to the students.
Mrs. Firth: The Minister is expressing that this concern I have is valid. He has already told us that there is a difficulty in recruiting qualified teachers, and probably one of the last places that teachers may want to come is here to the Yukon because of the isolation and the distance.
He has also said that parents are concerned and that we are suffering from attrition problems. I am very concerned that parents who have children in the program right now are going to have to wait until August to see whether they are going to be given some assurances as to whether the children are up to par on a Canadian basis.
I would like some reassurance from the Minister as to exactly what the mandate of the Simon Fraser University was when it came to doing the independent evaluation. When would the Minister anticipate acting on the recommendations that are going to be coming forward? Are there recommendations that are going to be coming out of the evaluation?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There will be recommendations coming forward. I would hope that, no matter what they feel about the program - good or bad - they will be making recommendations for improvement. I would expect that of the Simon Fraser team.
In expressing the view that it is difficult to find French-speaking teachers, I hope I did not leave Members with the impression that it was impossible to find quality teachers. It is fair to say that we have been able to secure some very high quality teachers for the program. Yukon has its own unique attraction for people from all over the country and, because it is physically the furthest place in the country to reach from Quebec, Ontario and New Brunswick, which have the greatest supply of French-speaking teachers, it does not mean we have particular problems when comparing ourselves with southern western Canadian provinces. Teacher salaries, the beauty of the Yukon and its exotic character combine to make it possible for us to find good people. It is just not easy.
Parents are concerned, and so am I when students drop out of school or drop into other programs. That was one of the reasons we wanted to do a thorough independent review. I am assured this is as thorough as it comes. The Simon Fraser team will be seeking the opinions of all persons involved in the program, including teachers, parents, principals, the Department of Education administrators in the French language area. They will be reviewing classroom processes and the resources available to the classroom. They will be reviewing the abilities of the students by the test results they will be putting students through, to determine their French language skills, their English language skills from grades five and six and, also, how well they are doing with respect to the curriculum itself.
In terms of reference, the analysis has been thorough. That was the point of establishing the review. Until now, the department has been working very closely with the Secretary of State to provide as good a program as they can not only in French Immersion, but also French First Language and the core French area. We have brought on people in the French language centre who are very qualified and technically competent to manage the program. There have been considerable programs, in-servicing and a lot of care taken to hire the French monitors under the agreement that we have with the Secretary of State.
A lot of effort has gone into making sure the program succeeds, both the French First Language and the French Immersion program, as well as the Core French program. The government and the Department of Education are determined to buck a national trend that has a very high attrition rate in French Immersion. We are not going to stop until we are successful. The evaluation that is being done by the independent body will help us by providing recommendations that will deal with the specifics of the program and, hopefully, we can improve on what we have been doing.
Mrs. Firth: I have a concern when I hear the Minister say we are not going to stop until we are successful. I am not sure what he means by successful, but we will find out after the report is done.
Could we have a copy of the terms of reference for the independent evaluation? Is the Minister going to be making that evaluation public in August, when he gets it?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: With respect to the criteria for success, I would think that an attrition rate at least equivalent to that of the normal programs would be something that would be worthwhile shooting for and, probably, a realistic goal. If the Member is concerned that we might not stop trying to improve the program, I can only say that that is what we try to do with all programs.
I can make the terms of reference available to the Member, and the recommendations are going to be very public. I am sure people are going to have a chance to comment on the recommendations and to provide advice as to what should be done next.
Mrs. Firth: I will take it, then, that the Minister is saying he is going to make the report and the preliminary report public, so we will be able to have a look at it.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I will discuss whether or not to release the preliminary report with the Department of Education. I do not know what the preliminary report will contain. Certainly, the final report will be made public.
Mrs. Firth: I would like to ask the Minister one more question about the French programs, and it concerns the French language pilot program at FH Collins School. Is that program open to second language students, or is it just for francophone students?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Right now, I believe it is open to non-francophone students. The reason for that is simply that there are resources available. There are people, both francophone and anglophone, who can make use of the resources, and it appears to me that it would only be imminently sensible to allow all persons who wish to avail themselves of the resources to do so, because the resources are available and not overworked.
Mrs. Firth: Perhaps the Minister would like to check that out, because I believe at the school committee meeting the parents were told, upon making enquiries, that it was for francophone students only. I had parents call me and tell me that that was what was told to them, so I think the Minister had better check. If that is the case, he should convey the proper direction of the policy of this government to whomever is passing on the knowledge to the parents.
Is the government going to entrench the Ecole Emilie Tremblay, as has been requested by the francophone community?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: With respect to the first point the Member was making, I know concern had been expressed by the people who had taken the French First Language program that those resources, the grade 10, 11 and 12 at FH Collins, should be available only to French First Language. If the Member is interpreting francophone as being only French First Language, then I can only say that my interpretation of the term francophone is those students who are going through the Immersion and French First Language.
It is premature to say whether the government will make the Ecole Emilie Tremblay program a school until such time as I have had a chance to review it with Cabinet.
Mrs. Firth: When would the Minister anticipate having an answer for these people?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It was my understanding they were going to be presenting a petition to the government, but I have seen nothing of a petition at this point. I certainly would like to see the petition, as they have indicated that one is forthcoming. The wording of the petition would be of valuable assistance to me in explaining to my Cabinet colleagues what exactly is being requested. The government will try and make a decision with respect to the petition as soon as possible. There will be a few ramifications that we will have to pursue prior to making a decision. I would hope it would be within a couple of weeks, or it may be longer. I do not know.
Mrs. Firth: Perhaps the Minister could tell us what the governments position is on that issue? They must have a position regardless of what the petition says, how many signatures there are on it or if it is here in early May or whenever?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There is a program called Ecole Emilie Tremblay Program. That is what we have in place now. That is our position. That allows the existence of the program. We have no request, and we have not considered moving to a school. When we have had an opportunity to review the proposal, we will use that as a catalyst to decide whether or not to change the program to a school. When that is complete, I will let the Members know.
Mrs. Firth: So the Minister is saying that they have no position, and they will simply play it by ear depending upon public positions that are put forward and how it is discussed publicly.
I would like to ask the Minister something about the School Committee Conference this weekend. A resolution was brought forward by the Ecole Emilie Tremblay school committee requesting representation of a delegate and alternate delegate on the Education Council. Is the Minister going to be granting that representation on the Education Council?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am sure that the Member is going to put the same unfair and cynical interpretation on my answer now as she did when I said that government has not decided to change, at this point, the designation of the Ecole Emilie Tremblay Program to something else.
These requests have been put forward to the government very recently. We have not considered any changes. Our position was to have a program and to have a situation as status quo until such time as the education act should decide it differently. It is unfair to say that we do not have a position. We do have one, and I just indicated what it is. If the Member is asking when we are going to change our position, I indicated when that would be. That same answer would hold true for the allowance of a French first language representative on the Education Council.
Mrs. Firth: With all due respect, the government does not have a position or the Minister would be able to answer if they are going to grant that or not. I am simply asking for policy and government positions. The Minister is not giving any conclusive answers. I would like to know when he is going to consider the resolution that was brought forward and when he would anticipate making a decision about the designation of delegate and an alternate delegate on the Education Council for the Ecole Emilie Tremblay.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: With all due respect, I do not know where the Member is coming from. The government certainly has a position with respect to the Ecole Emilie Tremblay Program. We designated it as a program, and that was our position.
We have not changed our position on the designation. We will consider changing our existing position. I have already when we will do that. If the Member is going to go through all the school committee resolutions, I can give her some thoughts and some background and some of the environment around each of the resolutions.
The Member is asking me to provide an answer on the Monday after the school committee has held its conference. If that tack had been tried while she was Minister of Education, she would have answered in the same way I am answering now. There are policy implications to some of the requests being made that have to be thoroughly researched and have to be reviewed. It is premature to answer whether or not the government is going to do some of these things at this point.
If the Member wants me to exhaust my memory and my knowledge on these issues, I certainly can do it, and we will be here all afternoon. I am just saying that in terms of the time lines and in terms of changing the positions that we have taken so far, which the resolutions call for, we are going to try and review all of the resolutions that were passed. We will have answers to some of them sooner than later.
I am sure that within the next few weeks or so we can come to some conclusions on the issue of changing the program to a school. The issue of the holding of a seat by the Ecole Emilie Tremblay School Committee on the Education Council is something that the government has to review. There are legal implications that I would like to determine.
But the policy right now, with respect to the Education Council, has not changed from last Friday, before the School Committee Conference started.
Mrs. Firth: I did not ask the Minister to stand up and respond to every resolution from the School Committee Conference. I did not ask him for any great detailed information; I simply asked him for this governments position on two issues, which are not new issues. The francophones made representations saying that they wanted a school entrenched. I would have thought that the government would have a position - yes, it is in favour of it, or no, it is not. The Minister is saying that the government has a position, and it is a program. They do not have a program when it comes to the school being in entrenched. Let us get that clear.
The Minister does not know whether the government wants to give representation to the Ecole Emilie Tremblay on the Education Council. That is fine. He has to take a look at it. I would have thought that, in conjunction with the entrenchment of the school, they would know whether or not they were prepared to move in that direction. We will give the Minister a little more time to think about it.
With all due respect to the Minister, I was at the School Committee Conference this weekend, I attended as much of it as I could, and I got a sense of frustration among the people there - committee members, parents, and observers - about all these studies and evaluations that have been done and about the education act. I read the Ministers press statement this morning about how the Yukons education system is going through a period of dynamic change. Since the Minister told the people at the School Committee Conference that the education act would not be tabled this session, could he tell us when the education act will be ready?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I really do believe that the Member, for some reason, is not recognizing the situation here with respect to the requests for changing positions. With all due respect, I feel that it is an unfair interpretation to characterize the position that we have taken with respect to designating an actual classroom as being no position at all. I think that that is manifestly unfair, and perhaps we will just allow people to draw their own conclusions.
With respect to the concern about the studies, that is not a concern that I experienced, when I was standing in front of all the members. They were asking questions and talking about what was going on. In fact, they did indicate to me that they were quite pleased with the very thorough reviews that were going on, and the public participation, and the recognition by the government that change does not only happen in this Legislature, but that it happens in the street and in the classroom and in the community halls and through the public consultation process.
There are a large number of very major issues to be dealt with in the education act review. They include not only the legislative principles, but also the policies and philosophy of the government with respect to education itself.
I indicated that, when I had some of Cabinets undivided attention, I would be completing the development of the position paper, with the policy paper as an accompanying document. That would come out this spring, when the session allows Ministers to provide it that undivided attention.
The mood the Member is expressing is the same kind of mood that has been imparted to me by the people at the school committee conference. The only frustration I experienced from them was that they would like a lot more in the way of resources, a lot more teachers, a lot more sports services, and a lot more in the education budget. With respect to the review, they were pleased to see the review being undertaken by the public for the public through the Education Act Task Force Review, and pleased to see that the effort was being put into analyzing all the various positions that need to be taken in an act.
Mrs. Firth: Going to a dinner and giving a speech and having a pleasant social evening might get a little different reading of what peoples concerns are than sitting through the debate of resolutions from nine oclock in the morning until four oclock in the afternoon and hearing what some of the frustrations are that the school committee members are bringing forward. I do not doubt the Ministers impression and perception is different from mine, because I sat and listened to those concerns. Time and time again, I got the impression that people were extremely frustrated, not because things were not being done in a sense that we were being studied and evaluated and consulted. This has been going on for three years now.
