Tuesday, March 14, 1989 - 1:30 p.m.
Clerk: It is my duty pursuant to the provisions of Section 24 of the Legislative Assembly Act to inform the Legislative Assembly of the absence of the Speaker.
Deputy Speaker: I will call the House to order. We will begin with Prayers.
Deputy Speaker: We will proceed with the Order Paper.
Are there any introductions of Visitors?
Mr. Brewster: I am sure that all the Legislature would agree with me and would like to congratulate the Whitehorse Womens Acorn Hockey Team who won the Double A championship in BC, and wish them all the luck in the world on March 31 to April 2, when they go for the Western Shield for Western Canada.
Deputy Speaker: Are there any Returns or Documents for Tabling?
Are there any Reports of Committees?
Are there any Petitions?
Introduction of Bills?
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
Bill No. 62: Introduction and First Reading
Hon. Mr. Webster: I move that Bill No. 62, entitled Freshwater Fisheries Agreement Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Deputy Speaker: It has been moved that Bill No. 62, entitled Freshwater Fisheries Agreement Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Motion agreed to
Deputy Speaker: Are there any further bills for introduction?
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: Yukon River pollution
Mr. Phelps:: I would like to return to the area I was exploring yesterday regarding the environment, and more specifically, the pollution of the Yukon River. Yesterday the Minister of Community and Transportation Services admitted that this government has no idea about the level of chemical pollution in the river emanating from Whitehorse, but all of us do know that the present system is inadequate and that the city is in violation of its water permits.
I would like to know whether this government would make a commitment today to take the financial responsibility for building an adequate sewage treatment facility for Whitehorse.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member implies that this government is not carrying out its responsibility for adequate environmental protection. I would like to reassure the Member that this government is extremely concerned and has demonstrated that concern through a $14 million expenditure over the past four years on environmental projects.
The proposed treatment facility in Whitehorse is within the municipality capital block funding provided for such projects. This government takes its responsibility seriously and has invited discussions with the city to determine if we can assist directly, or otherwise. We will continue that commitment and approach.
Mr. Phelps: We are looking for something more than hollow words and hollow commitments. We are looking for a commitment from the Minister - that is not a tough thing for him to understand - that his department and his government will provide the extra finances required to solve this urgent and pressing problem, and that that money will be in addition to the capital block funding that municipalities get.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member fails to recognize that substantially big bucks have been provided in the area that the Member is referring to. Block funding is provided in a proportion that is now one-third of the capital budget of the department. There are dollars being provided, and at the same time, as I said to the Member, we are prepared to discuss and see the extent to which we can provide further assistance to all communities. In virtually every community over the past four years we have put in treatment facilities, water and sewer projects - to the tune of $14 million. The provision is within the block funding arrangement. We will look at a single project, even though it can exceed the capital block funding for that community by two and one-half times.
We will provide what assistance we can.
Mr. Phelps: Well, that is some concern being displayed by the people opposite. They talk a lot; they have not looked into it.
Can the government tell us what is required to redress the problem that now exists with the sewage treatment in the City of Whitehorse? Do they know what is required?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The short answer to that is: yes. Our municipal engineers, our municipal branch, work very closely with the city to identify the problem relating to the discharge of effluent from the City of Whitehorse and the system that may be required to replace it.
Question re: Yukon River pollution
Mr. Phelps: Well now, is this not interesting? We have a government that has all the solutions without having even looked at the problem. They do not even know, according to yesterdays Question Period, what kind of chemicals are being discharged into the Yukon River, what kinds of problems are being faced, what kind of pollution exists, and yet they already have the answers.
Will the Minister be so kind as to provide us with the plans and the estimated cost of the treatment plant that his community engineers are already recommending?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I will undertake to provide the technical information the Member is asking for. I will repeat to him that our concern is a priority. We are addressing the matter through direct action and funding. I have invited the city to meet and discuss the issue. I understand that I will be meeting with the mayor and council before the end of the month, and I am sure this item is going to be on the agenda.
Mr. Phelps: I know that the Minister has no recollection of what he did prior to becoming a Minister, even though he worked for the previous Minister for four years. Can he tell us why it has taken so long for his department and his government to become at all concerned about the pollution in the Yukon River? Why have they not done something in the course of the last four years?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Does the hon. Member have his own recollection of his initial act as government leader four years ago to cancel a water and sewer project in Carcross and do paving instead?
Mr. Phelps: That did not answer the question. I would like what the Minister is saying put on the record. Is he saying that where all the residents in a particular municipality are not going along with the government plan, they are going to impose it on them anyway?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: For the hon. Members information, I can assure him that our departmental officials are working very closely with all Yukon communities in addressing very serious environmental concerns. Our testimony to that is $14 million.
Question re: Yukon River pollution
Mr. Phelps: Can the Minister tell us whether or not there are any regulations in place affecting and controlling the discharge of chemicals into the sewage system of Whitehorse?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I expect there are. I will take the question as notice in order to provide a more specific response.
Mr. Phelps: I am glad the government is concerned about the issue and is on top of these things. It certainly does show the level of their concern, which is all talk and no real feeling.
Can the Minister advise this House whether there are any regulations in place regarding the disposal of hazardous wastes from hospitals in Yukon?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I take the question as notice.
Question re: Territorial Court judges
Mrs. Firth: The justice system has been in a turmoil for a considerable length of time now, and I would like to ask the new Minister of Justice when an announcement will be made with respect to the deadlock over the appointment of a judge.
Hon. Mrs. Joe: A letter has been written to the Supreme Court Judge, and I have requested a meeting with him to discuss the issue of the judges. There have been ongoing discussions between my department and the Judicial Council, and we would hope to be able to make the decision in regard to the appointment of judges very soon.
Mrs. Firth: Can the Minister tell us if she has met with the Judicial Council?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I have met with a member of the Judicial Council. It is my hope that I will meet with other members as well.
Mrs. Firth: So the Minister has not met with the Judicial Council in an official capacity then if she has just met with one of the members. Was it the chairperson she met with? I would like to ask the Minister when she intends to meet with the Judicial Council.
Hon. Mrs. Joe: As I said, I requested a meeting. I have written a letter to the chairperson of that council and requested a meeting with Judge Lilles and Judge Maddison. I have not received a response to that; however, we will be following up on that. I am certain that a meeting will be arranged very shortly.
Question re: Territorial Court judges
Mrs. Firth: There is some urgency within the community to have this issue resolved. I am sure the Minister is aware of that from comments she has been making, and particularly her comment that a decision had to be made very quickly. I wonder if the Minister could indicate to us approximately how much longer we are going to have to wait before this issue is resolved.
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I cannot report an exact date to the House, but certainly I would like to be able to make the announcement prior to this session ending.
Mrs. Firth: Is the Minister prepared to readvertise the position?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: That is a possibility.
Mrs. Firth: When will the Minister be making the decision regarding readvertising? As I understand it, she does not have to meet with the council in order to make that kind of decision. Is she prepared to make that as soon as possible, immediately, or is she going to wait until she has met with various groups like she indicated?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: There was a little voice in the background there, and I was not quite sure what it said. There are a number of issues that I would like to talk to the Judicial Council about, and readvertising is one of those issues.
Question re: Territorial Court judges
Mrs. Firth: I have a question to the same Minister regarding the same issue. I would like to ask the Minister how much longer the secondment of the judge to the position of Chief Land Claims Negotiator will continue? That was originally be an 18 month position, but it has been going on now for almost three years. How much longer is that leave going to continue? Could the Minister answer that question?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: That is another one of the issues that I will be discussing with the Judicial Council. Also, I would hope to talk to the judge who is on leave with regard to that. I do not have a specific date as to when that period will end. I am trying to gather all of this information and that certainly takes time. It is a priority, and I will be dealing with it as quickly as possible.
Mrs. Firth: We have a concern on this side about this whole issue of a deadlock and the stalemate with getting judges in the community. I have parents calling me whose children have been taken from them. The children are put in a receiving home. They cannot get the cases to court for a month. The child is in the receiving home and the parents are in limbo for a month. That is not a healthy situation. There are other numerous incidents of this kind because of the backlog that is being created. I would like to ask the Minister how much longer the government is going to tie up the position that the Chief Land Claims Negotiator is presently tying up with the secondment. If she cannot answer that, perhaps the Government Leader who is responsible for the area of land claims could assist the Minister. We would like to get an answer as to how much longer that position will be tied up.
Hon. Mrs. Joe: As I indicated before, I will be able to make more information available to the House. I will do that at the appropriate time. I agree with the Member that there are certain problems that have resulted because we do not have judges in place, and it is a priority with us.
Question re: Horses, starvation of
Mr. Lang: I have a question for the Minister of Renewable Resources. We have a series of questions regarding the death of several horses in the Takhini Valley. When will the Minister be answering the questions that have been asked over the past two or three days?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I am prepared at this time to answer some of the questions that were raised yesterday by the Member opposite, particularly the one about the two horses that were killed by wolves. Acting on the complaint made yesterday morning regarding the horses that allegedly died over the weekend, yesterday a conservation officer and an agricultural branch staff member visited the site, and it was found that it was the same two horses that had been killed by wolves on February 10. As far as evidence to substantiate the fact that they were killed by wolves, at both site one and two there was evidence of a struggle. A large area was trampled down with horse and wolf tracks and blood sprayed out in a circle. The back haunches had bite and chew marks consistent with a wolf attack.
The next day, following the wolf attack on February 10, a conservation officer, a laboratory technician and a representative from the agricultural branch investigated the two sites where the two horses were killed by wolves to determine the cause. Marrow samples were taken at that time. One horse had a fat content of at least 90 percent and the other approximately 20 percent. The horse with the higher fat content in the marrow had fat content in the body cavity and the hips around it, suggesting that it was taken by a wolf. The horse with the lower fat content had no body fat. This horse may have been suffering from lack of feed, but had not died of starvation. There was evidence of a wolf kill.
