Wednesday, May 4, 1988 - 1:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
We will proceed with Prayers
Speaker: We will now proceed with the Order Paper.
Introduction of Visitors?
Any Returns or Documents for Tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I have for tabling responses to questions by the Member for Riverdale South.
Speaker: Are there any Reports of Committees?
Are there any Petitions?
Mr. Lang: I have a petition for filing today about the extension of commercial electrical power to Henderson Corner from Rock Creek.
Speaker: Introduction of Bills?
Are there any Notices of Motion for the Production of Papers?
Are there any Notices of Motion?
Are there any Statements by Ministers?
Education in Partnership with Yukons Indian People
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I rise today to outline a number of important new initiatives for the year ahead through which I will continue building upon the opportunities for partnerships between the Department of Education and Yukon Indian people.
The department, through Yukon College, is developing a comprehensive cross-cultural training program that will be available to teachers, people working in the justice system, and other groups and individuals working in cross-cultural settings. It is our intent to have Indian people closely involved in the development of this program, since the intent of the program will be to help bridge gaps of understanding that may exist between individuals in the Yukons native and non-native cultures. This new program will build on a variety of smaller cross-cultural initiatives that have taken place in the past. It will serve to combine and coordinate efforts, thereby laying a firm foundation that can be adapted and drawn from to best suit the specific training needs of any particular group.
As another very important step, the Public Schools Branch will be hiring a Coordinator of Native Curriculum Development. This person will have three major functions: to identify Indian curriculum needs; to coordinate curriculum development projects to address those needs; and to help implement the curriculum across the Yukon school system.
In order to do these things, the coordinator will work closely with bands and school committees in each community to determine their local priorities for curriculum development or modification. The coordinator will encourage community participation in curriculum development and will make sure good curriculum ideas developed in one community are also shared with other communities.
To work closely with the Coordinator of Native Curriculum Development, there will be established an Indian curriculum committee, responsible for providing direction to the coordinator. Members of this committee will be sought from Yukon bands and will meet to review the development of new curriculum.
This work will continue to build on the base of some excellent locally developed curriculum and support materials already completed through joint efforts of the department and the curriculum development arm of the Council for Yukon Indians.
As well, on the local level, Indian people in at least two communities have established local Indian education committees, which provide valuable input to both the school and school committee in their area. Such a committee is active in Teslin and a second in the Porter Creek area of Whitehorse; a good working relationship exists between all parties.
Combining the above with the proposed Indian Teacher Education Program and expanded support for the Native language program in schools, I feel confident that significant strides are being made to explore and implement further avenues for Indian people to be closely involved in effective ways in the Yukons education system. These cooperative strides will serve to strengthen and enrich the school system for everyone. Many more exciting opportunities lie ahead, and I look forward to being an active participant in their development.
Mrs. Firth: I wish to ask the Minister if there is something new in this Ministerial Statement, because I believe that the Minister gave the same speech yesterday in the Legislature. On page 411 in Hansard, the Minister talked about the education for the Yukon Indian people being a second thrust to which the government is dedicating resources, about hiring a native curriculum development coordinator, how the individual would work closely with the Indian bands, about guidance being provided to the curriculum coordinator by an Indian curriculum committee and about the Indian teacher education program. Perhaps if there is something new in the Ministerial Statement, he could bring it to our attention.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The preliminary details, which were outlined both in the Speech from the Throne and yesterday during the budget debate, are recommended reading for anyone who wants to know what is happening with the Department of Education this coming year. It was the desire of the government to ensure that the significant program elements were provided in a detailed Ministerial Statement for the public so that they may get a clear indication of the more significant thrusts that the government is undertaking with respect to its priorities for education this year.
Speaker: This then brings us to Question Period.
Question re: Bilingualism
Mr. Phelps: I have some questions about bilingualism and the agreement made between this government and the federal government, arising from debate in the House yesterday.
In a response to my question yesterday, the Government Leader stated that the result is far different from official bilingualism because while there is a right to speak in the House, there would not be a requirement for simultaneous translation into French or English or for Hansard to be published in both official languages.
I am unable to see that that is really correct. I would like to ask whether or not the Government Leader would agree that, under the terms of the proposed bill, any person would have the right to use French, or English for that matter, in this Legislature?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I think it is a matter of record that in recent years Members on both sides of the House have, for admittedly brief moments, addressed this House in French and have not been challenged to do so in the same way that Members have briefly addressed the House in aboriginal languages. I know the Member is not asking me a legal opinion, but it seems to me the right has never been challenged in recent years. I understand it was a matter of some debate in the early days of this Legislature. The situation, I believe, as provided for in this agreement is that the practice would be able to continue; what would be different is that we would not be required to do the French Hansard or simultaneous translation of the debates, and I do not know anybody who thinks that is necessary or required.
Mr. Phelps: I do not want the Government Leader to take offence. I am simply trying to clarify what seems to me to be a very important issue. The proposed Clause 3 would establish a right; I think any common sense person would recognize that. There is another clause in the proposed bill that speaks about any member of the public having the right ...
Speaker: Order, please. Would the Member please get to the supplementary question?
Mr. Phelps: ... to communicate in French and to have French services where there is a significant demand for communications with and services from that office or - and or is important - due to the nature of the office it is reasonable that communications be in French or English.
My question is this: if a person in this House is bilingual or speaks only French and has the right to speak French exclusively in this House, and does so, surely would we not agree that it would only be reasonable that there be instantaneous translation into English for the rest of the Members here? Would we not agree that...
Speaker: Order, please. Would the Member please get to the supplementary question?
Mr. Phelps: ...that is the situation that this bill would set up?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: For a start, the Member is asking me a hypothetical question, which I am sure he knows is out of order, but I think it is also one that may speak to a serious misapprehension that may exist in some minds, so I want to address it even though it is out of order.
The possibility, at some future point, of a unilingual francophone being elected to this House may exist, but I want to speak, as this agreement does, to the practical reality. It seems to me that there are, in this House now, bilingual or even multilingual people who speak a number of languages which are not English; I think there is one person who has a knowledge of Kaska, another one speaks Loucheux, another one speaks Northern Tutchone, and so forth. Those Members may briefly address the House in their own language, and if they want to communicate with anyone other than their own constituents, they would either translate their own remarks on the record or provide a translation for Hansard. I do not know how likely is the prospect of a unilingual francophone addressing a House full of English speakers, but should such a person achieve office in the Yukon, this agreement does not mean they can dictate or acquire simultaneous translation or a French Hansard.
Mr. Phelps: I am sure that the Government Leader will agree that there is no law in force right now in the books of the Yukon Territory that would demand translation of somebody speaking in a language other than English. Is that the point?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: As a matter of fact, the Member opposite is a lawyer and I am not, but I am advised that, unlike the Northwest Territories or Saskatchewan, when the Yukon Act was created, the provision respecting languages was deleted so there is no official language constitutional fact in the Yukon. The language of the vast majority in this community, the working language, the language of commerce and government business is English and is likely to continue to be so. What we are talking about is the provision of services to minority language groups, services where there is some real demand by a large number of people for some service that is needed and urgent.
The Member asks about communicating with some office where it was reasonable to speak French. I think it might be reasonable for a francophone parent to want to speak to people who are dealing with lEcole Emilie Tremblay in French. There may be some other centres. Those will all be matters that will be decided in negotiations with the communities we are trying to serve, rather than dictated to us by way of a parliamentary decision in Ottawa.
Question re: Bilingualism
Mr. Phelps: I am simply trying to be helpful with what I see as an obvious problem. The Government Leader knows, there was an individual in Alberta who, although he could speak both languages, insisted on speaking only French in the Legislature and that led to a confrontation. Such a person could be elected here, such as Mr. St. Jean. If that person exercised his right in law to speak only French in the Legislature, I am submitting that any reasonable court or person would agree that the rest of the people in the Legislature would have to be in a position to understand what was being said. That would require instantaneous translation. Surely the Government Leader understands that.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I believe that no such conclusion can be drawn. There are now Members of this House who speak languages other than English. If the Member for Tatchun wished to address a question to me in Northern Tutchone, because he wished the question to be heard by members of his constituency who could not speak English well, he could certainly put the question. I would inevitably have to take it as notice, because I would not understand the question. If he wanted an answer he would probably either provide me a translation at the time he asked the question or give me prior notice, and I would respond not in Northern Tutchone, but in English. I believe the same kind of practice would apply to someone choosing to speak French in this House.
The Member talks about the provisions of the agreement that cover a bill that is not yet before the House. I think it is perfectly within the powers of this House, without undoing the agreement, to talk about the precise conditions under which people would exercise these rights without limiting the rights, but to talk about how, as a purely practical measure, we can provide for these eventualities. That is an appropriate subject for discussion.
Mr. Phelps: It is a realistic and serious concern that brings me to ask these questions. The difference between the situation now where somebody wants to speak a bit of French or Southern Tutchone or Tlingit in the House, and the situation after there is a law in place that says a person has a right to speak that language exclusively, and ...
Speaker: Order, please. Would the Member get to the supplementary question?
Mr. Phelps: ... and that services and translation with be required in either language, where it is reasonable, is that any reasonable person would say the rest of us would require instantaneous translation to carry on in this House, if a person insisted on his right. There is no such legislation that pertains to a minority language now.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am sorry the Member is now taking the position he does not agree with the agreement we made in Ottawa, or he is insisting it amounts to the official imposition of official bilingualism, because it does not do that, nor will he find anyone in Ottawa who believes that, nor anyone here.
The Member is making a debating point, and not really asking a question. A reasonable person would say that someone who was elected to this House who spoke a language other than English, even if they spoke English as well, and insisted on speaking in the House in this way, I would say that would not be reasonable behaviour by that person if they wanted to communicate with the rest of us.
This agreement is about providing services where there is significant demand. The nature of those services is going to be discussed with the communities who have an interest in receiving those services. They will be practical measures provided for with funding by the federal government.
We have not enshrined, nor do we propose to enshrine, French as an official language of this Legislature, as an official language of this community, or to impose official bilingualism in the Yukon Territory. That is what we have avoided by this agreement. The opposite is what would have been the consequence of Bill C-72, were it to have passed through the House of Commons unamended.
Mr. Phelps: I take the Government Leader at his word, and I understand he believed he did something. The problem is it does not only set up a situation of significant demand, which is what he seems to be basing his position on. Section 6(a) says significant demand or due to the nature of the office, it is reasonable that communications be in both French and English. That is the point. The wording of the required clauses in this bill has placed us in the situation where we may be faced with de facto bilingualism.
Speaker: Order, please. Would the Member get to his supplementary question?
Mr. Phelps: Does the Government Leader not understand the concern?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I understand the concern. I am slightly alarmed by the position the Member opposite is taking on this question, but I do not agree with it, support it or accept it. The advice we have is that he is drawing the wrong conclusions.
Question re: Hyland Forest Products
Mr. McLachlan: I have a question for the Minister responsible for Economic Development. Yesterday we learned that 30 people will be laid off from the plant at Watson Lake, with very indication of when they will be recalled to work. Can the Minister advise why the go-ahead has not been received by the operator of the mill to proceed immediately with repairing the damage caused by the fire, so that the mill can get on with cutting the timber and back to its full production rate?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I understand that the Member may be referring to a news report this morning, which I understand contained some misinformation. In fact, the situation is that the Yukon Development Corporation board had made a decision to go ahead, in advance of the insurance adjustors final report, with the replacement or repair of the damaged equipment. The contemplated time frame under which this work is to be undertaken is six to eight weeks.
Mr. McLachlan: I was not referring to a news report this morning. I was referring to one issued yesterday by the Yukon Development Corporation, I believe.
Can the Minister confirm that a buyer has indeed been identified for the plant, and that part of the changes that might have to be made, as a result of the fire, are at the insistence of this prospective buyer?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: No, I cannot.
Mr. McLachlan: Like it not, the fire has reduced the value of the plant, at the moment, and anyone who might be looking at that plant could possibly put a bid in that would be of lesser value than the plant is worth. Is it in fact true that the plant is still for sale, or does the government, in its long-term plans, still intend to operate it ad infinitum?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I made it quite clear at the time that we entered into this venture, and have made it clear in answer to questions since, that it is the intention of this government to sell our interest in the Hyland Forest Products. I have also made it clear to the Members opposite that we want to sell it as a going concern and also be satisfied that the power potential that may exist in that plant can be realized for the good of the community of Watson Lake. Our continuing interest in that matter will also have to be assured at the time of any sale, if that potential is realizable.
Question re: Social housing
Mr. Lang: Last evening I had a call from a constituent who had just been informed that at least one of the social houses being built in Whitehorse was going to cost $112,500. He was quite upset, at the same time, that the Minister referred to that as modest housing. I explained to the constituent that we had raised this issue, and that it was of concern to us that so much was being spent on each home being constructed. During the debate yesterday the Minister, and I quote from Hansard, said, The Yukon Housing Corporation has put a call out to people to ask them provide, in the individual tender specifications, ideas on how the houses could be made even more modest.
The concern on this side is whether or not we can get realistic, modest housing for the purposes of providing social housing. Could the Minister explain to this House exactly what he meant by that particular statement? Does it mean that the tender specifications for the house will be put out and then the contractor could say, We need less insulation, or less gyprock. What is the basic idea that the Yukon Housing Corporation is looking at?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Housing Corporation is always interested in keeping the construction prices as low as possible. They are also interested in ensuring that the construction costs do not exceed the maximum unit price allowable for social housing construction as permitted by CMHC rules. In so doing, they are interested in providing durable housing for rental accommodation and energy efficient housing.
They have, in the past, asked individuals to provide ideas if concern was expressed about certain tender specifications. They have provided advice as to whether or not there are alternatives in the contractors view that could be considered in bringing the price of housing construction down.
Mr. Lang: Perhaps this is where the Minister and I part company. I can see an $80,000 or a $90,000 as being very modest, yet very durable but having to meet the building code. Has the Minister considered putting out a call for proposals for contractors to submit a price for basic designs that could be used to meet the basic requirements of a home? In that way, we might be able get these prices down to some common sense level.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Member for Porter Creek East and I have parted company long before this. There is no question that the Housing Corporation has expressed an interest in houses even though they require them to be durable and meet the needs of the clients to make them as low costing as possible.
I will ask the Housing Corporation what their plans are and suggest to them the proposal to ask the public to submit ideas on lower cost housing that meets the necessary qualifications. I will ask the corporation to consider that and I will report back to the House.
Mr. Lang: There are some major concerns out there. A lot of people live in homes that are valued at $70,000, $80,000 or $90,000 and feel they are quite durable, modest and provide a good home to live in.
Is it a requirement now, under the tender specifications, that R-2000 is being required?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Yes. The Yukon Housing Corporation and Energy, Mines and Resources are using R-2000 technology to try to make more energy-efficient housing construction in the Yukon with optimum air quality inside the units, since they are better sealed than the traditional building design. This cooperation between the federal Department of Energy, Mines and Resources and the Yukon Housing Corporation has been going on for some time and has received considerable recognition from people outside the jurisdiction who are interested in seeing what we are doing here.
Question re: Yukon Housing Corporation/Ross River/King residence
Mr. Lang: I look forward to the response to my earlier query. I would like to move on to the Yukon Housing Corporation and an area that has had a fair amount of debate since last fall, and that is the question of the King residence, the house that was purchased by the government for $40,000 and sold for $4,000 recently.
On Monday, I asked the Minister of Community and Transportation Services for the legal descriptions of the lots in question that the house was swapped for, as well as the house that was sold. I also asked for the dates when the sales closed. Could the Minister now provide that information to the House?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The legal description of lot 214 is plan 53407, Ross River subdivision, and the swapped lots are 39 and 40, plan 27954 in the Ross River subdivision.
Mr. Lang: Could the Minister confirm to the House whether the sales have closed?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The sale transaction for the improvements was completed on January 12, and the transfer of titles is currently in the hands of solicitors.
Mr. Lang: So, they have not formally closed. Can the Minister confirm today that a decision has been taken that the government will not be renting the shack - as the new president of the board referred to it - in Ross River for the estimated $900 plus janitorial services?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: First of all, I will have to check the record on a couple of things. The $900 per month rent proposed from the proponent includes janitorial services. The proponent made a submission to the Ross River Community Campus Committee. The decision on whether or not the community campus committee or Yukon College will be permitted to rent any space in Ross River has not been taken by the government. Government Services will be evaluating available space in Ross River, and the best location will be chosen after consultation with the community campus committee.
At this point, I am informed the proponent has indicated he has invested approximately $30,000 in renovations to the unit to date, and projects there will be a few thousand dollars more in renovations done yet before the house is ready for any occupancy by anybody, private or public.
Question re: Yukon Housing Corporation/Ross River/King residence
Mr. Lang: Maybe I missed something here, but is the government still considering renting this particular home?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The angle of the Members question is wrong. The government was never considering renting this persons home. The community campus committee made a request of Yukon College to rent this persons home, after having sought a place for approximately 18 months. They have indicated that, now that they feel the necessary renovations are either done or will be done to their satisfaction, they would like to see the home rented by the Government of Yukon.
The proper procedure for renting a space in the community is for Government Services to evaluate what is available in the community and, once the decision is made to rent new space, get the best deal for the government and evaluate all proposals.
Mr. Lang: I must have missed something, or did I sleep in? Is the government still considering renting this house that they just sold for $4,000? Yes or no?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Member must have slept in. The tenor of the question suggests that the government was at one time considering renting this location. The government has never considered renting this location. They have received a request from the Community Campus Committee to rent this particular location.
The Member for Hootalinqua asks whose money this it, as if the Community Campus Committee in Ross River has absolutely no right to make any suggestion of any kind about accommodation for their community campus facility in Ross River. I think that is wrong; I think they do have a say, but nevertheless, the government is going to be considering renting some accommodation in Ross River for the community campus. I am certain at this point that this particular unit will be considered, along with others.
