Tuesday, April 3, 1989 - 1:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
We will proceed at this time with Prayers.
Speaker: We will now turn to the Order Paper.
Introduction of Visitors?
Are there any Returns or Documents for Tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I have for tabling a response to a question by the Member for Porter Creek East regarding a key-cutting issue.
Hon. Ms. Joe: I have the legislative response to a question asked by the Member for Riverdale South on March 9.
Speaker: Are there any Reports of Committees?
Introduction of Bills?
Are there any Notices of Motion for the Production of Papers?
Notices of Motion?
NOTICES OF MOTION
Mr. Brewster: I give Notice of Motion
THAT it is the opinion of this House that the Government of Yukon should proclaim one week to be known as Trapping Awareness Week in recognition of the contribution of the trapping industry to the Yukon economy and trapping is a way of life.
I give Notice of Motion
THAT it is the opinion of this House that the community clubs, associations and volunteer groups have become so burdened by excessive government regulations and bureaucratic red tape that individuals are now being discouraged from participating in such groups; and
THAT this House urges the Government of Yukon to reduce the amount of paperwork these volunteer organizations have to do by streamlining government procedures and revising existing regulations and eliminating unnecessary requirements.
Speaker: Are there any statements by Ministers?
1989 General Property and School Tax Rates; Comprehensive Review of Property Tax Regime
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am pleased to rise today to announce the general property and school tax rates for the 1989 year. I am also confirming a comprehensive review of our property tax regime to take place over the next year.
Under the Assessment and Taxation Act, the Yukon government is the general property taxing authority for all areas of the Yukon outside of municipalities. In addition, the Yukon government is the sole taxing authority for school taxes; although the municipalities collect school taxes on properties within their boundaries, on behalf of the Yukon government.
I am very pleased to announce that there will again be no increase to the tax rates this year. Nineteen eighty-nine will be the fifth consecutive year that tax rates have not been increased.
I am also very pleased to announce that we will be making a special, once-only reduction of school taxes on agricultural properties this year to hold the average taxes on that class of property to last years level. The assessments on many of the agricultural properties were adjusted this year in light of new information about market values. Without the adjustment, the new assessments would have resulted in significant increases in the actual taxes levied on those properties, even though the tax rate had not been changed. The tax rate on agricultural properties in future years will be determined as a result of the comprehensive review of the tax regime that I mentioned and will be further considered as part of our overall agricultural policy, which is currently being developed.
The general property tax rates for 1989 will be as follows: 0.67 percent for the communities of Beaver Creek, Carcross and Ross River; 0.56 percent for the communities of Burwash Landing, Destruction Bay, Old Crow and Pelly Crossing; 0.47 percent for all other rural areas of the Yukon.
The school tax rates for 1989 will be as follows: 0.33 percent for residential property; 0.20 percent for non-residential property other than agricultural property; a special one-time rate for agricultural property of 0.05 percent.
The Yukon governments long-standing taxation policy has been criticized by various interest groups, and representative bodies. Seniors, agricultural land owners and rural businesses have all made representations for lower taxes or special concessions; while municipalities and municipal taxpayers have raised concerns that some Yukon government tax rates are set too low. The municipalities are particularly concerned that tax rates on properties in the peripheral areas are often much lower than the rates in the municipalities.
While we cannot resolve the concerns of one group without considering the effect of changes on other groups, my department will therefore be completing an extensive review of all property tax policies over the next year. The review will assess a broad range of property tax matters and will solicit public comment. It is my intention to begin the public consultation process this fall and, depending upon the results of the consultation, I am hopeful that the review will be completed in time for establishing the 1990 tax rates.
Mr. Phelps: In response to the Ministerial Statement, I would like to say that the rates may have remained the same for five years, but the assessments of most properties in the rural and municipal areas have gone way up. People are paying far more tax now than they were last year or the year before in many cases. Everybody is shouldering a much heavier burden.
The planned reduction on the school portion of the tax for agricultural properties will alleviate the problem, to some extent, being faced by particularly those farmers in the area of Hootalinqua North who have just received the unpleasant news about the increase in the assessed value of their property. As a result, some of them were facing increases in their taxes of 200 to 300 percent. Now the increase will not be as great.
This is an ad hoc way of dealing with a problem. It is certainly not acceptable that this is the way that policy should be handed with regard to special taxation rates to encourage various parts of the private sector in the economy to expand and produce more and encourage the kind of investment that is required for a fledgling industry such as agriculture.
The Minister mentions that they are going to start a comprehensive review of our tax regime, which is to take place over the next year. I am really upset that something has not been done before now. We were led to believe that such a review has been underway over the course of the past number of years. A year ago or more, I put forward a motion in this House regarding the issue of reducing property taxes for unserviced commercial ventures in the rural areas of Yukon, most particularly the highway lodges that do not receive services from this government. They provide their own power, they provide virtually all their own services, and every time they make improvements to offer a better attraction to the tourists who travel through Yukon, they get penalized with higher taxes for simply fixing up their business and making Yukon a more attractive place to visit.
When I put forward that motion we had a debate in this House, and as I recall, the then Minister of Community and Transportation Services reluctantly changed his mind and supported the motion, but I also indicated at that time that there had been a review ongoing for some time. It is long overdue. Many Yukon residents and business people will feel that they have been mislead by this government; I feel they have and I just hope that we can see some policies forthcoming that will make some sense of the tax regime. Thank you.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I thank the Member for his remarks. I should point out, with respect to reflecting a decrease in the tax rates, that even though assessments have gone up, tax rates have been reduced in the categories I outlined. This government has taken a very responsible approach to the increase in assessments of all properties and accordingly reflected the assessment increase by a tax rate decrease, so that in fact the actual taxes that are applied will be, on average, similar.
The Member refers to a review beginning and I should advise the Member that in fact the review is underway. I have announced that I will be completing that review and my intention is to have that review complete in time for the next taxation year. The review is certainly in a state of partial completion and over the course of this summer and fall, through public consultation, it will be finalized.
With respect to a number of other categories of tax assessment increases, I should note for the Member that this government will be bringing forward legislation to see home owner grants increased by $100 to most homeowners and by $150 to seniors.
Certainly what will be taking place in the course of the next number of months will be the assessment of various policies, some of which reflect an ad hockery transition from the years of the previous administration; they will be addressed in some consistent and equitable fashion. It is my intention to try to deliver that coherent policy before the next taxation year.
Speaker: This, then, brings us to the Question Period.
Question re: Hyland Forest Products joint venture
Mr. Phelps: With regard to the sale of Hyland Forest Products, the Government Leader has repeatedly refused to open the books regarding the sale and provide us with copies of the actual sale agreements. Has the government asked Shieldings whether it would have any objections to the Minister tabling the actual sale documents in the House?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I have not personally asked the question of Shieldings, but I am reasonably sure the question has been raised. In any event, I will find out if it has been raised directly with the other parties to the transaction.
Mr. Phelps: Would the Minister go one step further? Would the Minister fax a letter to Shieldings asking whether it would have any objections to his tabling the sale agreements in this House?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I do not know whether I would fax a letter or make a phone call. In any case, we will communicate.
Mr. Phelps: Would the Minister table a copy of the full response from Shieldings to this request?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I will report to the House whatever the response is.
Question re: Hyland Forest Products joint venture
Mr. Phelps: Has the Minister asked the Indian consortium whether it has any objections to tabling the sale agreements in the House?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I personally have not put that question to it.
Mr. Phelps: Will the Minister ask that question in writing?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I will communicate with the Indian development corporation for that purpose.
Mr. Phelps: Will the Minister table a copy of his written communication and a copy of the reply in the House?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I will report the response to my communication when I receive it.
Question re: Hyland Forest Products joint venture
Mr. Phelps: With regard to the sale, the Minister has said that part of the purchase price - namely, $1,650,000 - is for logs and inventory. We know a large number of logs in the yard at Watson Lake are rotten, are ridden with beetles or are otherwise unsuitable for processing. What was the amount of write-off on the inventory to arrive at the figure of $1,650,000?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I do not have the figure on the amount that was written off. I can tell the Member what I told him previously, that the $1,650,000 figure was an independent evaluation made at the time of the sale.
Mr. Phelps: Would the Minister table in the House the amount of the write-off and the calculations used to arrive at $1,650,000?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I would be happy to provide the House with an explanation of the process by which the $1,650,000 figure was arrived at.
Mr. Phelps: Will the Minister in his response provide the House with the actual cost of the inventory of logs in the yard?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I will do the best I can to answer that question. I am not sure that the question can be answered in exactly the way it was framed but I understand the intent of the question and I will provide the Member with an answer.
Question re: Hyland Forest Products joint venture
Mr. Phelps: Can the Minister advise us now or in due course as to what is going to be done with all the worthless logs that are presently in the yard? How are these logs going to be disposed of by the new corporation?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I will not for a second accept the premise of the Leader of the Official Oppositions question, but if he is seeking to establish what we have done with any logs that are not part of the sale transaction covered by the $1,650,000 price, I will be providing the response to that question as well.
Question re: Hyland Forest Products joint venture
Mr. Devries: My question is for the Minister responsible for the Yukon Development Corporation.
Last February the Government Leader told a group of Hyland Forest Product employees in Watson Lake that if the new company, Yukon Pacific, does not go ahead with the new $6,000,000 sawmill, this government would be forwarded the money by Yukon Pacific and the Yukon government would itself build the mill. My question to the Government Leader is: would he tell this House on what he based this statement?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Absolutely nothing, because that is a totally inaccurate description of what I said.
Mr. Devries: Could the Minister possibly explain what he said, then?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I made a number of statements, but in general terms I described the make-up of the shareholdings of the new company and the intentions of the new company in terms of building a new mill, the fact that the jobs would be higher quality jobs than the ones at present at the mill, given that they would involve new equipment and new technology, that as a result training would be required which this government was prepared to underwrite and that we believe the mill had a very good long-term future.
Question re: Yukon Forest Products joint venture
Mr. Devries: I will go to a new question, also to the Minister responsible for the Yukon Development Corporation.
According to the 1988 YDC Annual Report, a $65,000 a year management fee was paid to Jack Sigalet. However, in a June 22, 1988 newspaper article, the corporations executive director said the YDC would pay new management, and I quote, ...a normal fee no higher than we were paying before. Yet, according to my sources, I understand Carroll-Hatch was paid $12,000 per month, or $144,000 per year. Does this mean that the first manager received money over and above the $65,000?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I do not know what it means, because I do not have those numbers at my fingertips. I will take the question as notice.
Mr. Devries: In the same newspaper article, it states, If the new manager has to leave the community for some reason, the firm will send a qualified replacement, and yet this new manager was managing two sawmills at the same time and was in Watson Lake for one week and, the next week, would be at a mill in Revelstoke. He also took a months holidays in December and the beginning of January. There was no replacement sent. Would this not have been a breach of contract?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The Member opposite is making an assertion about the contract. I do not know whether he has special or privileged knowledge of that contract. I have not personally seen that contract, therefore I cannot comment on whether the preamble to the question he has asked is accurate. In any case, I will take it as notice.
Mr. Devries: Will the Minister be prepared to table this information in the House?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I have already answered the question previously about commercial confidences. The Member should know by now that I am not at liberty to do that without the permission of the other parties.
Question re: Yukon Forest Products joint venture
Mr. Phillips: I have a question in relation to the interim operations of the mill. In a report from Mr. Woodhouse to the board of YDC, YDC agreed to contribute $550,000 to the lease costs of the temporary mill and $100,000 for start-up costs while the new mill was being built. Why would YDC agree to pay $550,000 to lease a temporary mill when a mill would only cost $250,000 to purchase outright?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The new mill that is being purchased is not going to cost $250,000 outright, but is going to cost somewhere in the neighbourhood of $600,000. The amount of $565,000 that YDC is paying out to lease a temporary mill is so employment can be maintained at the plant while the new mill is going to be located in the community. If we were not to do that, the consequence would be to lay off the mill employees.
Mr. Phillips: The Government Leader was obviously not listening to the question. When I asked the question, I talked about the temporary mill and leasing it for $550,000. A temporary mill only costs $250,000. Why did they decide to purchase for $550,000 the type of temporary interim mill we needed, rather than purchase one for the $250,000?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am not sure I can confirm that the temporary mill the Member is talking about costs $250,000. Having heard the Member previously make assertions of this kind that were subsequently proven to be false, I would want to check that out before I responded to it.
Mr. Phillips: Could the Minister bring back to the House the following information? Who will Yukon Pacific Forest Products be leasing this mill from? When will it be on site?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I will take the question as notice of a written question.
Question re: Service contracts
Mr. Lang: I have a question for the Minister of Government Services that has to do with the service contracts that are to be made available to this House by April 1. We had some discussions with respect to this particular issue the last day we sat. As the Minister knows, we are talking about $2 million to $5 million. These are tenders that are not publicly tendered; they are strictly service contracts, and the public has no idea how this money is being spent. It is a major concern to the general public.
On March 30 the Minister said he expected to review the contracts quite closely and he understood that they would be ready the first week of April. Can he confirm they will be ready this week?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Further to the discussion between the Member and me in Committee, I sought the advice of the department on the availability of the material. I am advised that some of the contracts are in the final year end wrap-up stage. They had set a target date for departments to have all that material in by April 7. Shortly after that, they will be able to produce the material.
Mr. Lang: The difficulty I have is that we are dealing with monies that have already been expended through supplementaries. Delays of this kind are saying that the public does not have a right to know. That information may well be tabled at a time when we are not in session. Would the Minister make the undertaking to expedite the work being done to compile this material and have it ready for tabling on Monday of the forthcoming week?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I will give the Member the undertaking that I will do everything humanly possible to speed up the availability of the contracts. I should point out for the Member that I checked the records for last year and they were not tabled until April 18, so an earlier statement by the Member that suggested they were available to the House the first week of the month is not accurate.
Mr. Lang: Firstly, we were dealing with a Minister who has left the government. The side opposite even found him difficult to deal with on any given issue at any given time.
Secondly, I would point out that in the year previous those documents were provided to this House on April 9. Not only for 1986 and 1987, but for all the years back to 1982. All we are asking for is last years. I challenge the Minister to further research that.
As we noted, it is all in the computer now and is just a matter of pushing buttons. It is nothing complicated; the format is all there.
In his reply the Minister said that he expected to review the contracts quite closely. Will the Minister assure this House that as soon as he receives the agreed-to listings he will expedite copies to us on the same day so we will have the opportunity to go through them as well?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I find it remarkably interesting that the Member opposite would chastise me for wanting to review the documents when in the same breath he is asking that he can have them in advance so he may review them. I will give the Member the undertaking that I will expedite the availability of those documents to the earliest opportunity, once I get them.
Question re: Business incentive policy
Mr. Lang: On a different topic, I have a question for the same Minister, and it has to do with the Yukon business incentive policy that has been such a continuous disaster, from the point of view of the valued-added concept that was implemented by the previous Minister. Can the Minister verify for this House that he has had discussions with organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce respecting this issue, and whether or not the government has taken a revised position regarding the present policy?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member will be pleased to know that I had no difficulty dealing with the previous Minister.
On the subject of the value-added policy, I am also pleased to tell the Member that yes, indeed, I have had a number of discussions with the various interested parties affected by the value-added policy. I have taken the position of exploring possible options for revision. I have met with the labour organizations. I have met with the Contractors Association and my staff have met with the Chamber of Commerce, so those discussions are currently in progress and ongoing. I hope that, through the consultation process that we have initiated, we may have a new option to bring forward.
Mr. Lang: The difficulty that small businesses find themselves in is that you have a policy in place that is not working. Quite frankly, it provides no incentive for people to go into business because it requires them to put all of their information to the government in black and white. The government can then do whatever it wants with the information. My concern here is that this policy has been under review for well over a year. Earlier, the Leader of the Opposition was talking about the taxation policy and the lack of action being taken.
My question to the Minister is this: when does he expect a decision to be made in respect to the present business incentive policy, and when will it be changed?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: When I first met with the Contractors Association shortly after taking office, I advised the association that I was prepared to deal very expeditiously with this matter and would fast track it as much as humanly possible. I believe that the Contractors Association and the labour organizations and the chamber have undertaken to cooperate in that regard. I cannot make a firm commitment as to when this will be coming forward until we have the consultation process completed, which is probably nearing that stage at this very moment as we speak.
I should also point out to the Member that the policy in place now is simply workable because it is in place, and it is being applied in the awarding of contracts.
Mr. Lang: Obviously there is concurrence from both sides of the House; the present policy that is in place is not working. The Minister is nodding his head in agreement. I want to assure the Minister that he will get full support from our side for changes to that policy, if it goes back to the concept of the lowest tender.
