Thursday, May 5, 1988 - 1:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. We will proceed with Prayers.
Speaker: We will proceed at this time with the Order Paper.
Are there any Returns or Documents for Tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I have some legislative returns for tabling.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I also have some legislative returns for tabling.
Speaker: Are there any Reports of Committees?
Are there any Petitions?
Petition No. 2
Clerk: Mr. Speaker and hon. Members of the Assembly, I have had the honour to review a petition, being petition No. 2 of the Fifth Session of the 26th Legislative Assembly as presented by the hon. Member for Whitehorse Porter Creek East on May 4, 1988. This petition meets the requirements as to form of the standing orders of the Yukon Legislative Assembly.
Mr. Speaker: Pursuant to Standing Order 66, Petition No. 2 is demed to be read and received.
Mr. Lang: I request, pursuant to standing order 66, that the petition be read by the Clerk.
Clerk: To the Yukon Legislative Assembly:
This petition of the undersigned shows:
THAT the 74 residents of Henderson Corner, located approximately 15 miles southeast of Dawson City on the Klondike Highway, have since 1984, immediately following the electrification of Rock Creek, 2.4 kilometres distant, been negotiating, first with NCPC and then with the Yukon territorial government, for the extension of commercial electrical power to our community.
THAT Most Recently
1. we have made application to the Yukon Energy Corporation for a 4.0 km extension of the Main Power Transmission Line along the Klondike Highway from Rock Creek through Henderson Corner; and,
2. we have filed a petition signed by 96 percent of the Property Taxpayers of our community, under the Rural Electrification Act, to finance the construction of High Voltage Power Distribution Lines throughout Henderson Corner.
THAT on the 4th of February 1988, during a meeting with Shakir Alwarid, the Executive Director of the Yukon Energy Corporation, our spokesman, Ron Ryant, posed the following questions:
1. Could the design and planning for two alternative Main Power Transmission Lines from Rock Creek to Henderson Corner be stated immediately and be done in parallel with the feasibility study for the North Fork Hydro Project:
a. A transmission line capable of handling the high voltage of North Fork;
b. A transmission line to be used only as an extension of the Main Power Transmission Line from Rock Creek to Henderson Corner.
2. Could the construction of one of these alternative power transmission lines be completed prior to the onset of next winter?
THAT at this meeting on the 4th of February 1988 Ron Ryant was told by Shakir Alwarid that we would receive a reply to our questions within 3 weeks; and, upon subsequent inquiry by telephone to Valorie Williamson, the secretary of the Yukon Energy Corporation, Ron Ryant was informed that we would not be receiving a response.
THAT on the 23rd of March, at the opening of the Legislature at Dawson City, Ron Ryant met with the Hon. Tony Penikett, asked the same questions that were posed to Shakir Alwarid at the meeting of 4th of February 1988 and he was told by the Hon. Tony Penikett that we would receive a response within two weeks.
THAT the 1988 construction season is starting and, as we have still received no response, we are becoming increasingly alarmed that we are being ignored and that we will have to go through yet another winter without power.
THEREFORE the undersigned ask the Yukon Legislative Assembly to investigate as to why we were promised and then refused a response to the questions Ron Ryant asked the Executive Director of the Yukon Energy Corporation at the meeting of the 4th of February 1988 and why we have not yet received a response to the same questions as promised by the Hon. Tony Penikett.
Dated the 30th of April 1988
Speaker: Pursuant to Standing Order 66, Petition No. 2 is deemed to be read and received.
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?
This then brings us to Question Period.
Question re: Land claims/Teslin land selection
Mr. Phelps: I have some questions about the new policy of freezing lands for land selections under land claims, and in particular about the Teslin land selection. I would like to know whether or not it is true that the 1984 selection remains frozen even though the new freeze is on?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: As I have indicated before, the process of interim protection is well understood by the Leader of the Official Opposition. It is done without prejudice to allow for negotiations to proceed towards a final agreement. It is done to prevent further alienations by third party interests on the land in question, but does not in any way prohibit access by people for any of the purposes I have indicated previously to the House, such as hunting and recreational use.
Mr. Phelps: The Ministers answer is yes. I would like to know why the public was not informed of this outrageous situation and why they were given maps that were stipulated to be the Teslin land selection and apparently had some overlap with the 1984 selection. Is it the policy of this government to allow the 1984 selections to remain frozen and in addition have these other huge areas of land frozen as the bands step forward?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: As the Member knows, the interim protection area is, as I said, done without prejudice to the negotiating process that we are now in. I believe I have previously indicated that the interim protection area is subject to negotiation.
Mr. Phelps: Why did the maps that were made public a few weeks ago not show the entire areas that were frozen and instead mislead the public into believing that the frozen lands were the only ones frozen under the 1988 process?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I can state with absolute assurance that the information published by the negotiators of the three parties was done with no intention to mislead the public whatsoever.
Question re: Land claims/Teslin land selection
Mr. Phelps: Does the Government of Yukon have a position on this matter? Is it the governments position that the 1984 selections remain in place even though there are new selections that are as much as 50 percent greater than the 1984 selections?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I do not know what point the Member is trying to make in his question. We do know that the federal government has agreed to keep the 1984 selections withdrawn pending the negotiations of this settlement. We do know that as a result of a new federal mandate one band has come forward with land that it wants protected while negotiations are going on, and that land has been withdrawn from staking by a federal Order-in-Council, but we also know, as I have indicated before to the Member opposite, that the withdrawal was done without prejudice and pending negotiations.
Mr. Phelps: The Minister knows there is prejudice. It is frozen now. Along the same line, I would like to know whether the Minister in charge of land claims has received any representations from Yukon outfitters with regard to their status in claims, namely, that they want to be treated as a third party. Has he received any such representations?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am not sure by the way the question is phrased if they want to be a third party in negotiations or whether they want their interests to be represented as third party interests. The Member would have to clarify his question.
In answer to the direct question, have we received any communication from them, yes, I believe in the last few days my office has received a letter from a lawyer representing the outfitters, and that matter has been referred to the proper officials and a response is being prepared to that letter.
Mr. Phelps: Can the Minister tell us whether or not the rights of outfitters are going to be protected as third party rights in the same manner as the rights of other third parties in the Yukon are going to be protected?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: We are obviously concerned that the interests of outfitters are taken into consideration and, at this point, I am taking my colleagues legal advice on this question, and I will be responding to the letter from the outfitters as quickly as I can.
Question re Y:ukon Housing Corporation/Carmacks suprpus housing sal:
Mr. McLachlan: I have a question for the Minister for Community Services, who is responsible for the Yukon Housing Corporation. The corporation recently sold two, or more, units in Carmacks. Can the Minister confirm that that sale was designed for the same purpose as the original sale of the King residence was designed for - that is, to remove older units that the corporation deemed useless to repair, to free up land by moving those units out? Was that the reason for the sales in Carmacks?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I will ask Yukon Housing Corporation to provide me with the details that the Member has requested, and I will report back to the Legislature.
Mr. McLachlan: Is the Minister also saying that he cannot say at this time how much the corporation has derived from the sale of those two units in Carmacks? Did we drop as much as we did in the King residence sale in Ross River?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I did not imply anything by my answer; what I did explicitly state was that I was going to ask the Yukon Housing Corporation to provide me with details respecting the matter that the Member has raised here this afternoon. I will undertake to bring back a response to the Legislature.
Mr. McLachlan: Would the Minister also check with the corporation whether or not it is true that the corporation failed to tell the mover, who was moving the units out, that they wanted to save the concrete foundations on which the units were relocated, so that they could simply put new units down? In the course of moving them out, the mover, who had to put rail beams in to lift the units, had to bust the concrete foundations, and we have now lost the use the those foundations for any future units. Can the Minister also have that fact confirmed?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am not sure that I can have the fact confirmed, because I am not sure whether or not it is a fact, yet. I will certainly undertake to ask the corporation to provide details about the matter, and I will bring them back to the House.
Question re: Territorial Court judges
Mr. Phillips: Due to the actions of the Minister of Justice, the judiciary and the justice system in the Yukon are in a bit of a state of turmoil. Can the Minister confirm if it is true that the real reason that the Judge Ilnicki resigned her position recently is because of the actions of the Minister of Justice and his involvement in the JP Thomson affair?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: That question, phrased in that way, is totally without foundation and is an absolutely irresponsible allegation from the Member, knowing what he should know are the facts of the matter.
Mr. Phillips: I thank the absolutely irresponsible Minister for his answer. Has the government made any commitment to the former Chief Judge of the Yukon Territory, Barry Stuart, that he will receive his job back when he returns from his political position as Yukons chief land claims negotiator?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: The former Chief Judge, Judge Stuart, has no political position whatsoever. The answer to the question about commitments is no.
Mr. Phillips: It is interesting that the now Leader of the Official Opposition was accused many times when he was lands claims negotiator as being a political appointment, but Barry Stuart, of course, is not. Can the Minister advise the House when there will be a new Chief Judge appointed to the chopping block?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: That is truly an irresponsible question. It demonstrates the Member opposites total disregard for the independence and the dignity of the judiciary in my view. It is reprehensible.
Question re: Territorial Court judges
Mr. Phillips: I am glad that a lot of people do not respect the view of the Minister. The Minister of Justice has adopted a revolving door policy for judges serving in this territory. Former Chief Judge Stuart engaged in political activity in negotiating land claims, Judge Lillies engaged in political activity regarding the fuel price inquiry. Judge Woodrow is leaving in July. Judge Rowe was wrongfully dismissed, and now there is the recent announcement that Judge Ilnicki, the Yukons Chief Judge, is leaving her job in June. Who is minding the judicial store?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: The Member opposite is ridiculing the judiciary by attempting to embarrass a particular Minister, I suppose. I am convinced that the public will see his cheap publicity for exactly what it is.
Mr. Phillips: Again, I did not get an answer to my question. When we start to look at the record for the Minister of Justice, not only with this problem with judges, but also with the Whitehorse Correctional Centre, lotteries and many other things that he has had his hand in, he does not have much to talk about.
It is obvious that this governments intention...
Speaker: Order, please. Would the Member please get to the supplementary question?
Mr. Phillips: Could the Government Leader tell the House when he will accept his responsibility like we have asked him to many times here and remove the Justice Minister from his position? He is obviously inadequate and cannot handle the job.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: That is called, in debating parlance, as the when did you stop beating your wife question. It is not a question that deserves an answer.
Question re: Lottery regulations
Mrs. Firth: I asked the Minister of Justice a question a few days ago about whether or not he would consider removing the qualification that the volunteer organizations had to apply by the first week of each month in order to have their lottery applications heard. He said that he was going to examine it. Can he report to the House if he has examined and changed that regulation?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I thank the Member opposite for the question because it allows me an opportunity to report progress on that issue.
I have made contact with the Chair of the Lottery Licensing Board and we have a meeting to discuss that matter and some other matters scheduled. The meeting is scheduled for tomorrow.
Mrs. Firth: I am pleased to hear that. At our prodding, we will no doubt get some results from the Minister.
