Monday, January 16, 1989 - 1:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will call the House to order. We will proceed at this time with Prayers.
Speaker: We will proceed at this time with the Order Paper.
Introduction of visitors?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I have for tabling answers to questions that were asked last week and the Yukon Economic Forecast dated January 1989.
Speaker: Are there any Reports of Committees?
Are there any Petitions?
Are there any Notices of Motion for the Production of Papers?
Are there any introduction of bills?
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
Bill No. 5: Introduction and First Reading
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I move that Bill No. 5, entitled Fifth Appropriation Act, 1987-88 be now introduced and read a first time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Government Leader that Bill No. 5, Fifth Appropriation Act 1987-88 be now introduced and read a first time.
Motion agreed to
Bill No. 3: Introduction and First Reading
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I would move that Bill No. 3, entitled Third Appropriation Act 1988-89 be now introduced and read a first time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Government Leader that Bill No. 3, entitled Third Appropriation Act 1988/89 be now introduced and read a first time
Motion agreed to
Bill No. 89: Introduction and First Reading
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I move that Bill No. 89, entitled First Appropriation Act 1989-90 be now introduced and read a first time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Government Leader that Bill No. 89, entitled First Appropriation Act 1989-90 be now introduced and read a first time.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: Are there any Petitions?
Are there any Notices of Motion for Production of Papers?
NOTICES OF MOTION FOR PRODUCTION OF PAPERS
Mr. Nordling: I would give notice of the following motion:
THAT the House do issue an order for the return of the complete financial statements and records of Hyland Forest Products.
I would like to give notice of the following motion:
THAT the House do issue an order for the return of all studies related to sustainable yields and reforestation in the Watson Lake area.
Mrs. Firth: I would like to introduce a motion under the Notice of Motions for the Production of Papers. I would like to give notice of the following motion:
THAT this House do issue a return for a copy of any reports produced by or for the Government of Yukon on the subject of the future use of the old Yukon College.
Mr. Brewster: I would like to give notice of the following motion:
THAT this House do issue an order for the return of the Government of Yukon policy position on the Kluane Management Game Plan.
Mr. Lang: I would like to give notice of the following motion:
THAT this House do issue an order for return of all documents relating to the assessment of the various uses of the land at the top of Two Mile Hill, which was purchased by Canada Post.
Speaker: Are there any Notices of Motion?
NOTICES OF MOTION
Mr. Phelps: I would like to give notice of motion:
THAT it is the opinion of this House that the Government of Yukon should reconsider the establishment of an elementary school in the Whitehorse South Alaska Highway area to serve students residing in the Wolf Creek, Mary Lake and Robinson subdivisions and the Alaska Highway South/Marsh Lake and Carcross Road vicinity;
THAT the census of school and preschool children living in this area should be considered to determine the population base for such a school.
THAT this project be given priority over the establishment of an elementary school in the Granger Subdivision.
THAT the South Highway School Planning Committee be involved in the process; and
THAT the residents of the area should be consulted.
I would like to give notice of the following motion:
THAT it is the opinion of this House that the 141st Meridian forms the offshore boundary between the Yukon and the State of Alaska in the Beaufort Sea;
THAT this House urges the Government of Canada to seek confirmation from the Government of the United States that it will respect the 141st Meridian as the international boundary from the Beaufort Sea coastline to the North Pole; and
THAT this House urges the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development to introduce in the House of Commons appropriate amendments to the Yukon Act to clearly delineate the offshore boundary between Yukon and the Northwest Territories.
I would like to give notice of the following motion:
THAT the Government of Yukon consider the development of a program that will assist the private sector in providing enough proper septic pumpouts at strategic locations along major highways in order to prevent people in recreational vehicles from emptying septic tanks in gravel pits and other inappropriate areas.
I would like to give notice of the following motion:
THAT it is the opinion of this House that one of the reasons why little agricultural land has been made available to the general public is because the land transfer process is too cumbersome and bureaucratic and has created a substantial backlog of applications;
THAT this House urges the Government of Yukon to work cooperatively with the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development to streamline the land transfer process in order to make more agricultural land available to Yukoners;
THAT the Speaker forward a copy of this resolution to the hon. Bill McKnight, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, as well as the appropriate ministers of this government; and
THAT the Minister of Community and Transportation Services report progress on this resolution to this House.
Mr. Nordling: I would like to give notice of the following motion:
THAT it is the opinion of this House that the Government of Yukon should take the lead role in locating and collecting all PCBs and hazardous chemical wastes in Yukon and relocate them away from heavily populated areas.
I would like to give notice of the following motion:
THAT it is the opinion of this House that the Government of Yukon should immediately review the two access roads from the Alaska Highway to Crestview, at the MacKenzie RV Park and Kathleen Road, to determine what measures should be taken to increase safety at these locations.
I would like to give notice of the following motion:
THAT it is the opinion of this House that the Government of Yukon should consider a rebate in addition to the Home Owners Grant that is presently available to all Yukoners for seniors who own and occupy their own homes to assist them to live independently and to encourage seniors to retire in Yukon.
I would like to give notice of the following motion:
THAT it is the opinion of this House that, during its review and renegotiation of the Canada-Yukon Economic Development Agreement, and the subagreements, the Government of Yukon should advocate a revolving fund that would be utilized to provide low interest loans, rather than grants.
Mrs. Firth: I would like to give notice of the following motion:
THAT it is the opinion of this House that the Government of Yukon should immediately enter into a consultation process with the staff representatives at the Whitehorse General Hospital to discuss their wage and benefits package.
I would like to give notice of the following motion:
THAT it is the opinion of this House that provisions should be made for an annual appearance by the Human Rights Commission before this House in order that an opportunity is provided to Members of the Legislative Assembly to call the Commission to account for its expenditures of public funds.
I would like to give notice of the following motion:
THAT it is the opinion of this House that the Human Rights Commissions spending authority be subject to the Financial Administration Act, as are all other government departments or agencies which, according to the Financial Administration Act, includes any corporation, board, commission or committee established under that act.
I would like to give notice of the following motion:
THAT it is the opinion of this House that the old Yukon College renovations should be put on hold until a thorough review and analysis of the options and potential of the property has been completed and tabled in and debated by the Legislative Assembly.
I would like to give notice of the following motion:
THAT it is the opinion of this House that there should be one territorial education system in Yukon that serves all Yukoners, and that the statutory authority and delivery of educational programs and services for all Yukoners should remain the responsibility of the Government of Yukon.
I would like to give notice of the following motion:
THAT it is the opinion of this House that the Government of Yukon should request from the federal government the immediate transfer of federally administered health services to the Government of Yukon.
I would like to give notice of the following motion:
THAT it is the opinion of this House that the Government of Yukon should establish a Yukon Child Care Advisory Board that would include parents, individuals in the child care business and rural and urban community members, to advise the Minister of Health and Human Resources on all matters pertaining to child care.
Finally I would like to give notice of the following motion:
THAT it is the opinion of this House that the Government of Yukon should begin immediately the construction of an extended care facility for Yukoners.
Mr. Brewster: I would like to give notice of motion:
THAT it is the opinion of this House that the Government of Yukon should proclaim one week in 1989 to be known as Trapping Awareness Week in recognition of the contribution of the trapping industry to the Yukon economy and as a way of life.
I would like to give notice of a motion:
THAT it is the opinion of this House that community clubs, associations and volunteer groups are becoming so burdened by excessive government regulation and bureaucratic red tape that individuals are being discouraged from participating in such groups; and
THAT this House urges the Government of the Yukon to reduce the amount of paperwork these volunteer organizations have to do by streamlining government procedures, revising existing regulations and eliminating unnecessary requirements.
