Wednesday, April 27, 1988 - 1:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. We will proceed with prayers.
Speaker: We will proceed with the Order Paper.
Introduction of visitors?
Are there any Returns or Documents for tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I have for tabling answers to questions outstanding from the Supplementary Estimates for the Department of Community and Transportation Services.
Speaker: Are there any Reports of Committees?
Are there any Petitions?
Petition No. 1
Mr. Webster: I wish to present a Petition signed by 24 constituents of the Klondike riding concerning the extension of the main transmission line from Rock Creek to Henderson Corner.
Speaker: Introduction of Bills?
Are there any Notices of Motion for the Production of Papers?
Are there any Notices of Motion?
NOTICES OF MOTION
Mrs. Firth: I give notice of motion
THAT this House urges the Government of Yukon to make a representation to the federal government to provide 24-hour nursing service in the community of Faro.
I give notice of motion
THAT it is the opinion of this House that the Government of Yukon examine the feasibility of providing a fetal alcohol syndrome co-ordinator.
Indian Teacher Education Program
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am pleased to rise today to inform this House of the work our government is doing to develop an Indian Teacher Education Program for the Yukon.
I am sure all Member will recall last falls Kwiya report from the Joint Commission on Indian Education and Training. Basically, it said the Yukon school system had failed to meet the needs of Indian students.
I am proud to be part of a government that is taking steps to encourage Indian students through better schools, better courses, better training and more local control.
Some - though of course not all - of these needs can be met by helping the Indian students of today become the Indian students of tomorrow. Indian teachers working in or near their home communities have an intimate understanding of the culture and social customs of their students, a knowledge of local cultural history and traditions, insights into how their students learn, a strong influence as role models and a long-term commitment to live as an integral part of those communities.
Many Members will recall when a Yukon teacher education program was tried for a few years in the late 1970s. Despite sincere hopes that it would attract Indian students, few took part.
I have reviewed the needs of Indian teacher trainees carefully, and I believe a new program must have a different approach: it must be relevant to the practical needs and interests of rural communities; it must support trainees ties to their home communities; at the same time, it must maintain good standards of education and training.
These basic principles, these fundamentally different ways of looking at Indian needs, are what we will build our new program on.
In the coming year, we will do the development work. This will guide us in setting up the best program to help Indian people become teachers. It is my profound hope and determination that this time the results will be different, that Indian teacher education will be a success.
Yukon Indian people have been calling for more Indian teachers over and over: through the Joint Commission on Indian Education and Training, through land claims, through Yukon 2000.
This government has listened to them and we are pleased to be responding to their needs.
Mrs. Firth: Of course we support the program announcement that the Minister has made, but I would like to ask a couple of questions and clarify for the public that it is just a public announcement. We are not seeing the final program. The Minister is simply speaking of the development work going into the program to train Indian people to be teachers. Are the Indian people going to be involved in the development aspect? The Minister does not specify in his statement if they will be. It would be our position that they are involved in the developmental stages.
I also notice there is really no goal or objective as to when the program is going to start. The expectations of the Indian people are that, perhaps, by September we could have something in place and the training program could start. We would certainly support that as a time line. Perhaps the Minister could respond to those questions after the Member for Faro has made his comments.
We support the program and look forward to seeing what comes after the development stages.
Mr. McLachlan: We, too, would support the initiative the government has brought forward in his Ministerial Statement this afternoon. Details are perhaps a bit more sketchy than I would have anticipated at the moment; however, I hope they will be developed to the point where there is a little more meat for the Legislature to digest shortly.
Yesterday, in the Introduction of Visitors by the Member for Old Crow, we heard of one startling example that is the exception to that rule. It would be my hope that 10 years from now we can see much more of what we heard in this Legislature yesterday afternoon.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I would concur with the sentiments from the Member for Faro with respect to the desirability of seeing more native teachers in the system and showing success through the educational programs that are offered.
Clearly, Elsie Netro, who was identified to the House yesterday, is a shining example of what is possible. I am sure she will be a leader in the education system for native people in the future.
With respect to the questions asked by the Member for Riverdale South, I think it would be critical to the success and reputation of the program that native people be involved in the development of the program. It is a standard practice for the Department of Education to try to involve native people in the development of programs specific to native people and also to involve them in programs generally. I would think, as a matter of course, it would be essential from my perspective to have native people involved in its development.
The development work is scheduled to be completed this year. A lot depends on the joint work between the government and native people in developing the program as to when the development stage will be complete. As soon as the development stage is complete, the program will start. I will commit to the House that I will be asking for the necessary resources in order to undertake the program and to ensure the program guidelines are as clear and geared to success as one would hope for.
Speaker: This, then, brings us to the Question Period.
Question re: Land claims/Teslin land selection
Mr. Phelps: With respect to the Department of Renewable Resources involvement in land claims, in the past this department had a great deal of input at the land claims table on behalf of the Government of Yukon. The advice from that department, with regard to renewable resources and things like land selections, was followed not only by the government but, often, by the federal government and the CYI negotiators, as well.
Did the Department of Renewable Resources have input with regard to the Teslin land selection maps, which are now public? We are talking about the land that was frozen recently by an Order-in-Council.
Hon. Mr. Porter: For the last few weeks, the Department of Renewable Resources has had three people dedicate most of their working days to the discussions at the land claims table. The primary focus of their role at the table is to address renewable resource issues and to try to reach an agreement in principle on the renewable resource management. I would suspect the questions related to land, as they affect renewable resources, would have been discussed with those representatives of the department.
Mr. Phelps: Can the Minister tell us whether his department officials agreed with the land selection that was frozen by the Order-in-Council?
Hon. Mr. Porter: It would follow that the land selection, as proposed by the three parties to the table, having been advanced and agreed to by those parties, would lead one to believe that all the participants to the process would have agreed to the suggestion.
Mr. Phelps: Was the Minister advised or consulted about the maps, or whether he saw the maps before they were sent to Ottawa for the Order-in-Council?
Hon. Mr. Porter: I was not personally involved.
Question re: Land claims/Teslin land selection
Mr. Phelps: Could the Minister tell us if his department has had the opportunity to see the map showing the overlapping claim in the Teslin area by the Atlin Tlingit people?
Hon. Mr. Porter: This is a question that was discussed at length in Question Period yesterday. The Government Leader indicated to the Leader of the Official Opposition that we have no such maps in our possession. We did undertake to investigate with the Office of Native Claims to ascertain if such maps do exist. If they do, we will endeavour to make them available.
Mr. Phelps: Can the Minister advise if his department has expressed any concern to the negotiators or to the government negotiator, Mr. Stuart, regarding public access and public use for hunting on the Nisutlin River?
Hon. Mr. Porter: That is a detail of the negotiating process that I have no knowledge of.
Mr. Phelps: Can the Minister advise if the department has been taking any position at the land claims negotiating table regarding access for all Yukoners to hunt on lands surrounding and near waterways?
Hon. Mr. Porter: That is a question that is seeking to extract specific answers regarding the negotiating process. We cannot encourage a process that evolves into public debate on the question. I can say, in general response, in as much as possible it has been the governments view in the past that access is something that has to be discussed. It has to be considered with the view that as much access as possible should be provided for in any settlement.
It has to be recognized, that at the end of the day when the ink dries, that there is going to be a certain amount of land that will fall fee simple to aboriginal people of the Yukon. There will be other lands that may be owned, to a degree, which do not include the ability to restrict access.
Question re: Yukon Housing Corporation/Ross River/King residence
Mr. McLachlan: Can the Minister responsible for the Housing Corporation confirm that a unit in Ross River known as the King residence has been disposed of by the corporation? Has the sale been completed?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The question could be put slightly differently. A yes answer could probably apply here, however.
Mr. McLachlan: Can the Minister also confirm that, after investing somewhat in the neighbourhood of an initial $40,000 and then freezing the house up at least once, perhaps twice, the corporation then sold it off for a tenth of the original investment, $4,000, which has then caused the government to lose up to 90 percent of its initial investment in this property? Is this true?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The housing corporation tendered the sale of the house and got its best price. I do not know what the detail of the best price was, but they did tender and got best price. So it was a fair and open public tender.
Mr. McLachlan: My information is that this transaction will now go down in the Guinness Book of World Records for real estate flops. Could the Minister also confirm that when this deal he has just alluded to was completed he then took off his Yukon Housing Corporation cap, put on his education cap, and asked the investor to lease back the home to the Department of Education and Advanced Manpower for $985 a month, plus utilities?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The answer is no. The information the Member has brought to the House is, in fact, false, and I would hope people will take note of the fact that the Member has indicated false information to the House and should be held accountable for that fact. It is very unfortunate the Member has done that. I do not know what to say other than that it is truly unfortunate.
What happened was that the community campus committee in Ross River requested that the house be used. It is the only available house; they have undertaken a premises search of Ross River for the past 18 months, identified this as the only available unit, and have requested that the house be used as a community campus. This is what the community campus committee themselves have asked the Yukon College to do.
Question re: Yukon Housing Corporation/Ross River/King residence
Mr. McLachlan: I want to set the scene for the Legislature again. March 23, 1988, Dawson City, Yukon: the Government Leader rises in his place and says, My government will manage with fiscal responsibility the money that has been loaned to us, with sound and fiscal prudent management. I want to ask that Minister: if those facts are wrong, is that what he calls sound and prudent financial management - selling a house off for a tenth of its original investment and then leasing it back for a very high fee per month, through another department in the government?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Members selective use of facts in this particular equation I find particularly repugnant. The people in Ross River, the community campus committee, have requested that this unit be used as the only available unit for a community campus. They have requested that of the Yukon College. That is what the point is. If the Member wants to try to draw the conclusion that there was something premeditated about the whole series of events, then the Member is wrong, and I am saying he is wrong.
Mr. McLachlan: There is a $36,000 difference. Why could the government not repair the house and lease it back to the Ross River campus committee for the Yukon College campus site, instead of doing it in the manner in which they did? It did not cost $36,000 to make the house livable.
Speaker: Order, please. Would the Member please get to the supplementary question?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I do not detect a question. The point of the matter was that the community campus committee in Ross River had requested the house be used as a community campus. Subsequent to the Yukon Housing Corporations tendering the sale of this in a fair and open manner, the Yukon Housing Corporation received the best price it could get for the house by the open public tender.
The purpose of finding better accommodation for the community campus was that the existing premises were considered inadequate. In a letter to the Department of Education, the community campus committee requested this house be rented, the leasehold improvements be undertaken by the owner, and it be rented in order to house a community campus. Those are the facts of the matter. If the Member is asking me whether it was all done in a fair and open manner, I say yes, it was.
Mr. McLachlan: I am not questioning whether it was done in a fair and open manner, but what I want to point out to the Minister is that that kind of economics is exactly why the voters in Manitoba said no yesterday. The Minister has to realize that.
Can the Minister also confirm that, as a condition of that sale, the house was requested to be moved off the lot to another location so the Corporation could build on it and, then, the government changed ...
Speaker: Order, please. Would the Member get to the supplementary question?
Mr. McLachlan: Can the Minister confirm that they did change their mind ...
Speaker: Order, please. Would the Member get to the supplementary question?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Subsequent to the open and fair tender for the sale of the house, the owner requested the Housing Corporation exchange lots that he currently held in Ross River with the Housing Corporation. The housing corporation viewed the lots, determined they were better than the lots under the King house and agreed to the exchange.
The situation was done fairly. In my opinion, it was done openly. The matter has been discussed thoroughly with the community people in Ross River. If the Member is asking me whether or not the government, as a matter of doing business, should be consulting with, and should be responding to the needs of, the community ...
Speaker: Order, please. Would the Member conclude his answer?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: ... that is the way this government operates.
Speaker: Order, please. I would like to remind the Members at this time of guideline seven: A brief preamble is allowed in each case of a main question, and a one-sentence preamble is allowed in each case of each supplementary question. Also, guideline nine: A reply to a question should be as brief as possible, relevant to the question asked.
Question re: Yukon Housing Corporation/Ross River/King residence
Mr. McLachlan: To my way of counting, those economics do not work out. I do not know what the Minister is using for his. Depending on the length of time that lease is entered into for that house for the Ross River campus, it may change that, but I doubt it. How long is the lease for?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I do not have the details on how long or how much the lease is for, or whether or not the lease has been entered into with the owner of the King house. I know that the community campus committee has requested that the house be rented for the purpose of providing a community campus, which they have been looking for 18 months. There was no premeditation on the part of the Yukon Housing Corporation to do anything dirty, and I think that the Member for Faro is suggesting that they are. They have conducted themselves in a fair and open manner. They received the best price for the house that they could on an open tender, and they did sell it.
Mr. McLachlan: I am not suggesting that anything is being done underhandedly. I am questioning the economics of the Minister and his two departments; that is what I wanted the answer for. I hope that it not these kinds of economics that the Minister learned at university in eastern Ontario, because it is this same type of economics that we were hearing when the Ross River arena was built by his partner at the other end of the bench.
Speaker: Will the Member please get to the supplementary question?
Mr. McLachlan: Will the Minister bring back the details of the investment in the house, the final selling price, and the length of the term of the Ross River campus, so that we may all examine the information and make our own decision?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Obviously the Member is feeling his oats now that a Liberal is lucky enough to be elected in western Canada. Let us hope that the trend does not continue, for the sake of western Canada. I know that the Members for the Conservative Opposition feel that the minority government is a great victory in Manitoba.
All of the information is public, as far as I am concerned, and I am prepared to do a little research for the Member and provide the details to the House.
Question re: Yukon Housing Corporation/Ross River/King residence
Mr. Lang: I am surprised that the Member for Community and Transportation Services did not tell us that his colleagues won the election in Manitoba yesterday.
I would like to follow up on the issue that the good Member for Faro has brought up in the House. During last session, we learned that the government built a $110,000 house to replace this one, and then turned around and sold it for $4,000. There was quite a debate in this House. The Minister has stated in this House that these people and the community college were looking for a place to do business for 18 months in the community of Ross River. Why, then, did the government sell this particular house, and get such a good bargain at the end of the deal?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The allegation that we built a house for $110,000 and sold it for $4,000 is ridiculous - but it is another example of the allegations that are made that are not true.
With respect to the situation at hand, the Yukon Housing Corporation determined that to renovate the house and bring it back to usable standards would be too expensive. They, therefore, decided not to renovate the house; they decided to sell the house. Regarding the proposed agreement with Yukon College to rent the house as a community campus, the lease hold improvements, which would renovate the house, would be done by the new owner of the house and not by the government or the Yukon Housing Corporation.
Mr. Lang: Did the Department of Education, at any time, recommend that the government retain ownership of this house and do the necessary repairs in order to make it available to the campus group in Ross River?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: To my knowledge, the Department of Education or Yukon College did not, largely because they felt, like the Yukon Housing Corporation, that it would not be wise to put that kind of money into it to bring it up to standard. The owner is responsible for leasehold improvements, not the government.
Question re: Agriculture regulations
Mr. Brewster: Last May the Minister of Renewable Resources made a public announcement that the regulations on slaughter facilities and inspection services would put into effect. At the Agricultural Conference this spring, the Minister again stated that these regulations would be coming into effect. What is the effective date for these regulations to come into force?
Hon. Mr. Porter: An effective date has not been established yet, because the regulations have not been brought forward to Cabinet yet. They are being finalized in the Department of Justice. Other departments are being consulted to ensure that they are not affected in any way. Once they have completed the internal consultations, the matter will brought before Cabinet. I expect that by the end of June we will have the regulations before the public.
Mr. Brewster: Since the Minister announced this a year ago, then reannounced it, what is the reason for it taking so long? Why should the Minister announce these things before they come into effect?
Hon. Mr. Porter: We have gone through some changes in the Agriculture Branch. It is a fledgling branch of the department. We are now on our second director within a year, and I am quite pleased to think that this director will be here for a while.
The intentions of the announcements that government make are always the same. The government makes an announcement of the direction in which it wants to proceed. It makes clear its intentions, then follows through with the program details in the future.
Mr. Brewster: I suspect quite frankly that it is just to lead the people down a blind alley. Will the Minister table a copy of the regulations in this session of the House?
Hon. Mr. Porter: Saying yes to this session of the House would be in order.
Question re: Health/extended care facilities
Mrs. Firth: Last evening when we were debating the Supplementary Estimates for the Department of Health and Human Resources, we were talking about the extended care facility. The government has made announcements twice in their Capital Budgets regarding the extended care facility.
It has also announced that if the federal government would not pay for it, they were looking at going ahead with it on their own. At that time, the Minister agreed with us that the public perception was that the facility was going to be built this summer. When we asked when it would happen, the Minister informed us that it would be on hold for up to two to three years. Can the Minister report back to the House when the target date is to built the extended care facility?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: At this point in time we do not have a target date. The Member knows that the building of the extended care facility was dependent upon the building of the new hospital and we were waiting for funds. It was our impression that funding was going to be available through the federal government and we had hoped that that would come through and that a submision would have gone to Treasury Board. However, that did not happen.
If we find out in the very near future that there is going to be a delay in funding for the hospital, we would consider very seriously going ahead with the extended care facility, but it would cost a lot more money.
Mrs. Firth: The Minister has said once already that they would look at going ahead on their own. Has that decision gone by the wayside now? The Minister said she would look at it again. What work has been done? Has the Minister done any work on the extended care facility, or expended any of the funds we have twice allocated for the facility?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I have already answered the question. It depends a lot on what we hear from the federal government in terms of when the funding is going to be finalized. If it ever goes to Treasury Board, at least we would have some kind of hope that funds would come along. If we find that that funding is not available for a year or two, we would look seriously at considering building an extended care facility here, but at a much greater cost.
Mrs. Firth: We budgeted $1.9 million of YTG money to build the facility and the Minister turned it all back except for $2,000 that is showing in the Supplementary Estimate. The Minister made the announcement that we are going to have this facility yet she has spent $2,000.
Speaker: Would the Member please get to the supplementary question?
Mrs. Firth: I would like to know what the Minister has done? Are there architectural plans for $2,000?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: The Member has asked me that question three times in three different ways, and I have given her the answer. The answer from the last two questions still applies.
Question re: Accommodation
Mr. Lang: I have a major concern with the capabilities of managing government. It has to do with the size and growth of the civil service that translates itself into requirements for rental space. It has just come to our attention that two levels of the Financial Plaza are being rented by the government for housing Health and Human Resources.
Could the Minister of Government Services inform this House when the decision was made to rent that particular facility?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: The Member for Porter Creek East is following his practice of irresponsibly misinforming the House in an effort to try and raise false information as the truth. That particular Member has been warned and warned and warned about that and he persists. It is not a fact that the government has rented two floors of the Financial Plaza.
Mr. Lang: I will be very irresponsible and refer to Hansard, on April 25. Could the Minister of Government Services tell this House why he stated to the House that, I identified a branch of health and human resources and a tender for that move and they will be moving into the Financial Plaza?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I said that because it is true; it is true.
Mr. Lang: I want to carry on these irresponsible questions that I am asking the Minister of Government Services. On December 7, 1987, when Mr. Phillips asked the following question: There are several new buildings being built in Whitehorse now. One that comes to mind is the Financial Plaza. Is the government negotiating with the owners to take any of that space? If so, what departments are they planning to put in there?
Speaker: Order, please. Would the Member please get to the supplementary question?