I would direct my supplementary to another Minister dealing with the same issue. I would like to ask the Minister of Community and Transportation Services why, when we requested that the annual report of the Yukon Lotteries Commission be tabled, he tabled a report that was a year and a half old and had already been made public instead of the requested report?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I made public the only report that I had in hand. The report for the fiscal year past is not yet prepared, nor has it been transmitted to me.
Mrs. Firth: What the Minister tabled was the 1986-87 report. I am sure he knew that we wanted the 1987-88 report.
Could he tell us if he has asked the Commission whether that report will be ready for tabling in this Legislature so the public and Members can give it scrutiny?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Certainly it will be tabled in the Legislature. The Lottery Commission has indicated to me that in late May or early June the report will be ready, so I am sure the House will be sitting and I can table it during this sitting.
Question re: Yukon Housing Corporation/accommodations
Mr. Lang: I have a question for the Minister of Housing. As we all know the numbers of the Yukon Housing Corporation are expanding. We were notified this session that it was going to be moving from its present facilities to accommodate the expansion.
Sometime ago I asked the Minister exactly what the cost of the new facilities are and the Minister made a commitment to provide me with that information. Can the Minister tell us what amount on an annual basis this rental will cost?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I had indicated during the Main Estimates debate that an estimate of this sort for the Yukon Housing Corporation would be made and I would wish to have the information in hand when we get to the detail on the Main Estimates. I do not have the figure in front of me but will certainly have it prepared for the debate.
Mr. Lang: I find that surprising. Was that move not the decision of Management Board? Was that cost not discussed by Management Board when the decision was made?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Yes, but I am afraid the detail escapes my memory and I do not have it in front of me.
Mr. Lang: It is a fairly significant detail. I have asked on at least occasions, if not more, what the cost of this move was going to be.
Maybe I can direct a question to the Minister of Government Services. Where Health and Human Resources is moving out of this building to be housed in the Financial Plaza, on a good portion of two floors, can the Minister of Health and Human Resources tell us what this is going to cost on an annual basis, and the cost to the general taxpayer as they try to find these departments all over town?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I do not have the particular figure with me but the Member will remember that he has asked the question before and I have promised, as his request, to bring that information along with the information about all of the leases to the House at the time of the Main Estimates on Government Services. I will provide all of the Whitehorse leases with the total cost, the area in square feet, as requested, and a calculation of the cost per square foot.
Question re: Scout Lake Road
Mr. Lang: Just to put the other side on notice I will be asking the same question on Monday. I have no doubt that the Minister has the information on his desk, and has had it sitting there for quite some time.
I have a further question for the Minister of Community and Transportation Services. I requested some time ago that a serious look be taken at the possibility of putting the Scout Lake Road on the schedule for limited maintenance so commercial and private wood cutters could have access into that area to cut fire wood. This question was posed approximately two weeks ago and I would to see if the Minister could report on exactly what has taken place.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: What has taken place is that I asked the Department of Community and Transportation Services to review the road to determine whether or not it is maintainable, and what the costs of upgrading it would be, if it requires some upgrading in order to maintain it.
I have not yet had a report from them, but as soon as I do I will be in a better position to make a decision on the feasibility of maintaining the road on a regular basis.
Mr. Lang: We have to continuously raise the questions to ensure we do get a report back. It is fairly urgent to those people who are presently utilizing the area because it is almost impossible for them to get in and out and is costing a great deal of money in turn to the consumers.
Speaker: Order please. Can the Member get to the supplementary?
Mr. Lang: Could the Minister tell us when he expects to be able to provide an answer to the House?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am sure exactly. I hope it to be within the next couple of weeks, but that is even on a stepped-up schedule. If the wood cutters are having difficulty getting in with four by fours and trucks then, clearly, it is going to be a monumental feat for a grader to get in. There will have to be some analyses done of what it will take to upgrade the road so graders can maintain it. I will have to determine what the costs of upgrading the road are and then determine the costs of continuing maintenance before I can give the Member any conclusive answers as to whether or not the government is in a position to maintain it.
Question re: On the job training
Mr. Nordling: With respect to training programs, on April 1, 1987, this House passed a motion that, in part, expressed the opinion that the Department of Education should develop and improve training programs that provide direct on the job training for secondary students seeking work experience during their course of study. The Minister amended it, and it turned out to be his motion.
Are any of these direct, on the job training programs for secondary students in place at this time?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Yes, there is a program offered by the government to provide for training for secondary students to undertake work experience over the course of the summer with government departments. The only other program we had initiated prior to the motion being put forward in the Legislature in the previous year had no take-up and, therefore, we felt it should not be continued.
The government programs have had considerable take-up, and we anticipate it will have another successful summer this year.
Mr. Nordling: A lot of the discussion was to do with these training programs being done in concert with the business community. Have letters been sent or meetings held with the business community and or the Chamber of Commerce with respect to these programs?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There is a great deal of consultation with the business community on all training programs the government has an opportunity to sponsor or co-sponsor with the federal government. It is considered to be desirable, even on the governments work experience program, to encourage experience in the private sector as well. In our in-house apprenticeship program, apprenticeships are done currently with our government, and some experience with the private sector is also considered to be desirable.
Speaker: Order, please. Would the Member please conclude his answer?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: We are going to be discussing the Education Main Estimates in a few minutes, and I will be more than prepared to provide a more detailed response then.
Mr. Nordling: Because we are in Education, I thought the Minister would have this information.
Did the government make a presentation to the task force on education on this subject?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I do have the information, but unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, you will not allow me to provide the kind of response I think is necessary to give justice to the answer. When the Education Main Estimates come up in half an hour, we will invite the press back to watch the debate, and I will be able to provide full answers at that time.
Question re: Mental Health Act
Mrs. Firth: The Minister does not have to invite the press back. He might do a ministerial statement Monday morning and give it to them in all detail.
With respect to the Mental Health Act, the Minister of Health and Human Resources announced last fall and in previous Question Periods that the new act will be tabled this session. It has also been stated in the Throne Speech. When will the Minister be tabling the new Mental Health Act in this session?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: We do have this act in draft form right now. There was some concern about whether or not a guardianship act should be introduced with it at the same time. We are looking at that possibility.
Mrs. Firth: Can she not table the Mental Health Act if it has been publicly stated that it is going to be tabled? The guardianship act could be tabled later. I expect that it will be a fairly extensive piece of legislation. I have done some consulting on it, and I understand that it is ready to go. Is that not the case? Is it not ready to be tabled this session?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I just said that we were considering introducing it with another piece of legislation. It has not passed the Legislative Review Committee yet. There is a good possibility that it will be tabled this session.
Mrs. Firth: Can the Minister give us an idea of when it will be tabled? A possibility could mean never or that it may not come. Is it going to come next week?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: That depends upon the Legislative Review Committee.
Question re: Yukon Housing Corporation/Ross River/new homes
Mr. McLachlan: There are new homes that have just been completed in Ross River for some $114,000. Can the Minister responsible for the Housing Corporation advise the House what instructions he has given his department in an attempt to stop the settling that is occurring in these brand new homes so that the tenants will be able to in their front doors instead of having to go around to the back?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The House will have to forgive me. The allegations that the Member is making quite often turn out to be untrue. I must be given the opportunity to check with the Housing Corporation on the details; it is not my department. I will make sure that the details are brought forward and put on record in the Legislature.
Mr. McLachlan: For the information of the Minister, when the front doors jam, that is more than an allegation.
Can the Minister confirm that there are at least three vacancies in rural Yukon, those of the housing manager and/or the maintenance positions, that seem to be remaining unfilled?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There may be a number of reasons for the doors sticking if they are. I will have to check because the Member does not have the kind of credibility that would allow me to simply provide an answer right now.
I will check the detail of personnel staffing with the Housing Corporation. It is their responsibility to ensure that the positions are staffed. There could be a number of reasons why a position may be vacant in a community. If the Member has any more specific information that he request, I would appreciate it.
Mr. McLachlan: Can the Minister also confirm that it takes, when these positions become vacant, on the average of at least two months to fill them? Everybody appears to be reluctant to go to work for the lean, mean difficult Minister responsible for housing.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Forgive me. That is a ridiculous statement. The Member is making the assertion that because a position is vacant for a period of time, it is because people do not want to work for the Housing Corporation. That is silly and foolish. It is almost unbelievable that it is brought forward here in that manner. There could be any number of reasons why a position is vacant for any period of time whether it is a week or two months. Even in my own community, if there is a vacancy and there are people who want to work, they know that they are working for a good employer if they work for the Housing Corporation.
Question re: Pilot Mountain/blasting
Mr. Phelps: I have a couple of questions for the Minister of Community and Transportation Services. He can have two shots at answering; he likes to first of all attack the question and it seems unfair that he uses up all of his time doing that these days. My question is looking for information, as most questions are. Exactly what is happening out at the Pilot Mountain Subdivision? Is the Minister going to meet with the residents, and is it going to be a public meeting?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I do not have to attack that question. It is not a ridiculous question; it is quite a reasonable one. Some quartz claims have been staked at the Pilot Mountain Subdivision by some individuals, and those individuals have, in the past, actively prospected those claims in an area adjacent to the subdivision. There have been calls from residents in the Pilot Mountain Subdivision to encourage the federal government to encourage the miners to cease blasting activity on the claims. The Yukon governments Lands Branch has been active in attempting to mediate the dispute, because the surface of the land is Commissioners land. A meeting is being arranged by the Yukons Land Branch and federal Lands to bring the parties together to discuss the matter to determine what could be done next.
Mr. Phelps: I am sure that the residents of the Hot Springs Road and Pilot Mountain Subdivision would not consider that to be a very weak question. In fact, it seems to be a very strong question in their minds. My question of the Minister is: will his government have a new policy with regard to subsurface rights when it makes application for subdivision areas?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The question is a valid one. The concern expressed by Pilot Mountain Subdivision residents is very impassioned, and I understand their views of the matter. I am getting a review of what, at this point, the federal Yukon Quartz Mining Act does mean, with respect to providing individuals with certain rights to prospect or to mine on Yukon land.
It is an issue that has been before the government for some considerable period of time. It would certainly be my preference that all habitable land is removed from staking. I understand and respect the mining industrys desire for-
Speaker: Order, please. Would the Minister please conclude his answer?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The answer is something that I prefer to give during Committee of the Whole debate.
Mr. Phelps: I take it, then, that what the Minister is saying is that he is sitting on the fence, looking at both sides. He appreciates the concerns of both sides, but he is not going to do anything.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Unfortunately, as the Member is aware, we are talking about dealing with federal legislation, and it is not in the Government of the Yukons power to do much to change federal legislation. That is the reason why we are providing a mediator role, to try to resolve the problems that the Pilot Mountain residents do face. We try to mediate between the interests of those residents and the miners.
Question re: Pilot Mountain/blasting
Mr. Phelps: Some fences are easy to sit on: rail fences, log fences and even some wall-type fences, but this is more in the nature of a barbed wire fence, or a very sharp picket fence, and it does not seem to me that the Minister can sit there forever.
Surely the Minister would agree that there are ways in which the sub-surface rights of the residential area - a residential area - in question could be protected by this government when there is going to be a residential housing area developed by the government?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I detect the Member has some familiarity with this issue, because there was nothing betrayed in his commentary or questions that suggested he had taken an issue one way or another on the situation himself. That would be an interesting revelation for me.