Mr. Lang: Now we have that on the table, it will be interesting to see what the government does.
Question re: Social housing/Ross River
Mr. Lang: I would like to refer to the two brand new homes being built in Ross River. One costing $113,000 I believe and one costing $114,000. In the terms presented by the Minister of Housing it would be called modest housing. Can the Minister confirm that these homes are still vacant?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Again, the angle of the Members question is slanted. The suggestion is that they are vacant and the question is are they still vacant?
One is not vacant. The other one will be filled as of May 15, I believe, which is just over a week away.
Mr. Lang: I asked a question with respect to these particular houses the other day and I do not have a reply yet, basically, because it takes normally about six to eight weeks to build a modest home from the day it starts to the day it ends. My understanding is that it has taken eight months to build what are actually prefab homes, not-stick built homes.
Why has it taken so long to build these prefab homes that were purchased in Prince George?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I will have to continue to correct the record as the Member insists on not doing the necessary research to provide for a decent question and answer period.
First of all, the materials for the homes were all purchased through local suppliers. Secondly, the construction of the units took until May 15, if we want to take the period from construction to the date they will be fully rented, which is six and a half months. The septic system was not installed due to delays because the ground was frozen and could not be installed. There was a bit of difficulty with a framing subcontractor on one of the units and that contributed to delays during the winter season. I would not think that, given the explanation, the construction was unreasonable at all. It certainly did not affect the price of the construction.
Mr. Lang: I apologise to the House that it only took six and a half months as opposed to eight. Could the Minister perhaps explain further to this House why it would take six and a half months as opposed to what is normally a seven or eight week job? Is it strictly because the ground was frozen and he could not put in the septic tank?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The final construction was delayed because the ground was frozen and the septic system could not be placed in the ground while the ground was frozen. That was the primary reason for the construction not having been completed sooner but, as I indicated before, the price of construction compared to the tender price was significantly cheaper.- I know the Member would like to see the government adopt only the tender price, which would have caused the prices of each house to rise tremendously. The Yukon Housing Corporation did adopt the route that was cheaper and they have tenants, one of whom is living in the units.
Question re: Yukon Housing Corporation/tender procedures
Mr. Phillips: I am going to ask a question of the Minister of Yukon Housing that was asked before so there was lots of time for preparation. The Minister promised to table the Housing Corporations tendering procedures in the House, which were adopted in 1986. Will he do that now?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Not now, but I will table the tendering procedures and policies.
Mr. Phillips: When will the Minister table it? The other night in debate he told us that he could not do it that evening but he would get on it first thing in the morning. If these procedures are in black and white, it would seem to be just a matter of having a courier bring them over to his office so that he could table them.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Yes, it would be rather easy to bring the documents over. Of course, they are public documents and have been delivered to all contractors. If the Members want me to do the research for them, I will certainly undertake to get the material over. This information is public and I am sure they could do it themselves, but I will undertake to do it.
Mr. Phillips: The Minister gave us an undertaking in the House that he would bring them to the House. That is all I am asking him to do today - bring it to the House; I did not ask for a long explanation.
Could the Minister undertake to also table a copy of the Corporations 1986 bylaws that changed the tendering procedures?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I think there is a furious agreement here. I will be tabling the policies and procedures. There was a bylaw, which the Housing Corporation rescinded. The Corporations board did approve the policies and procedures and the Housing Corporation administration has been following those policies and procedures to my knowledge.
Question re: MV Anna Maria
Mrs. Firth: I have a question for the Minister of Community and Transportation Services regarding the MV Anna Maria. Because we expect the government to protect our investments, I would like to ask the Minister if he is checking into the permits that will be required from the Government of Alaska and if he will be assisting the businessman in expediting those permits availability so that the vessel can be brought into Canada?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Yesterday we heard the Member complain that the government was irresponsible for having supported an irresponsible entrepreneur - in her words and by her implication - and for having proceeded with this project. I am informed that the entrepreneur has acted in a very responsible way by contacting Community and Transportation Services last summer to apply for a single trip permit for the vessel that the Member mentioned yesterday. Community and Transportation Services has provided the entrepreneur with a list of duties that he is responsible for, as an applicant for a permit, to undertake the move. I am advised by Community and Transportation Services that the trip is technically feasible, and, with the proper transportation plan, can be undertaken. I am also advised that Community and Transportation Services has been in contact with Alaska, and that cooperation with that state has been sought and agreed to by the state for the move of the vessel up the highway. All routine activities for permit application of this sort have been adhered to, and the department is looking forward to a successful move for this vessel from Skagway north.
Mrs. Firth: The Minister knows very well that we did not say that the entrepreneur was irresponsible. The Minister knows very well that the issue here is the governments ability to analyze projects when they are giving them funding with taxpayers dollars. We are talking about an international concern ...
Speaker: Order, please. I would like to remind the Member of guideline seven: a one sentence preamble is allowed in each case.
Mrs. Firth: We are talking about two governments communicating and assisting the entrepreneur in getting the permits. If everything is going smoothly, can the Minister indicate to us when the entrepreneur received the permits from Alaska?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The implication yesterday was crystal clear that the government should not have been assisting the entrepreneur, and that the entrepreneur, for not having taken into consideration the basics, such as the trip between Skagway and Whitehorse, was irresponsible. That was a very clear implication that the member relayed to the House. I am saying that much of the necessary work has been done to establish the technical feasibility and to communicate with each of the affected interests. Once the final plan is in place, knowing now that it is technically feasible, then the permit, as is for situations like this, will be issued on both sides of the border.
Mrs. Firth: Have any permits been issued?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The permits, as per usual, will be issued once all of the final technical details, with respect to the emergency plans, et cetera, have been taken care of. The Members yesterday seemed to suggest that the trip was not feasible, in their expert opinion, and that, in fact, is untrue. It is technically feasible and, if the proponents do what is normal and responsible in situations like this, then they will receive their permits and the boat will travel from Skagway to Whitehorse.
Question re: Pounds keepers/livestock control officers
Mr. Brewster: My question is for the Minister of Community and Transportation Services. I hope that I have got the right Minister. Can the Minister advise the House how many pounds keepers and livestock control officers have been hired?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Member has got the right Minister. I do know what is happening in Renewable Resources with respect to this matter. I thank the Member for giving notice of the question. It was much appreciated. No pounds keepers have been hired in addition to the two pounds keepers for the two districts in place right now.
Mr. Brewster: Can the Minister advise the House how much each pounds keeper and livestock control officer is being paid in each district?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I do not have the precise dollar figures, but I can provide the information with respect to the basis on which the pounds keepers are paid. I am sure the Member knows, they are paid on the basis of a monthly retainer. They are also paid mileage rates and pick-up charges and daily fees where, for example, there is a horse in the pound. These conglomerate fees are paid to the pounds keepers on a needs basis.
Mr. Brewster: If I knew the answer I would not bother asking. Does the Minister have an estimate of the number of livestock in each pounds district? Is this number a factor in determining how the respective pounds keepers and livestock control officers are to be paid?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: General densities are known to Renewable Resources. There are no specific counts, but some of the figures are based on the accident frequencies in the pounds district areas. The income would be affected by the number of violations that occurred in a particular area, as the monthly retainer is only one, small portion of the fees paid to pounds keepers.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now elapsed. We will now proceed with the Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: The House Leaders have agreed that motions 59, 55 and 38, in that order, should be called under Motions Other than Government Motions, and that a maximum of the one hour should then be devoted to Bills Other than Government Bills, and that the House should then proceed with government business. Such an agreement requires the unanimous consent of the House. I would therefore request unanimous consent to proceed in the manner I have outlined.
Speaker: Is there unanimous consent?
All Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: There is unanimous consent.
MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS
Motion No. 59
Clerk: Item No. 7, standing in the name of Mr. Joe.
Speaker: Is the hon. Member prepared to deal with item No. 7?
Mr. Joe: Yes, Mr. Speaker.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Member for Tatchun
THAT it is the opinion of this House that driveway snow clearing can be a physical and financial hardship for Yukon seniors and physically disabled people who reside in rural areas of the Yukon; and
THAT this House encourages the Yukon Government to consider establishing a program that makes it easier for seniors and disabled people to get their driveways ploughed in winter.
Mr. Joe: I brought forward this motion because there are elders who I think we should help out a little bit.
I am thinking of people who live in a cabin in the rural areas off the main roads. In the wintertime, when it snows, these elders could use a hand to get their driveway ploughed.
In many cases, the grader goes right by their place. It would only take 10 minutes or so for the grader to make a quick pass and clear the driveway of these senior citizens.
For the elders, this means a lot. For the government, well the grader is going right by anyway, and it probably would not cost the government very much to help these people out.
I know of quite a number of people in this situation in the Carmacks area. There are a few around Minto and Pelly.
Like I say, in many places it would only be a five or ten minute job by the grader, which is going by anyway.
It would not need to be done very much. They could go in the driveway two or three times a winter - this would really help.
I think we should do the same thing, not just for seniors, but also for people who are handicapped. There are not any people like this in my riding, but there might be somewhere else in the Yukon. I think we should help these people, too.
We have to give a lot of credit to elders who want to live in the bush all year, especially in the winter-time. The government should be able to help them out if they ask for it. Driveway ploughing can be a big problem if you are an older person. You do not want to get stuck.
Also, we have to think of emergencies. Sometimes they might need to see the nurse or a doctor. If there has been a big snowfall, they need to get it ploughed right away so they can get out.
It also works the other way. Sometimes people want to pay a visit to their older friend or relative. They might not be able to get in to see them if there is too much snow in the driveway.
I think we should see if these services can be provided for free. Like I say, we are talking about two or three times a year - and just a few minutes each time. I do not think this would add up to very much.
Right now, these older people can get the government to plough if they pay so much. Well a lot of elders are on a pretty limited income; plus it can be difficult to arrange.
This motion asks the government to look at a program to make it easier for our seniors and disabled people to get their driveways ploughed in winter.
I hope all hon. Members will support this motion.
Mr. McLachlan: I have some minor problems with the motion. I have no problems with the intent of the motion and the area that it is directed towards, but perhaps when we hear from the Minister we will hear of some program that may be able to purchase bobcats for all of the driveways. In a number of the rural communities, the road graders are not equipped to do the work that is mentioned in the motion when the wind-row is ploughed up on the edge of the driveways.
I agree with the Member for Tatchun that it is extremely hard for those who are physically disabled and in no financial position to pay $40 an hour, or whatever the going rate is, for machinery to clean their driveways. That is the part of the motion that I have no problem with. I have some problems, however, with making it workable in all of rural Yukon. The municipalities that have their own governments are responsible for the road ploughing, and in a number of cases they are simply not in the position to do this; they do not have the manpower or the equipment to do this.
I support the intent of the motion, and I am looking forward to hearing from the other members who may speak on this issue as to how the idea is workable in all of rural Yukon in such a way that would be fair to the municipalities and to the unorganized local improvement districts and hamlets.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I thank the Member for Tatchun for bringing the motion forward, because, in principle, it has a great deal of merit. There are certain qualifications and logistical problems that have to be faced. These are not insurmountable, although they do exist. The purpose of the motion, which is to consider snowploughing service for elders in rural Yukon, is a decent and worthwhile objective given that there are things that will have to be considered in the implementation of a proposal of this sort.
One of the things that has become clear to me, as Minister responsible for Highways, is that there have been numerous requests made to plough driveways on a needs basis, whether the person is infirm or is unable to plough it themselves. There is no formal road maintenance policy in place in the rural Yukon. So many of the decisions are left up to each foreman.
There are some general policies on cost recovery, and those are adhered to as much as possible. Those of us from the rural Yukon know that road foreman generally do try to meet certain needs as expressed by local social service agencies, the local RCMP or an elder who have requested the assistance of Highways to plough a driveway.
The area where road foremen could get into trouble is the area where they sometimes do not show consistency in the application of the policy. It is a situation where the foremen themselves are caught between a rock and a hard place, because they want to do well by the communities, and yet it is almost impossible to maintain a purely consistent system in rural Yukon.
The aspects that I think we have to consider about this motion, which are the most significant, are whether or not it is a desirable policy to promote. Taking the words from the Member for Tatchun, I can say that I think that it is desirable to encourage elders to live in their own homes and to maintain a quality of life that they have become accustomed to all of their lives, rather than to force them into biscuit boxes in the communities, either in rural areas or in Whitehorse. If they have a dog team, for example, it is sometimes difficult to move the dog team to the third floor of the seniors complex and not disturb their neighbours. Many of the elders would still like to maintain a quality of life associated with the real rural living. In some respects this can be facilitated with the assistance that perhaps Highways can provide in ploughing the driveways.
For elders there is the issue of having emergency access to ambulance or to other services. As the Member for Tatchun did mention, this is something that we should definitely bear in mind. A third item is that we all know that seniors have paid their dues and do not operate, as a general rule, on large incomes, but rely on pensions, old age security, and CCP to survive. The more remote they are, the more costly it is to provide, on a cost-recovery basis, the snowplough services, or to rent them out.
All of those reasons are, in themselves, worth considering when deciding whether or not to support this motion. I think that all of these reasons are reasons that cause me to want to support this motion, as Minister for Highways. The Member for Faro brought forward some practical considerations that have to be considered. The issue of ploughing roads with giant government graders on narrow driveways, up and down hills with grades of sometimes 11 or 12 percent, on poorly-surfaced roads, is an issue that has traditionally been a problem for Highways. Clearly, the road has been maintainable in order to be maintained, under any program. As well, when we are talking about private driveways, we are often talking about driveways where other people may be travelling. Safety must be taken into account, and that would have to be addressed as well.
A third qualification which I think is very important is that there may be instances - I know there are instances in my own riding - where a seniors driveway may be at the end of a 20-mile road that is not maintained in the winter-time. If we are going to consider ploughing the driveway, I think that we are going to have to take a hard look at whether or not we are going to be ploughing the access road to the driveway, as well, however long it is. We will have to consider driveways as off-roads that are routinely maintained in the winter. We will have to draw up some guidelines, in terms of the amount of work that is required in order to maintain the road and the length of the driveway.
I would stress that these are not insurmountable problems. I stress. The Department of Highways certainly has taken a preliminary look at the proposal and identified some of the problems. They do not feel they are insurmountable and feel that it would address a long standing concern in rural Yukon for people who want to live in rural Yukon and have absolutely no desire to move to Whitehorse but feel that one of the restrictions to their continuing to so live is access to the highway near their homes. That and, of course, the final consideration, which is the cost, have to be considered in terms of whether or not we proceed aggressively with this particular policy. Clearly, it is the feeling at this point that the cost would not be out of the ballpark, would not be outrageous, but would be quite supportable. We will know better once the policy has undergone further review and we will then have a better understanding of what the real cost might be in each of the rural districts in Yukon.
Having said that, the government definitely supports the motion. If the logistical problems could be worked out, I think it would be well received in rural Yukon and I think it meets a number of our objectives to allow elders to remain in their homes in a very rural setting. It will meet a long standing demand made of the Department of Community and Transportation Services for driveway ploughing for senior citizens.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I wish to speak briefly. Although this is a motion about the rural Yukon, I think it is appropriate to mention the City of Whitehorse as well, and I would like to mention three issues. One of them is in the nature of a story I think is informative of this issue.
Firstly, let me say that when I was in Opposition I was proud to be able to get organized a program that is still occurring. It is the seniors housing, which is owned by Yukon Housing and occupied by senior citizens, in my riding. It has a snow removal program now. A work crew at the Correctional Centre comes after a snowfall and cleans not only the walkways but also the sidewalks in front of the houses. That started in the very early eighties and is continuing now; it is a similar kind of program that I know has been very, very well received by the senior citizens in the downtown area of Whitehorse. I also know that the inmates who shovel the snow like that job as it gives them a feeling of contributing something; that is perhaps not universal but is the majority view of the inmates who actually shovel the snow.
I have spoken on various occasions to senior citizens in the downtown area about snow removal. Especially, the more elderly seniors experience difficulty in getting around in the winter because of the ice build-up on the sidewalks.
They really, sincerely appreciate the fact that some home owners will shovel the snow off the sidewalk in front of their houses. I would suggest that something less than a quarter of the people downtown do this now. I do not know particularly about Porter Creek and Riverdale, but it certainly occurs downtown. It is sincerely appreciated by the senior citizens, and, I am sure, by people with handicaps. If the media are reporting on this particular motion I would say that it would be a public service if those comments of appreciation are noted in the media for future years.
I also wish to comment that this is a service for senior citizens that could be included in what has frequently been called a handyman or handyperson service as a benefit for our senior citizens, and as an initiative to increase the private home ownership for seniors in the territory. It is certainly my experience that the vast majority of senior citizens wish to stay in their own homes for as long as possible. It is things like this kind of responsibility of home ownership that lead seniors at a point in their lives to give up home ownership. With that they frequently give us a little bit of feeling of independence and self-sufficiency and that goes to their dignity. A service of this kind as a handyperson service is a very worthwhile public goal.
Motion No. 59 agreed to
Motion No. 55
Clerk: Item No. 3, standing in the name of Ms. Kassi.
Speaker: Is the hon. Member prepared to deal with Item No. 3?
Ms. Kassi: Yes, Mr. Speaker.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Member for Old Crow
THAT this House supports efforts to combat alcoholism through life-styles programs, wilderness camps and other programs that build individual self-respect and dignity.
Ms. Kassi: The motion we are debating today gets at what is probably the Yukons largest social problem - alcohol abuse - and what we can do about it. I have seen many people struggle and suffer with this disease we call alcoholism.
Many of us have come to conclusions about what kinds of treatments seem to work and what kinds do not.