Child care support to cover parents not seeking work
Hon. Mrs. Joe: In my statement to the House on the Yukon Child Care Strategy, I made reference to support for parents caring for preschool children in their own homes. I would like to talk about the nature of this support.
Under the social assistance regulations, employable applicants must seek work as a condition of eligibility. To date, single parents who are otherwise employable have not been exempt from the condition of eligibility solely by virtue of having parenting responsibilities.
I am pleased to announce that this situation has changed. Effective January 16, 1989, sole support parents with one or more preschool children will be provided an optional exemption from the requirement to seek work as a condition of the eligibility. This optional exemption will also apply to one parent in a two parent family with one or more school age or preschool age children to care for. Changes to the social assistance program will benefit many parents who will have the ability to exercise the full choice of child care options including full-time at home parenting.
Mrs. Firth: I wonder if, in response to this ministerial statement, we could simply get a commitment from the Minister of Health and Human Resources to provide Members of the Legislature, as well as the public, with the specifics of the policy so we might be better informed of the details and the cost of the new program. Would the Minister make a commitment to provide us with that in the next days of the sitting of the Legislature?
Mr. McLachlan: I see that todays announcement is more or less a tag-end to the statement made on Thursday and perhaps could have been added at that time. Although it has its positive points, I would like to emphasize to the Minister that she still has a big hole in one area and that is the situation of single parents who are attending Yukon College who have children in day care that they cannot afford to pay for because they have no income whatsoever. They are unable to afford the cost of day care at the college itself or anywhere else. Is the Minister going to be able to deal with this situation or will those single parents enrolled at the college be left out on a limb?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: There will be no problem providing the information that the Member for Riverdale South is asking for. I may mention right now that this is the last jurisdiction in Canada that had this kind of a policy that required that single parents seek employment. We are now right along with other jurisdictions.
I would certainly have to find out more information about individual cases for the Member for Faro. I cannot respond to his questions, because I do not know the circumstances at this point.
Humane Trapping Guidelines
Hon. Mr. Webster: Last fall in Saskatoon the wildlife ministers from across the country adopted Canada-wide trapping guidelines designed to ensure more humane harvesting of wild fur.
I would like to take this opportunity to inform the House when the guidelines will be made a part of Yukon trapping regulations, what changes the guidelines will mean for Yukon trappers and how we will assist trappers to adapt to the new regulations.
Mr. Speaker, since last falls meeting in Saskatoon, my officials have met with trappers in Yukon communities to discuss proposed trapping regulation changes. The previous minister also met with the president of the Yukon Trappers Association to discuss concerns about the guidelines and the timing of regulatory changes.
As a result of that consultation and discussion, I am prepared to announce today that trappers will have an additional two years before changes are made to regulations.
After the transition period, the following rules will apply:
for trapping lynx, fox, coyote, wolf and wolverine, only modified leg hold hold traps with offset and padded jaws, quick kill traps such as the Conibear 330, and snares with proper locking devices will be permitted;
for smaller fur bearers caught on land, only recognized quick kill traps will be permitted;
for fur bearers caught in drowning sets, where death will come quickly, the steel jawed leg hold trap will still be permitted.
The changes I have outlined today will result in more humane harvesting of Yukon fur bearers.
The change to new technology will, however, impose some hardship on Yukon trappers. For many Yukon trappers, the leg hold trap has been the tool that has given them their livelihood. To make the transition to more humane harvesting as smooth as possible, my government will be expanding and developing the trap exchange program which was introduced last year. The budget to be introduced this afternoon will make the strength of our commitment to Yukon trappers clear to all. It will permit many more Yukon trappers to exchange leg hold traps for more humane alternatives.
In addition, my department will provide technical and financial assistance to trappers who wish to modify traps they already own to meet an acceptable humane standard.
As has been the case for some time, trapper workshops will continue to emphasize humane trapping technology.
The points I have outlined today will ensure that Yukon trappers meet accepted national standards for humane trapping while maintaining their ability to pursue their livelihood.
Mr. Brewster: I am very glad to see the new minister is trying to get off on the right foot. He is apparently listening to the people who are involved in the industry, instead of just the department. It is too bad this had not happened two or three months ago. We would not have had the ruckus we have had lately.
I also agree with the minister that there are a number of problems with the regulations they have drafted and with the trap exchange program. As they were, they were simply causing undue hardship to the trappers. There was not enough money allocated. In Committee of the Whole, I recall debating that and telling the minister there was not enough. As usual, the minister never listened to me. I hope this new minister will listen a little more. They put out $35,000, which only covered less than ten percent of the trappers.
The former minister, the hon. Dave Porter, returned from a meeting in Saskatoon with a draft set of regulations approved by the FIC Board of Directors. The minister then proceeded to correct these to his own way and wrote the word modified in number six, which completely changed the whole meaning of that section. This, of course, caused trappers to be very concerned. On a number of occasions, these trappers tried to get to the minister; I think they finally managed to.
At that same time, the president of the Trappers Association of Canada phoned from Edmonton on November 14, and asked to meet with the hon. Minister of Renewable Resources. They offered to pay their own way up here, and they were told that they would not meet with them. To me, that is an insult to the Yukon, an insult to the hospitality of the Yukon. I cannot understand. It does not make sense to me when people of this stature cannot get a meeting with the minister.
We can look at it two ways. Either the new minister has seen the light or, maybe, it is the other thing. Maybe there is an election coming, so we have to turn around and get some of these people back on side.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I thank the member for his comments. I just want to assure him that we have seen the light after our consultation with the people affected in the industry. These measures I have announced today will be put in place.
Speaker: This, then, brings us to the Question Period. Are there any questions?
Question re: Hyland Forest Products joint venture
Mr. Phelps: I have some questions for the minister responsible for Economic Development and the Yukon Development Corporation with respect to the take over of Hyland Forest Products. We have been told the new mill is going to be five times the capacity of the present mill site in Watson Lake. It is apparently designed to be profitable if they only mill for a period of ten years. That question of the ten year period was put to Judy Gingell of the Yukon Indian Development Corporation this morning on CBC, and she did not deny that the present leases would only sustain a ten year program. She honestly said she did not know. Officials from the company that is designing the mill are saying it is designed to be profitable after only ten years.
Was the Minister of Economic Development aware of this before he allowed Yukon Development Corporation to enter into this deal?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I believe Mr. Willis, the president of Shieldings Inc., was quoted this morning on the radio. He made statements something like those indicated by the member opposite. Leases that the new company will take responsibility for have a life span of ten years, and they are renewable, as I am sure the member knows. This does not mean at all that the timber resources are limited to ten years of operating in the new sawmill.
As I indicated to an earlier question in the House, the inventory just completed by federal officials has proved the availability of significant resources, including 3.6 million cubic metres of timber in our own licence area alone. I am sure the member knows that our licence area is but a minute fraction of the total merchantable timber available in that region.
Mr. Phelps: What concerns me is that the government does not know just how long they can sustain the yield required by the mill.
This government agreed to a grant in the sum of $45,000 to Hyland Forest Products regarding regeneration survey of forest lands, to look at and to study regenerating the forest in areas that were logged ten to 20 years ago, they said at the time.
Why has this government not placed more emphasis on the issue of the regeneration of forests and long term sustained yield? Why has it allowed this deal to go through, which on the surface looks as though the company is happy because they can recoup their investment and make a large profit with this new mill in ten years time?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: None of the participants in this new venture are here simply for ten years. The commitment made by the principals, and understood by all the parties involved, including the federal government, is for the long term, not the short term. The Department of Indian and Northern Affairs, who are at this moment responsible for forest management, have indicated to us that the allowable cut on Hylands leases can be increased by 50 percent over the next few years and that the level proposed, as I have said, is only a fraction of the available timber for harvesting.