As I have already indicated, it would be my preference that subdivision and built-up areas not be mined now or in the future. However, we are dealing with federal legislation that permits staking of ground, irrespective of the surface owners rights.
Mr. Phelps: I will make a deal with the Minister. I will work nights and do his job for him if he will give me half his pay. If he will go along with that, I would be pleased to do that.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: As the Yukon public knows, the Leader of the Official Opposition, for all his hard work, gets exactly what a Minister gets, and I would be more than pleased to see what the Member has to say about his own constituency in which this situation is taking place. If he needs any medical treatment for the sores he has received walking on this barbed wire fence, perhaps I can arrange for that to happen, too.
Mr. Phelps: At least we are talking about my feet, because I am not sitting on them. The Minister is, and he will require more serious medical attention.
I started out by asking whether or not there would be a public meeting. Can the Minister tell us if there will be one, and whether or not there will be some kind of notice given to the public? I would like to attend.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I thank the Member for sneaking a question into the commentary. It gives me something to respond to that is somewhat substantive. I did not detect the sores on the Members feet, either.
As I indicated in answer to the Members first question, there is to be a meeting chaired by Yukon Lands Branch to try to deal with this sticky problem. Given that there are regulatory authorities over which the Yukon government has no control, but there are Yukon interests at stake and significant sympathies with the subdivision residents, we are going to try to work our way through the complications and, hopefully, Yukon Lands Branch can play a decent mediating role here.
Question re: Pilot Mountain/blasting
Mr. Phelps: Sometimes the answers to these questions go on and on, and it is occurring more and more. A question is asked, and we get convoluted, evasive answers. I am a little concerned about the side opposite. I suspect it may be a diet problem, and I prescribe megadoses of Vitamin C, perhaps four or five grams a day for each of the Members in the front bench, so they can come to grips with the issues as they are brought before the House and, perhaps, Vitamin E at 800 units a day. If that does not work, we will double the dosage.
Will the Department of Community and Transportation Services be in a position to make some kind of announcement about their future policy for subdivisions and the issue of subsurface rights?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I wish I could respond to the Member by exchanging medical advice on the question of the dosage of vitamins, but I am afraid that I cannot prescribe vitamins to cure the surface sores the Member is going to be experiencing if he does not take a position himself on this matter. It is clear the residents of Pilot Mountain are very concerned about blasting near their community. We are concerned about the blasting near their community. Unfortunately, we have a federal regulatory regime that we have no power to change. We are trying to mediate between the various interests to determine whether or not there can be a negotiating solution to this matter, short of ensuring federal legislation is changed. There has to be a short-term solution.
I would invite the Member to show up at the public meeting. I am sure there will be people who want to know exactly where the Member stands. I have already indicated we have definite sympathies with the people who do not want blasting to take place near their property.
Mr. Phelps: He has indicated that. I vividly recall him indicating that. I also equally vividly recall him saying he has sympathy with the mining industry, as well. We really do not have much of a position here.
Will there be notice published so all residents in the area will be aware of the meeting? Will the Minister himself attend?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I definitely have sympathy with the mining industry, being a miner myself. It has given me a good living, and will give me a good living in the future, I am sure.
As per usual, full public notice of the meeting will be given. If I do not have any other commitments, I will try to make this a priority. If I can come, I will. Otherwise, there will be representatives from Lands Branch there, as well as from the federal government. I am hoping the Member for Hootalinqua will be prepared to come and do his thing for his constituency.
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: 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 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
Chairman: Committee of the Whole will now come to order. We will recess for 15 minutes.
Chairman: Committee of the Whole will now come to order.
Bill No. 50 - Second Appropriation Act, 1988-89 - continued
Department of Education - continued
Chairman: We will continue with the Public Schools Branch.
Mrs. Firth: Are we going to go back so we can clear Policy and Planning?
Chairman: If it is the wish of the Committee, we will return to Policy and Planning.
On Policy and Planning
Mrs. Firth: The Minister can then answer the questions we had.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There is $15,700 for printing extra copies of the task force report and the Kwiya Report. There has been a significant demand for both that was not anticipated. This is also for the printing of the Education position paper and the philosophy paper, and their subsequent distribution. Telephones costs are $2,200; $8,700 is for employee travel for this branch in Yukon; $9,000 is for public consultation on the position paper for department officials, deputy minister and assistant deputy ministers; and $16,400 is for travel for land claims purposes for department officials, as the negotiations get down to the band-by-band level.
Mrs. Firth: Why is the Department of Education continuing to have to pay for land claims purposes? We paid a salary of quite a substantial sum of money so why now this $16,400 for travel?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: This travel is for Education department officials to participate in the land claims discussions.
Mrs. Firth: Just before we clear the whole Policy and Planning, why has the transfer payment been reduced to zero?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: That was for the final funding in the last fiscal year for the Joint Commission.
Chairman: Is there anything further on Policy and Planning?
Policy and Planning in the amount of $184,000 agreed to
Chairman: We will return to Public Schools, Program Delivery
On Public Schools
On Program Delivery
Mrs. Firth: Can the Minister report as to whether he has addressed any of the resolutions that were brought forward at the school committee conference? I am specifically interested in the ones regarding the Education Council. Is there going to be change to the make-up of the Council, and are they going to be given other duties, or are there other committees that are going to be formed?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The form that the Council will take, at this stage, in the education act, has not been finalized, in terms of government positions. I have not had a chance to speak with the Council since the school committee conference to discuss the details of the resolutions, but I intend to in the near future, when they next meet. I know that the Council wants to become more responsive of the school committees that they represent, and the only item here that I would say represents a budgetary enhancement is the provision for travel funding for Education Council members to visit school committees in their district.
Mrs. Firth: I guess that we will wait and see what the Minister does. I would like to ask the Minister a question about the school committee conference. I had many people mention to me the fact that there were many officials from the department present at the school committee conference, but none of them were allowed to speak. All the questions had to be directed through one individual. Why did they attend if they were not allowed to make any comments? Was that a direction that was given by the Minister?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I did not give any specific direction to department officials regarding the school committee conference, apart from the fact that it is my view that the school committee conference is for school committees and should not be manipulated in any way by department officials. I presume that department officials want to be sure that they play a facilitor role but do not engineer or manoeuver or manipulate the discussion; that is for the school committees. At the same time, I think that it is important that Education officials do attend in order that they are aware of what the school committees are saying at the school committee conference, and through the informal sessions they can discuss matters of general interest with the school committee members.
Mrs. Firth: Is the Minister saying, then, that there has been some manipulation by officials? Obviously, something was done to address some problem, if a problem existed. Is that what he is saying?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: What I am saying is that we want to avoid any perception that there is manipulation, and I asked department officials to take that into consideration.
Mrs. Firth: Other than the new programs in Indian education, are there any new initiatives, or new programs, that this government has developed? I am thinking of things like computer programs, gifted programs, alternate program. Has the government started any new program?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: We have been busily expanding the coverage of the programs that the Member mentioned, as well as the French language program, the Native language program, and the special programs. As I indicated the other day, we have increased secretarial time, which was of a concern to some persons. We have increased the field trip budget to rural schools and increased the number of teacher aides. We have increased other areas, which are perhaps not so visible to the public, but which are nevertheless important, including an increase in program materials and repair and maintenance to computers.
Those were some of the more significant areas as well as the expansion program for French. It is to be expanded to two schools this year. The short answer is: yes.
Mrs. Firth: For the record, I think the short answer is: no. I will note that.
Program Delivery in the amount of $22,164,000 agreed to
On Program Support
Program Support in the amount of $2,353,000 agreed to
On French Language
Mrs. Firth: I would like to ask some questions about the French pilot project that is being offered at FH Collins. Does that project depart from the BC school curriculum? Are we using some other provincial curriculum for that program?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am testing my memory bank. A large part of the program materials are from Ontario. I will have to check the details on that however.
Mrs. Firth: Perhaps he could tell us why they decided to do that. If we follow the BC curriculum and it provides all the programs we need, which I understand it does, why are we using the Ontario one?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The French Language Coordinator has to chose the best program support materials that they can find. They are not restricted to BC. They can choose program materials from any jurisdiction that has them, as is the case in a number of instances. Program support materials and curriculum are borrowed from a number of jurisdictions to enhance what is offered in the Yukon because we not have a very large curriculum development section.
We do take the opportunity to pick and choose that which is considered to be the best of what is available. In the professional opinion of the people who are responsible for this program, they chose Ontarios program, I believe. I will check that however before it is counted as an absolute fact.
Mrs. Firth: Is this a correspondence course from Ontario?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The course is offered with the services of a tutor to students. It is not, in the classic sense, a correspondence course. It is a course of studies that involves the use of these program materials and the use of a tutor at the high school level to encourage the students to take certain classes in French.
Mrs. Firth: I will have to wait for the Ministers response. Is the general French course that is taught at FH Collins acceptable at the university level?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I believe they are. The courses are recognized by the BC ministry and by Canadian universities. I have just come across a piece of information that I did not previously take note of, and that is that the courses are from the Ontario Ministry of Education. There are no courses available through the BC ministry, so the department had to choose the courses that were available for the school.
Mrs. Firth: I will follow up with the Minister on that issue further. Has the Minister assessed whether the students in the enriched class at FH Collins did better because of that enrichment?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I do not know what the Member means by doing better. Prior to this, there was an English stream that was not an alternative, and this was put forward as a pilot project to give students who were coming out of the French stream, and who qualified as French First Language students, the opportunity to undertake certain courses of study. Those included consumer education, geography, grade 10 social studies, grade 10 chemistry, grade 10 and 11 law, on the basis I have explained with respect to this course.
I would have to ask the department the question of whether or not they did better than they would have done in the English stream. It would be a hard thing to measure.
Mrs. Firth: Perhaps the Minister could get back to me with his response as to whether there are any observations being made in that area. I think it is fairly important that we know.
The Minister said that course is available only to those students who are qualified as French First Language students. Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It is primarily designed for French First Language students, who would qualify. Three anglophone students were permitted into the course, largely because they were highly motivated. For that reason, the numbers were bolstered by other than francophone students.
Mrs. Firth: Is the Minister saying that if highly motivated anglophone students wanted to go, there would be a good possibility they would be eligible to take it?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: This program is covered by the Secretary of State and is designed for French First Language students. So long as there were sufficient spaces in the program to offer to other than French First Language students, I am certain they would be given a shot at the program, if they were highly motivated.
Mrs. Firth: Can the Minister tell us what the Yukon governments portion is for this program? Do we make any contribution or is it strictly funded by Secretary of State?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I believe this element of the bilateral agreement is funded by the Secretary of State.
Mrs. Firth: Can the Minister tell us when they are going to do an evaluation of the project? Or if one is going to be done since it is a pilot project?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I do not know if there is a formal evaluation plan. I will ask the department to indicate what their plans are. I think they feel the program has been proceeding very well and would like to see it continue.
Mrs. Firth: Can the Minister indicate what the transfer payments include and what the increase is for?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I indicated yesterday the increased amount if $15,000 for administration; there was a vacancy during 1987-88 that was budgeted full salary. The travel was not all utilized and $11,000 was slated for that. They budgeted for a higher travel area this time. Salary increases show $35,000. Increase program and test materials are $18,000. Increased French library materials are $20,000. The allowances for two additional core French programs at $12,000.