In the process of consultation, is the basic principle that a tender should be awarded to the lowest tender, except in cases where there are very extreme reasons why it should not?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: That is a principle at the base of the policy. I cannot preclude or second guess the outcome of the final state of the policy, because I intend to respect the input from the organizations I cited earlier that we are in full consultation with. On that note, I am looking forward to their response. For the Members information, my department and I provided an options paper to the organizations. I will send it to the Member if he likes. It provides the various options we are looking at. I suspect what will come out of the consultation in short order will be a compromised workable policy.
Question re: Business incentive policy
Mr. Lang: One of the major problems facing the business community at present is that some major capital projects are going to be tendered by the Government of Yukon during the next two months. Could the Minister undertake to provide firm decisions with respect to revisions to this particular policy prior to the end of May?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am pleased to say that was an announced desire when I first met with the Contractors Association and the other groups. In light of the construction season beginning in the next month to two months, it was a desire to provide any changes within the period that the main contracts would be let. A short answer is: that is a goal. I can only make a firm commitment after I have some feedback from the organizations.
Question re: Senior citizens medical for drivers licence
Mr. Brewster: My question is to the Minister of Health and Human Resources. Is it the policy of the government that, although doctors are out to Haines Junction at least four times a month, senior citizens must travel to Whitehorse to a doctor to get their medical for a drivers licence?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I think it is extremely unlikely that the government has a policy stated in those terms. If the Member opposite will provide me with the facts of his complaint, I will check into it and respond quickly.
Mr. Brewster: I can assure the Minister that this has already happened to a senior citizen in the Kluane area. Would the Minister look into this and correct an obvious injustice to the rural senior citizens?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: As soon as the Member opposite has provided me with the particulars about this matter, I will take it up with the department officials and respond as soon as I can.
Mr. Brewster: If the Minister does discover that this is the policy for rural Yukoners, would the Minister be prepared to try and change this regulation?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: If I discover there is a policy like that described by the Member, my first step will be to find out what the reasons for that policy are. I will then take the representation by the Member under consideration.
Question re: Property tax arrears, Human Rights Commission
Mrs. Firth: I have a question for the Minister of Justice regarding the delinquent payment of taxes from the Human Rights Commission. The Minister tabled a legislative return today saying that the commission did not receive a tax notice from the City and that the notice was sent to the old address at 202-4114 Fourth Avenue. Can the Minister tell us why the Human Rights Commission did not send a change of address notice to the city when they moved to their new location?
Hon. Ms. Joe: I do not know why they did not do that, nor did I ask them. I will bring that information back.
Mrs. Firth: In that legislative return, it was also stated that the commission was unaware of the outstanding account. Why were they not aware, and who is keeping the books when this was overlooked and the change of address was not sent to the city?
Hon. Ms. Joe: I will bring that information back.
Mrs. Firth: It has been established that the mistake here is on behalf of the commission, not the city. There still remains the outstanding question as to whether or not the taxpayers are going to be expected to pay for the negligent and careless financial management of the commission. Can the Minister answer that question, please?
Hon. Ms. Joe: The question the Member has asked is in regard to whether or not the commission is going to be paying for the outstanding penalty. As is mentioned in the response, the Human Rights Commission will be speaking with the city in regards to those outstanding charges, and we hope they will be able to come to some final decision as to how that is going to be paid.
Question re: Property tax arrears, Human Rights Commission
Mrs. Firth: This question is directed to the same Minister in regard to the same matter. It is not the practice that all individuals, groups or companies who have outstanding penalties to pay because they have not informed of a change of address, get an opportunity to talk to the city regarding their tax penalty. It does not seem to be a negotiable item.
In the comments to the public and the media, the Minister told everyone there were rules under the Financial Administration Act that cover what the government should do in these circumstances. Could the Minister point out to us where this is covered in the Financial Administration Act? I cannot find any particular area that would cover this.
Hon. Ms. Joe: I checked that this morning. The section that it falls under is section 22(2). That states that, Where regulation provides for the payment of interest on a debt obligation of the government, the payment of interest shall be deemed to be authorized by the vote or authority where the principal amount was paid.
Mrs. Firth: I would raise issue with that particular clause. I have the Financial Administration Act in my hand, and it is the same one the Minister was quoting from. I believe that is in regard to interest, but not in regard to what this issue is, which is a penalty that is being charged by the city to the commission.
Will the commission have the authority to pay that penalty, or will the Management Board or Cabinet have to issue an order-in-council, or issue permission for the expenditure of those funds?
Hon. Ms. Joe: The information that was given to me this morning was the information I had relayed to you in regard to the question from the Member for Riverdale South. There is provision in this act for them to make that payment.
Mrs. Firth: Perhaps the Minister should just read the clause, because it is in regard to interest on such debt obligations of the government. It is not in regard to penalties.
In light of the careless financial procedures of the commission, can the Minister tell us whether or not we will be receiving an advance copy of the financial statements of the Human Rights Commission prior to them appearing here in the Legislature to account for the expenditures of their department?
Hon. Ms. Joe: I would first like to say that I referred the information to the House. This information was given to me by the Department of Finance.
In regard to whether or not there will be an advance copy, I would certainly be willing to find out whether or not that will be done. If it can, I do not see any problem.
Question re: Social services council
Mr. Nordling: I have a question for the Minister of Health and Human Resources. The governments Throne Speech delivered March 8 indicated a new social services council would be created during this years legislative sittings. I would like to ask the Minister when it will be set up and who will sit on this new council?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The social services council will be established soon. Exactly who will sit on it is not known yet. We have begun the process of consulting with some groups as to its composition and mandate. I intend, following this session, to prepare a submission for Cabinet. Once Cabinet has approved the structure and the membership, there will a public announcement following.
Mr. Nordling: Has anyone started drawing up the terms of reference or the mandate as yet? This was announced in the Throne Speech, and I would have thought that some prior planning and thinking would have gone into it.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: In general terms, the mandate has been discussed by my Cabinet colleagues. No precise and detailed mandate has been drafted yet and will not be until we deal with that Cabinet submission.
Mr. Nordling: I would just like to pin the Minister down a bit more on when soon will be, because I had heard that we were going to have a mental health act soon, and then soon again, and we have not seen one yet. Can the Government Leader be a little more specific on the timing?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Assuming a normal sitting of this House, I would expect that I would be able to have a Cabinet submission ready by May and an announcement about the council in June.
Question re: Storage shed
Mr. Phillips: I have a question for the Minister of Government Services regarding the now famous YTG storage shed next to the government building. I have heard that the total cost of this project may exceed $15,000. Can the Minister confirm this, and can he tell us exactly how much this storage shed has cost us?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I have been advised that indeed the projects total cost is $15,000.
Mr. Phillips: It seems like a rather expensive storage shed. Is this storage shed insulated, wired and plumbed for the $15,000? It seems rather expensive for a 12 x 20 foot storage shed.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: It may sound expensive but it represents construction with the use of local materials and is quality construction. I would like the Member to come with me to tour it with a government engineer.
Mr. Phillips: There are not too many Yukoners who could afford the Taj Mahal for a storage shed. It appears that may be what we have here. The building is complete and still looks rather out of place sitting beside the YTG building. When will it be moved and where will it be set up?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The building will be moved as soon as weather conditions permit better transport of the structure. I understand that it will be moved into an area for use by the Tourism Branch.
Question re: Storage shed
Mr. Phillips: The Minister of Government Services just indicated that this $15,000 storage shed will be used by the Minister of Tourism, who just fell off his chair after learning that interesting fact.
I would like to ask either the Minister of Government Services or Tourism, who now has the $15,000 building in his lap, what it will be used for?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member knows that the building is a demonstration project, demonstrating the use of local materials. It is quality construction and demonstrates how 80 percent of construction like that can be done locally. It is a valuable demonstration project. The building will be used by Tourism in the Marwell area for some special material storage. They expected to construct a building of a similar sort for storage and they are now going to acquire this one.
Mr. Phillips: I hope we do not get into the habit of giving each department a $15,000 locally-built storage shed. It would be rather expensive.
If the Minister wants Yukoners to see the new $15,000 storage shed he can move it in the next two or three weeks and take it to the Trade Show so 6,000 or 7,000 Yukoners can have an opportunity to view it. He can show it at the Trade Show before he moves it onto location for the Department of Tourism. Will he take that under advisement?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I certainly take the Members representations quite seriously and will investigate the opportunity, and call public invitations for the suggestion.
The Member should be aware that the demonstration project that he refers to is one of several that have been directed by Government Services in the past to demonstrate the use of local materials. It is a policy of this government to encourage that wherever possible. Following up on a previous question by the Member for Porter Creek East, the whole subject of local materials, in terms of building them into a value-added policy, is under serious consideration by the Contractors Association, the labour organizations and the Chamber of Commerce. In terms of a local demonstration of what can be done with materials that are manufactured and grown in the Yukon, the building has been very well received by the industry.
Mr. Speaker, if you do not stop me soon I will continue to talk.
Mr. Phillips: We on this side have no problem with local materials. The question is about how much money you spend on a 12 x 20 foot storage shed. I think $15,000 is excessive in any Yukoners mind for an uninsulated shed. This storage shed has turned into a hot potato, and it has now shifted into different courts.
The initial plan for the storage shed was to store the local garden tools for around the government building. What are we going to do with the storage of these tools? Do we have another $15,000 addition that will be built on to this building to store the garden tools? Is that coming up in the near future?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am pleased to respond to the Members inquiry about the storage of garden supplies and equipment, which are used to keep the grounds in immaculate order. I will tell the Member quite bluntly that, when I first inquired about the facility, I was advised that it was considered for garden supplies and materials. At that time, it turned out that tourism was planning to construct a similar facility, albeit cheaper. I believe the two branches have struck agreement whereby this facility will be used for what would have been needed by the tourism branch.
With respect to the garden materials and supplies, I understand that some discussions are currently underway with White Pass. I do not know what the final state of those discussions are, but I understand there is a facility on-site that will not require any relocation of buildings for the storage of those supplies.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now lapsed. We will now proceed with Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move the Speaker do now leave the Chair, and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Government House Leader that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
Speaker leaves the Chair
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Chair: Committee of the Whole will now come to order. We will have a brief recess.
Chair: Committee of the Whole will now come to order. We are on Bill No. 33, Third Appropriation Act, 1988-89. We will begin with general debate on Health & Human Resources on page 40.
Health and Human Resources
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am today introducing supplementary estimates for the Department of Health & Human Resources for the year 1988-89. The supplementary before for $3,054,000 represents a seven percent increase over the Main Estimates. The main items in the supplementary are as follows: $1.8 million is accounted for by revised projections relating to out-of-territory, in-patient hospital services provided to Yukoners, and $416,000 is for additional medical travel services; $363,000 is for the establishment of residential and day programming services in the Yukon for severely disabled adults who have previously been cared for in British Columbia at the Woodlands Institution - I am sure all Members know that that institution was recently closed by the provincial government and this jurisdiction, like others, had been planning to patriate those clients and bring them back home in furtherance of the ideals of community living, and the decision to proceed was forced by the decision in British Columbia; the amount of $255,000 is for increased spending on health and hospital transfer planning, which is offset by a 100 percent recovery from Canada; and, $168,000 is to support placement of children with severe physical or behaviour problems in out-of-territory childrens facilities for specialized assessments and treatment services that cannot be provided here in the territory.
I know that expenditure recoveries are also projected to increase overall by $413,000, or four percent.
The capital supplementary in this department is due to the revote of funding for construction of a secure facility for young offenders. The major changes in the Capital Budget, as well, are the revote of $1,224,000 and the recovery of $1,304,000 from the federal government to complete the construction of the secure facility for young offenders, which is due to be complete in July of this year,
There is $100,000 to support extended care facility planning relating to site, infrastructure and related technical matters.
With that introduction, I am prepared to proceed through questions that Members will inevitably have, either in the general debate or in line by line review of the supplementary estimates. I have taken note and have a response to some questions that Mr. Nordling asked at the previous supplementary in respect to health costs. I can either answer those questions now in the context of a general discussion of that item, or I could wait until we get to that line and provide that information, as well as the other information I have about this supplementary then.
Mr. Nordling: I would appreciate receiving those answers, perhaps as we go line by line. I do not have much for general debate, and we have already expressed our concerns from this side with respect to the controls in this department when we did discuss Bill No. 25, Fifth Appropriation Act, 1987-88. The Minister has made a commitment to do analyses to see what the problem is, and to meet with local physicians to get the costs under control. We do not have to go into that with respect to this supplementary.
I would like to express a concern with the fact that this out-of-territory travel for patients seems to have been identified as an area in which there are over expenditures or it is out of control and something that should be looked at. In the Speech from the Throne given on March 8, it was stated that health services will be improved with better provision for medical travel outside the territory.
My concern is that this government is identifying that as the evil that has to be corrected. Perhaps it is not. Until the analysis has been done and the local physicians have been met with, I do not think this government should be taking steps to try to limit that area. We may discover that, in that area, we have poor budgeting. For the benefit of Yukoners, out-of-territory travel to see specialists is very necessary and important. The problem may be that too many people are running to the doctor every time they have a runny nose or a scratch. I am not saying that is the case but, until we have done an analysis and looked into this, I do not want the government jumping to conclusions.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I take the point by the Member and I take it seriously. I want to assure him we are not defining the out-of-territory medical travel as an evil. There are a number of problems associated with it that do require us to begin discussions with local physicians, as I indicated earlier, as well as to do the analysis in the next few months, which we hope will lead us to some intelligent conclusions about what is happening in this area.
We have some particular problems in this field that make it very difficult from an accounting and budgeting point of view. For example, billing procedures from some provinces, in particular, will have to be improved. In the case of British Columbia, for example, we have had billings as late as one year after the actual event. The Member will understand that makes it extremely difficult not only to budget but, also, to track costs.
The introduction of late of some high-cost technologies, particularly in the area of neo-natal, and intensive care and coronary surgery, would drive up individual bills quite considerably. But there is not yet a consistent pattern in terms of the demand on the service or on the number of calls and the Member will understand that with a small population we can have a few cases that can drive up the costs, especially if they happen near the end of the year, which makes budgeting particularly difficult.
I take the Members proposal about the budget review very seriously but also, to be perfectly consistent with his previous suggestion, want to make sure we do the review before we make the necessary changes, both with the physicians, which may be necessary in terms of local substitutions if they are possible, but, as well, with the budgeting in this field.
The Member suggested that there may be excessive utilization by patients of conventional medical services. I do not know that we have the analysis that would prove that yet, but that too will be an area that I would want to discuss with local physicians and do some analysis province by province and province by territory comparisons. The department is already gathering the numbers and endeavouring to do a first cut of the analysis to enable us to begin to be able to have some discussions in the next few months about that question.
Mr. Nordling: I hope that this can be done within the next few months because we are a small jurisdiction. I think if we get on top of it we will be able to control it a lot better than some of the provinces have. Our neighboring state, Alaska, is having the same sort of problems.
I would like to ask the Minister what the approval process is for out-of-territory travel. I am not sure if he has that information. I would like to know if it is done by the individual physician or if there is a policy or someone who approves it on behalf of the government.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: There is initially a review by an individual physician. There is a subsequent, unfortunately, after-the-fact review by the medical officer of health, which does not help except in the retrospective sense of making a judgment about whether this was an appropriate decision. As Members know, Dr. Walker was in that post until he recently passed away.
There is also a committee that reviews the patterns of expenditures and referrals by physicians, something in the nature of an audit committee. But again, there are some programs and some referrals that are simply matters for which we get bills, but it is that pattern of referrals, the kind of cases that get referred, that we will be wanting to sit down to talk about with the physicians.
Mr. Nordling: Who sits on the review committee that acts as an audit committee?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I could respond later with the actual membership, but I believe it includes the medical officer of health and a local physician. There may be another member or two who I do not know about off the top of my head but I will get that information for the Member.
Mr. Nordling: I would like to thank the Minister for that and I look forward to getting it.
Perhaps when we get to the line item on health services the Minister might have this information, but I would like to know if he has a dollar figure on how much money was due to these late payments and late billings. Did we receive a breakdown of that?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: It may take a little bit of time to gather that information but I will undertake to do so. The point that I made was that some of the billings are slow and erratic. The worst case scenario was delayed payments from British Columbia extending up to 12 months from the date of service.
We are attempting to have those billing procedures modified and increase the amount of the detailed information provided electronically on hospital services used by Yukoners, and work with the provinces involved to improve the provincial billing practices. I think the average delay under the present system is about three months and the Member can see that that would produce some problems in terms of keeping track of expenditures during the course of the year.
Mrs. Firth: Could the Minister bring us the information regarding how much of that $1 million-plus would be due to the late payments and the late billing. Even though it is a three month period of time, I think it would be useful information.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I will do that. I can report to the Members of the House on the composition of the Medical Travel Audit Committee. It has included the medical officer from Health and Welfare Canada, two Yukon physicians as representatives of the Yukon Medical Association and the director, Mr. Davidson, from the Department of Health and Human Resources.
Chair: We will now proceed with line by line.