It will not surprise hon. Members to hear me say that if people had more control over the solution to this issue, their chances of success would be a lot better. It is time to look at solutions to this problem that lie within the people themselves. This is what I am talking about with the lifeskills programs. As well, I want to discuss solutions that come from within the groups of people, and here I am talking about the wilderness camps.
It is a well known fact that alcohol abuse is widespread in Yukon communities, and that it is responsible for most of our social problems, such as child neglect, fetal alcohol syndrome, family violence, property crimes and other forms of crime. As a result, these alcohol problems load up our jails, our assessment centres, hospitals, et cetera.
It is also nothing new to say that native people are featured prominently in alcoholism, and we see our jails and other institutions loaded up with aboriginal people who are there as a result of alcohol-related crimes.
In the fiscal year 1986-87, there were 271 people admitted to the Whitehorse Correctional Centre who got there as a result of alcohol or drug-related offenses. The next year, ending March 31, 1988, we saw 295 people at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre as a result of alcohol. Not long ago, we received the report of the justice review. Its main conclusion was that 90 percent of crime in the Yukon resulted from alcohol abuse. What a great day it would be if we could only cut that in half.
This shows us the size of the problem, and we must do something about it. For my own community, we have many people who get in trouble with the law as a result of alcohol abuse. It is clear to me that there are many deep-rooted causes for such wide-spread alcohol abuse and the problems that flow from it.
Today, with this motion, it is not my intention to look so much at the causes as at the solutions, although you cannot look at one without the other. I think many people have looked at this over the years, and have come up with the same thing. Behind this problem is a dislocation of people in a distinct culture and caused by not being able to cope with the clash of cultures between native and non-native society.
We could talk all day about that, but it is my belief that the answer lies in strengthening the cultural values and the beliefs of native people who abuse alcohol as the first and best way of solving the problem. As a people, as a community, aboriginal people have much to be proud of. When we take pride in our culture and practice our traditions, we are strong and we are united. That is the value in these wilderness camps. Right now, we see Indian bands and tribal councils in many Yukon communities undertaking the construction of wilderness camp facilities. This is a good sign. People know we need to get people away from places where there is booze to where they can undertake traditional pursuits and strengthen themselves and one another much more holistically.
Recently, members of the Champagne Aishihik Band tried out the wilderness camp as an idea they felt would work. Aboriginal people were saying that they thought a program based on the land would be most successful for an alcohol treatment program, and people at the Champagne Aishihik Band decided to try this idea. People were saying there would be more success in familiar surroundings that offer more comfort. People are much more relaxed in this kind of environment, although it was recognized that the most important part of the camp is the program itself.
A series of mini camps were conducted by two Northern Native Alcohol and Drug counsellors in 1987. They concluded that that could work here in the Yukon as a comprehensive program that will focus on rehabilitation, education and training, self-sufficiency, culture and tradition. This is an overall life-enhancement program and it is recognized that not all bands would want to do everything at once. This comes about because right now existing treatment programs deal with the intensive or primary phase of treatment. There is not a lot of follow-up. What we need is comprehensive pre-treatment and after-care programs.
I would like to outline some of the work done by the Champagne Aishihik Band. About a year ago they took a group, mainly young men to a remote lake with the objective of doing some trapping as well as explaining some long-range plans for the development of a community treatment project. There were a number of suicides in the community at that time, and this was considered a high-risk group that needed immediate attention. To make a long story short, there was a lot of enthusiasm and discussion about furthering this kind of idea for treatment.
A second camp was established at a different place, mainly of families, to discuss how they reacted to the first camp. Some participants were a bit apprehensive of the counsellors, so friendship was stressed. They found that in this camp environment, sitting around campfires, people worked well as a group.
A third camp continued the work. There seemed to be a lot of interest in the camps, but the question was: what kind of programs would be effective? The third camp refined the work. They dealt with young adults who had participated in Indian treatment programs outside the Yukon. Again, there was good response and more support for a continuation of the camp program.
The lesson here is that this kind of idea is worth supporting. There has been a continuation in Champagne Aishihik of good relations between counsellors and participants, and the community is stronger for it but they want to do more. Many people in many places in the Yukon are convinced that this is definitely the route to go and we, as leaders in the Yukon, should be encouraging them and providing the resources for them to accomplish something on their own.
They can and will succeed if we provide the tools for them to do the job. We cannot accomplish these things or take these steps without solid sober leadership at the community level, and this means that we must work on developing strong individuals who can lead within our communities. This is what lifeskills training is all about. We have many talented people in our communities, people with a lot of potential, but they lack certain skills. They are shy or they cannot speak for themselves or they are afraid to try things. They will not take little risks.
After a lifeskills course, they are all changed. Their outlook is completely different. They are stronger and more confident. They believe in themselves and their ability to do things like quitting drinking, like holding down a good job, like working for the betterment of their community, whether it is a good trapper or a good hunter or whatever they want to be.
In Old Crow, we had a lifeskills program not long ago. The whole community got behind it. As well, there was a lifeskills group that was happening in Fort McPherson, our relatives next door, who came over to support the group in Old Crow. Our elders especially got behind this group. The course involved just 11 people but it sure made a lot of difference. After eight weeks there was a graduation and more than 140 people came out to congratulate them and attend the ceremony.
This is the kind of thing our community can endorse wholeheartedly, because people see the value in it. I want to publicly congratulate everyone involved in that program for doing such a good job. I am so proud of them. This was the first for our village and I hope there will be many more. I would like to see this sort of thing made available to other communities as well, because I know they get many benefits from it. We have five life-skills coaches fully trained and qualified within the Yukon Territory right now; we have two in Watson Lake, two here in Whitehorse and one in Mayo. These coaches need to be encouraged to do lifeskills groups within these communities.
We see in the budget before the House that this government plans to spend $1.3 million this year on alcohol and drug abuse. Then there is money spent by the National Native Alcohol and Drug Program, and perhaps some by Indian Affairs. To be quite honest, I think we have to spend more if we want to get better results. There are good programs through Detox and through Crossroads and I have a lot of respect for people working in this field. It is not an easy job. I want to commend the Minister of Health and Human Resources for taking steps to coordinate all the efforts in the Yukon on these issues through the creation of the Substance Abuse Committee. However, I think we need to invest resources in things like lifeskills programs and wilderness cultural camps, things that build up individual strengths and reinforce traditional values. Some good work is going on now with these wilderness camps and I think this House should indicate its commitment and its willingness to these kinds of solutions to our territorys biggest social problem.
I will listen with interest to what the hon. Members have to say during this debate.
Mr. McLachlan: I would like to thank the Member for Old Crow for bringing forward this motion this afternoon for debate and consideration by the Legislature. However, I would have added a couple of phrases perhaps and made it a little stronger in some areas. I think and drug abuse should be added after alcoholism, and I think a little more specificity should be included about who is responsible for it, and the particular government departments and their programs.
The level of alcoholism and drug abuse throughout the Yukon has been a concern of mine. I feel that the government of the territory must continue to do work to support the problem of alcoholism. The problem of drug abuse is one I also feel must be addressed, and the drug abuse problem is just as serious, in my mind, as that of alcoholism.
I would also like to speak to the serious alcohol and drug abuse problem that exists in the school system here in Whitehorse, and the largest high school in the territory, FH Collins, in particular. The root cause of the alcohol and drug abuse in our school system is boredom and peer pressure. When the children are getting into trouble with drugs and alcohol in our schools, the problem will only continue and get worse later in life. I feel that a considerable effort should be made to remove the drugs and the alcohol from our school system. Extra-curricular activities are just such ways whereby we could teach our children self respect and dignity, and I feel we should do all we can to get some of the childrens lives off those roller coasters and into a system that is much more challenging and rewarding for them.
I believe with the system working properly, a number of our young offenders would not be where they are today because of these problems. It has been my information and my intention to put more accent on those people who work with the young offenders and who do these types of programs. I feel those instructors are not being given enough free rein to carry out their work and training in these areas. Were that accent and funding in those directions allowed, I feel a number of these programs would, if not totally be put aside at least be blunted and at made not quite as severe.
In closing I would like to say we support the intent of the motion and would have directed it a little more in the areas of responsibility where government Ministers and Members could do more to help this serious problem.
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I rise in support of the motion that is before the House. As the Minister responsible for Alcohol and Drug Services, I can state with certainty that the development of community-based initiatives, be they wilderness camps, lifeskills training or any other alternative response to substance abuse is both encouraged and supported by my department and this government.
We are all aware of the drug problem in the Yukon. It has been mentioned today already with regard to the number of individuals that we see in the jails. It has been mentioned by the number of young offenders that we see in our care. Many problems that come to our department with regard to family violence, child abuse, family break-up are as a result of alcohol-related incidences. Those things continue to happen. We are all very well aware that just about every single department is affected by that very deep problem.
The Department of Health and Human Resources has played an active role, along with the provincial and federal counterparts in the development of the national drug strategy. The Ministerial Advisory Committee on Substance Abuse, as the Member mentioned, has taken a lead role in promoting the community action program of the national drug strategy - a program which supports the development of innovative community strategies for the prevention of substance abuse.
A workshop recently sponsored by this committee saw representatives from all Yukon communities gathered in Whitehorse for two days to learn about the national drug strategy. They shared ideas about community initiatives and developed a support network of concerned Yukoners engaged in the battle against substance abuse.
I would like to say here that it was a very successful seminar. It brought in many different people from all walks of life from all communities and also individuals from out of the territory. They came out of there with a lot of good ideas and ready to go out and look for new ideas as well.
This government has also recognized a need to involve the community in dealing with social problems. Substance abuse is no different, but the community must take the active role in promoting healthy lifestyles and work toward changing the conditions which can lead to substance abuse.
We have been saying that it has to be a two way street. This government wants to get involved. The community groups want to get involved in trying to combat this problem. We have to work very hard towards that.
My department, along with other departments, has a history of actively supporting community-based initiatives in the area of substance abuse, such as the lifeskills program in Old Crow, a counselling workshop in Dawson, and a proposed counselling program in Teslin. There was a large gathering in Alkali Lake, and we know that the combating of alcoholism there was very successful. At that time, we made a contribution to many bands to help in the transportation of many individuals down to that gathering. I am very proud of that commitment that we made.
Those are just a few things that this government has done. We recognize that there is no single way of combating substance abuse. It requires the coordinated efforts of many people. We will continue, through our community-based resource people, such as the community alcohol workers, the coordinating efforts of the Ministerial Advisory Committee, our training and public sessions and our financial assistance, to support community groups.
I am encouraged by the initiatives taken by community groups, as the Member for Old Crow has said, to combat the alcohol problem, and I applaud them in their efforts, - and to some extent, their successes, because there have been many - but there is much more to be done. We all recognize that.
This government has made a commitment to improve the quality of life for Yukoners, and, in particular, that of our small and remote communities. In the past, we have made contributions to lifeskills training, and I understand from the Member for Old Crow that that training was successful. She mentioned something that I am speaking of here. We continue to use resources from outside of the Yukon. It is my belief that, if we are going to take this kind of training seriously, and if we are going to be working with Yukoners, then we should start working at Yukon-developed lifeskills training. We have people who are trained in that area, and I would like to see more of our own people with the expertise be considered for any new programs, especially in lifeskills and wilderness camps.
We know that there is the will and the commitment by many groups to work toward combating the alcohol problem. My department also has the will and commitment, so with the coordinated effort by other departments and many community groups, we can work toward improving the very big and sometimes very hard problem.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: Let me start by complimenting and thanking the Member for Old Crow for bringing this motion. I have brought similar motions, in the 24th and 25th Assemblies, and I am glad that, in the 26th Assembly, these motions are brought by someone else.
I think that it is interesting to note the progression of the debate in this House. In the early 1980s, the debate was, you might say, hysterical about some of these issues, but we have progressed a great deal, and we are now talking about solutions to the problem. Although the Member for Faro is calling for more specificity, I think that the solutions, especially in rural Yukon, and among native groups, are within our grasp. It was only four or five years ago that we were not even thinking along those lines.
I wish to mention a few facts that put this issue in not only a national perspective, but an international perspective. It appears that, in the last 25 years or so, there has been a substantial world-wide increase in the consumption of absolute alcohol. It is interesting that alcohol is the worlds most widely-used psychotropic drug and, if you do not include caffeine and nicotine, which are also drugs, it is by far the most used drug in the world. Its use is more than all the other drugs combined.
It is interesting that, over the last few years, the use around the world has increased among all ages and both sexes. Alcohol consumption has risen dramatically in almost every country of the world, outside Islam. As examples, consumption in both Hong Kong and North Korea has increased by a factor of eight in the past 20 years. In some countries of developing Africa, it has increased by a factor of 10 to 11.
In North America, we are now at the point where the average North American devotes more than five percent of their weekly budget to various kinds of alcohol. The figures are old for Canada. In Canada, in the 1982-83 fiscal year, Canadians spent just under $10 billion buying alcohol in stores, bars and restaurants. The conservative estimate in that year was that there were 600,000 Canadian alcoholics. In 1981, it is estimated by the Ontario Research Foundation for Alcohol that alcohol caused an extra $2 billion in health care costs that are directly attributable to alcohol abuse, and substantially more that are indirectly attributable.
Productivity on the job was reduced nation-wide in 1981 by at least $1.2 billion in lost profit. Social welfare costs nation-wide in that year, directly attributable to alcohol abuse, was conservatively estimated at $1.4 billion. The extra costs to law enforcement are conservatively estimated at $650 million in 1981.
It is interesting, that in the last two years, although the economy has continued to grow after a slump in 1981, 1982 and 1983, that the increase in absolute alcohol consumption is slowing down in Canada. That is a good sign, but we are still at the point where 1.7 percent of all deaths are caused by cirrhossis of the liver.
The situation in the Yukon is vastly improving, and we are on the right track. It is motions like this one that serve to increase the publics consciousness about this problem. I know, for a fact, that Indian bands are particularly wishing to discuss both legal measures to contain absolute alcohol consumption and, much more importantly, a concern with communal therapies such as those identified very ably and capably by the Member for Old Crow.
Let me speak a little bit about Whitehorse specifically and follow on the comments made by the Member for Faro. He talked about boredom and peer pressure in the schools. I agree with those comments. However, he did say that we needed a little more specificity in our concerns and our addresses about this motion. Because of that, I would like to be very specific about just one point.
We developed a practice here that is following a national practice of an arrangement for a use of alcohol by students in high schools at their graduation party. It was developed by concerned parents, especially after there were injuries and deaths on the highways directly attributable to alcohol abuse at graduation parties. This was called Safe Grad. In April 1982, there was a motion in this Assembly about promoting safe grad parties.
That was responsible, at the time; however, there is another specific initiative that should be taken for next year. Unfortunately, it is too late for this year. There should be a chemical-free grad party sponsored by community agencies.
The graduation parties occurred, I believe, last weekend and, as a result of one party, the next day there was a suicide by one of the teenage attendees at this alcoholic binge. I would suggest that the time has come, and it would be acceptable, and it would be used by some, if not all, graduates to sponsor not only a safe graduation party, but a chemical-free party where there is no drug use and no alcohol use. I would recommend to the Minister of Education and the Minister of Health that we particularly put effort into this for next year - also through school committees.
The use of alcohol in the schools has changed over the years, and there is certainly a feeling - and I know from when my son attended FH Collins - that the use of alcohol at parties was almost a badge of adulthood, as smoking was in the 1940s and 1950s. I think the government and school committees and parents can exert what influence they do have, which certainly is some - and I should not forget the churches; I think the churches have a role as well - to change some of these symbolic rights of passage for teenagers. Just as it is now a minority of teenagers who smoke - fewer teenagers smoke than mature adults - we could have the same situation for alcohol and drugs. We do not have that in Yukon today, but we could.
Let me say a word specifically about the justice system and the jail particularly. I have long said, for the past 10 years in the Yukon that if there were not an alcohol abuse problem in the territory, we could fire all the judges, most of the lawyers and most of the police. That is a true statement. I have been saying it for 10 years, and it is just as true today as it was 10 years ago. The problem of crime in the territory is not exclusively, but is largely - I would say in excess of 90 percent - a result of alcohol abuse. The social benefits of improving this problem are tremendous. It is unfortunate that there is not now sufficient attention put on alcohol treatment in the jail. The vast majority of serving prisoners are essentially alcoholics.
When their bodies are free of alcohol, many of them are nice people to be with. The efforts of alcohol treatment in the jail must be improved. The problems are to find the programs which are effective. Again, I thank the Member for Old Crow for her suggestions of a direction which I totally agree will be more effective in the long run than the traditional methods of particular individual treatment that has gone on in the last 15 years or so.
The government has taken the first steps already, and there is a program for cultural awareness and a coordination of cultural activities at the jail, which has been staffed in the current budget. I will speak more about that in the Estimates if I am asked.
Mr. Joe: I think we all know that alcohol abuse is a big problem in our communities.
Too many people drink, and when they drink they drink too much. A lot of problems come up - people get into fights and hurt each other. Sometimes we get terrible things happening. Also, people die from drinking too much.
To me, it is good news when someone can quit drinking. I hope they can stay dry. This is where special programs come in. We need to build people up so they have the strength to quit and stay dry.
In the communities, we have people who are working hard to help people with their alcohol problems. But still I do not see much has changed. We need to do something now, not 10 years from now. We get more and more problems all the time.
We really want to see something done, but really nothing has been done. This means we have got to do more now.
In Carmacks, the band is building a wilderness camp at Airport lake. They know that people need a place to go, to get away from town where there is too much booze and too much drinking. This can be a place where people can build up themselves, so when they go back to town they will not drink.
I think we have to congratulate places like Carmacks where they are trying to get something done.
