Tuesday, April 4, 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.
Are there any Introductions of Visitors?
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS
Ms. Kassi: I would like to ask the Members to join me in welcoming three young people from my village of Old Crow: Theresa Kendi, Helen Tizya and Daryl Charlie.
Speaker: Are there any Returns or Documents for Tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Ms. Joe: I have for tabling responses to questions asked during Question Period and in the discussion on the Supplementary Budget.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I have for tabling the document entitled Silviculture Survey Report, which is the only study on sustainable yield and/or reforestation in the Watson Lake area over which this government has control. This is readily available in the Business Development Office.
Speaker: Are there any Reports of Committees?
Introduction of Bills?
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
Hon. Ms. Joe: I move that Bill No. 28, entitled Day of Mourning for Victims of Workplace Injuries Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Minister of Justice that Bill No. 28, entitled Day of Mourning for Victims of Workplace Injuries Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Motion agreed to
Are there any Notices of Motion for the Production of Papers?
Are there any Notices of Motion?
Are there any Statements by Ministers?
Game Farming Policy
Hon. Mr. Webster: I would like to take this opportunity to outline this governments policy on game farming.
Commercial farming of animals commonly regarded as wild has a long and successful history in many northern countries. There are now several game farming operations in the Yukon and interest in this type of undertaking is increasing.
Game farming offers the Yukon a new commercial opportunity. It has significant potential to reduce our dependence on meat imports. Game-farmed animals can be brought to market weight in less time and on less feed in Yukon conditions than most domestic species.
To ensure the industrys responsible development, it was clear that the Yukon needed a set of ground rules for the industry.
The game farming policy is the result of several years of study, consultation and close observation of the established Yukon operations. A policy analysis of game farming and ranching was sponsored by the Canada/Yukon Economic Development Agreement. The study, released in 1987, was widely distributed. It was discussed by individuals and groups, such as the Livestock and Agricultural Association, the Fish and Game Association and the Yukon Outfitters Association.
This detailed look at the issues and the comments received from interested Yukoners shaped a policy that will guide and govern game farming in the Yukon.
Under the policy, game farming of caribou, reindeer, rocky mountain elk, wood bison, muskoxen, deer and thinhorn sheep will be permitted in the Yukon.
Game ranching, the free ranging of commercial game animals, will not be allowed because of the potential risks to wildlife populations.
Game farming will be considered a form of agriculture. The agriculture branch will provide research, development and extension services for the industry as it does for other agricultural operations.
The branch will also be involved in the processing, inspection and sale of meat from game farm animals.
To ensure the health of our wildlife populations, the fish and wildlife branch of the Department of Renewable Resources will be responsible for overseeing the procurement, disease testing, transport, identification and containment of game stocks.
For the present, the permitting system already in place will be used to authorize the procurement, transportation, identification, and containment of these animals.
In the future, though, the government will amend the Wildlife Act to provide specific measures for the regulation of the game farming industry.
A liaison group will be formed within the Department of Renewable Resources to coordinate the support and regulatory functions of the agencies working with the industry.
The measures I have outlined today are intended to support and encourage a viable game farming industry in the Yukon while protecting our wild stocks.
To ensure that this policy continues to meet the needs of the game farming industry and provides appropriate protection for wildlife, it will be formally reviewed in two years. Thank you.
Mr. Lang: We have a number of observations to make respecting the statement just brought forward by the Minister.
A major lack in the Yukon is for a large-animal veterinarian. This particular policy announcement begs the question even further: when is this type of expertise going to be made available on an ongoing basis to those people who are in need of this service? This policy cannot be implemented without that kind of expertise available, not only for meat inspection but also for disease control and various other things, as mentioned in the Ministers statement. I would appreciate if the Minister could respond to that when he replies to my comments.
The other area of concern that I would like to raise with the Minister is the number of animals that it would be permissible to have for the purpose of game farming. The policy does includes animals such as possibly moose, bighorn sheep, mule deer, and even falcons, for that matter. It would seem to me that perhaps these are areas where this list should be looked at. For example, we have had an individual who has been in the game farming business for over 20 years in the Yukon Territory and has run it successfully, proving that it can be done. He also is in the process of expanding. He is expanding so that the game farm will not only provide for stock breeding, but will provide a tourism-orientated service, which is a long overdue service. For example, if big-horn sheep are there, how will it the present policy apply that the Minister has brought forward? I think it is something that has to be looked at.
Another area of concern is the question of the actual ownership of animals, since they are classed as wildlife. I think that this is an area that has to be scrutinized by the government when amendments are brought forward for the act, because if these people have paid for the animals and the animals are fenced, then it should be clearly stated in law that the animals belong to them, because there is some question about it, at least in the eyes of the wildlife department.
Another area that will have to be reviewed, that is not mentioned in the policy, is the present criteria requested when land is disposed of for the purpose of agriculture. This is a different kind of agricultural pursuit and subsequently the criteria required to get the land into a situation where it can be used for a game farm is considerably different than if you strictly used it for agricultural purposes. It is something that is going to have to be reviewed if further tracts are going to be given out.