Mrs. Firth: I am not sure what the Minister is saying. I am talking about the line that says transfer payments to $780,000 from $672,000, an increase of 16 percent.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I was providing the summary for French language on the previous page.
Transfer payments show an increase to the Council for Yukon Indians, and the Yukon Native Language Centre at $57,000. There was also a transfer payment for the Southern Tutchone instructor at $30,000. The Indian Language Summer Institute for $33,000. There will be a slight reduction of the living subsidy of $16,000 for LEcole Emilie Tremblay students.
French Language in the amount of $1,060,000 agreed to
Expenditures in the total amount of $26,979,000 agreed to
Mrs. Firth: On page 100, I would like to ask some questions about student numbers. The statistics that the Department of Education has are higher than the enrollment lists that I have been given. Can the Minister confirm why that is so? The last enrollment list I have is from March of 1988. I have a total of 4,778, and on a previous sheet in February of 1988, we have 4,812. Perhaps the Minister can explain those fluctuations and why these are not consistent with what is recorded in the book.
Obviously it looks like the actual 1987 was fairly close to the February enrollment, but I do not think that is significant of anything.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The figures in this book were established at period nine of the budget year. That is around Christmas time. The figures show a decline starting in the new year and into the spring. Apparently there is a fall off of students who have been taking a one-half year semester at FH Collins, for example, in the fall to pick up programs that they require. Then they drop out after their studies are done. In the fall, the enrollment figures are higher than they are at the end of the year. That is the only explanation that I can provide at this point.
French Language in the amount of $1,060,000 agreed to
Public Schools in the amount of $26,979,000 agreed to
On Libraries and Archives
Chairman: Libraries and Archives Branch, page 105, general debate.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I will give the Member a breakdown of each area. In Administration, the increase is due to YGEU and management salary increases. There is $21,000 that is due to the establishment of a Native Programs Coordinator. That is for a half-year only due to the Positive Employment Program funding training period. There is an increase due to centralization of all outside travel and programing for the Native Programs Coordinator.
In Technical Services, there was a small increase due to YGEU increases and staff reclassifications. At the same time, the casual dollars were reduced slightly. That shows an increase of $10,000. Public Library Services had an increase due to YGEU increases. There was a change in providing for a readers adviser in the libraries. There is an increase in programming of $19,000 to provide for the Writers in Residence Program, a Yukon authors display and for the continuation of the book leasing plan. There is an increase of $15,000 in transfer payments to provide community library boards with the equivalent of the YGEU increase, as I explained once before
Yukon Archives has an increase of $27,000 to provide for the auxiliary photo technician. There were YGEU increases, and there was $15,000 to purchase the NEDAA tapes for school and public libraries. There was a slight increase to cover the cost of reproduction services.
Administration in the amount of $179,000 agreed to
On Technical Services
Technical Services in the amount of $261,000 agreed to
On Public Library Services
Public Library Services in the amount of $669,000 agreed to
On Yukon Archives
Yukon Archives in the amount of $429,000 agreed to
Libraries and Archives Branch in the amount of $1,538,000 agreed to
On Advanced Education
Chairman: Is there any general debate?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Just to get Members reoriented, given the significant changes shown in the percentage changes between the forecast of 1987-88 and 1988-89, much of the activity that was in administration has been moved to research and planning. That is the reason for the large percentage decrease in administration and the large percentage increase in research and planning.
In administration, $1,624,000 was removed to research and planning for student financial assistance. The position of the finance officer, which was reported under Advanced Education administration, is now included in the departmental administration branch. A secretarial position previously charged to administration in 1987-88 is now being charged to research and planning, which is the next branch I will get to. There was a slight increase in salaries due to YGEU and management increases of $3,000; the centralization of external travel into the administration section of the department, $11,200; increase in the post-secondary education advisory council expenses, $4,000; Project Wordpower was moved to research and planning, which is the next section, for a reduction of $83,000; and one secretary was moved to the Human Resources section, for a reduction of $33,000; for a total reduction in this element of $1,823,000.
In research and planning, there was $1,624,000 that was in the branch administration for student financial assistance. The secretarial positions that were transferred from branch administration show here at $61,000. There is an auxiliary employee for this position, which is being budgeted at $36,000, to assist in the transition for the new board of governors for Yukon College. There is an increase in contract services for special initiatives for literacy development and lifeskills projects of $92,000. There is a transfer of Project Wordpower from the administration section, plus an increase in funding for this project, for a total of $114,000.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There is an approximate YGEU and management salary increase of $8,000. The budgeted amount for student grants in 1987-88 was not used, but it is projected to be used, so there is $73,000 that is now being budgeted for this year, again, for student grants. There is a reduction in external travel because we removed the administration section of Advanced Education of $6,300. There was a reduction of $10,000 that had been budgeted in 1987-88 for distanced education expenses, which is not required in 1988-89. The total required increase for this section is $1,993,000.
The Human Resource and Career Development section shows an increase of $33,000 for a secretarial position that was transferred from administration. Career Services activity, which was not fully staffed in 1987-88, will be fully staffed in 1988-89: $122,000. The Training Opportunities program, the YTOP program, which was planned in 1987-88, did not have as much activity as was expected, due to having started late. It is expected to be fully subscribed this year, at $131,000. There are YGEU management and salary increases of approximately $33,000 and there is a slight reduction in external travel because the travel portion has been removed to the administration section of the branch, for a reduction of $4,900. That makes a total of a net increase $314,000.
Yukon College shows an increase of $911,000. There are YGEU management and salary increases and casual salaries of $343,000; the early childhood development program, $60,800; the discretionary funds for community campuses, $65,000; the cross-cultural education program, $50,000; the Community Administrative Skills Training Program development, $24,000; the new facility operation for the new Yukon College - the incremental increase - and for utilities, cleaning staff increases, $321,000; and, food services and other operation and maintenance costs increased, $46,000. The total increase is $911,000 in this section.
Mrs. Firth: I would like to ask the Minister a general question about the budget and the way that it has been presented to the Legislature. Could he tell us why there is no statistical information included in this Advanced Education and Manpower portion of the budget? I believe that there were some five pages or so of it, and there is no statistical information.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: To be perfectly honest, I do not know why there is not more information. If there was information provide last year it would seem appropriate to supply it this year, except for the fact the employment development programs are no longer in existence and they took up a large portion of the statistics. If there are any particular statistics the Member requests, I can certainly undertake to have them produced.
Mrs. Firth: I would like the same statistics that were available last year. It was a justification of the whole program. This budget has nothing. Grants and contributions are not part of the justification. Last year they had full time students, continuing education, extension services, certification programs, the industrial training programs. I would have thought that we are moving in the direction of the new college and exciting programs. They had manpower consultative services, apprenticeship program, in-house apprenticeship training programs, manpower training programs and then the new initiatives and some explanation about what the projected estimates are going to be. I was expecting to see information about the Yukon Training Opportunities Program so we could make our own assessments on how successful the program was.
The Minister made a statement that it was not as widely used as they had anticipated, so all Members of the House would appreciate having it made available to them.
I should look to the Chair for direction. Are we going to be expected to pass this without the statistical information being included?
Chairman: Obviously it is not a requirement for the Chairman to provide that information; it is the responsibility of the Minister.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: If the Member requests specific information or information on a particular program, I will attempt to provide the information verbally. I do not know why all the information that was in the book last year is not in it this year. It was not intentional. I will undertake to get the information on specific questions for the Member.
Mrs. Firth: I have already indicated to the Minister I would like to have all the statistics we had last year. I do not know what the reason is for it not being here. I would like it noted on the record that I am less than eager to proceed with the budget and pass all these lines for $11,823,000 when nothing has been included to back up or substantiate that request for money. I could ask the Minister for all kinds of information, but does that mean he is just going to tell me he will bring it some time, and we are supposed to go on and approve $11,823,000 of expenditure for the government?
Chairman: Will the Minister consider standing this over?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Sure.
Chairman: It is agreed. We will stand over the Advanced Education Branch.
Advanced Education stood over
Chairman: Is there any discussions on the revenues and recoveries, on page 111 and 112?
Mrs. Firth: I did have some questions on page 113 about some of the grants, contributions and other transfer payments. With respect to the post secondary student grants line item, how many students are receiving grants under this program now?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I do not know how many students are receiving the grants. The grant level has not changed in any respect since last year. There is a projected increase in the amount of student financial assistance that is going to be required in the coming year. The student financial assistance is provided on the basis of the tuition fee level, the living expenses, the air fares and book fees. There is a straight out-and-out formula for determining how much the grant is to be. Some of the students get the maximum of $3,021; other students get a lesser amount, depending on the semesters and tuition fees.
Mrs. Firth: Perhaps we will wait until the Minister brings back the appropriate information. I would like the statistics. I could ask the Minister some specific questions about Yukon College and some of the plans that are being made to proceed with the completion and furnishing, et cetera, of the Yukon College but, as far as the rest of the budget is concerned in the Advanced Education Branch, I would like to wait until I get the completed budget information.
I remember the Minister telling us in the House some of the furnishings and equipment from the old Yukon College were going to be moved to the new Yukon College. Is that still the plan? How much of that furniture and equipment is going to be moved over to the new college?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: All the equipment and furniture that is serviceable and reusable will be removed to the new Yukon College.
Mrs. Firth: Does that include things like computers? They are not moving the cooking implements, because the kitchen is full of brand new equipment; the welding shops are full of brand new equipment; the electrical shops are full of brand new equipment; the computer labs are full of new computers. Perhaps he could be more specific and tell us what he means by serviceable and usable. What are the intentions for the equipment and furniture that is not considered serviceable and usable.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Any equipment that is not serviceable, beyond economic repair, is surplused in the appropriate manner by the government. The direction to the college is that they must make use of all the equipment they can that exists in the old college. We have to understand that the new site is twice the size of the old college. There will be opportunities to move all the materials from the shops and classrooms to the new college site. That was a very specific direction and, to my knowledge, it is being carried out.
Mrs. Firth: Perhaps the Minister would provide us with an inventory list of equipment. The Minister sighs, but I do not think it is an unreasonable request. There must be inventory lists of equipment that is going to be used in the new Yukon College that is going to be moved from the old Yukon College, and the Legislature has every right to ask for that list.
I would like to know if some of the costs for new equipment, like desks for the library, would be included in the construction costs or included in equipment and furniture purchases?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It is included in the Capital Budget under equipment.
Mrs. Firth: I am asking about whether it is included in the cost of the construction of the college or whether it is under equipment. I would like an answer, and not a flippant answer, because the question is quite reasonable.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The problem here is that it is in the Capital Budget, and I answered the question under the Capital Budget when it was before the House. That is the problem. I answered the question already. I will answer it again, what the heck.
In the Capital Budget that was passed in the House, and in the Capital projections for Yukon College, from the very beginning in all estimates, the equipment was never considered as part of the capital construction. It was always considered as a separate item. That was true in 1985, and it is true today. There was a special equipment budget provided for the college, and we took it to the House when we passed the Capital Budget.