Another thing I see is we do not have enough alcohol workers. In Pelly, we have one person. That person is doing a good job, but cannot do it all alone. He works on all kinds of problems. He works work with victims and with young people. This is good, but there is so much to be done, he cannot deal with everybody. I know one person cannot do it; it is a lot of work.
If you want to solve a social problem, you need more workers, like a team of maybe three or four people. You need both men and women to deal with different problems that men and women face.
I have spoken to this House before about alcohol problems in my community and in my riding. Today, I see the Member for Old Crow bring forward a motion I can support. She cares a great deal about her people, and I think that is good.
There are many good people trying to help people who have alcohol problems, and we need to help them out. I think that wilderness and lifeskills programs and similar programs can bring results.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I do not have a lot to say that has not been already said. I thank the Member for Old Crow for bringing the motion forward this afternoon, and other Members who spoke. In my time in the Legislature, there has never been a tougher, more single-minded approach to battling alcoholism than that displayed by the Member for Old Crow. The problems we all experience in all our communities are problems that not only have to be addressed through some of the measures that are mentioned in this motion, but other measures as well. The efforts that are necessary to be undertaken to battle the problems of alcoholism and drug abuse have to be developed at the community level in order for them to be respected by the community and to be effective.
The problems that have been experienced around the territory with alcohol and drug abuse prove the debilitating effects of these plagues have caused many communities to sink into an abyss, and to suffer significant dispiriting effects. I have personally known the lives of many good people to have been wasted to a large degree by the results of too much drink and the use of drugs.
Clearly, with the spirit evaporating, the community spirit evaporates as well, and it is a cycle that is very hard to escape. The efforts that the government has taken over the course of the past few years have, I think, been more focused than ever before. There has been more willingness to attempt community-based approaches to battling alcoholism and drug abuse. There is a greater willingness to provide resources to communities to undertake solutions that are specific and unique to those communities. There are numerous examples where this has been done in communities around the territory.
Certainly one of the most significant success stories has been the one that the Member for Old Crow mentioned, the lifeskills program in Old Crow. I would credit her with singlehandedly taking intransigent Ministers from the front bench, myself included, to task for not moving quickly enough to implement this program. It is to her credit that this program was undertaken and that it was such a tremendous success, at least as far as the funding is concerned. Obviously, the people in Old Crow made the project and the program a success.
The desirability of lifeskills programming has been, through brutal experience, proven to me to be an effective method to encourage people to see themselves in a new light, to respect themselves more, and to remove alcohol from their lives. There are numerous cases in the last few years where we have encouraged life skills programming in communities, including one of my own, which I think was a significant success, albeit on a limited basis in terms of the number of people affected. I am sold, I am a born-again believer in lifeskills programming and alcohol treatment camps. For that I think that my colleagues have done a great deal to educate me, in terms of the need for providing this kind of financial support, either through the programs that I am responsible for in Education, or through the limited program offerings in Community and Transportation Services, through the LEOP program.
The Department of Education has undertaken a number of initiatives through the public schools to encourage the education of young people as to the evils of alcohol and drug abuse. The department has not only developed those programs cooperatively with service clubs, Indian bands, and community clubs, but has also taken to adopting the significant effort that has been provided through the British Columbia curriculum department, and we have enhanced it in the Yukon. I know that the Department of Education is very sensitized to the problem, and is interested in working cooperatively with community groups to help assist in providing for solutions.
The other area mentioned in the Members motion, the area of wilderness camps, is one program offering that I think has the greatest potential for success. It is quite common for people to undertake programming or to be assisted by a local counsellor in a community and still not be able to extricate themselves from the problems that perhaps have led them or encouraged them to adopt alcohol as a crutch - or drugs - but the wilderness camps, the desirability of encouraging especially young men and women to learn skills, to learn to fend for themselves, to regain skills in the case of many native people, and also to live in a very supportive drug- and alcohol-free environment I think are probably the best features of the wilderness camp program.
I have seen many good attempts made at providing for wilderness camps around the territory; I have had the opportunity as Minister of Education to support not only efforts performed by Elijah Smith in operating a wilderness camp in the past but also in my own riding as well - wilderness camps that have immeasurably helped young people who had a history of significant trouble with either the police or their families, their grandparents, or at school. The results of the wilderness program were so significant that many of the young people who graduated and came back after working in the bush have developed a new sense of self worth and are, I predict, going to become community leaders in Mayo in years to come.
I think that that, too, is an aspect of the motion that I support wholeheartedly. As the Member for Tatchun mentions, there is a great deal that has yet to be done and I do not think we will, in the short term, feel that we have successfully resolved problems associated with alcoholism and drug abuse for a number of years, but that should only give us the necessary inspiration to continue trying and do many of the things we have done which have proven to be quite successful.
Having said that, I will stand in support of the motion as well.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I would like to say a few words about this motion because I think it is a topic of continuing importance and also because I think the truth is that we have not, perhaps anywhere in the country and perhaps anywhere in the world, found the perfect solution to this problem plaguing many individuals, many families and many communities.
I suspect, as has been said before, that everybody in this House has been touched in some way in their own lives by the experience of alcohol or drug abuse.
In preparing for this motion, I thought it useful to check back and see how my own thinking and the publics thinking has evolved in recent years on this question. I would like to briefly quote from an article that appeared in the Yukon News about 15 years ago. It said, Yukoners are proud of their drinking habits. We boast the highest per capita consumption in the country, the most bars and busiest beer parlours. Booze is part of our frontier culture. Many of our ideas about manhood are tied to legends about hard drinking heroes. The flow of alcohol through the Yukon has given us evidence of our northern hospitality. To many people with a problem, booze is the only answer. And that is the problem.
It is fashionable nowadays to talk about alcohol as a drug and booze as the number one drug problem as if it were something new. One old friend of mine scoffed at the idea that Dawsons Discovery Days celebration has become a big drunk. He claims that it was a big drunk 30 years ago. The only difference was that back then it lasted for weeks. The first police forces were formed in London, England to deal with the social menace of the gin mills. The Mounties grew famous fighting the illegal whiskey trade in the old west. Records of the first frontier settlements in this country are filled with references to public drunkenness and the general lack of sobriety among citizens.
The article goes on to talk about the formation of Crossroads in the Yukon at that time and the situation, which still survives in some communities, where the bar was a meeting and business place or a hiring hall, and an observation that even though government received significant revenues from alcohol, it was probably the case that the cost associated with alcohol abuse far exceed those revenues.
It is true that there have been some quite significant changes in the last few years in our perceptions about ourselves and about alcohol. It is also true, as my colleagues have said, that there is some progress in addressing this issue.
But I think it is also true that many in the Yukon still pride themselves on our distinct regional character, and we have associated as part of our image the picture of the rugged man or woman of the north. Of course, this character has been developed in our literature through Robert Service and Jack London and we can still see it repeated on the big screen or television, or occasionally, on the radio on the few occasions when the north is mentioned or identified. Some of the elements of that character, the persistence, the resoluteness and the generosity are, of course, very attractive qualities. It is no wonder that we continue to identify with them.
However, the unfortunate assumption that life in the north necessitates consuming large quantities of alcohol on a steady basis is one stereotype that I have often thought we would be better off without, and is one stereotype that is slowly disappearing.
Unfortunately, in the south it is a myth that seems to have taken hold quite deeply. I think it is not so long ago that notions about capacity for alcohol or the ability to hold ones booze were very, very important in defining ones manhood or stoutness of character.
I am pleased to see that I think our community is evolving away from these values, but many of the myths still survive, not only here but elsewhere. To some extent, we are still victims of the romanticized picture of the way the north was. For some, I think that hurts us today. I think it is true that behaviour - which not so long ago we thought of as amusing, or fun, or inevitable, or an inevitable side effect of living in the north - has become recognized as dangerous and destructive, and often not just to the person who drinks but as well to those around them.
The increasing public awareness everywhere in North America and in the western world of the dangers of drinking and driving is having a very positive effect on our society.
It is good that local bars and lounges in this territory are taking steps to combat this problem by adding designated driver programs or offering cars to those who should not be driving.
We have to take a look at why people drink so much before we have any substantial and conclusive remedy to the problem of alcohol abuse and alcoholism. It is often assumed that the isolation of the north, the wilderness and the great open spaces may be the kind of environment for a person to examine ones life and start afresh. However, I think many of us who live here know just how much extra stress that isolation and the accompanying loneliness can put on a person, especially a person who has left a network of family relationships or friendships to come and start anew here. In that kind of situation, people often turn to the old answers.
We also have to be aware of what we are actually telling each other about the place of alcohol in our society. All the drinking and driving advertisements in the world will not be of assistance if we still believe the biggest or best among us is the one who can hold the most alcohol. Until we stop subconsciously telegraphing the idea it is okay to drink to excess in Canadas last frontier, I think we would be just walking a treadmill. We would put in a lot of time and effort on the problem of alcohol abuse without getting anywhere.
There are some big changes going on. There are much more positive attitudes about the problem, and a much deeper recognition that alcohol and drug abuse is a serious health problem. There is a lot being done, but there is a lot more that needs to be done. We have to recognize that, while there are lots of programs, there are also a lot of people who are skeptical about many of those programs. There are many people who believe that, on the evidence, not many of them are working very well. I think most of us have seen cases where one kind of program may well work for one person or one family, but not work for many others. The truth is that we are very much feeling our way. We are still wrestling in our own minds with the question about whether alcoholism is a cause or effect, or whether it is a symptom or disease. Of course, alcoholism and drug addiction can affect anyone, but I do believe myself that we will not solve these problems unless we deal with the root causes of many of the peoples situations who suffer these diseases. I think that means we have to address the situations of poverty, violent family situations inadequate housing, unemployment or other problems. I would concede that none of these, or all of these together, would be sufficient to solve the problem. Unfortunately, we are still dealing with an imperfect world with respect to this crisis - as it is in many communities. The communities that are troubled with it have to find the will to begin an attack on it. I think the attack will have to be multi-faceted. I think we have to try everything until we find things that work.
I do not yet believe we have discovered any magic solutions. I suspect there will not be any magic solutions found, but I believe we must continue to try diligently to attack this problem and do everything we reasonably can to deal with it.
For that reason, I support the motion.
Motion No. 55 agreed to
Motion No. 38
Clerk: Item No. 1, standing in the name of Mr. Webster.
Speaker: Is the hon. Member prepared to proceed with Item No. 1?
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Member for Klondike
THAT this House supports the devolution of responsibilities from the territorial government to municipal governments;
THAT it is the opinion of this House that municipal governments should not be obliged, through territorial legislation, to adopt Yukon Government contract regulations; and
THAT this House encourages municipal governments to develop their own contract regulations.
Mr. Webster: There has been a great deal of change in municipal government in just the two and a half years since my term expired on Dawson City Council. Municipal governments have acquired more independence and have assumed responsibilities from the senior government during that time. No longer, for example, are municipal governments left to the mercy of the territorial government to budget for their capital works. Now, municipal governments make their own budgetary decisions, based on their own plans, for the growth and development of the community in which they function. These changes were requested by the municipalities through their own organization, known as the Association for Yukon Communities. This Government of the Yukon has responded accordingly, and presently before this House is an act to amend the Muncipal Act, which would devolve still more responsibility to municipalities.
There has been some debate in this House recently about how far this process - this natural evolution of a local government assuming more authority, greater independence, more responsibility - should go. For example, it has been suggested by some Members opposite that it should be the role of the Yukon Government to develop contract regulations on behalf of the municipalities, to be adhered to by the municipalities.
I think that this would be a mistake. While I recognize that large sums of taxpayers dollars are involved in the awarding of contracts, it must be remembered that these taxpayers are living in municipalities, and it is their money. Given the challenge of planning for capital projects to meet their community needs, it only stands to reason that town council will try to get maximum value from its capital block funding dollars on one project, in order to ensure that the other capital projects can and will be undertaken.
I, for one, have complete faith in the ability of town councils to make their own contract regulations that are appropriate for their own community, and to oversee the management of a capital works project in a competent manner.
This motion supports the continued devolution of responsibility from the territorial government to municipal governments, including that of developing contract regulations, and I ask all hon. Members for their support.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I stand to support the motion, as I think that it is fairly obvious that the motion speaks consistently with government policy. The history of the situation, simply and briefly put, is this: prior to 1983, the government undertook capital works with communities and Local Improvement Districts on the basis of a cost-sharing arrangement, which had the government acting as adviser and director of projects in municipalities. In 1983, a capital funding agreement was established in order to ensure that communities had ownership of a project that was to be undertaken in their community, whether it was to be building roads, building a water or sewer work, or constructing a community building. The purpose of encouraging capital agreements, from the period of 1983 onwards, was essentially to provide more community input into the development of projects and to provide better opportunities for local employment.
It will also provide for cost savings, should the community be in a position to directly take responsibility for a project. That was the claim that the communities made when they supported and fought for the creation of the capital funding agreement.
It is important to note here neither before or after 1983, either through a capital funding agreement or prior to that when communities took a measure of responsibility for projects, were contract regulations considered mandatory. The only thing that was considered mandatory was a reporting requirement on what had actually happened during the project.
In the past, when a project was to be contracted, the Community Services Branch, or its predecessor, monitored the project to ensure that proper tendering procedures were used. With the advent of capital block funding came devolution of the responsibility of carrying out the capital program in total. Irrespective of whether or not projects were contract out or if they were managed by a community, Community Services took on a different role altogether, a role of nurturing and encouraging communities to undertake programs according to their own priorities but not dictating. They would provide advice without dictating how the project was to be undertaken.
The issue before us is whether or not the Legislature feels that it is mandatory for the government to inflict specific contracting procedures on municipalities. It is the governments position that municipalities are responsible for their own capital construction programs and can make the decisions themselves about whether they contract manage or if they contract projects in their municipalities. They are ultimately responsible and accountable to their own electorate for actions that they take.
No municipality at the time has contracting bylaws. Whitehorse has what they call an administrative directive. They generally follow the principles of fair tendering and the low bid when contracting out projects. The discussion that we have had on contracting procedures and the development of a contract bylaw has resulted in Government Services and the Association of Yukon Communities developing a model contracting procedure. I have already communicated to the Members that model contracting procedure for the municipalities who wish to adopt it should be finished by early summer.
The fundamental issue is how we balance our priorities as a territorial Legislature, how do we balance off the desire for a healthy construction industry that has clear, coherent and fair rules with the desire for more local determination and community hire. One of the main reason for the capital funding agreement, as expressed by the Minister in 1983, was to ensure that native and non-native people in the communities are employed. It was a measure to encourage local employment in a manner that could not otherwise be expected through normal government procedures. This was one of the reasons for the capital agreement being adopted.
I recall that debate, and I remember agreeing with it then, and I agree with it now. I do support the intent that the Member for Porter Creek East, in 1983, spoke to when he supported capital funding agreements. I support that principle now in the devolution of responsibilities to municipal governments.
Clearly, for anybody who comes from rural Yukon at least - well, anybody who comes from Yukon, period, because I know it is perfectly applicable in Whitehorse - the communities are not tolerant of a strong fraternal attitude by the territorial government. They feel they are accountable to their electorate and feel they are closer to their communities; they feel they should be responsible for the capital program in their communities.
I support the view that the community governments can certainly undertake capital works in their communities, that if they have the support of the communities, if they have the administrative wherewithal to undertake the work, then I think, as a government, we should be prepared to divest responsibility for capital projects to communities.
It boils down to whether or not one has faith in the communities to undertake the works in a manner acceptable to the municipality and the community. I, as Minister of Community and Transportation Services, have I think been very consistent in the approach that I have taken with respect to capital project development in the communities in terms of allowing the communities, when they have the wherewithal, to undertake the projects themselves. I think it is a desirable sequence of events that has happened over the course of the last few years, and I would hope they would continue and that the maturity of communities will continue so that even more responsibility can be undertaken by them.
I think it is a fair thing to do. It is something the federal government has permitted of us. They, of course, provide the territorial government with a fairly significant portion of its revenues. They do not inflict their contract regulations on the money they provide to us through the general transfer payment, nor should they. I think it would be highly inappropriate for them to do that, and I laud them for not trying to inflict those rules on the Yukon government. I do not think the Yukon government should be schizophrenic about this, either. What is good for the goose is good for the gander in this respect, if you will permit the cliche. In turn, if the communities have the wherewithal to undertake capital work in a responsible manner, then the responsibility for those works should be devolved to the communities.
It is a motherhood position to take, at least as far as 99 percent of the territory is concerned. I realize that there may be some people wondering why, at this stage of our evolution, we are debating this today, but I think it is important to make it clear to all communities that the government is intending to go in a direction which encourages more local control and local determination. The Legislature is prepared to formalize that through a motion and the Members, however they feel, should stand to be counted on this issue because I think it is one of the most significant in the political development of the territory. It is certainly the one issue, I think, which galvanizes the attention of people in all municipalities and all communities around the territory; a clear statement from the Legislature is warranted at this time and, inasmuch as my role permits, I will be supporting this motion and the government policy, which is entirely consistent with it.
Mr. Lang: I am pleased to see the motion before us. It reinforces the concerns expressed by this side with respect to the fact that, in some cases there are no rules and in other cases there are very few rules. The concern I have always had is the question of fairness and, just as important, the perception of fairness. When you are dealing with public money, whether you are at the municipal level, the territorial level, or the federal level, there is the responsibility to have rules, and those rules should be rigidly adhered to, in order to ensure the perception of fairness by the public, as well as those who are tendering on any given project.
The Minister who just spoke made the inference that, prior to his coming on the scene, the municipalities in the Yukon never had any responsibility and were never granted any responsibility prior to him seeing the light and ascending down in his chariot and becoming a Member of the front bench across the way.
I have noticed he is having a lot of difficulty implementing the principle of devolution with the present Municipal Act, which was put in place in the late 1970s or early 1980s, primarily for the purpose of devolution. It provides the framework to transfer those responsibilities to the hamlet, town or city that wishes to have those authorities, where and when appropriate.