I should mention that I incorrectly reported yesterday that these two horses killed by wolves were discovered in the course of a survey by skidoo. That is not the case. It was done by helicopter. At that time, on February 10, they made a brief inspection and came back the next day to do a thorough one.
Mr. Lang: I was not only referring to that. I thank the Minister for his explanation. We asked for certain information to be tabled, such as the veterinarian report. When is that information going to be made available to us?
Hon. Mr. Webster: The department has indicated to me that all the information requested yesterday will be tabled by the end of the week.
Mr. Lang: A major concern to us is what is going to happen in the future and how we can ensure this type of thing does not happen again. One of the requests that have been brought forward by the agricultural community, which was also discussed over the course of the last election campaign, was what could be done to bring a large-animal veterinarian into the territory.
Has the department investigated the possibility of putting some financial incentives into place that would entice a large-animal veterinarian to relocate to the territory?
Hon. Mr. Webster: Yes, we have already done that. In fact, we have encouraged five individuals from outside to relocate their practice to here in the Yukon, and have gone so far as to pay their expenses to the Yukon to give them the opportunity to take a look at the situation here.
Question re: Horses, starvation of
Mr. Lang: What has been the response so far?
Hon. Mr. Webster: Unfortunately, the response has not been favourable. Three individuals did take us up on our offer and came up to look at the situation here but, in the end, made the decision not to make their practice here.
Mr. Lang: What commitments were the Department of Renewable Resources and the government prepared to make in order to try to encourage these people to relocate here, other than paying their expenses to come and look at the Yukon?
Hon. Mr. Webster: It was a bit more than have them take a look at the Yukon and get a free vacation out of the deal. These people had expressed an interest in establishing a practice here. We did whatever we could to accommodate their interest. Unfortunately, it did not work out. I will get back to the Member as to what our government is prepared to do to provide assistance to a prospective veterinarian to establish a practice here.
Mr. Lang: Would a person of that particular expertise also be required to do the meat inspection that is going to be required here?
Hon. Mr. Webster: That could possibly be one of the duties of the vet.
Question re: Kluane Park access
Mr. Phillips: I have a question for the Minister responsible for tourism, in particular in the Kluane region. On April 27 of last year, I brought forward a motion in this House. That motion was to support better access to Kluane. The Minister of Renewable Resources of that day, Mr. Porter, stated in that debate, on page 399 in Hansard, The Government of Yukon will take an active role in the park management review process. We will be advocating, among other things, improved road access, preferably the development of a bus transportation system, based on the Denali model.
The review process was held early last winter. Did your government make a presentation to the Kluane hearings in Yukon or elsewhere?
Hon. Mr. Webster: No, we did not.
Mr. Phillips: We passed a motion unanimously in this House and that included the former and present Minister of Tourism. Can the Minister tell us why the government did not represent the people of the Yukon and the Members of this House, by not making a presentation to that review process?
Hon. Mr. Webster: The review process is continuing. Our government will be setting forth a position to improve access to Kluane Park in the next little while.
Mr. Phillips: I suppose the presentation of the Yukon government will come long after the decision has been made. Kluane has already produced a paper laying out to all the people of the Yukon what presentations were made so people can look at a summary of the presentations and make an evaluation. There is not one breath from the Government of the Yukon. When does the Government of the Yukon feel it is going to make this presentation? Is it going to be next week or is it going to wait until the process is all over with before its position is made public?
Hon. Mr. Webster: My understanding of the process is that it involves two parts, the first of which was the public hearing process. The Member is correct and our government did not take part in it. There is still a considerable amount of time to make a formal written presentation to be considered by the federal government, that ultimately has the final responsibility for developing Kluane National Park.
Question re: Kluane Park access
Mr. Phillips: Can the Minister tell us when the deadline is?
Hon. Mr. Webster: My understanding is that the deadline for receipt of submissions by the federal government for the management plan is this fall. The Departments of Tourism and Renewable Resources are working together right now preparing a position paper on access to Kluane Park to be viewed by Cabinet. I would expect that process to take place within the next month and a half, and our submission should be ready soon thereafter.
Mr. Phillips: Will the position presented by the Government of Yukon be consistent with the position that the former Minister of Renewable Resources stated in this House?
Hon. Mr. Webster: From your opening introductory comments, it is quite evident that my position on improving access to Kluane Park is quite different from that of the former Ministers. I cannot guarantee that the submission by the Government of the Yukon will reflect the position of the former Minister of Tourism.
Mr. Phillips: Will the present Minister of Tourism support the position he took in that debate in April 1988 when he said, and I quote from Hansard, I rise to say I support the principle of this motion to provide public road access into the park. Will you support that principle?
Hon. Mr. Webster: If I could continue that sentence, based on my recall right now, I believe I went on to say - and I am pleased that the Member has Hansard in front of him to see how accurate my recall is - probably something to the effect that improved access be made in consideration of not destroying the natural flora and fauna of the park. I believe some qualifying statements were attached to that brief statement the Member made.
Question re: Kluane Park access
Mr. Phillips: Will the Minister be presenting the position that was taken by all Members of this House, including the Minister himself, including the Minister of Community and Transportation Services, who said that he wanted to see what was on the other side of the fence in the park, like most of us have wanted to for many, many years. All Members of that side voted unanimously to support the motion. I am asking the Minister if he will be consistent with the statements made by that side when they supported that motion, wholeheartedly, 100 percent, on April 27, 1988.
Hon. Mr. Webster: As I have already indicated, the comments made by the Members of this side of the House, when that debate took place, were in no way consistent. Mine certainly differed with those of the previous Ministers of Tourism as to the extent and nature of the access into the park. I would agree with you that our position is consistent with the overall principle of improving access to Kluane Park.
Mr. Phillips: I wonder if I could read the motion that says THAT it is the opinion of this House that the Government of the Yukon should urge Parks Canada to improve road access into Kluane National Park in order to enable more tourists to see the sights and prolong their stay in the Yukon.
All Members of this Legislature supported that motion. Does this government still support that motion?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I am sorry, someone was speaking on my side of the House when the Member was reading the motion. Could I ask him to read that motion again?
Mr. Phillips: The motion read as follows: THAT it is the opinion of this House that the Government of the Yukon should urge Parks Canada to improve road access into Kluane National Park in order to enable more tourists to see the sights and prolong their stay in Yukon.
That motion was supported by all Members of this House. That Member across the floor stated, and I quoted what he said, I rise to say I support the principle of this motion to provide public road access into the park, yet the government did not make a presentation at the hearing.
Does the government support, and will the government support, when it finally takes a position, the position that it took in Hansard on page 337 on April 27, 1988?
Hon. Mr. Webster: As far as improving road access to Kluane National Park, our governments position will be consistent with what we said on that day. With respect to improving road access within the park, I think that that is a matter for further consideration.
Mr. Phillips: Well, that is not what the motion says. It reminds me of an old song: first you say you do and then you dont. The Tourism Industry Association, the Haines Junction Council, and many others supported expanded access in Kluane and appeared at these hearings. I ask the Minister now: Does his government not recognize the importance of this issue to the Yukon as a whole and in the area of Kluane in particular?
Hon. Mr. Webster: Yes we do, and that is why we will be making a submission to the federal government, which has the ultimate responsibility for developing a national plan for the Kluane National Park, as I indicated earlier.
Question re: Kluane Park access
Mr. Phillips: Can the Minister tell me why, on April 27, 1988, his party - the Government of the Yukon - supported this motion, yet today he is afraid to tell the people of the Yukon that he still supports that motion? Why does he not come out publicly and come clean with the people of the Yukon and tell them that he does support better access into Kluane, as he stated, and which I quoted earlier?
Hon. Mr. Webster: We will be making our position known to the Yukon public at the time we make the submission to the federal government. We are not afraid to make that position known at all.
Mr. Phillips: It is interesting that now they are going to do it behind closed doors with a letter. Can I ask the Minister if as soon as he makes that presentation he will make it public to the people of the Yukon?
Hon. Mr. Webster: Yes.
Question re: Kluane Park access
Mr. Phillips: Does the Minister of Tourism think that it is important that, if we pass motions in this Legislature, the government, whichever it may be, follows through with the intent of those motions? Why did this government not do that?
Hon. Mr. Webster: Naturally, I think it is important that we act on the motions that are debated in this House. That does not mean that all the motions presented will necessarily be acted upon as voted.
Question re: Kluane Park access
Mr. Phelps: I would like to draw the attention of Members of House of the attendance of a former MLA, Hilda Watson, in the Gallery.
I would like to ask one question of the Minister of Tourism, following up what my friend to the right of me had to say.
Does the Minister not remember that the motion that he and his colleagues all supported unanimously spoke to access into Kluane Park, not access to Kluane Park? Is he aware of that?
Hon. Mr. Webster: Yes, I am aware of that.
Question re: Hootalinqua North Plan
Mr. Phelps: I have a new question. this one is to the Minister of Community and Transportation Services. It is regarding the Hootalinqua North Plan. In early December, residents of Hootalinqua North delivered a petition to the previous Minister calling for public hearings so that residents could comment on the final draft of the plan before it was approved and acted upon. At that time, promises were made that such public hearings would take place in January of this year and that officials would be arranging them. I would like to know why these promises were not kept and why these hearings were not held.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I think the Member must realize that an election was called and it was physically impossible to complete it at that time.
Mr. Phelps: Well, can the Minister tell us whether more than one public hearing will be held in the near future so that the residents can voice their complaints about the plan?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The short answer is yes. I have had some communication on the subject with the people who raised concerns about the existing plan. I have undertaken that meetings will be held. Again, it is matter of physical opportunity. I expect that some time towards the end of the House sitting we will indeed complete that commitment.