On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures
On Community and Family Services
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The $220,000 being requested is broken down as follows: $168,900 in additional funds is required for placement and childrens services activities for child welfare placement and support services; $115,680 in additional funds for specialized services located in British Columbia are currently providing treatment services to children in care who have severe behavioral problems often compounded by sexual abuse. All available treatment services have been tried and exhausted for a child before placement in a specialized out-of-territory centre is considered. The children in question range in age from 13 to 17 years and on average in any one month period there are three children from the Yukon receiving services outside the territory; $52,300 is also requested as additional funding for long-term foster home arrangements that require an additional payment to compensate the family for very special and very severe medical needs of the child.
At present, five children, aged 10 to 17, with special needs for severe medical reasons have been placed in British Columbia, four with family members. The medical condition of these children vary. One example would be a spastic quadriplegic child who has lived in one foster home setting for her entire life. Another 11 to 12 year old is currently in a pre-adoption placement in Ontario.
Fifty-six thousand dollars is requested for emergency funding of the Child Development Centre to enhance the staff salary and benefits package to resolve hiring problems directly impacted on the services delivery. Because of the demands on that facility, and because of staff turnovers and vacancies for five instructional staff, the additional funds were required to be able to recruit the adequate and qualified staff. These over expenditures for direct treatment services to children have been offset by a small amount of $4,000 in the administration of the community and family services branch; therefore, the net request is $220,000.
Mrs. Firth: In the Operating and Maintenance Budget last year, there was quite a large increase of 19 percent in the area for the placement of children services. The Minister is asking for almost $169,000 now. Is this something that is becoming more of a concern to the Minister? Are we placing more children or is it because of specialized services that are needed? Did we not need those services before? Could he be more specific and pinpoint why these costs are going up so much?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: There are two things. First, the general trend here and elsewhere in the country is toward community living, to try to bring children with special problems back into the community in a family setting or at least a group home setting as much as possible. The trend is toward deinstitutionalization.
However, there are some clients of the department whose needs are so serious, and the attendance of those needs so expensive, that we cannot reasonably offer that service in the territory. I would hope that in the long run a smaller number of people will be going outside to these facilities, but the cost of meeting the needs of these children on a per case basis will be very, very high. It is high now and I expect it will continue to be.
Community and Family Services in the amount of $220,000 agreed to
On Social Services Program
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The Supplementary Budget increase of $363,000 is requested here for this branch to fund the provision of community-based residential and day programs in Whitehorse for adults with mental handicaps who are returning to the Yukon from the Woodland School in British Columbia.
Members may know that the Woodland institution in B.C. has provided long-term residential and treatment services to several adult Yukoners with severe mental handicaps for quite some time.
The repatriation project that this money provides for is necessitated because British Columbia has implemented the de-institutionalization plan that will see the closing of the Woodlands institution and the relocation of all its residents. The deinstitutionalization is a process in which the major facilities for mentally handicapped persons are being phased out - I think, all across the country - in favour of smaller, community-based resources and particularly and increasingly in the home communities from which these people come.
The decision to repatriate a total of five clients in this past fiscal year, who have been residents of Woodland for many years, was made after a lot of consultation with the client families and medical professionals in this community.
The expenditure estimates represent the first-year funds to require both 24 hour residential and instructional daytime programming focused on maximizing client independence through life skills training. This additional funding will be used in conjunction with the $197,100 dedicated for the provision of contract rehabilitation services to Woodland clients in the Main Estimates approved so far. I will break the numbers down a little bit. There is $311,554 requested for the development of residential and daytime programming suited to the needs of clients planned for repatriation, and $51,229 is requested in personnel to provide salary and benefits to one term counselor dedicated full time to the repatriation project.
Social Services Program in the amount of $363,000 agreed to
On Health Services
Hon. Mr. Penikett: In my introductory remarks, I explained the breakdown of this number is $1.8 million for out-of-territory in-patient hospital services, $416,000 for out-of-territory medical travel pursuant to the Travel for Medical Treatment Act, and $255,000 for health transfer activities. One hundred percent of that number is recoverable from the federal government.
Mrs. Firth: What were the health transfer activities for $255,000?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: As a result of an agreement with Canada to pay for transfer planning, approximately $160,000 is in contract dollars for the completion of various analyses, including an operational review of the Whitehorse General Hospital, examination of options for nursing accommodations, a review of the various options about management and governance of the hospital, and $59,500 for personnel costs for one secretary and one planning officer to support the health transfer planning activities.
Health Services in the amount of $2,471,000 agreed to
Operation and Maintenance Expenditures in the total amount of $3,054,000 agreed to
Chair: Are there any questions on Operation and Maintenance Recoveries?
It is clear. We will move to page 41.
On Capital Expenditures
Chair: We will begin the line by line.
On Alcohol & Drug - Facility Planning
Hon. Mr. Penikett: There is an increased level of funds required for this project, as the steering committee work has proceeded on the basis of results provided by the Alberta Addiction Commissions resouce personnel on secondment to social services during the previous fiscal year. A study to provide facility need projections is to be funded under this money in order to proceed with further definition of service requirements and design limitations around Alcohol and Drug Services facility planning.
Mr. Nordling: Perhaps the Minister can just tell us what the plan is for the facility. I noticed that in the 1989-90 Budget, we have still got money for facility planning. I wonder what the government has in mind in this area - whether we are going to build a facility or what exactly we are looking at over the long term.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Principally, we are talking here about the successor facility for the detoxification facility that we now have, the Detox Centre. As the Member knows, the other facility that presently work in this field, Crossroads, is operated by an independent society with which we have financial agreements. There are as well, at the moment, other facilities being contemplated by various groups including Indian bands in the territory. In that new environment there will be, no doubt, a larger community voice and certainly more community-based services. We have to prepare for the changes that will result and for the limits to the existing facilities as they are now.
Mr. Nordling: Do we have plans to build our own facility that we are going to run, either in addition to the Detox Centre or a new detox centre?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: We are not planning to build any other facility other than what may replace the Detox Centre, but the Members should understand there is no capital decision and no capital plan around that. There are apparently some inadequacies with the present facility.
Alcohol & Drug - Facility Planning in the amount of $10,000 agreed to
On Alcohol & Drug - Replacement Equipment
Hon. Mr. Penikett: This decreased because the money budgeted here for furniture and equipment was not all needed because the furniture and equipment was in a sufficient condition to get them through the year.
Alcohol & Drug - Replacement Equipment in the amount of a recovery of $7,000 agreed to
On Northern Health Services
Hon. Mr. Penikett: This reflects a reduced billing from the federal government for equipment and vehicle purchases as well as minor construction in community of public health facilities by the Northern Health Services, Health & Welfare Canada, pursuant to our cost-shared agreements.
Mr. Nordling: Almost $700,000 of the $1 million budget is quite a bit. I just wonder if the Minister can tell us why we missed by so much in this line item?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: What happened in this case is that what was put in our budget originally was the original request by National Health & Welfare. Subsequently, we had reason to go over the request in detail and question some of the needs. As a result there was a reduced expenditure.
Mr. Nordling: I am prepared to clear that item, but maybe that is an area that we should be concerned about if we did not go over it and question it and just budgeted $1 million because that is what they asked for. Maybe that is one of the areas in this whole department that we should be careful with in doing the budgets.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: It is partly a problem of the timing sequence in terms of their budgeting and ours, but this problem will be resolved ultimately with the completion of the Health transfer.
Northern Health Services in the amount of a recovery of $687,000 agreed to
On Communications Disorders Equipment
Communications Disorders Equipment in the amount of a recovery of $2,000 agreed to
On Extended Care Facility
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I think I have talked about this before in the House. The original allocation was for $1.00, which was based on the uncertainty of the funding relationship with Canada with respect to the Whitehorse General Hospital replacement project and the close linkages in the planning schedules and the anticipated shared-cost services. In the year under consideration, the decision was made to proceed with the planning options respecting the extended care facility in isolation of the hospital. It had been prompted by further delays in the decision by the federal Treasury Board regarding the Whitehorse General Hospital project. The $100,000 will permit completion of a number of the contracted reviews that I believe I mentioned earlier respecting the environmental suitability of the proposed site, site infrastructure, soil suitability, et cetera, alternative site options and the feasibility of existing and future support service integration.
Obviously it is a difficult decision. If we proceeded to build the extended care facility in advance of the Whitehorse General Hospital, we would not be able, at that moment, to take advantage of a common heating plant, for example, and that would be a decision of some financial consequence for the operations.
In the long term, we think it would be in everybodys interest to get as much integration of the operating costs of both facilities as possible. That can only happen if they are built in something of a parallel time frame.
Mr. Nordling: I understood that there was a study done that would add the extended care facility to the existing building and then be part of a replacement hospital. Perhaps the Minister can use this time to report on how the Whitehorse General Hospital replacement negotiations are going in. In fact the whole question of the transfer of medical services from the federal government.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: During my short time as Minister, there have been several direct communications from the department to the federal authorities, including two letters that I have seen very recently from the deputy minister of the department to his counterpart in the federal government. We have, in the past, received some verbal assurances from a previous minister that the hospital would go ahead, but we have received no written confirmation from the present minister, and apprehension about what the next federal budget will contain is causing most of our advisors to take the view that unless and until we have a firm commitment from the federal government about the new hospital construction, we cannot proceed on the assumption that it is going to be built according to our preferred timetable.
Mr. Nordling: I would like the Minister to clarify this. Is he saying that unless or until we get a solid agreement with the federal government to replace the Whitehorse General Hospital as part of the transfer, the Government of Yukon will not go ahead with an extended care facility? My concern is that if the negotiations with the federal government bog down, we may not get an extended care facility for a number of years.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: We are not waiting for that decision, but the decision from the federal government does have some financial implications. If the federal government does decide to go ahead with a new general hospital, it will be possible for us to achieve some operating savings from an extended care facility that we would build by some integration of the physical support and perhaps heating and operating costs.
If the federal government decides not to proceed with the hospital at this time, then there are options for us, including operating in association with the existing hospital. Another option might be a free-standing facility for which we would have to pay the full operating costs. We would not be able to build on or plan on the basis of an integrated operation with a new hospital.
Mr. Nordling: Is the Minister prepared at this time to make any commitment to Yukoners that one of these options will be exercised within a certain time limit? Can the Minister say that we will have an extended care facility in Yukon within five years or within the term of this government? I am afraid that if there is no commitment made, this may go on and on. Four years pass very quickly.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: That is true. The decision to actually build the extended care facility will have to be made in the context of other competing demands for capital dollars. I have previously indicated in this House that, as much as I would like to see this facility built soon, there is the substantial ongoing problem of its operating costs. This has not yet been satisfactorily addressed by the department.
Mr. Nordling: Could the Minister tell us when the problem will be addressed? I would like the Minister to give some indication. I have been asked by constituents and other Yukoners when we are going to have an extended care facility. I believe it was announced by this government three years ago that Yukon was going to have an extended care facility. We are in 1989 now and it does not appear that we are any closer than we were three years ago.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I have been asked by constituents about an extended care facility for all the years that I have been in this House, going back to 1978. I remember constituents of mine who had concerns of this kind and wanted to see such a facility here. The Member voices a concern that we will seem no closer. I will remind him that in the Mains for this year there is a substantial sum of money for planning, which is an expenditure that will bring the project considerably closer and will give us the information that will allow us to make a firm decision about a construction date.
Mr. Nordling: I do not want to debate this issue forever but the Minister got up quite emotionally and told me that to build a $6.5 million facility costs $600,000 to design and that is what was going to be done. Now, my understanding is that we do not even know what sort of facility we are going to have designed, whether it will be free standing in association with the existing facility or in association with a new hospital.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: That is not quite the case. In terms of the interior plans for the extended care facility, it will be much the same whether it is free standing or whether it is in association with the new hospital.
Certain physical features, though, the connection with the electrical system, the water system and the heating system of the hospital, imply some quite expensive options, depending on what the federal government decides, and we have no decision from the federal government.
Mr. Nordling: Perhaps the Government Leader could put it simply so I can pass it on to the people that have asked me because I do not want to go away from the House today and say that we have no commitment from the Yukon government as to when we have an extended care facility.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: At the conclusion of the debates on my estimates, I will undertake to write the Member opposite a letter explaining in detail the steps and initiatives we are taking to advance the construction of an extended care facility. I hope that the letter I provide will be in sufficient detail and positive in tone that he will be able to provide some comfort and assurance to those constituents of his who are looking forward to this much needed service.
Mr. Nordling: I would appreciate that very much and look forward to receiving that letter.
Extended Care Facility in the amount of $100,000 agreed to
On Community Health Facility Review
Hon. Mr. Penikett: This amount of money was to provide for the evaluation of community public health and hospital facilities in rural Yukon facilities and preparations for the transfer of health services from the federal government to the territorial government. The actual topic has been the subject of some discussion previously in the House.
The evaluation report provides projected demand levels for various service components by community recommendations respecting facilities, structural deficiencies for the required service types and levels and options for integration of health service program delivery, to realize operating efficiencies and recommendations for schedule modifications to meet various service delivery objectives.
Mrs. Firth: Could the Minister give us some indication about when some final decisions will be made regarding all the studies and reviews that have been done?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: There will be a round of consultations following the completion of this report. It is part of the planning process associated with the transfer negotiations. Previously, there have been questions or motions from the Member for Watson Lake about facilities in that community. I have had inquiries of course from the Member for Mayo and the Member for Klondike about what will happen with those facilities.
There are a number of Capital and Operating financial decisions that we will make following transfer to expand or improve the facilities. That will all have to be put into the capital plan, as the Member knows, and then put into the ongoing planning process with the federal government. The report itself was basically to facilitate the negotiations about the transfer, principally, and then secondarily to discuss what kind of improvements in services and structures we will need down the road in those communities.
Mrs. Firth: We have this report. Unless there is some kind of time put on the use of it, when we want to use it four years down the road, it will be outdated and we will be spending another $200,000 to do another one. I cannot be that optimistic about the transfer of health services from the information the Government Leader has given us so far. Is there any time line put on the use of the information that has been compiled, which has cost the taxpayers a considerable amount of money? When can we expect to have some answers to the specific questions about the hospitals in the communities?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Whether or not the transfer proceeds, we will, in the next year, of necessity, be making some decisions about those facilities. By the time we have the next Mains, I would hope we will be able to talk about our response to this report in more detail than we can now. I hesitate to commit ourselves to schedules, timings and specifics, in the absence of the Capital Budget and the further consultation we are going to do with the communities about what their wishes are with respect to some of these questions.
Community Health Facility Review in the amount of $152,000 agreed to
On Equipment - Operational
Hon. Mr. Penikett: This is to provide for office furnishings as a result of the relocation of the health insurance function from within the main administrative building.
Equipment - Operational in the amount of $2,000 agreed to
On Young Offenders Facility
Mr. Nordling: I would like confirmation that the revised vote of $3,224,000 completely finishes the young offenders facility.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Yes, that is the intention of the department.
Mr. Nordling: Is that the total cost of the project, or does the Minister have figures as to what was expended before this budget so we have a total cost of the facility?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: That is the total actual cost of the facility.
Mr. Nordling: There may be a simple explanation, but I see the capital recoveries revised total is $1.9 million. I am not aware of what agreement was made for the recovery. Is that what we expected, or have we spent more than we expected and are recovering less?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: That is a negotiated agreement. I cannot remember what the actual percentage was that was finally agreed to. I can report back to the House. As there often are with these kinds of agreements, there were some allowable expenses and some that were not. In the end, there may have been a formula on which the settlement with the federal government was based. I will take that question as notice and report back to the Member.
Mr. Nordling: I am prepared to clear that with the undertaking that we will have a report back.
Young Offenders Facility in the amount of $1,224,000 agreed to
On Young Offenders Equipment and Furnishings
Mr. Nordling: It is not a large amount but it is about 50 percent over what we budgeted so I would like to know what was miscalculated or added.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: This is for the purchase of equipment and furnishings required for the delivery of the Young Offenders Educational program. This is actually not at the secure facility but the open facility so the kids can continue to be schooled and educated there.
Young Offenders Equipment and Furnishings in the amount of $15,000 agreed to
Health and Human Resources in the total amount of $807,000 agreed to
On Young Offenders Facility
Young Offenders Facility in the amount of $1,304,000 agreed to
Department of Justice
Hon. Ms. Joe: I have line-by-line explanations. If there are any questions in general debate, I will speak to any of them now.
On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures
Hon. Ms. Joe: The total of $51,000 breaks down to $29,000 for the job evaluation study second level appeals. This was a forced-growth item identified during the preparation of the 1988-89 Main Estimates. A significant number of appeals heard within the department resulted in retroactive pay and salary increases that we could not absorb.
There is $12,000 for casual assistance due to a heavy workload and secretarial staff vacancies. A floating casual secretary/receptionist was hired to assist wherever needed in the department. There was $5,000 for the deputy minister hosting the annual meeting of the Attorneys-General in September. There was $5,000 to cover Judge Lilless expenses for the sale of his house when he moved to Whitehorse, since it was an expense not covered by the moving or the travel directive. Management Board approval was required for that. That makes a total of $51,000.