I am really pleased to see this motion here. The amount of dollars being transferred to municipalities at this time are significant. We are talking about multi-millions of dollars, as opposed to times gone by. The Minister referred to 1982, or prior to that, with respect to transfers to municipalities under the Capital Funding Agreement Program.
I do not know if Members realize it, but the over-run on the Yukon College is greater than the total Capital Budget by the YTG in 1982. I am doing this in debate to point out the significant changes in finances that have been made available to the Government of Yukon and, in some cases, subsequently transferred to the City of Whitehorse or the City of Dawson.
I am pleased to see the priority has been accentuated by the government, with Community and Transportation Services working in conjunction with the Association of Yukon Communities to give options and ideas of what bylaws could be put into place.
Over the course of this year, I am hoping we will see the various communities putting these bylaws into effect. It is important for the credibility and integrity of financial management of government to have these rules in place and applied evenly and properly.
Mr. McLachlan: I want to make a couple of remarks having to do with contractors who will have to move from community to community and may be faced with the possibility that there may be a wide range of variance in the contract regulations that could be developed as a result of a motion like this. Many of them in the smaller communities have not got a lot of experience with the development of regulations that may protect the public purse. There is some $7.3 million in the capital block funding this year and although the expertise is available at the level of the City of Whitehorse I question whether it is in all these other situations.
What I would like to suggest to the Minister of Community and Transportation Services is that through Yukon College or whatever facilities exist to him that a number of these people, if this motion is adopted as policy, be called into Whitehorse and be given some background on contract regulations, how they are written, what they are intended to do and what their discipline should be in order that there may be some experience with this. I know that in some of the smaller communities when it comes to building swimming pools or arenas there is often a difference of opinions as to what is expected of the contractor for the monies.
It is only a suggestion and I believe there could be problems later on with contractors having to interpret a wide variety of contract regulations at different municipal levels.
Mr. Brewster: I thought for a while I had gotten myself in a problem being in agreement with the Minister of Renewable Resources. However, I can talk but I cannot vote, so the secret is to convince people that I agree with this without voting. So I should be able to do that.
There is no question that I agree with this 100 percent. I have been fighting for this for 38 years. I can recall the first advisory committee ever formed was by Mr. James Smith. The only two communities that were able to have any say at all were Whitehorse and Dawson City. At that time, I do not know how Dawson City could be called a city but it was a city whether it had the population or not. The first advisory committee in Haines Junction was the guinea pig. Mr. John Bakke, Mr. Terry Kennedy and I sat on the first one. That is the first time three ordinary taxpayers decided to take on the government in Whitehorse. It was quite amusing, and I used to often remember when we came to town Commissioner Smith would sit and laugh and laugh because he thought this was very funny. He used to deal with us in business and he knew when he had the three of us he had a good example of what was going to happen if these advisory committees got going anyplace.
We were successful because we advanced from there to the LIDs, which then were elected by the people. Incidentally, we were appointed by the Commissioner. However, the LIDs were composed of elected people. When they first came in they had their trouble, but were quite successful and moved along.
I can remember once or twice when the whole LID got thrown out and started all over again, but we did it the democratic way. We advanced from there to municipalities, giving more and more control to the local people and ending up with much better communities, much closer to the people and much more understanding. When people were mad - usually, and still, every Wednesday - they could go to the meetings and voice their opinions. They voiced them quite well sometimes.
I have a problem with the Member for Faro thinking these people cannot handle this; quite often, I run into the situation where people are mad at something the L.I.D. does, and they ask me to stop it. My simple answer is that it is none of my business; there are five of them, they were voted in like me, what makes them think the people who voted for me and voted for them think I am smarter than the five of them - because I am not. We have a good agreement that they run the community and I work with them and cooperate and vice versa. Once in a while, as a taxpayer, I say something that maybe they do not like, and sometimes they say some things I do not like, but that is the name of the game. Do not try to split us apart, because they would find out they would have a lot of problems.
I would suggest to the Member for Faro that, if he does not think they can handle that much money, which is a fair amount of money, I am not arguing, I would turn around and throw it back to them: are we really qualified to handle the millions of dollars that we rush through here in two or three weeks? Maybe we had better look at some of this and talk because we have auditors and the Public Accounts Committee and so on check on us; this Legislature is not always perfect, either. We are individuals just like them; we make mistakes and they make mistakes. By making mistakes, they grow up. The only problem that I have found, and I find it is being shot down faster and faster, is that when government officials travel out to detail their programs and do their things, are inclined to play politics. I know civil servants are not supposed to play politics but they do. They try to swing the L.I.D.s and the municipalities over to their way of thinking. Unfortunately, they are not good politicians, because they do not realize, when they go out and tell someone in the Yukon they are going to do something, they do just the opposite. You learn that when you are in politics. You do not go out and tell a group of people this is the way it is going to be, because if you tell them that they are going to do it the other way. That is a good trait. I hope I have got my message through. I am in favour of this motion, but I will not vote on it.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Very briefly on the motion, I must agree with everything the Member for Kluane said and quite a lot, but not all of what the Member for Porter Creek East said on this motion. I think it is perfectly consistent with the idea of devolution and decentralization and moving appropriate decisions closer to the people who are affected by them by having the responsible level of government deal with matters which are normally in their jurisdiction. I think that is a development that has been going on in the Yukon; I think the devolution of responsibilities to local governments is consistent with the devolution of normal provincial responsibilities from the federal government to the territorial government, and I think the transfer of normal municipal type responsibilities to municipalities from the territorial government is also the direction in which we have been and should be moving.
I think the Member for Porter Creek East talked about rules and fairness and I think that is quite appropriate, but I also think it is appropriate that that debate not only go on here, as it should, but it should go on in the municipal council chambers - as I know from my experience in municipal politics, it does. The nature and quality of debate is often very different because the perspective of the representatives and ratepayers differs from those of us who represent large areas and perhaps a number of municipalities or perhaps, as in my case, part of a municipality. There is a different perspective from the territorial point of view than there is from the municipal point of view, and I have no hesitation in saying that, from my point of view, I agree with the Member for Kluane that the right people to make those decisions are the municipal electors and the municipal councils. Of course, we have to be concerned about the rules, and we have to be concerned about fairness, but I do not think we have any greater claim to being concerned with rules or fairness than do municipal councillors.
The suggestion has been made that we should make sure bylaws are put in place to deal with these matters. Of course we would want that because many of us here are citizens in municipalities and would want that as electors in those municipalities. I have not seen any indication in my dealings with municipal councils in this territory, especially the larger ones who have, as a result of some improvement in significant capital budgets, any hesitation to put proper procedures and rules in place. Those rules will evolve in the territory and will be improved over time as mistakes are made and experienced is developed that the Member for Kluane talked about. That is quite proper.
It is my impression that contrary to what was indicated by one Member opposite, there are very good relationships between the territorial and municipal government now. The attitude of non-interference in municipal decisions by this territorial government is welcomed by councillors around the territory. That is what they have told me. I do not hear the kinds of complaints that I used to in my days as an alderman in this city.
The directions and trends are welcomed by most people in this House, by most municipal politicians and by most citizens. For that reason, I have no hesitation whatsoever in joining the mover of the motion, my colleague and friend from Klondike, the Minister of Community and Transportation Services and the Member for Kluane in supporting it.
Motion No. 38 agreed to
Speaker: Bills Other than Government Bills.
BILLS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT BILLS
Bill No. 101: Second Reading
Clerk: Second reading, Bill No. 101, standing in the name of Mr. Webster.
Speaker: Is the hon. Member prepared to proceed with Bill No. 101?
Mr. Webster: Yes.
I move that Bill No. 101, entitled An Act to Amend the Highways Act, be now read a second time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Member for Klondike that Bill No. 101, entitled An Act to Amend the Highways Act be now read a second time.
Mr. Webster: I travel the Klondike Highway on a rather frequent basis. Now that spring has arrived and the snow has melted, I cannot help but notice and be offended by the litter, beer bottles, pop cans, paper bags, plastic bags, oil cans, plastic containers of every size and shape, et cetera that has been strewn over this highway over the past several months.
The problem of litter on our highways is not confined to just the Klondike Highway. Litter defaces all our highways as well as roads within towns and city limits. It is not by chance that Whitehorse City Council has declared May to be community clean-up month.
This is a problem that is of concern to many Yukoners. This morning, on CBC radio, we heard a plea from Whitehorse resident, Sandra Beckman to make the Yukon a cleaner place. She suggested that consumers pay a deposit on all cans and bottles to ensure that they would be returned to a depot for recycling.
When the Member for Kluane and I travelled the territory as members of this Legislative Assemblys Select Committee on Renewable Resources, we heard many complaints at public hearings about litter. I would like to quote briefly from page 24 of our report on this subject. One other area requiring improved enforcement that is of common concern pertains to litter. At least one and often several individuals at each meeting expressed dismay at the unsightly condition of the Yukons roadways, pull-offs, day use areas and campgrounds. Profusion of paper, can and bottle litter is a deplorable eyesore, which spoils not only our scenery and perception of the pristine wilderness, but in many cases puts man, beast and the environment at risk.
As a result of these representations, the select committee made two recommendations. We recommended that a deposit of 20 cents on wine and liquor bottles be introduced. I am pleased to report that within a year of this report being tabled, a deposit of 25 cents was levied on such bottles.
As a result of such action, the appearance of wine and liquor bottles along the highways has decreased dramatically. A second recommendation called on the Government of the Yukon to launch an education campaign promoting a litter-free environment. Committee members suggested that our government must take an active role in fostering an anti-litter consciousness, through an aggressive advertising campaign.
In my opinion, our government has taken some measures, which have had some positive impact. For example, the Division of Transportation has placed garbage containers at strategic points along highways, such as pull-over sites, rest areas, scenic lookouts, and services them on a regular basis. The Community Services Branch provides grants annually to municipalities to assist with their spring clean-up operations. I think, however, that more can be done by various departments of this government to improve our campaign to combat litter. For example, our tourism brochures and fishing and hunting synopsis could be used to promote a litter-free environment. Environment Week could be used to better advantage to achieve this end.
This government has taken another measure to deter littering. The Highways Branch has erected signs at various points along our highways which state: up to $500 fine for depositing litter on highways. Unfortunately, these signs have little effect as a deterrent, because no one has been charged with the offence and fined accordingly, as as there is currently no law, under any act whatsoever, be it the Highways Act, the Public Health Act, or the Motor Vehicles Act, that clearly states that it is an offence to deposit litter on our highways. Although the RCMP have had many opportunities to charge an individual with littering, and would certainly like to, they are powerless to do so.
The intent of this bill is to make the depositing of litter on our highway right-of-ways an offence, punishable with a maximum fine of $500. The amount of the fine is not only consistent with the information that already appears on our road signs, but also fits the crime. Litter on our highways is a territory-wide issue. The introduction of new measures designed to deter littering is a top priority of all Yukoners. This is why I have brought this bill forward today, instead of waiting for some time in the future when the Highways Act is reviewed and overhauled.
Yukoners want action now. I implore all hon. Members of this House to support their demands to help combat litter, by giving speedy passage to this bill.
Mr. Brewster: I have not got very much to say, but they all pointing at me, so I guess that I should get up again. I think that they all feel that I am enjoying my life here, being quiet all day, but I am up now. Of course I would have to agree with the bill, because I sat on the select committee with the hon. Member from Dawson. However, I would have to disagree with him on the one thing that he did say, that litter barrels are always picked up and cleaned. I can understand why he would say it, sitting on that side of the House, with four Ministers sitting below him, but the facts are that they are not picked up. My friend, the raven, gets in there and he takes that stuff and moves it down the road, so that it is scattered all over.
I will say, in all fairness, however, that it has become better every year and during the summer, when they have young people working for the department, the barrels are cleaned up a little better. On Sunday, I drove from Haines Junction to my place and there must have been 20 ravens having a lot to eat. They had it scattered all over. People will not keep places clean if the places are not clean when they get there; it is a fact of life and we all know it. Anybody who has been to Disneyland know that this is a fact of life. The little birds there that get anything to eat have to come on the table with you, because there is not a crumb laying around, and there are lots of little birds there. If you watch people, nobody leaves their trays there, or anything, they are put back where they are supposed to be. I found that in restaurant businesses also. If you keep your washrooms clean, they will stay clean. If you are not clean, other people give up and do it, and this is what happens with these garbage cans. They get full, the tourist comes along and tries to throw one on there and it falls off - where is he going to put it? He leaves it there, then, and pretty soon the raven gets it, and away we go.
I certainly agree with the bill and I have no problem with looking at it and agreeing with it completely, but I think that the Member for Klondike is quite right. The government has to be a little more strict with their cleaning up, too. They put these barrels out to collect garbage - good - but then they should collect it and not let it pile up, because the ravens sure love that. The ravens leave the garbage dumps and come down because it is a little cleaner there; they are not dumb. They know where to get it and then they scatter the plastic around.
Mr. McLachlan: I have never heard such a pile of garbage in all my life.
If the government Members would stop throwing these garbage and refuse bills at us, we would have a chance to discuss important economic things, such as economic development and tourism potential around Dawson City - things like this that might be a great benefit for the riding of the Member for Klondike.
When I proposed a private Members bill, it had a lot more feeling and emotion and was designed to correct a social wrong that was prevalent in the territory. It had to do with the issue of home owner grants, which is much more related to the current problems. Unfortunately, it ran into an unfeeling, difficult, intransigent Minister of Justice who, for whatever reasons, decided he was going to toss the bill out. I believe he could not handle the content of the bill and had no way of effectively coming back and saying it was wrong.
I wondered why the Member proposed a $500 fine. I wondered about $5,000. Nobody would dare throw away a Big Mac wrapper at that price. I wanted to hear the Member talk about the number of investigations that had been carried out for potential prosecutions that had not been able to be recorded, but he did not give us that figure.
I would like to propose that the Members opposite consider the idea that has been put forward in the Province of Manitoba that, at least until eight days ago, was a great basket of NDP support until the great red tide washed in and put the orange, brown, green, or whatever the current wishy-washy colour is at the moment, down into third place oblivion.
I would like the Members opposite to think of the idea of the Province of Manitoba, which was promoted with a great deal of success by having the people throw their garbage into orbit. What they did there was to design an orbital type of garbage container, with a slide-up door that was closed so the ravens could not get at it. Think of the work potential. Think of the jobs created in the territory. We could either manufacture these by hiring an extra 100 welders or, if the demand is great enough, we could even start our own orbit plan. We could export them out of the territory, et cetera, ad infinitum.
The most important thing is that we would have an orbit every 10 miles, and there is some 18,000 kilometres of Yukon Government highway. We recently debated a motion in this House, put forward by the Leader of the Official Opposition, about the construction of extra pull-outs. Each one of the pull-outs would have an orbit, and people would be able to throw away the oil cans, the garbage cans, the pop cans, whatever the garbage in the truck was, into orbit.
As the Member for Kluane has indicated, if they are not dumped, they often pile up and spill over. I would propose that, in the winter time, all the employees of the Department of Renewable Resources whom we lay off when the campgrounds are closed, be then hired to go around and burn or dump them. Instead of coming down with the heavy hammer all the time, perhaps the Members opposite could be a little more imaginative and think of other ways by which the garbage could be contained, instead of saying we are going to haul you up in court, fine you, string you up, chase you around, and collect the fine. I suggest the Members use a little more imagination when they bring forward a private Members bill such as this.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: May I have your further pleasure?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I move that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Minister of Justice that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
Speaker leaves the Chair
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Deputy Chairman: Committee of the Whole will now come to order. Considering the fact that we have come through a grueling two and one-quarter hours of debate, do Members wish a coffee break?
Some Hon. Members: No.
Deputy Chairman: Is it the wish of the Opposition Members, who are so worn out, to take a coffee break and recommence in 15 minutes?
Some Hon. Members: No.
Bill No. 101 - An Act to Amend the Highways Act
Mr. Lang: On a Point of Order. Do I have to stand up and assist the Member for Klondike - and I seem to be doing fairly continuous - on how to pilot his bill through - which is so obviously controversial that everybody is jumping to their feet to speak to it? Perhaps you could read the preamble to see if there is any dissatisfaction from any Members here, then we could proceed with it. I do not see a lot of dissension on this side of the House and if the Member is going to make his mark in this House through a bill of this kind, who am I to stop him?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: On the same Point of Order I must say I am bowled over with the eloquence and the persuasive rhetoric of the Member for Porter Creek East. On a procedural motion, I would move that the bill be deemed to have been given clause by clause reading, and then we go for coffee for 10 minutes.
Mr. Lang: I have no problem supporting this, and I look at this as a precedent for when private members bills do come forward in the future. I trust we get this kind of cooperation from the government side in view of the cooperation we are giving here today.
Deputy Chairman: Before we begin, I seek the direction of the House. I have proposed that we take a break for coffee first and I heard a response from the Opposition side and heard no response from the government side when I made that initial suggestion. Is it the wish of the Members that we take a short coffee break, or a long coffee break?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: There is a motion before the Committee. As a point of order, I would suggest that the motion should be dealt with.
Deputy Chairman: What is the motion?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I move that Bill No. 101 be deemed to have been given clause by clause reading, and further, that following the passage of this bill, we take a 15 minute coffee break.
Deputy Chairman: There must be unanimous consent to have the bill deemed read. Is there unanimous consent?
All Hon. Members: Agreed.
Motion agreed to
Title agreed to
Mr. Webster: I move that you report Bill No. 101, An Act to Amend the Highways Act, without amendment.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I move that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Deputy Chairman: Would you like to withdraw the motion or amend it?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I would withdraw that motion.
Deputy Chairman: There will be a 15 minute recess to end this agony.