Mr. Phelps: I thank the Minister for his answer and I look forward to the meetings. In the meantime, can residents of Hootalinqua North be assured that the plan will not be used by his department as a basis for decision making in the area?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I can give the Member the assurance that the plan will not be applied, but the plan consists of much more information than specific delineations on a map. There is a lot of useful technical information that will be taken into account in various decisions that may be made.
Question re: Extended care facility
Mr. Nordling: In 1985 this government announced that it would be building an extended care facility in Whitehorse. In the 1985-86 Budget, the Legislature approved $150,000 for initial design work. In 1986-87, we approved money for the actual construction. Then in 1987-88, only one dollar was put in the Budget for this facility. The 1989-90 Budget Address, given in January, stated that design of an extended care facility would also be continued with additional Capital funding of $648,000.
Can the new Minister of Health tell us if we are still working on the design of the extended care facility, and when does he expect it to be completed?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: As the Member will know from answers he has had to previous questions on the same subject, it is very difficult to make a decision about the construction of this facility in the absence of a firm decision from the federal government about constructing a new hospital.
The reason we have proceeded the way we have is to allow us the possibility that we may be able to construct an extended care facility in the absence of a decision on the new hospital. It would be our preference to have the operation and maintenance of the two facilities integrated to the point where there are some savings but, nonetheless, even though we have had verbal commitments, we have not had a formal Treasury Board decision about a new hospital. Therefore, we are proposing in the Budget that has been presented to the House this year to vote the total amount of money needed to complete the design on an extended care facility to allow us to face the decision about construction and financing of the operation once that design is complete.
Mr. Nordling: I was under the impression that we already had a modular design that had been done. The former Minister announced it would cost $4.5 million, and that land adjacent to the existing hospital had been identified, and that a study showed the existing facility could accommodate the needs for laundry, dietary, housekeeping and steam plant.
What happened to that design?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Some of the information the Member has indicated here is quite accurate but a detailed design on a facility that may cost in the neighbourhood, according to current estimates, of $6 million, will have a completed design cost in excess of $600,000. I think $648,000 is what is contemplated in this Capital Budget.
Not only will we have to face a significant decision in terms of the capital costs of that facility but, as well, the very significant costs in terms of the operation of the same.
Mr. Nordling: I was also under the impression that operation and maintenance costs of the facility had been established at $1.9 million, and that even a person year establishment had been made. I was going to ask if the delay of three years cost any extra money. I see by his answer that it has gone from $4.5 million to $6 million now.
In the new design work, have we established where the new facility will be built?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: There is no contemplated relocation. I am slightly concerned that the Member opposite should be so cavalier about an operating cost of approximately $2 million a year because that is a very significant increase to our overall budget.
Deputy Speaker: Time for Question Period has now lapsed and we will now proceed with Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Deputy Speaker: It has been moved by the Government House Leader that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
Deputy Speaker leaves the Chair
Deputy Chairman: I now call Committee of the Whole to order. At this time I declare a brief recess of 15 minutes.
Chairman: Committee of the Whole will now come to order. We will continue with Bill No. 25, Yukon Housing Corporation.
Bill No. 25: Fifth Appriopriation Act, 1987-88 - continued
Hon. Mr. Byblow: When we left off debate last night the Member was asking about contracts. I hope the Member did not intend to leave the impression that he did not get contracts that he had asked for because in my review of the correspondence that he wrote to the previous Minister on November 3, he asked for contracts that were given out over the course of that years budget, which, of course, were the contracts that he had asked for. I understand they have been provided. Could I request of the Member if he feels whether the information was inadequately provided?
Mr. Lang: I refer to my letter of November 3, 1988, which the Minister has before him. He is correct in respect to what I said, in the course of this years budget. The information I was provided with was from April 1 to October 15.
I wanted to get the information about the previous winter as well, so I was thinking November to November when I said the last years budget. What I would ask is that I receive the lists of the projects that were tendered through the invitational tender process as well as the amount of each accepted tender for 1987-88. I would ask for the list of the successful tenderers on the projects as well as the list of the unsuccessful tenderers contacted to bid on each of the projects. Can the Minister make that commitment?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I thank the Member for clarifying what was a bit confusing to me because I got the impression that Yukon Housing Corporation, through the previous Minister, did not provide adequate information, but the previous Minister did indeed provide what was requested.
The Member is now asking for contracts for the year previous, which would be the year under review in this particular Supplementary. In my discussions with the Housing Corporation, that information is available. It may take a little time to compile it because it deals with a previous year. Whether that takes a week or two weeks, possibly three, I cannot commit precisely. I guess it will depend on how much work I impose on the corporation through the current budget discussions before us in the House.
Mr. Lang: I sent a letter on November 3, 1988, requesting information, which I did not receive until February 22. I had asked for that information in writing on three previous occasions in writing. I also phoned the presidents office, as well as the Ministers office, on numerous occasions in January, but I did not receive the information until February 22.
Will the Minister give the undertaking to provide the information with respect to the 1987-88 invitational tenders that were awarded by the government by the time Members have returned from Juneau? That will be two weeks.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: When we return from where?
Mr. Lang: My understanding is that there is a parliamentary exchange next week to Juneau for some Members of the House. The House will not be sitting, so, therefore, there will not be more work put on the Housing Corporation. I am asking that that information be made available when Members return from Juneau the following Monday.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I will give the Member the assurance that we will make every effort to do so. With the efficiency of the corporation, I am sure we can deliver something by that time or shortly thereafter.
Mr. Lang: Could the Minister provide the House with the contract regulations and the procedure that must be followed with respect to asking for invitational tenders?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am advised that a new tendering bylaw is currently being approved by the board, so that would mean when it is available, I would be pleased to table it.
The contract regulations, or rules that apply for the year under review, have already been provided to the Member opposite, or at least one of the Members opposite. The Member does have the rules that applied for the year under review. The new ones are to be approved momentarily.
Mr. Lang: My colleague, the Member for Riverdale South, has indicated she is the one with the information. I will wait to see if she has it. Otherwise, I would like that information provided. It seems to be a very unorthodox way of running a business, in view of the information that has been provided to me.
Is it the policy of the Housing Corporation that, when one is going for an invitational tender, only one contractor will be contacted for a price for any given job? Is that the policy?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am advised that, under the old rules that were in place for the year under review and are currently in place until the new ones get approved, yes, the rules are laid out whereby you can seek one invitational tender and, depending on the amount, it can be awarded.
Mr. Phelps: I would like to ask some questions, because the accounting last night seemed to raise the ire of some of the Members of the House and confuse others.
Part of the explanation for this $1,185,000 was simply a change in accounting practices. We were given some items that made up that figure. The first one was $570,000 or so, that we were told was in Capital but should have been in O&M. Can the Minister tell us what that was?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: As I stated last night, the $537,000 portion of the $1.1 million was a recovery that was budgeted as O&M but was actually received and applied against Capital. I am advised that that originated in the Capital upgrade portion of the existing social housing projects that were budgeted under the Capital Budget. Apparently, CHMCs share of these expenditures was budgeted as O&M recoveries, but in actual fact it should have been budgeted against Capital recoveries. What is budgeted on one side of the ledger, you recover on the other and you have to make the adjustment. It was in the Capital upgrade of the social housing projects. Because the 1987-88 budget was a net budget, the recoveries were taken out of O&M and included in the Capital and, in accounting terms, an unfavorable variance was created. Overall, there was a corresponding one in the Capital side. The $537,000 shows up on the O&M side in this budget; it was actually recovered on the Capital side and an adjustment made - I guess that this is the way it works.
Mr. Phelps: Did that result then in a corresponding change? If we are increasing the 0&M side, then was there a corresponding change in the Capital Budget?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Yes, the Member is correct. There was a corresponding change in the Capital, part of which was offset by other unfavourable changes. So there was no net change.
Mr. Phelps: What in effect is occurring here is that you are making the shift, but there has been a $537,000 over expenditure in the Capital side, which does not have to be shown. It does not have to be shown because you are neatly moving it over to the O&M side so that we will not know about it, I suppose.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The explanation I am being afforded is that part of the offset on the Capital side was deferred along with bank financing for projects that took place in the succeeding year. So the money on the Capital side actually was recovered in the year under review, but the favourable variance, along with bank financing, moved ahead into the next year. Where it was used up will show up in the next set of estimates, I hope.
Mr. Phelps: The point remains that there is a partial explanation here. There is $537,000 that is over spent on the Capital side, unless there is a corresponding adjustment under the Capital votes. I only see a small figure there; it is $269,000.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Yes. The president is insisting that there was a favourable variance on the Capital side. Along with bank financing, this created extended programming in the subsequent year.
Mr. Phelps: No doubt there is in the books of the corporation something to show that this was removed, and there was other money spent on the Capital side, because you are not coming back to ask us for more money. You are not reflecting it in the final tally of the books.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Yes. I take the Members point. I guess the only assurance I can give him is that the application of that money in a subsequent year shows up on the Capital side, and it is complemented by bank financing largely because social housing projects are largely bank financed. They are bank financed by CMHC and our portion.
Mr. Phelps: I guess what we are getting at is that it is a neat way of masking the additional Capital expenditures that have taken place. Certain things are moved into O&M, but the books are not adjusted, which leaves the Capital at what it was before, because you have an inflated capital figure. You cannot have it both ways.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: My earlier explanation is still correct, in that the favourable variance, to use the accounting term, that shows up on the Capital side essentially funds programming until you can procure the required bank support to deal completely with the construction. It still shows up, in simplistic terms, as a revote forward.