We have had a facilities study done, we had facilities studies of the rural and urban schools done, we have had surveys done, we have had a task force on education go out to all the communities and Yukoners, we have had the Joint Commission on Indian Education and Training, there has been an FH Collins assessment done. That is it. All this consultation has taken place, and people are waiting for something to happen. The impression that was left by the Minister in his comments was that we were probably not going to have a new school act until after an election. I would like the Minister to say whether or not that is correct. If the people interpreted it incorrectly, then so be it, but I would like the Minister to tell us whether he anticipates us having a new school act. It will obviously not be this session but, perhaps, in the fall session, so people have some idea there is a goal and there is a time when decisions are going to be made.
People were not complaining about the consultation. They were complaining that nothing was concluded after the consultation. I remember people saying it is not like hitting your head against a brick wall, you do not meet with absolute resistance, but maybe it is like beating your head against a marshmallow wall. You make suggestions and recommendations, and everybody says that is a great idea and sounds wonderful and should be done right away, but nothing ever gets done, and no final decisions are ever arrived at.
The Minister is now explaining to us what a heavy agenda his colleagues have and how much time they are spending on all these important matters of the day and, yet, the white paper and the position and policy paper on education seems to be on the back burner and taking a back seat in the discussions of the front bench.
I think the people of Yukon who have contributed to these consultative processes deserve more immediate attention. As a Minister in 1984 I can remember 12 or 14 resolutions come forward. There were 41 resolutions that came forward at the School Committees Conference, 41 of them. Many of them dealt with technical matters that the Committees should not have to direct the Minister on. The Minister should be making those decisions within the department. Surely he must have some idea of what the major concerns in education are, and some idea of when we are going to get answers to those concerns.
It is fine to consult and say it is a period of dynamic change and create the illusion progress is going on and something is happening when all along there seems to be more confusion and more inefficiencies showing up. I would like to hear comments from the Minister on this.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Firstly, I recall when the previous Member for Faro and I went on the opposition task force hearings. The fact we were going around the territory to ask people their opinions was not only poo pooed by the Minister of the day but almost rejected because it was clearly inappropriate for Members of the Legislature to get out there and discuss education issues. We did so anyway because we were not going to take our marching orders from that Minister. When we got into the communities we experienced a good deal of quiet, very strongly held frustration at the authoritarian and rigid attitude of the government. It was probably for that reason more than any other that we knew full public consultation was necessary with respect to education should we be elected as government.
We did undertake full reviews with the Department of Education leading the charge. Clearly, the public wanted an opportunity to thoroughly review all aspects of education and we afforded them an opportunity to do so. We are at a point where major reviews have been completed and we are developing an education position philosophy, something that the previous government never accomplished, to indicate where we were going with respect to legislation and policy in the Department of Education.
The work that has gone into not only undergoing the public consultation process but also the joint commission, the education act task force, and, as the Member mentioned, the FH Collins evaluation. If the Member is suggesting or thinking that evaluation of our system should end, or that we should stop being critical of our system, I think she is wrong, and I will stand here and say that. I think we have undertaken some evaluations of our system - the training strategy is one - and with the implementation of the college act we will have completed every single thing in that training strategy that we said we were going to complete in December of 1986. I am very proud of the department for having done that, but the Member obviously feels that all that accounts for nothing, because she has indicated, after having mentioned the training strategy, that nothing happened after the consultation. I know she is aware of the issues, I know she is aware of the accomplishments, so clearly she thinks that the things that have happened are worth nothing. We stand to differ very, very much on that point.
The government, as I said, is going to be preparing a position paper and a philosophy or policy paper on education, and I am not going to ask my Cabinet colleagues to rush through it; I am going to ask them to spend some time and do it right. If the Member is thinking that the process does cover a lot of responsibilities, it certainly does. The Member smirks and smiles and gives the impression that the workload is insignificant - well, I disagree. I am saying that I want some undivided attention by the government in order to ensure that I consult with them as much as I consult with the public in this matter. I am not going to rush the results or the quality of work I expect, because that is what we have got so far and, on the advanced education side, there is going to be a college act tabled shortly; I think the results of that will be excellent. We have done some fantastic things in advanced education over the course of the last few years, in many critical areas. We can certainly go through some of those if the Member wants, if she thinks those things are significant as well, but because we have undertaken some major reforms this does not mean that nothing has happened. The Department of Education has been undertaking things likkity split along with the major reviews. I think we have set a new standard for what is being reviewed and what is not, and we are basically reviewing the entire system.
I do not stop at consultation with respect to a single speech at the school committee conference. I probably personally knew 70 percent of the people at that conference and have been discussing with them, from the day I became Minister to today, a whole range of issues, so I am thoroughly aware of where they would like to go. While they might have 41 resolutions as opposed to 12 resolutions - I do not know what one can determine from a statistical comparison like that; it may be that they are taking greater interest or have higher expectations of something that is going to be done - any number of things can be interpreted from that fact.
The most significant part of that resolution is that they both wanted more teachers in the system and more funding. There are probably higher expectations of the system now. It could mean any number of things. I can debate that particular statistic at any time.
I do not think that it would be right to characterize that as a frustration level, or as some sort of indices of frustration. There is no illusion of progress here. There is a lot of progress taking place, not only in programs but in the legislative framework of education. I am proud of what is going on. A lot has been, a lot is being done, and a lot more will be done. The last piece of legislation is going to be the education act, which is a very comprehensive piece of legislation.
In 1986, we said that we wanted to introduce a college act. Now, we are doing that. In 1986-87, we indicated we would pass a new education act. Next spring, we will be passing one. If the Member wants to know if that will be before or after an election, she can ask the Government Leader. I have indicated very clearly to the Education Council and the school committees exactly what they have asked of me about public consultation. I am trying to respond their needs.
If the Member is thinking that three years of review for an education act is unwarranted, then we disagree. A major review of everything that is education should take three years. Now that I have the experience of what public consultation involves under my belt, I can say that three years is not unreasonable. It is warranted, and I am happy that we are taking the kind of time it needs to get a thorough analysis done of the issues.
Mrs. Firth: I am not going to respond to a lot of the comments the Minister made, because I do not want to waste the publics or the time of the House. However, I am getting pretty sick and tired of listening to these Ministers complain about how hard they work and how much work they have to do. Really, who cares? Who does the Minister of Education think cares?
If they expect some sympathy from outside regarding how hard they work, they can forget it, because there is none. He chose this profession, and he can work hard.
Mr. Phillips: If he cannot stand the heat in the kitchen, get out.
Mrs. Firth: I could give the Minister a definition of where he could find sympathy, but it would probably be ruled unparliamentary, so I will tell him privately where he can find it in the dictionary. Could we just have the Minister not tell us again, throughout this session, how hard he works and how tough his lot in life is.
I gather from all that whimpering that the Minister is saying we are going to have a new education act in the spring of 1989. I believe in a childs future with a new education act. The publication that the government released with steps one, two, three and four said that the new act was supposed to be passed in the spring of 1988.
I do not want to be confrontative and controversial with the Minister. I am simply telling him that the public perception, because of his governments comments and advertising, is that there was supposed to be a new education act this spring.
It is now 1988. The new act, if approved in the Legislature, will become law. Now the Minister is raising the question as to whether we will even have the white policy discussion paper. I do not want to get into a lot of rhetoric, I simply want to be able to tell something to the people who have come to me and said, when is the government going to make some decisions on all of these consultative processes that we have participated in? I will tell them that the Minister has said that if the heavy schedule permits, we will see the policy paper and philosophy paper this session - if not, we will not see it this session - and that the new education act is going to be another year and will be proposed for in the spring of 1989. I have my answers; that is simply what I will tell people.
I want to remind the Minister that it was he who raised these expectations in people. We have agreed with him that consultation is good. We had a different way of consulting; we did it through the school committees and through the education council. This Minister chose another way, but when people are told that it is going to come to a conclusion in the spring of 1988 then I should expect that the Minister should be able to answer that question.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I know that the Member is perfectly capable of telling me where she thinks I can expect sympathy, in the typically dignified manner in which she conducts herself. I am not looking for sympathy from the Member for Riverdale South, and I would never even pretend to expect it. I seldom receive sympathy from my wife, with respect to the work that is put in, but regarding the job, and setting priorities, there are times that priorities have to be set. There are times when work has to be put in to things, and the government is doing it.
I do not expect anything from the Members opposite. In fact, I really shudder to think that some information emitting from this House is going to be transmitted through the Member for Riverdale South, regarding time lines or almost anything. I would certainly like an opportunity to do that myself, but I realize that that is not going to be possible.
The education act review was set back largely because we indicated some time ago that we would to see the education act task force report by the summer. We could not truncate their review of the act, and their report came forward in the late fall. We have taken great care to review, since the late fall, the issues and all the consultative procedures. We have drafted a number of drafts of an education act position paper now. We have drafted the education philosophy and policy paper and I have indicated that I am going to walk through with Cabinet what is happening. We have also indicated that we have heard from not only the teachers association but the school committees and the CYI, as well, that they would like a full chance to review, not during the summertime, but during what they consider productive working time, which is either spring and fall, a position paper. We have guaranteed that that will happen; they will have that opportunity.
That is what I have been hearing from the school committees, the Council for Yukon Indians and the Teachers Association. I have indicated that we are going to be accommodating them. The governments position with respect to education will be public in the spring. That is a major accomplishment and I am proud to have been involved with it.
Mrs. Firth: Could the Minister tell us if that would be available to be tabled in the Legislature?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: When it is ready it will.
Mrs. Firth: How much longer is it going to take? I would like some idea of when it will be coming - in the next week, two weeks or three weeks? Is the paper complete and ready for a decision by Cabinet or is it half done?
Surely the Minister can report what stage it is.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I have indicated what stage it is at. There have been a number of drafts done by the department. I will be taking the final draft for Cabinet consideration. There are a large number of issues to be gone over and I will be undertaking that with Cabinet. When the review is complete the position paper and the philosophy of the policy will be made public. When that process is complete that is when the position and philosophy paper will be made public. If the House is sitting and the document is published I will certainly be tabling it.
Mrs. Firth: Is the final goal for the new education act the spring of 1989?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: That is the goal.
Public Schools in the amount of $1,470,000 agreed to
On Advanced Education and Manpower
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Advanced Education and Manpower shows a reduction in the amount of $300,000. That comprises several items.
First of all, there was an over expenditure due to YGEU increases, management increases and overtime of $442,000. The reductions lie in the following items: supplies, contract services and materials for Yukon College were less than anticipated, and as a result of the anticipated move now to Yukon College, they have been trimmed to $361,000; supplies and materials for Human Resources and Career Development are less than anticipated, now $47,000; the number of grants to students are less than anticipated, and are now $73,000; the YTOP employment program was under-utilized by $226,000; the innovative projects program was under-utilized by $39,000.
Mrs. Firth: Were any additional funds required in advanced education and manpower this year for any renovations to the old Yukon College?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: No, not in O&M. There was a small amount on the capital side. I will check with respect to the capital renovations.
Advanced Education and Manpower in the amount of a reduction of $300,000 agreed to
On Libraries and Archives
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There is an over expenditure of $45,000 due to the YGEU management increase and overtime, and the library board salary increases made up the difference because the salary board increases are applied to the YGEU increase.
Libraries and Archives in the amount of $45,000 agreed to
On Policy and Planning
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There was some over expenditure due to YGEU increases and management increases. There was a reduction in the education act task force honorarium, contract services and advertising of $28,000 that was not needed.
Mrs. Firth: Why was the money not needed? I understood the task force took longer than they had originally anticipated.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: They did not need all the money budgeted. The total cost to date is $95,000.
Policy and Planning in the amount of a reduction of $15,000 agreed to
Operation and Maintenance Expenditures in the amount of $1,477,000 agreed to
Chairman: Before we move on to capital votes, if it is the wish of Committee, we will recess for 15 minutes.
Chairman: The Committee will now come to order. If there are no questions on Operation and Maintenance Recoveries, I will declare them cleared.