The member asks about reforestation. I believe that, as a responsible entity, the Yukon Development Corporation is the first operator in the history of that area to take any initiative in reforestation whatsoever, and we have nothing to be ashamed of on that score.
Mr. Phelps: The fact remains that the company itself does not know whether or not it can go beyond ten years with the present resources available in the leased area. There is absolutely nothing that would show us that the Watson Lake area can sustain five times the capacity of the present mill. Will the Government Leader, if he is not going to admit that, table in this House the studies that show that the forest can sustain a mill that has five times greater capacity than the one presently in operation?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I regret to inform the House that the member opposite is quite wrong in the statement of his facts and in his allegation that there is nothing to show that there can be a sustainable harvest down there. There is information forthcoming from the federal government. It is an immature report that is due to become public, I believe, at the end of this month. It contains information that has been provided to us in the course of the negotiations with the new purchasers and, indeed, in the course of the negotiations about the renewal of Hylands leases.
Question re: United Keno Hill Mines closure
Mr. Phelps: I look forward to the report being tabled in this House, because the company itself is quite content to make its profit in ten years time. It does not matter if the forest is finished then for another 150 years, which is how long it takes to grow a significant tree in that area.
I would like to turn from the subject of the mill to the subject of mining, another area of expertise of the minister on the side opposite; he is the minister in charge of mining. Of course we have the brutal fact that United Keno Hill Mines, which was expected to shut down by almost everybody who knows anything about the mine for some period of time, has now, sadly, shut down, to the professed surprise of the Minister of Mines.
On January 11, in answer to a question of mine on page eight of Hansard, the minister stated, No advance notice was given of the companys intentions announced a few days ago. Every assurance had been given to us that the mine would continue to operate and the contract we were trying to conclude would be reached. In that answer he is referring to a contract regarding supply of energy and the purchase of energy by the mine from the new or rebuilt dam at Mayo.
My question is: is it not true that at that very same meeting, in December, the reason given by the company for not signing the long term contract was that they could not guarantee that the mine would stay open, because of silver prices and their losses?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I do not know the sources of the members information, but that is not the information I have received directly or indirectly from either the officials of the Yukon Energy Corporation or the Yukon Electrical Corporation who were present at that December 6th meeting. As I indicated earlier in the house, I personally had a conversation with the president of the mine in the presence of others, including the member for Mayo, where the specific question as to the extent of the layoffs and the extent of the curtailment or reduction of costs at their Elsa operations was raised. Very definite assurances were given me that they proposed to reduce the work force somewhat in order to get a handle on their costs, but in fact a complete shutdown was not contemplated.
Mr. Phelps: Is it not surprising that the only person in the Yukon that was not aware that the mine would very probably -, not only possibly - shut down was the minister in charge of mines? Everybody else was aware of this. This is a public company that trades on the Toronto Stock Exchange. The third quarter financial report for the period to September of last year was published and it was made public in October. The Government Leader spoke about reports that he had that were confidential and could not be tabled in this house. The public had enough information.
Would the Government Leader, the Minister of Mines, tell this house exactly what information he had that cannot be tabled because it is confidential information? What is the nature of this wonderful information?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Of course, the member is really making speeches during question period, and knows full well that this is purely a matter of jurisdiction, that I am not, purely technically, the minister responsible for mines. But as a responsible minister, taking an interest and the leadership role in terms of the management of the Yukon economy, we have had ourselves briefed on a regular basis by officials in our government, briefings to our ministers which contain not only analysis and opinions from varied sources, but which, as in the normal course of cabinet documents, are confidential, information that is of course in some cases of commercial confidence, which I am not permitted to table in the house without consent of the other parties. Just to respond to the bogus allegation made by the member that I am the only person in the territory that did not know the mine was going to shut down, among the people who did not know that the mine was going to be shut down were the mine manager, the president of the local union, or the officials of our Department of Economic Development and Mines.
Mr. Phelps: He did not even attempt to answer the questions. Maybe the Government Leader, the Minister of Mines, could direct his attention to the question and try to answer it. Did he read the public financial information that was released by the company last fall showing the huge losses that were being sustained, and could he tell us in what respect his confidential information differed from that public information and lulled him into believing that the mine would not shut down?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am afraid that I think the Member is pumping a dry well. The question is: have I read public information? I have read much information public and private. I also tend to deal with people on the basis of good faith and in conversations with the president of the company, not a junior official. In the presence of another Member of the House whose word I am sure the Member opposite will be bound to respect, we asked the direct question about the future of the mine and were given assurances as I have indicated. The company indicated to us the nature of their losses, indicated the steps they were going to take to control costs, indicated the steps they were going to take to improve productivity, and indicated to us the extent of the quite considerable investment they have made in that property in the last couple of years, and indicated to us that with the extent of that investment they had a long term commitment to that property.
Question re: Regional health study
Mr. McLachlan: On Thursday last the Minister of Health, in her reply to the Throne Speech, replied to a regional study of health services at Faro, Mayo, Watson Lake and Dawson City. The day after that, Friday, the Minister issued a press release saying that the study had now been released, apparently under a schedule that was controlled only by herself.
Why has the Minister sat on the results of this study and the public release and why has it only been released now, knowing full well that the residents in those four effected communities wanted to know the answers to that study?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: The information I had is that the study was in draft form and I had requested a copy for myself. It was sent out as soon as we felt we could send it out.
Mr. McLachlan: I suggest otherwise. I believe this Minister is playing political games with the health care needs of the residents of the territory in these four affected communities.
Is it not true that in the negotiations between this government and the federal government on the rebuilding of the Whitehorse General Hospital there are certain conditions that this government must agree to, and until this government, and specifically this Minister, does there will be no further funding coming forward under that regional health report for the four largest health centres in this territory? Is that not true?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: That is not true.
Mr. McLachlan: If that is not true why then on 5 May 1988 after knowing what we went through in Faro with the tragic drowning of a four year old child did the Minister put out a press release saying a fourth nurse would be recruited to man the station between 4:00 p.m. and 12:00 midnight and thus look after additional needs of the community, and then fail to respond to that need? That fourth nurse has never been hired. Why?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: The Member for Faro knows that this government does not hire the nurses. That is done by Medical Services by the federal government. The answering service has been available 24 hours a day. They have received their doctor. If the fourth nurse who has been asked for has not been recruited yet, I will have to provide that information when I get it from Medical Services.
Question re: Nurse staffing turnover
Mrs. Firth: I have a question for the Minister of Health and Human Resources.
There is a great deal of concern in the community about the situation that has developed at the Whitehorse General Hospital regarding the nurses leaving the Yukon. I would like to ask the Minister about correspondence and representation she made regarding the health transfer in August. At that time she wrote and told me that employees would be given regular newsletters and that the first one would be going out in August. Can the Minister tell us why she did not fulfill that commitment and why they received no newsletters?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I would have to get that information and bring it back. I was not aware they had not gone out.
Mrs. Firth: As is usual, the Minister does not seem to be well informed. I hope she can answer my other question.
on re: Nurse wage and benefit package
Mrs. Firth: Could the Minister tell us why there was no consultation with the staff and union representatives prior to Cabinet approving a wage and benefits package?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The Member is alleging there was no consultation. There have been a series of meetings between the representatives of PIPS and this government, and meetings involving our devolution people, people in program transfer operations and the Public Service Commission.