Mr. Phelps: Where do we find the adjustment of a $537,000 reduction in Capital? Any way you look at it, you are asking for a net $1.85 million. There is an increase somewhere. Transferring a program does not account for it. Transferring an entry does not account for it. It seems to me that what is happening is that there is being more spent on Capital because the money that is coming back is only $269,000.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I feel that I am repeating myself because however you cut the numbers they still balance. When you undertake a construction job it is not customary that you have your bank financing in place and up front when you start the program. You have to have some, for lack of a better term, bridge financing to get the construction started. What shows up on the Capital side is an unfavourable variance to the amount of that construction job. For example, if you are building Closeleigh Manor for a $1 million, you show minus $1 million, less whatever you may have budgeted. You then seek the bank approval for that and in the subsequent year. You pay back the account and restore the equilibrium that took place here in the adjustment and realignment of the accounts.
There is another point here to be made. We are talking about a 1987-88 period, a time when the Housing Corporation was in a readjustment stage. I can assure the Member that in talking to Finance this morning, everything is in order, but it was a period of adjustment as well as the peculiarities of program financing. When you are working with bank financing that comes afterwards, you have to fund the project.
Mr. Phelps: The point remains that more money was spent, and that cannot be passed off simply as a change from Capital to Operation and Maintenance. I will move on. This will make interesting reading.
The next item was depreciation. I am rather curious as to why this is charged into Operation and Maintenance and why it is so new. Is it an expenditure?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Again, my explanation last night is accurate. There was no provision made for depreciation. I am sure the Leader of the Official Opposition is aware that government assets are not charged depreciation in the inventory control structure that is in place in government. However, the Yukon Housing Corporation is a crown corporation that requires that depreciation be charged. It was never budgeted. I asked Mr. Albert why it was not budgeted if it was to be charged. There appears to be no explanation that I can give the hon. Member.
Mr. Phelps: Is there some accounting reason for it being in the Operation and Maintenance side rather than the Capital side?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I have spent many hours and days pondering over financial statements. Depreciation is a peculiarity that I sometimes question whether even accountants have right. Again, my explanation is still accurate. When the budget was prepared it was done by government accountants who did not budget for the depreciation in the period under review. The legal statutes require it be assigned. As the Member knows, depreciation is this mythical figure that you assign to an asset that spreads the cost of it over a number of years for recovery purposes.
I am told this item has to be inserted into the Operation and Maintenance even though it does not constitute an over expenditure; it was never budgeted, it was strictly an accounting exercise.
Mr. Phelps: The next item was approximately $150,000, included in the Capital Budget, and we were told it should have been in the Operation and Maintenance Budget. Was it the loan revolving fund program?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: As explained last night, it was indeed the amount of money budgeted for in the Capital Budget under the home improvement initiative. The year under review, 1986-87, was the first year in which the home improvement plan was offered. There was $480,000 budgeted and voted for that program in the Capital Budget. However, because the loans involved in those home improvement initiatives are forgivable loans, the amount had to be absorbed in the Operation and Maintenance Budget for that year. The end result is that there was a Capital Budget of $480,000 with no actual expenditure against it, but an actual Operation and Maintenance cost of $153,000 without any budget.
Mr. Phelps: It is coming clear. We have the $480,000 in the Capital Budget, of which $153,000 was actually spent. That is now not to be part of the Capital Budget and so it moves into the O&M, and you ask for $153,000 more.
What over expenditures took place on the Capital side to swallow up the $480,000? We do not see any adjustments in this budget for that.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: If the hon. Member will recall our earlier discussion on the first item, this one is similar. The balance left from the $480,000 was, in part, what funded projects for which bank financing was later received. It will show up in the year subsequent as a favourable variance. It will be there.
Mr. Phelps: The problem remains that what we have is an over expenditure, in each case, of many dollars of the original vote. Here you had the $480,000 that was spent. You are asking for $153,000, which was all that was spent on this program as a new vote in the O&M. It seems to be rather a feeble attempt to hide a large over expenditure on the Capital side, because of the multiplying effect of corporation equity versus the money coming from the federal government.
I think the description is rather lacking. We would have a balancing out of this appropriation against a reduction under Capital votes, if there was no over expenditure on the Capital side. Is that not true?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The best explanation that I can afford at this time is that what the Member opposite does not see is, in the Capital side of the Budget, a bank loan, which is showing an unfavourable variance. The net result between the O&M and the Capital has no unfavourable variance. Yes, there may be these dollars that we are transferring around, but they are there to offset a bank loan that has to be repaid and shows up in the year following.
Mr. Phelps: That is fair ball. I understand what you are saying. You knew that when you started the year. The Housing Corporation knew that when it started the year. The fact that you have to use some of your money for bridge financing had to be built into your budget. That is what you do. All that has happened here, in my respectful submission, is that you have spent an extra $1.1 million leverage against federal money, and there is an attempt to try to hide it as a simple bookkeeping entry. I do not accept it.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I appreciate what the Member is saying and I guess, to a large extent, he is correct when he says we are using bridge financing money, without having budgeted for it; maybe that is the problem, that there was no bridge financing budgeted - but you have to carry on your programs. With some defence for the corporation, this is a budget of two years ago, as I said earlier, during a transition period. Certainly, I can assure the Member, because I was assured this morning, that there is nothing inappropriate, or illegal, or wrong. We are accounting for the dollars spent, and I am sure that in the next Housing Corporation vote we will be recovering all these dollars that were used for bridge financing.
Mr. Phelps: With respect, you would not need the additional bridge financing unless you had additional Capital projects. What has happened, in my respectful submission, is that the corporation suddenly decided to build and spend more Capital funds than was ever suggested to the House. Now the corporation comes back and tries to hide it as O&M, in a shift in accounting, and that is just not on. They spent more money than they forecast, and asked the House for it. They should say so when they come back here.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I beg to differ with the Member. I just explained that the program was budgeted but the financing was not in place because it is largely a cost-shared financing arrangement through CHMC and the banks. You have the vote authority but you do not have the money to pay the contractors, so you go for a bank loan, and all of that takes longer than the period under review, so you have to use some dollars to start with. Those dollars are replaced when the bank loan is in place. So, in terms of propriety, there is nothing wrong; in terms of not having budgeted for bridge financing: perhaps.
Mr. Phelps: If the explanation was simply that there was not budgeting in the first place for bridge financing, that is one thing. Perhaps what happened - and I am very suspicious, did happen - was that a lot more was expended, because the original budget must have taken into account the bridge financing problem. It is not new and the corporation has been in existence for almost 20 years. I have difficulty with how the corporation is passing this by us.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: For the sake of clarification, the amount of bridge financing that was funded was $1.2 million, and that would be showing up in the subsequent Supplementary, or the subsequent year. What I can offer to the Member, because I am sure that he still has some question marks, is either a recess in which we can deal personally with the Yukon Housing Corporation president, speaking directly or, if the Member or Members opposite would like a more full briefing with the accountanting side of the Yukon Housing Corporation, I would be more than pleased to entertain it.
Mr. Phelps: I would like to go on to the next item before I respond to the offer. There is an additional amount of $237,000, which was budgeted for in the 1986-87 budget for the Rural and Native Remote Demonstration Program. It was spent in that year but was treated as a deferred expense into the next year. I do not understand exactly what has taken place here. Is there some reason for this suddenly being moved? Is this a movement into the O&M from Capital?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I think the Member is somewhat familiar with the Rural and Native Remote Demonstration Program. Having been spent in 1986-87, it had to be treated as a deferred expenditure to the next year which becomes the year under review by this Supplementary. It had not been budgeted for in 1987-88, so this is where it shows up.
Mr. Phelps: Why would it be deferred? It was spent in the year it was budgeted for. Does that simply mean that that year the Yukon Housing Corporation found another way of inflating their real cost by $237,000, by passing the buck on to the next year and forgetting to budget it?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: No. The cost for this Rural and Native Remote Demonstration Program was an 1986-87 O&M expenditure, and it had to be capitalized, which simply means that it gets treated as a deferred item. That way it moves forward into the subsequent year and gets expensed out in that year. That is where it shows. I suppose it is worth pointing out that there are no new dollars involved in this.
Mr. Phelps: There are new dollars. Two hundred and thirty seven thousand dollars was budgeted. What happened was that $237,000 was budgeted and spent, allegedly in 1986-87, and it does not show up in the books until the following year. I do not understand what is happening here unless there was an over expenditure by the Yukon Housing Corporation and they have filled it in by changing entries in the books. I do not know why you would budget it twice if you only spent it once.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Yes, again the Rural and Native Remote Demonstration Program was indeed budgeted for in 1986-87. I do not have available how it was treated in that budget year, because it obviously was not spent in that year. But I do not have the information as to how the program extended itself in the final Budget figures of that year. So it was budgeted, but it did not get completed until 1987-88. And it was at that point that it was spent but it had to be capitalized in that second year when it was completed because the budget for it was originally struck or voted in the previous year.
Mr. Phelps: I think it all makes interesting reading, for Mr. Dye at least. I just want to be on the record once again. What is happening here is that there is a charge against O&M expenditures, which, we are told, is simply a transfer from Capital to O&M because of accounting practices. There is no corresponding decrease though, on the Capital side. The explanation we are given is that this is simply money that was needed, and not anticipated, but required to bridge financing. That being the case, if that is the explanation, can we assume that the Yukon Housing Corporation will pay us back when it gets the loans from the federal government, because we want the money back?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: What I will undertake is to provide the Member, separately, an analysis of the tracking for this money. As I said, the explanation is afforded through the bridge financing required. In the subsequent year the money is replaced and sits there again because, having been spent it gets replaced and is usable again, in over-simplistic terms. But I think what the Member would like to see is the Capital side and some form of tracking for it and I will undertake to produce that.