Mrs. Firth: Mr. Chairman, are you not going through it line by line; you are just clearing the whole lot?
Chairman: That is what I am doing.
Mrs. Firth: Well perhaps I could ask a couple of questions about the lines. I did not realize that you were going to clear the whole item in one fell swoop.
Chairman: They do not have to be cleared; they are just for information. That is why I want to do them all at once, as opposed to line by line, but if it is the wish of the Members to do them line by line, then I will call them out. How is that?
Mrs. Firth: The ones that I am particularly interested in are: the French First Language Program, $64,000; Occupational Training, $146,000; Yukon College, $432,000. Perhaps the Minister could explain them.
On French First Language Program
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The additional reduction is for the immersion evaluation study, for $40,000, and the balance is an additional recovery for 1985-86, because of the Secretary of State gives us back a percentage of our costs spent over and above what they will cover. The difference is the difference between the school year and the claim that we make based on the fiscal year. I understand that this system is a fairly common one.
French First Language Program in the amount of $64,000 agreed to
On Occupational Training
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Under the Canada Employment Immigration Centre program, as it was originally negotiated, there were three years of phased implementation. The federal government was cutting back institutional purchases - that means seats that were purchased at a recognized college or learning institution - and redirecting those seats to the private sector, who in turn purchase the seats from the recognized institutions. The goal was to cut back each jurisdiction by a certain percentage, in terms of direct purchases - that is CEIC purchasing a seat on behalf of an individual to study in an institution - and instead, redirect that to the private sector, to a business that would sponsor, with CEIC money, an individual to go and take a course at a college.
In the first year of the program, the federal government indicated that it would be prepared, if there was no take-up by the private sector, to cover a portion of the funds that were not taken up and were lost to the institutions through direct purchases or were not taken up by the private sector. They would provide that as a direct transfer to the governments, in recognition of the fact that the institutions could be losing, if there were no private sector activity, large sums of money.
That is what this is; it is part of the agreement across Canada. This is the top-up for the first year. There will be no top-up for the year that we are in now.
Occupational Training in the amount of a recovery of $146,000 agreed to
On Yukon College
Hon. Mr. McDonald: These are course fees provided by Canada Employment and Immigration Centre for sponsorship of students taking courses at Yukon College. As I indicated, in terms of recoveries, we have a recovery of $146,000 as per the agreement; however, we are losing a large portion as a result of the narrowing of criteria for which CEIC is prepared to purchase space. Under ideal conditions, the theory under the Canadian Job Strategy is that the CEIC will provide links to the private sector, who in turn will purchase seats. If the private sector is not prepared, for whatever reason, to purchase seats at the college, then we simply lose the money except for that provided within the agreement. We project losing an additional $479,000 because of the drop-off in seat purchase, and that is the reason for this item. If the Member wants to know what the narrowing of criteria has done, I can provide that information.
Mrs. Firth: On a point of clarification, is the Minister saying we are going to lose $479,000? This item is for $432,000.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: You are right; my mistake.
Yukon College in the amount of a reduction of $432,000 agreed to
On Grounds and Lands
Hon. Mr. McDonald: This is for various projects around the territory. I could give a list of all the projects to indicate the total expenditure of almost $328,000 if the Member wishes. Miscellaneous projects. As the Members will note, there was no revotes last fall, and this incorporates the projects that lapsed from the previous capital year and projects that were undertaken this past year.
Mrs. Firth: This figure represents over a 50 percent increase. Can the Minister tell us why they are improving grounds and lands all of a sudden?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There are two reasons. The first reason is there were no revotes last year and some of the projects that lapsed from the previous year are in this year. Contract prices have exceeded that which exists in the budget. That largely indicates the increase.
Grounds and Lands in the amount of $121,000 agreed to
On Carcross Upgrade
Carcross Upgrade in the amount of a reduction of $120,000 agreed to
On Grey Mountain Primary Activity Room
Grey Mountain Primary Activity Room in the amount of $23,000 agreed to
On Haines Junction Residence Expansion
Hon. Mr. McDonald: This is a typo. In translating the information through budgeting processes, there was an assumption that the St. Elias residence had something to do with the St. Elias school in Haines Junction. It does not. The names of schools in rural areas were dropped in favour of naming the town. Obviously the people who put this particular item together did not know St. Elias dormitory exists in Whitehorse, not Haines Junction.
Mrs. Firth: Perhaps the Minister could tell us what the under expenditure is for.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: In November of 1986, I indicated that given the school and dormitory enrollments for the St. Elias residence, it would be desirable to upgrade the dorm. There was a chance we could purchase the land adjacent to the dormitory. It became apparent that the owner of the property had no intention of selling the land to the Yukon government or anyone else, so the plans to upgrade the dormitory were dropped. For that reason, the government undertook a review of its needs, and we subsequently consulted with the Student Dormitory Advisory Committee and decided to produce a new student dormitory. We budgeted for it in the Capital Budget last fall. It was passed by the House.
This money was initially for upgrading. The money that has been spent has been for planning for the new dormitory.
Haines Junction Residence Expansion in the amount of a reduction of $285,000 agreed to
On Dawson City Upgrade
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It was a late construction start. It does not change the project total at all. It is money that can be spent in this fiscal year.
Dawson City Upgrade in the amount of a reduction of $689,000 agreed to
On Computer Laboratories
Computer Laboratories in the amount of $27,000 agreed to
On G.A. Jeckell Gym
Mrs. Firth: Why the reduction?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Late construction.
G.A. Jeckell Gym in the amount of a reduction of $757,000 agreed to
On Watson Lake High Upgrade
The plan was that, during the past year, the money voted here would be for detailed design of the school. The detailed design is not going to be done until this year, so that is the reason why the money was not spent.
Watson Lake High Upgrade in the amount of a reduction of $500,000 agreed to
On Department Relocation
Mrs. Firth: What is that for?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: This is carried over from 1987 when they relocated the resource centre from Whitehorse Elementary to make way for space for new classrooms.
Department Relocation in the amount of $6,000 agreed to
On Whitehorse Elementary Upgrade
Whitehorse Elementary Upgrade in the amount of a reduction of $50,000 agreed to
On FH Collins Upgrade
Mrs. Firth: What is that for?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The project total is for two handicapped lifts. The project came in slightly over budget. Because FH Collins has two elevations, with three areas where you have to have access from one elevation to another, it requires three lifts. To my knowledge, two lifts have been placed in the school, one near the entrance to the library and one down the hall.
FH Collins Upgrade in the amount of $13,000 agreed to
On Ross River Upgrade
Ross River Upgrade in the amount of a reduction of $14,000 agreed to
On Christ the King High Renovations
Mrs. Firth: Could the Minister tell us what that is for?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Christ the King High School indicated that they would like to have a revamping of the library and a new science classroom, as part of the original budget. This money was to renovate the library. The school committee changed its mind and indicated in writing to us that it would like to see the project put on hold, and we did that. They subsequently reviewed their position, and they would now like to see the plans for the library going ahead. That is once again budgeted for.
Christ the King High Renovations in the amount of a reduction of $89,000 agreed to
On Teslin Flooring
Teslin Flooring in the amount of a reduction of $11,000 agreed to
On Elsa Library
Mrs. Firth: Could the Minister explain what that is for?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: When the department moved the staff suite out of the school, they gutted the old suite and renovated it to be a library. They installed shelving and library equipment.
Mrs. Firth: Who did that work for the government?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I do not know. I can ask.
Elsa Library in the amount of $15,000 agreed to
On Old Crow Teacherage Upgrade
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The work was done by a Government Services work crew. Additions were put on to the units for more heated storage space on the staffing units that are at the Old Crow Teacherage. The freight costs were much higher than expected, and the materials cost more than expected. Therefore, the project ended up at $93,000.
Old Crow Teacherage Upgrade in the amount of $44,000 agreed to
On Various Gym Floor Refinishing
Various Gym Floor Refinishing in the amount of a reduction of $50,000 agreed to
On Miscellaneous Capital Projects
Mrs. Firth: I would like a breakdown of that please.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: If the Member will give me a moment, I will ask the department to provide it. I do not have that information.
Miscellaneous Capital Projects in the amount of $58,000 agreed to
Mrs. Firth: Does the Minister have information on the Carmacks upgrade, the next item for $75,000?
On Carmacks Upgrade
Hon. Mr. McDonald: This was for renovations to the washrooms and new carpet for the library downstairs. It was a 1986-87 winter works project that was completed in 1987-88.
Carmacks Upgrade in the amount of $19,000 agreed to
On Pelly Crossing Upgrade
Hon. Mr. McDonald: This is for the finishing off of the extension to the administration area and the extra classroom at Pelly Crossing. Any Member who has been to Eliza Van Bibber School will recall that there was a porch at the front door of the school that was closed in to provide for an extra classroom because there were only three teaching stations at the school.
There was also an expansion to the administration storage area that was considered to be a problem. In 1986-87, we undertook a project to close it in. This was the expenditure in this last fiscal year.
Pelly Crossing Upgrade in the amount of $19,000 agreed to
On Faro Rebuilding
Hon. Mr. McDonald: This is not a rebuild item; it was to upgrade the washrooms and the showering area at the Faro recreation centre in order that the school could have a gymnasium because the 1981 addition was, of course, not usable. The work was finished last year and there is a recovery shown under Recoveries from Faro of $100,000 because it was a joint project with the Municipality of Faro as some work was done on the roof of the gymnasium as well; basically, a new roof was put on and it was a joint project between Faro and the Department of Education in exchange for the continued use of the gymnasium for school purposes.
Faro Rebuilding in the amount of $324,000 agreed to
On Instructional Equipment
On Miscellaneous School Equipment
Mrs. Firth: I would like to know what that amount is for.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It is for the cost of furnishing Yukon Hall. When we moved a number of male students into Yukon Hall, female students had been occupying St. Elias dorm, and this money is for beds and beddings, closets and dressers in Yukon Hall itself.
Miscellaneous School Equipment in the amount of $24,000 agreed to
On French Language Facilities and Equipment
On French Adult Education
Mrs. Firth: Perhaps in a general sense the Minister could tell us why there was almost a reduction of $100,000? He must have some idea.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Both the French Immersion extension line item and the French First Language education line item were for equipment that was projected to go into the lead years of the program. We managed to share resources at Jeckell School and did not require the money, so did not spend it.
The French language centre work and the line item for French adult education were both thought to be unnecessary, because a decision had been made early last year to move the French language centre to the Yukon College site. It seemed inappropriate to be upgrading the French language centre at FH Collins only to have it moved shortly thereafter.
French Adult Education in the amount of a reduction of $25,000 agreed to
On French Language Centre Upgrade
French Language Centre Upgrade in the amount of a reduction of $31,000 agreed to
On French First Language Education
French First Language Education in the amount of a reduction of $48,000 agreed to
On Yukon College
On Campus Equipment
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There is every intention of purchasing the equipment. It is just that the purchase orders were not finalized at the end of the fiscal year. There will be a lapse of this funding. The total amount budgeted is expected to be used.
Mrs. Firth: With respect to the old Yukon College, there is no line item here, but it was brought to my attention that there were some renovations done at the old Yukon College for the cooking facilities. I guess we are going to be renovating it when the other departments move in. Can the Minister give us some information about the renovation that took place?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: My memory fails me with respect to the renovations. I remember we did renovations just over a year ago to improve some venting at the college, as well as some minor repairs. I do not remember any renovations to the cooking facility, because we did not undertake any cooking course. The facility at the old college site was dormant. There may have been some minor renovations to the leasehold improvements to the Nisutlin Campus kitchen to allow for feeding students there. I can check on that for the Member. I do not recall any renovations in this fiscal year.
Mrs. Firth: I would like the Minister to check that for me and to bring it back. It has been brought to my attention that there were quite extensive renovations done, and I would like to have the point clarified.