Mrs. Firth: Can the Minister explain this for me then? I did not expect to hit such a delicate point. Things that are considered permanent parts of the college are things like desks in the library and some of the wood construction of the day care equipment. Is the Minister saying that it was absolutely paid for under the equipment phase of the Capital Budget? Was some of it under the whole construction costs of the college?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There were two separate budgets, one for the construction and one for the equipment and furniture for the college. There are two separate budgets, and there has always been. We voted two separate Capital Budgets in a row for equipment replacement and new equipment for the college. They started ordering the equipment in November 1986. There was a split between two budgets, the November 1986 Capital Budget and the November 1987 Capital Budget.
Anything that is removable, including cranes in the mechanics shops, is considered to be equipment for the college. That was covered in the budget for the equipment for the college.
Mrs. Firth: The Minister can say that all the equipment and furniture purchases have been limited to purchase orders. Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am not sure about the point of the Members question. There was a separate budget for the equipment for the college. They have been purchasing equipment over a couple of years. At the same time, they were told to move whatever is usable from the old college to the new site. That is the direction. Some of the equipment is required because of the new configuration of the college. Some of it is needed because the new college is so much larger.
Mrs. Firth: I would like to know if all the equipment and furniture has been purchased with purchase orders. I do not recall if we got a commitment from the Minister to bring back an inventory list of what is going to be moved over to the new college. What will happen to the remaining pieces of furniture and equipment?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: If there is a list of materials to be taken to the new college, I will produce it.
Mr. Lang: In the Capital Mains that were voted, $2.3 million was allocated for campus equipment. Is that the total amount that will be spent for the interior of the facility along with desks and furniture, et cetera?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I will have to take the question as notice. I do not have my capital book in front of me.
Mr. Lang: I notice in the contracts that were tabled in the House there were about four or five contracts for $4,000 apiece contracted out to a private individual or company for the idea of looking at furnishings. Is that in conjunction with the college, as well? Perhaps the Minister of Government Services could tell us that.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I will take the question as notice.
Chairman: Is there anything further?
Department of Finance
Chairman: Is there any general debate?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Could you give me a short recess to make sure I have my introductory remarks?
Chairman: We will now recess for awhile.
Chairman: Committee of the Whole will now come to order.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I have two versions of my opening remarks, one four-hour version and one that is shorter. By popular request, I have been asked to give the four-hour introduction.
In this budget, the Department of Finance is seeking $2,863,000. This is a seven percent increase over the forecast expenditure for the 1987-88 fiscal year. There are no significant differences between the years in the operations of the department, other than the transfer of the program evaluation function to the internal audit program, a matter I discussed during the Executive Council Office debate some weeks ago.
I would point out for the interest of Members that, despite this transfer, the director of the Management Board Secretariat will continue to serve as the chair of the interdepartmental program evaluation committee. I know that will be a matter of some interest to the Leader of the Official Opposition in his capacity as chair of the Public Accounts Committee.
The seven percent increase over the 1987-88 forecast translates into $178,000. These new funds are required principally for two purposes: approximately $128,000 for the negotiated wage increases and for the merit step increases, and $100,000 for two new three-year term person years. As I said in my opening remarks in Committee of the Whole on this budget, the new person years are for work associated with devolution and land claims. One of the two persons will be assigned to budgets and fiscal relations, and the other to the accounting branch. These are term positions because the major impact on the Department of Finance of devolution and land claims will be during the negotiations of the transfers and the claim. There will be a considerable amount of work required to integrate transferred programs into the governments accounting system, based on past experience. The ultimate result of devolution and, also, of land claims will be an increase in the number of accounting transactions the department will have to process.
Whether or not this will require additional person years, on a permanent basis, is simply unknown at present. All Members will be aware, however, that while we can achieve some economies of scale, at some point, additional resources will be required where there are additional demands upon the department.
There is a concern, of course, in the devolution discussions, that allowances have to made for overheads and that appropriate funds for this purpose have to accompany the program transfers. This is one of the issues that finance officials will be interested in. As has been the longstanding practice in this department, no sums are budgeted in this Main Estimate for accounting adjustments or for the allowance of bad debts.
Perhaps by way of introduction I will just leave it at that and submit myself to general debate.
Mr. Phelps: I have notes of questions that had been asked and answered some time ago, and I gather that that was when the budget was first introduced by the Minister. I do have a few questions to raise in general debate and the first has to do with interest paid on overdue payments for supplies and services to contractors. It would be handy to see statistics of that supplied with the Main Estimates, but I am wondering what the experience has been over the course of the last while, since the policy has been to pay interest on cheques due for over 30 days.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I do not have that number at my fingertips. I believe that it is in the range of $30,000 to $40,000 in the course of the year, but I will take the question as notice and come back with a precise accounting. I assume that the Member would also wish it with a departmental breakdown.
Mr. Phelps: Yes, please.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I would not offer that unless he was interested in it.
Mr. Phelps: If it means an awful lot of work, no. I am more interested in the trends resulting from the policy, and whether or not the huge amounts of money spent on computers is paying off.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Presumably, the Member is also interested in whether or not the fact that the departments have to pay interest is having any curative effect in terms of the turn-around on payments?
I will take that question as notice and come back with the information.
Mr. Phelps: Some of the areas of interest to me are rather technical. I do not intend to delve into them in any great depth, but we have been focusing on certain issues during the course of the past number of years in the Public Accounts Committee, and we have been receiving a fair volume of letters and answers from the bureaucracy of the department. I have a few questions on what commitment control system might be in place here. We did receive a fairly thorough letter, dated April 19, about the situation as it presently stands. I understand that the computerized system will be brought in, in stages, over the course of this fiscal year. Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Yes. In answer to questions from the Member for Riverdale South, in general debate at the beginning of the Committee stage, I gave a further update to the information contained in that April 19 letter, in terms of the implementation of the commitment control system. I indicated which departments would be coming on-stream first, and by what date we hope to have the whole system in effect.
Mr. Phelps: I am wondering how confident the department is in the accuracy of the control system for this year, goven the blend of the manual control systems with the computer controled?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Since I am accountable, I would not normally do this, but I can quote a usually reliable source on this question, a senior official of the Department of Finance. He is very confident that the system will be accurate if the announced deadlines are given to the House on that.
Mr. Phelps: Another area that has been raised several times in Public Accounts and forms part of the outstanding recommendations is that of monitoring adherence to financial agreements. I am wondering whether or not, in the opinion of the Minister, there has been a greater priority placed on that aspect of the duties of the department?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Following the discussion of this issue in Public Accounts, the department has been pursuing the procedures. I believe the Member may have been told that the practice of the Department of Finance, which felt it could not monitor every single one of these agreements on a regular basis, was to do sampling of the commitments. The procedures will be in place and if the Member would like to have an update on how we are doing, by way of a written answer, I would be pleased to provide it.
Mr. Phelps: If the Government Leader would undertake that for me I would appreciate it very much. Those are my general questions.
Mrs. Firth: I wanted to ask the Minister some general questions about the processes for payroll and if that is a fairly secure area of the department when it comes to confidentiality, and if there are systems in place to ensure there are security measures being followed?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I assume the Member is inquiring about personnel records as opposed to cash, which is not a problem here. The Member should know that the room where payroll is done is a separate room and is separately locked and secured every night. If the Member is aware of a problem, or perceives there is a problem, I would like to hear about it.
Mrs. Firth: I am concerned about the employee pay cheques. People are very private about their pay. Is there some security system so that cheques are handled in such a secure manner that the information would be kept confidential and private?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The only people who normally have access to that information are the people who actually work with it. The Member knows very well how the pay information is distributed to employees. There has not been any change in that process. There are situations where Members may, upon receiving their payroll advice, leave it on the desk where it might possibly be seen by other people, but I do not think there is a systematic problem here.
Mrs. Firth: The Minister is not aware then of any incidence regarding pay cheque stubs that may have occurred last year. Did he have any complaints from people concerning anything like that?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: None have come to my attention.
Mr. McLachlan: There are territorial agents in the communities where there are liquor stores, and these agents are in charge of selling licenses. What is the policy of the Department of Finance? Does the agent take that money to the bank and deposit it? Does the Department of Finance then empty that account on a regular basis and transfer the money to the central account in Whitehorse?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: That is basically what the system is. If the Member is asking what the technical procedures are and what is laid down in our procedures, I have no precise knowledge of that. If the Member would like to know what procedures now operate, I can provide it to him in writing.
Mr. McLachlan: I want to know how large the account gets in the bank. What is the allowable maximum kept before the Department of Finance feels it is too unwieldy and tranfers money?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I will bring that information back to Members. I do not know what the levels are or if there is any variation between agents or between communities depending upon the amounts of cash that is handled, but I will check.
Mr. McLachlan: Is the agent also required to keep his own separate accounting of the source of revenue vis-a-vis licenses, liquor revenue, fishing or renewable resource? He seems to be handling a lot of money for different departments.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: That is the case of the agents who are handling responsibilities for a number of different programs and departments. They are required to account for the transactions under the different programs separately.
Mr. McLachlan: Since we last talked about it in an Operation and Maintenance Budget in the Legislature, the banking service in Faro went from two days to four days. It has changed in Mayo as well. Can the Government Leader indicate to the Legislature what the Bank of Commerce indicated in discussions that might lead one to believe that they would be, at least in the case of Faro, looking at a full-time branch rather than being continually subsidized out of general tax revenues?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I cannot reveal the particulars of negotiations with the bank, but I can tell what the vice president, Mr. Quinn, of the bank in Vancouver has told us from the beginning and what still pertains. On its own, the branch in Faro is not profitable and is not likely to be profitable until the bank is carrying some of the paper in the town. The loan portfolio at the bank is not yet substantial enough to make for a profitable branch, and the bank that is still carrying most of the mortgages in the town has decided not to operate there anymore. It would not be an understatement at all to say the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce would covet that mortgage business and if, over time, as a result of real estate transactions there, they can inherit that business, they would very much want to. That is what it would take to make it a profitable, full-time, self-sufficient branch.
I want to put this in context, though, because the position of the Canadian Bankers Association and the Canadian banking industry - at least the established banks - is that they will not go into a community of less than 5,000 unassisted. We all know what that could potentially mean to every community in the territory outside of Whitehorse.
Mr. McLachlan: To put that in further context, the Minister really means new entries. It does not mean the pulling out or withdrawal of existing ones, as is my understanding. I have asked the Commerce people the same kind of question to drum home the fact of how long they really expect to be compensated and subsidized out of government revenues for their troubles, and I cannot get any definite answers.
I wonder if the Government Leader has had discussions, because I have often wondered if they did get the paper, are they also willing to take over a debt that is associated with the mining company, as well? Will they take the bad with the good, or only the good?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: That is not a discussion to which we have been part. As the Member knows, I have had occasion to meet with the bankers of the mine, and I have also had occasion to meet with the bankers of Faro. They were not the same people.
The answer to the question the Member previous asked is that we, too, are very interested in the future prospects of the branch in Faro. Of all the rural branches, it is the one that is most likely to become profitable first. The reason why we do not have a long-term contract with the bank, but one that is subject to renegotiation, is that if that branch gets to the point where we think it can be profitable, we will have no interest in subsidizing it.