Mr. Phelps: I appreciate that gesture. I would like that information, but even simpler than that, you have come to us asking for money for a bridging loan. We will certainly lend you the money if the corporation will pay it back, physically, to the Legislature.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I can assure the Member that the money will indeed return to the proper authorities from whence it came.
Yukon Housing Corporation in the amount $1,185,000 agreed to
On Loan Amortization
Mr. Phelps: Is there an explanation for that item?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: As I indicated in Second Reading in my general remarks to this bill, this is simply an in and out line item, whereby we act as an intermediary between municipalities and the original lenders who loan money to us to reloan to those municipalities. You will note that the Auditor-General does not consider the item to be an over expenditure, if you look in Public Accounts, page 28 on Vote 16; it is not listed as an over expenditure. However, we have chosen to show it as an over expenditure for our purposes. It is simply a request for $24,000 in loan interest on this in and out item and that is what I have by way of explanation. I can provide more details if the Member wishes.
Loan Amortization in the amount of $24,000 agreed to
Operation and Maintenance in the amount of $3,730,000 agreed to
On Capital Votes
On Government Services
Mr. Lang: I would ask the Minister of Government Services to give us the breakdown of the $191,000.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I can afford an explanation on the vote authority being requested for $191,000. I am having Mr. Mather from the department join me in the event that there should be detailed questions that I cannot answer.
What I can do is go through those items that make up the $191,000 to describe why the additional authority is needed on the Capital side. The Supply Services Branch required additional funds for photocopier leases and supplies. Supply Services was one of the branches that additional funding was required for. The Central Computing facility in the Systems and Computing Services was the other branch that required some funds. If the Member would just bear with me for one moment, I am missing one note. The Capital over expenditure of $191,000 is essentially required to buy out Operations and Maintenance leases in two programs: Supply Services and Systems and Computing Services. Originally, the expenditure in Operation and Maintenance in Government Services was under budget. Some leases were paid out to effect savings in the total payments. The lease for the Central Computing facility and its associated software in the amount of $444,000 was paid out, which achieved an immediate saving of $18,000 in financing charges and an annual saving of $15,000.
The leases for a number of photocopiers in the amount of $111,000 in the Queens Printer program were paid out and this additionally achieved a lease savings over the expected life of the copiers. The buy out of the Operation and Maintenance leases for the financial savings transferred the Operation and Maintenance expenditure to the Capital accounts. This resulted in the over expenditure of $191,000. The under expenditure in the Operation and Maintenance budget was $581,000 with the total expenditures of Government Services in Operation and Maintenance and Capital, combined, being $390,000 under budget. The Member will note that in the main estimates the Capital was $9,680,000 and this was reduced by $810,000 in a previous Supplementary. The final expenditure of $8,449,000 was considerably less than the Main Estimates but nevertheless it still, in the combined total, resulted in an over expenditure of $191,000.
I can attempt to provide further detail if Members wish.
Mr. Lang: What exactly is the situation with these buy outs? Are these long term leases we have entered into? If so, when did we enter into them and why did we decide to buy them out?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I believe the position taken was that there would be a net cost saving to buy out some of the leases. That is the bottom line. The saving to the department in the long term is in operation and maintenance costs because the equipment is now owned and there are no lease charges. These payments are normally provided for in the Operation and Maintenance Budget. There were substantial savings on the Capital side through the purchase of a large number of pieces of equipment.
Mr. Lang: Why did we enter into a lease if it was so favourable to the Operation and Maintenance Budget to buy?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: It is the same as in any business. You enter into various leases for equipment over a length of time. A decision was made after some analyses that there would be considerable cost savings to buy out those leases instead of paying them each year. There is an Operation and Maintenance Budget reduction because we do not have the leases. There was an immediate $18,000 saving in financing charges and an annual saving of $15,000 on the O&M side. The Operation and Maintenance Budget did show a reduction in the previous Supplementaries. The net result is a saving. To put it in simple terms it was a simple business decision in the interest of effecting cost savings.
Mr. Lang: The information provided to us is that we put out $440,000 and we saved $33,000 on the Operation and Maintenance Budget. If that is correct that is less than the interest we would have collected from the $440,000 at 10 percent.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am not sure the Member is aware that the saving of $33,000 is over and above the lease payments that ordinarily take place.
Government Services in the amount of $191,000 agreed to
Total Sums Not Required in the amount of a reduction of $32,223,000 agreed to
On Schedule B
Schedule B agreed to
Clause 1 agreed to
On Clause 2
Clause 2 agreed to
Title agreed to
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that you report Bill No. 25, entitled Fifth Appropriation Act, 1987-88, without amendment.
Motion agreed to
Bill No. 33: Third Appropriation Act, 1988-89
Deputy Chairman: Is there any general debate?
On Clause 1
Hon. Mr. McDonald: As I indicated in Second Reading, the purpose of the bill is to vote supplementary funds required by the government for the current fiscal year. I have already mentioned in my remarks in Second Reading that, rather than presenting two Supplementaries for this year to the House, we are tabling just this one.
As a result, the bill seeks authority for revote spending that is normally covered in both the fall Supplementaries and the traditional spring Supplementary.
I would like to remind Members that, again, we are not seeking contingency votes for a year of spending. We feel the projected spending reflected in the Supplementary is sufficient and will do our best to meet these targets.
We are requesting an additional $22 million in spending authority for the 1988-89 fiscal year. Approximately one-half of this sum is for the revote of Capital monies voted in 1987-88 but unspent in that year. Over $4 million of the remaining requested funds are accounted for by employee leave accrual in the Public Service Commission and the endowment we have announced for Yukon College to help fund its northern studies research program.
Funds are being sought in most of the other departments to carry out a variety of new initiatives that we are undertaking, or traditional initiatives that we are committed to. In the latter regard, the most notable is the LEOP program at $2.7 million, which has not been budgeted in the Main Estimates in the past.
The Legislative Assemblys vote will have to be increased by approximately $250,000 to cover the cost of the recent election. The Executive Council Office will require $500,000 in recoverable dollars for the French and Aboriginal Languages Program, which we are carrying out under an agreement with the federal government.
The Department of Community and Transportation Services will require $2,900,000 in O&M funds, which is primarily for the Alaska Highway maintenance and repair after the last years flood damage. These funds are recoverable from the federal government. The Department of Community and Transportation Services additional Capital funds are either for revote purposes or LEOP, which I have already mentioned. In the past, as I just indicated, LEOP has not been funded in the Mains, but we have included it in this year in order to account for a true picture of the projected costs for the year.
The Department of Education requires additional funds to cover the cost of 12 new teachers who were hired to cope with increased student enrollment in our schools. The Capital funds being requested by the department are comprised of revote funds and monies for the college endowment.
The Department of Health and Human Resources has identified a need for supplementary funding for specialized treatment of children in care, repatriation of residents of the Woodlands facility, medical travel and out-of-territory hospital costs. The Capital funding required by the department will go towards the design and engineering planning for the extended care facility and the construction of the young offenders facility. The departments Capital recoveries also show a significant increase since the young offenders facility expenditures are recoverable under the agreement with the Government of Canada.
Extra monies in the amount of $3,000,000 are being sought by the Public Service Commission, as I mentioned, for the employee leave accrual. The Public Service Commission will also require supplementary funds to cover the cost of the fatal accident involving one of our employees which occurred last year.
Several other departments are requesting smaller funding increases and several are turning back money.
The brief outline that I have just given I think accounts for the bulk of the monies requested in this Supplementary, and it shows that the accumulated surplus will be approximately $26,000,000 on March 31 of this year.
If Members have any questions of a general nature, I would be pleased to answer them. I would ask that the Deputy Minister of Finance be permitted to sit with me.
Deputy Chairman: Is there any further general debate?
Mr. Phelps: I hate to beat this to death, but I have got to put on the record once again our dismay that we have gone from a forecast when this budget was first produced of a surplus of almost $5,000,000 to now having a deficit of $20,000,000. It seems to me that is unfortunate and says something about the glowing Budget Speech that we got introducing this budget over a year ago. I just want to go on the record saying that I hope that the government is not making a practice of nibbling the taxpayers of the Yukon to death like ducks. They would rather have the tragic story told right away than be shot in the head or something.
Chairman: Is there any further general debate? If there is nothing, we will recess for 15 minutes.
Chairman: Committee of the Whole will now come to order.
We will now turn to Schedule A.
On Yukon Legislative Assembly
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I have the rare privilege of speaking on behalf of the Legislature, with the Clerk being mute for the purposes of our Estimates debate, even though he will quite readily put words in the mouths of Members on both sides of the House for the purposes of expediting his estimate. He will not show the necessary fortitude to appear before the bar of the House himself and explain exactly what he does with this money that we give him, so it falls to me to defend him. Chivalry is not dead.
The aforementioned gentleman is asking on behalf of the Legislative Assembly for $248,000, $242,000 of which was required to cover the costs of the recent general election. There are some other small variances in the budget, which I will report as follows. There is an addition of an amount of $12,000 to cover the cost of a Legislative Intern Program for this past year. The program was approved by the Member Services Board but is only now being voted for in this Supplementary. There is an additional $2,000 amount required due to a slight under estimation of the cost of living increases in MLA indemnities and expense allowances and that is being recalculated. There is $8,000 that is not required. It was a surplus created when payments for honoraria and travel expenses made to the returning officers and assistant returning officers attending a training course in Whitehorse were less than expected.
The sum total of these amounts comes to $248,000 being requested and, as I indicated at the outset, most of that is for the recent general election.