The purpose of the Cabinet taking a position on the transfer package was to state our position and to begin discussions. Both unions at the hospital had that information conveyed to them in November. As yet, we have not had an official response to the package from either of the unions. We have only seen the press stories referred to by the member. As a matter of fact, we were asked if we would like to participate in a discussion about the package with nurses last Thursday evening, indicated that we would do so and be happy to do so and, then, heard no further from the representatives.
Mrs. Firth: I will come to the Government Leaders points in a minute. I would like to finish with the Minister of Health and Human Resources, if she has any information about her department and about this transfer that she is supposed to be responsible for.
Is it not true that job classifications have not been done and the nurses do not even know what their salaries are going to be after the transfer?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Of course it is true that they have not been done, and they would not normally be done at this stage of negotiations. When we get into the final stage of negotiations with the party, we will do job descriptions and classifications of all the people who are subject to the transfer when the negotiations are near completion. At the point when those classifications are complete, people will know the salary of the positions to which they are destined to be transferred.
I want to make it perfectly clear that, from the beginning, this government has taken the position that we will consult with and discuss with employees affected by transfers the terms and conditions by which they will work for this government, and that remains our position.
on re: Nurse wage and benefit package
Mrs. Firth: The Government Leader wants to answer the questions, so I guess I will have to direct my questions to the Government Leader regarding the same issue. I listened to the Government Leader say the union was responding through the media, and that he accused them of making representations through the media. Is it not true that the union wanted to meet with the Government Leader back in November and the Government Leader would not meet with them?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: On a previous occasion, I have met with representatives of PIPS, at the beginning of discussions. Subsequently, they have met with the appropriate officials. The fact remains that we are still waiting for a formal response to the package adopted by Cabinet, which we communicated to the union in November. We have heard from neither union - neither PSAC nor PIPS - officially to that communique.
Mrs. Firth: Can the Government Leader answer the question as to whether he refused to meet with the union representatives in November, as they had requested and, in fact, sent his political appointee to meet with them instead, at which time they were told they could take or leave the package?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: That sounds to me like a most improbable statement of facts. Without consulting my diary and without notice of the question, I cannot know what the circumstances were on November 23, and whether a meeting was requested with sufficient notice to enable me to attend it. If someone met with these people in my office, I am sure it was done promptly.
The fact of the matter is that we have not yet received an official response from either PSAC or PIPS in terms of the package we proposed. I will indicate that when we do receive an official response we will be happy to sit down and discuss it.
Mrs. Firth: Obviously, the Government Leader did not meet with them. How can they get an official response when they do not even know what their salaries are going to be?
Now, this cabinet approved the wage package without consulting with the union. They approved a wage package in cabinet, sent a political official, told them they could take it or leave it. The nurses do not know what their salaries are going to be; they can not get any answers from this government.
Speaker: Order, please, would the Member please get to the supplementary question.
Mrs. Firth: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like the Government Leader to confirm that, is it not true that the package was presented to them saying to take it or leave it? And the government has since refused to meet with them?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I can state categorically that that is not the case, if my memory serves me correctly. But I will check this, since the Member is making these allegations. I will check on the circumstances of November 23. But my memory is that these people arrived without notice, did not request a meeting in advance, but arrived in the office and asked to meet. If that happens, reasonable people would not expect to see ministers without any notice.
Some Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Penikett: It is not that we are important, it is that we are busy. The member may have forgotten, and I hope he never has the chance to learn again, but ministers do have important things to do on their desk.
The point is that we communicated with the union the proposed package. We have not heard from that organization, officially, their response to that communication.
Mrs. Firth: So what we have established here now is that in order to get in to see these ministers who are so important and who are so busy and isolated up in their offices, you have to make all kinds of appointments ahead of time. I have been through this myself with the Government Leader. You can not go up and see him in his office; his schedule is always too busy. So what the Government Leader is saying is that the nurses do not have any priority with this government. It just is not important enough that the Government Leader would talk to the nurses about an extremely important wage and benefit package that has to be negotiated.
I would like to know from the Government Leader whether or not it is true that the cabinet approved this wage and benefit package prior to any consultation with the union representative.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I think the Member is extremely confused about the process of devolution. She is also mistaken as to the facts. First, she asserts that I have not met with the nurses or representatives of that union. That is not true. Indeed I have met with them. In fact, the predecessor of the gentleman quoted in the newspaper yesterday sat in my office with local representatives of the nurses and had a very lengthy discussion about their representation and their needs some months ago.
Secondly, the position taken by cabinet is preparatory to negotiations about the transcript. The reason that we took a position and then communicated it with the union is what any reasonable employer would do seeking a response with them to the Senate an opportunity to discuss with them. We do value the nurses working in the Yukon Territory. We want them to stay in the territory and we want them to have a satisfactory package of employment. That is our position, it remains our position. And it is not difficult to get an appointment with the Government Leader or the ministers. One just has to show the minimum of advance notice.
Mrs. Firth: I just have one more question for the Government Leader. Is he prepared to change the cabinet package, or is that something etched in stone?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: When we receive reasonable representation from reasonable people, when we consider the facts, the record of this government is very clear. We have been very open minded in terms of being responsive to peoples needs and reasonable representation.
Question re: Yukon Housing Corporation trailer
Mr. Lang: Last Wednesday I asked the Minister of Housing if he could verify that the cost of moving and setting up a 12 year old trailer from Faro to Pelly Crossing cost $90,000. His reply at that time was, and I quote, I must caution all Member in the House on both sides that the member last year made repeated accusations in the House that upon investigation turned out to be quite untrue and quite inaccurate and yet the press felt obligated to report the attack that was made and not so obligated to report the response.
I have to apologize for misleading the House. It did not cost $90,000; my information says it cost almost $99,000.
Could the Minister of Housing report to us today and tell us how much the actual trailer cost the Government of the Yukon Territory?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I will begin by saying that in this particular case I do congratulate the Member for being correct on this one occasion with respect to the fact that there are two communities, Faro and Pelly Crossing, and that a unit moved from one community to the other. That feat in itself is something worth recognizing in the Legislature.
The fact of the matter is that a modular home was moved from Faro to Pelly Crossing in response to an urgent requirement for teacher housing in that community in the late spring of that year. The Housing Corporation did make the move. The cost of the move was approximately $13,000. Subsequently the house was retrofitted, and in accordance with the community plan it was resituated in Pelly Crossing, and that added to the cost of this particular unit. A modular home was moved from Faro to Pelly Crossing.
Mr. Lang: I asked the minister a specific question. By his admission and the Corporations it cost $99,000 to move and set up the 12 year old mobile home in Pelly Crossing. That did not include the cost of the trailer itself. How much did the 12 year old trailer cost so we can have an accounting of this very ill managed project?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The trailer, as the Member refers to it, is a modular home. I looked at it myself on the weekend and it is a modular home. It is a home with a roof, it is not a trailer in the sense that the member would like to make it out to be.
Secondly, the costs that I have provided to the Legislature also includes the capital upgrading, which is fairly significant. I can check on the value of the modular home as it sat in Faro.
Mr. Lang: Was the reason for moving this trailer and incurring these costs not to meet the needs of a staff member so they would have accommodation for the year?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am not sure what the member is asking, but this was the relocation of a unit so a teacher in Pelly Crossing could have housing.
Question re: Yukon Housing Corporation trailer
Mr. Lang: Was it because of the emergency of the situation that this particular move was made? So the individual in question would have accommodation for the spring? Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The community requested suitable housing for the teacher and the Housing Corporation did respond.