I should also point out that game farming is not just for the purpose of raising meat, which seems to be the intent of the policy statement. For example, elk are raised for breed stock. There are people from outside of the Yukons borders, primarily from Alberta and Saskatchewan and possibly Alaska, if they go ahead with elk farming in that state who are interested in animals raised here for breed stock for future farms. That is where the value of these animals presently lies. I would point out to the Minister that we should be doing everything that we can, as a government, within our authority, to work out arrangements with the various other jurisdictions for transfer...
Speaker: Order, please. I would like to remind the Member that he has one minute to conclude.
Mr. Lang: I would conclude by saying that the policy is a start but there are other areas that will have be looked at by the Ministers department, in conjunction with other departments as well, in order to make this a viable policy.
Hon. Mr. Webster: The Department of Renewable Resources realizes that this is just a start. It is going to take a number of years to develop and refine a policy to meet the ever-changing needs of the industry.
One of the immediate needs has been correctly identified by the Member. That is the need for a large animal veterinarian in the Yukon, not only to inspect the condition of the stock but also to do meat inspection services.
With respect to the question concerning the number of animals permissible on such a game farming operation, I do not know if that matter has been fully considered. In the operations that currently exist, that is not a issue. As time goes on, that question will have to be dealt with, as will the question of the ownership of the animals. Right now, we are only dealing with a few animals at a time. We have agreements in place with agencies outside who are supplying these animals, whereby they will make a certain number available with the understanding that so many will be released to the wild and so many will be kept in the care of one particular individual.
I think the Member brought up a good point with respect to the requirement of the land that is being identified for game farming operations. Again, I do not think this has reached a critical stage yet, the numbers of the game being so low.
As for game farming being used for other purposes than for provision of meat, right now, with some species of animals, they are being developed for breeding purposes. As the number of years go by and more animals are raised in our northern conditions, perhaps it will meet the needs of other people wanting to get into this industry for breeding stock. I can see, for at least the next few years, that will be a purpose in the territory.
Speaker: This, then, brings us to the Question Period.
Question re: Property tax rates
Mr. Phelps: I have a question for the Minister of Community and Transportation Services with respect to his ministerial statement yesterday about the extensive review of property taxes and the policy by his department. Yesterday, he said, 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.
I would like to get on the record what the Minister means by that statement. Is he taking the position that taxpayers in Hootalinqua, just beyond the city boundaries, are not paying a high enough tax rate?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: As the Member is aware, there are anomalies that exist between jurisdictions of municipalities and areas immediately outside municipalities in the taxation rates. It is a representation that has been made to us by the City of Whitehorse and others who indicate that this is a disparity they would like to see something done about. I am simply advising the Member that we are prepared to look at what options may exist for us to find something more equitable to meet the concerns raised.
Mr. Phelps: I would hope the Minister would not just listen to the City of Whitehorse about who is paying enough taxes and who is not. Exactly what services are supplied to people who live in Hootalinqua North, just outside the City of Whitehorse, that would justify a rate increase in their property taxes?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The case that is being made to us by the city is that people immediately outside municipal boundaries take advantage of services that are provided within the city. I expect that is one of the concerns. I would be pleased to hear from the Member what options he may offer to resolve the situation.
Mr. Phelps: There are a lot of businesses in Whitehorse that are quite happy to have people who live outside Whitehorse come and do business in the City of Whitehorse. I would be surprised if they would support the idea that people outside Whitehorse should never come here.
Would the Minister not agree that one way of resolving it would be that the city should charge those who live close to the peripheral boundaries inside the city, and do not receive services, a lower tax rate than people downtown on fully serviced lots?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The suggestion of a variable tax rate within the municipal boundaries of Whitehorse has been suggested. It is a matter of ongoing discussions with the city right now.
Question re: Property tax rates
Mr. Phelps: As I understand it, that power is within the municipal government right now, and I am pleased to see I have some support from the Government Leader in my representations here.
The people in Hootalinqua are pretty upset with the way this issue of property taxes has been handled by this government and by the city. They have more or less been under the gun for several years now with representations made by the City of Whitehorse, and they have had no assurances from this government that it would hear both sides of the story.
In his statement yesterday, the Minister mentioned that the property tax review will solicit public comments. Will the Minister ensure that well-advertised public meetings will be held in Hootalinqua about this issue?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The review that is currently underway will indeed be made public, and we will be soliciting public input. I expect to do that in late summer or early fall. Certainly it will include the area of the Members riding.
Mr. Phelps: I thank the Minister for that. Will he undertake to attend these meetings personally so he can get a feeling for himself about the outrage that is felt by taxpayers in Hootalinqua with regard to the citys position that they should be paying higher taxes?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I certainly do intend to attend as many as I can. I, too, would like to hear the outrage of which the Member speaks.
Mr. Phelps: Will the Minister invite the mayor and the city council of Whitehorse to attend these meetings, which will give them a golden opportunity to justify their representations to the people who are actually going to be affected, and who did not elect them in the first place? Will he do that?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I get the sense that the Leader of the Official Opposition and myself are forming an alliance on this subject. I can certainly extend the invitation, as the Member is fully aware, but I cannot force attendance.