Yukon Legislative Assembly in the amount of $248,000 agreed to
On Executive Council Office
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I would like to talk about the large items that caused this Supplementary to come before the House. Referring to the numbers on page 13 of the Estimates book and the request for $639,000, the first and largest single item included in this figure is the sum of $555,000 for the new French and Aboriginal Languages Agreement. This represents monies made available by the federal government for this fiscal year to cover the startup costs of this program. As Members who were present in the House when we debated this agreement and the consequent law, the Languages Act, you will know that all program expenditures are 100 percent recoverable from the federal government.
The second largest item is in connection with the Land Claims Secretariat, where the extraordinary activities associated with the achievement of an agreement in principle last November caused an over expenditure of $210,000 over that which was budgeted.
The requirement for an additional $39,000 for the Internal Audit is not really an over expenditure, since these funds were included in the Executive Council Office base for 1988-89 to provide for the program evaluation function, but the money is now being reallocated to Internal Audit from the ECO Secretariat budget. The final additional requirement is in connection with the fuel price inquiry, where $200,000 was approved in the Estimates. The additional $35,000 is more than offset by funds not required by the department in other programs.
The figures within the brackets on page 14 total $200,000, which have been applied against the deficits I have just described; the net result is a gross shortfall of $284,000, excluding the language program, which is 100 percent recoverable from the federal government, and is reduced to a net figure of $84,000, through the application of the offsets.
I would be pleased to answer any questions Members have about these items during further discussion of the individual particulars.
Mrs. Firth: How much did the fuel pricing inquiry cost in total? It is now completed. Could the Minister include the cost of the publication of the final report?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The fuel price inquiry expenditures were as follows. In the fiscal year 1987-88, the sum of $25,000 was approved; in 1988-89, $200,000 was approved in the budget. Of the $25,000 budgeted in 1987-88, only $14,000 was utilized because of the timing of the start of the inquiry. The estimated increase in the cost of the inquiry over and above the amount budgeted in the Main Estimates is offset by the savings I talked about. The printing costs of the inquiry include 1,000 copies of the report being printed, approximately 500 of which have been distributed already. The total amount spent in the inquiry in the two years that were covered in the budget was $285,503.
Mr. Lang: Does that include the cost of all the work done by personnel in other departments?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: No it does not. The work done by Economic Development in terms of a submission worked on subsequently by the Department of Community and Transportation Services and others in analyzing our response to the inquiry and so forth is absorbed in the regular departmental budgets.
Mrs. Firth: Does the Minister have a list of the 500 individuals who received copies of the report, and could he provide us with that?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I do not, other than I know there was a large number distributed to people who made submissions to the inquiry. That was the initial distribution. The others may have been distributed to the media and other people who requested it. I do not know if there is another list available, other than that.
Mrs. Firth: Perhaps he could find that out. Was there a covering letter sent with the report? If so, did the chairman of the inquiry or the Government Leader send the letter?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I do not know. I certainly do not recall signing a covering letter myself in connection with distributing the report. If Judge Lilles did, I am not aware of it.
Mrs. Firth: I have some questions about the French and Aboriginal Language Program. I notice in the new 1989-90 Operation and Maintenance Budget there are three person years identified. Is any of the money in that $555,000 for those three person years? Have individuals been hired?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: At this stage there are no person years provided, because we have been using contractors in the consultation period in order to establish exactly what services will be provided. That continues into the upcoming fiscal year. In the Main Budget, the Member will see that there is a further amount contemplated for the program. Even though we are trying to be conservative in the implementation of the program, I think it is quite conceivable that by the end of the coming fiscal year, we will have staff in place for French language translation and whatever the counterpart is for the aboriginal languages.
Certainly we will have them in ECO. As to any capacity in the communities there have been no submissions to Management Board about that yet, nor will there be until the consultation with the client communities is complete and there is discussion about exactly what services will be contemplated under this agreement.
Mrs. Firth: I have one more question and then we can go line by line.
Can the Government Leader provide us with an organizational chart for the French and Aboriginal Language Program so we have some indication of how far they have advanced?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I will be pleased to do that. I hope the Member understands that it will necessarily be a bit tentative at this stage. We are completing talks with the francophone community regarding their needs in terms of communicating with the government. No decisions have yet been made by the government about the location of translation services or bilingual information officer services in any department other than in ECO. I will certainly provide the extent to which we are organized now at the time we get to the Mains. If officials in the department are prepared to anticipate, to any extent, what the arrangements might look like, I would be happy to present that to the House, too.
Executive Council Office in the amount of $639,000 agreed to
Hon. Mr. Penikett: This amount is entirely due to the fact that two members on staff were on leave without pay for part of the year.
Administration in the amount of a recovery of $30,000 agreed to
On Land Claims Secretariat
Hon. Mr. Penikett: As I indicated in my opening remarks, the principal reason for the increase here was increased activity leading up to a framework agreement achieved in November. Of the $210,000, $50,000 is represented by salaries and benefits for secondments from other departments to work on this process. Another $160,000 is lodged in the area of contracts for lawyers, legal research and communications.
Mrs. Firth: Is the Government Leader saying that when individuals were seconded to work on the Land Claims Secretariat, the ECO paid their salary? I know of once instance, in the Department of Education, where Mr. Tom Lownie went to help with the Land Claims Secretariat. Did the Department of Education not continue to pay his salary?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: There are many people from many departments working on land claims, but still carrying out their normal duties in those departments. They are doing that as additional work. This is a case to cover the salary and benefits of Mr. Rob McWilliam who was seconded full-time from Economic Development to the Land Claims Secretariat and someone filled in behind him in the department. I think the distinction would probably be when someone is assigned full-time that we would show that expenditure or the costs of their salaries and expenditures if they are a public servant. I am aware that there was previous debate in the House where that was the case, and I took the point that where someone was permanently seconded or working full-time from another department, it would probably be more appropriate to show it in this form.
Land Claims Secretariat in the amount of $210,000 agreed to
On Public Affairs Bureau
Public Affairs Bureau in the amount of a recovery of $25,000 agreed to
On Policy and Intergovernmental Relations
Policy and Intergovernmental Relations in the amount of a recovery of $33,000 agreed to
On French and Aboriginal Language
French and Aboriginal Language in the amount of $555,000 agreed to
On Office of Devolution
Mrs. Firth: Perhaps the Minister could tell us why they would be turning money back there? I would have thought that this would have been one area where they would be spending their full budget, as this government is working on devolution.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The devolution coordinator who was in that job full-time was actually acting for a period of time as the deputy minister of the department and the position was vacant for part of that period.
Office of Devolution in the amount of a recovery of $38,000 agreed to
On Internal Audit
Internal Audit in the amount of $39,000 agreed to
On Bureau of Statistics
Bureau of Statistics in the amount of a recovery of $20,000 agreed to
On Executive Council Office Secretariat
Mrs. Firth: Perhaps the Minister could tell us why that money was turned back.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: There is a $54,000 reduction here, $39,000 of which, as I described earlier, was transferred out of this line and into the Internal Audit line. The other $15,000 is to do with staff vacancies.
Executive Council Office Secretariat in the amount of a recovery of $54,000 agreed to
On Public Inquiries
Public Inquiries in the amount of $35,000 agreed to
Executive Council Office in the amount of $639,000 agreed to
On Capital Expenditures
On Bureau of Statistics equipment
Bureau of Statistics equipment in the amount of a recovery of $5,000 agreed to
Executive Council Office agreed to
On Department of Community and Transportation Services
Deputy Chairman: Is there any general debate?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I have a number of notes on this vote that refer to the entire branch and then some detailed notes on each of the line items. Mr. Graham will join me for any detail and later discussion that I may not be able to provide.
The Supplementary before you totals $7,670,000. It represents an increase in the O&M expenditure of $2,911,000, which is partially offset by increased O&M recoveries of $2,750,000, increased Capital expenditure of $5,035,000 and decreased Capital recoveries of $2,474,000.
I should note that of the increased Capital expenditures of $5,035,000, $3,551,000 of that represents various revotes from the previous year.
I propose to speak to the line items as they are set out on page 18 unless the Members have some general questions first.
Mrs. Firth: The previous Minister of Community and Transportation Services made some announcements prior to the election about increased program costs and how programs were going to be enhanced and at that time he indicated to the public that he did not have Cabinet approval for it, but it was a public announcement nevertheless. I would like to know if those amounts are included in this Supplementary estimate. I believe the announcement was in the area of a seven percent increase for O&M costs for the communities and he also talked about a $1,200,000 or $1,500,000 increase in Capital that was going to go to the communities. I would like to ask if that has been included in the Supplementary estimates?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: It is my understanding that these would not be reflected in here, that they will be reflected in the O&M Capital Mains that we will be debating next.
Mr. Brewster: One thing that I am, of course, not very happy about is the way we are progressing with agriculture policies and acts. We had $285,000 voted and you give us back $241,000, which means you spent $44,000 trying to improve agriculture. Number one, I would like to know how many agriculture leases are being held with nothing being done with them, and how many have been processed. When we vote you money like that and you turn it back there is something drastically wrong there. I also would like to make it very plain to this Legislature that since we started this foolishness on this agriculture policy, we have lost two herds of cattle that were here for over 25 years. In 25 years they were grown and raised. They were both shipped out. The last bunch was shipped out in February in the coldest weather. They went to an auction market down in Dawson Creek and they came out the highest bid of any animals there.
Now do not tell me we cannot raise cattle up here. It is just because we continually will not give people land. We keep on putting in these other regulations and we get these farces going on where you are losing one of your big industries that can grow up here and nobody is doing anything about it. You turn around and you have money to do things, and you cannot say we did not give you money. The Legislature gave you lots of money. You spent $44,000 out of $285,000 and turned the rest back.