Mr. McLachlan: I am sure the Minister and his witness know the one thing that makes the real difference in a full-time operation and a subsidized operation that fly in and fly out is the access to the online computer terminal. That is still most exasperating for turning out current statements. They do it at 9:00 in the morning before they leave, but it is still of some consequence to the people of Faro that they cannot get an instant computer reading as Watson Lake, Whitehorse and Dawson City can. In discussions with the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, there has been an indication this would change if and when the Whitehorse branch installed more than 12 online computer stations, four of which are reserved for Watson Lake and Dawson, eight of which are reserved for Whitehorse.
In the meantime, the bank has installed a money machine, which seems to aid Whitehorse customers and a few out of town customers. Does the Minister have any further update on this situation? That was one of the indications that was holding it up, the online computer facilities for the bank.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I have no further information than that. I could bore the House on what these money machines cost, and something about the line cost, but I cannot answer the precise question asked by the Member. Since it is a question related to a third party, I will have the question asked and see if I can come back with the information.
Mr. McLachlan: As a result of a Ministerial Statement read some weeks ago the bank was going to try to select an individual in another location who would act on an agency basis for the bank. The Minister had narrowed that down to three or four locations, such as Teslin, Ross River, Haines Junction, et cetera. Does the Minister have any further information on a choice being made by the bank on that individual or location?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: No. I had hoped the decision would be made by now and still hope it will be made this month. If I can put this delicately, the problem is that the bank must be absolutely confident about the agents in the community. I use the word in a general sense, but the people have to be bondable. The bank has to be satisfied they can make arrangements that are secure from their point of view. That is why when Management Board made the decision about three communities - it made three choices, not one - we were advised by the bank that they were not absolutely confident that in the list they would be able to find the kind of arrangements that would make it a successful experiment. The bank is still working on that problem. I hope a conclusion can be found fairly quickly.
Mr. McLachlan: Without also getting into a lot of technicalities, if the Government Leader were to capsulize the best possible estimate on what the rural bank service would cost the Treasury, what would that be: $200,000, $250,000 or $400,000 a year? What is the ball park figure?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: About $400,000 this year.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The principle reason for the increases that would appear to be evident in the first line, administration, is because there were vacancies in the branch last year. The budget is presented on the assumption that the department will be fully staffed this year.
Administration in the amount of $312,000 agreed to
On Financial Operations and Revenue Services
Financial Operations and Revenue Services in the amount of 1,419,000 agreed to
On Budgets and Fiscal Relations
Mr. McLachlan: Can the Minister explain why this has increased 30 percent, or is this is because Opposition Members particularly asked for more details?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: That, of course, is the most reason. The second most important reason is - you do remember that I talked about the new person year in the department - this is where one of them is going. The rest is because of the full staffing and the salary increases, and so forth.
Budgets and Fiscal Relations in the amount of $556,000 agreed to
On Management Board Secretariat
Mr. McLachlan: Is this, then, also a decrease of one person year, to have lost 18 percent?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: No. This is because we have transferred the program evaluation out of here to the Executive Council Office, specifically, Internal Audit.
Management Board in the amount of $216,000 agreed to
Treasury in the amount of $2,503,000 agreed to
On Workers Compensation Board Supplementary Benefits
On Supplementary Pensions
Mr. McLachlan: The Supplementary Pensions are supplementary to what, to the death benefits that are paid out of the Executive Council figures?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: This goes back to the days before we had a Workers Compensation Board in the territory and we had private compensation plans. We get billings and pay-outs from those supplementary benefits to that private plan, going back to the days before we had the present Workers Compensation system. We essentially get billed, and this is what we expect to get billed: $360,000 in this year, and that is what we will pay. It is a statutory obligation.
Mr. McLachlan: From point of logistics and mechanics there is also Workers Compensation entries in the Executive Council Office, under the Public Service Commission. I do not understand the difference in managing and handling it this way in one department, and also handling it in the Public Service Commission. Can the Minister explain this?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: What you will find in the Public Service Commission is the payment for accidents that happen this year. There is budgeted amount - I cannot remember if it is $300,000, or what - that is what we estimate will be the charges to us for injuries or accidents in this budget year. This is the statutory obligation under the old act.
Mr. McLachlan: How far does the legislation go back under this supplementary benefit? Are we talking about the 1960s or prior?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am sorry. I do not know that date, but I will find out for the Member. I am pretty sure that it is before my time.
On Supplementary Pensions
Supplementary Pensions in the amount of $360,000
WCB Supplementary Benefits in the amount of $360,000 agreed to
Chairman: Are there any comments on page 122, Revenue and Recoveries, Taxation? If not we will return to Schedule A.
On Schedule A
Department of Finance in the amount of $2,863,000 agreed to
Mr. Lang: Prior to going to Government Services, could I give the Minister of Education some notice on some questions for the budget that he will probably have to get information for? I have just two questions. I do not expect an answer right now.
One is about the Public Accounts Committees report. I just studied the testimony that was given on Yukon College, and it is very confusing. The information that was provided in March 1985 was that the budget was projected to cost $24.6 million and that the total budget would be $40 million. That would include workshop equipment, computers and furniture. That was all inclusive. They are now projecting $50 million, excluding equipment and furniture. What is the total cost of Yukon College going to be including workshop equipment, computers and furniture? Could the Minister provide us with that information when we go back to Education Main Estimates?
Department of Government Services
Chairman: The next department is Government Services.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I am certain that there will be a debate on the value added policy and space, particularly office space as it relates to the growth of the government. I made a commitment to table information, which is on its way and should be available today. Those can occur at the will of Opposition Members, either in general debate or on the particular lines.
In general debate, I will outline the changes from last year to this year. Although the financial numbers have changed in the budget, the actual operation of the department has changed very little.
There are some changes that have been announced, at least partially, in a news release that occurred just before the Throne Speech. The purpose of the reorganization, which was a mini-reorganization, was to clarify the roles and responsibilities of the particular officers in the department. I am sure more will be said about that in the debate on the Public Accounts Committee report, because that report spoke to the same issues that I am concerned about as Minister, with respect to the roles and responsibilities of officials, especially in the Public Works Branch.
We are always interested in the efficient delivery of services to the client departments, and to the general public. We have some improvements there, and are expecting some others. One example is the territorial agents and the availability of the computer terminal information in all the outlying centres.
I also have extremely interesting information about purchasing in the outlying centres, which will be of interest to rural Members. The changes are that there is a senior policy planner now. The progression is that, in this branch, there was no policy unit in 1984 and 1985. We transferred a computer programmer to a policy analyst in June 1985 and, later, changed that person year into an assistant deputy minister. We have a new person year that is a senior policy planner, which is staffed by John Ferbey. That person reports to the deputy minister. Before the change in March, the policy planner had reported to the assistant deputy minister. We are working on policy positions, specifically about property management, and I will report on that if I am asked.
Under the Administration Branch, the contract administrator was transferred to Public Works about a year ago, and was transferred back to Administration. So, the contract administrator is in the Administration Branch, where it had been for years and years before 1987.
In Systems and Computing Services, the change is that the internal communications of the government are being centralized. We are expecting to save money in the long run by centralizing the governments phone system.
That process is ongoing. The most significant change is to incorporate Public Works into what will be called the Property Management Branch. This will be a new branch headed by the current assistant deputy minister and will not involve new person years. The director of Public Works and the property manager will report to the assistant deputy minister. One of the immediate responsibilities of this new branch is to continue the development of a comprehensive long-term plan for the provision of office space. By long term, I do not mean five years, I mean in the nature of 20 years. The property management system will be more central.
Mr. Lang: I am not going to belabour this because I know the comments of the Members of this House are taken as seriously as one would look for advice on going to university from somebody who has never been there. I find it very frustrating with the present incumbent appearing very concerned but when the day is ended he goes in the direction he is going to go. Nobody is going to change that no matter what. I will not take a lot of time. The people of the territory are fully aware of the mannerisms of the Minister in question and where we are going.
I want to refer to the contract schedule of major projects tendered in 1988-89 provided by the Ministers department. I appreciate the fact that there was a list prepared giving the government full leeway for delays if somebody quits or does not show up. I do not have a problem with that.
If one takes a look at the budget there are numerous projects that are not included in this list - I would say fairly significant projects, such as the Watson Lake upgrading or the building of the school there. You can see they are not included in the list. Why are they not included?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I was expecting the question. They are not included because the Department of Government Services does not know the answers. The way it works is that we, as the Member well knows, are the central contracting agency, or the contract administration agency for line departments, except for buildings of our own, which is a minor part of the budget. The other departments determine the timing of the project - indeed, whether it will go ahead or not. I recognize the fact that there are gaps in the list, however, we have provided from the central agencies perspective the information that we have. For the gaps, the Department of Government Services does not have that information from the departments.
Mr. Lang: I feel like I have been misled. I went through the list thinking this was a non-partisan request to give to the contractors. The Minister stood up and said he agreed, that he thought it was a good idea. I glanced at it, wrote a short note, sent it to a bunch of contractors, saying, I think this will of interest to you, and I think you can plan accordingly. Then, I started scrutinizing it a little later on, considering we were going on to Government Services, and I find out half the budget is not there - if not half, more than half. I do not understand how the government works. It is like playing with jelly, or worse, because it gives you a worse feeling. You try to get some information but, if you do not ask the very specific question, like what time of the day did he go to the bathroom, you are not going to get an answer. As a Member of the House, it bothers me. It is like we are being played with, like a bunch of fools. I guess it sounds like a repeat performance. I turn on the record, and here I go again.
I wanted to utter my dismay and absolute disgust at having to raise this. I want to ask the government, and whatever Minister there who can answer, when can I get a tentative list of when other contracts are going to be tendered through the government - for example, the fire flow in Mayo? That is all I am asking. It is nothing really difficult.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I am sorry the Member for Porter Creek East is expressing frustration. This year, for the first time, the government had a public meeting to express to contractors the scope of the projects in the Capital Budget, and to tell them the approximate time of tendering. This list is another first, and it puts some of the information we verbally gave to contractors in writing. It is later in time and, therefore, more accurate.
I am sorry the Member opposite referred to a partisan interest, because I can assure him there has been absolutely no partisan input into this list. I said the request was a good one and, frankly, I am sorry I did not think of it myself. However, it was not a simple one. We have provided what information we have. I recognize there are some projects that we have identified in the Capital Budget, which we passed in the fall, and are still unable to project an approximate time of tendering with a degree of certainty, so it is responsible to put it on paper and be realistically expecting to comply with the list and live up to our projections.
What we have done is the state of our knowledge. If the Member opposite wishes to make the comment that we could do better, I agree we could, and that we should do better, I agree we should. In future years, we will pay particular attention. I hope that, over the long term, we will constantly do better in projecting, but that is the state of our ability to project with a degree of certainty today.
Mr. Phillips: I would like to make a suggestion to the Minister. Before I became involved in politics, I was in the contracting business, specifically the exterior and interior painting business. It has been brought to my attention recently - and this has happened as well in past years - that painting contract tenders for exterior painting do not come out until August, or later on in the year. Yet, in the same tendering documents, it is stated that you have to paint in temperatures of above 50 degrees. There are certain stipulations and last year several contractors got into trouble with the government inspectors simply because the contracts were let so late.