Question re: Hootalinqua North plan
Mr. Phelps: While we are on the issue of public meetings I have a follow-up question for the Minister with regard to holding formal meetings on the draft Hootalinqua plan that has been prepared by the committee. I am wondering: when these meetings are going to be held? What are we going to do about the actual scheduling of the public hearings that are to take place?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: As I indicated to the Members colleague, the Member for Porter Creek East, when the session concludes, I intend to attend and conduct those meetings that are presently committed on the Hootalinqua North plan. I expect that to take place any time following the conclusion of the session, which appears to be sometime in May. That is the most reasonable time frame I can give the Member at this time. I have stated that before.
Mr. Phelps: If I heard correctly, the Minister himself will attend those meetings?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Again, it is my intention to attend as many as I can. Certainly the Member understands the limitations on scheduling and time. I do plan to attend some of them.
Question re: Granger subdivision lots
Mr. Brewster: I have a question to the Minister of Community and Transportation Services regarding the Granger Subdivision. Can the Minister advise the House how many lots are for sale in the subdivision and how many have actually been sold?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I can advise the Member that the first stage of lots sales began on November 30, 1988 and the lottery for them was held on December 13. Five of the 44 lots have been sold with 39 lots now available over the counter.
Mr. Brewster: Although I appreciate the fact that the presence of PCB in the phase three area may have had an impact on the sale of these lots, would the Minister not agree that the selling price of $23,000 to $30,000 for these lots is too high for the average person?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I think the Member is challenging me to a debate on an opinion. I can only advise the Member that the lot sales reflect the development cost, which has been held down to the greatest extent possible. I would add that lots similarly developed elsewhere in the country have been far in excess of the prices we have come up with.
Mr. Brewster: It is very peculiar when you have only sold five and there is nothing wrong. Can the Minister advise the House what plans his department has initiated to make these lots more attractive and more affordable to Yukoners to purchase?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am not sure what the Member is asking. The lots are available. We have every indication that a number of them are going to be sold in addition to the ones that have been sold. We are in the process of upgrading the roads, streets and services to the subdivision on an extended basis beyond the ones that are available now. Is the Member telling me that the public purse should pick up the price of a portion of these lots? I am not sure.
Question re: School, South Alaska Highway
Mrs. Firth: I have a question for the Minister of Education regarding the proposed school in the south highway area. The questionnaire regarding a school in the south highway area is in peoples homes now. They are filling out the questionnaire and raising their hopes about a school in that area. At the same time we have a concern that the Granger school will not be scaled down, according to what the Minister has said, to free up money. We still do not know if the Takhini school is going to be closed down until the Minister has had a chance to read the analysis. All of these things will affect the possibility of the school on the south highway. I wonder if the Minister could give the people who are living in that area and presently filling out the questionnaires any hope or commitment about the Mary Lake school and whether or not it will be going ahead?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: That is a rather incredible question, given the preamble suggested there is a survey currently underway to determine the needs of the south highway area.
For the Members information, the list she cited with respect to public expectations in the City of Whitehorse for new schools and upgraded schools is much more extensive. Her list has not exhausted the expectations of the City of Whitehorse. I could carry the list a number of items further in the major project category.
With respect to raising hopes, the whole purpose of the analysis, done jointly between the Department of Education and the committee struck to review the need for a school, is that there still has to be data collection to determine the need for the school. The Member cited that the government had unequivocally stated that there will be no scale down possible of the Granger school. This is a misinterpretation of what I said to the Leader of the Official Opposition when he was asking about the same subject. I indicated there would be plenty of time, given that the design of the school has to be done this year and is budgeted for this year. There is funding in the budget this year for that purpose. I indicated that there would be plenty of time to determine what the scale of the Granger school would be, with the possibility that there may be something happening in the south highway area. It is just premature to answer any questions the Member is asking.
Mrs. Firth: I submit that there are just as many outstanding questions about the Granger school, yet the decision has been made to proceed with that school. We have the outstanding question about the populations that are not going to be there because the lots in Granger are not being sold. There is the outstanding question of the Takhini school closure. There is also the outstanding question about whether there is going to be a junior high school there. Yet, the commitment has been given that there will be a school in Granger...
Speaker: Will the Member please get to the supplementary question.
Mrs. Firth: I was just about to do that. So that the people who are filling out the questionnaires are not just wasting their time and have some hope, is it a priority of this government to move with a school at Mary Lake, or are they simply making platitudes and positive statements?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Again, the Member is asking me to anticipate the results of the questionnaire and I will not do that. The extensive work that has already gone into the determination as to whether there will be a school at Granger is a matter of public record. There have been a number of facility studies. I indicated, in questioning just recently, that there was also a review done by the Education Council, jointly with the Department of Education. There was a press release issued some time ago announcing that Granger would be the site chosen for another school. I also indicated at that time that the Granger lots going on sale was one factor being taken into account, given that obviously any school in Whitehorse will not be in operation for a couple to three years. It is premature to use the land sales statistics to determine if there is going to be a school anywhere in the City of Whitehorse in the foreseeable future. We make best-guess projections and the Education Council and the Department of Education had made, to date, a best guess projection...