Campus equipment held over
On New College Construction
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The project totals are not projected to change. With a major multi-year project, the budgeting was done well over a year ago in terms of the amount voted to date. The time lines, in terms of purchasing material and undertaking contracts, et cetera, is not done with absolute precision. Even though the project total is expected to be the same, there is not expected to be full expenditure of the $13,183,000 by Government Services in this particular fiscal year. Some work would overlap into the new year.
New College Construction in the amount of a reduction of $239,000 agreed to
On Library Facilities
On Library Planning
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Library Services has fairly limited activity in terms of their personnel. They wanted to do much of the work themselves. They did not feel they had the opportunity to oversee the planning exercise, because they had their hands full with existing libraries, with the Carcross Library and, also, with the development of the Library Act and regulations.
They asked that this money lapse.
Library Planning in the amount of a reduction of $50,000 agreed to
On Carcross Library Development
Carcross Library Development in the amount of $109,000 agreed to
On Branch Library Development
Branch Library Development in the amount of a reduction of $15,000 agreed to
On Elsa Library Building
Elsa Library Building in the amount of a reduction of $27,000 agreed to
On Administration Equipment
Administration Equipment in the amount of a reduction of $17,000 agreed to
On Technical Services Equipment
Technical Services Equipment in the amount of a reduction of $10,000 agreed to
On Audio/Visual Equipment
Audio/Visual Equipment in the amount of a reduction of $5,000 agreed to
On Archival Storage & Equipment
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The shelving that had been ordered last year to house the Eric Nielsen collection arrived during this year and was installed. I understand that it is almost at capacity at the present time due to volume of the materials provided in the Eric Nielsen collection. Mr. Nielsen apparently kept everything. I think he is probably still keeping everything so we will need more space for his works. I do not know if the Department of National Defence has yet released the papers, but the request is still standing for even more papers. This whole purchase was specifically for the purchase and installation of mobile shelving in the archival storage room.
Archival Storage & Equipment in the amount of $9,000 agreed to
On Photographic Dark Room
Photographic Dark Room in the amount of a reduction of $6,000 agreed to
On Conversion of Films/Video
Hon. Mr. McDonald: This was a project that was undertaken in 1986-87. This is basically a revote.
Conversion of Films/Video in the amount of $14,000 agreed to
On New Archival Facility
New Archival Facility in the amount of $239,000 agreed to
On Capital Recoveries
On Faro-Del Van Gorder
Mr. McLachlan: From whom is the $100,000 recoverable, and does this then net down the cost to only $224,000?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: This is recoverable from the Town of Faro and it does net down the cost of the Faro recreation centre reconstruction to $224,000 under the education budget for public schools. There is considerable funding under the Community and Transportation Services budget but this would be the Department of Educations item. The reason for the cost sharing was due to the fact that the Department of Education and the Municipality of Faro undertook to redo the roof of the recreation centre and we undertook the project; we recover a portion of the costs because it is a shared facility.
Mr. McLachlan: Does this now complete the work, or is there an ongoing expenditure under this cost sharing program in the 1988-89 season?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Yes, the work on the recreation centre is completed as far as the Department of Education is concerned. They have no more need to renovate the gymnasium or washrooms or shared areas. That is complete.
Faro-Del Van Gorder in the amount of a capital recovery of $100,000 agreed to
Chairman: It is understood that under Capital Expenditures we have two items that are set over: under Facility Construction and Maintenance, the Miscellaneous Capital Projects; and under Yukon College, the Campus Equipment item.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Let me get this straight. I am coming back with some information on Miscellaneous Capital Projects, but as to Yukon College, was there some concern about the money expended here? I do not understand. The information would not have shown up in this budget with respect to Yukon College renovations - at least, not in this particular line item. This was for the new college site. It would have been an information item or a past budget, I think, if we are talking about renovations to the old college site or the Nisutlin campus.
Mrs. Firth: It would have been in last years capital budget expenditures, I would think, otherwise, where would they have gotten the money for the renovations? That is my concern. There is no line for the old Yukon College, yet the Minister of Government Services is talking about renovations that are going to occur there for the departments to move over. We never had any line item in any budget saying old college renovations; so this would be the place where I would ask for that kind of information. If the Minister could bring it back after the dinner break, I do not anticipate any difficulty clearing this budget.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am just trying to establish exactly what the situation was. I will try to determine whether or not there was any renovation in the first place at the old colleges kitchens or the Nisutlin campus kitchens, after the dinner break.
On Economic Development: Mines and Small Business
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The supplementary before the House is a capital supplementary representing a net under expenditure of $1,797,000. The breakdown of the amounts that lead to that item are as follows. There is an additional $110,000 for the energy conservation fund, S.E.A.L., which results from the expenditures being greater than anticipated. There is an additional $50,000 for internal energy which results from the transfer of one term capital person year and responsibility for energy audits on government buildings from Government Services.
There was a reduction of $100,000 for Yukon energy alternatives. That results from expenditures under the loan program being less than anticipated. There is an addition of $24,000 for mineral expenditures, which results from claims on projects approved in 1986-87 but not processed until 1987-88. There was a reduction of $50,000 for prospectors assistance, which results from a reduction in estimated expenditures.
There is an addition of $49,000 for the Economic Development Agreement. This results from a federal commitment to carry forward lapsed funding from the previous year. Members will recall from previous debates that it was a source of some anxiety. There is an addition of $70,000 for Special ARDA, which results from an increase in applications, and a reduction of $150,000 from renewable resource commercial development. This results from program uptake being less than anticipated.
There is a reduction of $350,000 for the Venture Capital Program in its first year of operation. This results from guidelines being late in being developed and approved; therefore, the program uptake was less than anticipated.
Hopefully, the levels of money voted in these capital programs will not change radically from year to year. For example, when the SEAL Program was first introduced, its uptake for the first number of years was low. Notwithstanding the advertising done by this and the former government, the public awareness of these programs does take a while to develop. The SEAL Program has now become a very popular program. It is quite heavily subscribed to. Some of the newer programs that I have mentioned are undersubscribed for the same reason; therefore, the demand for the program is not as high as might have been anticipated. The uptake will increase, however, in the present year and in coming years.
Perhaps with that opening observation, I would resume my seat and submit to questions from Members opposite.
Mr. Nordling: I have a few questions on general debate and on the department generally. In December, 1987, the Minister passed out a Department of Economic Development organization chart, and I would like to ask if that has changed at all since then, whether there have been any additions or deletions, or whether there is an updated organization chart available.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Is the Member asking about a capital question or an O&M question?
Mr. Nordling: The organization chart for the department contains the complete list of person years in the department, both capital and O&M. I just wondered if that document had been updated.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I cannot recall at that point if the one person year, in terms of the responsibility for an energy audit, which is a one term person year in the capital program, was contemplated in that organization plan that was handed out in December. I will take the question as notice. There has been no substantial reorganization since then, but I have not got the organization chart in front of me. The Member himself, I am sure, will be able to tell me whether we anticipated the one term person year or not.
Mr. Nordling: At a quick glance I do not see that position identified here, and I would like the Minister to provide an updated chart, if that is possible.
The other thing I would like to ask is if there have been any changes in the guidelines or policies, with respect to the programs that are listed here?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Forgive me for saying so. We have only just passed the Capital Budget on these programs. There have been no change that I know of in the capital programs that are being considered in this Supplementary.
Mr. Nordling: In the departmental objectives are to develop a self-sustained Yukon economy and decrease leakage of wages and profits from the territory. I have a copy of the memorandum that the Minister received as Government Leader asking for support for the export of logs to Turkey by a company affiliated with the Liard Indian Band. Has the Minister given his support to the export of raw logs?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I do not know what the Member is quoting from, but our government was originally asked to give support for a proposal to export raw logs. We opposed such an export, but permission was granted by the federal government anyway. Subsequently, a request came forward to ask if we would express our approval for timber processed, and we did support the export of lumber processed to that extent.
Mr. Nordling: I would like to ask the Minister a little bit about the success, or the lack of success, with the unemployment rate. The departmental objective was to increase the participation of Yukoners in employment. I am looking at the fourth quarter statistical review that was tabled today. I see the Yukons unemployment rate for December 1987 was 13 percent. In December of 1986, it was 15 percent, so it is down two percent. I believe the statistics for Canada in December 1987 was 7.9 percent, so we are considerably higher.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: If you look at employment, as opposed to unemployment, this jurisdiction still has the best record in the country in terms of job creation. If you look at the unemployment stats, to which the Member has just referred, you will notice a number of things. One is that there is a progression in the right direction towards reducing unemployment. The Member talks about the fourth quarter stats, which is a winter unemployment figure. The rate this year was lower than the year previous, and last year was lower than the year before that.
If the Member looks at long-term projections, he will see that we have always had a winter unemployment rate that is among the worst in the country as a result of the seasonal nature of our economy. We have been improving slightly. Last summer, we had an unemployment rate that was better than all but two jurisdictions in the country. As measured by the unemployment rate, our economy has tended to be a relatively low rate in the summer and a relatively high rate in the winter.
If the Member looks at the long-term projections about unemployment rates, summer and winter, the Member will note there is a convergence in the rate. The high rate in the winter is on a trend line down, as is the summer rate. I would believe that is an indicator of increasing stability and strength in our economy. As a resource exporting, resource extracting area, we are not going to have the kind of relatively flat unemployment rate that an industrialized or manufacturing area like Ontario has had for generations, but I think we are making very substantial and healthy progress in the right direction.
Mr. Nordling: Despite agreeing with a lot of what the Government Leader has said, unemployment around 13 percent is still fairly high and should be looked at. The other statistic I am looking at here with respect to increasing employment is the average weekly earnings increased 2.6 percent from December 1986 for private industry. We heard, in the previous budget under the Department of Education, some considerable increase for the YGEU settlement.
What sort of percentage has there been in government earning increases since December, 1986?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I do not have the figures handy. I expect we will get into detail on this when we get to the PSC estimates. As I recall, the three year agreement with the Yukon Government Employees Union that we now have is a three year agreement providing for about 10 percent over those three years, which is a rate consistent with what the inflation expectations are. In the teachers agreement, the third year agreement is settled, except for the third year on wages. That has to be negotiated.
The settlement that was reached with our employees is not only consistent with large contracts in the private sector but, also, in accord with the kind of rates of inflation that have been projected for the periods of the contract.
Mr. Nordling: Under general debate, the other thing is the question of economic development generally. In the Throne Speech, the Government Leader talked about many of the actions designed to support the communities efforts to establish viable bases for economic development. The announcement was made that, as a first step, the Yukon Development Corporation will rebuild the Mayo hydro dam over the next two years.
Was that a commitment? In Question Period, the Minister indicated it was subject to an agreement with United Keno Hill Mines. I would like to clear up this governments policy of announcing things.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I do not believe the question is covered by this Supplementary Estimate. With respect to the matter of the Mayo dam, the decision has been made by our government to proceed with the Mayo dam. The particulars of the cost of the project and the announcement of when the project will begin await some decisions that have not yet been made by the Yukon Development Corporation board and, therefore, not for me to announce in the House yet. I believe I will be in a position to make announcements about that question during this sitting of the Legislature.
To state the obvious, we have made a decision to proceed. We will want some undertaking from the major customer of that dam, which is United Keno Hill Mines - or their parent company, Falconbridge - and discussions have been underway towards that end.
Mr. Nordling: I would just to clarify this, because the Throne Speech says this is a first step. I hope that, for example, studying the energy options for Dawson City, are not subject to the Mayo dam going ahead, which is subject to an agreement with United Keno Hill.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: It is my belief that all the steps required to start the construction on the Mayo facility will be met shortly and construction will begin this year. Let me satisfy Members on that score. The necessary studies for a decision on the north fork project are not yet complete. When they are, and a decision is made, I hope I will be in an position to announce that. I sincerely hope that it will be very soon.