Mr. Lang: My information, which thus far has proved faultless, is that the reason the mobile home was moved at such costs was to meet an emergency situation of a staff member in the community who was, I understand, in accommodations in the swimming pool at that time. What concerns me is the reason for the excess funds being spent because of the emergency of the situation. My information further tells me that the individual in question, because of his/her employment, only stayed in the home four days and left for the summer. Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I cannot verify that information that the member brings to this Legislature is faultless, because I have found considerable fault with it over the course of many years in this Legislature on many occasions. In fact, I take an exception to the interpretation that the member puts on the information that he does bring to the house when it is, in its bare bones, accurate. I am not sure about the tenure of any individuals living in the house and once again, I can get the Yukon Housing Corporation to respond.
Question re: Yukon Housing Corporation, house in Mayo
Mr. Nordling: I have a question to the same minister with respect to the Housing Corporation. I also have great concern with the spending habits of this government, and I would like to know if the minister can confirm that a house was purchased last fall in Mayo for about $50,000 and is now being used as a warehouse.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: If the member is referring to a particular employee buy back unit, a unit was purchased in Mayo last year. I am not sure what use it is being put to at the present time, but it was purchased in accordance with proper procedures, which was to seek two assessments, one from CMHC and one from the private sector assessor. I believe they split the difference and the employee buy back unit, as per the rules of the program, was purchased from the employee.
Mr. Nordling: I am pleased that the minister knows something about it. Can he confirm that the pipes broke in the house resulting in serious flooding of the house?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: As I understand it, there were some problems with respect to the house being constructed to code that were apparent after the assessments were done and the house was repurchased. With respect to the house and the burst pipes, the house was broken into last year and subsequently there was some problem with plumbing that was attributed to the break in and the Housing Corporation took note of that.
Mr. Nordling: Can the minister confirm that the house is damaged beyond economical repair and will only be used for storage?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: No, I cannot confirm that. I am not sure of that detail with respect to this unit. As I indicated before, I am not sure what use the house is being put to currently.
Question re: Del Van Gorder School addition
Mr. McLachlan: I have a question for the Minister of Government Services. Last fall the school committee in Faro sought a second opinion on the state of the crumbling addition to the Del Van Gorder School. I am not sure what this minister understands by the term second opinion. I have my own version. Why did the minister not follow through with the request and have an engineering firm different from the original one come in and do an engineering assessment of the state of that crumbling building?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I had no notice of that question so I am not particularly aware of engineering studies done on the Del Van Gorder School. I will make a commitment to ask the Department of Government Services and, indeed, the Department of Education for all engineering studies on Del Van Gorder School and will supply them to the member.
Mr. McLachlan: I will try a little easier one that does not require advance notice.
In 1986 I asked the same minister what the government was going to do about the falling down school addition. At that time, I did not get a straight answer either. I will ask again because of the feeling in the community about the school addition.
What is Government Services going to do with the crumbling school addition now?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: It is certainly true; it is a crumbling school. It was built when Mr. Lang was the minister responsible, and this government is not going to use that crumbling facility. It will probably be torn down. I will supply all engineering studies to the member opposite.
Mr. McLachlan: I will direct the final supplementary to the Minister of Education.
Dawson City is getting a new school for $7.5 million and their enrollment is not at the level that Faros is at. Watson Lake has a large commitment for a new school. The enrollment at Faro is heading in the direction that is going to require more space than we have now.
Is the minister going to commit funds for the replacement of the crumbling section or building of a new school? We need that space badly. Is the minister going to do anything about it?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The government has been busily meeting the needs of the school community in Faro since the reopening of the Curragh Mine.
With respect to the crumbling gym/library portion of the school that suffered severe problems, of course, Government Services conducted a further review of the facility in response to requests by the community. Recently the review results came in and indicated that the facility is not salvageable, and not usable. On the heels of that decision, the school committee in Faro communicated directly with the superintendent to request that enhanced facilities be made available for Faro. I discussed the matter with the chairperson of the school committee and indicated at that time that the government would be reviewing the situation in Faro and would be providing a response once the review had been done. We discussed the needs of Faro; I indicated that a very large financial investment had already been put into the community hall so they could support the services of the school, but if further work was justified, the government would respond positively.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now elapsed. We will now proceed with the Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Bill No. 89: Second reading
Clerk: Bill No. 89, standing in the name of the Hon. Mr. Penikett.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I move that Bill No. 89, entitled First Appropriation Act, 1989-90, be now read a second time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Government Leader that Bill No. 89, entitled First Appropriation Act, 1989-90, be now read a second time.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Mr. Speaker and Hon. Members, I am pleased to introduce today the combined Capital and Operation and Maintenance Budget for the fiscal year 1989-90.
The Capital and the Operation and Maintenance budgets have been combined to provide a more complete picture of the governments financial operations. The combined budget will better illustrate the governments priorities and the means by which these priorities will be addressed in the year ahead.
Throughout the past four years, the needs and concerns of Yukoners have changed and we have responded to meet these changes. When the government was first elected, the economic conditions in the Yukon necessitated strong action on our part to improve the employment opportunities for Yukoners. And we responded by increasing Capital expenditures throughout the territory. Now with the economy on a sound footing, we can more fully attend to the social and environmental needs and aspirations of our citizens. The budget before you outlines the governments response to these needs and aspirations.
This Government has introduced budgets which have demonstrated sound fiscal management while meeting the needs of Yukoners. The budget, which I am tabling today, is a continued commitment to these principles.
Sound fiscal management requires a commitment to a balance between the needs of Yukoners today and those of tomorrow. In this respect, since coming to office, we have implemented a balanced and planned approach to Capital and Operation and Maintenance expenditures while controlling growth in spending.
Mr. Speaker and Hon. Members, the budget which I am tabling today is, in broad terms, a balanced budget. It provides for a moderate increase in overall spending. It provides for additional resources to address the social, economic and environmental concerns of Yukoners. And it provides these with no increase in taxes.
Today, we are about to enter a new era. Our government has negotiated a Land Claims Framework Agreement with the Council of Yukon Indians and the Government of Canada. This agreement will benefit all Yukoners because the clarification of title and control of our lands and resources will usher in the new era of development envisioned in YUKON 2000 and described in the Yukon Economic Strategy. It will provide for a more diverse, stable and sustainable economy throughout the territory. Settling the land claim will allow all of us as equal citizens to pursue together our vision of the territorys future.
The Framework Agreement on Land Claims and our strong economy will provide a firm base from which we can address needs and concerns and realize the potential of the Yukon for ourselves and future generations.
The Canadian and International economies continue to enjoy the longest economic expansion since World War II. For Canada, the past years economic performance has been a particularly surprising one. With the financial crisis of October 1987, economic forecasters were expecting a slowdown in 1988. Surprisingly, Canadas economic growth in 1988 is now expected to outpace that of 1987. Growth in the constant dollar Gross Domestic Product for 1988 is forecast to be 4.2 percent compared to four percent for 1987.
The Yukons economy continued to perform well in 1988. The territorys Gross Domestic Product is forecast to have increased by approximately eight percent in the past year.
The rate of inflation in the Yukon, as measured by the Consumer Price Index for Whitehorse, is expected to be 2.8 percent in 1988. For Canada, for the same year, the overall inflation rate is expected to be 4.1 percent. The national rate of inflation has hovered around the four percent level for the past five years.
Lower energy prices were a major factor in keeping our inflation rate down. Energy prices declined in the Yukon shortly after this governments Fuel Price Inquiry started in February 1988. The average price of regular leaded gasoline in Whitehorse declined by two cents per litre between January and June of 1988 compared to an average one cent per litre decline across Canada. Unleaded gasoline declined by 3.1 cents per litre in Whitehorse compared to 1.7 cents per litre nationally.