Mrs. Firth: Could the Minister give me the explanation again for $5,000 for expenses incurred to move Judge Lilles here? What was that for again?
Hon. Ms. Joe: That was the real estate fees incurred for the sale of his home.
Mrs. Firth: Can the Minister tell me if it is common practice that we would pay for new employees real estate fees when they are moving to the Yukon to seek employment here?
Hon. Ms. Joe: These expenses have only, as I understand it, been permitted for the judges.
Mrs. Firth: Cannot the Minister tell us if this has occurred in the past? Have we as Yukon taxpayers paid the real estate fees of other judges who have moved to the Yukon territory?
Hon. Ms. Joe: There was an expense paid to former Judge Ilnicki, I believe for the same amount, and for Judge Lilles. I understand that the practice has stopped.
Mrs. Firth: Was this just a perk that YTG gave to new judges coming to the Yukon?
Hon. Ms. Joe: Apparently there was a misunderstanding on the part of the judges that this was an expense that was available to them and there was an agreement that it would be paid at that time. Then, when Judge Lilles moved, it was paid to him as well. It is not a policy any more.
Mrs. Firth: It was obviously a policy of the government before then if they were doing this. I would like to know if it was written in the contracts that the judges were given this and, if it was a misunderstanding of theirs, who created that misunderstanding? Someone had to have given them a commitment to pay them for something as astonishing as real estate fees.
Hon. Ms. Joe: Apparently in the hiring of the judges there was a misunderstanding on the part of the Judicial Council.
Mrs. Firth: So what the Minister is saying is that the Judicial Council had it wrong and it made a commitment to the judges when they hired them and that therefore the government was committed to follow through with the Judicial Councils promise to the judges?
Hon. Ms. Joe: That is basically it.
Mrs. Firth: Thank you. Can the Minister tell us how much we paid for the real estate fees of the other judge so that we can obtain a total cost of this practice that has been stopped?
Hon. Ms. Joe: It was $5,000 for former Judge Ilnicki.
Administration in the amount of $51,000 agreed to
On Court Services
Hon. Ms. Joe: The $111,000 breaks down as: $22,000 for a surplus person year transferred to administration to cover expenses for casual assistance, Attorney-General meeting, and Judge Lilless expenses; $47,000 in increased funding was requested for a fifth deputy clerk during the forced growth exercise and the preparation of the 1988-89 Mains. A person year and funds were requested for the fifth deputy clerk in courts because the number of circuits had increased. The request was deferred until the first supplementary; the funds were approved but not the person year.
There is a decrease of $93,900 for the salary and benefits for Judge Barry Stuart transfered from the salary allotment to other O&M to be applied against the cost of deputy judges; $168,900 for deputy judges expenses, the net cost after applying Judge Stuarts salary of $75,000. The reason the costs are high this year is because Judge Lilles was seconded to the Fuel Prices Inquiry, for which ECO was going to pay. They ran out of money, so we had to absorb the cost. Also, Judge Ilnicki resigned, leaving us with a vacancy that has yet to be filled.
There is a $61,000 increase for the reprinting of court forms. The Criminal Code was renumbered, resulting in changes in section numbers quoted on forms used by the courts. All forms had to be reprinted, which was a significant cost as the forms that are used by the RCMP and all other agencies are supplied by the courts. There is a decrease of $50,000, a transfer to Solicitor General for prison liaison officer. The original funding was approved by Management Board in the court services program, as the contractor was to be CYI and would become part of the native courtworker budget. Since the prison liaison officer was to be located at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre, it was felt the money should be transferred to the Solicitor General program, for a total of $111,000.
Mrs. Firth: I asked the Minister for a break down of costs regarding the judges that have to be brought in from out of the territory. I believe we were given a Legislative Return that had in excess of $160,000 extra it had cost. Can the Minister give us a breakdown, taking into account the additional people and time within the department for rescheduling of court schedules and rescheduling of the court circuits to the communities? I would like a general picture of what it is costing the YTG in extra costs because we do not have our full complement of judges here.
Hon. Ms. Joe: The total cost of deputy judges to date as of March 15 is $180,550.74. The total voted to date is: Main Estimates, $17,200; the first supplementary, $168,900; for a total of $186,000. The unexpended to date is $5,549. Judge Stuarts lapse in salary is $93,900, and the net cost to date of deputy judges is $86,650.74.
Mrs. Firth: Is the Minister then indicating that there have been no extra costs incurred in overtime or additional person years where employees had to come in to do extra work to accommodate the rotation of the judges, that everything has been able to go along without incurring any more expenses for operation and maintenance?
Hon. Ms. Joe: I do not have the specific figure. I have it in the Legislative Return. There was a figure in there, I think, of about $7,000 that indicated the normal overtime that clerks spent in the courts and also the overtime that was spent in the communities during the courts there. I have it on my desk. I will table that in the House tomorrow.
Mrs. Firth: I would appreciate getting that information. Can the Minister tell us, when the temporary judges come to the Yukon, does the government provide accommodation for them in the form of a furnished apartment, and where is that accommodation?
Hon. Ms. Joe: We do have an apartment. We have had the apartment for awhile. I am not exactly sure of the address, but I can have that information back.
Mrs. Firth: Who is considered to be the owner of that apartment? Does the Department of Justice have that exclusively for their use, or do they have to make arrangements through Government Services for that kind of facility?
Hon. Ms. Joe: The Department of Justice rents it.
Mrs. Firth: So the Department of Justice rents it on an as-needed basis. Perhaps you could give us some details as to the furnished apartment and just how it is utilized and what we doing with it once our full complement of judges is here in the Yukon.
Hon. Ms. Joe: The apartment is rented by the month. I think we have a lease for a year and the payment for that is $750 per month at this time. Once we have a full complement of judges, we will let it go.
Court Services in the amount of $111,000 agreed to
On Attorney General
Hon. Ms. Joe: Of the amount of $167,000, $50,000 was for the costs of the inquiry and second inquest into the suicide of William Blasdell at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre after the allegations of corrections officers in the press that the first inquest missed some valuable information. An investigator was hired to conduct an inquiry. As a result, the second inquest was held in August/September. The costs are those incurred to transport witnesses and their accommodations and expenses. Jurors fees and expenses are also included. For $117,000 - that was used to hire outside council for the solicitors branch due to workload restraints or to specialized knowledge requirements. Several outside council were retained on certain cases. A detailed list is attached of these contracts and I have them here. I could table them in the House. I have only got one copy.
Mr. Phillips: With respect to the Blasdell suicide, there were at least two guards who testified under oath that they administered CPR to Mr. Blasdell from the time he died until the time the ambulance crews arrived. This was proven to be false in the course of the case. There was evidence presented by the Crown. Can the Minister tell me if either one of those two guards have been reinstated and if any of them have, why?
Hon. Ms. Joe: They have not been reinstated. I have information here about them. All three employees appealed their suspension and dismissal was recommended. Two of the appeals were heard in October, 1988, and the decision upheld - the recommendation for dismissal. The other person withdrew his appeal. The third person was to serve a suspension of 17 days. He was reinstated. So, one was reinstated and the other two were not.
Mr. Phillips: Is the one who was reinstated one of the guards who testified under oath that he administered CPR to Mr. Blasdell? I believe there were two guards who gave that false testimony.
Hon. Ms. Joe: I cannot give that information. I would have to bring that information back.
Mr. Phillips: I would appreciate the Minister bringing that information back to the House.
Does the Corrections Department have a strict policy with regard to this? If someone gives false testimony under oath, is there automatic dismissal by the department? How is it handled?
Hon. Ms. Joe: Each case is different. It would depend on the circumstances.
Attorney General in the amount of $167,000 agreed to
On Solicitor General
Hon. Ms. Joe: For $25,000, the approval by Management Board was given for special costs incurred by the department for the outside treatment of a sex offender. A joint submission was prepared with Health and Human Resources and it was Management Boards decision that Justice absorb these costs in the current fiscal year but that a one-time-only base adjustment of $50,000 be approved in the 1989-90 fiscal year to allow for the completion of this treatment. The transfer of a prison liaison officer in the amount of $50,000 has already been explained under court services.
There were search and rescue costs in the amount of $10,000. The RCMP policing agreement does not cover the costs of the RCMP when they are called out to locate a missing person. This summer there were incidents of tourists and hunters who went missing and the RCMP were called to locate them.
That is the total: $85,000.
Mrs. Firth: Could the Minister just give us the total amount of the Management Board decision for the special treatment of the sex offender? I understood her to say that $25,000 had been identified here and there had been an amount identified in the 1989-90 O&M of $50,000? Does that make the total $75,000 for the treatment of this individual?
Hon. Ms. Joe: It was a total of $50,000.
Solicitor General in the amount of $85,000 agreed to
Operation and Maintenance in the amount of $414,000 agreed to
On Operation and Maintenance Recoveries
Chair: Are there any questions on O&M recoveries?
On Public Legal Education
Public Legal Education in the amount of a recovery of $70,000 agreed to
On Capital Expenditures
Chair: Are there any questions on Capital Expenditures?
On Recording Equipment
Mr. Phillips: Last year we purchased some recording equipment. I am wondering what the additional $7,000 is for.
Hon. Ms. Joe: The $7,000 revote was requested to allow for some upgrading to the courts sound system. The existing system was not adequate to allow the court reporters to record what went on in the courtrooms using our system. A local contractor was hired to balance the sound, do some minor re-wiring and change some of the microphones.
Mr. Phillips: Minor re-wiring, balancing the sound and changing the position of some microphones costs $7,000?
Hon. Ms. Joe: It is a little bit more technical than that. I do not have an explanation of how technical, but I am sure it was. If he wants a full report I will certainly bring it back.
Mr. Phillips: In the Legislature we pass these items based on the information we are given. I was just told that it was changing around a few microphones, some minor wiring and balancing the sound. It seems to me that you could do that a lot less expensively than $7,000.
Hon. Ms. Joe: There was the wiring, of course, not just moving around microphones and there also was the purchase of some microphones.
Recording Equipment in the amount of $7,000 agreed to
On Microfiche Equipment
Microfiche Equipment in the amount of a recovery of $3,000 agreed to
Capital Expenditures in the amount of $4,000 agreed to
Chair: Is it the wishe of the Committee to take a break?
Some Members: Agreed.
Chair: We will have a fifteen minute break.
Chair: I call Committee of the Whole to order. We will begin on page 47 with the Public Service Commission.
Public Service Commission
On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures
Hon. Ms. Joe: The Public Service Commission has a supplementary vote of $3,370,000. Of this amount, only $45,000 stems from controllable items and this relates to a Management Board approval for an employee to go on educational leave. The remaining $3,325,000 is from two non-controllable items: leave accruals and workers compensation. This was based on a period six variance report. Now it appears that the PSC will lapse dollars on some controllable items.
Mrs. Firth: Which employee required education leave and why was it required that Management Board make a decision regarding a $45,000 expenditure?
Hon. Ms. Joe: The educational leave was for Wayne Jones from Education. He went to the University of Victoria for six months to get a masters degree in equivalency education. This is a two- year program but the only cost to PSC in the second year will be $900. Mr. Jones is using his annual leave to attend these courses next year.
Mrs. Firth: Perhaps the Minister could give us some explanation for the leave accrual and for the workers compensation expense? It is fine to say they were uncontrollable, but I would like some further explanation and specifics for the two items.
Hon. Ms. Joe: If we could go line by line I can give an explanation at that time.
On Recruitment and Training
Hon. Ms. Joe: The $85,000 was made up of: $20,000 to hire an additional recruitment officer during a peak period; $45,000 was for a Management Board approved education leave for an employee; and the $20,000 was the cost of a management development program that was not budgeted for. That was for a total of $85,000.
Mrs. Firth: Is the management development program for $20,000 a one-time cost? Is that a new program?
Hon. Ms. Joe: The $20,000 was used to develop two four-day modules for managing in a cross-cultural environment. It will be part of a course the 45 employees in the management development program will take. Depending on the results, PSC will consider offering these modules to other YTG managers, and it will be an ongoing course.
Mrs. Firth: What is the cost of that going to be? Should it be an ongoing program?
Hon. Ms. Joe: We do not have those kinds of figures here. On an ongoing basis, the additional cost would be minimal. We would be pleased to come back with the figures.
Mrs. Firth: I would be interested in having that. If the government is making a decision to take on a program, they must have done some analyses on what the recurring costs would be through the years. I imagine it would depend upon the number of employees taking the four-day module courses. I am prepared to wait for that information until we do the 1989-90 Operating and Maintenance Estimates.
Recruitment and Training in the amount of $85,000 agreed to
On Labour Relations
Hon. Ms. Joe: There was $18,000 underspent that resulted from a staff vacancy for part of the year. There was a $12,000 over expenditure, which was for the indemnification policy approved subsequent to the budget process, so nothing was budgeted for this. This makes a total of $6,000 under expenditure.
Labour Relations in the amount of a recovery of $6,000 agreed to
On Workers Compensation Fund
Hon. Ms. Joe: This was as a result of the death of a YTG employee, which caused a payout of that amount in April, 1988. It is something PSC has no control over.
Mrs. Firth: I did not quite hear what the Minister said. It was a YTG employee clause payout?
Hon. Ms. Joe: It was as the result of a death of an employee.
Workers Compensation Fund in the amount of $325,000 agreed to
On Positive Employment Program
Hon. Ms. Joe: There was the amount of $82,000 under, which was due to vacancies in the native training corps during the year. There was the amount of $48,000 over, which was projected costs for the positive employment program database project, which makes a total of $34,000 under.
Mrs. Firth: What exactly is the Positive Employment Program data base project that the minister just referred to?
Hon. Ms. Joe: The Positive Employment Program, along with the Statistics Bureau, is developing an employee data base that will contain data that will help the PSC establish the present composition of the three target groups - aboriginal people, women, and persons with disabilities - to monitor their future progress. This project was started later than was planned, and has used mostly internal resources to date.
Mrs. Firth: What is the anticipated cost of this program?
Hon. Ms. Joe: There was the amount of $48,000 budgeted for that. In all likelihood it would come into that range.
Positive Employment Program in the amount of a recovery of $34,000 agreed to
On Leave Accruals
Hon. Ms. Joe: This non-cash amount is estimated by Finance and the PSC each year. The PSC has no control over this account. This budget item is required by the Auditor-General.
Mr. Lang: I would just like to ask the Minister one thing. In the previous debates on the supplements for 1987-88 I have asked the Minister if she could provide us with information about whether or not any employees have been dismissed over this past year? If so, how much has been paid out to those particular employees?
Hon. Ms. Joe: I apologize. I do have the information and it will be tabled in the House tomorrow. I should have done it today, but I do have it.
Mr. Lang: I would just like to pursue that a little further. Does that include all the corporations and any agencies of the government, direct or indirect?
Hon. Ms. Joe: Yes it does.
Leave Accruals in the amount of $3 million agreed to
Operation and Maintenance Expenditures in the amount of $3,370,000 agreed to
Department of Renewable Resources
On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures
Hon. Mr. Webster: My introductory remarks on the Department of Renewable Resourcess 1988-89 Supplementary No. 1 will be brief. As all the Members will note, the supplementary sum of $253,000 is being sought. Position reclassifications in the various branches of the department account for approximately $95,000. As positions are reclassified, the salaries paid to individuals occupying those positions are increased.
Another significant contributor to the needed budget adjustment are land claims negotiation related costs. These amount to $108,000.
Other major projects, such as the work being done on conservation strategies, Yukon Champagne-Aishihik Band participation in big game management planning in Zones 7 and 9, and the Mount Mye sheep mitigation project also account for a substantial portion of these requested supplementary funds.
I should point out that the funding for the conservation strategy work, $30,000, is fully recoverable for the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, as is $26,000 for the Mount Mye sheep mitigation project. In the Capital portion of the Supplementary, $34,000 of the requested $50,000 is attributable to funds being transferred from the O&M budget for equipment, such as a boat and motor for Herschel Island Territorial Park.
Funds are also being transferred from the O&M budget to the Capital Budget to cover costs of equipment purchased for Yukon land use planning work. These funds are fully recoverable from the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development.
Mr. Lang: Could the Minister tell us why they are asking for $108,000 for land claim negotiations, when any other costs incurred for land claims negotiations go directly to the Executive Council office?
Hon. Mr. Webster: These funds are needed to enable the department to provide adequate and effective support to the lands claims information process and negotiation process. This request is specifically for $58,000 for casual personnel costs, $10,000 for contract services, $20,700 for travel in the Yukon, and $19,000 for travel outside of the Yukon.
Mr. Lang: This is a lot of money: $58,000 for a casual position? What was that casual position doing?