Mr. Lang: The government has made a decision to go ahead with the Mayo dam. Does that mean that decision stands, whether or not they get a commitment from United Keno Hill Mines?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: If, for some reason, the United Keno Hill Mines were to announce this week they were closing, or if they were to announce they were going to close next year, or do anything to indicate they were not going to be around for a while, then we would have to take another look at the decision. We have indicated to them that we are prepared to go ahead, and we have indicated to them that we want some understanding of commitment before we go to tender, because they are the single most important customer.
Mr. Lang: I must have misunderstood what was announced in the Speech from the Throne. My understanding is that the Government of Yukon is proceeding with the Mayo dam modifications and reconstruction, but it is dependent upon them getting a firm undertaking between the Yukon Development Corporation and the United Keno Hill Mines, the larger user of the facility. Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: We have done all the planning work necessary to make a decision. We are at a decision point where we will shortly be in a position where we will know what the costs of the project will be and when the project will commence. In order for us to actually issue the tenders, to actually build a damn, we need a commitment from the major customer.
Mr. Lang: So, my understanding is correct. In other words, the final decision will not be made until we get that building block into place. With that understood, what are we looking for? Are we looking for a five or 10 year commitment? Is it based on a time usage to justify the expenditures for this facility?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Forgive me, I would have to check my notes as to what kind of term we are looking at. I will come back with that information this evening.
Chairman: The time now being 5:30 p.m., we will recess until 7:30 p.m.
Chairman: Committee of the Whole will now come to order.
Department of Education - continued
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There were a couple of follow-up questions in order to clear some items in Educations budget. The first was whether or not there were any renovations made to the kitchens at the old Yukon College. The short answer is no. Approximately $6,000 total work was done on the old Yukon College, and was primarily done to the mobile units and, also, it involved some minor electrical repair.
The miscellaneous capital projects shown in the budget of $58,000 was for a winter works project that was not completed until 1987-88, which includes washroom renovations and office renovations at the Whitehorse Elementary School.
Mrs. Firth: Could the Minister tell me what winter works project that was at the Whitehorse Elementary School?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It was washroom renovations and office renovations.
Campus Equipment in the amount of a reduction of $750,000 agreed to
Operation and Maintenance in the amount of $1,477,000 agreed to
Capital in the amount of a reduction of $2,698,000 agreed to
Chairman: We will continue with Department of Economic Development: Mines and Small Business.
Department of Economic Development: Mines and Small Business - continued
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Before we reached the dinner break, I was asked a question about an organization chart. The information I gave the Member was accurate but, at that hour, I was not able to obtain an organization chart. I would like to bring that information and the chart tomorrow, but I did not have one in my office when we checked at 5:30 and again at 7:30.
In answer to the question put by the Member for Porter Creek West, and the supplementary by the Member for Porter Creek East, in connection with the Mayo dam, I can give them the answer about the kind of term we are looking for with the company. It is sufficient to amortize the cost of the project.
I can tell the Member that it is about five years. I do hope Members will understand that since we are still in negotiations I do not want to get into a lot more detail about the specific terms of the agreement that we are looking for with the mining company. It makes negotiations difficult if we have too much debate on the floor of the House before we conclude them.
I will say that if all goes according to schedule, construction will begin this summer on that project.
Mr. Nordling: I understand the Ministers position with respect to negotiations, although I think, to a certain extent, he brought it on himself by announcing the project in the Throne Speech. Does the Minister have any preliminary estimates as to the cost of rebuilding the Mayo dam? I understand there are three options from fixing it up to a total rebuild, so I wonder what the government had in mind.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: We have some internal numbers, but I will not make those public now. We are going to be receiving very shortly the consultants reports, which will give us a final estimate for the reconstruction, which is the model we are going to rather than a complete new dam. Rehabilitation would be a better word, which will give us a cost that we believe will be substantially below the price originally estimated by NCPC. I am now awaiting a study that will confirm that number. I do not want to make a fibber of myself by giving one number now and have engineers tell me that I am out to lunch.
Chairman: Any further general debate?
Mrs. Firth: I wonder if the Minister could tell us what the total person year complement of the operation and maintenance portion of the Department of Economic Development is?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: We are dealing with the Capital Supplementary, and I believe the Member can find the information she has requested in the Economic Development Main Budget. I do not have that before me right now, because we are not debating it.
Mrs. Firth: I will deal with it in general debate when we do the Main Operation and Maintenance Budget. I will give the Minister notice that I would like a breakdown of the person year complement in the Department of Economic Development.
Mr. Lang: Mr. Chairman, I have to apologize for my lateness, but I had some vehicle problems.
I want to go back to the question of the cost of the Mayo dam. It would seem to me that the government made a decision to go ahead with the project and, if so, surely they had a figure given to them of what the cost of that particular project was going to be? I would think that, if the government made a public statement in the Speech from the Throne that they were going ahead with the project, they would have an obligation to inform the House as to what that figure was. I am prepared to go so far as to say the figure may change because certain other factors come into it, and we will give the Government Leader and the government that latitude; but surely the Government Leader owes it to us to tell us what that figure is, in view of the fact that a public statement has been made and the governments policy is clear that they are going ahead with the Mayo dam renovations?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I have given the Member the cost range. The NCPC had previously estimated it would cost $8 million to replace this project; we believe it can be done for substantially less. Until I get the report, which I am now awaiting and which will give me a more accurate figure, in other words, which will represent a major fraction of that number, I cannot be more precise than I have been.
Mr. Lang: How can the Government Leader make the public statement that he is going ahead with it if he did not have a figure that he would be dealing with?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: We have some internal estimates about the range it will cost. As I have already indicated, it can be done, we believe, for substantially less than the $8 million that NCPC estimated. I am waiting for numbers now, and I offered to the House an indication that I would make a Ministerial Statement when I receive the estimate from our consultants. I will make that statement in this sitting of the House, but I cannot do it now. In any case, it is not covered by this supplementary.
Mr. Lang: If the Minister had his way, nothing would be covered by the supplementary. We are dealing with the Department of Economic Development: Mines and Small Business and we were dealing with the question of energy, with all due respect. What concerns me, as a Member of the House, is the principle that a public policy statement has been made on a multi-million dollar project and all I get back is that the Minister of Economic Development says he can do it for less than NCPCs estimate of $8 million.
The other factor with respect to this particular project is the fact that we may not even be going ahead with it in any event because we do not have a deal with United Keno Hill Mines, the largest user of the particular facility in question.
My question, then, is: who is doing this consulting work, and when are they due to report to the Yukon Development Corporation?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The engineering firm that is doing the work in question is a company called Acres International.
Mr. Lang: Who did the preliminary work that resulted in the governments initial decision?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The same company, and one other engineer gave an independent review.
Mr. Lang: The same company - Acres International? Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Yes.
Mr. Lang: If an initial consultants report was tabled with the government, with a number attached to it, why is the consultant going back with regard to further work?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: There is the question of feasibility and then there is the question of design. I would emphasize again: that is not covered in this Supplementary Budget.
Mr. Lang: Let me get this straight. A study was undertaken on the feasibility of whether or not the dam could be fixed, and that was what was brought forward to the government.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: There were a number of studies done about this project. Some were inherited from Northern Canada Power Commission. Even though we are not dealing with this item in this Supplementary Budget, - and I have offered to give the House a statement when the relevant information that they are seeking is available to me - our studies were begun last year with a view to replacing the Mayo Lake storage dam.
That work will shortly be completed - a series of studies through feasibility to engineering. When that engineering study is done, I will have a more precise estimate of the cost of replacing or rehabilitating that structure, and I will be announcing that number in the House, as well as the other information about scheduling and dates.
Mr. Lang: It sounds to me like there was a feasibility study done that said that it can be fixed. We are also having a study done to see exactly how much it is going to cost. Do I understand that correctly? Are there two studies: a) the feasibility engineering study to see whether or not the dam can be modified or fixed, and b) another study, an engineering study, that will give the firm figures as far as how much it will cost to fix it - is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Mr. Chairman, can I appeal to you? We are not dealing with the Yukon Development Corporation right now. We are dealing with the Department of Economic Development. Studies under question are not under this line in the Budget. We are dealing with the Supplementary Budget for the Department of Economic Development, not the 1988 capital plan of YDC.
Chairman: Order, please. I have let this go on longer than I should have. I apologize for that. I will ask the Members to please address their questions to the matters at hand in the Supplementary Budget.
Mr. Lang: It is nice to see the Government Leader is being treated in the manner he would like to be treated in. In fairness to all the other front bench Members the Chair has allowed us to deal with particular issues in a general way. Then all of a sudden the leader, the king, says he is tired of talking to the people and does not want to answer any more questions.
I had three basic questions. That is all I had. Then we could move on to other items. When do we deal with them? When we deal with the Yukon Development Corporation we were told we could not even look at the books because its financial management is private, confidential. It is the peoples money that is ...
Chairman: Order, please, order. There are other places for you to raise these questions. Not here.
Mr. Lang: Oh, is that right. Where? Out in the public? Do I have to go out there and start my own Hyde Park? This is the place to be asking these questions.
Chairman: Order please.
Mr. Lang: In all due respect to the Chair, and with all due respect to the Government Leader, who I know is above this type of conversation and this type of debate, could I ask when we will be told the figure that this particular facility is going to cost the people of the territory? We may only be in the House for a week. He said it would be during this session so could he give us a time line.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Notwithstanding the fact that we are dealing with the Economic Development Supplementary Budget...
Chairman: Order. Could you ask that question some other time please, such as in Question Period? It does not pertain to this budget.
Mr. Lang: Well, Mr. Chairman, I may find time in Question Period to ask that question and I would like to give the Minister fair notice. I would like to voice my objections as a Member of this House that in fairness to this side and the other front benches on that side we have had fairly free reign with respect to the debate when we were dealing with a specific issue. Now the Government Leader backed off because the questions were getting too difficult or perhaps they were getting too specific, so maybe there would have to be a decision taken and an answer given.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: On the procedural point, as I fear there is a horrible misunderstanding that is causing the Member opposite to behave as he is, the Yukon Development Corporation is a separate vote in this Supplementary Budget. Questions pertaining to the Yukon Development Corporation occur in the Supplementary Budget under the Yukon Development Corporation item. I answered the question before supper in an effort to expedite debate. I previously indicated that I would come back to the House with the pertinent information when I had it.
I cannot properly deal, under another department, with the questions that are being asked now. I am not indicating any obstructionism whatsoever.
Mr. Lang: In defense of this side of the House, is the deputy minister of Economic Development not a member of the board of directors of the Yukon Development Corporation, so it is tied in directly to Economic Development? Is that not the reason that particular individual was appointed to the board of directors? I had no objection to it, as far as the position is concerned.
My other observation is that the Government Leader is leaving, in deference to this side of the House.
Chairman: Mr. Lang, would you not agree that the topic of the Mayo dam would be better addressed under the Yukon Development Corporation, as opposed to Economic Development?
Mr. Lang: When are we going to deal with the Yukon Development Corporation?
Chairman: When we get there.
Mr. Lang: Would the Minister be prepared to deal with the Yukon Development Corporation right after we deal with Economic Development?
Chairman: In dealing with the Supplementary Estimates, it has been tradition that we take them in order but, if an arrangement is worked out among the House Leaders to change the order, that is fine with the Chairman. I just do what I am told.
Mr. Lang: Can we deal with the Yukon Development Corporation once we are finished with this particular supplementary, since the Minister is leaving?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am quite willing to deal with them in whatever order, and I will consult with my colleagues and other Members in the House, but if the Member is seeking more precise answers to the question he was seeking earlier about the Yukon Development Corporation on that particular project, I cannot tonight give them any more precisely than I have already, no matter how many questions are asked.