The level of employment in the Yukon continues to increase, and the unemployment rate to decrease. Employment averaged an estimated 12,638 during the first nine months of 1988. This is nine percent higher than the average level of employment during the corresponding period of 1987. The unemployment rate averaged 12 percent over this same period in 1988 compared to an average rate of 13 percent during 1987. Canadas level of employment increased by a forecast 3.3 percent in 1988 and the unemployment rate is forecast to have averaged 7.9 percent for the year.
Construction activity in the Yukon continued at a vigorous pace. The value of building permits is estimated to have totalled $47 million. This is somewhat lower than the $54 million recorded in 1987, but significantly higher than the $31 million in 1985.
Mining activity improved in 1988 on the strength of placer mining and mineral exploration. Although the closing of the Mount Skukum mine had a negative impact on the industry, the opening of the Canamax mine was a positive development last year. Also, Curragh Resources negotiated a three year labour contract which will continue to provide stability to the industry.
The economic outlook for 1989 calls for continued growth throughout the Yukon and Canada. The recent closing of the United Keno Hill mine is a blow to our economy and will slow our rate of growth in the year ahead but the opening of the Skukum Creek mine later this year will soften the impact.
The government is currently addressing several major fiscal issues: the Economic Development Agreement and the Formula Financing Agreement, both of which are being renegotiated, and Phase II of the federal governments tax reform, the proposed Multi-Stage Sales Tax. Each of these issues are of concern because of the effect that they will have on the fiscal framework within which this government must operate. When a government practices responsible financial management, it must operate with a balanced and planned financial picture. This fiscal picture must take into consideration both the present situation and future considerations. The needs of todays citizens must be balanced with those of tomorrow.
The Economic Development Agreement is being redesigned to deal with the change in the trade environment as a result of the new Trade Agreement with the United States. We and the federal government are committed to providing programs that will meet the needs of Yukon businesses and communities. We are aiming to increase support for the mining sector and the implementation of economic initiatives in the communities.
The Budget, which I am introducing today, provides for decreased capital and increased operation and maintenance expenditures designed to address the needs and concerns of Yukoners for additional social, economic and environmental programs and for responsible fiscal management.
The combined expenditures for Capital and Operation and Maintenance proposed for 1989-90 are $329,382,000. This represents an increase of 2.1 percent over the Forecast Estimates for 1988-89. This is less than the rate of inflation and less than the increase in the provincial-local escalator for 1989-90, which is used to increase our formula financing base. This modest increase in total expenditures illustrates our commitment to the practice of sound financial management.
The budget before you represents capital expenditures of $103,724,000, which will be used to further develop the infrastructure of this territory, and it proposes operation and maintenance expenditures of $225,658,000 for programs and government operations.
This budget, while providing for increased expenditures for social, economic and environmental programs, will result in a surplus of $695,000 for the 1989-90 fiscal year. These monies will be added to our accumulated surplus to provide for the future needs of Yukoners.
We will be tabling Supplementary Estimates for the current fiscal year. These estimates will show an estimated year-end expenditure for Operation and Maintenance of $214,062,000 and for Capital of $108,726,000.
The small surplus planned for 1989-90 will result in an accumulated surplus of $28,057,000 at the end of the year, March 31, 1990. Our government initiated the full disclosure and budgeting of accrued leave and termination benefits for government employees as part of our commitment to responsible fiscal management. For 1989-90, the cost of these benefits is estimated to be $13.1 million.
Our full accounting treatment of these benefits does not provide for a proper comparison of financial positions from before we took office and now. As of March 31, 1985, just prior to our taking office, the accumulated surplus stood at $41.2 million. On a comparable accounting basis, the accumulated surplus, by the end of 1989-90, would be an estimated $40.3 million, if the accumulated leave accrual is added back into the surplus. This represents a change over the five years of only $0.9 million. We have used our revenues as they were intended to be used, to provide for the well-being of our citizens. We have controlled the growth in expenditures through balanced and planned initiatives. We have provided sound, prudent financial management for the benefit of our citizens of today and tomorrow.
Total budgetary revenues for the fiscal year 1989-90 are estimated to be $332,199,000. This represents an increase of 8.3 percent over the 1988-89 forecast revenues of $306.8 million. Revenues raised from Yukon sources are expected to total $55,207,000; an 8.1 percent increase over 1988-89.
Income tax revenues, both personal and corporate, are expected to increase in 1989-90. Continued growth in both employment and incomes are expected to provide for strong growth in personal income tax revenues.
Personal income tax revenues are expected to total $24,265,000 in 1989-90. This represents a 6.9 percent increase over the forecast 1988-89 level of $22,703,000. Continued economic growth in the Yukon is expected to contribute to improved finances for Yukon businesses. Corporate income tax revenues are expected to total $2,635,000 for 1989-90, an increase of 10.9 percent over the current years forecast.
More effective and efficient management of the governments finances and forecasted higher interest rates for 1989-90 will provide increased revenue from government investments. Investment income is expected to increase by 18.6 percent in 1989-90 to a total of $4,753,000.
The federal grant, which is projected to represent 58.6 percent of our total budgetary income, is expected to total $194.6 million in 1989-90. This represents an increase of 7.9 percent over the forecast 1988-89 grant of $180.4 million. Our dependence upon the federal grant has declined three percent since 1985-86, when the grant represented 61.6 percent of our budgetary income. The resurgence in our economy over this period has translated into greater revenues from our own sources. Economic growth will continue to lessen our dependence upon the grant in the future.
With the expected strong growth in the Yukon economy for 1989-90 and our governments awareness of the already high tax burden imposed upon Yukoners, I am pleased to announce that there will be no tax increase in the coming fiscal year.
This represents the third consecutive year for which I have been able to introduce a budget that does not contain any measures for tax increases.
The proposed Capital expenditures of $103.7 million are to be used to further develop the infrastructure of the territory in order to foster economic growth and to enhance the quality of life of Yukoners.
Since we took office in the spring of 1985, we have initiated a balanced and planned program of capital development. The results of this can be seen throughout the Yukon. Schools and community facilities have been improved, as have the highways and housing. Yukon College opened its new campus in September of last year. With the proposed 1989-90 capital expenditures, this program of balanced and planned development will continue.
The capital expenditures for 1989-90 call for an overall reduction of $5.1 million from the forecast level of expenditures for 1988-89. With the near completion of the new Yukon College campus, the resulting decrease in capital expenditures from this project will offset some of the funds required for other projects.
The proposed Operation and Maintenance expenditures of $225.7 million are to be used to carry out programs and provide the services that Yukoners have set as priorities for this government. These fund our education and employment training programs, and our environmental protection and wildlife conservation projects. Our child care and family support activities are provided for from these resources. And they enable us to maintain our roads, airports and government buildings.
Total Operation and Maintenance expenditures for 1989-90 are expected to increase by $12.0 million over the forecast total of $213.7 million for 1988-89. This represents an increase of 5.6 percent over 1988-89.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to announce that our government will be implementing new initiatives and enhancing existing ones to address the social, economic, and environmental needs and concerns of Yukon citizens in 1989-90.
I would now like to take this opportunity to review some of the more important expenditure initiatives provided for in these estimates.
Our government has listened to Yukoners through the Child Care consultation panel and, through the Department of Health and Human Resources, and is responding by providing an additional $1.4 million towards child care services and support in 1989-90. This will constitute the initial phase of a five-year strategy to ensure quality, affordable, comprehensive child care throughout the territory.