Speaker: Would the Member please conclude his answer.
Mrs. Firth: The Government Leaders positive intentions and emotions do nothing but increase the expectations of the people who live on the south highway about the school at Mary Lake. Can the Minister of Education give us any indication to the people who live out on the south highway who are presently filling out these questionnaires when a decision is going to be made regarding this school? How long are they going to have to wait before they get an answer from this government?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The results of the questionnaire reports will be analyzed over the course of the balance of this month. I would expect that if there are any changes to the capital plan that those changes would have to go through the normal routing of the government budget process. There would certainly be a decision made prior to the summer if it were going to have any effect this year.
Question re: National Energy Board Hearings
Mr. Phillips: My question is for the Minister of Economic Development and is in regard to the National Energy Board hearings on the export of gas from the Mackenzie Delta in the Beaufort Sea regions to be held in Inuvik and Ottawa this April. I understand the Government of Yukon will be making a presentation to these hearings. I am wondering what the position of the Government of Yukon will be during those hearings. Will the Minister be taking the position that the Dempster Highway spur and the Alaska Highway pipeline could be a viable alternative to the Mackenzie Valley pipeline?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: As the Member knows, the application before the National Energy Board is specifically an application to review the export of natural gas from the Beaufort region and does not specifically deal with the issue of the routing of a gas pipeline from the Beaufort to southern markets. However, of course, as the Member knows, the issue of the routing of a transportation network, such as a pipeline down Dempster lateral, down the Mackenzie valley or otherwise, raises an issue at the hearings. The government intends to respond to that when the hearings come forward and they will certainly now be making a presentation, I hope, to the hearings on April 18.
The position of the government is not yet finalized. When it is finalized I will communicate it to Members.
Mr. Phillips: The government must have some vague idea whether it wants to proceed or would like to proceed or propose that these hearings look at the Dempster lateral and Alaska Highway gas pipeline. Has the Minister even got that far in putting a presentation together?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I prefer not to communicate vague ideas at this point. I would prefer to communicate more precise positions of policy that will be finalized, certainly well before the date of the presentation. When the position is finalized in its detail, I will communicate it to the Members.
Mr. Phillips: I wonder if the government then could answer this question. Will the Government of Yukon be supporting the proposal to construct the pipeline down the Mackenzie Delta to Hay River? Will it be supporting that proposal at these hearings in April?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: As I indicated at the beginning of this, the hearings themselves are about the export of natural gas and the NEB will not be asked to comment upon a particular routing option. However, the question is essentially the same question the Member asked initially about the preferred routing option for a natural gas pipeline. Whether it be the Dempster lateral or whether it be the Mackenzie Valley, the government will be taking a clear position on the matter. Further, the government will be making its case before the NEB at the Inuvik hearing.
Question re: Yukon Pacific Forest Products
Mr. Devries: During the past few days, discussions have been taking place between the YDC and Yukon Pacific here in Whitehorse. One of the topics to be discussed relates to the training program the government is committed to. Barring any secrets they do not wish to disclose, will the government be prepared to present the training program and anticipated costs, once the costs are presented to them?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am pleasantly surprised that the Member seems to know about discussions and the agendas of meetings, perhaps in greater detail than I. Perhaps I should be asking the questions of him. As the costs are borne by this government, the precise arrangements for the training of the people in Watson Lake will be a matter of public record, but I am absolutely certain no conclusions about the cost or even about the exact nature of the training have been reached yet.
Mr. Devries: Again, on the training project, I realize it could be difficult to answer, but do we know if the funds for this project are provided through Employment Canada and from the Department of Education? Do we have any idea where these funds will be drawn from?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: As the Member may know, there are some federal training programs that we may be able to access. There are a number of training programs that are offered by this government. There may be some entirely novel initiatives developed in connection with the Yukon College as a result of the discussions. At this point, in the interest of the employees at the mill and the people of Watson Lake, we have agreed to underwrite our costs of those things. If there is a program by which we can also access federal monies, then well and good.
Mr. Devries: Does the Minister know if any of the meetings that are presently taking place here in Whitehorse are open to the public or to the media?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I do not know what meetings the Member is referring to. If he is talking about meetings of the operating company of the mill, the question would not be put to me, it would have to be put to that concern. Given it is a private company with private business, I suspect it would be somewhat unusual if they held their meetings in public.
Question re: Health, transfer of
Mr. Nordling: With respect to the health transfer, the Minister of Health and Human Resources has told us that, since he became Minister, there have been two letters sent from the deputy minister to the federal government. When is the transfer expected to be completed and what we are asking for in order for the transfer to take place?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: As the Member knows, the position taken by this government was that the transfer should proceed in at least two stages, the initial stage being the transfer of the hospital. The substantial decision that has to be made by the federal government before that transfer can proceed is about the funding of the construction of a new hospital. Once a firm commitment from the federal government is received on that question, the negotiations can proceed very quickly toward the transfer of the hospital. If we receive a decision this month, I believe I would be ready to come to the House this fall with a bill to provide for the hospital transfer and the governance of the hospital.