Chairman: Could we please continue with general debate on Economic Development: Mines and Small Business?
Mr. Lang: With respect to energy, my questions fall between the gamut of the Rural Electrification Program and the Yukon Development Corporation and Yukon Electrical, and have to do with the possible extension of the Rock Creek/Henderson Creek line, which I am sure the Chairman would like to hear more about, as far as what the government is doing or not doing. Is that permissible?
Chairman: Not in this budget. This is a supplementary budget.
Mr. Lang: Was there not some money expended in respect to that particular project in some vote or another, as far as all the studies are concerned? Am I not correct?
Chairman: Not in this department.
Mr. Lang: How do you know? You are the Chairman. Could I ask the Minister of Economic Development?
Chairman: Yes, I am the Chairman, and it is part of the Yukon Development Corporation, which is not this department.
Mr. Lang: I am sorry I raised the question.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: When we get to the Yukon Development Corporation, I would be quite happy to answer questions about its plans for the coming year, or its expenditures in the past year but, in the particular supplementary that is under review, as far as I know, there are no consulting contracts or work in connection with the North Fork project, either in the Department of Economic Development or under the Yukon Development Corporation.
Mr. Lang: Who expended the dollars for the purpose of doing the evaluation of what that particular project would cost and the other work undertaken? Was it done directly through Yukon Electrical with some government assistance being given through the department?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I will take the question as notice.
Mr. Lang: It has to be either yes or no. Did Yukon Electrical do the necessary studies at their own expense for that particular project or, if they did not, which corporation provided the dollars for the purposes of having a serious look at that project?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Yukon Electrical did do some studies on this project and the Yukon Development Corporation in its expenditures for 1988-89 is doing some work on this project.
Mr. Lang: I want to get it clear for the record that there was no money expended by the Department of Economic Development: Mines and Small Business, directly or indirectly, with respect to the project that I have asked about, the extension of the hydro transmission line between Rock Creek and Henderson Corner?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: It is not under this department, but the Yukon Development Corporation has done some internal work on this project trying to build on work done by Yukon Electrical. I would be happy to talk to that and try to provide the information and answers to the questions the Member has asked when we get to that department.
On Energy Conservation Fund
Mr. Nordling: The Minister said that the reason for the increase in demand was greater than expected. Does the Minister have any explanation for why it was that much greater, and if the Minister can provide us with a list of those applications that were accepted, and the number of applications turned down versus the number accepted?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: There were 183 projects accepted as a result of the last report that I have. I do not have a final report for the year end yet. I believe, in answer to a letter from the Member for Riverdale South, that I have already given a list of those projects to the Member. Exactly how many were rejected, if any, I will have to take as notice. I am not sure, given that the nature of the SEAL Program and the well known parameters of that program, if there would have been very many applications rejected, but I will check.
Mrs. Firth: I did not get a list from the Minister on this particular program.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I stand corrected. The Member asked for a list of programs. I assumed that was one of them. My apologies. There were 183 projects approved as of a March date here. The total dollars as of that date were $700,000 plus.
Mr. Lang: I have a question of accounting. How are we doing with respect to the SEAL Program, and how are we collecting our receivables?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am advised that the collections on SEAL are doing very well. I am advised that there may be one or two bad accounts but that the collections are proceeding as they should with this program.
Energy Conservation Fund in the amount of $110,000 agreed to
On Internal Energy
Mr. Nordling: I would like further clarification on this line. The Minister talked about one term position being transferred. My understanding from our previous discussions about the internal energy audit was that virtually all of these monies would be recovered from the Department of Government Services. I know the Minister tried to explain it last December but it is still not clear in my mind.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: They are 100 percent recoverable from the Department of Government Services in the sense that the one person year and the $50,000 for doing the audit was transferred from government services to this department.
Internal Energy in the amount of $50,000 agreed to
On Yukon Energy Alternatives
Mr. Nordling: Again, in the Ministers opening comments he said that the uptake was less than expected. I would like clarification. I believe, in December when we discussed the capital budget for 1988-89, the Minister thought it would be put to full use.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I hope in 1988-89 the uptake of the budget will be nearer to the budgeted amount. The problem, of course, with programs like this where we are budgeting for a certain uptake is that we have a number of enquiries that do not proceed to the application stage and some projects that we are anticipating, and we have sufficient funds to cover them, because we cannot make commitments in excess of the money budgeted. There have been approvals of less than was originally budgeted and therefore the significant portion of the budget on this line will be unspent in the fiscal year under review.
Mr. Nordling: I have been provided with a list up to November 1987 that shows approximately $230,000 used and I would ask if the Minister would bring back an updated list showing the other $120,000 that we expect to have expended by the end of March?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The number we have here for the estimated expenditure was the estimate at September when this Supplementary Estimate was first put together, but I will bring back a report on the uptake of the program.
Chairman: Anything further?
Yukon Energy Alternatives in the amount of a reduction of $100,000 agreed to
On Mineral Incentives
Mr. Nordling: Would the Minister provide us with a list of those users of the program. We have a list already of 32 users for approximately $935,000. There are probably a couple more that bring us up to just over the $1 million mark.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Yes, I can do that. Could the Member remind me what date the report is that he is citing, in talking about the $900,000 item? Is it the March 3 report that was provided to the Member for Riverdale South?
Mr. Nordling: The list I have is dated December 18, 1987.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Okay, I can provide him with the most recent report.
Mineral Incentives in the amount of $24,000 agreed to
On Prospectors Assistance
Mr. Nordling: Again, could the Minister tell us a little bit more about why there was a less than estimated expenditure of that much, and give us a list of the recipients and the numbers turned down, if that is available?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The total number of projects approved was 26 and, in the case of this program, every single applicant that was eligible and approved was funded. There were no more eligible applicants, so that was the limit of the requests under the program.
Mr. Nordling: To save the Minister a bit of trouble, the Member for Riverdale South does have the exploration incentive list up to date for a total of $1,028,000.
With respect to the Prospectors Assistance Program, in the main Operation and Maintenance Budget statistics on page 83, the 1987-88 forecast for this program is 34 applications with 27 approved, and a total cost of $250,000. The discrepancy in the two sets of figures is not clear to me.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I will have to reference the figure, but the actual information I have is there were 26 projects approved.
Mr. Nordling: I am prepared to clear the line, but I would put the Minister on notice that I will be asking for clarification of those figures on page 83 of the Operation and Maintenance Budget.
Prospectors Assistance in the amount of a reduction of $50,000 agreed to
On Economic Development Agreement
Hon. Mr. Penikett: As I indicated in my opening remarks, the federal government agreed to carry forward the EDA money and the commitment that had lapsed in the previous fiscal year - that was $49,000. I do not want to get into a complicated description of this, but it is actually a problem. We cannot always count on the federal government reprofiling money that lapses in one year and is unspent into the next year where there are commitments. Particularly with this program and the complicated approvals level, we sometimes have worried about having made commitments - because this is jointly federal/territorial - and then not getting final approvals in the same fiscal year. We have worried about whether the commitment would fall forward into the next year.
In this case, there was a federal approval for money from a previous year and that increased the amount by $49,000.
Mr. Nordling: I would like to hear a little bit more about what is going on with the Economic Development Agreement and the renegotiation. On December 14, 1987, the Minister talked about meetings going on next month, which would have been January, preparatory to negotiations between officials. He went on to say that At this moment... which was last December ...we are establishing a committee involving the other departments, which would include Renewable Resources and Tourism.
I would like the Minister to tell us what is going on at this time.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: There have been a number of discussions at both the official and ministerial level. We are not perfectly clear yet what the federal intentions in this regard are, whether they want to renew the EDAs as they originally were, or whether there are different plans. As the Member said a committee was formed. We have a committee principally consisting of deputies of the departments involved in the EDA - Renewable Resources, Tourism, Economic Development. They are developing positions for us. We have had some discussions at the Cabinet level. We shortly expect to be adopting a formal mandate for these negotiations.
As the result of the Western Economic Initiatives Proposal from the federal government we have been still been trying to determine exactly how the federal government sees the north and the Yukon fitting in. There was originally a sense that we might be included in that western umbrella and then lose the regional distinctiveness of our programs. Early indications from the Minister of Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development were that that was not going to happen. I hope to be having a discussion with him fairly shortly about where the federal thinking has gone on that, because it will obviously affect negotiations. We can only negotiate within a framework that the federal government establishes.
Work is progressing. I know that my colleague, the Minister of Tourism, has met with his federal counterpart, as I have, and I am sure that discussion is going on in the Renewable Resources area, as well.
Mr. Nordling: I would like to know if, in the negotiations, the Government of Yukon is advocating a revolving loan type system. I say that because that sort of thing has been discussed at length in the House. On October 9, 1985 what started out to be a motion by the Member for Porter Creek East became the motion by the Minister of Tourism through an amendment THAT during its review of the Canada/Yukon Tourism Subagreement, the Government of Yukon should give consideration to advocating a minimum of 50 percent of the monies set aside under the Economic Development Agreement for tourism development to a revolving fund which would be utilized to provide a low interest loan program for the tourism industry. That motion was agreed to, as amended, and I know that at the present time a portion of the tourism subagreement places no-interest loans; I would like to know what the bargaining position and the policy is going to be by the government as a whole.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: We will be pursuing that idea, even though we have received, I should tell the Member, absolutely no encouragement from the federal government that they will find it acceptable. We have taken the advice of the House and will be pursuing that proposal.
Mr. Nordling: I hope the Minister will show the federal department the first line of departmental objectives, which is to promote development of the self-sustaining Yukon economy. I think that type of fund would help in that direction.
Economic Development Agreement in the amount of $49,000 agreed to
On Loan Assistance
Mr. Nordling: This program was also discussed in December, and I would like to hear if the Government Leader has anything additional to add or is there any change in his position? My concern then was that an overlap with other programs caused the loan assistance program to get less uptake than we expected - the other programs being grant money rather than loan money. I would like to hear from the Minister on that.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I have taken note of the Members comments. The Member should know that the same board is considering these things; in fact, I think in proportionate terms there are far more loans than grants now than was formerly the case. In the coming year, consistent with the initiatives of the department and the Yukon economic strategy, we will be trying to move to a more consolidated application process with a single form to allow people to access a variety of programs in one application. I am sure the Member knows as well that there will be applications come forward into this program which are not proven acceptable and the board that makes these findings does not approve every request. I believe Members of the House, I am sure, would want it that way because naturally not every project would prove worthy in their eyes.
Mr. Nordling: I just wonder about the uptake on the program since November of 1987, which is the last list I have. I do not know if my colleague has a later one but under the Loan Assistance Plan to November 1987 there is $1,766,000, which is virtually what we will have in the revised vote for the project. Have we had any further uptake since November of 1987?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: My information is as of March 3, 1988 and the uptake was $1,887,517.82. There may have been something further approved between March 3 and the end of the year but I have not got that report yet.
Mr. Nordling: My colleague has that last figure.
Loan Assistance in the amount of a reduction of $1,450,000 agreed to
On Special ARDA
Mr. Nordling: Perhaps the Minister can give us more information on the extra money.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The short answer is that there were a greater than anticipated number of applications. As of the date that I shared with the Member for Riverdale South there have been 37 projects approved almost to the amount of $1 million. The anticipated amount for the year in the end was close to the $1,115,000 figure.
Special ARDA in the amount of $70,000 agreed to
On Renewable Resource/Commercial Development
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Again this is a new program. As I indicated earlier, like the program that follows, the regulations and guidelines were late being developed and approved. As a result the uptake in this program was not only down as it is with many new programs, but also because we did not have a full year of applicants.