Mr. Lang: My question is: how is it that Mr. Kimmerly, the Minister of Government Services, responded as follows: No. We looked into it at one time. There are no departments looking for space at the present time in that building?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I said that because it was true. The Member opposite is confused - I believe he is wilfully confused - about the precision of the questions and answers and about the timing of those answers. The facts have already been explained here and it was true at one point that we had no plans to move into the Financial Plaza. We called for tenders for space and we made a decision, after that first statement that I made, to move into some space - not two floors - in the Financial Plaza. I have previously expressed that and the Member opposite, I believe wilfully and purposely, is trying to obfuscate to present false information to the public.
Mr. Lang: I take exception to this allegation that false information is being presented to the House. I am just reading from Hansard. I am reading statements that the Minister of Government Services has given to the public of the territory.
My question to the Minister, as he smiles snidely to himself across the floor there, is: if it is not the floors of the Financial Plaza building that is being rented, then why did he tell the House, on April 25, this month, the following: That is the top two floors of the building opposite the Optometrists Building, beside the Dairy Queen?
Who is telling a lie here, now?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: This is getting cuter and cuter. The Member opposite asked me where the Financial Plaza was. I was responding. He did not read that into Hansard. The space that we are renting is within the top two floors of the Financial Plaza. I believe he knows that, and he is willfully trying to create false impressions.
Mr. Lang: I apologize to the House if I am confused. Why did the Minister tell this House that he was moving a department in to the two floors of the Financial Plaza and, now, is saying to the House he is not doing it?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I am not saying that. The government is moving into space in the Financial Plaza. That space is within the top two floors of that building; it is not the whole of those two floors.
Mr. Lang: The concern I have is the question of cost and size of the civil service and how it is growing under the auspices of the government opposite. I assume that is why Manitoba rejected their colleagues in Manitoba.
I am sure the people in the territory need not be bothered with this information, but I would like it from the Minister of Government Services. How much is this costing the taxpayer?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: That question was asked me in the estimates in the fall. I provided the information in a budgetary form. It was asked me yesterday and, also, on Monday. I made a commitment to provide to the Member opposite a list of all the space, of all the costs, and a break-down even by square feet, because he wanted it in that form. This is the third time he is asking, and I say I will provide all that information at the appropriate time, when he originally asked it for in the Main Estimates, which I expect will occur next week.
Question re: Accommodation
Mr. Lang: This is one of our major problems in this House. We never do get a straight answer from the Minister of Government Services. There he is, smiling snidely to himself again. It makes our job here very difficult, and it makes it very frustrating.
How could the Minister have provided us with that information last fall, as he indicated in his answer? When we sat on December 7, he answered a question raised by the Member for Riverdale North by saying we were not going to be renting office space in the Financial Plaza. Why would he mislead the public in saying he had given us that information?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: The Member opposite persists in his irresponsibility.
The situation is, as I well explained within the parameters of Question Period, that the government had made a decision to rent more space and we had budgeted money for that. We did not know at the time precisely where the space would be rented. I informed the House of the departments, the amount of space and the budgets. We had a call for proposals for that space. We are now in a position, because we now know where the space is and the costs, to report that information to the House, and we will at the appropriate time.
Question re: Traffic flow/old Yukon College
Mr. Phillips: I have a question for the Minister of Community and Transportation Services.
In response to a question last Wednesday regarding Riverdale traffic the Minister stated, The Department of Community and Transportation Services, in conjunction with the City of Whitehorse, had ongoing discussions about traffic in and around Yukon College and about the south access entry on this side of the bridge. Those discussions are continuing. I do not have information at this point as to when they are scheduled to conclude, but they are continuing.
Since the committee that was struck to deal with specifically the Riverdale traffic problem has only met once, and that meeting was in January, and that there have been no ongoing discussions with City of Whitehorse officials, will the Minister correct the record and explain what has been going on?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Because the Member is wrong, I will admit no such thing. There are discussions between the Community and Transportation Services traffic engineers and the City of Whitehorse to undertake a traffic study at the old Yukon College site. The agreement was for the City of Whitehorse would do the traffic surveys and the traffic engineers would do the analyses. The analyses, as I am told, is just about complete and a draft report will be ready next week. They intend to have the report complete and suggestions for remedial action, if required, ready well prior to any move by a department to the old Yukon College.
Mr. Phillips: Is the Minister telling us that his officials are conducting this study internally and they have not contacted the City of Whitehorse? The people in the city whose responsibility this is have not been contacted. Someone has the facts wrong.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Department of Community and Transportation Services is doing the analyses internally. The traffic engineers are on the staff of Community and Transportation Services. There was an agreement struck with the City of Whitehorse with respect to the traffic study underway. Each of the City of Whitehorse and the Department of Community and Transportation Services got their marching orders with respect to how the study was to be undertaken. The City of Whitehorse was to do traffic counts and Community and Transportation Services was to do the analyses. I am told the analyses is almost complete. My facts are straight and I know exactly what is going on between the City of Whitehorse and the Government of Yukon. I have also indicated previously why we are doing it and what we expect out of it, in general terms. The Member is blowing in the wind if he thinks there is some mix up of facts here. Everybody knows what they are doing and they are doing the job intended of them.
Mr. Phillips: The fact is that the city does ongoing traffic counts all over the city on their own. The Government of Yukon has not met with the City of Whitehorse since January 1 to discuss the traffic problem in Riverdale. Will the Ministers officials sit down now, before it is too late, before everyone is on summer holidays, with the city officials to discuss the traffic problems in and out of Riverdale? Will they come to some conclusions on the issue?
Speaker: Order, please. Would the Member please get to the supplementary question?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I do not know where this Member is coming from. The Department of Community and Transportation Services and the City of Whitehorse agreed to do a traffic study. Community and Transportation Services, with its traffic engineers, was going to do the analysis. The City of Whitehorse was going to do the traffic counts. They have been talking to each other about the study.
The Member for Riverdale North is trying to bring in selective information to paint a picture that simply is not true. This is not true. The Government of Yukon is doing its duty with the City of Whitehorse and is doing a traffic study. It is almost complete. The analysis is being done as we speak. The traffic counts have been done. I do not understand what the Member is talking about.
Speaker: Time for Question Period is now elapsed. We will now proceed with orders of the day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS
Mr. Lang: I request the unanimous consent of the House to have the motions other than government motions called in the following order: Motion No. 25, Motion No. 36, Motion No. 39, Motion No. 44, Motion No. 43, Motion No. 51, Motion No. 29, Motion No. 32, Motion No. 42, Motion No. 49 and Motion No. 18.
Speaker: Is there unanimous consent?
All hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: There is unanimous consent.
Motion No. 25
Clerk: Item No. 11, standing in the name of Mr. Phillips.
Speaker:[ Is the hon. Member prepared to proceed with Item No. 11?
Mr. Phillips: Yes.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Member for Whitehorse Riverdale North
THAT it is the opinion of this House that the Government of Yukon should urge Parks Canada to improve road access into Kluane National Park in order to enable more tourists to see the sights and prolong their stay in the Yukon;
THAT the Speaker forward a copy of this resolution to the Honourable Thomas McMillan, Minister of Environment; and
THAT the Minister of Renewable Resources report progress on this resolution to the House.
Mr. Phillips: I bring this motion back to the House this session because it is of the utmost importance. The Kluane area of the Yukon has experienced, in the past few years, a decline of tourists when all other areas have actually seen an increase. It seems to me, in looking at this governments list of priorities, that Kluane is somewhere near the bottom. It is a shame because, as I will point out, this area has one of the highest potentials of being one of the Yukons biggest drawing cards in the future.
Before I get into the meat of my motion, I would like to express to all Members the strong concern I share with others to protect the beauty and integrity of the park. I am not talking about, in any way, a massive system of roads throughout the park. We are talking about a single road with controlled access.
This will not, and should not, affect the existing trail system. Kluane Park was not created solely for the use of politicians, government bureaucrats, the very rich, and the very physically fit. It is a treasure that we should keep and share with all people of the world. Right now, this is not happening. Kluane Park has enormous potential, and let me give you a few examples.
The State of Alaska has developed Denali National Park. Every year, thousands of tourists and Alaskan residents visit that park, on a controlled basis. They have managed very well to protect and to enhance the natural beauty of Denali Park. In fact, the trip into Denali, by controlled access, is the most single reason why tourists come to Alaska.
The visitors to the park have created the birth of a major support industry outside the park: hotels, motels, gas stations, grocery stores. It has put hundreds of Alaskans to work, and the development of Kluane National Park will put many people to work in the Kluane area. The funds generated by the park have allowed many improvements to wildlife programs and studies within the park. These funds are helping to pay the costs of operating the park.
We can learn a great deal from our friends to the north. They have found a way to allow visitors to spend an extra day or two in their area. This, in turn, has been a boon to the Alaskan tourism industry. They have suggested to me that if we look at access, we should consider a loop road. This would allow the service industry to set up at either end of the loop road, outside of the park.
Let me give an example of how this short, 85-mile access road into Denali Park benefits Alaskans. In 1970, when the road was first built, 44,538 visitors entered Denali National Park. That figure increased to 436,542 in 1985 and, in 1987, 575,013 visitors went to Denali National Park.
Alaskan officials tell me that the integrity of the park has remained intact, and, in some cases, has been enhanced. Let me give you a few figures so that you can compare what we are doing here with what the Alaskans are doing, and what our parks potential could be in the future: 40 percent of the people who come to Alaska come specifically to see Denali National Park. In 1986, Alaskan tourism generated $700 million, compared to the $91 million generated in the Yukon. People visiting Alaska stay longer because there is more to see, and at the same time, they spend more. Alaskan visitors spend approximately $1,000 per person in a visit. In the Yukon that figure, in 1986, was only $400.
I am firmly convinced that in Yukon we have more to offer to these tourists than our neighbours in Alaska. Right now we are literally missing the boats.
I had a chance in the past few days to examine the new Yukon tourism brochures, and I would like to take this opportunity to compliment the government on the good job that it has done. I am sure that they will be very useful to visitors who come to the Yukon. There is problem, though. We have a world heritage site within Kluane Park, we have one of the most beautiful places on earth, and 90 percent of our tourists and residents of the Yukon can see nothing but a slide show and beautiful pictures in brochures.
I would like to call the attention of all Members to the brochure that was put out by the Government of Yukon. It talks about the various tours you can go on when you arrive in the Yukon. This is described as itinerary number one. It is a nine-day package into Yukon.
Interestingly enough, two hours of the nine days is devoted to Kluane National Park; one hour of that is lunch. I think we can do far more for the area of Kluane. If you look at the second itinerary that has been published by the Government of Yukon, it is an 11-day tour to the Yukon. This tour takes you from Watson Lake to Dawson City and return, ending up in Alaska. Again, an 11-day driving tour of the Yukon, and we have a grand total of two hours devoted to the area of Kluane. That is shameful. One of the most beautiful areas in the world, and people are just driving by it. I think we can do more.
We can do much better than this. The area of Kluane is the area of Yukon that has seen a decline in tourists when all other areas of Yukon and Alaska are on the increase. At the same time, this area has more potential than anything Alaska has to offer. I would suggest that, in the future, Kluane could be a paramount attraction in North America.
All Members of this House who care about tourism and the future of the Yukon will have an opportunity to voice their opinions on the future of Kluane Park in hearings that will be held by Parks Canada this spring and summer. I would hope that many Yukoners will come up to those hearings and will express their views. We in this House today have an opportunity to express our concern in very strong terms by supporting this motion.
I would like to say to those people who have concerns about the integrity of the park being violated that there are a great many people out there - senior citizens, children and other Yukoners - who are not physically fit enough to hike the existing trails that are within the park. We can develop that park on a controlled basis, so we could allow some of these people to see one of the most beautiful areas in the world. We should be taking advantage of that, and not watching it pass us by.
I have a very strong concern that the state of Alaska is developing Denali in leaps and bounds, as far as promotion. Many cruise ships are now starting to look at bypassing Skagway and going directly to Anchorage and, then, on to Denali. I am afraid we are going to be left behind. If we do not do something quickly, not only will the Kluane area suffer, but I suggest to the Member for Klondike that if they start to bypass us, and these cruise ships start to go directly to Anchorage and other areas, they may bypass the area of Dawson as well.
We should do whatever we can to encourage these tourists to come to Yukon. Like I said earlier, the Yukon can be a number one attraction, and people can come to the Yukon and, as a side trip, they can go to Alaska. I think that would one day be the dream of a lot of Yukoners, that we would be a number one area they could visit. I recommend that all Members in this House support this very important motion that addresses the needs and concerns of the Kluane area.
Hon. Mr. Porter: In reply to some of the latter comments made by the Member for Riverdale North, in which he gave the impression that there may be substantial change in the pattern of cruise ships docking in Skagway, it should be pointed out to him that this has been anticipated for quite some time. Princess Tours, as he probably is aware, has made a decision to focus its marketing effort in Alaska; they are not so much interested in the Yukon as they are in Alaska, and they are trying to integrate their operations in Alaska, whereas Westours, which is owned by Holland America, has made the opposite decision; they have decided that Yukon is, for the most part, to be their operating area. As matter of fact, as we have seen over the last two years, they have consolidated their investments in the Yukon to such a degree that they are the major hotel owner in the Yukon, picking up key hotels in Skagway, Whitehorse, Dawson, Beaver Creek and Tok. It is a clear situation where two major tour operators have decided to focus their operations more tightly. At this present time, I have received no indication that the numbers we have seen in the past in Skagway who have Yukon earmarked as a point from which to reach Alaska are in any way diminishing substantially.
Regarding the motion itself, at the outset I would like to recognize and commend the Member for Kluane for his efforts on this particular subject. Although the motion has been brought forward to the House by the Member for Riverdale North, I think it would be a statement of fact if I were to say that the person in this House who has been most responsible for pushing the issue of opening Kluane to more people has been the Member for Kluane, and I think we should recognize that and support it.
It is my pleasure to announce that I will be voting for the motion. I support the motion. Like the Members opposite, I support the encouragement and the enjoyment of the wilderness by Yukon residents and tourists alike. As Yukon Minister of Renewable Resources and as Minister for Tourism, I can say that this government has taken a number of significant steps to make the Yukons wilderness features more accessible to residents and tourists alike. Kluane Park, which of course is a national park, encompasses some of the Yukons most impressive physical features. It is a point of pride for many Yukoners; it is unquestionably a drawing card for many Yukon visitors. Its status as a wilderness park distinguishes it from other Canadian national parks such as Banff and gives it a special appeal for tourists from around the world who seek vacation experiences which take them out of the industrial cityscapes in which most of them live.
The wilderness tourism market has significant growth potential for the Yukon. As Minister of Tourism, I believe it is important that Yukons wilderness appeal be carefully developed. Since Kluane Park is a key part of that appeal, I believe that any initiatives that are designed to improve access to it and provide an incentive for tourists to prolong their stay in the Yukon should be very carefully considered. For many wilderness vacationers, the Yukon means wilderness and Kluane represents the pinnacle of that wilderness.
Under the current management plan for Kluane, public road access to the park is not permitted. Several years ago a proposal for an all-terrain bus access to the park was entertained, but found not to be financially feasible. That proposal would have seen tourists take all-terrain bus tours into the park. Unfortunately, in all likelihood, it would only have been able to accommodate those travelers who were clients of the tour company proposing to operate the buses.
The vast majority of the visitors to the Yukon are motorists travelling in their own vehicles. Many of these tourists pilot large recreational vehicles. In general, these motoring tourists stick close to the major highways in deference to their expensive vehicles. Their stopovers are made in communities that offer attractions that appeal to them, or at campsites, or other RV facilities that can accommodate them.
In general, few RV tourists walk the trails which join their campsites for any appreciable distance, and their stops at viewpoints are usually brief. In order to have any significant impact on the tourist stopover time in the territory, any plans for access to the park will have to take this fact into account.
This is a well-timed debate on this motion in that the opportunity to consider such factors in developing an access plan for Kluane is close at hand. The review of the park management plan for Kluane, which was originally scheduled for 1987 as mentioned by the Member for Riverdale North, is now scheduled to take place this fall.
The access provisions for the park will undoubtedly be one of the issues under review. The discussion of access is one that will have to take place in the context of a broader debate. That is just what kind of park is Kluane going to be? Should it be a wilderness park that almost by definition seeks to restrict access. Should it be a full service park such as Banff has become with highways and sophisticated campsites and even a town with a full range of facilities? Or should it be something in between, a place that preserves wilderness values while providing access points or facilities which encourage greater use of the park by both Yukoners and visitors to the Yukon alike?
My view is that public access can be improved without compromising Kluanes wilderness values. I believe well-designed access points to the park should be developed to encourage RV travelers to stop over and enjoy interpretive programs and guided tours. Such facilities should provide the kind of amenities and security which our RV visitors, many of whom are seniors, appreciate.
In my view, a road into the park from a visitor hub such as I have just described would provide good access to the park for the people who are our most consistent and numerous tourists. Such a road should not be an open, public road, open on a day and night basis to all comers. I believe that scheduled bus tours into the park along such a road would be the way to go.
Bus tours would allow more visitors to view the scenic vistas and wildlife of the park with less disturbance than almost any other kind of mechanical access I can think of. In Denali Park, Alaska, which has allowed restricted private vehicle traffic, they have discovered that such traffic causes far more disruption of wildlife populations than controlled bus tours.
In fact, their management plan for the park has been revised to reflect this recognition. In addition to the bus tours, which make the park more accessible to our RV tourists, I expect and hope to see the park opened up to horseback tours for more adventurous tourists.
In anticipation of the review process, I have written to the hon. Thomas McMillan, the federal Minister of the Environment who is responsible for the Canadian Park Service. I urged Mr. McMillan to examine other national parks, particularly in Alaska where controlled vehicular access has been in place for many years. I cited Denali National Parks management of access as an example.
It is my firm belief that a bus transportation system, such as the system in place in Denali National Park in Alaska, could be adopted as a prototype for access into the ice fields of Kluane National Park. The Government of Yukon will take an active role in the park management review process. We will be advocating, among other things, improved road access, preferably the development of a bus transportation system based on the Denali model.
Kluane is important to the Yukon and to the world as a wild and unique environment. A road and a bus tour, in conjunction with other access suggestions, would allow for the preservation of Kluanes undisturbed and unblemished landscape, while at the same time allowing both Yukoners and visitors to experience the park. In my recent letter to the Minister of the Environment, I indicated that the issue of improved access into Kluane had been raised on several occasions in this House. Again, I would be pleased to make sure that the Minister is aware of the motion that is before the House for discussion this afternoon.
One of the best ways in which the Minister can gain an appreciation for the topic of discussion would obviously be to have the Minister come to the Yukon. I had a discussion with the president of the Yukon Chamber of Commerce and raised the question of the National Task Force on the Environment Economy Report to have some of the speakers who contributed to that report come to the Yukon and share their views on the economy and the environment with us.
In that discussion, it was suggested that we should be having the Minister responsible for the environment come to the Yukon. An invitation has been extended to Tom McMillan to do just that, and I have written a supportive letter to the Minister urging him to come to the Yukon. There are a multitude of issues that can be put on the table for the Minister. The most important and most pressing decision regarding the Yukons future development of wilderness opportunities and tourism development is the future of Kluane Park.