Mr. Nordling: Is a new hospital a prerequisite for the transfer of any programs?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The position taken by this government is that we wanted to deal with the hospital transfer first that being the cornerstone of any health delivery system in this territory and that a new hospital to provide for the present and future needs of this community was absolutely an essential condition of that transfer. That is the decision we are waiting for. The variety and complexity of the programs beyond the hospital program would mitigate against us having the transfer of those precede the hospital transfer.
Mr. Nordling: My understanding from the answer is that there will have to be a new hospital before anything more is done on the transfer. Are we asking for any more than the existing federal funding and resources?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Let me respond first to the preamble. Having stated our position, I want to say that we are not absolutely inflexible and I would not state categorically that under no circumstances would there be some arrangement by which we would take a transfer as a complete package, or accept some elements of the health program other than the hospital. The problem with the program as it is now is that increasingly over the last few years there has been contracting out, a privatization and a reduction of staffing and resources under the federal program. It is a substantial question in our mind as to whether all elements of the program are adequately funded at this moment. If there are parts of the program that are inadequately funded then we would not like to take an underfunded program.
Question re: Campgrounds, Simpson and Francis Lake
Mr. Devries: My question is for the Minister of Renewable Resources.
The campgrounds at Simpson and Francis Lake on the Campbell Highway have heavy weekend use by residents of Watson Lake as well as by many tourists as they are passing through. Does the Department of Renewable Resources have any plans for upgrading and expanding these two campgrounds this year?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I want to thank the Member for his question. I would much prefer to receive a question during Question Period than a storage shed worth $15,000.
With respect to the two campgrounds in question, Simpson Lake and Francis Lake, I know that we have plans to upgrade the campground at Francis Lake, however not this year. I will have to look in the budget for the Simpson Lake campground that is under discussion at this time.
Mr. Devries: Perhaps we could use the $15,000 storage shed as a wood shed at one of the campgrounds with all of the rain we have been getting the past few years. They have been having problems keeping the firewood dry.
The Rancheria Lodge and Motel wishes to expand its facilities thereby creating more jobs for Yukoners. One of the hurdles in the way is the Rancheria Campground. Is the Minister aware of the Rancheria Motels interest in this campground and has he had any discussions with the department regarding this?
Hon. Mr. Webster: From the Members representation I gather that the private owners campground is adjacent to the Government of the Yukons campground? Is that the situation? The private owner wants to expand into that area?
No, I am not aware of that situation. I am sorry.
Mr. Devries: Actually, it is not the campground as much as the fact that his building projects are boxed in by a lake on one side, the highway on the other side, the river along the back, and the government campsite on the one side. They have a campground there that they feel is in competition with the government campground, in certain areas. The government campground expansion, two years ago, was disputed by the lodge owners. As they already had visions of expanding at that time, they disputed the government expanding the government campground from 12 to 21 units. Is this another example of the government listening to its people?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I do not know if this is another example of the government listening to its people, but I will take the matter as notice and look into the situation to see how it developed the expansion of the campground from 12 to 21 units and respond to the Member.
Mrs. Firth: Before I start my question perhaps I could take a moment to welcome the students who have arrived in the Legislatures public gallery this afternoon to observe their elected representatives in action. I would like all Members to make them welcome. We hope they enjoy their experience.
Question re: Emergency telephone number
Mrs. Firth: I have a smile for my colleague to the right. I think I just scooped him.
I would like to ask a question to the Minister of Community and Transportation Services. It is regarding the 911 emergency number, which I believe is an internationally recognized number for emergency assistance for the public. There has been representation made by the public and by the St. Johns Ambulance instructors for the establishment of this service in the Yukon. A year ago, the Opposition Members brought forward a motion requesting that the government consider establishing a 911 emergency number.
Will Yukoners and visitors to the Yukon Territory be able to benefit from this particular service, this summer perhaps?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: It is my understanding that an internal review by the department is just being completed now and should be done this month. I understand also that some additional work is required to determine some costs associated with equipment that would be provided by Northwestel. That equipment is being sought. Once these items are completed it is my understanding that there will be some further consultation with communities. We can expect some final decisions within a couple of months.
Mrs. Firth: The previous Minister of Community and Transportation Services announced over a year ago that the establishment of this emergency number was under active consideration. It is over a year now. Can the Minister give us any commitment that we have this service in the Yukon for the summer? He has said two months. I am quite concerned that it be established. I would like to know if there are any particular hold-ups, and can he give us a commitment that this service will be established as soon as possible for the benefit of tourists and of Yukoners?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: My familiarity with the issue is that we still require some costing options relating to equipment. We still require some detail, administratively, with respect to the implementation. I understand that there are some dollars involved. That is the decision I will be facing shortly when I have the information. So that is largely the stage it is at. It is ready for final decision making.