Our government is pleased to outline a six point plan to strengthen child care services.
A total of $417,000 will be used to create an estimated 100 new licensed child care spaces, as well as pre-school and after-school programs though the Child Care Capital Development Program.
A total of $270,000 will be used to enrich the Child Care Subsidy Program for children from low-income families. The level of financial support and the number of eligible families will be increased in the next fiscal year.
An additional $230,000 will support the expansion of child development services for special needs pre-school children in rural Yukon and for integration of special children in child care facilities throughout the territory.
A total of $108,000 has been allocated to implement new child care training and development measures including a mobile early childhood resource centre.
A further $243,000 will be used to establish a new Quality Enhancement Program which will improve the wages of child care workers and address higher operating costs in rural Yukon.
A total of $132,000 will be provided to create a Child Care Services Unit to improve support for new licensed services and expanded program administration requirements.
Mr. Speaker, there is much to be done to create a quality, affordable, comprehensive child care system in the Yukon.
Yukon parents and communities will lead the way. We are hopeful the federal governments proposed national child care strategy will address the Yukons requirements and complement our child care strategy.
Child care is only one part of our support for families. In further response to the Task Force on Family Violence and a review of needs and priorities for family support services, 969,000 new dollars will be allocated to initiatives in the departments of Health and Human Resources, Justice, Education, and the Womens Directorate in 1989-90.
As part of a coordinated strategy involving these departments, the Department of Health and Human Resources will allocate $529,000 in new resources to initiate a new Safe Places Program to support the establishment of transition homes for victims of family violence, and to strengthen child abuse services and associated family services.
The Department of Justice will spend an additional $25,000 to expand family violence offender and anger management programs through a community storefront operation, and the Womens Directorate will allocate $65,000 for public awareness and education programs on family violence and for a 24 hour phone line for sexual assault and family violence victims.
The Department of Health and Human Resources will use an additional $134,000 to expand the Family Support Program which provides intensive support to families and children in their own homes. This program is designed to reduce the number of children coming into the care of the government through the Childrens Act.
Funding will be provided in 1989-90 to enable the planning and negotiation of a new Indian child welfare delegation projects. The successful Champagne-Aishihik child welfare project will receive funding to continue its operation. A total of $216,000 will be allocated to these initiatives in 1989-90.
Community health programs will receive an additional $847,000. Several programs will be enhanced to further provide for the health care requirements of Yukoners.
The Department of Health and Human Resources will provide $40,000 in funding for a demonstration project designed to integrate health and social services in a rural community in 1989-90.
Medical travel is recognized as an important feature in ensuring that Yukoners receive good health care services. Medical travel for both patients and required escorts within the Yukon and outside will be enhanced by an additional $159,000 in 1989-90. Funds have been provided to develop a medical boarding service in Whitehorse for rural residents, particularly expectant mothers.
Design of the planned extended care facility will also be continued with additional capital funding of $648,000 in 1989-90. In preparation for the transfer of hospital services from the federal government, we have been reviewing hospital and community health services. These studies, which are nearing completion, will help us negotiate a good agreement for the construction of a new regional hospital in Whitehorse and the transfer of hospital responsibility from the federal government to Yukon control.
Access to quality education for all people in the Yukon has always been, and will continue to be, a priority of this government. In 1989-90, the Department of Education will take two significant steps to enhance our quality of education. The Native Teacher Training program will receive $400,000 to train Indian people for teaching positions in the Yukon. The Special Education programs will also be enhanced through the establishment of an optional learning environment for students with special needs and with discipline problems. This program will receive $323,000 in new resources in the coming fiscal year.
In support of the land claim agreement and the development of a justice system that is more reflective of the cultural diversity of the Yukon, the Department of Justice will provide $45,000 for a tribal justice coordinator in 1989-90.
This government is proud of its record of support for communities. The provision of community services strengthens the whole of the Yukon and improves our quality of life. To further provide for community services in the coming year, various departments within this government will be enhancing their community service programs.
The Department of Community and Transportation Services will provide an additional $1.5 million to the communities through Capital Block Funding in 1989-90. Total Capital Block Funding for the communities will be $9.1 million in the coming year.
The Yukon Housing Corporation will be expanding its home ownership programs to assist Yukoners in meeting their housing needs. The Home Ownership Program will receive an additional $3.5 million in 1989-90, while the Joint Venture Program will receive an additional $1 million. Both of these programs have been extremely well received. They are designed to assist Yukoners to buy and build housing. The corporation will also continue to assist home owners wishing to repair their homes. In excess of $1 million will be directed towards the Home Improvement Program. Yukon Housing Corporation will also be providing an additional $6 million for social housing in the territory of which $1 million will be used to renovate existing units. In total, the Yukon Housing Corporation will spend $18.8 million in 1989-90 with an estimated $10.6 million to be spent outside of Whitehorse. These efforts will help reduce the housing shortage and encourage Yukoners to buy and build homes.
I am pleased to announce that our government will be increasing the home owners grant in 1989-90. This Legislature, with unanimous approval during the last session, urged the government to increase support for home owners. These funds will help offset the high cost of living and encourage home ownership in the Yukon. The annual home owners grant, which provides a rebate against residential property taxes, will be increased to a maximum of $450 in 1989-90. In special recognition of elderly Yukoners, I am also pleased to announce that the maximum grant for senior citizens will be increased to $500 annually in the coming year. This will assist our older citizens, who prefer independence, to continue to live in private accommodation and enjoy the lifestyle they so much deserve. The Department of Community and Transportation Services will be budgeting an additional $136,000 to provide for these increases in 1989-90.
The cultural character of the Yukon is founded in the people of the territory and their languages. The preservation, development and enhancement of aboriginal languages and the protection of the French language will strengthen the unique cultural character of the Yukon with funds provided by the Federal/Territorial Languages Agreement. A total of $568,000 will be allocated through the Executive Council Office for new aboriginal and French language service in 1989-90.
The Yukons economy is on a sound footing, but there are still economic opportunities and benefits to be pursued.
The signing of an agreement-in-principle with Canada for a Northern Energy Accord this past summer opens the door to potential economic benefits and opportunities that were not previously available to us. In order to work out the details of an energy agreement and guarantee Yukoners full benefits and opportunities under such an agreement, the Department of Economic Development will utilize $155,000 to prepare for negotiations and to pursue the transfer of oil and gas responsibilities in 1989-90.
In recognition of the importance of the tourism industry as one of the more stable sectors of our economy, our government has developed and initiated a Tourism Action Plan. As part of this Tourism Action Plan, we will undertake several new initiatives in the coming year.
The Department of Tourism has initiated a tourism promotion agreement with British Columbia and Alaska. This new joint marketing effort will concentrate on the promotion of northern British Columbia, the Yukon and Alaska as a regional tourist destination. It will build a base for the upcoming Alaska Highway celebration in 1992. A total of $210,000 will be allocated to this program in 1989-90. This marketing agreement will complement our continued participation in the Yukon-Alaska marketing program.
An additional $45,000 will be allocated in 1989-90 for regional tourism plans. These funds will further assist communities and regional tourism associations to identify and implement tourism projects and recognize their unique community characteristics. A further $30,000 will be allocated for new strategic planning projects in 1989-90.
Our government has, throughout the past four years, encouraged the development of a strong manufacturing sector in the Yukon. To further promote and encourage the development of manufacturing industries, the Department of Economic Development will provide an additional $50,000 for 1989-90. These monies will be used to promote trade and investment activity in the territory.