Hopefully, when the Minister does receive this motion and understands that we are serious about this question, he can find the time to make his way to the Yukon and start to discuss, with us, a practical process with which we can achieve the opening of Kluane Park to the public.
Mr. Webster: I rise to say I support the principle of this motion to improve public road access into the park. I would like to be assured on a couple of things, the first one obviously being that the construction of the road, and its use, would do minimal damage to the park and be done without destroying any valuable features of the park. In introducing this motion, the Member has cited that as one of his concerns as well. I am sure it is of concern to all Members of this House and to the people in Parks Canada who will be doing the work.
The second thing is that I would like to have some assurance that the access will be controlled. I have some problem with the definition of controlled access. I would like some clarification, perhaps from the Member for Kluane, or from the Member for Riverdale North when he finishes debate on his motion. Without controlled access, I do not know if we can achieve that first condition of not destroying the integrity of the park.
This is why I like the original proposal of a few years ago of providing the 56-passenger all-terrain vehicle buses from the entrance of the park to the foot of the glacier. Using that kind of system would ensure that tourists would not be able to come and go as they please, as they would in their own private vehicles. I firmly believe that Kluane is a very special place. It is quite different from places like Banff and Denali. When any decisions are made on improving road access into Kluane, this difference has to be respected.
I would like to hear some remarks from the Members opposite on their definition of controlled access. I, too, believe in the principle the Minister of Tourism put forth about having some bus system in which, on a regular basis, tourists are permitted to go into the park in such a way as it does not cause much disruption to the animal life and the plant life in the park.
Mr. Brewster: I am very pleased to see I appear to be getting on the winning track and, at least, winning a motion once in a while. I was getting off-track there for a while.
This motion is much like my motion on Quill Creek, except it is different in a number of ways. Number one, it is controlled by Kluane National Park, National Parks of Canada and the federal government. When you take those on, you are taking on even greater forces than those that control the Alaska Highway.
However, since I have worked and argued on this for many years, in the last six months, I seem to have found there is a great deal of support coming from a large number of places. People stop me on the street to tell me not to back down and to keep on it. I even have people who are in the parks coming to my wife to tell her I am right and not to let me back down. So, let us keep the pressure on.
I fully realize that all this House can do is put a motion through and, then, we are powerless, unless we keep the pressure on. You must keep knocking on doors, and I have been six years in this House doing this and, at last, I think I have everybody on side, unless we get some motorcycles running around in there, and we will be down the drain again.
I was born in a national park. I have watched bureaucrats control a national park. When I was a little boy in Banff, you could not change a light switch or even paint your house a different colour unless the park superintendent gave you permission.
These are facts, not stories. They are the way life was.
My uncle had 250 horses in barns there, yet he could not move those horses across the road unless he had a permit. That is the way bureaucrats move, and once bureaucrats take control they like the status quo; they are not going to move the status quo; they are going to keep things the same way all the time. They do not want to rock the boat. Why should they? They have good jobs and will be here for 20 years, until they retire, and they do not care about the people around them. This national park up here really does not care about the people of the Yukon or whether we go ahead and benefit or not. They have their little kingdom and are quite happy with it.
The tourists coming into the Yukon last year numbered 235,214 non-residents. The Kluane National Park took in 557 hikers; campgrounds had 2,896; the Kluane National Park headquarters had signed in 30,364 for a one hour stroll - and they had one hour as my hon. colleague said, for a meal. Sheep Mountain had 35,942 and they go there for a looking experience; they get out of the bus and they watch the sheep walking around. Anyway, there is a real duplication, even in those figures. The Park officials themselves admit that it is probably 20 percent. I will accept 20 percent on 70,000, but that does not give us a lot of figures. - out of 235,214 people entering the Yukon? The record speaks for itself on what that park is doing for the Yukon.
Let us compare the size of these parks for a while. Banff National Park has 10,000 square kilometres and they take in 6,800,000 tourists a year. Jasper National Park has 10,000 square miles and they take in 1,800,000 tourists a year. Denali National Park in 1987 registered 575,000. In Kluane National Park, 22,000 square miles, they took in maybe 65,000 or 70,000 visitors; 575 of those entered the park and the rest went up and down the road maintained by the territorial government; they never even got into the park.
The revenue for tourism in Alaska in 1986 was $700 million. The total spent by each visitor in 1986 was $889.40 per tourist. The amount spent by each visitor in the Yukon is not even known.
I will, with your permission, Mr. Speaker, quote two quotes from the 2020 Vision Action Committee report. This is a study that should be a bible for anyone who wants to learn anything about tourism in the Yukon or advancing tourism in the Yukon. This is what they have to say about Kluane: Kluane National Park has often been referred to as the eighth or ninth wonder of the world. As a world class attraction, it has few peers. From the tourists perspective, however, it remains a world class attraction in waiting. The Village of Haines Junction could have enjoyed a population increase allowing it the opportunity of achieving city status; the increased tax bases would have produced the infrastructure needed to attract new development; the railroad could have been extended from tidewater all the way through and into the park. Jobs could have been produced all along the system. Instead, people still come and go. Businesses open and close. The economy remains dependent on a government, which one day may be forced to withdraw a large part of the Canadian taxpayers money.
As history attests, none of this has come about. Instead of a park being subordinate to the needs of humanity, humanitys needs are subordinate to those of the park. This just shows how much further the park is going in the Yukon. In a recent Chilkoot community meeting, some of which we attended, officials present implied that the creation of this new park would bring untold benefits to the surrounding communities. A review of their three proposals suggested no such thing. In fact, they bore a striking resemblance to the same management objectives as Kluane National Park.
We can go down from there and look at some random selections of the residents and business community of Whitehorse and Haines Junction. The listings for sale this summer of tourist-related businesses in Haines Junction suggest another poorly-planned park is not what we need. Incidentally, last week I learned of two more lodges that are up for sale.
What are parks made for? Generation upon generation of people have assumed that they were created for all. What good is a park development process if it effectively eliminates access and penetration to the park by the greater portion of humanity? This is exactly the case for thousands of tourists and Yukoners alike. This summer we asked residents and tourists to review the contents of the Kluane brochure and answer two questions. The two questions were: how many of the features illustrated had they seen or experienced? We only asked local residents who had lived in the Yukon three or more years. The second question was: if greater access and park penetration convenience were produced, would they visit more often or stay longer?
These are a few of the sample answers. In response to the first question: out of 32 well-respected Whitehorse residents only four indicated that they had gone beyond the Parks Canada information film and the boundary visit to the Kathleen campground or the entrance to the lake. Three were hiking experiences; the other was by plane, on a business excursion. With almost no exceptions, the answer to the second question was overwhelming yes, we would stay longer.
A remark made by a person from Whitehorse was: the only time that I get to see Kluane is from the road while on the way down to Haines, Alaska, to enjoy myself.
Another remark was: judging from the development style, parks are discouraging rather than encouraging visitation.
Another remark was: with my physical limitation I will never see it. I am 52 years of age. - that is not a very old man - I have a handicap and I cannot afford an airplane, so do not ask me stupid questions. Why should I go there. It seems pretty obvious that this park was built for someone else. My kids will not even have the opportunity, after schooling, to seek park management jobs. It is a closed shop. They intertransfer among themselves. Yukoners are allowed to fill minor roles. Positions are not often advertised.
These are true statements, and I have been fighting against this sort of thing for six years.
This is what the businessmen have to say: It breaks my heart to see the looks on some tourists faces when they realize that brochures that they read at home created a completely false impression about what they would see and do when they got here. It is false advertising of the worst order. How many times have I said that in this House? With good access our customers would stay many more days. Unless this changes, only park officials will be left. The only ones who seem unconcerned are those on the short government payrolls; payrolls that I pay the taxes for.
These are not my statements; these are Yukoners statements, and I got a lot of them from the City of Whitehorse.
This is what tourists have to say. One senior citizen from Arkansas, when asked how he was enjoying Kluane, paused and looked at us like we were crazy. He said: You must be joking. All I have seen is a movie. When we have finished our meal, we will be gone. What is in this anyway? I will never know, except for the pictures that I have seen. He had just come from Delani National Park in Alaska.
Another said the closest she had come to seeing the park was through the telescopic lens from the booth in the parks building. It would seem that a lot of Yukoners could say the same. A looking-glass park.
Parks seem to protect the worlds nature, culture and heritage for future generations. I do not think any of us have any problem with that statement. One could ask which future generation have been referred to since most of the present generation are not finding it possible to appreciate. The park brochure indicates that one of the best ways to enjoy the rugged beauty of Kluane is to explore it on foot. Perhaps it should have said that this is the only way provided you are robust or can afford an airplane, helicopter, horse or boat. I really doubt the horse or the boat because they are not allowed in there.
Sixty-five percent of our summer tourists are over the age of 55. In light of this, how does the present development meet their needs to ensure a memorable experience? What dialogue has our Department of Tourism engaged in with parks to ensure their needs and ours are met?
According to tourism market studies, 22 percent of our past visitors are outdoor sportsman enthusiasts. Has any department wondered what the other 78 percent might do in the park? Another study made by the tourism bureau, in terms of future generations and how one hand does not know what the other hand is doing is with one more example. By the year 2000, from the present Canadian birth growth statistics, 70 percent of the people will be 50 years or older. None of them are going to see the national park.
I would like to conclude with the following statements. The proper use or misuse of Kluane Park as a world class attraction has a direct effect on the well-being of the Whitehorse economy. Hundreds of thousands heading for Kluane as a destination means hundreds of thousands passing through and stopping in Whitehorse for the servicing of their needs and comforts. As a centre for the supply of goods and service for the Haines Junction business community, Whitehorse has a major stake in this promotional development.
Kluane Park is only one example. There is a northern park in northern Yukon, there is the Chilkoot Park over here, and at the present moment Kluane Park is five percent of the mass land of the Yukon. So add those other two parks in and see what you have.
The remarks I read are not mine. Some of you may think I wrote some of that brochure because I have been saying it for quite awhile. I was never interviewed for that study so I had no input into it, but I am very pleased to see there are other people in the Yukon who still think the way I do. I finally found I have some friends.
I would like to give you another figure on tourism around the world. Yukon has increased eight percent. The United States 12 percent. The United Kingdom has increased 13 percent. Japan has increased 15 percent. The world at large has increased 13 percent. So we are missing the boat and yet we have the most beautiful, beautiful area in the world and we are missing it completely.
The Minister of Tourism pointed out that the boats are going to bypass Skagway. Maybe if we had these things in effect they would not, because they would have wanted to see it. There is nothing for the tour buses to see here. We talk about the Westours buses going through. Yes, they have two hotels here and they overflow into the other hotels. They help Beaver Creek, Destruction Bay and Burwash for one lunch. We are not talking about those people, we are talking about the people in RVs and cars who want to spend a little time here.
The Member for Klondike said he would like to know what type of road we would like to have. We have been told by the people in Alaska, and it was admitted by the Minister of Tourism, that you do not have a straight road because you have double traffic going up and coming down. They advised a circle route. The circle route I am advising makes the park shudder. Yet if you look at this route on a map, none of it is more than four miles into Kluane National Park.
There are 22,000 square miles, and I am asking for one little road. At no time would we be more than four miles into the national park. Yet, in that area we can see glaciers. We can see the Slims Glacier; we can see glaciers down the Dezadeash River. We can come down the Kaskawulsh River and see bears, goats and sheep. People talk about animals being disturbed. I have been in placer mining areas where bulldozers and other equipment are operating. I have watched, in the morning when they start up, the sheep come down the mountain, lay on the ridges and watch them all day. When the workers quit at night, they go back up the mountain to eat.
Last weekend I was at Destruction Bay. The sheep from the mountain were down at the lake drinking water with cars driving by on the highway. I have been here for 38 years now, and those sheep have been there all that time. They are not scared. They get very upset because people make them stand up to take a picture of them.
Another point that is very interesting is that at Mount Allen outside of Banff at Canmore, a ski slope for the Olympics was developed. People thought that this would drive all the bighorn sheep out of there. When they put the straw bales for the skiers to hit, the sheep ate there, so they had to remove them so that they could ski. That is how scared they are. There were 6,800,000 people who went through that park.
We are not asking for a lot. We could look at it another way. If that road is put in, people who want to hike in that country could get further into the park. They could get into the glaciers because they do not have to walk that first 15 or 20 miles, which takes a day. There are lots of staff to look after and control these things. There would be no problem there. We do not know what the staff there is doing now.
If I had my way, they would all be out on horses patrolling that road. We could make it interesting for tourists. They used to have to run around on horses. Now they run around in modern cars. We could make it like it used to be. We could put a toll gate there. I have no problem with making the users pay. I have never seen tourists who do not want to do this. Why do we not try this?
I do fear that we will give this to a large bus company. I am glad that the Minister of Tourism realizes this. They will book their trips in New York City, and they will put their passengers through, but the guy in the car or in the RVs will not get in there because the buses can only handle so much. I am convinced that within four or five years this would be the greatest tourist attraction we have.
Why do not try it? Why do we not gamble? We are losing everything. One tour company pulled out on us. The other one looks after their own hotels. They even questioned me one time as to why I was fighting them getting buses in there. When I explained to them, they told me that they would guarantee me five seats on their three buses. They might make two or three trips, so we would get 30 people up there while they make all the money. They are not even a Canadian company.
We should put a toll gate there and charge each individual. If they want to go further, that is fine. That means that they will stay in the area because there is no other way out. There would be no problem because we have control of it. I agree that the park should not be open all day and night. It should be controlled.
I remember back when, as a young boy and everyone was starving to death, and we were killing deer to live and the wardens were chasing us. They wanted a ski tow up Mount Norquay, and they would not give it to them. Everyone worked for the parks in the summer and were laid off in the winter, and everyone went out and killed deer to keep eating all winter. That is the way life was, because the parks did not want changes. They were happy this way. Finally, the people rebelled and they got the first one up. A year ago, I was into Jasper, and they have the one up where they take you up on top of one of the mountains to a little teahouse. That was never heard of, when I was a little boy, but that is progress. I am not saying we want all that type of progress.
Look at the number of people who come through our area. Suppose they spend $100 a day. Suppose 20,000 of them stayed another day. Think of how much money that would amount to our little economy. We are going to have more tourists. We cannot stop them, unless you want them all to go to Alaska.
I hope the Minister of Justice does not have his motorcycles in there. If he does, I am afraid we are going to go down the drain. Conservationists will not agree with it, and neither will I. I worked on the select committee, and we came out with a strong recommendation that the RVs and motorcycles should be controlled. I agree with that. If that amendment comes in, I am probably going to vote against the motion.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: As Minister responsible for highways and road construction, I have a few brief remarks. I want to tell the Member for Kluane that it did not even cross our minds that we would consider amending a motion like this, for fear the bulldog Member for Kluane would get his teeth into our ankles and never give up.
We wanted to ensure the motion was passed. It so happens, as the Minister of Tourism and the Member for Klondike have indicated, we do support the motion. I would like to thank the Members for bringing the motion forward. I, myself, have had the opportunity to travel to Haines, Alaska, on occasion, and to Beaver Creek, and have always wondered what the park was really like. Having seen it from the other side, it only quenches ones appetite for the possibility and potential from within. As the Member for Kluane has rightly pointed out, we often only get to see the interior of the park through tourism brochures and pamphlets, which is truly unfortunate.
The Member for Kluane is quite correct in saying the battle is not over by the passage of a motion in this Legislature. I think that a copy of the debate should not only be sent to the Minister of the Environment, but to all others who might have a hand in influencing the decision to provide controlled access to the park for us.
As the Minister responsible for highways and highways budgets, I would hope that Parks Canada or the federal government, through the Engineering Services Agreement, would see their way clear to providing the necessary funding to do a decent job of road access to the park. The department of highways and Highway Engineering would be more than prepared to provide their road building expertise to the project. They are getting very good at developing and building roads that are more environmentally sensitive than roads built in the past.
They are more sensitive to permafrost conditions and to the environment itself. I think their considerable reputation in this field is something of which we ought to take full advantage. Obviously, the road would have to be of a decent standard that could securely accommodate bus access, and not necessarily a highway. We certainly do not want the tourists to be held in the park longer than we expect, due to poor road conditions. The Department of Community and Transportation Services would also be prepared to provide, on a cost recovery basis, the maintenance to the road to ensure it is done in a secure, dependable way for the future.
In closing, I would like to say that I do support the motion. I do think the area of Kluane Park is almost as beautiful as the Richardson Mountains behind Keno City, and I think that, now that we have some road access into the Richardson Mountains, even though it is a little off the beaten track, I know from personal experience the joy of travelling through those mountains, and know that tourists would similarly take great pleasure in enjoying the same kind of experience.
As Members have pointed out in this Legislature a number of times, in order to get to Kluane they have to travel the Alaska Highway, and we have gone around the block on the Alaska Highway a number of times. I would hope that we would have some results from federal authorities, in terms of providing the necessary funding to upgrade the road, so the road trip to Kluane National Park would be a pleasurable experience through the Yukon. I would also suggest that, in sending this motion to the hon. Tom McMillan, we could also send the motion debate to the hon. Stewart McInnes to demonstrate there is yet another very significant reason for travelling the Alaska Highway.
I am sure our success in dealing with DPW is going to be similar to our success in dealing with Parks Canada. I hope it is not going to be a depressing experience. I know the Member for Kluane has a good deal more knowledge and experience in dealing with parks than I do; if he says that Parks Canada is a monolithic structure that makes dealing with DPW look like childs play, then I think we have our work cut out for us. I am hoping that, through combined unanimous efforts, we can make some difference here.
Finally, I would like to suggest that, if the Member for Kluane has indicated he is prepared to usher Stewart McInnes into Yukon, perhaps there is a back seat in his car for Tom McMillan. The Member for Kluane nods that the answer is yes. I would certainly love to be sitting there listening to their conversation. Perhaps there are other federal ministers who might be willing to take up the other back seat.
Clearly, we do expect some results from this motion. The Department of Community and Transportation Services is prepared to offer its services to make sure the job is done responsibly, and that all the practical considerations are undertaken and reviewed, and we hope this motion in the House will have some impact where it counts.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I wanted to speak briefly to this motion and to make five points, although my point about controlled access has already been made by both sides, so I do not need to say anything more about that. As Members know, I represent the smallest riding in Yukon - not the smallest in population terms, but smallest in geographical terms. I note that all the speakers, except the mover, are rural speakers, and I think it important that the view from the urban Members is well-emphasized in this debate. I support the motion and wish to emphasize a couple of points.
The first point is that the motion is couched in terms of the lure to tourists. Especially, both the Conservative speakers emphasized that motivation. I have no argument with that, but I wish to say in debate that the residents of Yukon are just as eager to have that increased access to the beauty of Kluane as are the tourists. The same arguments can be made that were made, but not greatly emphasized, that the popular feeling in the territory is that we would like some increased access for ourselves. That is a commonly expressed view in Whitehorse, as well as the rural areas.
Following that, specifically about Whitehorse, I have spoken in this House a couple of times now, and I think it bears repeating, that I think a part of the key to the long-term development of the territory and the balanced economic strategy is that one of the factors that will serve to support the development of the territory is that this is perhaps the most beautiful place in the world to live, and I mean the Yukon as a whole. The high technology manufacturing sectors are especially able, because of the technology of improved transportation, and more especially due to the fact that work on high technology does not involve large transportation costs, that the transportation barriers to setting up plants and high tech industries in rural areas are substantially decreasing. It becomes more of a factor in deciding where to place an industry around the world then to place it in a place where the workers want to live, where it is a good place to raise families and to enjoy the natural beauty of your surroundings.