Bill No. 50 - Second Appropriation Act, 1988-89 - continued
Department of Education - continued
Chairman: The Committee of the Whole will now come to order.
We will continue with general debate on the Department of Education, Bill No. 50.
Mrs. Firth: When we were last in debate, we listened to the Minister tell us about how great his management of education was and I am not going to respond to any of the comments because I do not want to keep all Members of the House here for ever and ever and ever. I just want to put on the record that I think the government listed in order of priority exactly what their priorities are: one, Yukon College; two, education for Indian people; three, public schools education. I would like to express a concern that perhaps there have not been a lot of new initiatives but, rather, other initiatives from former governments that have been enhanced upon but I will not say that as a formal comment. I will just keep it to myself and the Minister and I can debate it at some length at some other time.
I would like to ask the Minister some specific questions about some of the studies that have been done, just to follow up and see if there are any conclusions being arrived at. The facilities studies for rural and urban schools were to conclude in a study group that was going to make some recommendations to government. The city and government officials were involved on this committee. Can the Minister report to us as to what the status of those rural facility studies are, and what direction the Department of Education is going to be taking regarding those two studies?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Despite the Members best efforts, I think she has come very close starting the debate that she says she wants to avoid. The government certainly does have some top priorities and they have, in my opinion, been no slouches on a full range of other areas with respect to education. Take, for example, even libraries or archives, which have not been mentioned once by anybody so far. I think what we have so far is an act; we have increased responsibilities for communities; we have increased resources at the community level. I think what has been happening with libraries and archives generally has been very positive and it has not been mentioned by anybody as a top priority, yet a great deal of activity has happened there.
From some Members, a lot of the words just leak out almost without any effort whatsoever.
I would just like to remind everyone that there is all kinds of opportunity to make all kinds of comments, and make them on the record, and that is the way that it should be.
There are a number of a top priorities and I think that there is a great deal of activity going on in all the areas, and I am proud of that.
The Rural and Urban Facilities Studies are studies geared to analyzing capital requirements, on the capital side, for the entire school system. There were joint efforts made with the City, which have proven fruitful, and with the Education Council, concerning the joint action plan for the whole territory, urban and rural alike, and Whitehorse and the rest of the territory alike.
One of the major reasons for combining the two was that there were concerns about the areas in the immediate periphery of Whitehorse not being adequately addressed unless there was an integrated plan. The plan has now been approved at the Ministerial level and with the Education Council, and, because there are capital plan implications, it is going to go to Cabinet. It is on its way, and, once approved, it will be made public to school committees, and their comments will be sought. Hearing nothing from them, or hearing something from them that requires change of the plan, there will still be every intention of using the plan - or however it is manipulated as a result of the final public consultation - in the Capital Estimates discussion in August, when the Capital Estimates are first devised by the Department of Education. As I say, that plan is on its way to Cabinet and once it is approved it will be made public.
Mrs. Firth: Can the Minister give us some idea when that will happen?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I would say that within the next two to three weeks it will made public.
Mrs. Firth: I would expect that the Minister would extend the same courtesy, and provide us with a copy when he sends it to the school committees, and makes it public?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Absolutely. I will do that for the Member for Riverdale South and also for the Member for Faro.
Mrs. Firth: Thank you. Can the Minister bring us up to date on what has happened with the FH Collins assessment? What is the status of that report? There were some directions that were given to the school administration, to the departmental administration, to the school committee, and to the teachers and parents. Would he report back on that?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: A number of recommendations were suggested, of an internal nature, with the school committee, the school administration, and the department. To my knowledge, the recommendations have been discussed with the school committee and with the administration. Some improvements have been made, especially with respect to the communication between the school and the school committee. The school committee has expressed to me that they feel that certain improvements have been made and I am happy to see this happen. Generally speaking, the recommendations have been given every consideration by the department and by the school committee and they will be working on remedial action where they deem it appropriate.
Mrs. Firth: What has been done? It is fine to say it has been considered, and remedial action will be taken, but what has been done on the recommendations that were made to the department?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am not familiar with all the details of all the recommendations. If the Member has a particular recommendation she would like to see the progress reported on, I could undertake to provide a detailed answer as to what the department has done.
Mrs. Firth: I do not think I should have to come here and read out each recommendation and ask the Minister what was done on it. He is telling us this action has been taken and there have been some improvements and, so far, the only indication of anything being done is that the communication between the school committee and the administration of the school has improved.
I would like the Minister to bring back information that supports his claim that there has been something done.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: That is a broad, broad, broad question to ask what is happening with the whole evaluation study and to report progress on every single recommendation. It would assist me in providing the information if the Member would be a little more specific about the areas she would like to see reported on. If she wants me to give a comprehensive report on all the recommendations, I do not think I can do that. If the Member has some specifics she wants a report on, I would be more than happy to ask the department to provide the report.
Mr. McLachlan: In the list of corrections that was passed out in the area of transportation, why do the figures that are provided in the budget book for the busing costs include fuel?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: We have purchased gas for the contractor for a number of years now. I am not sure when it started, but it was between 1982 and 1985 because, at the time, the negotiators for the agreement decided that, rather than worry about gas prices in particular communities, worry about the gas price increases, which were little more than volatile at that time, it was simply best to give the contractor a credit card to purchase the gas and report the mileage, and the government would buy the gas.
Mr. McLachlan: Does that also apply to the contractor operating in Watson Lake, as well?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I believe so.
Mr. McLachlan: What happens when the contractor uses those buses to move children on school expeditions from Watson Lake to the Polar Games in Mayo? Is the credit card good for universal use throughout the territory? Is it a gas supply that is only provided in the community the contractor operates in? What about the field trips?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The contractor is contracted to provide a specific service and that is transporting the children from a certain pick up point to school and then home from school in the afternoon. The fuel that is provided for that service is provided on top of the contract price. The fuel that is required for an extra-curricular trip would have to be borne as a separate expense either by the school or the department depending on the trip to be undertaken, or by volunteers - whoever is contracting those extra-curricular services.
Mr. McLachlan: Is the credit card that is provided to the contractor used at a service station fill-up?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Yes.
Mr. McLachlan: So the contractor does not maintain bulk storage and refueling facilities on his own premises?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am trying to think of any exceptions, but I cannot think of any. I am certain that Diversified or Watson Lake Bus Lines purchase fuel at local retail outlets.
Mr. McLachlan: Where is the cost advantage to doing it that way? Since when do the service stations sell gas at a lesser price than using bulk storage facilities on ones own premises?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There is every intention of supporting local service station operators. As far as I can remember, even prior to the change, I cannot remember the fuel being part of the contract. I was not aware that the contractor ever provided their own fuel in the rural communities. I will check on details to make sure I am right on this. I am not certain about what happens in Whitehorse, but in the rural communities, I am pretty certain that the contractor purchases fuel at retail outlets from around the territory. The only difference between the practice prior to the credit card and the practice after the credit card was that the cost of fuel was borne separately from the contractual arrangement with the contractor. The contractor would get a set price for providing the service and the gas directly attributable to the operation would be charged directly back to the government through the credit card.
Mr. McLachlan: That should only work if the government is excise tax-free on the gasoline that is purchased from the service stations. In other words, private contractors do not pay excise tax on the gasoline, and it would work the same way were Government Services fueling its own fleet as Community and Transportation Services does. I was not aware that this was happening. I am not convinced that there is any cost saving on this mechanism. No matter what the discount is at the service station, it is still not as great as if the gasoline is purchased excise tax free. That is 1.5 cents per litre for the millions of litres that are purchased for operation of the buses, and it will be in the millions.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Member knows that as a matter of policy, the Department of Highways does the same thing. The department purchases fuel at local retail outlets because that large purchase allows many small retailers the ability to stay in business. I can think of two examples right now where that purchase by a highways camp alone is responsible for enough volume to allow the retailer to stay in business on a year round basis. It is a measure of support for local retailers to have gas purchased this way.
I am not sure about what happens in Whitehorse. I will check with the department on that detail.
Mr. McLachlan: I am shaking my head because although it is true in the small communities, it is not true of the large Whitehorse-based contractors. If the Minister checks his figures, he will see that most of the miles run in the busing contract are run by the Whitehorse-based contractor. For him to purchase gas at service stations, is not a saving to the Department of Education, no matter how it is cut.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am not in a position to pass judgement on that last statement at this point. I do know that the contractor has, one way or another, purchased gas from retailers. That fact has been very much appreciated by retailers. It may not provide in the narrow sense for cost savings for the Department of Education, but it does help provide support for local retailers in the communities.
It would be inappropriate to pick on just the gas retailers. There are other retailers in communities that it is important to encourage the government departments to patronize. This is the way that it has been done historically. It has partly been done in recognition of support for retails sales operations.
Mr. McLachlan: I appreciate the Ministers answers, but that is exactly the type of fact that is going to be uncovered in the fuel price inquiry. Will the Minister have those figures checked at the appropriate time?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The fuel price inquiry is not going to have to do much digging to uncover this particular piece of information. Certainly, that has been the policy of the Departments of Highways and Education for a very long period of time and, as Walter Cronkite used to say, Thats the way it is.
Mrs. Firth: Could the Minister update us on the status of the discussion paper resulting from the education task force? The last time he talked to us about it, he said it had to go to Cabinet. Can he tell us whether it has gone yet and when he expects we will be able to have it in the House?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It has not gone yet. It has received some Cabinet scrutiny. It has certainly received a lot of scrutiny by me, but I cannot state exactly when it is going to go. I have given a general ballpark already with respect to when I think it will be complete. Certainly, drafts of it are all ready and, as I indicated once before, as soon as I can get the document complete and printed, it will be made public.
Mrs. Firth: In some of the Ministers announcements, he talked about some of the initiatives in Indian education. Can he tell me who will be on the Indian curriculum committee, how big a committee it will be, and what the mandate is going to be of that committee?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There is going to be an attempt to encourage the participation of all the Indian bands in the territory to participate on this committee. A representative from each band was anticipated at this time. They will meet to discuss the territorial projects and, also, community projects, and provide advice and direction to the curriculum development coordinator with respect to what projects to proceed with, and pass judgment and comment on the projects underway.
Mrs. Firth: Is this committee to serve the function that the Council for Yukon Indians is requesting, when the representatives spoke of a commission so that Indian people could have input into the direction of education, or is this something different?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I would class this as something different. It may evolve into something else, but our plans at this point are as I have stated them to be. We have not responded to the Council for Yukon Indians with respect to the desire for an Indian education committee. We have not received formal notification that that is what they are requesting, either.
The Kwiya Report recommended an Indian education committee, or central Indian authority, if you want to use the jargon of the 1984 AIP. The Council for Yukon Indians made it clear they wanted to have the matter approved by the CYI board. Prior to taking it to the CYI board, they held a native education conference and, at that conference, I understand that they did endorse the Kwiya Reports recommendation for an Indian education committee, although I have not had that formally transmitted to me. Before transmitting it to the government, they wanted to get it approved by the CYI Board, which I understand they may have done by now. I was told the recommendations would be coming forward in a letter form with respect to the aspirations of CYI and a number of bands. I have not yet received that letter.
Mrs. Firth: There has also been some discussion about guaranteed representation on school committees for Indian people. What is the governments position regarding this?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The current position of the government is as per the education act. It is a pure vote, free election situation by all parents in a particular school district. That is the policy of the government. Any changes to the policy would be made public through the education paper, which is receiving Cabinet scrutiny.
Mrs. Firth: Are they going to agree with it, if it is recommended?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I hope the Member can appreciate the position she is trying to put me in here. If a member of the public came up and asked me what the policy was with respect to the selection of the school committees, I would say the elections are open and one-person-one-vote elections, with no guaranteed seats. Any changes to that would come forward through the position paper the government is tabling. That has not yet been finalized, so I am not at liberty to indicate one way or another where the government may decide to move.
Mrs. Firth: Is the cross-cultural education program the Minister announced going to be a compulsory program for teachers and workers within the government?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: In its conception, it was not considered to be compulsory, but it would be highly desirable for as many people as possible to take it. In its original conception, it was not considered to be mandatory. If we expected large numbers of teachers to take it, we would want to involve the Yukon Teachers Association in that decision.
Mrs. Firth: So, the Minister is saying he has not yet decided whether it would be mandatory for teachers to take the program. Do I understand him correctly?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am not sure if that would be a fair characterization. In its original conception, it was not considered to be a mandatory program. Any changes to that may change that but, at this point, there is every indication and every intention to make it a voluntary program.
Mrs. Firth: I asked the Minister a question in the House a few weeks ago about a newspaper article about the principals having more spending and ordering authority, so we did not have the problems identified in Mr. Smiths report.
Can the Minister report if the principals are going to be given this additional authority?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: As the purchasing is done through Government Services, I should be properly allowing the Minister of Government Services to respond to the question.
In terms of general direction, the Department of Government Services, the Department of Education and the principals all feel it is desirable for there to be more latitude for principals to do the ordering themselves for the schools. There is every desire to make the system happen with a faster turnaround time from the date of decision to purchase to the day the materials arrive.
With those principles in mind, Government Services, Education, and the schools are working out a system that is workable and meets the objectives.
Mrs. Firth: I want to know whether it is going to happen or not.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I have every intention of it happening, and I think that it will happen; yes.
Mrs. Firth: Can the Minister give us any indication of when that will become the new policy?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I hope that it becomes the policy as soon as possible. Those objectives will be met through policy change before the next school year.
Mrs. Firth: There has been a fair amount of coverage in the media lately about the disease AIDS. I understand there is a compulsory educational program on AIDS in the school system. Can the Minister tell us something about that compulsory program?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The BC government provided a new program about AIDS through their family life program. This document is the program guideline. I will send it across in a minute. The program itself was developed in BC as part of the ministrys new family life education curriculum, which incorporated a component on AIDS. Because it required fairly limited in-service training for teachers, it was able to be implemented into our program immediately upon receipt. That is the core of the AIDS education, although the department does take program materials from other ministries around the country and uses those materials to provide support for instruction through our family life program. That has all been done within the last couple of months.
Chairman: The time now being 5:30 p.m., we will now recess until 7:30 p.m.
Chairman: The Committee of the Whole will now come to order. We will continue with general debate, Department of Education.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: To give some Members some time to return from the hockey game, I will answer a question from the Member for Faro regarding busing contractors. The situation was as I had explained it respecting rural communities. Busing contractors are provided with credit cards. They do purchase fuel at local retail outlets in the communities, and the bills are forwarded to the Department of Education who verify with busing records supplied to the department. The bills are then paid by the Department of Education.
In Whitehorse, Diversified Transportation has installed fuel tanks on their property. These tanks are filled every couple of weeks following tender procedure issued by Government Services. They are then drained by the busing company to perform busing services. The same procedure applies to both fuel tanks in rural areas. The busing company verifies its records of the miles traveled with the Department of Education. The department then pays for the fuel.
Mr. McLachlan: Does the government have any discounted price that it pays the service station operators through Government Services or Education, or does it pay the full pump price?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: We pay the full pump price. The Department of Highways, for example, takes the lowest pump price as determined by the highway foreman at the beginning of every month. If the pump price goes up, they will have another look at the pump prices in the district to see if they will change retail outlets.
On Finance and Administration
Mrs. Firth: Could the Minister give us a person year breakdown for this please?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Is the Member looking for a person year breakdown for the department or just for Finance and Administration?
Mrs. Firth: I am looking for Finance and Administration.
Chairman: This is Finance and Administration, general debate.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Perhaps what I could do is to give a quick breakdown of the difference in the 1987-88 and the 1988-89 budget, in total. There is not a great deal of change and I can probably identify exactly where there are changes in this particular branch.
The department this year has forecasted to have 598.6 person years. The 1988-89 Estimates show an increase to 603 person years. What I could do is to indicate where the changes are projected to come. It is a difference between 598.6 and 603.02. In terms of increases to the person year complement, there are projected to be six person years approved for Yukon College for 1988 due to the move to the new college site, for custodial and security services. There are 2.5 for student accommodation for the Yukon College, and two are for the Early Childhood instructor term positions for the Yukon College. There are deletions of two and a half term person years, as a result of the exodus from the Nisutlin campus, and three person years as a result of deletion in the policy planning unit, due to the fact that the special projects were scheduled to wind up. There was also 0.42 of a person year was the result of a French language term that ended in the 1986-87 year - there was a minor adjustment of 0.16 - that should indicate the difference in person years in the entire department.
Mrs. Firth: Can the Minister tell us when they are going to replace the individual who was responsible for the gifted program? Barb Ballard, I believe is the last individual we had working there and her position was not filled.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It is not through lack of trying. They have been trying to fill the position. It has gone to competition four times. They hope that the last round of recruitment will produce a successful candidate. Up until now they have been unable to find someone. I understand that the short listing is taking place now in the latest recruitment round and I am told they are more hopeful now than they have been.
Mrs. Firth: Could the Minister tell us what we have been doing with the salary dollars that were allocated to this position?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The position is part of Program Delivery in Public Schools. I might be able to get some indication of where the dollars had been reallocated with some notice. We just went through the supplementary estimates that detailed where the money went over the course of the last year. As the Member will remember, there were a number of overages and underages in Public Schools and I believe there was a request for a supplementary there. It included an extra $1,470,000 for Public Schools in the period nine estimate last year. The savings we had sought were directed toward such things as over expenditures due to YGU increases, the extra salaries required for staffing Yukon Hall for auxiliaries, et cetera - there was a long list - teacher on half pay while suspended, over expenditures due to hiring two teacher aides for exceptional children. There is a long list and there were obviously offsets that were found, which included the salary of this vacant person year over the period of the year.