I think that the government should be priorizing contracts such as these, that depend upon the weather to such an extent - pouring concrete, or exterior painting, or that kind of thing - and there should be some kind of a priority, that these contracts could be out earlier in the year. What happens is that you get into a big argument with the inspector, or with the government itself, in whether or not more money should be allotted to complete the contract, because it was let so late, or whether or not the contractor has to come back next spring and finish up something.
It ends up costing someone more money. In some cases it costs the contractor, who certainly was not to blame. A great many time it ends up costing the government more money, because they add on a few more dollars so that the contract can be completed. I would like to suggest to the Minister that they have to sit down and priorize these types of projects, and get them out, so that people can do them when the weather is still good enough to complete them.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I thank the Member for that suggestion. It is not a new suggestion. There are two concerns: one is that for many of the painting contractors it is painting the construction that occurred earlier in the season. It is one of the later jobs in the construction process. For those contracts, we are not going to be able to help much, but there are contracts of painting existing buildings, and I totally agree that the spring, or even the winter before, are better times to let the contracts. It is a suggestion that I hope, over the years, we constantly do better and better at implementing.
Mr. Lang: I do not understand this. Can someone tell me when the new archives facility is going to be tendered? That is $1.5 million. That is not on the list. I guess that it is considered to be a small project.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: It is not within the knowledge of the Department of Government Services at the moment. Let me explain again that it is, of course, useless for me to say sometime this year or I hope by September, but the purpose of that list was to narrow it to within a two week time frame, or so, so that it would be a useful list to contractors. Take my word for it, we honestly intend to live up to that schedule. If we are not able to say, with some degree of precision, that we expect that we are right, it does not make any sense to make a wild guess. We have looked at all the projects, and it was a fairly time-consuming process, and we have set out the expected dates as best we can.
Mr. Phillips: Surely, when the government puts it Capital Budget together in the fall of the year, it must look at how much money it can spend or how many projects it can actually carry out. To do that, it would have to say, we will build this one in March or April, we will build this in May; they have to set aside dates and times to plan for the construction period. Why can they not produce that list when they put the budget together? They had to have some idea.
A big wish list cannot be just put through that all kinds of things are going to be built and not have any idea if they can be put through during the construction period. They come here every year and tell how many jobs these projects will create. They must know what times of the year the jobs will be created and how they are spaced out so that they are spread over the year. There must be an idea of when these things will be tendered.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: Yes. We must and we do, in a general sense. I have given the Member what I can in a specific sense. The way the budget is made is that we have various proposals for various projects. We priorize and determine the availability of the dollars for the the buildings and the projects. That occurs very early, but before the budget is tabled. It is then that the Public Works Branch knows what projects are approved, and they start a coordinating process.
That process occurs all winter and speeds up in the construction season. We are doing better every year. Because the Capital Budgets have vastly increased over what they were five years ago, and the person years and the capability have not increased as fast as the dollars have, there have been bottlenecks, but we are working these out. The process of becoming more and more precise about the dates and the precise expense for each project occurs over the season. As time goes on, our information is far better. At this stage, I have given the House what information we know can be relied on.
Mr. Lang: Everyone has an excuse for everything. We will accept that. Can the Minister tell us when he can provide us with a list of all the projects over $50,000 that will be tendered by this government? How long will it take Government Services to phone Community and Transportation Services, Health and Human Resources and the others to get information on all the things that have to be done? Can we have that information within the week?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I cannot make a commitment within the week. I am not even sure it is responsible to make a specific commitment at all. The Members do not appear to appreciate the fact that a request was made, and we were as responsible as we can be, and we put very significant resources into collecting the information. The information that is tabled is what we have. Members appear not to accept that statement.
We can simply list all the projects and make a guess. I would suggest we can provide such a list, but its accuracy would suffer. The Member opposite is saying that is no problem. I will go back to the department and I will ask for such a list, and I will ask the public servants to make a guess where they do not specifically know. That may help. However, I will issue a disclaimer right at the very beginning that, on some of those projections, they will be wrong.
Mr. Lang: The startling revelation coming out here is that we have so much money here, we do not even know when we are going to tender out the projects. We passed the budget last fall. All the civil servants within the departments have had a pretty good idea exactly what projects are going to be going ahead this coming season. An example is the archives building. We do not even know if it is going to be built now, nor whether it is going to be tendered, or when. Other examples are the Watson Lake school, the Ross River maintenance camp, and the list goes on.
I appreciate the effort that was made, but I want to point out to the Minister that, when you examine it really closely, one-quarter to half the list has already been tendered, so it was already known they were tendered. All the others are projected for mid-May or mid-June, with a couple for July. You are trying to tell me that somebody spent a lot of time putting this together? You should read it.
I think it is time somebody grabbed hold of Government Services and started running it like a department. It is supposed to be a central agency. Look at the Public Accounts Committee report. It makes an absolute joke of the expenditure of public money. Even back as early as 1985, when they announced Yukon College, nobody knew how much it was going to cost. The political people at that time were given certain numbers. We are now talking about a Taj Mahal that is escalating well over $60 million, and nobody knows, so nobody is going to be to blame.
It is a reasonable request. I would like to know, so I can tell the contractors I represent they can be expecting in mid-May or mid-July to be looking for tender notices and planning ahead.
I want to agree with the Minister that the process of having that meeting last fall was a real good idea. I would recommend to any contractor I run across that they attend. I want the undertaking from the Minister that he gets at least a time line from those departments for the tender documents. That is all I am asking, for $50,000 and over. I think it is fair.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: The question is about a commitment that I have already given. The Member for Porter Creek East appears to go on a little tirade. It is obviously for political show rather than a genuine concern for the administration of the department.
What we are doing is substantially improving the available information which is substantially improved over last year, and especially over the long term past. Never before has anyone asked for the expected tender dates of particular projects. The Member opposite knows full well that when we debate a project in the Capital Budget, the pre-engineering and the like are generally not done, and we need the money for the project to do that work. Now over time we are going to a system of vastly improving the projected tender costs, the projected costs and timings. We are, for the first time, doing real life cycle costing for public buildings. This was never done in the early 1980s. It has only started in all governments of the country in the mid 1980s. We are improving the system constantly year by year.
The system is working the same way as it worked in previous years; however, it is being improved a little bit each year. In this last year, we have made a substantial step in providing this information about timing. It is my genuine belief that we will get better and better as the years go by. The major fact which will allow us to improve the projections as to time, and also as to cost, will be the practice of doing the pre-engineering in one year and the building in the second year, especially for major projects. It is that practice which is beginning, and begun under this government I may say, that will enable us to be really very precise in the future as to cost estimates and also time estimates.
Mr. Lang: My heart cannot take this. I will move onto something else. I asked a question about the policy of Government Services employees being paid their per diem, that perhaps their policy was much different than the overall government, as far as when the maintenance crews went outside of Whitehorse. Could the Minister report at this time?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: Yes, the building maintenance people follow the travel policy of the government, as set out in the travel directive. The substance of the question was, I believe: is building maintenance treated differently? The answer is no. There is no special provision and no special policy; it is the general travel policy of the whole government.
Mr. Lang: It is my understanding that the government pays for the hotel room and then pays X amount of dollars for breakfast, lunch, and supper. Could you clarify this for the record?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: Yes.
Mr. Lang: Could the Minister update us on his infamous value added policy. Have there been any changes, and if so, where are they? I know they are being contemplated.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: The state of progress is that there was a meeting between the government and the Contractors Association, which I unfortunately was not able to attend. I believe it occurred last week. A discussion paper was circulated to the contractors. I will get a copy for the Member for Porter Creek East immediately. The paper outlined various possibilities for change, and the Contractors Association took it away and presumably are studying it. That is the state of progress. There have been no changes in the actual policy; it has not gone to Cabinet or Management Board.
Mr. McLachlan: Would the Minister bring an organization chart with him, that he can table for all Members?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: Yes, I will send a copy over immediately.
Mr. McLachlan: In his introductory remarks, the Minister referred to a new organizational structure. When was it made effective, and why?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: The best date that I can give, by memory, is April 1, although really it started perhaps a week or so before. That is about as precise as I can get from memory.
Mr. McLachlan: Did the Minister say that the director of Public Works and the property manager report to the assistant deputy minister? Is that the case?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: Yes.
Mr. McLachlan: There is only one deputy minister in this department. Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: Yes.
Mr. McLachlan: Why were the changes made?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I could repeat the comments I made in the opening statement, but all Members are not interested in that, I am sure. The changes were made to generally make the property management branch more efficient, and to relate public works and property management into the same sort of general administration.
Mr. McLachlan: One of the biggest moves that will take part in property, that this department is responsible for, will be the move from the Lynn Building to the old college. Has the department advised the owners of the Lynn Building that this move is about to take place, and given a guideline as to the month that move is happening?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: The normal communication is around the term of the lease. I am sure the owners of the Lynn Building are perfectly aware of what is said in the Legislature. The Member is aware, as am I, that it is listed and advertised for sale. The prospective purchasers will clearly investigate the leases. There is no particular communication, outside the term of the lease.
The present intention of the government is to completely honour the term of every lease, and not to renew leases in that building.
Mr. McLachlan: I asked the question because, at some point, there was a big question mark as to whether all the department would go and when they would go. So, that affects lease terminations, and the fact it does affect it past the point of the end of lease, then the department must ask for an extension. Is that still the case, that not all the department will go at once, and this will then necessitate a lease extension?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: Yes, it is. It was perhaps too general to say we would not renew. There may be some extensions. There are various leases in the same building. The majority terminate in July, 1988. The move, in whatever form it occurs, will probably not occur until sometime later. So, there will probably be a negotiation of renewals, but I cannot guarantee anything for the landlord, as there may be changes at the time of the negotiations on lease extensions. That may be possible.
Mr. McLachlan: When there was a move of someone from Policy and Planning into Government Services from Health and Human Resources, was that position vacant at the time or had there been no one in that position for some time? I do not understand the reason for the move from Policy and Planning.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I am sorry that the Member for Faro did not understand the comments I made at the beginning. I tried to explain that. It was a new position that was created as a senior policy planner. It was previously vacant, and I gave the history briefly of the policy and planning function in the department, which will appear in Hansard.
Mr. McLachlan: The Minister, in his introductory remarks, mentioned only management. He did not talk at all about money, and $2.5 million is a fairly sizable chunk to be up in one year. Is there a large area that is responsible for most of it or is it just a new contractual agreement for the large number of employees?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: It is not accurate to say that the largest portion is for new employees. It would be misleading to say that the increase is due largely to one factor. As we go through the lines, it is attributable to the various activities in the department. I would be pleased to discuss the question after going through all the lines. However, it is not attributable to one particular factor.
Mr. Lang: Did the Minister approve the policy where there would be less security on the building from 11:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m.? Are keys only given out to the chosen few, and only one individual is responsible for both facilities?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: No, I did not approve it. I am certainly responsible for it, and I will answer questions about it.