The Department of Economic Development will operate two new comprehensive development programs in 1989-90. The Business Development Fund and the Community Development Fund will provide coordinated and centralized development programs that will be more easily accessible to the public. Both funds provide the public with a single application form that will simplify the funding process.
The Business Development Fund has been established to provide a single development fund to serve the needs of Yukons small businesses. The scope of this fund is greater than the more restrictive programs that it secedes. The Business Development Fund will provide a total of $3.3 million for the development of Yukon enterprises in 1989-90.
The Community Development Fund incorporates the community development programs from six different departments into one comprehensive fund. This will simplify applications and processing for community development funding for all concerned. The Community Development Fund will total $5.1 million in 1989-90.
The Department of Community and Transportation Services will provide $7.5 million for land development in the coming year. This represents an increase of $2.7 million, or more than 50 percent, over the forecast level of expenditures for land development in 1988-89. Residential, recreational, commercial and industrial lands will be developed across the territory in order to provide an adequate supply of developed land to meet the needs of Yukoners.
Efficient transportation and communication services are vital elements of a productive economy. In 1989-90, the Department of Community and Transportation Services will allocate $47.4 million towards the construction and maintenance of the territorys highways and roads. Construction expenditures will total $18.3 million, while maintenance expenditures will total $29.1 million.
The Klondike, Campbell and Dempster Highways will be targeted for major activity in 1989-90. Reconstruction and upgrading of the North and South Klondike Highways will continue. The North Klondike will see major activity between Whitehorse and Carmacks, while the section between Fraser and Carcross on the South Klondike will continue to be improved in the coming year. The Campbell Highway will undergo improvements between Ross River and Carmacks, as well as crushing activity in preparation for future work, under the Engineering Services Agreement. The Dempster Highway will receive a major improvement in erosion protection along the Ogilvie, Blackstone and Engineer Rivers. Reconstruction of the Klondike and Ogilvie maintenance camps is planned for 1989-90.
Yukon airports will be allocated a total of $4.1 million in 1989-90 for construction and maintenance work. The Haines Junction, Beaver Creek and Teslin airports are targeted for improvements in the coming year. The planned construction budget for Yukon airports, subject to Transport Canada approval of funding, is $2.6 million for 1989-90.
The territorys VHF communication system will receive a total of $3.8 million for upgrading next year. This upgrading is part of the previously approved five-year system replacement program.
The Department of Government Services will undertake to enhance major initiatives for government buildings starting in the new year.
The Pre-Engineering Program will be enhanced in 1989-90 to provide for more effective planning and design of government buildings in the current and future years. The department will allocate $550,000 in 1989-90 for pre-engineering. This represents a substantial increase over 1988-89. These funds will enable the department to implement a more effective, longer term, planning approach for the years ahead.
The trapping industry is an integral part of our economy and way of life. In support of the trapping industry, the Department of Renewable Resources will provide a total of $150,000 to continue the leghold trap exchange program. This program will help promote the fur industry, and it will encourage humanitarian trapping methods and demonstrate the concern that Yukoners have for our wildlife.
Environmental issues are of concern to Yukoners, not only because the quality of our environment is crucial to our health and well-being but, also, because the environment plays a major role in the Yukon economy. Yukons citizens expressed their concerns about our environment during the Yukon 2000 process. In response to this, our environmental agenda will be guided by the Yukon Conservation Strategy, which is being developed in further consultation with Yukoners.
The first step in developing a coordinated environmental protection program will be taken in 1989-90. The position of environmental protection coordinator will be established to plan, coordinate and facilitate environmental protection programs across government departments. The Department of Renewable Resources, which will administer this program, will allocate $90,000 in the new year toward the establishment of an environmental protection unit.
A total of $100,000 will be allocated by the Department of Renewable Resources for demonstration projects that will bring our conservation strategy to life. Public education programs, waste recycling projects and soil conservation research are just a few of the projects that could be used to demonstrate our conservation strategy to visitors and citizens of this territory.
The Department of Economic Development will contribute towards a cost-shared study with federal agencies and the placer mining industry on the impact that sediment discharge into streams and rivers has upon fish in the Yukon. This study will be invaluable to both the placer mining and fishing industries in the territory. It will provide the information upon which a beneficial co-existence of these two industries can occur. The government will contribute $50,000 in 1989-90 towards the cost of this research.
Yukoners are increasingly concerned about the quality of our water supplies. In the year ahead, major water and sewage projects will be undertaken throughout the territory. A total of $3,730,000 will be spent on such projects in 1989-90. This represents an increase of $254,000 over the forecast level for 1988-89. In Haines Junction and Carcross, water supply projects will be carried out while, in Mayo and Teslin, water and sewer line systems will be expanded to include areas not previously serviced.
Hazardous waste is not only destructive to the environment but is also a danger to the citizens of this territory. The safe handling and storage of hazardous waste is a priority of this government. Last year, we initiated the Workplace Hazardous Material Information System to ensure the safe handling of hazardous waste materials in the Yukon. In the year ahead, the Department of Community and Transportation Services will allocate $100,000 towards the development of a state-of-the-art hazardous waste storage facility in consultation with local governments and the public. This facility will provide us with a safe, modern, temporary storage capability for hazardous waste.
The establishment of the Herschel Island Park was an accomplishment of which Yukoners take great pride. This action, and the nomination of a thirty mile section of the Yukon river as a heritage river, received national acclaim. In August of last year, we were honoured when the Yukon received the Federal-Provincial Parks Council Merit Award for Park Agency of the Year. The Department of Renewable Resources will allocate $573,000 in 1989-90 to further develop the Herschel Island Park.
To implement the transfer of the freshwater fisheries program from the federal government on April 1 of this year, $454,000 has been allocated to the Department of Renewable Resources and $27,000 to the Department of Government Services. In accordance with the transfer agreement, an estimated $202,000 of this allocation will be funded through an increase in the fishing licence fee schedule. This transfer fulfills one of the initiatives outlined in the Yukon Economic Strategy and ensures that Yukoners will obtain improved management of, and benefits from, the freshwater fishery resource. In addition, a Fishery Initiative and Sustainable Harvest Fund will be established. This fund, which complements the Fisheries transfer, will support community plans for enhancing local fisheries. It will receive $50,000 to support fisheries programs in 1989-90. Catch-and-release education will be a major program supported by this fund.
Beginning in 1989-90, the Department of Renewable Resources will initiate a big game management plan. This plan will be designed to provide an integrated, long term management program for big game in selected areas of the territory. A total of $130,000 will be allocated to this management plan in 1989-90.
I have identified only a few of the more significant new initiatives and new and improved programs that are provided for in the combined Estimates I am tabling today. The ministers will provide the Legislature with the details of their specific initiatives during debate on the Estimates.
I have outlined in this Budget a fiscal plan that illustrates our commitment to responsible financial management and to addressing the needs of the citizens of the Yukon. This budget allocates additional dollars towards new and existing social, economic and environmental programs. The budget provides for all these and does so without any increase in taxes.
These are goals that, I am sure, all members of this Legislature will wish to support and, to that end, I commend it to the favourable attention of all hon. members.
Mr. Phelps: I would like to move we adjourn debate.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Leader of the Official Opposition that we adjourn debate. Are you agreed?
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I move that the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Government House Leader that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: This House now stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. tomorrow.
The House adjourned at 3:15 p.m.
The following Legislative Return was tabled January 16, 1989:
Hyland Forest Products - matters related to its sale (Penikett)
Oral, Hyland, pp. 31-35
The following Sessional Paper was tabled January 16, 1989:
Yukon Economic Forecast, January 1989 (Penikett)