Mrs. Firth: In the Supplementary Estimates, I do not recall the Minister saying that the salary dollars for this position had been included in that $1,470,000. That is why I am asking the question. Could he bring back an answer for me as to exactly where the salary dollars were allocated for this position, because the position has been vacant for some time now? I imagine it amounts to quite a few thousand dollars.
I note that the person year establishment for the policy and planning program is decreased by 60 percent. From looking at the budget last year, I see there were five person years there, and we are now down to two. What is that all about?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: With respect to the public schools from last year, as I indicated, there were over expenditures and under expenditures last year. One of the under expenditures would have been in the area of the vacancies that would exist in the Public Schools Branch. However, there were over expenditures due to a variety of other things, which I explained in the Supplementary Estimates, and I doubt whether the funding for this particular salary was directed in a specific direction, but was merely tallied as an underage and offset against the over expenditures that were experienced in the department.
I indicated there were three terms that were deleted at the end of the fiscal year, to take it from five to two. There were two permanent positions in the policy unit in Education. It was supplemented some time ago by three terms for the period of the education act task force review and the College Act White Paper, so the public discussion could be undertaken. Because those items have now wound down, and there is a contract on the table, and the work on the education act is complete but for the final draft of the philosophy paper, it was felt there would be no more need for the three term policy people, and that the permanent policy unit could handle that load.
Mrs. Firth: Could the Minister provide me with a break down of the changes of the person years for the department like he did last year? I was given a form that had all the justifications of the changes in the person years for all the different programs and areas of the department. That would be very helpful for us to follow the changes that have been made.
There is an increase in the budget for the person year establishment in Libraries and Archives and, also, in Advanced Education. The Minister has explained the Advanced Education increase from 122.5 to 128.5, I believe. Can the Minister tell us what the Libraries and Archives person year establishment change is due to?
When the Minister gave me the break down of the six new person years to Yukon College, and he broke down the 2.5 for Yukon College and two for Early Childhood Development, were those included in the six, or are those in addition to the six?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Those are in addition to the six. I believe we are talking about the native programs coordinator position. Page 105 shows a change of none from the forecast to the Main Estimates. There is a one-half year native coordinator position that is to funded fully in this year that was added in the last fiscal year. Therefore, it shows up as a half-time term in Libraries and Archives from 1986-87 to 1987-88. It shows no change between the 1987-88 forecast and the 1988-89 Main Estimates.
Mrs. Firth: I am referring to page 91, Libraries and Archives Branch, where we are showing a 14 percent change in the Main Estimates. We are talking about the person year establishment and the general budget identification. Is that increase due to something other than person year establishment?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Page 91 shows all expenditures. The 14 percent line item in Libraries and Archives would refer to everything, staff and materials. It does not only refer only to the personnel. There is an additional position for a part-time auxiliary photo technician to take care of backlogs.
Apart from that, the person year complement should not change. Perhaps when we get to Libraries and Archives, I can better explain the detail of why there is an increase there.
Mrs. Firth: I am looking at the same page 91, where the Advanced Education has gone to 128.5. Last year it was 122.5. Can the Minister tell me where these other person years are included in Advanced Education, the ones I referred to earlier, the 2.5 for Yukon College and the two for the Early Childhood Development Instructor course?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: As I indicated, there were some offsets there. Some of the person years were removed. Two and a half were removed from Nisutlin campus - I will check again - two and a half were removed from Nisutlin campus, but two and a half were added to student accommodation for Yukon College, so those would have netted themselves out. The Early Childhood instructors are two term positions, because the course is expected, at least initially, to run three years.
Mrs. Firth: Do I get the impression, then, that the department has just dropped a few person years here, or dropped the positions, and replaced them with two others? What have they done - just changed the title or the classification or the name of the position? Are they pairing one off with the other? The term positions that he just referred to are for three years. Are they going to be term positions for a three-year period of time?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Some positions were dropped because they were no longer needed. Other positions were added because they are needed. I have indicated where the ones that are needed are located. They net out to the difference between 598 and 603, for indeterminate and term, together. There is a net increase is almost five.
If a position was required at Yukon College that was different from that which was required at Nisutlin campus, then the position description would change and it would be redrafted and there would be a reoffering. If it was a transfer of position, I presume that there would not be any change in position description or even change of personnel, but they would be removed from the Nisutlin campus and moved to the college. There would be a reduction at Nisutlin campus and a replacement at the college, for a net of zero.
Mrs. Firth: Does the Minister have to go to Management Board to get that authorized? What the department is essentially doing is saying that we do not need these two person years any more and we will use them somewhere else. I wonder if they have to go to Management Board, because they are adding person years to another program. I was not of the impression that they could just net out their person years throughout the whole department without getting a commitment from Management Board that that was, in fact, a necessary requirement and a necessary justification.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Firstly, the programs are the same. They are both advanced education. One is Yukon College, Nisutlin Campus, and the other is the new college. It is the same program.
The person year complement for the department is certainly all new person years that have to be approved by Management Board. I a not totally 100 percent conversant with all the details with respect to Management Board guidelines for approvals of person years or changes of person years. I have to check on details so as not to provide inaccurate information. I will be careful.
With respect to the situation here, it was simply a replacement of those who were working at Nisutlin and putting new positions in at the College.
Mrs. Firth: I appreciate what the Minister is saying, but I think it is something that we have to follow up on. Adding new person years is very serious and has serious implications. From the comments that the Government Leader made I am of the understanding that there are certain procedures that have to be gone through regarding the authorization of new person years and that Management Board had to authorize the new person years. Perhaps the Minister could answer that when he brings back the breakdown of the person years, if there needs to be a further answer.
I am prepared to move into the line by line. I would like to ask some more specific questions about advanced education, but I will wait until we get to that area of the budget.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The difference here is due to personnel costs, which included $40,000 to cover the transfer of an administration officer from advanced education, and approximately $46,000 to cover the additional 1.35 person year approved for the additional custodial service required due to space expansion at Jeckell and Carcross Schools. The rest of the increase in personnel costs is related to the impact of salary increases and that explains the basic difference.
There was a difference in the cost of the bus contracts. There was a 3.1 inflation factor, for $123,000. Some of it was offset by reduction of fuel costs due to more energy-efficient buses that had been brought into the system. There was a minor increase for the travel of the deputy minister who will be attending additional meetings as a result of discussions with Alaska and the NWT on protocol.
There is also one extra meeting, the Circumpolar Education Conference, which is scheduled to come up shortly. It is also covered under this vote, for a total difference between the 1987-88 forecast and the 1988-89 budget.
Mrs. Firth: Can the Minister tell us how much has been spent in this particular area for all government officials within this part of Education for travel?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The total travel for the deputy minister is $21,000, and that is the total in administration.
Mrs. Firth: Can the Minister tell us whether or not the department has been using up all its travel budget, or was any of the money used for the Supplementary Estimate we needed for the Department of Education?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There were some people who were a little over budget last year, and some people who were a little under budget. I do not recall any outstanding item in travel last year, either an over expenditure or an under expenditure.
Mrs. Firth: Could the Minister bring that information back to us? The Minister has mentioned several things now that were used to provide the additional monies that were required in the Supplementary Estimates, and I would like to try and get a handle on just how much money had lapsed within the department that could be used to pay off the Supplementary Estimates, so to speak. When those positions are filled, and all the travel was used, the request for the supplementary could have been much higher. I would like to get some kind of feel for the total amount of funds that had lapsed and where the funds were, whether they were all in positions that were not filled - vacant positions - or whether it came from travel, and so on. I know the Minister has said he gave me a list in the Supplementary Estimates of where there were over expenditures and where there were under expenditures, but they are in a generalized way, and I would like to get something a little more specific.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I would like to know, specifically, what the Member is asking regarding last years Supplementary Budget. Is the Member asking for information about travel under expenditures that were dedicated for the whole department?
Mrs. Firth: Yes, and vacant positions.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: If the Member is not asking for the information too soon, then I will try to find it.
Mrs. Firth: I do not think that it is an unreasonable request. I am not asking for some big financial audit. I know that the department has the budget broken down into sheets and sheets of paper. The book might be thick, but the detail is all there, and I would just like some idea of how much of that money is being used in the event that all of this years positions are filled and all the travel time used. The Minister has mentioned that there are additional conferences that have to be attended, and so on. I will be curious to know where the money will come from if there are Supplementary Estimates following this budget. That is what I am looking for.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I hope that the Members appreciate the magnitude of this task. There are 600 positions in this department, many of which are vacant for a short period of time. An audit must be done of the positions to determine exactly what fraction of a position was vacant and what money lapsed as a result of that fraction for each position that was vacant in the entire department. There are umpteen travel budgets in the department, in each section, for various reasons. I would have to go back to the Main Estimates and then track it through the Main Estimates, through the Supplementary Estimates, One and Two, and take into account the period 13 A and B accounts, which show the actual expenditures, given what was budgeted over the course of the two Supplementary Estimates for travel, et cetera - this is not a minor task. This is a major task, so if the Member is willing to wait for awhile, then I can provide the information; if she is not, then there is nothing very much that I can do about it.
It is a general rule of thumb in the budgets, and it has always been the case since I have been here - even when I was not in a position that was the case - that you budget what you anticipate will be an expenditure in the coming year for a particular trip. For example, you know you will have to attend two or three Ministers of Education meetings as a department official. Things happen during the course of the year where you do not go on a particular trip that you had budgeted for because any number of things may have come up. There may have been duties in terms of supplying information to the House, which curtailed your trip plans. On other occasions - I am referring to Ministers of Education, because those are the only trips I go on - I will go to Ministers of Education conferences and make a commitment to participate on a working committee on something, and you will suddenly find you have over-committed yourself, in terms of the original budget, so there are offsets. There are over commitments in some area, even in travel, and under commitments in travel. There are over commitments and under commitments based on what actually happens during the course of a particular year.
When the Supplementary Estimates come up, that is when the whole system is regularized so that the vote matches the activity. The Member is asking for a fair amount of detail. If I provide information to the House, I want it to be accurate, and I realize that this will require a fair amount of work.
Mrs. Firth: I am not asking for detail. I am asking the Minister how much money, in a general sense, lapsed because of positions that were not filled? How much lapsed because of travel that was not made? That is the kind of information that the department has to have when it makes up its budget. The department has to know how much money to ask the Minister for for new positions and for travel. I am not asking for detail of every position, every job and all travel. I just want general answers.
How does the department know to come and ask for so many dollars for its travel budget this year? Does it just add so many percent to what it had last year? Surely the Minister can see that it would be significant if there was a tremendous amount of money lapsing in the travel budget. Perhaps the department did not need that much in the first place. That is not an unreasonable question.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I would not permit the department to justify a travel budget simply by saying that it spent so much last year or it estimated so much last year and it wants a certain percentage increase because travel costs are up. It is quite the contrary. Every single trip that the department can project has to be budgeted for. There are no slush funds for travel. They do not tell the Minister what trips are projected, and, just in case a few other trips may come up, they want an extra $5,000 or $10,000. That is the basis upon which they receive, or do not receive, a certain level of funding. There is no possible way in the world that anybody could justify a travel budget based on a simple-minded increase to last years estimates.
Chairman: Is there anything further on Administration?
Administration in the amount of $350,000 agreed to
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I gave the breakdown for the total Finance and Administration section already, including the reasons for the facilities and transportation increase. If the Members want some specific information on these, I can provide that for them.
Mrs. Firth: What is the specific 20 percent change in that one line for?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I will have to go through the detail books. What I have here is the overall increase for the whole Finance and Administration Branch. I explained there was the transfer of the administration officer to this section, the additional forced growth for custodial services at Jeckell School and Carcross School, and the general increase for the department, which is the only other item apart from transportation, which was $420,000 for salary increase over the years forecast. That is the only justification. I will have to delve into the detail for anything more specific.
Mrs. Firth: That was the rationale I thought the Minister gave for the line that says administration, change 19 percent from $295,000 to $350,000. I am asking for the rationale for the Finance/Personnel, where it is going up 20 percent.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I just gave an explanation for both administration and finance and personnel. The reason for the increase in facilities and transportation was the increase in the cost of the busing contract.
Finance/Personnel in the amount of $386,000 agreed to
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I gave the reason for the increase. If the Members want to know better what is contained in this section, there is $94,000 allocated for operations; $1,773,000 for student transportation; $2,225,000 for custodial and security services and $199,400 for maintenance; for a total of $4,292,000.
Mr. McLachlan: I wanted to point out a couple of things to the Minister. As far as maintenance at Del Van Gorder School is concerned, we are suffering from five years of indecision between 1982 and 1986. The rugs are worn out and separating, the place is badly in need of a lot of paint, not all the lockers are usable, there are not enough computers to go around, of those that work. I am wondering if the Minister in his $199,000 has an identifiable figure for any maintenance scheduled to go into the school in Faro. This is not in the class section, this is in the school.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I had no idea that the situation in Faro was so incredibly bad. I know the department takes great pains to ensure the latest in computer equipment is available to the schools. There is a fairly significant budget for capital maintenance in the capital program, which provides for three quarters of what the Member has mentioned. This $199,000 is for the building maintenance personnel in the Department of Education. There is an electrician, a carpenter and a building maintenance man. It is the old education maintenance swat team. When Government Services is too busy to get a job done, the education maintenance team can be on the scene in short order and do a job for a school that is considered an emergency. This is for the salaries of the four personnel.
I will take as notice the question about carpeting and paint for the schools. I was not familiar with that. The Member paints a picture of woe for Del Van Gorder School even though we just got through a $700,000 retrofit of the gym area. I am sure the Department of Education can see its way clear to ensuring the walls are painted, as well, and if carpeting is separating it can be tacked down properly. If new carpet is necessary they can take care of that as well.
I will take the Members representation as notice and consult with the department with respect to the situation at Del Van Gorder.
Mr. McLachlan: Did the Minister say that the $199,000 is salary only for the people that do this work? There is no minor maintenance money in this budget for broken door locks or glass?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The $199,000 is for four personnel plus their travel from school to school. They sometimes run specialized equipment in running boiler systems, and they use the phone on occasion. That adds up to a total of $199,400, so the maintenance portion of this is for these personnel.
Mr. McLachlan: The Minister has some familiarity with the Department of Community and Transportation Services. It has recently decided to put a regional superintendent in Faro and have that person migrate east and west to do his job. I have always felt that the place that had the maintenance man also got first crack, had all their doors fixed and everything was working properly. Everybody else who was some kilometres from that jurisdiction did not get as much attention and the father away they got from the maintenance man, the worse the problem became sometimes.
Has the Minister, along with his fine job of relocating a divisional superintendent to Faro, also thought that the same thing could possibly apply to the school fixer-upper?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: By the way, the hockey game is 2-2 and five minutes into overtime.
The building maintenance team must serve all the schools in the territory. As it might be desireable to move more people in to Faro, we made an awfully good start with the transfer of the regional superintendent. The department does not have any plans to move the education maintenance team to Faro. It is closest to the greatest number of schools in Whitehorse that provides them the opportunity to service the greatest number of schools in the quickest possible time.
That is not always a good argument that I can make for locating people in Whitehorse, but it is an argument to make in terms of setting priorities for decentralization elsewhere. There are probably better candidates than the building maintenance crew.
Mr. McLachlan: The Member just left out part of the department. I was not referring to the maintenance man in Whitehorse. Is there not a maintenance man in Carmacks who services Faro and Ross River?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Now the Member is talking about the Government Services maintenance man. This is only for the Department of Education. Apart from the custodial staff who can sometimes provide minimum maintenance, these are the only maintenance personnel that we have. The majority of maintenance is done by Government Services. They are there as kind of a swat team to deal with emergencies on a call-out basis.
If Government Services, in their planned maintenance schedule, have their boiler mechanics in Old Crow or in Faro, and the furnace breaks down in Beaver Creek, the building maintenance teams responsibility is to get to Beaver Creek in a hurry, irrespective of whether or not Government Services is on call. Maybe they cannot get out there very quickly because of the highway, but they get out there as quickly as they can.
Facilities/Transportation in the amount of $4,293,000 agreed to
Finance and Administration in the amount of $5,029,000 agreed to
Chairman: Before we proceed to the next branch we will take a 15 minute break.
Chairman: Committee of the Whole will now come to order. The next branch is Policy and Planning, general debate.
On Policy and Planning
Hon. Mr. McDonald: As I explained, the term person year drop is due to a drop in salaries because of the completion of the college governance exercise and the education act exercise. Because these projects are winding up, there is no need to continue with the personnel to support these exercises.
Mrs. Firth: What is the 55 percent increase for? What is that total for?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The $133,000 for this branch is for the director of policy, the analyst and the secretary/researcher position, which was vacant for a while, for a total of $132,849.
The balance of the funding required is for employee travel in the Yukon, travel outside the Yukon, funds to cover the printing of additional copies of the task force report, to provide for professional services with respect to the printing of the education act report and communications. The special projects reports were the ones I mentioned before. They are finished so that has decreased to zero.
Mrs. Firth: I guess that means that we have about studied out the department in this area, if we have gone down to zero for special projects.
The Minister spoke about printing costs for the task force report and the education act report. What is the difference between them?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The printing costs for the education act task force are for extra copies for the education act. There are two documents: the position paper on the education act and the philosophy paper.
Mrs. Firth: Is that position paper not going to be printed by the Queens Printer, or is it being tendered out? Perhaps the Minister can break down the $51,000 into travel, printing, communications and so on.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The printing costs, even if done by the Queens Printer, will be charged back to the branch.
Perhaps I could come back on a new day with a break down of the item.
Chairman: If it is agreed, we will stand over this item and move along.
Policy and Planning stood over
On Public Schools
Hon. Mr. McDonald: In administration, we projected a decline as we do not believe the balloon cost in teacher recruitment relocation will be repeated. We have taken a five year average and feel we can reduce teacher relocation by $380,000. It will be offset by an increase in student accommodation costs due to the number of students in the dorm and the likelihood of the need to maintain two facilities, a portion of the Nisutlin campus, which had an overflow last year, and the St. Elias dorm.