Hon. Mr. Webster: It is more than one casual position. Senior officials of our department are needed, with their expertise, to provide information to assist the whole land claims negotiation process. Other people are being hired on a contract basis to do some of the work in that same area that the senior officials cannot attend to because they are doing work on the land claims negotiation.
Mr. Lang: I just do not understand this. We were asked to vote $210,000 for the Executive Council office, over and above $600,000 that was allocated. Now, all of a sudden we are told that in Renewable Resources that there is another $108,000 attributed to the land claims negotiations. Why is the Department of Renewable Resources charging this to their department, unlike other departments? Or are there other hidden costs that we are not being told about in other departments?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: At the time of the Executive Council vote, I did explain, I believe, in answer to questions from the Member for Riverdale South, that there were ongoing costs to a number of departments involving land claims negotiations and as we moved into the next stage of community negotiations there would indeed be more. The costs that are ascribed to the land claims secretariat vote in the Executive Council Office are for the costs directly out of that secretariat and the costs of people who are seconded full time to that process from other departments.
Renewable Resources, particularly, has played a very large and continuing role in the land claims negotiations, providing advice, recommendations, support and research about particular wildlife areas. A number of senior officials in that department have been involved in that process. They have been involved enough that their ongoing work has had to be set aside. I believe that the amount of money that is described in this estimate is to cover the cost of back-up or replacement efforts by people who have full time jobs in Renewable Resources but who have devoted a significant part of their time in the last year, and will I expect in the coming year, to the land claims negotiation process.
Mr. Lang: There is some talk about the International Biological Program coming into effect in the Yukon. I would like to know if the Cabinet has ever made a decision whether or not that particular program would apply to the Yukon.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I would like some clarification from the Member as to what the International Biological Program is.
Mr. Lang: Basically it is a conservationist organization. It is going into various jurisdictions to designate certain areas unsuitable for any thought of development. Every now and then this International Biological Program crops up, and I was wondering if the Government of Yukon has ever been formally approached. If so, what response was given to that type of designation of areas? If the Minister wants to take the question under advisement, that is fine, as his department should be aware of it.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I have to be very frank with the Member and tell him that this is the first I have ever heard of this organization. If it has approached our government on this matter, I will certainly inform the Member.
Chair: We will now proceed line by line.
Administration in the amount of $26,000 agreed to
On Policy and Planning
Mr. Lang: I would like to ask the Minister what exactly is happening with the Auxiliary Conservation Officers Program that was put into effect about five or six years ago.
Hon. Mr. Webster: Unfortunately, not a lot is happening with that program, which I think is a fine concept. The reason for that is the amount of time that is required to train somebody adequately to do the job in a thorough manner. I would hope, however, that there would be some renewed emphasis on that area as a way to get more people involved and cultivate their interest in dealing with hunting and fishing, particularly with emphasis on preventing abuses, in other words, poaching, of those resources.
Recently, we have had a great deal of interest expressed by two or three members of the public in each community. For that reason I am encouraged that there will some new emphasis placed on that program.
Policy and Planning in the amount of $89,000 agreed to
On Parks, Resources and Regional Planning
Parks, Resources and Regional Planning in the amount of a recovery of $92,000 agreed to
On Fish and Wildlife
Mr. Lang: Can we just have a rundown of exactly what that increase is for?
Hon. Mr. Webster: Sixty-four thousand dollars of that total figure could be attributed to position reclassifications in the department. Forty-three thousand dollars was for land claims negotiations related costs. Nine thousand dollars was for hosting and supporting the Canadian Wildlife Federation Annual Executive Meeting. Ten thousand dollars was for casual assistance to complete the lynx project. Twenty thousand dollars was for band participation in big game management, Zones 7 and 9. Twenty-six thousand dollars was for additional secretarial assistance in habitat and research. Thirty-one thousand dollars was for the Mount Mye Sheep Mitigation Project. Ten thousand dollars is the departments contribution to the Canadian Wildlife Service to co-sponsor an annual youth conservation school.
There are a few items amounting to $4,000 or $5,000 each. If the Member wants, I can provide them. There was $5,000 for casual assistance to complete the Native Harvest Study. There was preparatory work in the amount of $5,000 to release elk, which takes place this week. Finally, there was $4,000 for the purchase of radio collars for bison that were released this past month.
Mr. Lang: Could the Minister provide us with a copy of the Native Harvest Study?
Hon. Mr. Webster: Yes, I will provide a copy of that.
Fish and Wildlife in the amount of $232,000 agreed to
Hon. Mr. Webster: This is for position reclassification in the amount of $2,000; $15,000 were for increased costs of livestock control officers and poundskeepers; another $15,000 for co-sponsoring the Agricultural Symposium, which took place a couple of weeks ago.
Agriculture in the amount of $32,000 agreed to
Mr. Phillips: There was a concern about some of the terminology in the COPE agreement regarding the river rafting on the Firth. I think the Minister knows very well what I am talking about. The wording in the agreement says it should be preferred status on the Firth River. It has been interpreted by Parks Canada to be exclusive status and use. What is the position of this Minister regarding that? There have been representations made by our side as well as the government side, that other river rafting operations that have run the river before would like to work on it again. Parks Canada is presently not allowing that. Is the government prepared to make a representation to Parks Canada and strongly urge that it allow more than one operator on that river?
Hon. Mr. Webster: It is the position of this government that we, too, do not agree that preferred status means exclusive rights. We have indicated our desire to have it reinterpreted by Parks Canada. To that end, we have written the Minister, Lucien Bouchard, on the matter stating our position. Unfortunately, we have received communication from the Minister upholding his original decision, which interpreted preferred status as the exclusive right.
Mr. Phillips: Was the Minister aware that it was not the intent that preferred status mean exclusive right?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I am aware of that. That is why this government is protesting the interpretation by Parks Canada and will continue to do so. Fortunately, Mr. Bouchard has made a commitment to visit the Yukon this summer to look at a couple of matters that are quickly becoming hot issues in the area, such as ANWR and Kluane Park. At that time, this matter will be raised with him again.
Mr. Phillips: With respect to river rafting regulations or guidelines, the government has been doing some work on them, talking to several groups and asking them about the type of guidelines they would prefer. Where is that right now?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I am not aware of the status of those negotiations with the groups to devise new regulations. I will take that question as notice.
COPE in the amount of a recovery of $34,000 agreed to
Operation and Maintenance Expenditures in the amount of $253,000 agreed to
On Operation and Maintenance Recoveries
Chair: Is there any discussion on Operation and Maintenance Recoveries?
Mr. Lang: Is the government not recovering any money for the taking in of horses that are at large? If so, where is it reflected in the budget? Under the Pounds Act?
Hon. Mr. Webster: You are talking about the fines paid by people who are in contravention? I do not know where that would arise. It being in its first year of operation, I know there have been some recoveries, because some fines have been paid. I will get back to the Member on that.
Mr. Lang: What does Conservation - DIAND mean?
Hon. Mr. Webster: This is a recovery from the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development for work done on conservation strategies: Yukon Conservation Strategy, $15,000; Old Crow Conservation Strategy, $15,000.
Operation and Maintenance Recoveries in the amount of a recovery of $118,000 agreed to
Chair: We will move on to page 53.
On Capital Expenditures
On Equipment Acquisition
Equipment Acquisition in the amount of $9,000 agreed to
On Wildlife Habitat Canada
Hon. Mr. Webster: This is a transfer of O&M funds to the Capital to cover the costs of some miscellaneous program equipment. It is fully recoverable.
Wildlife Habitat Canada in the amount of $1,000 agreed to
On Travelling Displays
Travelling Displays in the amount of $3,000 agreed to
On Book: Yukon-A Natural History
Mr. Lang: Perhaps the Minister could fill us in on this.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I am sorry, but my notes are deficient in that area. I will provide that information for the Member.
Mr. Lang: Since we are trying to expedite business, could the Ministers ensure that their staff go through the commitments that have been made so we are given that information at the start of the vote when we deal with the Mains. We would very much appreciate it rather than us having to ask about this question and that question.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I appreciate the comment made by the Member opposite.
On Book: Yukon - A Natural History, due to the late start of the project, not all the work planned for this year was completed. It is completed now apparently.
Mr. Lang: Maybe I have missed something here. I am not as familiar with the project as the Minister. Perhaps the Minister could give a better description over and above the one line we received in the Main Estimates.
Book: Yukon-A Natural History in the amount of a recovery of $3,000 agreed to
On Herschel Island Park (COPE)
Herschel Island Park (COPE) in the amount of $34,000 agreed to
On Campground Relocation and New Development
Campground Relocation and New Development in the amount of a recovery of $8,000 agreed to
On Campground Rehabilitation & Reconstruction
Campground Rehabilitation & Reconstruction in the amount of $8,000 agreed to
On Heritage Rivers - 30 Mile Section
Heritage Rivers - 30 Mile Section in the amount of $3,000 agreed to
On Watson/Wheaton Resource Study
Watson/Wheaton Resource Study in the amount of a recovery of $12,000 agreed to
On Dempster Corridor Study
Hon. Mr. Webster: The Dempster Corridor Study additional $12,000 was required as a result of an under estimate in the cost required to develop the master management strategy for the Dempster Corridor Study.
Dempster Corridor Study in the amount of $12,000 agreed to
On Yukon Land Use Planning
Hon. Mr. Webster: This is a transfer of funds from the Operation and Maintenance Budget to cover equipment costs that were noted earlier. It is fully recoverable.
Yukon Land Use Planning in the amount of $33,000 agreed to
On Determination of Forage Productivity
Hon. Mr. Webster: Due to another late start in the project, in late spring last year, we were unable to complete all the work that was forecast for this year.
Determination of Forage Productivity in the amount of a recovery of $30,000 agreed to
Capital Expenditures in the amount of $50,000 agreed to
On Capital Recoveries
Capital Recoveries in the amount of a recovery of $71,000 agreed to
On Capital Expenditures
Hon. Mr. Webster: I am pleased to introduce Supplementary No. 1 for 1988-89 for the Department of Tourism. The Capital Budget has been reduced by $70,000 as a result of the transfer of the special events project to the O&M Budget. No corresponding increase results in the O&M Budget since the project was included in the original 1988-89 O&M Budget.
The only other net change in the departments budget is the $34,000 increase in capital recoveries. The funds are to be received from the federal government - Energy, Mines and Resources - under the Enerdemo agreement that is monitoring the effectiveness and efficiency of the cold storage of artifacts method being used in the Old Territorial Administration Building in Dawson City. We will make public these findings. The agreement was not in place for inclusion in the 1988-89 Budget.
On Wilderness Resource Assessment
Wilderness Resource Assessment in the amount of a recovery of $9,000 agreed to
On Streetscape Development
Mr. Phillips: Where did the $7,000 get spent?
Hon. Mr. Webster: The $7,000 was spent this year in a number of communities where the streetscape program was completed: the communities of Teslin, Beaver Creek, Burwash Landing and Destruction Bay. Also, there is implementation in progress in Pelly Crossing, Upper Liard and Watson Lake. Some of these salary increases are for planning and design for the next projects, which are scheduled for Elsa, Mayo, and Keno.
Mr. Phillips: I am absolutely amazed that you can do all of those things for $7,000 and you took $15,000 to build a shed outside of this building.
Hon. Mr. Webster: It is a testimony to the resource of the department. I must remind the Member that these are increases; this is the Supplementary Budget to the amount already spent for these purposes.
Mr. Brewster: Up at Beaver Creek, the sidewalk down to the river was completely washed up last year. Were provisions made to put that back in or is that the end of that project?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I want to thank the Member for bringing this problem to my attention. I am sure it will be corrected in this season.
Streetscape Development in the amount of $7,000 agreed to
On Special Events
Special Events in the amount of a recovery of $70,000 agreed to
On Artifact Inventory/Catalogue
Artifact Inventory/Catalogue in the amount of a recovery of $10,000 agreed to
On Major Museums Development
Hon. Mr. Webster: The increase in transfer payments of $105,000 is for the Watson Lake museum: to undertake a planning feasibility study, $30,000; and, to purchase land for the museum $75,000. I am sure the Member for Watson Lake is aware of the situation.
Mr. Phillips: A year or a year and one-half ago, the Dalziel family approached the Government of Yukon about its small museum to see if the government was interested in purchasing that museum. Has anything happened on that?
Hon. Mr. Webster: This is the museum development budget for Dalziel House. The planning feasibility study is complete, and $75,000 has been reserved to purchase the land.
Mr. Devries: Would the Minister repeat that regarding the Watson Lake purchase of land for a museum? I have not heard anything about this.
Hon. Mr. Webster: Of the $105,000 increase, $75,000 is for the purchase of the land for the Dalziel Museum.
Mr. Devries: My latest understanding on the Dalziel Museum is that $60,000 had been spent on a study on whether we should buy it or not. We could have bought it for $80,000, and we still have not bought it.
Hon. Mr. Webster: Yes, the Watson Lake committee has decided against buying the property. In other words, the $75,000 will lapse.
Mr. Devries: Just for everybody elses information, that is correct. We decided against it, as it would cost too much to maintain the building.
Mr. Lang: We spent $60,000 on a study, and we could have bought the whole property for $80,000?
Hon. Mr. Webster: As I indicated earlier, the feasibility study cost $30,000, not $60,000.
Major Museums Development in the amount of $105,000 agreed to
On Capital Maintenance
Capital Maintenance in the amount of $2,000 agreed to
On Heritage Inventory
Heritage Inventory in the amount of a recovery of $105,000 agreed to
On SS Tutshi
Mr. Phillips: What is this for?
Hon. Mr. Webster: The transfer of the Fort Selkirk project to the Indian band resulted in person year transfers to the SS Tutshi project. This $35,000 increase covers personnel costs as a result of this reallocation of person years. In other words, we moved a person year from one project to another.
Mr. Phillips: What is left to do on the S.S. Tutshi?
Hon. Mr. Webster: With respect to additional work, it is with some regret that I have to inform the Member that it is quite considerable. There will be corrections of some structural deficiencies, such as deterioration of the base of the aft key post, centerline keelson, transfer carrier and some work on the frames will be undertaken. I could not at this time explain what these things are. Other work at this stage includes replacement of portions of the bulwark, paddle wheels, longitudinal support timber, spronks and clamps and guards, hull planks, deck beams and stantions.
This is some of the work that has yet to be done on the S.S. Tutshi and what I have just read is the activity planned for this coming fiscal year.
Mr. Phillips: I thank the Minister for this information. It makes it very clear in our minds. How much is this expected to cost? Is this the final year of the project?
Hon. Mr. Webster: There is $200,000 planned for this activity and that will bring the total amount to a considerable sum, in the neighborhood of $1,480,000.
Mr. Phillips: Will it float?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I am advised that it will not float.
S.S. Tutshi in the amount of $35,000 agreed to
On O.T.A.B. Landscaping
Mr. Nordling: Have we done all the landscaping or did we just get it more cheaply than we expected?
Hon. Mr. Webster: No, we have not done all the landscaping. We have just done a little cosmetic work at the front of the building so that the tourists who do not venture around the sides of the OTAB get to see that it is a very pretty building from the front. This work involves the landscaping of the grounds to the north of the OTAB, which was at one time, as the Member who is a former resident of the Klondike knows, was at one time a garden. The complete design and landscaping of this area is just in the final stages of being drawn up, which will enable us to do work in the area this coming summer.
O.T.A.B. Landscaping in the amount of a recovery of $12,000 agreed to
On Cultural Heritage Studies
Cultural Heritage Studies in the amount of a recovery of $10,000 agreed to
Hon. Mr. Webster: As I mentioned in my opening remarks, this agreement was not in place at the time the 1988-89 budget was prepared, and therefore, of course, it was not included in the Main Estimates. This is the project that is being funded by the federal government and is 100 percent recoverable. It deals with the cold storage of artifacts in the museum.
Mr. Phillips: What happened to the plan to build a facility in Whitehorse? There was talk one time when I went to a meeting in the library about building a large facility in Whitehorse that they could sort and store all these artifacts in. Is this just a demonstration project to see how successful that might be before they build something a little larger?
Hon. Mr. Webster: That is correct. This is a demonstration project to determine how well this system will work in our present climate and environment.
Mr. Phillips: Will this $34,000 complete the demonstration project?
Hon. Mr. Webster: Yes it will.
Enerdemo in the amount of $34,000 agreed to
On Low Frequency Radio Transmitters
Mr. Phillips: That is for the new radio station, I take it. Have there been any surveys done to find out how many visitors actually listen to that station?
Hon. Mr. Webster: There has been no formal study done on the level of interest by the travelling public tuning into these stations, but apparently the hosts at our Visitor Reception Centre receive a lot of favourable comments from the visitors as they pass through each community.
Low Frequency Radio Transmitters in the amount of a recovery of $5,000 agreed to
On Visitor Reception Centre Development
Mr. Phillips: What is the status of the Visitor Reception Centre? Has there been any decision made where the new reception centre might be located?