Question re: Locksmithing
Mr. Lang: I have a question for the same Minister. It has to do with the response to the legislative return that was tabled in the House yesterday and had to do with the government getting into the locksmithing business.
Just to refresh the Ministers memory, I wrote a letter a number of months ago, when it first came to my attention that there was some thought that the government would be getting into this business, since there are small businesses established in town to provide this service. I have since found out that the government has bought a key-cutting machine for $450. But also in the financial part of the legislative return, the Minister fails to point out that there are going to be other costs, such as training individuals to use this, the cost of providing the necessary blanks for the cutting of keys and various other costs for this type of service being put into place within the government. In view of the fact that in his legislative return he said that, I have directed my officials to explore options for tendering all key cutting for the government, is it the intention of the Minister to give instructions that the key-cutting machine will not be used that they will go back to using the services they have had in the past?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I should remind the Member that the letter he sent me was in the last week or 10 days. If there was a previous letter, I am not aware of it.
With respect to the question at hand, I recognized the Members concern about the matter and explored it with the industry and yes, indeed, I have asked my department to explore options of, firstly, whether we need the machine and, secondly, whether we should be approaching industry in a different fashion than the ad hoc approach that is currently in place, where everybody essentially cuts ones own keys during the job and as required.
As the legislative return indicates, the key-cutting machine was strictly for Government Services building maintenance use. It encompasses only a $500 revenue source to the industry, which is shared by about one-half dozen different key cutters. In view of that small amount of revenue affected and in view of the fact that it would streamline the ability of building maintenance people, who are always involved in key-cutting requirements, it seemed to me that we could retain the machine while we are taking a second look at it.
Mr. Lang: The point is that there is a lot more cost related to this machine than just the purchase of it. As I indicated earlier, you will have to buy the necessary blanks to be cut, you have to train someone and all the other variables involved with respect to running this machine. It is not just a matter of buying a machine that runs by itself. I appreciate the fact that he is reviewing a decision that obviously was made internally but I would ask the Minister when he will be making a firm decision with respect to instructing the department to sell the machine they presently have and get out of the locksmithing business? Can we expect a decision within the next 10 days?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I should remind the Member that almost anyone can operate a key-cutter. I have one at my hotel that I learned how to use in about two minutes. I should also remind the Member that, with respect to the blanks, there is a cost savings relating to internal use of the provision of blanks. They cost a few cents, and the cutting that is done on the job is far less than sending a $20-an-hour tradesperson down the street to wait in line for getting a key cut. On the basis of those reasons, the cost-saving decision was made.
I have asked for a review of the decision and our involvement in the key-cutting business, and I hope to have some detailed information and options shortly.
Mr. Lang: We have two options: keep it or get rid of it. It is easy for the Minister to sit there and say it is not really affecting any business. I know what is going to happen. Government Services provides services for all departments within the government. If the Minister thinks we are so naive that it will only stay within one particular department, he had better give his head a shake. It is going to affect a lot more than the Minister said it would in his legislative return.
Can we expect a decision from the government with respect to this matter within 10 days?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member is suggesting that this key-cutting machine that is going to be located in building maintenance services and used by building maintenance people for their key-cutting needs which, at the retail level, cost $500 to about six operators over the course of a year, somehow is going to cut the thousands of keys for the entire government and move into changing locks and all the other locksmithing services that are currently provided by the private sector. This is not going to happen, under specific direction and discussion. I know the machine is going to be used strictly within building maintenance, strictly within the components of description, as per the legislative return, and I will make the decision when I have the information.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now lapsed. We will now proceed with Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Mr. Phillips: I would like to provide some more information to the Members of the House on our guests who are here with us today. The students are from the grades 10 and 11 Social Studies classes at FH Collins. They are here today for about an hour, and they will be here tomorrow, also. They are here on a project to help them better understand how the Legislature works.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: From this side of the House, we would like to extend our best wishes to the students who have come to join us today, and thank them for ensuring that all MLAs in the Question Period today were on their best behaviour.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that 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. At this time we will have a brief recess.
Bill No. 51 First Appropriation Act, 1989-90 continued
Chair: We will continue with general debate on Bill No. 51 First Appropriation Act, 1989-90.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Yesterday Mr. Phelps asked a question about the grant-in-lieu of taxes that is shown on page 11 of the Main Estimates booklet. The Main Estimates show a figure of $514,000 due from the federal government as a grant-in-lieu of taxes. The change shown is rather dramatic from the forecast of 1988-89 to the now current fiscal year. The short answer I suppose is that the forecast shown in the Main Estimates is known to be low and is expected, by the estimates given by the Department of Community and Transportation Services, to be in the neighbourhood of $489,000. The increase to $514,000 would show a five percent increase, which appears to be more realistic.