It is that factor that we have not greatly emphasized in our strategy to attract these high technology industries to Yukon, and this motion serves to increase the attractiveness of the entire area, indeed, the entire Yukon.
Thirdly, I want to mention that it is absolutely clear that the tourism market is increasing worldwide. It is also changing. In looking at the very long term future the attractiveness of wilderness vacations can only increase. The potential of Kluane in 20, 30 and 40 years can only be vastly more than what it is today. The essential wilderness character of the place should be maintained, however, as all previous speakers have already said, not to the point that the people who are here and could be enjoying the park are not given a practical opportunity to do so.
Fourthly, and lastly, there is a point that may help us in the long run. Both the Conservative speakers spoke negatively about bureaucrats, in their words. I believe the Member for Kluane increases his enjoyment of life when he attacks bureaucrats. It is one of the things he does well - I would suggest - better than any other Member in the House. The point I wish to make is that it is necessary to get along with and to cooperate with the public servants in the country. To make statements as were made earlier in the debate, They do not care., I do not think helps the cause. It is necessary to work along with, and to work cooperatively with, the public servants. I am confident that they do care. They may look at the problem from a different perspective; however, simply calling them names does not help a single bit.
Speaker: The hon. Member will close debate if he now speaks. Does any other Member wish to be heard?
Mr. Phillips: I would like to wrap up by commenting on some of the concerns expressed by other Members.
The Member for Watson Lake, the Minister of Tourism, commented on my statement about the tour companies bypassing the Yukon. I caution the Minister because I realize that one company is setting the Yukon as a priority and one is setting Alaska as a priority. We are all reaching for the same market. We are all trying to sell these tours and trying to provide attractions for all these various people. In tougher times, people are going to look at the best deal for their dollar and they may bypass us because we have not developed some of these attractions or do not have as much to see as people in Alaska do. We have to be aware of that, no matter what company is targeting the Yukon. They may move if the people see that Alaska is a better market and offers more. We have to be conscious of that.
The Member for Klondike mentioned that, when they do construct this road, they do it with minimal damage. I think every Member in this House would support that, as do I. Nowadays, we find it is almost impossible to build a road into an area such as this, or any environmentally-sensitive area, without going through a barrage of hearings, and that the proper constraints would be put on such a road.
The Member wanted to know what our feelings were on access. My feeling would be that it would have to be controlled. I can see the use of buses, like the Minister of Tourism said. It is an excellent idea, as probably 60 percent or 70 percent of the people who come to the territory travel by bus and have no other means of transportation when they reach the park, and would have to use that.
I share the concerns of the Member for Kluane, when we found in the last proposal that was made, that only four or five seats on each bus were allowed for non-tour company persons. That would be limiting. Like the Minister of Tourism said, the bulk of our tourists come up the highway in RVs would be unable to see the park. Perhaps we could have some type of controlled access in certain daylight hours when they would come through the park and make the loop.
With this type of development, I see many economic opportunities for the area of Kluane. I see many developments, such as the one proposed by the Champagne/Aishihik Indian Band going forward, as well as many others. More than likely, if we had a loop road, they could be at both ends of the loop and would be on the outside borders of the park. There would be more lodges there. People would stay one day when they arrived, overnight, then go through the park and stay on the other end. It would benefit both ends of the Kluane riding. I can see that type of a loop arrangement working out very well.
The Member for Whitehorse South Centre also talked about the urban view that has to be emphasized. He said we talked mainly about tourists in the motion. It goes without saying that, once we build a road into Kluane Park, we will all be tourists. It will be the first time 90 percent of Yukoners will have a chance to see it. It is very important to point that out, that we will all get an opportunity to see the park.
The battle is certainly not won, because there are a lot of hearings and that type of thing we have to go through before we can convince certain people in Parks Canada that they should create more access to the park.
I am very pleased to see today, for the first time, all Members of this House are on the front line. I think that is significant.
I also agree with the Minister of Transportation Services, when he says we should sent the debate to the Minister of Highways. That is an excellent idea, and I would hope the Speaker would do that.
I have learned one thing with this motion. In the last three years that I have been here, it has been an interesting lesson. It is that if a person wants to get a motion passed in this House, which has to be done first, is to get the Member for Kluane on side. Once he is on side, he can sway the strongest opinions on the other side, and he is very effective at doing that.
In closing, when I first discussed this a couple of years ago with the Member for Kluane, he swayed me. A great deal of the credit has to go to the Member for Kluane for persevering so hard in the last six years and for working so hard to get it through. This is a good move for us in the Yukon. It is a great day for the Member for Kluane because he has been working so hard on this project. I thank all Members for support of this motion today.
Motion No. 25 agreed to
Motion No. 36
Clerk: Item No. 22, standing in the name of Mr. Phelps.
Speaker: Is the hon. Member prepared to proceed with Item No. 22.
Mr. Phelps: I am.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Leader of the Official Opposition
THAT it is the opinion of this House that, as the Klondike, Campbell and Alaska highways are used by heavy transport carriers, there is a need for more pull-outs for these vehicles;
THAT this House urges the government of Yukon to consider the creation of more pull-outs along the Klondike, Campbell and Alaska Highways in order to provide adequate safety for the general driving public; and
THAT the Minister of Community and Transportation Services should report progress on the motion from time to time.
Mr. Phelps: The last motion took up a fair amount of time, and I really feel that the motion that I am putting forward ought not to require a tremendous amount of advocacy because every Member, upon reflection, will see the need for more pull-outs.
The word pull-out may need some definition. I was asked by the Member for Faro exactly what I meant by pull-out. I was intending it in a broad sense. I would see a widening of the highway in spots where ore trucks could pull over. In some cases, they may be forced to stop depending upon the cost and the situation. In other cases, they would be able to continue with a slow speed, and other traffic could pass them. The situation of a double lane such as the setup as we have on the Alaska Highway in the City of Whitehorse for Wolf Creek would certainly be of a large benefit at a place such as the Takhini Hot Springs Road cutoff.
One of the main reasons for me bringing this motion forward is the concern by residents and users of the hot springs and residents along the Hot Springs Road. They feel that there ought to be additional lanes so that the ore trucks could get out of the way and there could be turning lanes, as there are now at Wolf Creek.
I would like to say, too, that the need for more pull-outs is pretty obvious to a person such as myself who lives in Carcross and to all the residents out that way and, indeed, all the residents along the Alaska Highway, the Klondike Highway and the Campbell Highway between Curragh Mines and the Port of Skagway. In discussing this motion with people from Dawson and Mayo, there was concern that there be more pull-outs generally throughout the territory because an increasing problem with the heavy vehicle traffic is being experienced, particularly on the road from Whitehorse up to Dawson City at certain times of the year. For that reason, I have tried to ensure that the motion would be broad enough to cover all highways, and I sincerely hope that all Members will see fit to vote in favour of the motion as it presently reads.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I think the Member for Hootalinqua is correct in that the motion does not require a great deal of advocacy in convincing Members of the desirability for constructing more pull-outs. I do have an amendment to propose, which I will get to in a moment, which does not deal specifically with the concerns the Member raised with respect to the broadness of application of the proposal in the motion but, in fact, recognizes some degree of activity that has already taken place.
One minor note in terms of the applicability of this motion: it is important to point out, from a technical perspective, that pull-outs on the Alaska Highway are a capital construction activity and, therefore, would be done by the Department of Public Works. That certainly does not prevent us from lobbying for pull-outs, as we are doing.
As Members know, in past years the truckers traditionally used abandoned gravel pits as pull-out areas, and this was an informal situation which was allowed to continue for some considerable time. It was a situation which was not officially planned on any map and was not sanctioned by any public servant; it was just something that seemed to fit the needs of the trucking industry, almost as a happenstance.
In response to requests from the tourism industry and MLAs and other government agencies since 1985, perhaps even earlier than that, the Highways Maintenance Branch, as Members know, was directed by me to close off entrances to these gravel pits, which were reportedly being used by tourists as overnight parking areas.
Tourists were reported to have been flushing toilets and not taking advantages of the services provided by the hotel, lodge and RV park operators along the highways.
Clearly, closing the accesses to the gravel pits also meant that these sites could not be used for such things as pull-outs and rest sites. The inadvertent action of the government had created another problem in some respects. It is a problem we must address.
As Members know, when the South Klondike Highway was brought into operation, the government was encouraged to put in pull-outs for the Yukon Alaska Transport trucks in order to allow trucks to pull over and allow traffic to get by because the road was twisting, winding and narrow. This is something we did, but it also caused us to have a review of the highway pull-out policy. I can remember being asked what the policy was. I indicated at that time that the policy was to identify and construct pull-outs in all areas that were slated for construction, and directed the Department of Community and Transportation Services to identify pull-outs at regular intervals along the highway at suitable spots in their plans for reconstruction of any highway. This is something we have done.
On September 8, 1987, the Yukon Transportation Association was also requested to identify sites which could be used as pull-outs as a result of the closure of gravel pits. I attended a meeting with the executive of the Yukon Transportation Association where we were treated to a spirited call for highway pull-outs for the purposes of ensuring the safety of the truckers who wanted to pull off the road to check their vehicles or sleep.
I do not know if Members are familiar with the executive of the Yukon Transportation Association, but they have members who have a distinct ability to get their point across in rather forceful ways. It made a lasting impression on me that the pull-outs had to be constructed on most highways, irrespective of whether or not they were slated for reconstruction. So the Transportation Association aggressively provided their opinion when asked and indicted overwhelming support for truck pull-offs every 50 miles or so along the highways at suitable locations. The Yukon Alaska Transport people were also asked to assist in identifying strategic locations for pull-outs, which they have done.
When I talk about pull-outs I am talking about an area beside the road that is well off the driving lanes, but does not require extensive reconstruction of a platform. It is something that simply allows for trucks to get well off the driving lanes for a driver to do a check without fearing for his or her safety.
Since that time, the Highways Maintenance Branch has mapped out all the existing pull-out and rest sites along Yukon highways and has identified strategic locations for the establishment of new pull-outs. As I have asked the branch to do, they are prepared to commence establishing new pull-outs on highways on a priority basis this summer in all areas that require them. As I say, they are doing it on a priority basis. The most travelled roads will be served first.
Having said that, I think it is fairly clear that, in the spirit of the motion the Member has moved, I would like to propose an amendment which recognizes that the work has been done and that it is time to do the job. We have done more, obviously, than consider the proposal; we have studied it, and I think now the time has come to actually construct the pull-outs. That is what I think the Legislature should urge the government to do from this point onwards. I think it is important that the action take place immediately, starting this summer when the maintenance crews are doing their business in earnest.
So, I would like to move an amendment
THAT Motion No. 36 be amended by deleting the second and third paragraphs and substituting the following:
THAT in order to improve safety for the general driving public, this House urges the Government of Yukon to continue those activities which will lead to the establishment of more pull-outs along the Klondike, Campbell and Alaska Highways.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Community and Transportation Services
THAT Motion No. 36 be amended by deleting the second and third paragraphs and substituting the following:
THAT, in order to improve safety for the general driving public, this House urges the Government of Yukon to continue those activities which will lead to the establishment of more pull-outs along the Klondike, Campbell and Alaska Highways.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I do not have a lot to add. I would like to point out that the pull-outs we are proposing to construct along the Klondike and Campbell Highways are certainly within our power and capability and financial responsibility to do. We will be urging the Department of Public Works to provide the necessary resources, as per usual, for the pull-outs along the Alaska Highway, and we will be offering our services, of course, to do the work. There are other roads which properly require pull-outs; I think the Member for Hootalinqua has captured the priority areas. There are, of course, other areas, and, clearly, we should be considering those as well as we undertake the priority work starting this summer.
Mr. Phelps: I just have one concern. I said, in my opening remarks, that pull-outs would not be restricted to just the concept the Minister spoke about in conjunction with Yukon Transportation Association. I was hopeful, and I anticipate, that by the amendment the Minister intends that those kinds of pull-outs be provided where vehicles can pull off the travelled section of the highway and stop. In addition, there should be, in strategic locations, more double lanes going up hills or at other places where the heavy transport vehicles could slow down and faster traffic could over take them. I would also include the kind of turn-off double lanes that I spoke to as being needed in such places as the Hotsprings Road. I intend to support this motion with those remarks in order to clarify our position.
Mr. Webster: I do not want to rush things today. It is not very often that I travel the Alaska or the Campbell Highways primarily because if I am not in this Legislature or in Dawson City, I am travelling the Klondike Highway. In speaking to this amendment, I can assure the House that some pull-outs have been established along this route in the last two years, two in my riding of Klondike. There is one at the top of Flat Creek Hill and another one by Meadow Creek.
A tourist viewpoint, or rest spot, has also been established at the top of Flat Creek Hill. This has a view of the majestic Ogilvie Mountains and the Tintina Trench. So there have been pull-outs created over the last two years. As the Minister has correctly mentioned, it was done during reconstruction of the highway in these areas. As more reconstruction is slated for the Klondike Highway, I am sure that we will see more pull-outs being constructed at the same time.
I agree that more are needed. In speaking this morning with the superintendent of Highways for the northern region, he assured me that an assessment of areas suitable for the development of pull-outs, and also for tourist rest spots is ongoing and that recommendations are being made.
He also pointed out something about the Dempster Highway. I am beginning to feel like the Member for Kluane. Somehow the Dempster Highway, which travels in my riding, has been neglected. This should be a real priority for the creation of pull-outs as already mentioned by the Minister responsible for transportation. He has indicated to me that they are looking for a series of pull-outs established along the highway about every 50 to 60 kilometres. With that in mind, I do not propose an amendment to the amendment that would include the Dempster Highway. I just want to bring it to the Members attention that indeed the Dempster Highway should be included in the priority of highways to be considered for pull-outs.
Amendment agreed to
Speaker: Is there any further debate on the main motion as amended?
Mr. McLachlan: I want to add a few comments to those of the Members for Hootalinqua and Mayo, and I want to thank the Member for Hootalinqua for bringing this motion forward. The Member for Mayo and myself have often wished for pull-outs when we are trying to get past the ore trucks. There are a number of cases where they are required, but sorting out where would become the subject of study by traffic engineers and experienced people in this area.
I believe we are designing the highways to a standard which provides for clear visibility when passing that governs where these sort of things would apply. I would presume the traffic engineers in the department would be familiar with this. No matter how many were made, there will always be somebody wanting another half dozen. I feel it is important for the department to distinguish between pull-outs and safety run-outs -they are a slightly different animal, but have the same effect in the end.
In those areas where there are long hills, bad curves and long and narrow winding roads where the normal vehicular traffic is slowed to 30 miles an hour or less and the faster moving traffic simply cannot get by, I believe they are definitely needed. They fall into two categories, one where the trucks can pull over and stop, and one where they can simply pull over and allow the faster moving traffic to go by. The municipality of Carmacks does have some that permit left-hand turns across traffic into the truck stops. That is also one course the Member mentioned in his motion that is required extensively.
I wish to give my support to the motion as amended. Coming from the riding I do, I have discovered a number of cases where more of these would be of great assistance to the traveling public.
Motion No. 36 agreed to as amended
Motion No. 39
Clerk: Item No. 24, standing in the name of Mr. McLachlan.
Speaker: Is the hon. Member prepared to proceed with Item No. 24?
Mr. McLachlan: Yes.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Member for Faro
THAT the Yukon Legislative Assembly supports the efforts of FH Collins High School to have its basketball teams entered in the Southeast Alaska Basketball league;
THAT this House urges the Government of Yukon to give consideration to providing incentive funds to the FH Collins Physical Education Department so that the schools teams continued participation in the League is ensured; and
THAT this House supports any efforts that may be made to increase the athletic, cultural, and educational interaction between the students of FH Collins and the students of southeast Alaska schools.
Mr. McLachlan: The motion I have brought forward to the House today has come to me through the youth wing of our party. It is not intended to be solely a motion about basketball, but that particular sport happens to be in the forefront for the team sports at which the motion is directed. It is really a motion about high school athletics, and a motion about the Department of Education support of extra-curricular activities in its schools.
At this time, the department provides virtually no support to various athletic teams and clubs that operate within our school system. The various organizations are run by a number of dedicated volunteers who must not only train or coach, but also fundraise, organize, schedule, counsel and negotiate with school officials. To volunteer to train or coach a school club or team is almost a full-time job, a fact of life I believe many present here would associate with. It is often so demanding that volunteers can become burned out after two or three years of service to the children. When they quit, the program either collapses or, with some luck, is passed on to a fresh, new volunteer.
The overall result of the fact that the Department of Education offers no support to extra-curricular activities is that the programs are often extremely unstable and inconsistent. One year the volleyball program will be great, the next year the coach can quit and the program will collapse. The problem will touch virtually every school organization or athletic team.
The FH Collins basketball program is simply a case in point. For years, the program was carried on in an unstable manner that, at times, depended on the energy and devotion of the coaches. When that was high, the program was successful. At other times, after the coaches had exhausted themselves and quit, the program declined or collapsed altogether. This history could be rewritten for many, if not all, of the high school teams or clubs.
The motion is meant to highlight the way we are treating our volunteers. What we must decide today is whether or not we will seek out some way to support the various extra-curricular activities that operate within the school system. The question is also whether or not we appreciate the volunteers who make our schools good places to be, and enough to assist them in what they are attempting to achieve with our children. What they are attempting to achieve is exactly what our school system is about: that is, producing good, healthy, responsible young men and women.
There is no doubt in my mind that the volunteer coaches and trainers in the extra-curricular programs that have been run, play a large part in producing such men and women.
I am often surprised the Department of Education and the government often place a low priority on some of these extra-curricular activities.
If I may, I would like to return to the specifics of this case: the basketball team and program at FH Collins. As I stated earlier, for years the basketball program has carried on in an unstable and, sometimes, lethargic manner. In recent years, however, the program has become better. Finally, last year, the coaches have taken it upon themselves to solve a long-standing problem that all competitive teams and clubs face at the high school.
The problem is the simple fact that our high school has never been able to compete on a regular basis with other high schools. The coaches, in an effort to gain regular competition for their teams, asked the State of Alaska if they could enter the states Southeast Alaska Basketball League. Entering this league would provide both the boys and the girls teams with between 20 and 25 games a year. This past year, the two teams combined played no more than 10 school games all year.
The motion is indeed timely because two representatives from the high school basketball teams will be flying to Sitka this weekend to negotiate the terms of what is hoped will be a successful team entry into the Alaskan league. If they are successful, the two teams will be playing at least 20 games each with the Alaskans. The season runs from October until the end of January. Five Alaskan teams, both boys and girls, will then be visiting our capital city to play at our high school. Our teams will be travelling to five different Alaskan communities to play against their high schools. The exchanges will do much to foster understanding and friendship between Yukon and Alaskan students. The competitive exchanges will also help to raise the level of school spirit, which presently exists at FH Collins in a somewhat questionable state at times with the basketball program.
The exchange will be good for the athletes involved - the students of FH Collins school, of Whitehorse, or Yukon in general. The rewards of entering the league will be great.
The increased financial, logistical and organizational demands that will be put on the basketball program as a result of entering the league will be great; there is no doubt about that. The demands on the coaches time will be increased many times over. The coaches have said they will be willing to put the necessary time in, but they want the program to be a successful one. They want their first year in the league to be successful. They are willing to work hard to make it happen.