Hon. Mr. Webster: Yes, there has been some work done on this matter. The consultants have completed a study. They have identified two sites. Soon there will be a proposal to go to Management Board for review.
Mr. Phillips: Where are the two sites?
Hon. Mr. Webster: One is the 20/20 site on the waterfront and the other is the Jim Light Arena.
Mr. Phillips: So the government is rejecting the idea of a visitor reception centre somewhere near the top of the Two Mile Hill, as was suggested by some of the businesses?
Hon. Mr. Webster: No, those are the two downtown sites identified by the consultants. There was a third site.
Mr. Phillips: Is the Minister telling us that the Management Board will look at all three sites as opposed to just two?
Hon. Mr. Webster: That is correct?
Visitor Reception Centre Development in the amount of a recovery of $39,000 agreed to
On Production of Films, T.V. Vignettes
Mr. Phillips: Could I make a suggestion to the Minister? In some areas that I have travelled if you turn on the local television station, and some of the local radio stations, the vignettes produced are not only directed at tourists but at the residents of the area. They talk very briefly about the value of tourism to the area, and they talk about being polite. The tourists are sort of your bread and butter; the way you treat them has a great bearing on your job. In the area I was in, I found it very effective. The people talked about them and realized the value of tourism to their area. These are little reminders that some aspects of the Yukon economy relate to tourism, which some people do not realize. These short little ads would remind people that their job is directly related, in one way or another, to tourism. It might be useful if we did look at producing some short vignettes along that vein.
Production of Films, TV Vignettes in the amount of $7,000 agreed to
Tourism in the amount of a recovery of $70,000 agreed to
Hon. Ms. Joe: There is a $40,000 item. The Womens Directorate received $40,000 in addition to the $242,000 in the 1988-89 Budget. The amount of $15,000 came from the Economic Development Agreement for the financing of the womens entrepreneur study, and $25,000 was paid to the Directorate for the secondment of staff for the child care consultation process. That allowed for the publishing of the employment law book that was tabled in the House last week, and to provide funding for the conference for women in business.
Mr. Nordling: I am not sure that I understand what the Minister is saying. The Womens Directorate received that extra money from EDA, and we are asking for a supplementary? Is it recoverable? Who is it charged to? I did not understand what the Minister was trying to tell us.
Hon. Ms. Joe: There was $40,000 here over and above the $242,000. There was $15,000 transferred to the Womens Directorate from the Economic Development Agreement. That was to do the womens entrepreneur study. Then there was an additional $25,000 that was paid to the Directorate for the secondment of a staff member for the child consultation process.
Mr. Nordling: I am still not clear. I understand that if there is a secondment to the Womens Directorate that they pay $25,000 more out of their budget. With respect to the $15,000 for the EDA, is that a contribution that the Womens Directorate made toward the womens entrepreneur program? It is not clear to me why the Womens Directorate is spending $15,000 on an EDA grant.
Hon. Ms. Joe: The Womens Directorate did the womens entrepreneur study. They received $15,000 from the EDA to do it. The $25,000 was paid to the Directorate by Health and Human Resources for the secondment of a staff member to join the child consultation panel.
Mr. Nordling: I apologize. It is not clear to me why the Womens Directorate is coming to us now asking for $40,000 in additional funds if they got $15,000 from the EDA and $25,000 from Health and Human Resources. It should be a lapse of $40,000 rather than a supplementary request.
Hon. Ms. Joe: We are giving the explanation that the $40,000 that we received over and above the $242,000 was added to our budget, and that was the explanation. There was a transfer of funds from other departments to our department.
Mr. Nordling: Why are those amounts being charged to the Womens Directorate and not Health and Human Resources or EDA? I am not sure that I know what the Minister means by $40,000 being transferred to the Womens Directorate.
Hon. Ms. Joe: I am at a bit of a loss to explain anything more than what I have already done. I stood here a couple of times and said that over and above our budget, we received $40,000.
Mr. Nordling: I would like to hear the Minister say, Over and above our $240,000, we spent $40,000 more. What the Minister seems to be saying is, We received $40,000 more. Maybe it is just the terminology, but it is not clear.
Hon. Ms. Joe: The explanation is that we have received this $40,000, and it would be indicated in our budget. We are explaining to you what we have done with the $40,000 that was transferred to our department. If we received $40,000 extra and there was a blank, then you would not know what happened to it.
Mr. Nordling: If the department received the $40,000 and spent it, then we would not need the supplementary or we would have a request for a further expenditure of $40,000, but there would also be a recovery of $40,000 if it came from the other departments.
Hon. Ms. Joe: We were asked to include this in our supplementary budget and that is what we did. If it needs a further explanation, I cannot give it to the Member for Porter Creek West. It was something that was required of us and something that we have done.
Mr. Nordling: I do not want to hold up debate on this. Could the Minister provide a clear, written explanation of what has happened, and we can move on. It is not a huge amount in comparison with the budget. The way it has been presented, it is not clear to me.
Hon. Ms. Joe: It was very clear to me, but it may be even clearer if I get more information. I am not sure whether we want to clear this item or whether we will leave it until I can bring back the information.
Mrs. Firth: I understand what the Minister is saying, that they received this $15,000 and $25,000 from two other departments. What she is doing with the information she has brought into the House in this Supplementary Estimate is ask for an additional $40,000, but she has not indicated anywhere that she already has that money in the form of recoveries, which my colleague was talking about. In fact, it looks like you are asking for another $40,000 on top of your budget. Perhaps an explanation could be brought back as to why there was no recovery item indicating that they had already received that money, and that it was monies that had been spent from other departments.
Hon. Ms. Joe: I can provide that information this evening.
Mrs. Firth: The womens entrepreneurial conference that was held this weekend was very successful for the one hundred-some business women who participated in that conference. There was some discussion about the government making a commitment to support this kind of event again, perhaps even on an annual basis. Is the Minister giving some consideration to that? Is she prepared to make a commitment at this time that the Directorate, in conjunction with the business women, would support another conference of this kind?
Hon. Ms. Joe: I understood that different views came out of that conference. There was one recommendation that some of the businesses put some money into the conference and that the Womens Directorate and Economic Development organize it. There was also another suggestion that the Womens Directorate be involved in further conferences, such as the one they had. I can make a commitment right now that we would keep involved in what has been happening. If there is a request to do certain things, we would consider it very seriously. I think it is a very important part of what the Womens Directorate should be doing.
Mrs. Firth: If I can recall from the discussion, perhaps I could make a couple of recommendations to the Minister. There was a general feeling that the government was going to be required to have some participation in a future conference, when the participants found out the cost of the conference, given as $15,000. From the discussion at the conference, I would like to make a few recommendations. I feel the business women would be prepared to pay more as a registration fee. We would have to take a look at making it available for more women, instead of restricting it to 100 participants. Some 78 were unable to attend.
I think there will probably be some role for the Womens Directorate to play in the organization of that kind of a conference, as well as Economic Development. I want to indicate to the Minister that I am prepared to support her endeavours to get assistance and funding for that kind of support for the business women in the community.
Mr. Nordling: Are there ongoing or periodic evaluations of the effectiveness of the programs and publications undertaken by the Womens Directorate?
Hon. Ms. Joe: We have never done any studies to indicate to us how successful some of those publications are but, certainly, the publications we have produced have been very popular. We have received letters and comments about some of them, especially the handbook on how to find a job. A lot of the other information has been valuable to women out in the field.
Mrs. Firth: I would like to extend congratulations to the women who organized the conference and, of course, to the Minister for supporting that endeavour through the Womens Bureau.
Hon. Ms. Joe: Thank you, and I will pass that information on to the appropriate people.
Mr. Nordling: I will clear this item on the understanding that we will get further information or explanation from the Minister.
Public Information and Program Development in the amount of $40,000 agreed to
Womens Directorate in the amount of $40,000 agreed to
Chair: Committee of the Whole will now recess until 7:30 p.m.
Chair: I will now call the Committee to order.
Hon. Ms. Joe: I had promised to bring the information back tonight for the Member for Porter Creek West. We were actually asking for $40,000 that we did not already have. It was money that we had not received, but we used it for those certain purposes. Now we are asking for it to be voted in the House.
Mr. Nordling: I would just like to thank the Minister for that. I think I understand what is going on now. This money will come back eventually, but for now the Womens Directorate needs it.
Chair: For the record that was for the Womens Directorate. We will now proceed to Yukon Housing.
Yukon Housing Corporation
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The supplementary that is being dealt with now is a representation of a reduction in Capital Expenditure of $2,585,000 and a reduction of $550,000 in the O&M side. In general terms, the reduction of the Capital Expenditure consists of a reduction of the amount because of the cancellation of the construction of a number of social housing units. The explanation for that is when the 1988-89 Budget was prepared in the spring of 1987, the corporation staff consulted with the various local housing associations in the communities. Based on the demand that existed at that time, plans were made for the construction of a number of social housing units.
Last spring, before undertaking the actual construction of those units, a final round of consultation was undertaken and in many cases the situation had changed and the corporation, jointly with the associations, decided not to proceed with the construction of some of the units.
The alternative was to construct the units in Whitehorse that were not required in the communities. Again, due to the shortage of available land for multi-residential units, only 12 units were committed for construction in 1989. In addition, 13 units were committed in 1988 for construction in the year of 1989 for the City of Dawson.
The corporation canceled its plans to purchase land in advance for the social housing program. As many Members are aware, I am sure, residential land was in short supply during the summer of 1988. The corporation had planned on spending an additional $300,000 for the purpose of land banking, but this initiative was canceled so as not to exacerbate the land shortage problem.
To offset some of these reductions the corporation incurred $2 million worth of capital expenditure that had not been forecasted when the Main Estimates were prepared. These expenditures were for 20 units of the lease-purchase program.
The $550,000 on the O&M side consists of monies that would have been used to meet the monthly mortgage payments and the operation expenses for the social housing programs. Since the projects in many instances were canceled or deferred, these funds are now no longer required. If Members wish I can deal with line by-line items.
Mr. Lang: I requested some information here the last time we discussed this particular area in the previous supplementaries. Basically, I wanted a breakdown of the all the tenders that had gone out that had not been publicly tendered, that had been by invitation or otherwise, and the Minister committed himself to be providing that for me. So could he provide them here tonight?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: It is not available tonight. The material is still being compiled. I do plan to have it here certainly by the time we get into the Main Estimates.
Mr. Lang: I accept that. Could I ask a question on the lease-purchase program to date? This past year I gather there was something like 20-odd units purchased through that program. How many of those particular homes that have been purchased are delinquent on monthly payments?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am advised that none are delinquent.
Mr. Lang: I just wanted to go through one other area of concern and that was the question of the process of buying homes. Is it not correct that in this past year the government had plans initially for six homes in the community of Watson Lake, then there were plans to not proceed, and then the decision was to proceed with the construction of these homes. Could the Minister verify that there was very much of a need and how many homes were provided in that community? Could the Minister make a comment on that?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am advised that the original plan for Watson Lake was to acquire four social housing units. That was revised to two, and that was the final outcome.
Mr. Lang: That leads into my next question, which has to do with the question of the purchase of the previous managers home from Hyland Forest Products. The house was purchased for $92,000 and it now is a staff house for the government. What I want to know is why we purchased that home, and were there discussions between the manager or the president of the Yukon Housing Corporation and the Yukon Development Corporation prior to purchasing that home?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The explanation I have about that particular unit is that the need was identified for a staff house. The house in question was appraised at $85,000 and was purchased at $85,000.
Mr. Lang: I am not going to argue the price this evening. I want to know why we were purchasing the home. Why is the government getting into more staff housing when we are hoping that employees might buy their own home in these small communities, especially in view of the fact the territorial buy back is in place.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I appreciate the Members comments. In terms of previous debates that have taken place in the rural communities, the housing market is in short supply. In this instant there was a legitimate identification for a staff house to be provided under the existing policy. That provoked the activity.
Mr. Lang: What I do not understand is that we had up to four or six units empty until Christmas in that community. In August of that year we purchased that particular home. Did the Yukon Housing Corporation have formal or informal discussions with the Yukon Development Corporation prior to the purchase of that home?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: There appears to be some detail the Member is seeking that I am not totally familiar with. I will give an undertaking to provide a written response with respect to the house in question. I know the acquisition took place at the time of the fire in the mill. When he speaks of units being empty, that was, to the best of my knowledge, a short term situation. The Member appears to be seeking information I do not have at my fingertips. I will provide a full written answer with full details on that unit.
Mr. Lang: Did the president or other members of the Housing Corporation have direct or indirect discussions with the Yukon Development Corporation about the purchase of that home prior to the acquisition?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am advised that the only discussions that took place had to do with questions relating to the buy-back plan that would affect that unit.
Mr. Lang: Is the Minister telling this House that there was no direct or indirect representation by the Yukon Development Corporation that the Yukon Housing Corporation purchase that unit?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am not sure what the Member is seeking. The issue at hand relates to whether or not the Yukon Housing Corporation was required under standing government policy to provide a staff unit. That appears to have been what took place. I am not sure what the Member is seeking.
Mr. Lang: I find it very surprising that up to as many as six units were empty and yet, at the same time, the government purchased another home. It makes you wonder what the Yukon Housing Corporation was doing and what its plans were.
There was a buy out of the previous manager of the Yukon Development Corporation. Were there direct or indirect discussions between the Housing Corporation and the Yukon Development Corporation about purchasing that home?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I think I am beginning to understand what the Member is seeking. He is trying to determine whether or not, following the availability of this house to be bought or made available to Yukon Housing, whether there were any discussions between the Yukon Housing Corporation and the Development Corporation and what rationale there was for the Yukon Housing Corporation to acquire the unit. He points out that, at that time, there were a number of vacant units.
The information I am being provided with is that, at that time, the vacancies were short term. There was an identification for a staff unit; the unit was available. A unit could not be built for the $85,000 that it could be acquired for. Currently, there are 27 units in Watson Lake, and they are all occupied.
Mr. Lang: My question has still not been answered. Were there indirect or direct discussions between members of the Housing Corporation and the Yukon Development Corporation for purchasing this home prior to the acquisition?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Obviously there had to be some discussions with respect to acquiring the unit. Yukon Housing had a need for a staff house. The value on that house was far below what it would cost them to build it. They acquired it from the owner of the property. Obviously, there had to be some discussions involved in that. The Member is a real estate man. It had to happen. There were discussions. The answer is yes.
Mr. Lang: I want to get it clear for the record. Is the Minister telling this House that there were discussions between the Yukon Development Corporation and the Yukon Housing Corporation about the purchase of that home prior to the actual acquisition?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The short answer is yes. The explanation is that all the reasons I have just explained were applied. If the Member is suggesting that there was some form of pressure by the Development Corporation that Yukon Housing must buy this house, no, there was none. It was a straight business transaction. In light of the needs requirement identified by Yukon Housing for a staff house, the price was right, and it appears to have been bought.
Mr. Devries: Yesterday, I had several hours discussion with several people in Watson Lake. I realize what the government, Yukon Housing and CMHC are trying to accomplish in meeting the housing needs for individuals, especially in the small communities. But with all these CMHC and Yukon Housing units coming on stream, from now on any kind of house that is sold in Watson Lake is going to have to be sold in the same manner that Mr. Sigalets house was sold. There will no longer be a real estate market in Watson Lake, other than through government programs. This is starting to scare people. It is becoming a real concern.
I asked the people what they suggested. They are at a loss for suggestions now. They say it is too late. These programs are there. I am beginning to understand them. I have several more meetings scheduled with the people from Yukon Housing, but it is becoming a real concern for a person who wants to build his own house. I realize now, after the Ministers discussion at the building trades conference, a person could have a house built by a private contractor and Yukon Housing would purchase it for him, but it is still going through government. To me, that is a problem. I do not know what the answer is. I think the government should seriously look at it and think about that.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I want to tell the Member that I appreciate the sincerity of his remarks. If the Housing Corporation can be of any further benefit, as the Member is aware, I have invited him to make himself available. I would be more than interested to hear from the Member specifically about Watson Lake and the housing needs there.
When I spoke to the Home Builders Association, I indicated to them that the government will have housing needs that we wanted to meet through a cooperative exercise whereby we would invite a turn-key operation by the Home Builders Association to go out and build. That was seriously addressing the market situation and some of the objections that have been raised about government getting involved in housing. The fact of the matter is that there is a serious shortage of housing and social housing. Some of the programs we have put in place in the past year speak to this. We are encouraging people to own their own homes. We will be addressing this to the best of our abilities. I certainly would appreciate hearing any suggestions that the Member has. It is a problem; when you are in small market, like in the rural communities, and Yukon Housing is a large sector of the real estate market, it is difficult to provide a normal marketplace. The more encouragement we can provide toward home ownership, the better it will be for the community that the Member speaks of.
I suppose one point I would be curious to hear about from the Member is, - and he can tell me privately afterwards - what option was there for use of that house? There was an identified need for staff; the price was right. It was being listed at $20,000 or $30,000 higher than that. Nobody was buying it; what would you do?