Renewable Resource/Commercial Development in the amount of a reduction of $150,000 agreed to
On Venture Capital
Mr. Nordling: I would like more explanation from the Minister. He mentioned that guidelines were late and it was less than expected. I believe I have a copy of the Venture Capital Program policy and I would like an indication that this is the policy and there have not been any changes made.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: No, and I apologize to the House for this. In the fall we dealt with the Supplementary Budget but the guidelines were very late being approved. When I presented them to the House they had not been approved very long and as a result the uptake in the program was not there. The Member is quite right: there have been no changes to those program outlines since the program was approved.
Mr. Nordling: I am not sure whether we have a list of the Venture Capital users. If it is easy for the Minister to get, I would appreciate him sending me a copy of the users.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I will do that.
Venture Capital in the amount of a reduction of $350,000 agreed to
Capital Expenditures in the amount of a reduction of $1,797,000 agreed to
Chairman: Are there any comments on the Capital Recoveries?
Mr. Nordling: I believe the energy conservation loan - the SEAL program - is the same as the expenditures. The Government Leader said he does not foresee bad debts. Could he confirm that?
With respect to how the Yukon Energy Alternatives Program works, we have a difference in the amount voted to date for the project of $450,000 for the capital expenditure, $300,000 for the recovery, and the supplementary reduces the expenditure by $100,000 and, also, the recovery by $100,000, leaving $200,000 in recoveries and expenditures of $350,000. The percentage recovery is different. It is not the same. I do know some are loans and some are grants, but it seems a little out of kilter to me.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: On the Energy Conservation Fund, the recovery adjustment reflects the increased expenditures anticipated at the levels. Those numbers are the same as the expenditure levels at the top of the budget.
On the Energy Alternatives, there are two parts of that program. One is the feasibility money and the other is the loans for the actual projects. The feasibility study money is not recoverable; the loan money is.
Mr. Lang: With respect to Special ARDA, what mechanism is set in place to review the success of the various expenditures that have been made?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: There are two process that go on. There are audits of each project, which are done by our officers and by the federal officers involved in the program. As well, before the program was renewed this last time, there was a formal evaluation of the program done, and a similar evaluation is contemplated prior to the completion of the current term of the program. There are project-specific audits done by both federal and territorial officers, and there is a formal program evaluation done, as well.
Mr. Lang: Is that audit done in such a manner that it is strictly done after a purchase is done to make sure the money has been spent in that direction, or does the audit go so far as a year or two or three years down the road, and an assessment is done on the success of the particular venture in question?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The audit actually looks at the contribution agreement during the life of the project, so if there is a contribution that goes on for whatever period, the audit is done to see if there is compliance with the conditions of the contribution. Also, the federal government, at this moment, because they are trying to rethink where they go with Indian economic development programs, are doing an overall program review, not only of this program but other Indian economic development programs, preparatory to making some decisions about how they are restructured or reprofiled. That is a national process that is now going on.
Mr. Lang: I just want to pursue one area. I notice, in the commercial undertakings taken by the government, there were a number of major expenditures. There were expenditures for heavy equipment: a D8H Caterpillar for $35,000; a purchase of a loader, another $26,500; purchase of a skidder and other equipment, $7,100. The concern I have here, and I think it is a legitimate one, is that I have constituents come to me and say they have certain undertakings with a commercial bank and they have put up X amount of dollars, but how can they be expected to compete if someone is getting an outright grant for a portion of the capital cost, which allows them to underbid or charge less per hour for the machines? I am wondering what policy is in place to ensure that we do not get this situation, which is becoming more and more evident and could be said to cause unfair competition.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I take note of the Members concern, but the Member should know that this particular program is a DRIE program, and is 100 percent federally administered; they assess these applications, they make the recommendations and they approve 100 percent of the dollars for the purchases of that kind of equipment under this program.
Mr. Lang: Is it not correct that the Cabinet or the Minister of Economic Development - I do not know how the government runs its management board -also have to give their approval to these undertakings?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Yes, in the normal course of things I do not often have occasion to raise questions about committee recommendations, but the Member is right. I think we have to sign every one of them.
Mr. Lang: That is my point. I do not get the opportunity to speak to the Prime Minister, not unlike the Government Leader, and that is why I am raising the question. I know the authority is vested with the Government of Yukon to review these and, if they do have problems, at least send them back and have them reevaluated. I think this an area where a lot of concerns are being expressed and I do not think it does much for the society and the people in question if there are hard feelings over these things. My question is: is it the policy of the Government of Yukon, when they assess these, do they go to the people who are already in that business to ask their opinion with respect to whether or not these dollars should be allocated?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I do not do that on a project by project basis, but I would appreciate it if the Member has constituents - although presumably they would not want to make it public - who express concern or apprehension or objections to some of these things, he would give me the information in confidence and I will make sure it is taken into account in the consideration of these questions.
Mr. Lang: There is no point in me giving names because they do get circulated around various departments. I am raising the fact that money has already been spent. I am looking ahead. I am not saying that you can take the money back.
Does your department go and check out other people in the business to see if these things are happening. That is not an unfair policy because the Minister of Tourism does that when applications are being considered under the Tourism Subsidiary Agreement when grants are available.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Both DRIE and we are supposed to be very sensitive to the implications of adverse competition and the Member knows that under this program. I would obviously want to take that into account if I hear of instances where that is a complaint, or if there is a pattern where that is alleged to be a complaint.
Mr. Nordling: Under the Loan Assistance Program line, the supplementary reduction in expenditures is $1,450,000. In recoveries, it is $1.6 million. The difference in the expenditures and recoveries is $150,000. Is that what the Minister expects to be bad debts under this program?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I have a feeling it has to do with the way the staff for this program are charged, but can I take notice of the question because I want to make sure I answer it properly for the Member.
Mr. Nordling: That is fine.
Mr. Lang: Can I get an understanding with respect to taking notice on a question? We had notice taken with the Executive Council Office and we are finished the Main Budget and the Supplementary Estimates. When will we get those answers to those particular questions? Obviously we are not going to have any other department to discuss them in.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The minute I left the floor of the House I gave instructions that I wanted the answers to the questions and I have not received them on my desk yet. As soon as I do and I have looked at them, I will bring them to the House. It could be a problem with the Executive Council because the acting Deputy Minister is away right now in Ottawa and will not be back until the beginning of next week. I will get them to the House as soon as I can.
Mr. Lang: On Special ARDA, I wrote a letter on behalf of a constituent with respect to the purchase of Polar Industries. The Minister may recall that. My constituent was requesting how much actual government money, whether it be from the government of Canada or Yukon, or whatever agency was being made available for that particular purchase. The reply I got was all the Minister was aware of was that it was $99,500 through Special ARDA. My constituent and I do not know where to go to get the rest of the information. I would assume that if the Government of Yukon, on the DRIE Committee, has the authority to make the decision one way or the other, he would be aware of all federal or territorial funds being made available to a particular project.
Could he tell me if any other federal or territorial dollars were made available for the Polar Industry purchase other than the $99,500 that we see under the Special ARDA for commercial undertakings?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am sorry that the Member did not get the answer that he was seeking. I will have to take notice of the question. I will take notice of it, and I will try to get the information. I vaguely remember the letter, and I vaguely remember the information, but I do not have it any more at my fingertips. The question, as I understand it from the Member, is whether there is any other funding, under any other program, federal or territorial, that may have gone into this particular acquisition. I will take notice of that question and make sure that the Member gets an answer.
Mr. Lang: Thank you, my constituent will appreciate it.
Economic Development: Mines and Small Business in the amount of $1,797,000 agreed to
Chairman: Before we move on to the Department of Finance we will recess for 15 minutes.
Chairman: The Committee of the Whole will now come to order. The Department of Finance, general debate.
Department of Finance
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The Department of Finance is seeking $146,000 in this Supplementary Budget. This additional requirement can be attributed to three specific items. The wage settlement reached with our employees in 1987-88 necessitated that the department seek $72,000 in new funds to cover the cost of these settlements. The Workers Compensation Board Supplementary Benefits Program requires an additional $33,000, and we are requesting $50,000 for an allowance for bad debts.
I should mention that this is a non-cash provision made each year-end to provide for accounts receivable, that may proved to be uncollectable. I hasten to add that this is, of course, not a write-off of accounts, but rather is merely a formula calculation of a contingency for write-offs. It is a practice to provide only a one dollar vote in the Main Estimates for this item, and to seek a supplementary at year-end when some idea of the total year-end accounts receivable is known.
The sums that I mentioned are offset to some extent by known favorable accounting adjustments that impact upon prior years. With that I will resume my seat and answer any questions.
Mrs. Firth: Is the $72,000 Treasury line item strictly for the wage settlement and increases?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: That is the net amount. The impact of the wage settlement was higher than that, but it is offset by some offsets as a result of there being some vacancies in the department during the year. It nets out to $72,000.
Mrs. Firth: Can the Minister give us a figure of the total impact of the wage settlement on the total budget? We have asked and been told in all of the different areas that this increase is largely due to wage settlements. I would expect that Finance would have a total figure of the impact that the wage settlement had on the total budget.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: We will be able to come up with that figure in a minute or two. Perhaps if I answer another question first, by the time that I get that answer, I will be able to come back and answer that one.
Mrs. Firth: What was the $33,000 for the Workers Compensation Board supplementary benefits for?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: This is the Workers Compensation Board supplementary benefits program. It requires an additional $33,000. Members will be aware that this is a statutory program, and the expenditures for it are mandated by that legislation. Billings from the Workers Compensation Board have recently been the higher monthly rate and, consequently, more funds are acquired for the program.
Mrs. Firth: That is what I thought. I just wanted to get it confirmed.
I will wait for the Minister to give us the figure.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am going to have to check further, but the impact of the contract agreement on the two years - last year and this year - is $8.9 million. That includes the merit increases. I may not have the break-out the Member asked for with respect to the impact on this year for which the Supplementary Estimate covers at my fingertips, and I may have to come back with it.
Mrs. Firth: I would like that, if I could. The information we had was that there was a $12 million increase in wages, generally, and $9 million I thought was due to the wage settlement.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Yes, but the $12 million figure was for the two year period, as well. Let me get the detailed break-out for the Member, rather than my rounding out guesses, and we will come back with a figure.
Mrs. Firth: Do I take it that the Minister has to come back with that information, or with a written answer?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I will come back with the information the Member has asked for. I will not get it here tonight, but I think I should be able to get it for tomorrow.
Treasury in the amount of $72,000 agreed to
On WCB Supplementary Benefits
WCB Supplementary Benefits in the amount of $33,000 agreed to
On Accounting Adjustments
Accounting Adjustments in the amount of a reduction of $9,000 agreed to
On Allowance for Bad Debts
Allowance for Bad Debts in the amount of $50,000 agreed to
Mrs. Firth: We do not want to hold up the passing of this, but we will expect the break-down information from the Minister tomorrow, as he has committed.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I have no problem giving a commitment to get back to her. There may be some particular questions about the break-out for merit increases and some of the fine points of that, which I may find easier to answer once we get to the PSC Main Estimates, but I will come back with the information the Member has requested for tomorrow, in any case.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I should introduce just one topic. The only change by way of an organizational change here is that the lease costs for the community learning centres have been transferred from Education to Government Services, and that will continue in the future. The influence of that on this budget is in administration, and it is $32,000 in that line. The total figure for the four branches for the contract settlement or staff costs is an additional $281,000. Members will no doubt note that the capital reduction is exactly the same as the operation and maintenance over expenditure. That was planned in order to bring the total supplementary to zero. It was essentially planned as an offset for the over expenditures which were unavoidable. I can explain each of those as we go through the lines.