As well, the students are ready and willing to do what is necessary to make their entry into regular competition with Alaska a success.
The problem lies with the financial cost of being a member of this league. Travelling back and forth to five Alaskan communities will, no doubt, cost money. It could cost somewhere around $20,000 Canadian for the two teams to travel to the various communities in the league. It is asking a great deal of our volunteers to fundraise $20,000 and then coach, counsel and organize these teams. It is simply too much to ask of our volunteers. A volunteer cannot be expected to spend hundreds of hours doing the bottle drives, running the raffles, and then turn around and train his or her team or club. The two demands are often too great for volunteers.
I must repeat again that the situation is one that all extra-curricular activities do face to a greater or lesser degree. The basketball program is simply the first set of teams to find a regular competition and thus be in need of some sort of funding to support the program. I can assure you that the Alaskans do already want to play volleyball with FH Collins. In a few years, the volleyball program will require financial assistance for their travel costs. After volleyball: debating, track and field, the band and others may also want to enter into regular competition with the Alaskans.
I can remember when the committee who was doing the analysis of the education act came to Faro and I had to address the concerns of our community to that. I told that committee that I felt that the competition or the exchange of students among students, especially if they come from rural communities, was just as important in their development as the curriculum was for those students.
In the rural communities they simply do not get enough of a chance to interact with other schools. Rural communities, as I have said, do need a great deal of increased support from the department. Their school teams and clubs are often in much worse shape in the communities than they are in Whitehorse. In the capital city the teams and clubs are able to raise funds, because of the larger population base, but communities do not have anywhere near the ability to raise funds to the extent that teams in Whitehorse can. It is not just the basketball program that needs the assistance, it is all of the various extra-curricular clubs and teams that operate within our school system.
We do know that the territory has a grant system in existence, which is designed to allocate funds for athletic and cultural organizations. However, Yukon Recreation Advisory Council was not designed, nor is it able, to allocate funds to school clubs and teams. I will not dwell on that fact at great length, except to say that, for various reasons, are not equipped to fund activities that should properly be supported by the Department of Education.
There are two alternatives before the House today: we may vote the motion down and send a message to volunteers across the territory that there will continue to be no support for extra-curricular activities in the school system. If this were to happen I can tell the House that I am sure that more than a few clubs and teams would begin to seriously think about leaving the school system and setting themselves up as independent clubs. They would then be in a better position to compete for YRAC funding, but they would also become much more unstable, organizationally. I am quite sure that none of them want to take this drastic step, and if we soon do not offer some sort of support, it is an option that will begin to look more and more appealing to different organizations. It is something, I am sure, that none of us here today really wants.
The second alternative open to us is to formally pass the motion. Government, logically the Department of Education, would be entrusted with finding some way of supporting the extracurricular activities. I believe that a general policy whereby the department would match funds raised and put up by the extracurricular teams, perhaps on a 50/50 basis, should be put in place. The government would create an incentive to raise funds, while at the same time make it possible for the teams and clubs to travel, compete, and take part in various extracurricular activities around the territory and outside of the Yukon. The policy of matching funds is an example of how we may support our volunteers, teams, clubs, and school system. It is not the only alternative. I am sure that we can think of ways to support the extracurricular teams and clubs.
There is a final issue that I would like to address. This is one that is simply called territorial pride. During the recently held Arctic Winter Games, our team sports were thoroughly embarrassing. On most occasions, we finished dead last, and losing by large margins was commonplace - not a very pleasant fact, but a cold, hard, facts of reality. This performance was the result of a lack of regular competition. The lack of competition was a result of a lack of resources. The resource most in need is money to travel outside the territory to regular competition. The opening of the Whitehorse to Skagway road to year-round travel allows us to compete on a regular basis, and at a much more reasonable cost than we could five or six years ago. What is needed now is a commitment from us, Yukons elected representatives, stating that we are interested in supporting athletic competition, and in particular, and all types of extracurricular activities, in general.
I urge all Members to support this motion.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I walked into the Legislature this afternoon intending to support the motion. After listening to the Members speech, I still intend to support the motion despite the obvious provocation and politicking that was so evident in the speech.
It would be unfair to set up straw men in order to knock them down in defending the principle of this motion. It would be unfair to support the motion by attacking the Department of Education. The department showed a great deal of enthusiasm to me in wanting to support the motion. It would be a hard verdict on the department to leave this Legislature this afternoon with having besmirched the good intentions that they had shown to support the true intent of the motion, being the support for volunteers and for interaction between schools around the territory.
In defence of the department, this government and the past government, there is support for trips for sporting events and extracurricular activities by the Department of Education. There is recognition that, where opportunities arise, such as the FH Collins basketball team participating in the southeast Alaska league, they should be grabbed aggressively and supported. To say, however, that the Government of Yukon and the Department of Education historically have shown no support for extra-curricular trips is unfair.
The school trip budgets are dedicated to trips of all sorts. In the last four or five years, the school trip budgets have been increased in recognition of the need to provide more funding for trips of this sort as well as for trips for cultural events and for outings of various types. This year the school trip budget for the rural Yukon was doubled over last year. There are not many items in the budget that are increased by 100 percent.
Another element of support that often goes unnoticed is that of the teachers who travel along as chaperones and as coaches.
When a teacher leaves a classroom, we do not leave an empty classroom. We leave a classroom with students, and a teacher has to be put in their place. In my experience as Minister of Education, I have never once turned down an extra-curricular trip undertaken for a school sporting event, or any other school event. These have been supported in a spirited way by not only the Department of Education but, also, the staff of the schools, in recognition of the work that is being put into it by volunteers and, also, the considerable spirit of the games and sporting competitions that is shown by the students. Historically, the Government of Yukon appreciates the support of volunteers, who do much of the work.
In the future, it will be the case that volunteers will be expected to do a lot of the work. If we were to double the budget again for student travel, there would still be an expectation that volunteers would play a significant role in supporting these activities. We would not want to freeze out the considerable effort and enthusiasm that are shown by volunteers, by parents and by school staff in supporting extra-curricular activities.
The Member did make mention of the issue of the Yukon Lottery Commission and the Yukon Recreation Advisory Committee funding, and indicated his personal view that these funds, which are dedicated to sports, culture and recreation, should not be dedicated to any event that even closely approximates school activities. I would like to say that it is desirable for the Department of Education to put more resources into supporting extra-curricular activities of the sort the Member for Faro has mentioned. That will be a goal of the Department of Education not only this year, but in decades to come. As long as there is a lottery commission that is prepared to entertain proposals for extra-curricular funding, there will be applications made to it. I am not in a position, nor would I ever want to be in the position, where I am indicating to school groups that they are not allowed to apply to the Lottery Commission or the YRAC for funds. It is their right to seek funding where they can.
The Member spoke of the issue of territorial pride and the desire to not only to compete in other jurisdictions, but also to win. I feel that we did not walk away from the Arctic Winter Games in Fairbanks with our tail between our legs. People did go to the games and did participate and, as was the stated spirit of those games, - as is the stated spirit of the Polar Games, which is internal to the Yukon - the joy is in the competition and being present and playing. Irrespective of whether or not they lost some events, in terms of not getting as many goals or running as fast or as far, they still participated; they were in Fairbanks; they were trying their best, and they did as well as they could.
Clearly, it is a desirable thing for the government and the territory to support elite athlete development. We would like to encourage excellence in sports as well as in academics, and certainly in territorial and extra-territorial competition as a feature of student development that is important to promote. That is the reason why we have supported expenditures in the past for the Polar Games and Arctic Winter Games.
We are a small jurisdiction and do not have a large population base. I went to a high school with 2700 students. In my graduating year, there were as many students in my graduating year as there are currently in FH Collins. There were a number of basketball teams and the competition was high. That does not diminish the skill level, desire or ambition of the schools in the territory for participating and competing hard in sporting events.
We would like to encourage interaction and interplay among all schools in the territory. There are times it is obviously difficult to put up a basketball team of consistent quality over a period of time, but there are times when a small school can put up a good basketball or badminton team. There are times when schools around the territory show a certain amount of excellence irrespective of whether or not there are large numbers in that school. We have to encourage that intercommunication and interplay between the schools. For experience alone, it is a worthwhile endeavour.
The point the Member made about the necessity for regular competition is important in terms of improving or honing skills. That is one of the main reasons for supporting an opportunity like this.
The Government of the Yukon has been trying to improve ties with Alaska over the last few years because we recognize there is a community of interest and spirit between the jurisdictions. The opening of the road was a catalyst in improving communications and made it much easier to consider new options such as having the basketball play in Division Five of the southeast Alaska league.
The details of what is proposed to happen with respect to developing closer ties with Alaska have been adequately pointed out by the Member for Faro.
Clearly, a financial commitment is going to be required for the Government of Yukon and, once the representatives of the school go to Sitka to discuss the possible league participation and determine whether or not FH Collins School would participate in regular league play or in exhibition play, we will know better what the costing options are for the Department of Education.
It is something I am sure we would like to leave up to the representatives of the school team themselves to determine their level of play. Clearly, there will be times when the players and the coaches are going to have to be out of school and a special effort will have to be made to try to ensure they lose nothing in terms of academic experience while participating in sporting events. I know that when I was playing in a high school football league, a lot of time and effort was put into practicing and playing around the city - Kingston, Ontario - and I know the school had to put a lot of effort into ensuring that the players did not lose academic experience in searching for a sporting competition.
We will be supporting the motion. We would wish the representatives from FH Collins School who are going to Sitka all the best and we are looking forward to future discussions. We encourage the sporting ties; they will complement beautifully the ties we are developing with Alaska on a variety of fronts, including the ties between our Legislatures and the ties that are experienced in all fields of endeavour. This is a natural extension and we will do all we can to support their activity.
Hon. Mr. Porter: I would like to begin by ensuring the Member for Faro that I will not set a pick for him by amending the motion nor will I stuff his shot by defeating the motion. I think my comments to the motion will mirror those of the Member for Mayo, and one of the points I would like to stress is the question of rural participation. As the Member for Faro indicated earlier in his discussion on the motion, this is not simply to deal with basketball -though having one of the former stars of the FH Collins Warriors on his research team probably had some influence - is to deal with all sports and I think we should recognize that the sporting community in the Yukon is far larger those teams that the big high school has to offer. It was a point of concern probably with other Members in the Legislature that, in the last Arctic Winter Games, we had athletes who are equally gifted in rural communities but who, because of logistics and other problems, never made the teams that went to the Games. I think that is something that to be addressed in the future as well.
One question that the Member for Mayo raised is that in his philosophy it is more the competition than the abilities to compete that is the main purpose. We would like to win one once in a while as well. If we look at the history of interjurisdictional sports between ourselves and the State of Alaska, in hockey and volleyball we used to whip them every time on the ice or the court. However, we have not been able to beat the Panthers of Skagway in basketball for years. We have to change that.
I remember the teams that used to come on the floor. Usually basketball players are tall, slim players like the ones we see here in the audience. The kids that we saw on the other side did not have that physique. They were ordinary-looking kids, and we wonder how they could beat us consistently. One of the biggest issues is the one of coaching and competition more than anything else. Should we support this motion and make the necessary policy changes in government to encourage the interjurisdictional competition? There will come a day when we will put the Panthers to sleep on the sidelines consistently.
This is an important motion, and it will open up a lot of opportunity, not only in the interchange of sports, but in the cultural and other social areas as well for Yukon athletes. I encourage all Members of the House to vote for this motion with a swish.
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I also rise in support of this motion. Every young person who wants to get involved in any kind of sport should have the opportunity to take advantage of any athletic resource that is available. I understand the frustrations that a lot of Yukon teams have in trying to compete with teams in other parts of Canada and Alaska.
I can also understand the frustrations when players lose in tournaments by large-margin scores because I had the experience, through a softball team many years ago, of travelling to national softball tournaments and having our team literally beat by scores like 18-1, 20-1 and 19-0. Only after we were able to get experience and to bring in the kind of people who could help us learn the skills were we able to play better softball.
I understand the frustrations that teams have. The skills of athletes in the Yukon are being developed and are becoming much better. I see improvement in all sports, and I am very happy that the Member for Faro has brought this motion to the floor today. I am also happy that he has some athletes in the gallery to see what is happening today.
I am not that familiar with the game of basketball. I played it one time in my life, and I got batted all over the place. I could not run fast enough so I quit while I was still ahead.
I do admire the players and the skills that we see whenever they are playing their games. Faced with the opportunity that has been requested in this motion, we can only look at the improvement in their playing skills, and better relations between the two countries. I realize that whatever we do in this motion is going to cost money. As the Minister of Education has mentioned, the present and former government of the Yukon have spent a lot of money trying to help Yukon athletes, and we will continue to do so. I wish the players good luck in their endeavors, and I would love to go out and watch them play.
Mr. Lang: I would like to say to the government side that we, too, share concerns about our relationship with Alaska, not only from the point of view of the sporting community, but also from our societys point of view, as a whole, and from the economic viewpoint. This could well be a prelude to assisting a fuller understanding of our neighbours in Alaska, regarding the conclusion and implementation of the free trade talks. I think free trade is going to very good for Yukon and for Alaska in the long term.
I do not think that it is safe to say that all Members of this House and previous Houses have supported the principle of making available some assistance to the various athletic organizations and for the schools. There was no mention of the Polar Games. The government greatly assists in financing that type of thing.
There are a couple of points that I want to leave with the House and with the representatives of this particular team. I see our assistance in the form of start-up funds for the creation of a competitive league with our Alaskan friends. I do not share the views of the Minister of Community and Transportation Services that teams should be content with merely participating. I think that we have the ability to compete. I think that we have the ability to win.
When I take a look at the size of the communities of Skagway, Haines, and Juneau - 40,000 people versus 28,000 or 30,000 in the Yukon - there is no reason that we cannot compete, and compete successfully, against our neighbours, if we are in a league and playing on a consistent basis. I think the key is being able to play consistently. Playing to a good standard of competition improves ones skills.
There has to be an additional caveat in any assistance that is given by the taxpayers of the Yukon.
That caveat has to be that those players who are taking the time and effort to participate also have a responsibility, which is to ensure they keep their academic standards up to a standard that is acceptable in the education system. That has to be one of the conditions of support emanating from the Legislature and the government. It must be clearly understood that, for those who are participating, their grades must be acceptable and they must assume the responsibility as students.
I want to conclude by saying that, with the road open, as the Minister of Community and Transportation Services indicated, it will allow us to compete at a cost that we can meet. We support the principle that the team has a responsibility, also, to raise some funds in order to participate. In raising those funds, whether it be matching funds on a 50-50 split, that responsibility should also be one of the caveats of our support as a Legislature and as a government, to ensure there is some accountability from those who are participating.
With respect to the fundraising and the start-up costs, I can envisage down the road a time when we become so competitive when the Juneau Crimson Bears come to Whitehorse, that gym will be filled with spectators. If it is filled with spectators, and the charge is reasonable, I like to think the basketball team will be able to recover the necessary costs for participating in the league. I would like to think that, somewhere down the road, a good portion, if not all, will be raised by those participating in the team and the coaches and volunteers who are involved. I can see that happening. A competitive team will get an audience out if the admission price being charged is fair.
This side of the floor of the House wish them all the best in the future, and we look forward to some very good basketball being played here in Whitehorse and in Alaska.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: It gives me pleasure to speak to this motion. I wish to add my voice in welcoming the Warriors, who are here. They are obviously enjoying the debate about basketball and the political barbs that we play in our court here. I compliment the Member for Faros ability to read the speech that was prepared for him by his researcher.
He wrote it very well. It was unfortunate the Member for Porter Creek East again misinterpreted and attempted to mislead us by saying the Minister of Education stated it is just enough to participate, not enough to win. Of course, he did not say that at all, and it was simply a political barb that was raised. The other Member of our team who spoke, the Minister of Renewable Resources, spoke most eloquently of winning. He was a former Warrior himself, I believe.
I originally intended to speak because I wanted to talk about a principle of competition. I will introduce it this way: my son is a basketball player, and he had the good fortune to be a Warrior in 1985. Incidentally, if the members of the audience knew him, he is now playing triple A basketball in Ontario. He was in the very fortunate position of being able to choose his schools, and he did not continue at FH Collins precisely because there was not the competition that he could achieve in southern schools. Aside from playing basketball, he played hockey here, but his first love at the time was football. He went to a southern school in order to play football and, incidentally, played in the provincial championships the next year.
The reason I mention that is that times have obviously changed since I was a student at high school. As I understand it the jocks, as they are called, are much more specialized than they used to be 20-odd years ago. The competition is very intense. If we are going to stay in the league, we must adapt to that.
I know the Warriors play in the mens league here. In 1985, when I was playing because my son played, they did not have a winning season. The substantial competition would come from schools in southeast Alaska. A number of Warriors attend basketball camp in Juneau, and the interpersonal friendships are quite close on the various teams.
The situation is that, in the north, with the long distances, it is very expensive and time consuming to travel around in these leagues. I am rising to say that it is necessary for us to recognize that it is more expensive in the north and we simply have to bite the bullet and support these teams to a greater extent than occurs in southern schools because of the travelling expenses. That is doubly difficult because the southern schools are larger and have more financial resources. However, the principle that the department already follows is that the transportation costs should be subsidized. Incidentally, the facilities, which are extremely good here and superior to any school of comparable size in the south, are additional incentives and opportunities for our young people to develop their athletic skills.
Politicking aside, we all support the motion, I am sure, for basketball and other sports as well.
Mr. Webster: I, too, rise to support this motion. Anything that will promote participation in a game that I have been involved with for a good numbers of years, which was invented by a Canadian and is played around the world, I am happy to give my support. The main reason, of course, is that the benefits that will accrue to these people being involved in competition with the Americans will be significant. As the Member for Porter Creek mentioned, this opportunity to engage in competition will make us more consistent in our play; it will enable the individuals to attain their potential. To do that requires a lot of practice and a lot of competition, particularly playing against those who are better than you. The better the player you are playing against, the better you will play. That is the way it happens, and gradually, over time, you will find that our players will, indeed, start winning ball games. It is perhaps merely an exercise in futility in the beginning; in the end, things will even out.
Now that everyone has spoken, almost everything has been said. The Member for Faro, who introduced this motion, spoke about the possibility that, if we voted down this motion, it would send a signal to the volunteers that we are not supporting our athletes and the volunteers themselves and this may lead them to drop out. He also spoke of coaches burning out. I want to point out to the Member that, having worked for a number of years as a sports administrator in the Yukon and outside as well, - here in the Yukon as executive director of the Yukon Sports Federation - our passing and supporting this motion will not necessarily mean that coaches will not continue to burn out and drop out.
Sometimes it has the opposite effect. Once the number of practices over a year is increased, once the number of games that the athletes are participating in is increased, coaches feel that the added responsibility and the time required is too much for them. That causes them to seek other forms of recreation. My wife was a victim of that commitment year after year. I suggest that perhaps for Mr. Cassidy was in a similar situation. Year after year, he would be coaching the volleyball teams, selecting a team for the Arctic Winter Games and coaching that and giving up his March break every second year to go to the Arctic Winter Games. In the alternating years, he would be going to tournaments in Edmonton and Vancouver to compete. Slowly it catches up to a person. I am just trying to caution the Members that this is not always the answer.