I would like some explanations of just what you are doing with agriculture. The people who do agriculture are trying to stand on their own feet. They are being hindered continually by this government doing everything it can to stop them. If it does not stop them one way then it stops them another way. It is about time to stop. I would also like to ask, as I said before, how many agricultural applications are in and how many have been processed this year.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I can appreciate the Members concern and at the same time I can assure him that we are doing everything humanly possible to move as much land in the agricultural area as possible, recognizing the number of impediments that we are constantly faced with, not the least of which is federal land transfers. Perhaps I could just, for the Members information, point out that since May of 1985 the current government has received 28 spot land transfers of agricultural land and has 21 more under request. Obviously there is progress. Thirteen agriculture parcels that total over 9,400 acres have been transferred in 1988 alone. Some 50 agreements for sale for agricultural land have been issued since April 1, 1986. I am trying to put into perspective some of the activity that is taking place. Since January 1, 1987 until last fall, late 1988, there were 70 applications that were reviewed and approved by this government through LARC. Of those 70, there were 55 that were reviewed and deferred for various reasons, primarily land use conflicts. There were 26 that were denied by LARC. In addition, there were 104 that were terminated, 14 more that were canceled by the applicant and 41 agreements for sale entered into.
This is since January of 1987.
In the past three and one-half years - that is, the life of the current government - some 345 applications have been dealt with, and there are 52 applications that are currently alive. Of these 52 current active agricultural applications, 42 of them are for agriculture on federal lands and 10 on Commissioners lands. Additionally, there are some 59 applications that are on hold for land claims conflicts, boundary changes and in process.
It is fair to say that all the applications for 1986 and before have been dealt with as far as they can be. The 1987 applicants are now being reviewed and, for the most part, are in progress. The review by LARC is being scheduled for all the 1987 applications, and those are expected to be concluded by the end of March. I trust the Member will respect those statistics to indicate the commitment that has been placed on moving agricultural land to the farmers who want it.
There are problems, and the previous Minister, I am sure, has had many debates with the Member. We must move land transfers in a manner that will not prejudice land claims. We have to go through the processes of soil suitability and land availability. I expect that, for the most part, I will be stepping this up during my tenure. I submit to the Member that moving lands for agriculture is a high priority. Agriculture itself is a priority of this government, and we will be doing what we can.
Mr. Brewster: I would like to thank the Minister for that breakdown. However, it still does not answer a lot of questions. Number one, there are too many departments you have to go through. You do not know whether you are dealing with Renewable Resources, the Department of Highways or an environmental branch. You have no idea what a poor farmer has to go through to turn around and put a fence up. Usually, you give him permission to put up a fence in December or January, when it is nice to put fences up. That is usually what happens.
I noticed a lot of the OICs, when they are transferred out of Ottawa and the farmers get them back, sure do not look like the OIC they have had for 20 years under lease, waiting to get it into their name. It has been changed around completely, and land has been taken away by the territorial government. I have a real problem over them having that right.
Once again, maybe we have put the cart before the horse. Two farmers who have been here for 20 years are now gone. They moved all their stock out. Their stock came out with glowing colours down in Alberta, where they produce the best stock in Canada, if not North America. They won the bids hands down. One farmer bought one out there and went out of here in -54 degree weather. He bought it one day and it had a calf the next day. They are pretty strong stock to be able to go through this and be trucked that far.
As usual, government is way behind the times. As you said, a lot of the agreements have been terminated because farmers have nothing left. Now, you are getting the type of person who is coming in from Vancouver saying they are going to get some farmland because they will give me some money to do it. That was not what the original farmer started out with. They are the ones who hung on here and fought for years to try to get something, and just were not successful.
With all the recoveries you have there, I am not sure you have satisfied the farmers at all.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Earlier, the Member drew reference to a specific budget amount. I will have to ask the Member to refine that because, to my understanding, we have not turned any money back from Lands. We are asking for $300,000 more in this Supplementary on the Capital side. I am sure that small matter will clear up as we go through the line items.
If it is any assurance to the Member, the previous Minister directed the review and rewrite of agriculture policy in conjunction with the Department of Renewable Resources. My colleague and I are now looking at an early draft of such a policy. We are very cognizant of some of the concerns the Member is raising on behalf of farmers, relating to boundary disputes and land availability. There are some impediments we are not going to be able to overcome until we have more land available to us to work with. That is a fact of life in the territory now.
The remaining point would be to encourage the Member, where he has information relating to a specific case of an agricultural applicant being bandied about, to please let me know and we will see if there is any injustice being done.
Mr. Brewster: I would like to thank the Minister for that reply.
On page 20, you have asked for more money in residential and rural country residential but, if you go down to agricultural, you have voted to date $285,000 and asked for a reduction of $241,000. I do not understand a lot of the arithmetic around here but, to me, that is quite plain that there has only been $44,000 spent.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I recognize what the Member is referring to. Perhaps I can start working through the line items and explain that amount. It relates to one single expenditure at Flat Creek that never progressed because of the Hootalinqua North Plan.
Mr. Lang: Could the Minister have his department do an exercise for me and provide it to us when we return in two weeks? I would like some research done in the various community clubs across the territory. How many grants from the Capital side have been allocated to the particular community clubs across the territory for renovations?
The reason I ask this is that I notice in the LEOP grants for the last number of years there was quite a large number of dollars going toward those kind of projects. It would be of interest to everyone in the Legislature to find out how much has been spent over the last 10 years on each community club throughout the territory.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am advised that providing some breakdown of that information should be no major problem - perhaps not for the past 10 years but the past four or five would be quite easily available. I will make the undertaking to try and have that information shortly after we resume after the break.
Mr. Brewster: I have one more question on community clubs. I hope that these are well audited, because I have been hearing some horror statements of money going into these things that never really got there. Somewhere along the line, we are going to find this out. I hope the government is having these audited enough to know where that money is going. I have been hearing real horror stories in this election about where money has been going on these community clubs.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I certainly would invite the Member to provide as much detail as he can. From my previous life, which I will not talk about, I was quite familiar with the LEOP program. It is extremely closely audited. While in some instances money allocated never got spent, it always comes back. I know that program was closely audited. If the Members are referring to other money, either here or at another time, I invite them to provide details.
Mr. Lang: I would like to request a review of these community clubs, back to at least 1980. If in some cases it is impossible, then that can be noted. It would seem to me that each club has to have its own file. We have been allocating dollars to these various clubs in Capital grants since 1975. There has to be a close scrutiny as to what we are doing and where we are going.
Regarding the question of sewage lagoons and what is being done, could the Minister update us? He was proudly proclaiming to everybody that there was a great deal of money put into the environment, basically in the area of sewage treatment and that type of thing. Can he tell us where the money was spent this past year?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member will be pleased to know that I have the information at my fingertips. During the past year, in the expenditures relating to planning for public health and safety relating to sewage lagoons and treatment facilities and storage, $250,000 was spent in the area of providing water supply, treatment and storage in various communities, including Carcross and Haines Junction; $835,000 was spent in providing water and sewer services; a total of $2,502,000 was spent. Some of that was in Dawson, some was in Teslin, as well as in Haines Junction and in Mayo.
For sewage treatment and disposal facilities in Mayo and Old Crow, there is a total of $139,000. In solid waste control a total of $521,000 was spent. That includes things like the Tagish dump relocation at Carcross, Pelly Crossing improvements and some other miscellaneous work. It also includes the Beaver Creek dump relocation. That should total up to $3.9 million.
I should also point out that those figures include the Supplementary before us today.
Mr. Lang: The Minister must have some other way of knowing, by project, how much was spent in Carcross and what the project was. I got lost when we got to the $835,000 water service. I am still not sure what community that was spent in. Does the Minister have a breakdown for Carcross? Was it $250,000 or $125,000 in Carcross and $125,000 in Haines Junction? Surely there has to be a complete breakdown on the finances.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I was only attempting to provide summary figures by category as they are laid out in the budget book. The $835,000 relating to water supply treatment and storage consists of $1,000 spent for a water truck in Carcross; $515,000 was to construct a three bay garage in Old Crow with water supply; $75,000 was spent in Haines Junction for a pump house and reservoir; $10,000 was to provide water supply at Keno City; $84,000 at Burwash for the purchase of a water truck; and $150,000 on miscellaneous water and sewer improvements territory-wide. That totals the $835,000. I can continue if he wishes.
Mr. Lang: I would appreciate it if that information could be tabled. I am sure the Minister has the information.
On monies being allocated for sewage lagoons in Mayo or, for example, in Teslin, are the communities themselves responsible for paying a portion of the capital costs for those projects?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am led to understand that, in unorganized communities, we provide full costs. In organized communities, there is usually a cost-sharing arrangement. Their portion is usually provided for through block funding.
Mr. Lang: Could the Minister provide me with copies of the cost-sharing agreements that are in place for the communities where a sewage lagoon has either been put in or is in the process of being put in?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member was requesting some funding breakouts for the sewage and water services. It appears we have no problem in providing it. Where there are agreements and cost sharing relationships, we will provide them, too. In many instances, it is 100 percent funding by us, and that is what will show up. Where there are special agreements in place on a cost sharing basis, I will provide those, also.
Deputy Chairman: Is the Committee prepared to go line by line?
On Management, Policy & Planning, and Administration
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The increase of $47,000 is due to increased contractual requirements related to a television northern Canada study.
Management, Policy & Planning, and Administration in the amount of $47,000 agreed to
Hon. Mr. Byblow: This increase is due primarily to additional funds for flood damage and grade raise on the Alaska Highway. Of this amount, $2,258,000, as shown in a lower line item, is fully recoverable from Public Works Canada.
Mr. Brewster: I have a question that does not really have anything to do with the line item. It does have to do with the Alaska Highway, though. Are they prepared to do something so that when they fix it up, this thing will not happen again?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: It is my understanding that the repair was essentially to restore the highway to its original condition. I am advised it is extremely difficult to provide any special protection and, certainly, we cannot guarantee that it will not happen again. I am sure the Member is aware of that.