There is one matter on page 36. If you look at Capital Recoveries, under capital renovations recovery, it has $7,000. This is an error. It is not a typographical error. It was identified as a coding error for capital projects and will be zeroed out at period 13, or we will ask for a reduction under that line.
I can answer general questions or go immediately to the lines if Members wish.
Mr. Lang: I want to forewarn the Minister that I expect to have a fair amount of information made available to us with respect to what is locally known as the value added concept with his business incentive program which has proven to be very unpopular with those that have to work with it. I am sure the Minister would not lose any sleep over that, but there is some anxiety and questions in the minds of those Yukon companies who are expected to follow this paper tiger being created by the Minister that is causing a great deal of expense, time and misunderstanding by those in the construction business.
I asked in Question Period and, if I could be permitted to do so tonight, I would ask the Member if he has the schedule of how the contracts are going to be tendered and in what order, which he committed himself to the House last week to provide to me?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: No, I do not have it. I will have it definitely before the debate on the Main Estimates, and I sincerely hope I can table it this week. As a matter of fact, I will commit myself to do that.
Mr. Lang: I want to assure the Minister that he can table it with the understanding that, if something changes with one or two of the contracts in their administration, it is just a guideline to go by. It is not written in stone.
The other area of government services that is of major concern to us, of course, is the expansion of the civil service, which the Minister of Justice has to cope with in finding these people not only desks but rental accommodation as well. My question is this: have any other buildings been rented recently, other than the building behind Carcare? I believe that new building is for the Yukon Housing Corporation? Has any other office space been rented in the downtown area in the last couple of months?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: There are no new moves after what I announced at the first supplemental in the last sitting. There is no authorization to move into new space. However, at the first supplemental, I identified some moves that were about to take place and some of those, in fact, have not occurred to date. I identified a branch of health and human resources and a tender for that move, and they will be moving into the Financial Plaza. That is not an announcement of a new move; it is the follow through of an old move.
That is the top two floors of the building opposite the Optometrists Building, beside the Dairy Queen.
Mr. Lang: I am not going to get into it during this debate; I just want to forewarn the Minister I expect to have a fairly good discussion when we get to the Main Estimates. One of the reasons why we will not be going out for any more rental space, I presume, is that we have rented everything that is available for rent. I find two floors hard to believe.
Could the Minister explain to me how the change in the departmental structure that was announced prior to us coming into the House will ensure situations such as the Ross River Memorial Arena, the situation up in Beaver Creek, the question of the metric versus the imperial situation at Swift River, the various other contracts that have come in very much over budget and which are obviously causing a great deal of concern to the taxpayer, do not occur. I want to go on record here as saying that this side has never opposed, for example, the concept of a rink in the community of Ross River, nor in the community of Mayo.
This side was the government when they went ahead with the rink in Mayo. My concern is the obvious and blatant misuse of taxpayers dollars that has gone on here. I recognize it is embarrassing to the front bench, and it should be. I looked at the organization chart, and the switches and moves that were made. I still do not understand how that is going to limit the damage control with respect to these projects. Perhaps the Minister has some comments to make in that respect.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: Firstly, that is not going to help us with respect to this Supplementary Estimate, but it will in speaking about the Main Estimates. It was a very general question about particular projects, however I will answer it in a general way. The purpose is to define the lines of accountability much more precisely than has been done in the past.
The Member for Porter Creek East spoke about various capital works projects. The administrative task is to define the lines of authority and, therefore, accountability, so that, where mistakes are made, it is easy to pin the accountability on a particular function or person and solve the problems so they do not occur in the future.
Mr. Lang: As I indicated, I was going to save most of my debate for the Main Estimates so, from my perspective, we can proceed with the clause-by-clause debate.
Chairman: We are on Operation and Maintenance Expenditures, Administration.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: The contract settlement here is $37,000. There was an additional expenditure for casuals and overtime, which is largely clerical work, for $63,000. The leases transferred from Education for the community learning centres is $32,000, which is an additional expenditure under this budget. There is $41,000 that is attributable to escalation clauses in the various leases and various lease expenses - this is for all the leases in the government - and a security contract for Chateau Jomeni in Faro. All that adds up to $180,000; the security contract is $6,000.
Mr. Lang: We are moving around and I want to refer to leases again. Could the Minister make a list from the Main Estimates of the cost per square foot, the square feet, and the buildings being rented by the government, to add up to an annual cost.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: Yes.
Mr. Nordling: The Minister said that $41,000 was for escalation clauses in the leases. Did we not know that the clauses were there when we prepared the budget?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: Yes, but we did not know the amounts by which the leases would escalate. We know the last years cost and we estimate next years cost and we are sometimes a bit out. That accounts for this figure.
Mr. Nordling: Are they based on some percentage increase that we do not know about until sometime during the year?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: We know the percentages because it is a term of the lease, but we do not know the percentages of what - as an example, a percentage of the taxes, or fuel costs. We know the figures as we progress in time.
Mr. Phillips: Is this the area where I might ask about moves regarding Yukon College?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: No. I would submit that it would be best to ask in the Main Estimates because there are no moves concerning Yukon College covered by this set. However, I will be prepared to give an up-to-the-minute accounting of the progress of the planning for the old Yukon College. I would suggest the Main Estimates would be the best place.
Mr. Phillips: I will wait until the Main Estimates. I just thought I might help out the Member for Porter Creek East a little, but I will wait for the Main Estimates to ask the questions.
Mr. Lang: I want to move to the contracts that were tabled in the House and make an observation. On quite a number of them, the only explanation is consulting. Would the Minister be prepared to direct his department that the next time this is done an explanation of every area be made - similar to what is done almost throughout - except for those 20 or 30 that strictly have the word consulting. It leaves everybody wondering what they do. One is for $30,000, one is for $2,244, for consulting services. There is $5,000 from Barrhead, Alberta, for consulting services. I am going to have to ask for copies of all those contracts so we know what they are. In most cases if I saw an explanation that has been given in most of the service contracts I would not ask for them. I feel obliged to because there is no description of what is being done for the money.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I agree, and I will continue to try to do better in future years - indeed, in this year, as the year goes on. The problem is that that information is frequently all the information that Government Services has, and we are punching these contracts into the computer system. It is a clerk who is doing the work, and that is the entry that they find. However, the ultimate goal here is to improve this reporting so that it is valuable to the private sector. It would be valuable to break down the consulting contracts into the kinds of contracts and publish them as lists for the benefit of the local consulting firms. The problem is that all of that takes time, and it is not possible to do that analysis and table the contracts as early as they are wanted by the Opposition. However, we are doing our best, and one way to do it, which may solve the problem, is to table to contracts in their raw form, as early as we can, and do the various analyses later, and table that in May or June. That may solve both of the problems.
Mr. Lang: I did not intend to get into a lengthy debate here. To say that there is not that information on a disk, with the modern technology that we have - I do not want to use unparliamentary language here, so I will just say that that is almost misleading. When I take a look at a contract that has been signed in the eighth month, on the twenty-sixth day, that means that Government Services had it within 48 hours of that contract being signed within that department. There is no reason why the explanation at that stage could not have been put on this particular contract. Could the Minister explain to me why an explanatory note, of less than one sentence, could not be punched in at that stage when the contract is received? Is there a problem with that?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: For some contracts, indeed, for most of them, we do get that kind of time. The problem is that the systems were set up for financial accounting, and we are only just now identifying these other information needs. It is an excellent idea to monitor the descriptions of the contracts as we go through the years. We will get that done, in time.
Mr. Lang: I want the assurance of the Minister that we are not going to be seeing that as a reason for an excuse for not tabling them the first three or four days into April. We saw a situation where, last year, they were tabled on April 6. This year, we went as far as April 18. I would like assurances from the Minister that these documents will be made available to us within roughly the first week of April, knowing some of the paperwork has to be completed.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: Last year, it was on April 9, and there were a number of contracts missing, which were tabled later. We were accused of trying to hide those, which we were not at all. The problem here is getting accurate information in a timely way, without clerical mistakes. We are doing the best we can.
As we go through the year, we will improve the system and improve our ability to analyze the data. I will try and get the list available as soon as I possibly can. That is the instruction to the public servants, and we will try and do better every year, in fact.
Mr. Lang: I take it the commitment is to try to table them as close to April 1 as we possibly can. I see the Minister nodding his head very wisely and very cooperatively, and I just want to put that into the record.
On the tabling of these documents, I think it is important to see how this money is being spent from a private sector point of view, but it is also important from a check and balance system, as far as the government is concerned. I am saying this from a non-partisan point of view. I do not care who is in the front bench: the side opposite, this side, or whatever political party. There is a great deal of money there, and there has to be some method of public accountability, so that if somebody goes through it and asks some specific questions, some very specific answers can be given. In other words, this is to ensure that the money that is being identified and being spent on behalf of the taxpayers we represent is being spent wisely and according to law.
That is the other fundamental reason why these particular documents should be tabled and made available. At times, there may be some things that are embarrassing, but it does put a check and balance in the system, which is required if we are going to ensure things are done in a manner that is both legal and perceived to be fair.
Administration in the amount of $180,000 agreed to
On Systems and Computing Services
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: The contract settlement was $53,000, and the additional $29,000 is for increased maintenance costs for both the software and hardware.
Systems and Computing Services in the amount of $82,000 agreed to
On Supply Services
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: The contract settlement was $94,000; on the Hansard contract there was an additional $5,000; photocopier rentals and paper, most especially paper, $58,000; on vehicle maintenance and repairs and fuel for the fleet, $57,000; for casual help in the asset control activity $6,000; for rate increases for government phones, which were not anticipated in the budget, $12,000; and in contract administration, a reduction of $76,000. This is all attributable to the value added administration in that I had asked for an additional $170,000 in the first supplementary, and I am turning back $76,000 of that. That is attributable to the fact that the personnel asked for were not hired on the dates expected; that accounts for $47,000 for supplies; and for advertising, a reduction of $29,000.
Mr. Lang: I thought we were going to get through this. The fact that we are giving $76,000 back reminds me of the story where a guy hits you over the head with a baseball bat and it feels so good when he quits. We are doing you a real favour - we ask for $170,000 and now we are going to give you $76,000 back. Could the Minister tell us when these particular positions were put into place, so that we can do some quick arithmetic on just exactly on a 12 month basis what it is going to cost the contractors and the people of the territory to go under another one of his social experiments?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: The supervisor started February 22, and the evaluation officer and implementation officer, which is one person, started February 29.
Mr. Lang: Do I take it that we have spent $100,000 on just over one months worth of personnel time? Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: No. For personnel in the whole contract administration activity the Main Estimates budgeted $145,000. On the Supplements we asked for an additional $96,000 in the fall. We are turning back $47,000 of that $96,000 so the amount projected to the end of the year is a total of $194,000. That is not for value added. That is for the activity that includes value added.
Mr. Lang: It is too late in the day to try to get into arithmetic with the Minister. I will save it for Government Services and move we report what little progress we can on Bill No. 60.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. Porter: I move that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Motion agreed to
Speaker resumes the Chair
Speaker: I will now call the House to Order.
May the House have a report from the Chairman of Committee of the Whole?
Mr. Webster: The Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 60, Fourth Appropriation Act, 1987-88 and asked me to report progress on the 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.
Hon. Mr. Porter: I move that the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Government Leader that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: This House now stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. tomorrow.
The House adjourned at 9:27 p.m.
The following Sessional Paper was tabled April 25, 1988:
Statistical Review, Fourth quarter 1987 (Penikett)
The following Legislative Returns were tabled April 25, 1988:
Young offenders, escapes from and vandalizing of facilities (M. Joe)
Oral, Hansard, p. 279
Policies at young offenders facilities (M. Joe)
Oral, Hansard, p. 282
Yukon Utilities Board re capital budgets of utilities (Kimmerly)
Oral, Hansard, p. 151