The Member for Faro, in opening the discussion on this motion, stated that the combined boys and girls at FH Collins played a total of 10 games last year. That certainly is not enough to improve their skills to become competitive. I will grant that, and more must be done. However, I put the question to the Member for Faro: how many opportunities did teams from rural Yukon have to engage in competition? Other than the Polar Games, or once in a tournament or in an exchange visit, which happens occasionally between Mayo or Dawson City, the times are not that frequent.
I would think that whatever incentives are provided for Whitehorse teams to engage in competition should also be provided for rural teams. I am not suggesting how that could be done. The ability for people in rural communities to raise funds is just not as great as it is here in Whitehorse. When a team does engage in more competition and becomes more consistent in its play and becomes better, it will be a drawing card. They will be able to raise funds and take some of the onus from the Department of Education to provide more funds.
In speaking to the caveat that was raised by the Member for Porter Creek East admonishing the players in the gallery today about maintaining their scholastic standings, I assume that this has been a longstanding principle in not only this school, but in schools across the country. It was the incentive for most of us, at least when I went to high school, to get a good grade so that we could look forward to playing football and basketball in the next season. We should have little problem convincing our athletes that they would have to maintain their academic standing. They accept that.
I support the motion, keeping in mind that some similar treatment be given to athletes and teams in rural communities. My one fear is that the gap is widening between the experience that athletes get in the rural Yukon communities to that of what they receive in Whitehorse. That is reflected in the number of players from rural Yukon who make up our team sports for Arctic Winter Games and Canada Games competitions.
There have been a lot of complaints from rural Yukon recently during the trials for these last Arctic Winter Games. There is a feeling among many rural Yukoners that their athletes just were not being given a fair chance to make some of the team sports, be it volleyball, hockey or basketball. For that reason, we do have to give some extra attention and extra support to those rural Yukon communities and their athletes to narrow that gap and get them involved as well.
Speaker: The hon. Member will close debate if he now speaks. Does any other Member wish to be heard?
Mr. McLachlan: I think the motion presented here certainly conveys the feelings I wanted to hear. I think all Members are in general agreement, the only slight difference of opinion is in what constitutes support on the part of the Department of Education. I believe the Minister should check the record and see when the last time a school team successfully applied to lotteries for funding. I do not think that is a case I entirely agree with, and that is why the motion was brought forward in the first place.
I was glad to hear the Minister of Renewable Resources sport the defence of actually going into competition and winning. It would be very nice for these people in the gallery to bring home a gold ulu once in awhile instead of being at the wrong end of the lopsided scores that the Minister of Health referred to.
Coming from a small area, I am well aware it is extremely hard for JV Clark or Del Van Gorder School to get basketball, football and baseball teams together. In many cases, it depends on who the coach is, what the particular interests are and how much time the coach has to devote. I would like to suggest for the Minister that if it is not a basketball team, it could be a curling team some day. The numbers are much easier to put together.
I would like to compliment the Minister of Justice on his recognition of the fact that I can read very well. I could do that before I came to the Legislature so at least we have not gone backwards on that.
I think the motion speaks for itself, and I am very glad to hear the response brought forward this afternoon by Members, many of whom have had experience in basketball, football, hockey, baseball, softball, et cetera.
Motion No. 39 agreed to
Motion No. 44
Clerk: Item No. 27, standing in the name of Mrs. Firth.
Speaker: Is the hon. Member prepared to proceed with Item No. 27?
Mrs. Firth: Yes, Mr. Speaker.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Member for Riverdale South
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.
Mrs. Firth: The motion that I have brought forward today is the result of various expressions of concern that have been brought to my attention over the last six months, as well as an issue that was raised at the Yukon Council on Aging Conference that was held this past weekend.
A gentleman, an official representing the Yukon Housing Corporation, was asked a question by one of the seniors attending the conference. The question had to do with the Yukon Housing Corporations policy when it came to allowing pets into the seniors facilities.
I know that the Member for Riverdale North has some very strong feelings about this issue, and our caucus has had various family members telephone about this policy. Particularly in light of the fact that the new seniors facility is just about complete and will be ready for occupancy in June, some seniors have applied to be eligible for that facility. They have been told that they will not be able to take their pets into that facility. I understand that pets are not allowed into the other facilities that we provide for seniors. People come to me and say that these seniors are being forced to give their pets away, that they are in the process of looking for families or individuals to take their pets, so that they can move into these accommodations that the government is providing for them.
When the official from the Yukon Housing Corporation gave his presentation at the Yukon Council on Aging, he indicated to the gentleman who had raised the concern that he agreed with the position that was being presented, and he agreed that pets should be allowed in seniors facilities. When it came time to pinning him down as to when this could be done, he indicated that it might take two or three months, because of the paperwork on his desk. That did not seem to satisfy the seniors who were attending that conference. They expressed some concern that the decision be made sooner, because of the fact that the new seniors facility was going to be opened, and people were in the process of applying to go in there. They were also in the process of giving away their pets.
I decided to bring forward the motion to see if we could speed up that decision. The Yukon Housing Corporation is obviously in favour of it. Perhaps the decision and policy change could be made so that those individuals who have applied for accommodation in that new facility can get their pets back, and can move into the facility. I feel that the policy is departing from a trend that has developed and is definitely popular now. I am sure that all Members of the House and many members of the public have seen documentaries on television, and have been reading studies about the health and viability of seniors. Pets are, in fact, very important to senior citizens physical and mental well-being. Therefore, we thought that it was important to bring forward this motion in order to have a decision and some action, now. I do not anticipate that the motion will be controversial in nature. I would expect that the Members of the Legislature would all be in favour of this motion.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The motion before us gives one the impression that the Housing Corporation has a policy that requires changing, in order to allow pets in the seniors housing facilities. The policy that was the order of the day in the early 1980s was fairly historic. Essentially, it was that there should not be more than one pet without the local housing associations written approval. The policy changed nationally within housing circles to move from a no pet policy to the allowing of pets. It happened after a national petition was drawn up and presented to the federal Minister responsible for housing at the time, Mr. McKnight, who ultimately agreed that to allow pets in seniors accommodation, or social housing generally, was a desirable thing to do. Some of the points the Member for Riverdale South brought up with respect to the companionship associated with pets and their owners is something that is a significant attribute in the policy in the south, and something the government supports.
The Housing Corporation supports it, as well; it allows pets in public housing. The agreement that is signed between tenants and the Housing Corporation indicates: Pets will only be permitted with the written approval of the landlord. Such written approval will be withdrawn if the pet interferes with the rights and enjoyment of other tenants or neighbours. Tenants harbouring pets without the written approval of the landlord will be considered in breach of the tenancy agreement.
Basically, the Housing Corporation does allow pets. What the Housing Corporation official indicated, however, was that the policy on pets was restricted and not permissive enough. For that reason, the Housing Corporation was reviewing its policy, in order to make it more permissive.
Some recognition has to be made of the rights of other tenants in the building. I am sure any policy developed will recognize the inherent right of neighbours to the enjoyment of their homes and apartments. Dogs barking in a seniors complex may be a disturbing element to life, which would have to be ultimately decided by the residents, in terms of what they would like to see with respect to the allowance for pets in the facility.
I am told the Housing Corporation has a policy to allow pets. It does require written approval, and there is a desire by the housing corporation to make it more permissive.
Consideration is now being given to withdrawing the need for written approval in order to ensure that not only the paperwork but the bureaucracy surrounding the policy is kept to an absolute minimum. Clearly, if anybody has been turned down or given wrong information, the Yukon Housing Corporation is eager to correct that record.
I will state that if the motion were to go ahead as presently worded, it would make it seem as if the House concurred that there was a policy currently harboured by the Housing Corporation to disallow pets in seniors housing facilities. I am assured by the Housing Corporation that that is not the case; pets are allowed in the facilities, and the Housing Corporation would like to make the procedures for allowing pets simpler and more permissive. After having discussed the motion this afternoon, I think it is important that the public be left with a more accurate picture of what currently permitted by the Housing Corporation in seniors housing facilities, and that they recognize that the Housing Corporation not only permits pets but is interested in reviewing its policy and revising its policy to make it easier for seniors to have pets, yet at the same time recognizing the rights of neighbours who may also be seniors and who may be in some way disadvantaged by unruly pets in the seniors facilities.
Having said that, I would like to move an amendment, to read as follows:
THAT Motion No. 44 be amended by deleting all the words after the word THAT and by substituting the following:
this House supports the decision of the Yukon Housing Corporation to continue its policy revision which will permit pets in public housing units; and
THAT this House urges the Yukon Housing Corporation to make public its completed policy statement on this subject no later than June."
The government recognizes that it is desirable to have the Housing Corporation finish its policy revisions prior to the opening of the seniors complex. That is why we indicated that there should be a completed policy statement no later than June.
If there are any concerns about seniors with pets who anticipate moving into the complex, they can be reassured that the Housing Corporation will permit pets. They do now, and they will try to ensure that the rights of all residents are respected. If any senior feels that they do not have the right to have pets, I encourage him or her to see the Housing Corporation because they have made their policy on pets clear to me. If there is any concern about the allowance for certain pets, the Housing Corporation would be interested in seeking the advice of seniors.
The Housing Corporation currently has a longstanding lease agreement, if Members will listen, that says that pets will be permitted in housing facilities. That policy will hold true in the future. It is simply a matter of changing the administrative procedures around the policy in order to make it less of an onerous provision. I will now listen to what Members have to say on the amendment.
Mrs. Firth: I have never heard such a load of rubbish in all my life. I really wonder where these people sitting on the other side of this Legislative Assembly are coming from sometimes. I do not want my colleague for Riverdale North to speak because he is so upset by what the Minister has just said and about the bureaucratic baloney that he has brought forward here.
I do not care what is written on some piece of paper that the bureaucrats have given him. I was at the meeting when that official told those people that it was their policy not to allow pets. I spoke to the lady who wanted to move in there and was told that she had to give her cat away or she could not move in.
Why does the government not talk to some of the people? These are the politicians who told us that they represent the people. We have heard nothing but bureaucrats and red tape here in the Legislature. I am tired of it because I am a politician, and I want some political feedback. I want to know that these people are talking to the public. They are not. They tell us about their officials who are making phone calls, getting information and that their officials are telling them this or that. What are they doing?
It was the great saviour, the Member for Mayo, who used to come in here and accuse us of not listening to people.
Those people at the Council on Aging were told by the official that it is the policy not to allow pets. There are no pets allowed in Greenwood Place. There are no pets allowed in the new facility. The official said that was their policy. He did not bring out a piece of paper and have everyone read it. When he was asked about changing it, he said it would be reviewed, that he agreed with our position and that it would be changed.
The only point the seniors were concerned about was that it would take two or three months to make the changes because there was a huge stack of coffee-stained paper on his desk. All we want to do is have it changed now, so that people who are making application to go into the new facility can go in there with their pets, so the lady can get her cat back and still be eligible to go into the new seniors complex.
I look at this amendment that this House supports the decision of the Yukon Housing Corporation to continue its policy revision, like they were actually doing something. The official told those people at the Yukon Council on Aging that he agreed with them and, because of that, the policy would be reviewed. There was no indication the policy was under review. He did not tell them he was in the process of doing that. He told them he agreed with them, and he would review it.
What other bureaucratic things have been written in this amendment? The House supports the decision of the Corporation to continue its policy revision, which will permit pets in public housing units. That is correct, the Minister has said someone in the department told them it was allowed.
There is also, THAT this House urges the Yukon Housing Corporation to make public its completed policy statement on this subject no later than June. That is really big of them. I have always felt that part of my job as a politician was to protect the public and go to bat for the public. There are many times when they run into obstructions, road blocks, and regulations made without any common sense taken into account. Obviously, the Minister does not see that as his role. If we support this amendment, we are essentially saying that the Housing Corporation has been addressing this issue. I know they have not, because they have been merrily telling seniors they cannot have their pets in the housing facilities. It makes it look like we are going to give them until June. I do not agree with that. It waters the motion down into nonexistence.
We have come in here with a simple and humble request on behalf of the seniors in this territory. We build these facilities for the seniors, and then give them 85 different rules of how they are not going to be eligible to use the facilities. This is the caring and compassionate government. I cannot believe it.
I know the Member for Riverdale Norths father lived in Greenwood Place. I know his father had a pet and was not allowed to have that pet in Greenwood Place. I do not care how much paper the Minister brings in here saying what the policy is and how great his housing corporation is, and how hard they are working.
I do not feel we can support this amendment. If the government wants to use their majority and push this amendment through, and water down the motion, and disagree with the motion, that is up to them, and it can be on their conscience.
Mr. Webster: I rise to not only support this amendment, but to clarify the situation. The policy of the Yukon Housing Corporation is to allow pets in senior housing. The Member for Riverdale South asked us why we did not talk to some of the people out there. This morning, I talked to two of them. One of them happened to be the manager of the Dawson City Housing Association, who assured me that two of the four seniors currently residing in the seniors fourplex in Dawson City have dogs.
Mrs. Firth: There are obviously two sets of rules then.
Mr. Webster: The Member for Riverdale South says there must be two sets of rules. This may be part of the confusion. It is a policy of the Yukon Housing Corporation to allow pets. It may be a difficulty with the Whitehorse Housing Authority. That, I do not know, but I do know that elsewhere it is the policy to allow pets. They are happy they have pets, for some of the reasons already mentioned. There are no problems. It may require written authority, out of respect for the rights of other tenants, but that has been granted. Consequently, two seniors have pets, and everyone is getting along fine in the seniors fourplex in Dawson City.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I have listened with some interest to this debate so far. I am reminded of the debate that is currently raging in the City of Edmonton about cats. From my past experience as a judge, there is nothing that will get people in a community more upset than a case about a dog bylaw, even more so than hunting laws, which will also get Yukoners upset moreso than theft and the like.
Talking about pets is obviously a very emotional issue, and it may sound at first blush to be petty to be talking about a pet here or there, but I think all of us know that, if we are talking about peoples pets, they certainly feel very, very strongly about those pets. It is not surprising to me that we see such rancour, I suppose, and such aggression on behalf of the mover of the motion.
It is also not surprising because, during debates here, unfortunately, we are calling each other names and are speaking to an electorate rather than to each other and rather than listening and considering the motions rationally. The amendment is much, much more precise in its defense of pets in the general sense than the original motion. The original motion talks about a change in policy to allow pets in seniors housing facilities. We already know that it is specifically a term of the lease that pets are allowed under certain circumstances. What is important is to talk about those particular circumstances, and I can say, because many of the seniors housing units in the territory are in my riding, that there are, today, senior citizens in senior citizens housing units who do have pets. I believe some of those are legal pets and in some cases they are simply pets the people have brought in. It is probably the case that the landlord does not know that the pet is there, but the pets are there. That is common and occurs with private landlords, because it is generally the policy of private landlords to not allow pets; however, we all know that there are some.
We also know that the type of unit is extremely important in deciding if pets should be allowed or not. For example, in the row housing on Hanson Street, there are pets. There have been pets in Greenwood Place and there have been problems. The motion does not talk specifically about Macaulay Lodge and that is not a Yukon Housing Corporation project, but it is the same general issue. I remember very well two constituency problems that I dealt with regarding pets at Macaulay Lodge, specifically, cats. There are pets at Macaulay Lodge, and at the time that I was dealing with constituency problems, there was a concern. Some of the residents wanted the cat, and some of the residents did not. I believe they took a vote on the matter, and the majority was that they would allow the cat. This was some years ago. It is interesting that the staff at the time supported the presence of the cat. It is not only a simple issue of democracy, though, because it can adversely affect some people. For example, some people are allergic to cats or dogs. I would submit that it is unfair to have a person in a facility where there is a substantial degree of community living, who is allergic, to suffer the effects of those allergies.
It is my understanding that the Whitehorse Housing Authority has policies about pets, independent of the Yukon Housing Corporation. They are generally in favour of birds but not dogs and cats. That is a factor in the motion that we could address, in that in a communal environment such as Greenwood place, I am sure that there would be no problem with a pet bird in a unit. There may be problems experienced by the other tenants of the building with some other animals that most commonly are dogs and cats.
There are several issues about this amendment that make the amendment stronger than the original motion. The original motion talks about pets in seniors housing facilities.
If Members will take a moment to carefully read the amendment, it talks about public housing units, which is much wider, and is an acceptance of the policy permitting pets in public housing units. The concern also ought to be the kind of pets, or the number of pets. For example, it may be an appropriate policy to allow one dog or cat, but not several.
Time is running on and I want to present an amendment to the amendment.
THAT the amendment to Motion No. 44 be amended by adding after the word June, the year 1988".
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Justice
THAT Motion No. 44 be amended by adding after the words June the year 1988".
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: Briefly, on the amendment to the amendment, the Member for Riverdale South is complaining about the lack of specificity of the motion, and this is in response to that, so as to make it absolutely clear that June means June of this year.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: On the subamendment, I have heard a lot of things in my day but I am probably as angry as I can get in this Legislature after hearing the comments from the Member for Riverdale South.
If the Member for Riverdale North had a bad experience with the pet policy, I am sorry, but let me say this: the practice of the Members in the Opposition of trying to break down open doors, creating issues that do not exist, coming in with all kinds of passion about whether or not the government is prepared to ...
Adjourned debate on sub-amendment to Motion No. 44
Speaker: Order, please. The time being 5:30, this House will now recess until 7:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
Hon. Mr. Porter: I move that the Speaker now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Government House Leader that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
Speaker leaves the Chair
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Chairman: The Committee of the Whole will now come to order.
Bill No. 60 - Fourth Appropriation Act, 1987-88 - continued
Department of Health and Human Resources - continued
Hon. Mrs. Joe: The Member for Riverdale South asked for some information and I have brought it back for her tonight, in regard to the outstanding health care premiums. At present, there are 3,161 individuals who are registered in the health care plan who still have an outstanding balance for premiums. In addition, there are 877 individuals who no longer live in the territory, for whom money is still outstanding. The money owing for residents currently in the plan totals $1.2 million and an additional $250,000 is outstanding for individuals no longer living in the Yukon. There are 157 individuals who have signed letters of commitment to make payments in respect to their outstanding premium liability over a period of time in order to allow them to manage an ongoing expense.
To date, 45 cases have been filed with the Small Debts Court, all of these in early March. Another 20-25 individuals are presently being served with papers requesting their appearance in respect to the outstanding liability on their account. Each case requires an initial $25.00 expense for court administration costs, which is fully recovered when the debt is settled through the court. To date, O&M expenditures in respect of premium collection alone total less than $20,000 annually, principally for salaries of staff involved in the verification and mediation activities.
The decision to proceed with Small Debts Court action is a recent one that affords the individual the opportunity to appear before the court in respect of the liability without the need for expensive lawyers and lengthy delays.
Decisions with respect to further actions will be made following the review of the success of this initial case load, given that this is a new method of collection not previously used by the department for premium collection. It is premature at this time to indicate what steps will be taken by the department for further action on these cases. No writs have been placed against assets owned by any individual owing money to the government for health care premiums. No decision has been made to proceed with that action at this time. The department has been instructed to analyze the liability outstanding and the effectiveness of methods of collection activity used in the past year in preparation of recommendations for options for further action to be taken. It is expected that this report to Management Board will be completed within the next couple of months at which time decisions respecting further action of premium liability will be made.