Mrs. Firth: Last evening when we were just finishing up the debate about the expenditure of public funds, I believe we were discussing responsibility and accountability of the managers within the departments and with the Ministers on the front bench. During the last few months before the election campaign, the government made several announcements about expenditures that were going to occur yet had never been debated in this Legislature and had never been brought forward to this Legislature. The Minister of Finance himself made two announcements at the Association for Yukon Communities meeting regarding an increase of seven percent in operating and maintenance monies to be paid to the communities, and an increase of $1.5 million in the capital monies to the communities. I believe at that time he even expressed that he did not have Cabinet approval for the expenditure of those funds and that it had not been debated in the Legislature but it was going to be. There were several other programs announced: the endowment fund for $1 million; the northern studies program; and the special needs program for another $1 million-plus.
Is that going to be a practice that continues with this government? Are Ministers at liberty to make those kinds of public announcements before the funds have been brought forward to the Legislature for public scrutiny?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The practice in the past has been that decisions of a financial nature that would commit rearrangement of funding have cleared the Management Board stage. In the matters and instances that the Member has cited, Management Board did give approval to each item.
Historically, the projected increase to the grant funds provided to the municipalities has been provided in the fall of the year, anticipating that their budgets would have to be established prior to the beginning of the calendar year. For the time that I have been in the Legislature, including in Opposition, it has been the continuing practice of the department and the Minister of Community Services to announce to the Association of Yukon Communities the expected increase in the grant, subject to approval.
The capital block fund is driven by legislation as one percent of municipal assessments. That is a separate act of this Legislature. It is safe for any Minister to project an expected increase to a block fund.
Regarding the alleged comments that I made with respect to no Cabinet approval, that is incorrect. I do not, have not or would not do the things that she has mentioned.
With respect to the endowment, the governance of the college was formed in a letter and approved by Management Board. It was indicated that the funding would be subject to legislative approval. With respect to other decisions made from time to time, the requirement is that there is vote authority in that Management Board has given its approval. In those cases that the Member mentioned, that has been given.
Mrs. Firth: The Minister was quoted in the media as having said that. I suppose the media is wrong again or that it is someone elses fault. He never said that and never would say that.
I am simply trying to get the rules laid out. The new Minister of Finance is telling us that, from now on, as long as the Management Board has approved an expenditure and as long as a decision has been made in the back rooms, it does not matter that the Legislature has not had an opportunity to look at it or debate it, or that the public has not been informed of it. The government is going to go about making these announcements. I think, in essence, that is what the Minister is saying. So long as we know what rules we are playing by, so that we know what to expect from this government. Now we know what to expect.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It is a rare event when it is considered to be in order for a Member of the House to comment or to try to justify himself based on the media reports. I have indicated what my position is with respect to these matters. This has always been my position and will always be my position. The position stands.
The Member wants to know the operating rules for the government. These are the same operating rules that existed in 1982, in 1985 and now in 1989.
Mrs. Firth: I would like to follow up on a more specific issue with the Minister of Finance. The expenditure by summary by allotment in the Main Estimates 1988-89 was for $95,569,000 for wages. In the new budget we have a personnel allotment of $105,407,000. That is an increase of approximately $10 million for salaries. When I do my calculations, I see that there are approximately 80 new person years in this budget. Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I presume that the Member is referring to the table on page 14 on the person years establishment. The increase from 1988-89 to 1989-90 is between 1,912 total and 1,842. That would be the difference in the person year establishment that we can estimate at this point.
Mrs. Firth: So there are 70 new person years. Is that what the Minister is saying? The Estimates of 1988-89 estimated 1,745.4 person years. That estimate this time is 1,823.7 person years. I see that as an increase of 80 person years over the past budget.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I guess we are agreeing to read the estimate page because the estimate page, page 15, marks a three percent increase in the person years establishment from 1,749.40 person years estimated for 1988-89. It increased to 1,776.50 over the forecast for 1988-89 and the estimate for 1989-90 is 1,825.70, a three percent increase. I have no reason to disagree with these figures.
Mrs. Firth: The estimate in 1988-89 was 1,745.40. That obviously rose to 1,865.51, so that was an additional 120 person years in last years budget. Obviously, when they brought the budget to the House they were short 120 person years and after they had spent all their money and made all their Management Board decisions, we have 120 more person years within the budget.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I do not have last years estimates at hand, but the Member will note that on page 14 in 1989-90 Estimates, the total of 1,912 incorporates Capital person years. Now we are bringing the budgets together and though I have to check on the specific question the Member has asked, that might be some explanation.
Mrs. Firth: I have both budgets in front of me and I am not taking into account Capital person years. I am simply talking about O&M person years.
In the Budget of 1988-89, there were 1,745.4 person years. This forecasts in 1988-89, on page 14 that it will be 1,865. I would expect that that represents O&M person years, or is the Minister now saying that is O&M and Capital from the previous year.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: That includes Capital.
Mrs. Firth: So, a part of that 120 increase over the 1,745 includes Capital. I wonder if the Minister could tell us how many are Capital, because for this year we are only talking about 86 Capital person years. Perhaps he could tell us what that Capital person year designation was for 1988-89?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: On page 17, the Capital person years show the 1988-89 Estimates to be 93.53. The forecast is 89.01. As the Member mentioned, it is 86.69 in the Estimates for this year.