Mr. Lang: Is the Minister saying that it was not brought to his attention prior to its implementation?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: It was in its general sense, not in its specific sense. Several particular points were brought to my attention during its implementation. The change is something that I knew about and knew was happening.
Mr. Lang: Is that both specifically and generally?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I did not read every word of the paper before me but I am clearly responsible for it and I know about it, yes.
Mr. Lang: I wanted to know who thought this brain wave up. I am glad I am not on security and have to take the responsibility of the security of these buildings under those particular rules. I cannot see how it can be enforced. It is the governments prerogative, I am not going to argue that. I just think it is interesting to know that the Minister is responsible for it.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I am so often criticized for spending money that it is a refreshing change to be criticized for saving money.
Mr. Lang: I am told, and do not know if it is true, that because of the changes and the use of casuals the amount of money that will be saved will be insignificant. Who am I to know that? I am just an individual from the public, a boy from the backwoods of Porter Creek who does not know anything. Who am I to question the brain wave of the Minister and how he is going to save money.
If he wants to save money I can go through this budget in one hell of a hurry and save the taxpayers multi millions of dollars and put them into some worthwhile investments that down the road are going to generate wealth for this country, as opposed to incurring ongoing operation and maintenance costs that 14,000 over the ages of 18 are not going to be able to pay if money ever stops being funneled on its way from the Government of Canada. Do not challenge me to talk about saving money. Maybe more Members on that side better start paying some attention to what they are doing as opposed to trying to make this such a perfect world we will not be able to afford to live in it. Some of them better start taking direct responsibilities for their actions on the expenditures of the taxpayers money. I can see the day when the largess of the federal government is going to end and it is going to be a sad awakening for us all. Mr. Kimmerly and his cohorts can take full responsibility and pleasure in giving a legacy to the people of the territory that I think, in good part, they are not going to be able to afford. That is the unfortunate aspect of what is taking place here.
Mrs. Firth: Have the new work order forms that the department is going to use as a result of the Public Accounts Committee recommendations been prepared? If not, what are they using as a temporary work order to see that the spending authorities are being adhered to and incidents that have happened do not recur?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: If I understand the Members question accurately it is about the recommendations of the Public Accounts Committee. The public officials in the committee that reported in evidence to the committee on various changes. The recommendations that were made were only made available to the department on Monday of this week, I believe. We have not concluded our consideration of the recommendations.
Mrs. Firth: I am not asking specifically about the recommendations. The Public Accounts Committee sat some time ago. The work orders was one area that was identified by the committee that needed immediate attention, as the deputy minister said. Surely, the Minister has had some communication with his deputy minister as to whether or not that immediate attention has been given to the work orders. The deputy minister was very adamant that work order was the spending authority for the allotted money. I am sure the department must have done something on that issue by now. The recommendation of the Public Accounts Committee was simply a formality. I would have thought the department would have acted on it immediately, and that the Minister would have been aware of it, since he is the one who must ultimately accept responsibility for any deficiencies within the department.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: Subsequent to the Public Accounts testimony, I have discussed that with the deputy minister. That is accurate. I do not specifically know the precise state of what forms are being used today, and I will report back when we next sit.
Mr. Lang: I want to table this document with the Committee, if I could. It is the Department of Government Services; Leases as of April 28, 1988. I think all Members should have a copy, and it should be a formal document, as far as the House is concerned. It is very important. The amount of money we are talking about in leasing for this year, from April 1, 1988 to March 31, 1989, which is $2,097,595. It is getting fairly significant.
Does the Minister have the capital costs of the renovations of the burgeoning office space needed for the Yukon Housing Corporation, as well as in the Financial Plaza?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: No, I do not, because we do not know them yet.
Mr. Lang: Were there no estimates taken on it?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: Not really. It is something under consideration at the present time. It is irresponsible to offer a particular number. It would only be a guess.
Mr. McLachlan: For the purposes of insurance and maintenance costing, does the government have a replacement value on this building?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: No.
Mr. McLachlan: Is it not insured? Is it not required, for insurance purposes?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I specifically remember a fairly long debate in this Committee two years about exactly that. Because of the very high costs of insurance, we changed our insurance policy, and that occurred, I believe, in early 1986. We have insurance on FH Collins, but not on the Philipsen building, or on the main administration building.
Chairman: Are we ready for the first branch, Administration?
Mr. Lang: Could the Minister provide me with the information of how many desks were purchased in the past year and how many will be purchased by the government in the forthcoming year?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: Yes, I will provide that information.
Chairman: Any general debate on Administration?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: He has a 13 percent increase so perhaps the Minister could give what, over and above the salary increases, are the cause of it.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: The increases here were identified and debated thoroughly in the fall. They are attributable to the two new person years for the Contract Administration Branch and, specifically, for the value added approach.
I am not announcing two new person years. These are the same person years that we talked about last fall. There was a change in four jobs, but there were two new person years.
On Finance and Administration
Finance and Administration in the amount of $1,069,000 agreed to
On Contract Administration
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: This is the two new person years that I talked about.
Mr. Phillips: I understand that the issue that I am going to bring up has been brought to the Ministers attention before. It is that of Contract Administration and suppliers and the value added policy. There are a limited number of suppliers in the territory who worked as agents in the past few years. I think that the Minister knows who I am talking about.
Would the Minister consider something like a grandfather clause in the area of the northern suppliers? Two businesses that I know of are family businesses, they have been in the territory probably in excess of 60 years, between them, and they find themselves now at a considerable disadvantage when they bid on government work. I think that when the government was drafting this policy they should have looked at some way that these people could be included. It is important that this is recognized. Years ago, this was the way to do business in the north, and because the laws have changed, the government should have made some allowance for how these businesses were built in the past. The government should have included them in the new policy.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: Yes. I am aware of the companies that the Member opposite has in mind. The owners reside in his riding. The question was will the government consider. The answer is yes. We are continuing our consideration of that issue. The question here is, in the governments mind, about the multiplier or value added effect to the Yukon economy. There is a Yukon supplier who acts as a middle person and purchases in the south without maintaining an inventory here. That person resells to a general contractor and possibly a subcontractor. It is technically a Yukon supply, but the benefit to the Yukon is only the amount of profit that the middle person makes that is spent here.
Identifying genuine Yukon supply is a complicated question. It is not a complicated issue to theorize about. However, it is extremely complicated to practically apply in the tendering situation, as the Member opposite knows. We are considering the question of these people very seriously. That consideration is not complete today.
Mr. Phillips: These are long-time family businesses. Probably, in some cases, 40 percent to 50 percent of their business in the past has been with the Government of Yukon. Now that is jeopardized by this new policy. I am urging the Minister to have his officials address it as soon as possible. It can be a long cold winter up here is we have to make the money that we survive on all year in the summer months when things are happening in the territory. If the government takes a year to decide, it could be quite a problem for these businesses.
I am not talking about businesses that just started yesterday. These businesses that are now in the hands of sons and grandsons. We are talking about businesses that were here in the beginning and offered services to Yukoners when no one else would or could. We should not exclude those businesses. I hope that the department will, in the next couple of weeks, come up with a solution to the problem so that these people can be back where they rightfully should be and be able to bid on an equal basis with other Yukon businesses. I ask the Minister to ask his officials to try and work this out within the next month.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I will do my best.
Mr. Lang: Can the Minister provide us with the list of the projects and the dollar amounts over $25,000 that are going to be transferred to organizations or band councils to administrate the projects themselves.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I do not believe there are any, but I will check, and provide a list.
Mr. Lang: The Minister told us there was at least one, the Teslin water and sewer project. The money was to be transferred to the band council and they were doing the job themselves. It was not being tendered out.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: Yes.
Mr. Lang: If we are not in the House, can he have that information sent to me as soon as it is made available?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: Yes.
Mr. McLachlan: Is the difference of $88,000 due solely to the two new positions?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: Solely is the wrong word. Primarily is the right word. There might be a difference of $2,000 or $3,000.
Contract Administration in the amount of $353,000 agreed to
Administration in the amount of $1,422,000 agreed to
On Systems and Computing Services
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: There is very little to say. I can point to the statistics and the changes there, but there is very little else to say.
Mr. McLachlan: Why can the individual caucuses not get online computers, as the government side has? Why are those requests continually denied? Why will the department not provide training on the AES?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I believe the request the Member is talking about was turned down by the Member Services Board.
Mr. McLachlan: Program Objectives does not cover the Member Services Board.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: The Member is absolutely right. We are not debating the Member Services Board. He is talking about allocations that would occur in the Legislative Assembly Office. Services for the caucuses in the Assembly are not controlled here, but are controlled by the Member Services Board.
Mr. McLachlan: That is hair splitting. Who provides the money for the equipment?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: The provision of authority comes from the Member Services Board.
Administration in the amount of $273,000 agreed to
On Processing Services
Processing Services in the amount of $734,000 agreed to
On Systems Development
System Development in the amount of $626,000 agreed to
On Technical Services
Technical Services in the amount of $435,000 agreed to
On Information Centre
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I had better explain the 33 percent increase here. The repairs and maintenance have been transferred from other areas. There is an overall increase due to the substantially increasing number of work stations and, particularly, personal computers in the government. The work stations are purchased through the capital program, and this is the operation and maintenance support for that.
Information Centre in the amount of $654,000 agreed to
Computing Services in the amount of $2,722,000 agreed to
On Supply Services
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: There are minor increases. The change in the Queens Printer is due to the policy identified in the Capital Budget of purchasing equipment as opposed to leasing it. The change in transportation and communication is because of the availability of vehicles being reduced so that the operation and maintenance expenditures on fuel and maintenance fall within the budget where the limitation is established by the government.
Mr. McLachlan: Statistics do not show that the number of vehicles have decreased. They show that they are up.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: The number is the same. That is 70 vehicles over the last year. The number of pool vehicles is 213.
I move that you report progress on Bill No. 50.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I move that Mr. Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. May the House have the report from the Chairman of the Committee of the Whole?
Mr. Webster: The Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 50, entitled Second Appropriation Act, 1988-89, and directed me to report progress on same.
Speaker: You have heard the report from the Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I move that the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Justice that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: This House now stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. Monday next.
The House adjourned at 5:30 p.m.
The following Legislative Returns were tabled May 5, 1988:
MV Anna Maria and Karpes and Pugh Yukon Trading Company Ltd. - Government of Yukon financial involvement (Penikett)
Oral, Hansard, pp. 400-402
Application process in the Business Development Office (Penikett)
Oral, Hansard, p. 296
Government of Yukon - Department of Economic Development, Year to Date Commitment Status Report, as of April 26, 1988 (Penikett)
Oral, Hansard, p. 311
Department of Economic Development Organization Chart, March 31, 1988 (Penikett)
Oral, Hansard, p. 307
Ross River Land Transaction (Kings residence, Lot 214, Plan 53407) (McDonald)
Oral, Hansard, April 28, 1988
Transportation of motor vessels Anna Maria and Yukon Queen from Skagway, Alaska, to Whitehorse and Dawson City (McDonald)
Oral, Hansard, pp. 400, 401, 402, 418 and 419
The following Document was filed May 5, 1988:
Department of Government Services; Whitehorse Leases as of April 28, 1988 (Lang)