That accounts for the difference in administration. The difference in program delivery will be increases in salary of $660,000, a projected increase in secretarial time for $68,000 time, a four percent increase in program materials for $15,000, an increase in teacher aides by 6.5 hours per day at $55,000, the Indian Teacher Education Program development for $40,000, the increase in field trip accounts for world students at $32,000, and there is a projected increase in the repair and maintenance of musical instruments and computers of $20,000: for a total of $891,000.
In program sport, there is a difference of $350,000: salary increases for $100,000, the Native curriculum development coordinators salary at $64,000, travel and program material for the coordinator at $32,000, the Indian Education Curriculum Advisory Committee at $21,000, the Indian Language Summer Institute in Fairbanks for $33,000, increased payment for the Yukon Native Language Centre at $57,000, the development of the grade four teacher handbook at $7,000 and the instructor for the Southern Tutchone language program at $30,000, for a total of $350,000.
In French language there is a projected increase of $111,000. It is simply due to the fact that in the forecast figure there was a staff vacancy in 1987-88 and it is budgeted now at full salary, for $15,000. Some travel was not utilized at $11,000 that is projected to be used this year. Salary increases at $35,000, increased program and test materials at $18,000, increased French library materials at $20,000, and the allowance to start two additional French core programs at $12,000. That explains the $111,000 difference in French language.
Mrs. Firth: Can the Minister tell us if there is going to be a dormitory at the Haines Junction school? Apparently the school committee has made some representation as well as the Member for Haines Junction and the Kluane Tribal Brotherhood. When is the Minister going to be able to give them a decision on that?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I have been providing decisions and requesting more clarification every time the request is made. We sent people to verify the exact number of students who are projected to use the facility in Haines Junction and the numbers do not materialize. I indicated in 1985-86 that if there was a requirement for rural students to go to Haines Junction and they required boarding we would do what we could to help. In that year we sought out a Yukon Housing Corporation unit that was vacant and made use of that. It seemed to me at the time to be nonsensical to construct a major facility in Haines Junction that would have to be maintained and staffed when the numbers projected for the use of the facility fluctuated greatly.
For that reason, the decision not to build a permanent dorm was made. Even if there were a few students at the school in Haines Junction, I am sure that the department would make every effort to accommodate them. We have done that in the past for the use of the Yukon Housing Corporation unit. If there are only a couple of students, it would be appropriate for those students to find private accommodation in Haines Junction.
I would be really interested if the Members could try something out at Haines Junction or in any other rural community. The theory that rural students going to rural high schools makes sense. However, it has to be supported by parents sending their students to that school. Every time we have asked Mr. Ferguson to do a review of possible clientele for the dorm, he has come up empty, or there have been very few students. Right now, there are two students projected to use a dorm next year. That is not enough to justify the construction and staffing of a dorm. If the numbers were to prove up, I would be the first to entertain a more sophisticated arrangement to accommodate those students. At the present time, I cannot see it.
If any of the school committees along the highway or if the Indian bands can indicate and prove up numbers greater than two, I am prepared to look at the issue again. When we do a parent by parent canvas, we do not come up with the numbers.
Mr. Brewster: I was not going to get into this one, but I will contribute a little bit. The school committee that turned this down a year ago did not look at the facts. They were hoodwinked by the department; someone in the department told them that the children did not want to stay in a dorm, that they wanted to go to Whitehorse. That is not the childrens decision to make at that age.
The dorm was put there on a trial basis. The woman who looked after it was also teaching, and it was a flop. The kids were doing everything including cooking their own meals. However, I was told last year that three kids from the Champagne Aishihik Band came to town when they would rather have been out of town, but there was no place for them to live.
This is the same old story of what comes first, the chicken or the egg. People usually make plans ahead of time and they had already made plans to come to town. The parents in Haines Junction are getting sick and tired of babysitting. They thought that they had gotten out of it, and last year they were put right back into it again. They do not have their weekends to themselves, and they are getting a little tired of it. Every one on the school board wants this looked at.
There is a problem and to build on it the way it is now is foolish. That house was vacant just until a little while ago. It could have been held until a decent try could have been made to use it as a dorm. We cannot expect a teacher to do both jobs, because the department is going to save money. The kids were cooking for themselves because she was away teaching and trying to do other things.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I would not call what happened in Haines Junction a couple of years ago an unqualified success by any means. There was an attempt to try to accommodate the students in that particular year in a more innovative way than building a full-scale dormitory.
I do not believe it is the childrens decision to decide where they are going to go but, certainly, the parents will have the ultimate say. We have never yet told a parent they have to send their child to any particular school. If the programs are not offered in the home community, we have left it up to the parents to make the ultimate decision.
What is so difficult about the decision making is that a lot of bravado is shown in some community meetings, but when it gets right down on an individual by individual basis to determine whether or not a son or daughter is going to go to Haines Junction or to JV Clarke School or to FH Collins, the students still flood into Whitehorse. That has been a problem, not only on the north highway, but it is a problem around the territory. Many times a request is made for a full high school program right up to grade 12 in some of the rural schools that do not have that. There is a large community meeting, and people demand a full high school program, and the government commits the high school program, hires the teachers, and the students come to FH Collins, and there may be one or two students left in the program at the grade 12 level.
It is a very difficult thing to anticipate. What the department has been doing in the last little while is sitting down in peoples kitchens and asking them exactly what it is they anticipate they want for their children, and try to get the best reading you can on it. As I understand it, parents are prepared to make commitments for two children next year who would come to Haines Junction. I know that, especially in the small communities, but even in Whitehorse, it is more difficult now to find people who are prepared to board children than it ever was. It is even rougher in a small community like Haines Junction. People do not like to babysit, and it is getting harder to find them. At the same time, you have weigh out what it costs to provide an alternative.
We tried what I thought was an innovative alternative in Haines Junction. It was not the best, it the ideal solution, but it was the best cost alternative of the day, and it was a darn sight more realistic than building a dormitory and staffing it.
It is anybodys call on this. If the numbers prove up and there are greater numbers, then we can consider a more elaborate solution. If there are numbers that are not only greater, but are consistently greater over a longer period of time, then we can make a longer term investment in it but, until the numbers prove up, we are going to have to use innovation. I am prepared to consider any innovation that is suitable, cost-effective, and meets the students needs, for those students who want to stay in a rural community and go to school.
Mr. Brewster: I am not going to carry this on any further. There was nothing wrong with the building that you had, and there was nothing wrong with the equipment, or anything else, so it was simply the difference of half of a person year, to pay one person the wages to stay there and supervise and see that they did their homework and did not pressure their teachers. However, I have gone all through this. I can recall when we had grade nine, and they told us that we could not have grade 10. It took us two years to knock them on the head to get grade 10; then we went for grade 11, and they said that we could not have enough people for grade 11. Within a year we had grade 11, and then we took the big jump into grade 12. I can remember a person in the Department of Education saying that we would get grade 12 over his dead body. Right in this building I asked him to lay down so that I could step over him, because he was dead - we got it. The only way that we are going to get the dorms is in the same way. If we had left that building for a year so that people knew that it was there and that there would be someone in there to look after those people, then there would have been five or six children in there.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Even with five children, I think that we would have to determine exactly what kind of supervision we could provide the children. One supervisor for six children on a full-time basis makes no financial sense. I say that from a rural Members perspective. To set up a dormitory and to have one full-time person overseeing six children, in a rural community, just makes no financial sense, given the priorities that the government must meet. If there are going to be more children, then I would say that we could give it a good shot.
The government has, in the past, done everything that it could to maintain programming in rural schools, irrespective of fluctuations in the numbers of students. We have maintained, especially in the Members own riding, staffing levels in schools, even when the school populations dropped well below what would otherwise be considered normal for a school. In Beaver Creek, with six students in the school, there is a teacher. In Destruction Bay, there are 13 students in the school with two teachers. That demonstrates a commitment to small rural schools and the maintenance of programming in those schools.
We must be careful not to develop long-term, large costs, when there are priorities to meet. I am sure that if we were to dedicate a person year or a full-time person to a dormitory and at the same time the school wanted another teacher, they would wonder why we were not dedicating that teacher to service 20 children in the school, rather than to simply cook for six children so that when the children came home at dinner time, there would be food. They would wonder about our priorities.
In Haines Junction, we tried to blend the services of a teacher - who was, as I understand it, working part-time - with the desire to provide an innovative solution to a dormitory for Haines Junction. Now, as the Member points out, it did not work out as well as we hoped, but it was an innovative solution. If the Member can think of a way to keep the costs the same and provide the service, then I am 100 percent in favour of it.
Mr. Brewster: I wish the Minister would not keep getting up disputing me, it keeps me getting up again.
I would think as a rural Member he realizes the little places have to have these things. I do not think he should be jumping up bragging because he has one teacher in Beaver Creek. Every one of those children have been forced to go there because their families are with the Department of Transport, YTG, RCMP, or Customs Canada. They do not particular appreciate being in that isolated place. Destruction Bay is the same thing. The Minister was quite prepared to run two schools until we finally got them all together. The Minister and I were in on the conversations to get 13 kids into one school to save one school. We did it.
I can recall when my daughter went to school here, there were 12 there and they had three women there and one that came to fill in for them. What about the cost for that? It was higher than the five or six.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There may be something about my tone of voice that irritates the Member, but I would defend anywhere the decision to keep teachers in Beaver Creek or Destruction Bay. I have to defend it because clearly the ultimate responsibility to provide teachers is the governments.
For the purpose of Hansard, the Member asked why I brought up the issue of Beaver Creek, and that is to demonstrate that even in small communities the government is prepared to keep a level of programming despite the fluctuation in the numbers of students that come and go. Destruction Bay had 19 students the year before that and it might have less than 13 next year. Beaver Creek has gone down to six, they might have 10 next year or three next year. It is important for the long term health of that community that people know that there will be a school in Beaver Creek and Destruction Bay. A lot of effort has been made to ensure this.
The commitment to provide programming to the various schools is a commitment that is quite secure. It does not only go to keeping certain schools open as in the case of Beaver Creek, but it includes maintaining a level of programming to ensure that there is some security that certain grades are going to be held over the long haul despite population fluctuations in small communities.
The same is true for busing services.
On teachers, busing services, et cetera the government has demonstrated a long term commitment to rural communities. That is true of Stewart Crossing - and I am sure the Member for Faro is not going to criticize that - it is true of Burwash Landing. The population numbers for a given year do drop off but there is a desire to ensure that the level of service is provided so that people who are thinking of setting up families will know the service will be there in the long haul.
When the Member suggests that the government is not sensitive to the need for a long term commitment to rural Yukon, I think the Member is wrong, there is a long term commitment there.
Mr. Brewster: I gather the answer was no. I am not going to get a dorm for Haines Junction. I do not know how we got into Beaver Creek. I do not know how we got to talking about these other towns.
Mr. Lang: This Minister who is so sensitive, and has such deep feeling that goes up and down his body every time he stands up, was responsible for putting all these schools in all these outlying communities. He is responsible for developing all of these policies. He does not mind standing up in this House and slapping himself on the back to the point where he starts to rattle in front of us.
How many children will it take to convince the department they should have a dormitory in Haines Junction? What is the departments policy?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Member for Porter Creek East has always demonstrated such incredible sensitivity that it makes the people in Elsa just shudder. The Member is notorious in rural Yukon for his incredible insensitivity to their worries. He does not shudder, but he makes the rural population in the territory shudder.
There is a great deal of subjectivity involved. There is a difference between subjectivity and sensitivity. First of all, they are spelled differently. This is becoming a very ragged discussion, and we are never going to get through this Public Schools budget. The critic for Education has not asked a question in the last half hour.
If a formal dorm is established, there has to be some recognition of a long-term commitment. The operation and maintenance expenditures can vary from year to year but, if such capital expenditure is expected, there will have to be a long-term commitment, as well as a people commitment.
Chairman: Is there any further general debate?
Mr. Lang: Are these sensitive numbers?
Administration in the amount of $1,402,000 agreed to
On Program Delivery
Mr. McLachlan: Under program delivery, there are a number of cases in Faro where the numbers are skewed badly with a couple of grades. Two grades have 29 students and one has 31, and these grades have only one teacher. Other classrooms are 1:13 and 1:14. Some of the staff feel they are getting a raw deal from the department. They are getting no supplemental help. This is occurring in grades five, six, seven and eight.
Does the Minister have any policy or help that he can give in those situations where the split class numbers go extremely high?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I will try to be as sensitive to the Faro situation as I possibly can, under the circumstances.
There is something called a student-teacher ratio, and there is also something called a formula that has been established to determine how many teachers ought to be going into a particular school, based on the number of students in the given grade. That determines how many teachers go into the school. The principal takes the teachers they are allocated according to the formula, and they apply them to programs at the school. In some elementary grades, the school classes can be larger than others. In Elsa, for example, there are 47 students, there are two teachers, there are seven grades, there is at least one class where there is a four grade spread and 20 students in the class. It is not something that is new to rural Yukon to have split grades and that size of class. It is considered more appropriate in the elementary grades, and I realize it is more difficult to teach than a single grade in a school, which is more common in Whitehorse. Nevertheless, it is common in rural Yukon to teach split grades. In some schools, the class size could still be in the neighbourhood of 20 or more.
According to the formula, which was developed in consultation with the school committees, generally speaking, larger class sizes are permitted in the elementary grades, smaller classes in the high school grades. Generally speaking, more teachers are allocated to the high school programs because of the range of programs that are required to be taught in high school.
Mr. McLachlan: I am not disputing that it is unique to rural Yukon, or that the Minister may have four grades in Elsa in one teachers class. There are some cases in which I do not believe it works. Anything the Minister has told me tonight does not prove it does. It is so bad in some cases that the teachers have one year and then quit, because they cannot get any help from the department or any further support. They turn in their resignation, and we are moving someone else in.
That factor was pointed out to the Minister in Mr. Smiths report on the teacher turnover. That is all I am saying. I do not think the formula works, and the Minister cannot prove differently.
The formula was the result of a lot of consultation with the rural school committees, including the rural school committees. The situation now is that in many rural schools there are many more teachers now than there were three years ago. The Member for Riverdale South says the current situation is terrible. It must have been absolutely unbearable three or four years ago if that is the case. It certainly has improved.
I entreat the Member for Faro to try to understand more than the superficial elements to this equation because it is important. The staffing entitlement formula for schools is established each year, passed out to all members in September to break out the student-teacher ratios in all schools, where the break out in grade is, what the teaching allotment is. It is up to the principal, the school committee and the regional superintendent to allocate the teachers in the best possible way. Some schools want the special programs as well and they have to take the teaching staff to support the special programs they do want and they dedicate the teaching staff to special programs. They must accept that there will be larger class sizes in the regular classes. That is the offset they have to live with when they made those decisions themselves. The formula is fairly straight forward and is a public document. It determines the number of students that will be accommodated in a given school in a given year. As I indicated last night, there are 50 fewer students in the system from this past year than there were in 1982, yet there are 25 more teachers in the system. Every effort is being made to provide the best service, both in support services and in the number of teachers, that they can, even given the increase in teachers in the territory.
There has to be some recognition as to how the allocation is going to be laid out: teachers versus programs and classes.
Mr. McLachlan: I will propose a deal to the Minister.e can put this on his plate and digest it. For $35,000 and one more teacher at Faro I will not bug him anymore about the $35,000 the corporation dropped on the King residence in Ross River. Is that not a sensible deal for the Minister to consider?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: That is one heck of a swap, but unfortunately it would be totally wrong to undertake such a swap. I would love to. I have got more information on the King house. Perhaps the Member for Porter Creek East could ask tomorrow in Question Period, - or maybe even the Member for Faro - because there is some information that I would like to get on the record. I realize, Mr. Chairman, that you will not tolerate too much discussion about Yukon Housing Corporation. I will tell you what - if the Member for Faro will agree to ask a question on the King house tomorrow, I will have a look at the Del Van Gorder School, and if there is any subjectivity to the situation, I will make sure that Del Van Gorder School gets its fair share.
Mr. McLachlan: I will consider that at the highest possible level and bring my answers back in the morning.
Mrs. Firth: Before I move that you report progress on the bill, perhaps the Minister could give some thought tonight to the adequacy of his pupil-teacher ratio. I was at the school committee conference, and I believe that there were at least four or five or maybe six resolutions that all dealt with pupil-teacher ratios. If the pupil-teacher ratio is so good, then why are the school committees, both from rural and urban areas, coming in and complaining and proposing resolutions that the pupil-teacher ratio be examined. All the answer that they could get was that it was going to cost a lot of money, but that was the only answer. The Minister is now standing up and telling the House that it is the best pupil-teacher ratio in the whole of the universe and the best in the last three years and the others were terrible. He could think give that some thought tonight and come back with a well-informed response.
Then, Mr. Chairman, I would like to move that you report progress on Bill No. 60.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There is a correction. The bill is No. 50. In response, the student-teacher ratio-
Chairman: Order, please, the motion is on the floor. Are you in agreement?
Motion agreed to
Chairman: Nice try.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I would move that Mr. Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Motion agreed to
Speaker resumes the Chair
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. May the House have a report from the Chariman of Committee of the Whole?
Mr. Webster: The Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 101, An Act To Amend The Highways Act, and directed me to report the same without amendment. Further, the Committee has considered Bill No. 50, Second Appropriation Act, 1988-89, and directed me to report progress on the same.
Speaker: You have heard the report from the Chairman of Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that this House, with the best pupil-teacher ratio in the country, 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 May 4, 1988:
Requests for additions to Chronic Disease List, and cost (M. Joe)
Oral, Hansard, p. 351