Mr. Devries: Actually, I was not arguing about that house that much, just about the principle of the whole thing.
For instance, two more new homes were recently built, and I realize that is by CMHC. It seems like there are so many programs now that are the same, whether it is CMHC or Yukon Housing. It tends to become confusing for the people who are seeing these houses go up. First, they have to find out who is building the thing, and then they can research it further. Possibly the federal government and Yukon Housing could find some way to prevent these duplications or determine some way of combining the duplications that are taking place in services now.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I appreciate the Members remarks. Every effort is being made to streamline and coordinate programs of the federal government and our corporation. One outcome that will eventually occur is that we will slowly achieve adequate and affordable housing in those rural communities. The previous Minister was involved with making every effort to streamline the home improvement programs from all departments of the government so that there is less red tape, less paperwork and a better understanding of what improvement funds are available to upgrade the existing stock and place less of a demand on building new stock. We can restore and rebuild some of the well-constructed houses of 20 and 30 years ago. For the most part they are deteriorated, but it does not take much to restore them. Home renovations is going to be a big business in time to come. There is a lot of emphasis across the country being placed upon upgrading existing homes and reducing the demand on new house construction, because it is so expensive and difficult to provide adequate stock.
In closing, I take the Members comments to heart and will continue to press that we coordinate our programs with the federal government as much as possible in the communities so that we do not create the confusion of building too much and not planning together.
Mr. Lang: Over the past year, the contractors have been asking Yukon Housing Corporation to give them an actual breakdown of the costs of building a number of the houses that the Housing Corporation built over the past year or two. Have those costs been made available? If they have been made available to the contractors, will they be made available to us?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am advised that we have indeed provided the contractors with the specific cost breakdowns for our construction. I am also advised that some of this material was brought forward in the House by the previous Minister. If there are more current costs that the Member would like to see brought forward, I would be more than happy to. The information appears to be available.
Hon. Mr. Lang: Has anyone in the Housing Corporation been terminated this past year? If so, has there been any pay out on termination?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am advised that there was one terminated and that it involved some payout. The Public Service Commission dealt with it. I am unfamiliar with the details, but I would bring them back to the House.
Mr. Lang: I would appreciate receiving the terms of the payout.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: In reference to an earlier question from the Member for Porter Creek East regarding the costs, could he let me know what costs he is referring to in construction costs? Is there a period of time, a unit, or a general summary? I am unclear.
Mr. Lang: I would like a breakdown of all the houses that have been built under project management by the Housing Corporation. There must be breakdowns of all costs associated with each unit. If the Minister thinks I am asking for too much, we are being asked to vote the money and we have to be told how it is going to be spent. All that information must be on computer. I would like to know the costs of all the units the government has undertaken in the past two years.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I did not realize that when I asked an innocent question I would end up providing construction manuals for the past two years. I will try to provide at least summary figures to give him an idea about how efficient the corporation is in its own construction projects.
Mr. Phillips: For the Mains, could the Minister tell us how many social units we have in the territory that Yukon Housing is involved in? A list of them by addresses would be fine. I do not want only the main ones, I also want the ones that they are involved in with Whitehorse Housing or CMHC. I am trying to determine how many social units we have throughout the territory and where they are.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I do not have at my fingertips each unit broken down by address, but I can tell the Member the number of social housing units Yukon Housing is responsible for in each of the communities, as well as staff units. By way of general figures, and you can determine if they are fine enough, there are currently 450 units in the territory, of which 404 were occupied as of February 28. The occupancy of that day is a snapshot view; the next day, numbers can change. There are 415 social housing units and 85 staff units. That is the complete housing stock.
Mr. Phillips: Does that include apartments?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am advised it does.
Mr. Phillips: Can the Minister bring back a list of those units by address so we can determine how many are in each community? Can that be provided by the time we get into the Operation and Maintenance Mains?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: That should be no problem. We can break it out by the numbers in the communities, both staff and social, and by address, recognizing that in the cases of apartments there will be groupings.
On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures
On Gross Expenditures
Hon. Mr. Byblow: As indicated in my opening remarks this is a reduction of money that had been intended to pay monthly mortgages on a number of social housing units that did not get constructed. That is the explanation for the refund.
Mr. Lang: You are saying there are no lapses anywhere else in the budget, that it is strictly the fact that a number of units were not built and consequently that the operation and maintenance costs were not required? I find that hard to believe.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: That is perfectly correct. The money being returned is money that had been budgeted and intended to make payments related to social housing units that had not been constructed. That is the $550,000.
Mr. Lang: Is it not fair to say that over the past year, because of some of the pressures on the Housing Corporation they have been forced to go out and rent more apartments to provide for social housing than they had budgeted for?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Under the cost-sharing arrangements you can transfer monies from programs to pay for rentals that were used to supplement what was not built and may have been needed.
Mr. Lang: I would like to know in this past year how many units such as these we did get involved in over the previous year?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am advised that there were a number of units relating to replacement for what was not constructed but they did not come in until March so therefore they do not get entered until the new fiscal year; they do not show up here as such.
Mr. Lang: How many units are we talking about?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am advised it is eight units.
Gross Expenditures in the amount of a recovery of $550,000 agreed to
On Operation and Maintenance Recoveries
Mr. Lang: Could the Minister explain the miscellaneous item in the amount of $20,000?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am advised that consists of unanticipated extra interest that was earned on various accounts and programs such as the Lease Program.
Operation and Maintenance Recoveries in the amount of a recovery of $537,000 agreed to
On Capital Expenditures
On Family and Single Parent Housing Construction and Acquisition
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The reduction relates to some of the earlier remarks about non-construction that was budgeted originally when the planning was done and then did not materialize. I believe I indicated in my opening remarks in the summer and spring of 1987 when this was planned that the number of units anticipated to be built did not materialize. I guess for another Member I will be providing the number of units in all the communities.
Mr. Lang: Could the Minister please provide us with a breakdown of the $1,300,000 and exactly where that money was spent? I do not need it tonight. I would like it for the Main Estimates.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Of the $1,300,000, $1,065,000 represents expenditures in Whitehorse: $75,000 of this would be the acquisition of the Redwood Unit; there was $280,000 for the acquisition of two units on Bamboo Crescent; $7,000 carried over from the year previous for units on Green Crescent; $93,000 relating to capital project salaries and related costs; and, $610,000 relates to funds required for Dawson City.
Mr. Lang: With respect to the $93,000 for salaries and capital costs, what were those costs associated with, and for which projects? Are they charged against a specific project?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: These were two positions budgeted for all capital projects, not specifically the ones I listed, but all projects relating to supervision done by the Housing Corporation in the carrying out of its projects.
When I was citing the figures of how $1.3 million was made up, I neglected to mention there was $250,000 for the acquisition of two units in Watson Lake. That would make up the $1.3 million.
Mr. Lang: Did I hear it correctly that there was $250,000 for the acquisition of two units in Watson Lake?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Yes, the Member is correct. It was $250,000 for two units, neither of which was the house we were talking about earlier.
Mr. Lang: It is nice to know we have bought everything in Watson Lake except for two private homes. What exactly did we buy for $250,000 in Watson Lake, and why, when we had six units empty from August until January of this year?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am advised that acquired may be the wrong word. That is the budgeted amount for the two units that we are constructing in Watson Lake: $125,000 each. For the Members information, there are no vacancies in Watson Lake.
Mr. Lang: If a person has a home available to him for little, if any, cost, depending on what his income is, I am sure we could go out and build 150 or 300 and fill them up within a year. Do not tell me there is nothing empty. If the government keeps providing these homes so they become permanent homes for people, you are going to have to continue building homes in each of these communities forever.
With respect to these $125,000 homes, are they the two houses on which the stop order was placed because they were having problems with the bylaws; they had put the houses too close to the street?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: There were two questions. One relates to housing needs in Watson Lake. I want the Member to be aware that we have an identified need for three units. We are constructing two.
These positions are not taken arbitrarily or lightly. The local housing association participates in those decisions. Originally, four units were intended. It was cut back to three to more properly identify the needs. We are now finding we are one unit short. I am sure we will be addressing that in the next round of planning.
The Member also raised the issue of a stop work order. I am advised that the two units we are constructing had a stop work order on them for a short time. It was attributed to the architect who wrongly sited the building. Until that was corrected and resolved, there was a stop work order.
Mr. Lang: Could the Minister tell us the square footage of each one of these units?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I have to take that question as notice and get back to the Member. I am afraid to ask the Member if he wants any more information.
Mr. Lang: I would like to go further into this $93,000 of Capital. In other words, we spent $280,000 on Bamboo Crescent for those two units at $140,000 each. Over and above that, sub-costs would be associated with this $93,000 for supervision and various other things. We do not get a true reading of exactly how much these homes cost the taxpayer directly or indirectly and therefore the Housing Corporation can come and say we built the house for less because all our costs do not show on that line item; they are buried somewhere else. Which projects are these individuals involved in and to what extent? We want a clear reading of what these homes cost.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I want to clarify the $93,000. I may have indicated that there might have been some project costs related to that. I am told that is strictly salaries and benefits. The $140,000 is the total project cost.
Mr. Lang: If these people were not involved in the Bamboo Crescent construction then what were they involved in? You paid $93,000 out to someone to do something. What did they do? If they did something on a project, you did not charge against the project according to what you told me.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Perhaps the Member and I are not communicating. The two project supervisors, for lack of a better term, supervised all the projects that Yukon Housing Corporation was involved with. There were about $9 million worth of projects. That is what they were doing. There are no project costs as such assigned to the $93,000. It is strictly wages and benefits costs. When the Member asks what they were doing, they were supervising $9 million worth of construction.
Mr. Brewster: I notice that when we say that housing can continue to grow on and on, everyone seems to think it is a laughing matter. I will give you an example. Project this out over twelve months. I rode up to Dawson Creek on the bus about three weeks ago. There were two people there who were coming up because relations up here told them they could get a good house and they will bring their families up later. That is one trip, one bus. Multiply that by twelve months. Neither one of them had a job. They were coming up on speculation that they could get a good house.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I think I understand the Members concern. I always respect his opinions and observations. If the Member thinks these people are moving into our social housing programs by simply coming up the highway, I should point out that the eligibility criteria for our social housing programs requires a one-year residency. If the Member is suggesting that they beat that somehow, then he should let our officials know.
Mr. Brewster: I would suggest he go around Haines Junction and see the people who come up and possibly stay in an old shack for that short period of time so they can get in, and other people who turn around and move into those houses in the winter and move into a tent in the summer, because they will not pay the rent on those houses. Nobody can tell me this is not happening.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I certainly would not want to be party to abuses of a very honorable and worthwhile system of providing affordable housing for people who need it but, if the Member is convinced that there are abuses, I would invite him to be specific with me privately or come and talk with the corporation officials. In the communities, all those allocations that are done for housing units pass through the local housing authorities. Perhaps that avenue must be explored to ensure that these people are fully aware of potential abuses taking place and who, we hope, are not party to them.
Family & Single Parent Housing Construction & Acquisition in the amount of a recovery of $2,841,000 agreed to
On Family & Single Parent Housing Land Bank
Family & Single Parent Housing Land Bank in the amount of a recovery of $200,000 agreed to
On Seniors Housing Construction & Acquisition
Mr. Lang: Can the Minister give us a breakdown of exactly where this money was spent? He can provide it to us in the Main Estimates if he does not have it with him.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The $442,000 on the revised vote is totally the associated costs required to complete Closeleigh Manor.
Seniors Housing Construction & Acquisition in the amount of a recovery of $217,000 agreed to
On Seniors Housing Land Bank
Mr. Lang: Where was the land acquired?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: As I indicated earlier in my opening remarks, because of the land shortage to the land bank of Yukon Housing, the original intention was not utilized. However, in this particular case, there is a $20,000 expenditure that is going to be revoted for seniors land acquisitions. No land was actually purchased, but $20,000 is being held for a revote.
Mr. Lang: If you have not spent the money, you give the money back and start a new year. I do not understand why we are voting the money if we have not expended it.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am sure the Member for Riverdale South will hear some similarities in the coming argument. As the Member recognizes, this is a supplementary, which was the estimate of anticipated expenditure at the end of period 6, or September 30. At that time, there was an anticipation that $20,000 would be used for some senior land acquisition, and $10,000 may as well be turned back because it will not be used, so that is what this represents. This represents a period 6 anticipation of $10,000 being turned back.
Mr. Lang: Then we will see this $20,000 in the final supplementary later on this coming year. Is that correct? This $20,000 is not going to be spent, either.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I think the Member is correct, yes. This reflects an anticipated expenditure projection in period 6.
Seniors Housing Land Bank in the amount of a recovery of $10,000 agreed to
On Singles/Couples/Special Needs Construction and Acquisition
Hon. Mr. Byblow: As indicated, the money is being returned for construction that did not happen. I anticipate the Member wants to know what the $500,000 was spent on. At the time this change in authority was being prepared on September 30, $500,000 was intended for the Steele Street construction. Again, nothing will be spent.
To clarify the Steele Street construction, $100,000 has been spent on the land, and $125,000 has been spent on design and survey. So, $225,000 has been spent to date on the Steele Street construction.
To clarify this again: the design and survey only cost $25,000. The land was $100,000, so $125,000 is the correct figure.
Singles/Couples/Special Needs Construction & Acquisition in the amount of a recovery of $1,227,000 agreed to
On Singles/Couples/Special Needs Land Bank
Singles/Couples/Special Needs Land Bank in the amount of a recovery of $90,000 agreed to
On Home Ownership - Lease Purchase
Home Ownership - Lease Purchase in the amount of $2,000 agreed to
Capital Expenditures in the amount of a recovery of $2,585,000 agreed to
On Capital Recoveries
Capital Recoveries in the amount of a recovery of $2,562,0000 agreed to
Mr. Phillips: Could I just ask the Minister responsible for the Housing Corporation if, when he brings back the list of all the social housing, he could also bring back a list of the lease-purchase by address as well? We did have a list made available to us several months ago, but I know there have been some since then.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Would the Member be referring to the 20 units under the lease-purchase program? That is no problem.
Yukon Liquor Corporation
Hon. Mr. Webster: The Yukon Liquor Corporation was unable to complete several capital projects in the fiscal year 1987-88. It was, therefore, necessary that the corporation request the funds to be revoted in this fiscal year 1988-89 in order to complete these projects. The funds requested for revote do not reflect any increase over the original amounts voted.
Mr. Brewster: In general debate, I wonder when whoever makes up these books would get straightened around on the corporate objectives. If you read this, it is strictly nothing but looking after liquor, which I think any of us who live in an outside area knows is completely false. I would say at least 40 to 45 percent of their time is spent selling marriage licenses, hunting licenses, vehicle licenses, everything else the territory will want - accepting bank money for the weigh scales. They do all this work and yet according to the objective in the corporation they do not do any of this work. When are we going to start putting down actually what people in the outlying districts do in the liquor stores?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I think that this is the corporate objective stated as simply as possible. However, there are other duties associated with that because there is not enough work in the main task to fully employ some people, so consequently, there are territorial agents who do the kind of things as described by the Member.
Mr. Brewster: I am not arguing that at all. I am asking why you do not put down actually what they do? That is what the corporate objective should be saying: what actual work they are doing. When they are doing 40 percent other work, why is it not put down? This has been going on for the seven years that I have been in this building. Why do we not own up and admit that they are doing other work?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I will take the Members suggestion.
Mr. Brewster: Last summer, I believe it was December 4, the hon. Mr. Kimmerly came out and went around to all the territorial liquor stores and was going to make improvements. In the Haines Junction area, one thing that all the outlets and all the people who have to bring in empty bottles and all that asked for was a little roof to keep the pigeons from destroying their shirts every time they load and unload. This has been going on for years and years. He promised it would be done, the committee promised it would be done and those pigeons are still hitting them every time. When do you think we will be getting a little roof on there to protect the customers who spend a lot of money in there?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I do not quite know how to respond to that question. Perhaps the previous Minister has some plans of scaring off the pigeons because he certainly did not budget for any capital improvements in this coming fiscal year as well. I will take the Members suggestion that a survey be done of work that is necessary to be done to all the liquor outlets in the territory and perhaps recommend that this work be undertaken.
Mr. Brewster: Well, they have been trying for years to scare off pigeons and swallows and mother nature, and the birds are much smarter than people. They have tried everything out there you could think of and they still continually, successfully, nest there. Everybody may take this as funny, but when you are loading or unloading 12 or 14 cases of liquor and maybe a hundred or 200 dozen beer and these birds are squirting at you all the time, it is not so funny. And every individual who has been out there at the corporation to check over things has said that it should be done. So let us not just think it is funny. Let us do something about it.