Mrs. Firth: I thank the Minister for that update on the collection of the unpaid medicare premiums.
The Minister mentioned that there were 45 filed writs. Is the government intending to follow through with all of them?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: Yes, we are.
Mrs. Firth: Can the Minister tell us how long she expects the people to be going through this process? Does the Minister have some target date set for her department so we are not putting people through this process for any undue length of time?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I am not exactly sure of the time frame. It depends on the courts, of course, and as we all know the courts do not do things on a scheduled basis. It is often that time is taken up when something else should be heard. I cannot give the Member a time frame.
Mrs. Firth: The concern we have is that people are not going to be put under this strain for a year at a time or something like that. We do not disagree with the principle of trying to recover this money, but you can prolong it and that is what I would like some reassurances about.
Hon. Mrs. Joe: It is our hope that, through this process, some of those individuals will be able to pay. That is one of the reasons why we took this action. There were many attempts prior to that and no payment was made. We are hoping this would speed things up rather than lengthen the time.
Mrs. Firth: I guess we will just check back and get an update on the status of it in a few months.
I would like to ask some questions about some other areas of her budget. One question deals with the child care paper, Lets Talk About Child Care in the Yukon. The Minister announced that there were 4,000 copies printed. Could she tell us what the cost was for the production, printing and distribution of that?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I do not have the costs here. We did budget $48,000 for the panel, and I am not sure if that included the cost. I can bring that information back to the Member.
Mrs. Firth: I would like that information, because I believe the $48,000 is for the travel of the panel. The cost of the production of this discussion paper would have been in last years Operation and Maintenance Budget. We would like to have that information if we could.
Can the Minister tell us how many new requests there have been for additions to the chronic disease list since the government expanded its policy? Could she give us an indication of how much money it is costing to accommodate new additions?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: We do not have those kinds of figures under the Supplementary Estimates. I would expect that the figures would be readily available in the Main Estimates. I can try to get the information back to her this week or she could wait until we do the Operation and Maintenance Budget.
Mrs. Firth: I would like to have the information before we start the Operation and Maintenance Budget, because I would like to make some comparisons for the debate on the Operation and Maintenance Budget. While the Minister is taking requests for information for the Operation and Maintenance Budget, could she provide us with an updated organization chart of the department before we enter the Operation and Maintenance Budget debate?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: Yes. I can do that.
Mrs. Firth: I am prepared to move to the line by line questions unless other Member wish to ask some general questions.
On Community & Family Services
Hon. Mrs. Joe: The Supplementary Budget increase of $187,000 is required for child welfare placement and support services particularly in the area of specialized assessment, support and treatment for children in care.
The department has been successful in its efforts to establish the first childrens treatment group home in the territory. It opened in Whitehorse in December 1987. This new six-bed resource will reduce our costs for out-of-territory facilities, thereby providing more appropriate care to children in care closer to families and home communities. We are also increasing our investment in the Yukon by making these expenditures locally rather than outside.
Mrs. Firth: Do I understand from the Ministers explanation that the $187,000 is just for the childrens treatment home and for this specialized assessment and support, and the treatment services - or is that just a part of the $187,000?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: It is partly for the service and partly for those young people whom we have to send outside as well. If the services are not here then sometimes we have to send them outside, and this home only holds six people.
Mrs. Firth: Is the Minister indicating that there is an increase in numbers, and that we needed the additional funds? If that is the case, could she give us some indication of why the numbers are increasing?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: There has been an increase during the past year. We have had a number of teens who have needed certain services for some of the problems that they have.
Mrs. Firth: That really does not tell me an awful lot, other that there were some teens who required services. Perhaps the Minister could be a little more descriptive. How much have the numbers increased? What have they increased from? Is there any particular reason for the increase? Are parents kicking their teens out of their homes or what is causing it?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: The reasons are many. Problems exist throughout the territory, and the world, with these young teenagers who have problems. In some cases - although I do not have the exact statistics - the family requests that we look at the problems that these young children have, sometimes they do end up in our care, taking advantage of some of our services. Some young individuals who are in our group homes require extra help with the problems that they have. There are a number of reasons why that happens. I cannot tell the Member why there has been an increase this year. I do not have that information.
Mrs. Firth: Are the parents of the teens financially supporting the services in any way?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: A number of individuals have come into our care under different circumstances. As we all know, there have been many teen runaways; it is a problem that we are all concerned about. If a parent can contribute to the cost of any kind of treatment that we have, then they would do that. I do not know how often it happens, but they can.
Mrs. Firth: Is it that they can, or is it a legislative requirement that they do?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: It is a policy requirement that those individuals who can pay will pay.
Mrs. Firth: I believe it is the law, is it not, that they do?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I do not believe it is in any act or regulation. It is a policy.
Community and Family Services in the amount of $187,000 agreed to
On Health Services
Mrs. Firth: According to the Ministers notes, the $385,000 is due to the increased payments for out-of-territory medical expenses to the tune of $329,000. Why is that increase occurring? What seems to be the cause of that?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: It is the kind of specialized care these patients need, and they cannot get it here. There have been a number of cases where they have had to be sent out on an emergency basis on commercial flights, and whatnot. It has escalated this year.
Mrs. Firth: Is it for emergencies or specialized surgery? What is the major portion of it?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: There is a lot of surgery they cannot deal with here; those patients are sent outside. There is sometimes a case of an emergency of a newborn baby or an accident on the highway, or whatever, where the injuries are so severe they have to be operated on somewhere else. I cannot tell her whether there is more of an increase in the emergencies or more of those individuals who require surgery that cannot be done here. I do not know the statistics on that. I suppose we would be able to get that information for her.
Mrs. Firth: I understand there are some specialized services people are being sent out for that the Whitehorse General Hospital is considering providing at the hospital, but which would require purchases of equipment, and so on. Is the Minister aware of this? Is that part of the reason some of these costs are escalating? Has the department looked at the possibility of saving on these costs by providing some of the services locally?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: There is always a possibility of looking at something that is going to improve the health care of Yukoners in regard to any machinery we may have. Through the Health Services Branch, my department has been in contact with the hospital and the Medical Health Association with respect to any kind of new machinery that could be brought into the hospital. That is ongoing, as was the situation with the mammography machine. There are ongoing discussions all the time.
If there is something we can be a part of to bring some machinery to the hospital that would save the cost of a person having to go outside, we would look at that option.
Mr. Nordling: Last night, we were talking briefly about adding services to be covered, such as visits to the physiotherapist, chiropractor or optometrist, and the Minister said, We go through the process about once a year to find out how much this is going to cost us. We will probably do that again within the next little while. I wonder if, tonight, the Minister could be a little more specific as to when these areas will be reviewed, so that I can pass it on to my constituents and they will know when to lobby the Minister?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I am lobbied all the time with regard to those two services, and I receive letters and signed petitions, so I know those services are needed out there. The services need to be covered and that; hopefully, they could be covered by our health care plan. I cannot say when we are going to be looking at it again and putting together a submission for Management Board. I do not know when we are going to do that, but we are always looking at that issue and, if I said I would like to have it done by June and I could not get it done by June, then I would be in a bit of trouble because I would be assumed to have made a promise. We do go through it every year; we review it and we find out, as I said before, how much money we have available. The costs we have gotten in the last little while have been quite high and would have expanded our budget by quite a bit.
Mrs. Firth: I have some advice for the Minister, and I say this with good intentions. Sometimes, instead of just looking at things, if you make a decision and say either yes or no, it is a little easier to take the flak that goes with saying no and at least then they know where they stand. Everything we have discussed tonight is being looked at and maybe it is time to make some decisions?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: When we have the money, then we can make the decisions.
Health Services in the amount of $385,000 agreed to
On Juvenile Justice Program
Juvenile Justice Program in the amount of a reduction of $136,000 agreed to
Operation and Maintenance Expenditures in the amount of $436,000 agreed to
Mr. McLachlan: Could the Minister explain why we are getting a refund of $22,000 from family allowance, which normally is paid directly to the parents?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: We do have a lot of children in care who get family allowance and it comes to us and goes back out to them from us.
Mr. Nordling: I would like to ask the Minister to explain the native medical care for which we are receiving $800,000 as that was not budgeted for at all.
Hon. Mrs. Joe: There was a new agreement made under medical services for status Indians. At one time they used to pay for the health care premiums for status Indians. There were negotiations with them to find out how they were going to pay for that, or what was going to happen as a result of the elimination of health care premiums. We were very successful in negotiating $800,000, which exceeded the amount of money we were getting for premiums.
Mrs. Firth: Are we going to continue to get this every year?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: Yes.
Operation and Maintenance Recoveries in the amount of $568,000 agreed to
On Capital Expenditures
On Child Welfare Equipment
Hon. Mrs. Joe: The $20,000 represents a reduced level of purchasing for the child welfare facilities due to the recent renovation projects, delayed renovation decisions regarding one group home on Lowe Street in Whitehorse and current satisfactory condition of furniture and equipment in the others. So there was a reduction in that line.
Child Welfare Equipment in the amount of a reduction of $20,000 agreed to
On Alcohol & Drug - Facility Planning
Hon. Mrs. Joe: There was a reduced level of funds required for this project as a result of an interprovincial arrangement with Alberta that provided for the secondment of two senior resource people from the Alberta Addiction Commission to complete the project.
Alcohol & Drug - Facility Planning in the amount of a reduction of $26,000 agreed to
On Alcohol & Drug - Furniture & Equipment
Hon. Mrs. Joe: That was a reduction due to the generally acceptable condition of the existing furniture and equipment, and the decision to await the outcome of the planning study.
Alcohol & Drug - Furniture & Equipment in the amount of a reduction of $10,000 agreed to
On Medical Claims - Equipment
Mr. McLachlan: I am looking for a general explanation from the Minister on all three of these line items in that commencing on April 1, 1987, there were no insurance premiums collected. Why did we have to spend more money on equipment, equipment and equipment?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: That does not have anything to do with premiums.
Mr. McLachlan: What does it have to do with? Are we not referring to the health insurance premiums?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: This is for capital expenditures.
Mr. McLachlan: Capital expenditures for what reason under this area of health insurance? I thought we were phasing out equipment, not buying new equipment in this area.
Hon. Mrs. Joe: Medical Claims - Equipment in the amount of $6,000 was to provide for the purchase of microfilm/microfiche reader and printer to replace existing obsolete equipment. This is to cover an expenditure held over from 1986-87 because of an invoicing delay from the supplier.
Under Chronic Disease - Equipment, we spent $4,000 to complement the Chronic Disease and Disability Program that permits minimum hospitalization for individuals with special chronic diseases and disabilities in terms of length or frequency of necessary hospital stays. The explanation for that was to provide for the purchase of high-cost program support equipment that exceeds the operation and maintenance purchase limit of $1,000.
In connection with the Chronic Disease Benefits Program, capital funds will be used for the establishment of a loan bank, making provision of essential major medical equipment items such as manually operated hospital beds, specialized wheelchairs, grab bars and support rails, respiratory equipment, patient lifters and other speciality aid pieces for residents suffering from chronic diseases and serious functional disabilities.
For Extended Health Benefits - Equipment, the $5,000 was used to establish a capital fund to complement existing supplementary health services for seniors designed to reduce institutionalization and to enable seniors to live in their own homes or to be cared for by family in community settings through purchase of equipment and speciality aids. The funds will establish a loan bank for equipment such as hospital beds, specialized wheelchairs, walking aids and other speciality aid pieces for seniors.
Medical Claims - Equipment in the amount of $6,000 agreed to
On Chronic Disease - Equipment
Chronic Disease - Equipment in the amount of $4,000 agreed to
On Extended Health Benefit - Equipment
Extended Health Benefit - Equipment in the amount of $5,000 agreed to
On Northern Health Services
Mr. McLachlan: Does the first line item relate to the nursing station at Pelly Crossing? It was my understanding that a lot of these were going way over budget, which would then put the territorial governments need on the plus side rather than on the negative side. Could the Minister explain why we are $565,000 ahead on this line item?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: There is a reduced level of equipment and vehicle purchases. The year round forecast is $160,800, down from the original budget of $510,000, as well as minor construction and renovation activity and public health facilities by the Northern Health Service, Health and Welfare Canada, pursuant to cost-share agreements.
The purchase of staff housing in Faro was accomplished in late 1986-87 and only renovations were required in 1987-88, at a cost of $39,000. The Yukon share of construction of the health centre and residence in Pelly Crossing is projected to be on budget at $612,500.
Mrs. Firth: What is the total cost of the health centre and residence in Pelly Crossing? This is the Yukons portion. What is the federal government contributing?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: Approximately $872,000; it is seventy percent.
Mrs. Firth: In the notes the Minister gave us, there is a comment about the purchase of the Faro staff residence, resulting in a saving of $565,000. Is that the Faro staff residence they purchased instead of building one for $1.3 million that we had identified in 1986, when we were going to build a brand new one and the Minister would not hear of purchasing one? Why did they change their minds?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: There was a place available up there, and we bought it for the medical staff up there.
Mrs. Firth: I believe that was what we told the Minister originally. We got into a big, convoluted, debate here because she wanted to build a new one and spend $1.3 million.
What was the total cost? What did the government pay for the Faro staff residence?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: We do not have a figure, but we think it was around $140,000.
Mrs. Firth: I would like to know the figure.
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I will bring the exact figure back.
Mr. McLachlan: Everyone else had mortgages left and right over those properties in Faro. Is that free and clear, or is it $140,000 and take over the payments that are left?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: We purchased it for approximately $140,000, and it is clear.
Mr. McLachlan: The Minister has enumerated some cost expenditures up to about a $200,000 reduction. Can she enumerate some of the other ones that resulted in the saving? I did not hear them all.
Hon. Mrs. Joe: There was a reduced level of equipment and vehicle purchases. The year-end forecast was $116,800, down from the original budget of $566,510. As well as minor construction, renovation activity in public health facilities by the Northern Health Service, Health and Welfare Canada, pursuant to cost share agreements, the purchase of staff housing in Faro was accomplished late in 1986-87, and only renovations were required in 1987-88, at a cost.
Yukons share of the construction of the health centre and residence in Pelly Crossing is projected to be on budget at $612,000.
Northern Health Services in the amount of a reduction of $565,000 agreed to
On Communication Disorder - Equipment
Hon. Mrs. Joe: The current condition of equipment in the Communications Disorder Clinic is satisfactory, and replacement requirements have been deferred to the 1988-89 fiscal year. We have this in our budget every year, but we did not need it this year.
Mr. McLachlan: Do we have a audiologist on staff at the moment?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: Yes, we do.
Mr. McLachlan: I ask the question because when we change staff the new staff decides that the old equipment is not good enough and wants more. It is my understanding that the new audiologist last year needed the $16,000 in the coming year to replace equipment. That is why I am asking. Usually, new people want new equipment.
Communication Disorder - Equipment in the amount of a reduction of $16,000 agreed to
On Extended Care Facility
Mr. Nordling: We discussed this a little yesterday, and a little this afternoon, and now I would like to try to clarify the situation regarding the facility. It seems that it is tied quite closely to the transfer of health services from the federal government. My understanding is that in February 1986 the Minister wrote to the federal government and said that she wanted the health transfer put on hold. In May 1986, a motion was brought forward in the House urging the government to proceed with the transfer. Nothing really happened until two years later, on April 13, 1988, when the Minister made a Ministerial Statement in the House and announced that the transfer of the hospital is a big priority, because of pressures upon the hospital and a rapidly-deteriorating building.
I would like to know what the goal of this government is with respect to the time for achieving the transfer of the hospital from the federal government.
Hon. Mrs. Joe: We have had to consider many things about the health transfer. When I wrote to the Minister, if I can explain to the Members, there was a lot of talk about transfers being made. There was a lot of talk about different programs being contracted out, and it was a concern, not only of our department, but also of many of the people who work over at the hospital. I wanted to put the transfer on hold until we could get a commitment from the Minister that that would not happen until people were consulted. I wrote to him a letter and asked him that, as well as meeting with him. I received a commitment from him that there would be no transfers made, and no programs contracted out, before Yukon people were consulted, and that occurred.
We had intended to build the extended care facility because we were almost sure, from internal discussions that we had, that there was going to be money available for the hospital, and that the extended care facility would go hand in hand with it, and that there would be facilities that could be used by both facilities. In the last budget, I had budgeted money for the extended care facility. It was at that time that we found out that there was no commitment from the federal government that there would be money coming very quickly enough to build a new hospital. We kept saying that we did not want a transfer until the hospital was built. After much talk and many meetings, we decided to go with the transfer of the hospital only, with their commitment, along with the transfer agreement, that they would build a new hospital with federal funds.
Hon. Mrs. Joe: The extended care facility can still be done without building the hospital. It would cost an awful lot more. The Member was asking me last night whether or not we could still go ahead with it, and the Member today was asking me whether or not we had started to design it. We are waiting right now to find out exactly what the federal people are going to say, and my officials - if I can talk about my officials again - will be meeting with them very shortly; they will be talking about the transfer, about the negotiations that will result in a transfer, and if we find out that it is going to be a long time and if there is a problem with the federal government in regard to funding for the hospital, then of course we will have to look very seriously at an extended care facility.
Mr. Nordling: My questions still have not been answered. The first question was how long are the negotiations going to drag on for the transfer of the hospital, and does this government have any goal to achieve that? Do they want the negotiations to take place within the next six months or within the next year or within the next five years? Last night, the Minister said, if the transfer does not happen very quickly, the government would look at going ahead with the extended care facility on its own. She said that again tonight. I would like to know how long the Minister will wait and allow the negotiations to drag on before a decision is made to go ahead with the extended care facility on our own?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I do recognize the concern from the other side, because it is shared by many people in the Yukon. The discussions are only starting. There will be meetings with deputies and with the people who are on the transfer committees here in the Yukon, but the initial meeting, I believe, will be May 17. After that meeting, I think we will have a better indication of what is going to happen with regard to the transfer. They may be ready to go ahead with it. I know Mr. Epp would like to see a whole transfer, which we will have someday; but it is our intention to go ahead with the hospital to start off with. I would hope that there would be some kind of agreement for a transfer by the end of our term, and we do not know when that is going to be. It could be, as everybody knows, tomorrow, it could be in the fall or it could be in the spring, but I would certainly hope that within a year we would either have a transfer or an agreement for one.
Mr. Nordling: I will not go near that. I am very concerned that Yukoners are being deceived by this government through public announcements that do not materialize as they are to be expected. We went through it with the Mayo dam just the other day, and I would like to know from this Minister why a project would be announced with great fanfare, with no commitment from a major player in that project and no target date for completion?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: What the Member has said would cause some kind of concern. The intent was that we would go ahead with the transfer and get the money to build the new hospital. It was always our position that we had the money, and we would have the new hospital built before the transfer. That did not happen the way we thought it was going to happen. We were assured at one time that the money for the submission to Treasury Board was in the works, and then we heard that it did not go. It is a game that is sometimes played by politicians. I do not put all the blame on the federal government, but if the federal government could have made a commitment, that we thought they had made at one time, then certainly we could have gone ahead with the plans, but the money was not there.
Mrs. Firth: Perhaps I will try another approach here. First of all, I would like to give the Minister some advice again. The advice is not to make any announcements until the money is in her pocket. The Minister knows what I mean when I say that. Everybody in the Yukon thinks that we are building an extended care facility this summer. It is not the games being played, it is the wisdom of the information that is being given out to the public that I am concerned about. I know that, for a third time, we will be announcing that there is going to be an extended care facility being built. They just keep announcing it.