I take the Members question seriously and will attempt to get back to him on it.
Mr. Brewster: I would like to point out that, when the Canadian Army had that, they had Cats in those creeks continually all summer long. This government never had a Cat around there at all. If it had not been for Lobes Construction and a few other private outfits, we would have been sunk. They saved the day. No one else saved it.
The Canadian Army continued, and they had a lot rougher road than we have. I find it rather surprising that we had maybe half a mile of road gone and took almost two weeks to clean it up. Yet the American Army, with worse equipment and no surveying, built a highway from Dawson Creek to Fairbanks in nine months. There is something wrong somewhere.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: If I understand the Member correctly, he is criticizing this government for not having responded better during the period of the slide. Without full knowledge of what was taking place at the time and how it was dealt with in any great detail, I can assure the Member that the government responded in the best manner it could with the resources it had. I think the Member is aware that the private sector was utilized.
Where the government had equipment available, it was used. I am not sure what more can be done with the resources available. We do not have an American army available, but I do not mean to be facetious. The slide was cleared as expeditiously as possible with the available equipment and resources.
Mr. Brewster: I find it peculiar when it is the deputy minister doing all these things and you did not have first hand facts about it. I think that was probably one of the problems we had. No one seemed to want to get a hold on it. Nobody wanted to listen to the private contractors who were up there. I think the Minister will have to agree that the private contractors were the ones who did the bulk of the work.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member is correct, but the private contractors who were involved in the slide clean-up and repair were on contract to this government. I am not sure what the criticism is.
Mr. Phelps: If you look at the details of the item, I have some questions about some of the specifics. Tagish Highway No. 8 under Transportation on page 19, there was $200,000 budgeted, turning back $135,000, with a Revised Vote of $65,000. Is there any intention to do any more work on that road between Tagish and Jakes Corner?
Deputy Chairman: Order, please. I would like to remind you we will be going through it line by line.
Mr. Phelps: In that case, I will wait until we get to that line item.
Mrs. Firth: We are on Transportation. The Minister has explained that the $2,258,000 was to repair the highway because of the flood. We are of the understanding that we can go through, on page 19, the items line by line, so the Minister could perhaps give us an explanation of the amounts under highway construction so that we can get a full detailed explanation before we pass the whole item of $2,543,000.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: We are on an O&M line item, so what the Member is referring to is the Capital side, which probably more properly should wait a bit.
Transportation in the amount of $2,543,000 agreed to
On Community Services
Hon. Mr. Byblow: On branch administration, there is $29,000 that consists of $16,500 of a commitment to AYC for land claims consulting support; $5,000 for the preparation of contract guidelines for municipalities; $4,500 for Yukon Municipal Board legal counsel fees, and $3,000 for the rural electrification and telephone program brochure. That accounts for $29,000.
In protective services, there are increased personnel costs of $65,000, primarily for ambulance attendants overtime, unbudgeted operation and maintenance costs resulting from Capital expenditures for operation of the Dawson City ambulance; $27,000 for the Yukon volunteer fire policy; $130,000 for increased training and operations costs in line with the Yukon ambulance services policy.
In addition, in the sports, art and recreation branch $12,000 is allocated for increased travel and supplies; $10,000 for increased Arctic Winter Games fees, and an increase for school artists program of $18,000. That is partially offset by a surplus in the advanced artists program of $13,000.
There is some additional money to make up the $311,000 that comes out of the assessments and taxation branch; $4,000 for travel out of the territory for specialized training for the property assessors; $5,000 for additional materials and supplies required for the taxation branch; $6,000 for property assessment and taxation brochures, and $6,000 for various supplies related to the branch. That summarizes the $311,000.
Community Services in the amount of $311,000 agreed to
On Municipal Engineering
Hon. Mr. Byblow: That increase is due primarily to inflationary costs for various services to unincorporated communities.
Municipal Engineering in the amount of $10,000 agreed to
Operation and Maintenance Expenditures in the total amount of $2,911,000 agreed to
On Capital Expenditures
On Highway Construction
On Planning and Engineering
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Under Transportation, the entire vote as reflected on page 19 represents $883,000. In general description, it is largely due to various reallocations of funds within the program. The most significant was a reduction of erosion protection in the Dempster Highway. There was some delay in the federal funding for the Top of the World Highway. If the Members wish, I can go through each line item. Perhaps they can direct if they want me to go through individual items, or if they have just several specific ones they want to raise. The Leader of the Official Opposition raised Tagish, No. 8. It is my understanding that that is to be completed and will be revoted in 1991, when the construction will be completed.
Mr. Phelps: I was wondering what year it was. You are saying that there is nothing further going to be done this fiscal year coming up?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: That is correct. That is what I am advised and, further that, under the $35,000, there is just some crushing and stock piling that was not required.
Mr. Phelps: Is it the intention to more or less improve the road in its existing location, or is there a plan for a major reroute? That was something that was of concern to some people, because there was a suggestion that the exit point to Tagish from the Alaska Highway by Jakes Corner would be some place north of Jakes Corner toward Whitehorse.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: As far as I am aware at this time, there is no intention to do any major realignment, nor to change the entrance to the highway. If the Member has some specific representation on that, I am sure he will let me know.
Deputy Chairman: Does the Committee wish to do each line item?
Mr. Phillips: I would like to find out what is happening with the Crow Mountain Road. I see here that we have turned back $140,000 in this budget. What is the status of that road now?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: My understanding of the funding being turned back is due primarily to weather conditions. As the Member may be aware, the construction of that road consists primarily of moving river gravel to the root of the road. The river was high for an extremely long period of time this summer. The work did not get done to the extent expected. There is only about one kilometre of it in place. I expect there was an intention to do considerably more than that.
Mr. Phillips: How long is the planned road? How many kilometres will it be when completed?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: My recollection is that it is in the order of approximately 26 or 27 kilometres.
Mr. Phillips: Could the Member table the environmental impact study done for the building of that road?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I take the question as notice. I do not know if it is available this instant.
Mr. Phillips: This is an extremely environmentally sensitive area. Was there an environmental impact study done before we proceeded with building this road?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: It is my understanding that the road was a request of the Old Crow Indian Band. It is under their direction that the work proceeded, and it is with their approval.
Mr. Phillips: Is the Minister of the Environmental Party, as he told us today, telling this House that, if a specific group asks to build a road, we waive all environmental requirements and build the road based on the demands of a certain group? Is that what he is telling the House at this time?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am not saying that at all.
Mr. Phillips: Will the Minister then tell us what he is saying? I thought I heard him clearly say that the Old Crow people asked for the road, and they built the road without any environmental impact study. This is an area in the north where we are now in the process of arguing about the protection of the Porcupine caribou herd and how sensitive that area is to that herd. They just went ahead and built a road. No one else in the world could go up there and build a road without going through a whole environmental impact study and review process. Why did you not do that?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I would like to take the Members queries under advisement because I do not know the extent to which studies were done for this road. I recollect that there were a number of engineering studies done with environmental components. I would like to be able to check this before responding in any committed detail.
Mr. Phillips: I want to make it clear that we are not opposed to the roads, but we also understand that the people of Old Crow, as well as the other people of the Yukon, are extremely concerned about the environmental impact of such roads, especially roads in the areas such as Old Crow that are extremely environmentally sensitive. I hope the Minister will come to this House tomorrow and bring all the information and studies that have been done to show that this road will not impact negatively on the environment.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I have already indicated that I wish to take some advice on the background and preparation of this road. I would be more than pleased to discuss this item further.
Mr. Phillips: Was the Porcupine Caribou Management Board made aware of this road and has it given its blessing to such a road? Have they seen the environmental impact studies that we have not seen in this House? Can the Minister bring that information back as well?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I take the question as notice.
Mr. Lang: Can the Minister give us the estimates of what the full amount of the cost of this particular road will be?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am sure there are some projections developed. I have no problem with that.
Mr. Phelps: We have some questions on various roads and are picking and choosing as we go through. The next questions I have are on the Annie Lake Surfacing km zero to eight. Am I to take it that the surfacing is complete to kilometre eight? Is there an intention to upgrade the remaining road at least as far as the Omni cut off?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The answer to the first question is yes, the road is completed to kilometre eight for $56,000 less than anticipated simply due to tenders coming in lower than projected.
At this time, to my knowledge, there is no immediate intention to reconstruct or upgrade further.
Mr. Phelps: I do not want to prolong this but the surface of the road has been in really bad shape all the way into the Skukum Camp. Of course, there is hope that mining activity will resume at that camp and at that mill as a result of Omni. As I understand it, the maintenance was being done by the mining companies, but the road surface was in horrendous shape. I simply make representation that the Minister could have his department look at that issue. It seems to me it is something that should be looked at and is something that in some small way might encourage the resumption of a mine in the area.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I take the Members statements seriously, and I will proceed to check departmental plans on it, and certainly address future budgeting with his comments in mind.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that you report progress on Bill No. 3.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Motion agreed to
Speaker resumes the Chair
Deputy Speaker: I will now call the House to order. May the House have the report from the Chairman of the Committee of the Whole?
Deputy Chairman: The Committee of the Whole of the House has considered Bill No. 25, Fifth Appropriation Act, 1987-88, and directed me to report same without amendment. Further, Committee has considered Bill No. 33, Third Appropriation Act, 1988-89, and direct me to report progress on the same.
Deputy Speaker: You have heard the report from the Deputy Chairman of the Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Deputy Speaker: I declare the report carried.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that the House do now adjourn.
Deputy Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Government House Leader that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Deputy Speaker: This House now stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. tomorrow.
The House adjourned at 5:29 p.m.