Mrs. Firth: During the election campaign, I had it brought to my attention in a couple of constituencies in which I was knocking on door. Some of the service clubs raised a concern with me about the process through which draught beer is provided to the Yukon and particularly to the service clubs, and the tendering process apparently is such that the lowest bidder is the outfit that gets to provide draught beer to the Yukon. Some of the service clubs were indicating to me that it was not necessarily the most popular draught and they were noticing a decline in revenue that they were able to generate in their clubs. I wonder if the Minister has had this concern expressed to him and if he is going to be doing something about this issue.
Hon. Mr. Webster: No, I have not in my short lifetime as Minister responsible for this corporation had that experience. It is absolutely correct that it is the lowest bidder on the tender that is accepted to supply the entire territory with draught. But, as I say, I have had no complaints about the quality of that product.
Mrs. Firth: I will not mention the name of the company that is providing the draught, but from the complaints I had it was that it was not the most popular brand. Perhaps the Minister could check for me and see if the department has had representation made to them because I gather these individuals and some of the service club representatives had gone to the department and were unable to persuade them to look at the process. I wonder if the Minister could just take it upon himself and perhaps report back when we do the debate on the Mains on the liquor corporation.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I will be pleased to do that.
Mr. Brewster: Is it this government or the federal government that is responsible for the fantastic raise that was put in as of April 1 on all beer and liquor?
Hon. Mr. Webster: It was the federal government that put that tax increase on liquor.
On Capital Expenditures
On Dawson Liquor Store Construction
Mr. Lang: There is a 50 percent increase in what was budgeted. Could the Minister tell us why?
Hon. Mr. Webster: The extra funds are required due to a change of plans. The concept involves Parks Canada as well in the overall planning. Originally, it was conceived that the restored Red Feather Saloon would be the actual liquor outlet for the liquor store in Dawson City. Later, it was determined that it would not provide enough space for the Yukon Liquor Corporation to properly provide the service. The plans were revised accordingly. That is reflected in the extra funds required.
Dawson Liquor Store Construction in the amount of $65,000 agreed to
On Electrical Upgrade
Hon. Mr. Webster: These funds are requested to upgrade the lighting in the old portion of the central warehouse to meet standards required by Occupational Health and Safety.
Electrical Upgrade in the amount of $40,000 agreed to
On Docking Ramps
Hon. Mr. Webster: These funds are requested to replace the elevators on two docking ramps. The original elevators were no longer repairable and were considered to be a safety hazard.
Mr. Brewster: I thought that maybe that was the dock going into Haines Junction to stop those swallows, but I guess it is not.
Docking Ramps in the amount of $30,000 agreed to
Capital Expenditures in the amount of $135,000 agreed to
On Schedule A
Schedule A agreed to
Chair: We will now go through Bill No. 33, entitled Third Appropriation Act, 1988-89.
On Clause 1
Clause 1 agreed to
On Clause 2
Clause 2 agreed to
Title agreed to
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that Bill No. 33 entitled Third Appropriation Act, 1989-90 be reported out of Committee without amendment.
Chair: We will now have a brief recess.
Chair: Committee of the Whole will now come to order. We now turn to Bill No. 51. Is there general debate?
Bill No. 51: First Appropriation Act, 1989-89
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Members, having already gone through a couple of budget speeches, would probably rather prefer to get on with departmental debate; however, there a few points that I think are important to make.
In general terms, excluding loan amortization and loan capital, Members can see that we are requesting spending authority of slightly over $329 million to finance the governments operations in the coming year. This is a 1.6 percent increase over the forecasted expenditures for 1988-89 and a nine percent increase over the Main Estimates of 1988-89. While that expenditure increase is higher than usual, it is explainable by saying, in part, that the Main Estimates before you contain several items that have not been budgeted in the past. They, therefore, had to be picked up in the supplementaries in the course of the year - specifically, the Local Employment Opportunities Program, which is now voted within the community development fund in the Department of Economic and Development: Mines and Small Business and the employee leave accrual in the Public Service Commission.
Members can see that if these two items are factored out of the 1989-90 expenditures, the growth over the 1988-89 Mains is 6.9 percent, and this is in line, approximately, with the increase in the provincial local escalator under the formula financing agreement, which runs at about 6.5 percent. The end result of all the changes between the two years is a current year surplus of $695,000.
There are several changes in presentation in the Estimates we are about to discuss. Even though Members have agreed to debate the Capital Expenditures in the first round and the Operation and Maintenance Expenditures in the second round, the budget document of course combines both Capital and O&M Expenditures. The result is obviously a fairly large document; however, it is relatively easy to follow. Members will have also received an errata sheet with their Estimates, and it should be considered to be an important part of the document. It reflects a change made to the 1988-89 forecast expenditure columns, but it does not affect the 1989-90 Estimates figures that we will be discussing.
In keeping with a practice begun in the 1987-88 Public Accounts, the income of the Yukon Development Corporation is not shown in the Main Estimates; nor do any accumulated surplus figures include the retained earnings of the corporation. The corporation is expected to earn $4.8 million in 1989-90.
Capital expenditures for the Yukon Liquor Corporation are not shown in these estimates as they have been in the past. It was felt that the Liquor Corporation, being a business enterprise, should be treated in the same manner as the Development Corporation. Therefore, the profit shown for the Liquor Corporation has been netted down by the capital expenditures they will incur in 1989-90. This reduction amounts to $138,000 for the year.
In some cases, throughout the Main Estimates, Members will notice the column headed 1988-89 forecast does not match the Supplementary No. 1 for that year. These are not errors. Every year there are small reorganizations within the government and switches between Operations and Maintenance, and Capital. In an attempt to make the forecast figures comparable to the estimates being voted, the government reclassifies those figures to match the Estimates. This has been a standard practice and has also been used in Public Accounts.
There are a number of problems, despite best efforts, with typographical errors in the Main Estimates. I would like to draw the Members attention to a couple of them. At the bottom of page 302 the percentage change for term person years should read 50 percent rather than 0 percent printed. On page 321 the 28 in the 1989-90 estimates column should be moved to the 1988-89 forecast column. The 1989-90 column for this item should read 0. This changes the totals to $221,000 for 1989-90 and $148,000 for 1988-89. Apart from that, the major initiatives have been outlined in the Throne Speech and Budget Speech. I am prepared to answer general questions at this point.
Mr. Phelps: I have a question with respect to the forecasting of surpluses and deficits. On page 6 of the budget we have before us, we find a deficit forecast for the year just passed of $18,229,000. As of what date was that forecast made? How accurately was that forecast predicted?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The figure the Member mentions is estimated at about period 6 in the fiscal year. It is basically at about the same point the supplementaries were estimated.
Mr. Phelps: It appears that the actual projections that we are debating were made around September of last year.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Yes, the end of September; that is period 6.
Mr. Phelps: We had an interesting debate in Committee of the Whole a year or two ago regarding these kinds of forecasts. The information provided by the then Minister of Finance was that there are anticipated lapses from anywhere in the range of 16 percent to 19 percent returned of the total budget. What kind of predictions are being made at this time by the Department of Finance with regard to the accuracy in the calendar of the $18 million forecast deficit?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: As the Member will remember, in the initial years from 1985-86 and 1986-87, the capital estimates did grow substantially. The result was the various departments substantially improved their ability to plan a budget and vote and undertake construction works. The bottom line is that there are expected to be fewer lapses on the capital side than occurred before. There will be some revotes required.
On the operation and maintenance side, the commitment control system should improve to show fewer lapses than happened in the past. This will be the first year we actually tested ourselves with that system. I would suspect that the jury is out until the period 13 review. We expect there will be fewer lapses than we experienced before.
Mr. Phelps: I was looking at the capital lapse when I said something like $16 million or $20 million, using a base of $103 million.
The budget this year speaks in terms of an anticipated surplus of $695,000. As the Minister will recall, last year on page 5 of the Operation and Maintenance Mains for 1988-89, the projected current year surplus of operation and maintenance and capital is estimated to be $4,767,000. We are now in a situation where it has changed by some $23 million to the red. Does the Minister feel that this year will prove to be better in that the forecast will be more accurate?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The short answer is yes. The budgeting, because it incorporates into the Main Estimates the employee leave accruals and LEOP, which are two major items, we do expect there to be an improved situation with respect to the lapses that the Member has noted. That is basically the short answer. The Member is aware that, regarding the revotes, a great deal is determined as to whether the opening surplus accounts for revotes to occur. I guess in this particular case we do not know the specific nature of the revotes. We will not know for a couple of weeks. By then we will have a better idea.
Mr. Phelps: I understand one of the reasons for the rather startling size of the lapses experienced in the capital items is the rapid increase in the expenditure side of the government as a result of formula financing, which came into effect in 1985-86 and escalated rather rapidly.
The problem I have with all of this is that experience tends to show that in government, when departments are approaching the end of the fiscal year and they find there is going to be a surplus in their department, rather than express joy and brag about it, there seems to be a sudden indecent rush to spend as much money as they can for fear they may never see that money again. This is a stark contrast to what occurs in the private sector, where managers are encouraged to save money because that means a bottom line of profit, and the reward is the profit. In government, there is the tendency to spend as quickly as they can and feel unhappy if the money is not spent.
What steps does the government take to try to discourage the managers in the departments from doing everything they can to spend as much as they can in order not to have to lapse funds?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I believe there are a number of things that are involved here. The Member has correctly identified a long standing problem. I remember remarking about the same thing myself when I, as a brand new MLA, heard that people were madly out buying equipment for schools. There is an annual year-end rush to supply stores. That is what I thought at the time, and there may be some validity yet to some of that.
There is a number of forces at play that may help to alleviate the situation somewhat, at least in comparison to other jurisdictions that do not have the same budgeting process. The first is the criticism that is hurled upon managers when they do over spend, and the game of brinkmanship a particular manager might undertake to try and spend to the limit is a dangerous game if the manager does not have a very precise handle on the expenditures made within the department right up to the last day of the fiscal year.
The second thing that is at play here is especially so in the capital side, and that is that the government has historically, and for as long as I have been in this Legislature, been relatively easy when it comes to revoting projects, so the artificial deadline date of March 31 is not necessarily considered to be sacred if the Legislature has approved the expenditure for a project. That essentially means that, when the Legislature in one year votes a particular project and the project is not undertaken in its entirety, there is no special incentive, as there might be in other jurisdictions, to go out and spend the money prior to the end of the fiscal year. There is a reasonable expectation within departments that, if the Legislature has approved a project, then the Legislature will reconsider that project once again and generally will approve the project to proceed in the following year.
So I think those two forces guided the problems that the manager would experience when over expending a vote, but certainly would be matters that would help alleviate the situation that the Member has identified.
Mr. Phelps: In just scanning some of the summary pages on tax revenue on page 11, I noticed that in grant-in-lieu of taxes you have a change of 35 percent. Can you tell us why there is such a major change in that line item?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I do not have the detail with me, but I will certainly provide an answer tomorrow for the Member.
Mrs. Firth: I just want to go back a bit to the discussion that the Minister was having with my colleague regarding over expending and managers within the departments. I would like to ask the minister what happens when managers over expend their budgets and what incentive there is to discourage and stop that kind of practice?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Whether the Member believes it or not, given what has happened here in the Legislature and the media, for particular managers there has been public humiliation, which has been one factor, certainly, that I know has been in play. The second factor, I guess, is the role that Ministers play in terms of passing judgment on the performance of deputies. That is another factor that is taken into consideration. Certainly, it is taken into consideration in terms of the performance evaluation of the manager. Those are two factors that I know are in play.
Mrs. Firth: I recall the Government Leader, the former Minister of Finance, saying that there was going to be lot more severe action and public humiliation and bad performance evaluations. How much longer is this going to go on? How many times does the manager have to go through this public humiliation and a poor performance evaluation and yet continue to over spend his operation and maintenance budget? There does not seem to be any accountability or responsibility when it comes to staying within the confines of his budget.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: One of the things that is at play here, too, is the nature of the expenditures themselves. I presume, I am not speaking for the Government Leader, but if it was proven in any way that the a particular manager had wantingly, knowingly, willfully ignored instructions by Management Board, in a sense that they had, despite direction, and for relatively inconsequential reasons, had overspent his budget then that would be a rather severe matter for the Government Leader to consider in personnel management.
However, what is obviously the case is that many of the expenditures made by departments that have overspent the vote authority have resulted in a supplementary after year end that was uncontrollable in a real sense, whether it was for medical travel or maintenance of the highway system. Whether the Legislature sits or not, there is an expectation among legislators in this room that, for example, the roads will be maintained. If it is a bad winter, there is the expectation that the job will be done.
Certainly there is also the expectation and obligation of a Minister to seek the funding after the fact. Unfortunately, though rare, they do occur. They have occurred numerous times within this Legislature, just this term. They have occurred for many years. Despite the desire to the contrary, it is obvious that some of the expenditures could occur in an environment where the control within the government was less than desirable.
A number of things have happened since last year that should improve that situation substantially. If there are circumstances that are considered to be uncontrollable, then that fact has to be taken into account when a manager does over spend the budget. It is important at the same time to send the message to the managers to budget realistically. They do not pad their budget or build in slush funds in order to cover for the eventuality of an over expenditure.
Members will remember in 1985 the experiment with padding of each departmental budget, determined by the percentage of the total budget to account for the change in the Financial Administration Act that called for no over expenditures in the vote. What that does is to encourage managers to consider the 10 percent buffer as a slush fund provided to them and to spend into it without the Legislative scrutiny.
It is good to send the message to managers to budget realistically. In those rare instances where there are over expenditures, the over expenditure should be considered to be uncontrollable and the expectation and obligation that the Ministers will be accountable for those in this Legislature.
Mrs. Firth: My concern is that it appears that nobody is accountable. The Minister comes into the Legislature and we chastise him. He goes back to his department and chastises his managers. The instances are not rare and are becoming regular occurrences. The attitude spills off over the whole government. Soon there develops a rather lackadaisical attitude over the way the government spends money. I think that is reflected in the public as well. The government can continue to spend money, have cost over runs, and get supplementaries, and it is all legal and done by the book. Nevertheless, we are continuing to spend and spend and spend beyond what Legislatures have been initially approving as an expenditure. I do not get any reassurance from the new Minister that there are any steps in place or that he is planning any steps to stop that. I realize the commitment control system is not going to stop all the problems because that is a technical aspect and you still have an attitudinal concern about the way people spend money.
I had heard some comments from government employees that the Government Leader had made comments that the government employees were going to have to be accountable for the money spent within their departments. How is that going to happen? What policies and procedures are going to be put into place to see that the governments are handling their budgets realistically and spending their monies responsibly?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: At the beginning, the Member mentioned that the situation is becoming worse, in her view, as every day goes by. I do take issue with that. I do agree with her that there has been, and there continues to be, given the estimates that have been before this Legislature in the past, a problem that has to be resolved. It has been a problem that has been many years in the making, and the situation can and will improve with such things as a commitment control system. There is no ho-hum attitude in the senior management class of this government with respect to expenditures. She can take my word for that or not. That is the way I see it. There is a very clear sense of responsibility amongst the managers we have. They do not take over expenditures lightly at all.
With respect to the Government Leaders expectations of the senior managers of this government, I should allow the Government Leader to speak for himself on this. I can only mention that, to my knowledge, the Government Leader has been extremely blunt with the senior managers of the government in indicating to them what it means to be responsible and accountable for the funds that are voted and expected to be spent under their guidance. That matter has been communicated on a number of occasions to deputy ministers, and will continue to be told to deputy ministers, whether they are errant or not, to ensure they are mindful of what the expectations of this government are. That is the case, that will be the case and, with the improved measures that one knows are going into effect, I feel the system is improving and has the potential to improve.
I know the Ministers on the front bench of this government do not think in a lackadaisical way at all with respect to expenditures for which they are responsible. They feel that even though some of the expenditures that come forward are uncontrollable in every respect, they still feel responsible and do take the role they play in this Legislature very seriously in accounting for and explaining the expenditures of those monies.
I understand what the Member is saying. I am indicating that, in my view, the system is improving. The messages are out with respect to accountability. If the Member can cite some specific examples of the rush to the equipment supply stores to expend the year end sums, I would be more than happy to take receipt of those cases and ensure that, from my position, action is taken to discourage that kind of activity.
Mrs. Firth: I move you report progress on Bill No. 51.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Motion agreed to
Speaker the resumes the Chair
Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
May the House have a report from the Chair of the Committee of the Whole?
Ms. Kassi: Committee of the Whole has considered Bill. No. 33, Third Appropriation Act, 1988-89 and directed me to report the same without amendment. Further, it has considered Bill No. 51, First Appropriation Act, 1989-90, and directed me to report progress on same.
Speaker: You have the report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Government House Leader that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: This House now stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. tomorrow.
The House adjourned at 9:28 p.m.
The following Legislative Returns were tabled April 3, 1989:
Government Services purchase of key-cutting machine (Byblow)
Oral, Hansard, p. 167
Human Rights Commission, non-payment of taxes to City of Whitehorse (M. Joe)
Oral, Hansard, p. 152