We did the same thing with the major health review. Now we have reviewed Hansard, and the Minister, in one day, announced twice in debate on two separate motions that there was a major health review being done in the communities of Faro, Watson Lake, Dawson and Mayo. She made the same announcement in two days, then, a year and a half later, she made the same announcement and told us how much it was going to cost. There is obviously something wrong with the Ministers track record. I do not have to get into the details surrounding the young offenders facility either. It all comes back to the Minister, so perhaps she should heed the advice and not make any announcements until we know that the money is there.
Just to ask for some clarification since the Minister has her official there to assist her, in the 1987-88 Capital Budget, we had almost $1.9 million for an extended care facility. In a Supplementary Estimate subsequent to that, the government turned back $1,144,000 which left us with $750,000. Now the Minister is coming with this and saying that $750,000 has been voted to date and she wants to turn back $748,000. That leaves a remainder of $2,000 for the revised vote on that project.
We conclude that all that has been spent is $2,000. Is that correct?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: Yes, and there was also $50,000 in a previous fiscal year.
I cannot sit down without responding to the advice I got from the Member with regard to not planning until I had my money in my pocket. That advice should also have been given to the former government in regards to young offenders facilities, because there was no money in their pockets then, either, and there was a great big plan and design to build a young offenders facility.
We have to assume that, sometimes, our plans are the greatest, and sometimes they do not work. Such is the case with the young offenders facility, when they were going to build something at a total cost of over $5 million. The money does not always come through when you expect it to. In both cases, it did not.
Mrs. Firth: We are talking about this Ministers track record. My concern is the perception the public is being left with, and what the public thinks is going to happen, which is not going to happen. They will not know it until the Minister comes back with another Supplementary Estimate and says they do not need the money, again. This time, in the Capital Budget, they have identified a one dollar item, which makes it sound like it is even more doubtful that they extended care facility will even be built in the 1988-89 year.
The Minister talked about $50,000 that was spent in a subsequent year on the extended care facility. Yet, I remember her standing up in the House and telling us they had spent $75,000 on design work and planning for that facility. This Supplementary Estimate is showing they have spent $2,000. The Minister has now talked about $50,000, and she has previously talked about $75,000. How much has been spent on the extended care facility so far? If it is more than $2,000, where did the money come from?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I do not have my figures here from 1986-87, and I do not know whether or not she expected I should. If she requires that kind of information, I would have to have someone check into it and find out exactly the kind of money she is talking about and where it went.
Mrs. Firth: I would appreciate a written response to the questions regarding the financial management of the extended care facility, so we can have in writing a detailed analysis from the first time we started discussing it.
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I will provide her with that information: the dates, the time and the amount of money that was spent.
Extended Care Facility in the amount of a reduction of $748,000 agreed to
On Young Offenders Facility
Mr. McLachlan: What did we spend of the $610,000 that is committed in the budget? I do not see anything that seems to equate that value of capital expenditure so far in the program.
Hon. Mrs. Joe: There was some work done last year in regard to the site development and the design and a number of things that have to be done in order to proceed to build a facility. There was water and sewer, and that kind of thing.
Mr. McLachlan: Is there a land purchase? If so, how much did we pay for land?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: We already owned the land.
Mr. McLachlan: Site clearing, water and sewer all sounds very expensive for $1,610,000 unless it is specially lined and there is a lot of land to clear. Can the Minister elaborate a little more?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: Since I am not a contractor, I cannot describe the kinds of things that he is talking about. The work was done. There was a further projected amount in case the project went ahead in the winter time, but that did not happen. There will be some money returned as a result of that. Work was done last fall, and then there was a design and a redesign.
Mr. McLachlan: Does the Minister expect more of the $1 million turned back in this supplemental to be revoted in the new capital expenditure. Can she refresh our memories as to what that is?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: There is a possibility that we will need the money that we are lapsing right now. If we do, we will be requesting it again.
Mrs. Firth: I am prepared to move on to Justice if the Minister will give us a commitment to bring back a detailed accounting of the young offenders facility, turning back the money from day one when she started talking about it as well as the extended care facility.
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I am not exactly sure what the Member is talking about. Could she clarify the kinds of things that she wants, and we will see if we can provide her with it in the kind of time that she would like.
Mrs. Firth: I want exactly the same thing as I want for the extended care facility, an accounting of what has been spent to date, some time lines and what it has been spent on.
Chairman: Are there any comments on the Capital Recoveries?
Mr. Nordling: Before we say it is cleared, was that a yes from the Minister when we asked for an accounting of what has been spent on the young offenders facility to date.
Hon. Mrs. Joe: Yes.
Capital Expenditures in the amount of a reduction of $2,370,000 agreed to
Chairman: Before we move to Justice, we will take a brief recess.
Chairman: The Committee of the Whole will now come to order.
Department of Justice
Chairman: We will begin with general debate.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I will say very little at the outset. There are no startling changes here. There are one or two small changes and I believe all the permanent changes will be reflected in the Main Estimates, which we will debate in a week or so, I would imagine. I am ready to explain all of the increases by line. The total amount of increase asked for here is for payouts to staff who have left: $117,500. I will detail the amounts due to the contract increases line by line.
Mr. Phillips: I would like to start with the judges. Recently, one of the judges in the territory was doing a fuel price inquiry and I am wondering how that is affecting the justice system. Is there a backlog right now or are the judges quite capable of handling things?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: That is not covered by this Supplementary Estimate at all; it covers an earlier period. However, in answer to the question, it is not causing any backlog as there is a deputy replacement policy. Indeed, the judge himself, before he agreed, wanted an assurance of that and the Chief Judge wanted an assurance that there would be money for a deputy judge to cover that vacancy. There is not a backlog of cases any more; we have the best situation in the country. The delays that still do occur are occasioned by preparation time, not because of waiting for court time. We are in a very enviable position on that score and will remain so in the immediate future.
Mr. Phillips: How much more does it cost us to bring in a deputy judge as opposed to having the judge sitting? Does the Minister have those figures?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I will answer specifically about the past year. It is covered, in fact, in this Supplementary Estimate under Court Services. The additional fees for the last year are $8,500 and that can be attributed to the leave of absence for Barry Stuart, not to the fuel prices inquiry.
I can explain the particular amounts, but we budget for three judges and deputy judge fees at $17,200. The extra costs for last year are $8,500.
Mr. Phillips: On the subject of the justice of the peace: does the Minister have an up-to-date list of what communities are short of a JP, and if he has recommended JP appointments to those communities or if he plans to?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: That is not covered in the Supplementary Budget, of course, at all. I will provide an up-to-date list. The community where we are short is the community of Old Crow.
Mr. Phillips: The Minister was going to bring to the House a copy of the contracts issued by the Human Rights Commission. He told us that he would attempt to get those contracts for us, and I am wondering where they are.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I did not personally communicate, but I was advised by my assistant that those contracts are being prepared. I should be able to provide those soon, but I am not sure exactly when.
Mr. Phillips: When the Minister is doing that, could he also provide the House with all the expense accounts for the Human Rights staff and the commissioners for the O&M Mains?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I will take that question under advisement. In any event, I will have a conversation with the commission and relate that request.
Mr. Lang: A very straightforward question was asked about public expenditures in a certain area; the Member has indicated to us that the Yukon Housing Corporation would provide all of that type of information, if requested. All contracts would be made available, so I want to make it clear from this side of the House that we expect that information. I do not expect anybody - whether it be a human rights commissioner or a deputy minister, or anybody in the civil service - to deny access to any Member of the House to that information, when we are going through the financial accounts of the government, through the budgetary process. If we are denied that information, then what are we doing in here?
Mr. Lang: I just want to say that we expect that information.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: This is severance and sick pay payouts for long term employees. It amounts to $22,600. The remainder, $15,400, is due to a reclassification of personnel and finance positions.
Administration in the amount of $38,000 agreed to
On Court Services
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: The additional fees for judges are the $8,500 that I have already explained. There are additional witness fees. We increased the per diem rate paid to witnesses, which was long overdue, and the increased expenditure is $70,000. That was not in the base last year but is in the base this year. That is the supplementary for last year.
The salary increases due to the contract settlement and management employees $96,100. Incidentally, I know the Member opposite is interested in judges, and they account for $8,500, which is included in that figure of $96,100.
Under the court reporting contract we have hired, the private sector contractor has hired a fifth court reporter to cover circuits. We have increased the number of circuits and there was a backlog in that area. The increased contract price to the government is $28,000.
Under the victim witness program, we had a contract with the Salvation Army for victim and witness counselling services for $32,000. That has not been continued into the present year.
We increased the per diem rates for jury members, which was long overdue. The payment for jury members was $12 per day and we increased it to $40 per day, which is still on the low side, but that increase amounts to $20,000.
The increases in charges and fees for supplies and office expenses for the two rural court registries, which are staffed part time, amounted to $14,400. They are in Dawson and Watson Lake.
That all adds up to the total.
Mr. Phillips: The Minister said they had increased their schedule in the outlying communities. Is that going to keep up now? Is the plan to continue on with more frequent visits to the outlying communities?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I anticipate it will continue. The scheduling of circuits is by statute and is determined by the Chief Judge in consultation with the Minister. I have advocated the increase in the number of rural circuits because, in the rural areas, there is of necessity a backlog of court appearances until the circuit comes to town. The frequency of circuits has been increased as a better service to the communities. It has been a complaint in the past of almost all the rural communities. We are presently going six times a year to most communities, but there is discretion in the Chief Judge to set particular circuits.
There is funding to continue that, and I have made it abundantly clear to the chief judges I have dealt with that, if they perceive a need for further funding, I am willing to talk to them about it.
Mr. Phillips: What communities do we now have native courtworkers stationed in?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I assume the Member is asking about positions. What I should do is provide that in writing to the Member, in order to not make a mistake. They are: Watson Lake, Whitehorse, Dawson, and possibly soon in Old Crow on a part-time basis. I am not sure about the rest, but I will provide that in writing.
Mr. Phillips: What was the total cost of that program for last year?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: It was $240,000. We are not asking for a supplementary, and we will spend all the money.
Mr. McLachlan: If the Minister gets to all the communities once every two months, it seems that court party would never get home. There must be some communities that are not getting a visit six times a year. If there are, which ones are they?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: Yes. That is accurate. Some of the communities get a visit more frequently than six times a year, some less. It depends upon the particular need. I can provide a projected schedule for the year, and I will do that for the Main Estimates.
Mr. McLachlan: I would like to see that. I can remember discussions from the young offenders review that was conducted in 1986. Some of the communities were only visited once every four months. Some cases were remanded. By they time they reappeared, it was 12 months later before some things could be done. This was causing problems in a number of communities; therefore, I would like to see the schedule to see if that problem is being addressed.
Mr. Phillips: In looking at some of the statistics, I see that there has been an increase in the number of cases that have gone to the Supreme Court and a decrease in the number that have gone to the Territorial Court. Does the Minister have any explanation as to why that might happen?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: There are no statistics in this book to that effect, but there were in the Main Estimates. I can speculate as to the preference of the lawyers in choosing the Supreme Court or the Territorial Court, but it is only speculation. I really do not know.
Mr. Phillips: Could the Minister look into it and tell us when the trend actually started. My understanding is that it started early last year. Why, all of a sudden, has this trend begun where people are not electing to go to the Territorial Court? Now they want to go before a Supreme Court judge. Are there any specific reasons?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I will look into that.
Mr. Phillips: When the Minister is looking into it, can he tell us if using the higher court becomes more expensive than using the lower court? Does that cost us more, as taxpayers, when lawyers go that way? Could he bring that information back to the House?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: Yes. I will.
Chairman: Is there anything further on Court Services?
Court Services in the amount of $269,000 agreed to
On Attorney General
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: There were raises for legal officers for $4,000. There are also amounts for lawyers for child advocates, which are appointed by the court, for the Meech Lake lawsuit and other lawsuits. The situation on Meech Lake is that the Executive Council Office was looking after those expenses. The responsibility for paying for Meech Lake transferred to Justice part way through the year, on January 1, 1988. The Meech Lake expenses, after January 1988 are in Justice. Before January 1988, they are in ECO.
Mrs. Firth: Just before we clear this item, last time we debated the O&M budget, the Minister talked about revised statutes being ready and there was some discussion about devolution. Has there been any progress on that since?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: There were two questions, and I did not understand the connection. One concerned revised statutes and the other was about the devolution of the Attorney Generals function. The revised statutes are published and out and are being used; I have one in my office and they are available. On the devolution of the Attorney General function, I have raised this every time I have spoken to the federal minister. There was some sensitivity about doing that during the process of the Meech Lake lawsuit, but I do not expect that to be a permanent problem. We are discussing with the Northwest Territories a joint devolution and it is my hope that it will occur soon. There is a substantial reluctance within the federal bureaucracy to have that devolution occur and I cannot, for the life of me, accept some of the reasons the federal bureaucracy has come forward with.
We do not presently have a timetable agreed to by the federal minister. It was an issue that was pushed by Erik Nielsen and we are approaching a timetable with John Crosby, but Raymond Hnatyshyn has been somewhat more reluctant.
Mrs. Firth: I have another question about the revised statutes. Can the Minister tell us why his department chose to put them in a bound book instead of the binder? They cannot be revised or updated in this form. Is there any particular reason for this?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: There were two considerations. Primarily, it was cheaper, and there was a concern about the ease of use, in that people lose pages if they are not bound. However, I fully recognize, and in fact I personally agree, with the contrary view about putting the statutes in a looseleaf form so that the amendments and new acts can be inserted. While we did not do it this time, I hope we do it next time. I do not believe it is done by any other jurisdiction, but that, in itself, is not a reason to not do it.
Mr. Nordling: I would advise the Minister to look at the BC system where it is not a loose leafbinder or a system of rings where pages tear out, but they are bound and screwed together so they can be quite simply taken apart and the new pages inserted. That system is far superior to the one we have now I believe.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I agree it is superior.
Attorney General in the amount of $94,000 agreed to
On Consumer, Corporate & Labour Affairs
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: This is salary increases and the fact that the money for the legal aid clerk was transferred here to fund the loss control officer in Occupational Health and Safety. Those factors amount to $77,000. The minimum wage study, which was submitted to the Employment Standards Board, accounts for $4,000. That was not the cost of the study. The study was $9,200 and we absorbed the remainder and are asking for a supplementary for $4,000.
Attributable to the automated name search contract for Corporate Affairs, which is a computer program to do the corporate name searches, was $4,000.
Consumer, Corporate & Labour Affairs in the amount of $85,000 agreed to
On Solicitor General
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: The salary increases, the YGU increases and severance pay amount to $76,000. The Native Constable Program, which is an increase based on the cost of the program and billed to us by the RCMP, is $50,000.
Mr. McLachlan: The Minister said billed to us by the RCMP, but what is the reason for the increase? Have we gone to more native constables during the 1987-88 year from what we previously budgeted when we did the Operation and Maintenance Budget last year?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: The answer to part of the question is: yes. There are not more special constable positions, but more of them are filled. We have 13 positions and historically we have filled an average of eight of them on average over the last couple of years. We budgeted on the basis of the expenditures in previous years. In this last year, we were fortunate enough to fill more positions than previously.
Solicitor General in the amount of $126,000 agreed to
On Policy and Planning
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: Seventy thousand dollars is attributable to public legal education, and that is recoverable on the last line of the page. It is recoverable from the federal government. That amount can be further broken down to $43,000 for the law line, $2,500 for crime prevention advertising, $1,500 for a pamphlet of information for jury members and potential jury members about jury duty, and a spousal assault video, which is produced jointly in co-operation with others, $23,000.
The salary increases for JES and YGEU were $7,000. The directors travel budget was increased by $5,000 to enable him to attend a senior justice officials committee, which is a new committee that met in Ottawa several times. The remainder is $10,000 for the expenses and honoraria of the board of adjudication for human rights.
Mr. Lang: I want to go and back and talk about human rights for a second. I noticed that one contract was to a person named Cross, for human rights consultants for justice for $3200. Could you explain what that expenditure is?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: Yes. That was paid for in the Main Estimates, of course. It was for the set-up costs for the commission. We are not asking for any supplimentaries for the commission at all. If the Member wishes, I can provide a copy of the contract. I believe that I have a copy here.
Mr. Lang: I would appreciate that. It seems to me that the commission has been set up since July of this past year. I am just going on memory, but I believe that the commission was set up well before then. Its public exposure has been going on for some time.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: That individual was a government employee until July 1, 1987. There was $2,560 actually spent under that contract, and it was for services after the commission came into effect, and was largely about training and coordination for the Board of Adjudication.
Mr. Lang: Are there any more contracts like that underway presently with the commission?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: No, there are none.
Mr. McLachlan: There are only one or two people in here. Why are we up a fifth for the entire budget?
Chairman: Mr. McLachlan, would you repeat the question, please?
Mr. McLachlan: There are only one or two people at the directors level. I would like an explanation for the $92,000, because it cannot all be due to salary increases, given the size of the staffing in this division.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: The salary increases were $7,000 of the $92,000, and I explained the remainder just a moment ago.
Mr. McLachlan: Under the line item, Consumer, Corporate & Labour Affairs, the Minister referred to a computerized search for corporate title names. In previous discussions under budgets, the Minister referred to a computerized land title search mechanism that was being set up so that the people who work there do not have to go through the manual time it takes to search for land titles. If this is true, could he advise me? If I am right, could he advise how that project is going and if any portion of this $85,000 expenditure is due to that?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: No portion of this is attributable to land titles. This was a contract separately for corporate name searches.
Mr. McLachlan: Are we setting up a computerized land title search? What is its status?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: Yes we are. I can give a very general description of its status, which will be virtually useless. I will provide a more detailed account of the time lines and the more precise description of what the system will do. I will provide that before we go into the Main Estimates.
Consumer, Corporate and Labour Affairs in the amount of $85,000 agreed to
Mr. Phillips: Before we clear the justice budget, I wonder if the Minister could give me a commitment that he will bring back, prior to us getting into the O&M Main Estimates, a new organizational chart for the Department of Justice.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: Yes.
Operation and Maintenance expenditures in the amount of $704,000 agreed to
On Court Equipment
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: This is for video equipment under the requirements for the courts pursuant to Bill C-15 for young offenders. We voted a small amount of money in the Main Estimates, and this was necessary to complete the purchase of that equipment for use in the court as provided for by the new federal law.
Court Equipment in the amount of $23,000 agreed to
Capital Expenditures in the amount of $23,000 agreed to
On Schedule A
Operation and Maintenance Votes in the amount of $704,000 agreed to
Capital Votes in the amount of $23,000 agreed to
Chairman: The next department is the Public Service Commission.
Hon. Mr. Porter: I move we report progress on Bill No. 60.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. Porter: I move that the Speaker now resume the Chair.
Motion agreed to
Speaker resumes the Chair
Speaker: I 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 has directed me to report progress on the same.
Speaker: You have heard the report from the Chairman of the Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried. May I have your further pleasure?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Transportation Services 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 Legislative Return was tabled April 27, 1988:
Response to various questions asked during Estimates debates re Community and Transportation Services (McDonald)
Oral, Hansard, pp. 253 and 285