Mrs. Firth: We are still out 120 person years minus that number. Perhaps I could just ask the Minister how many Management Board decisions were made in the year 1988-89 for new person years? Would he be able to bring us that information so that we know how many new person years were added to the budget?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I will bring that information back
Mrs. Firth: Perhaps he could bring that information back for the Capital Budget as well for 1988-89, and could he give us an indication of what the projections are? There must be some projections that the government is making of some additional person years that it may require in the 1989-90 Estimates due to things like devolution, land claims and so on. I feel that there are probably going to be more Management Board decisions made this year for additional person years and I would like to get some idea of what they might be.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I can bring that information back to the Members. I would not feel it would be worthwhile for me to bring back what would be person years that we could only speculate about at this time. There may be a requirement for extra person years in a particular area. It would be inappropriate for me to anticipate a Management Board decision at any particular time about whether or not person years will be required. If there is a known requirement at this point that is firm, for which there is some kind of commitment made, I could include it.
Mrs. Firth: Is that a commitment to bring that information back to us?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Yes, I indicated that I would with the exception that I would not be speculating about what Management Board will be approving in the future. I will not bring back any figure that involve that kind of speculation.
Mrs. Firth: Certainly the Minister must have some projections of potential person years that are going to be required as a result of devolution and land claims so that we can get some idea of projected government growth. I am not asking the Minister to speculate. I am hoping that the government has some processes in place, that they are doing their homework when it comes to the potential growth of government as a result of devolution and land claims.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am sure that there are departmental estimates as to what kind of workforce is required to deal with certain major issues of the day, such as devolution and land claims. However, whether or not the department receives Management Board approval for increased person years has, at this point, not been determined, or whether or not reallocations of person years within a department are made in order to accommodate the new projects. It has also not been determined whether or not the government and Management Board agree with the departmental estimates that they may be anticipating would be required to meet the person year need, to deal with the issues such as devolution or land claims.
If Management Board has made a decision with respect to any increase in person years, I would certainly bring that back to the Member. If the Member is asking me to speculate as to what the requirements might be and to try to anticipate Management Board decisions with respect to departmental requests, I cannot do that. I hope the Member understands that it would be inappropriate.
Mr. Lang: In view of the major increase in person years in the government, could the Minister outline the additional costs over and above the salaries that have been incurred by the government? Do we have the office space available for the positions that have not been filled within this budget? If not, what are we going to do to provide the necessary offices and the other things that are required to meet these peoples job-related needs?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I will try to pull for the Member the governments estimates with respect to this three percent increase in person years and related benefits and office space. Office space in particular is something the Member will want to discuss with the Minister of Government Services, during the Government Services Estimates.
I will try to glean the information concerning the termination of pay and benefits associated with this three percent increase from the administration and bring it back.
Mr. Lang: It is quite a number of positions to be increasing in any given year, and I think the Minister would have to stand in his place and admit that it is a significant increase in the size of the civil service. I would also ask how many of the projected positions we will be dealing with 70 or 90? I guess it depends on who we talk to. Of the new positions that are coming on stream, how many of them have not been filled?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: With respect to the details of this three percent increase in the person year establishment, I am sure the Ministers will be more than prepared to provide justification for each individual person year that they may be requesting. Certainly I, as one, will be better prepared to do that when the Main Estimates of my department come forward for discussion.
Normally whenever the Member for Porter Creek East speaks, my mind goes into instant action and the answers jump to my tongue with lightning speed; however, for some unexplained reason, I do not remember the Members question.
Mr. Lang: We notice more and more of a blank over there as time goes on.
How many of the new positions allocated in this budget have not been filled? It is a principle that the Legislature vote on the need for new money and new positions. How far has the government proceeded in filling positions arbitrarily without having the budget in place?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I do not know how many of the new positions have been filled. I would suspect there has been very little time to fill any of the new positions, but I will have the information brought back.
There may be some department initiative that would be incorporated under a capital project. We do incorporate the capital person year figures here. There may be other projects in the Operation and Maintenance Budget such as interim financing. I am not sure and would have to bring the information back for the Member.
Mr. Phelps: I would like to make a representation on the way the figures seem to be bandied about. We are told there is a three percent increase on the person years. One would refer to page 15 in the Operation and Maintenance Budget, and on page 14 for the combined. I have an objection to this. We have a situation of a five percent increase in person years from this time last year when we were debating the last budget. Halfway through the year, the government bootlegs in a 30, 40 or 50 percent increase over and above what we agreed to and then uses that faulty basis for justifying an increase and reducing it from five percent to three percent. I do not think that is professional or ethical. It seems to me the real comparison is from year to year. Last year at this time we were told there was going to be 17,049.4 person years and at this time we are told there is 18,025, an increase of 76 person years. That is a little over five percent. I have an objection to people saying it is only three percent when it is an awful lot more, and I would like to have that on the record.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Member has an ethical standard that I have a hard time accepting. Certainly the Member has just cast aspersions on the experience of the Pearson government that set the technical budgeting process. This has been the process for as long as I have been around. The reason for identifying the forecast figures is that the Legislature has approved the forecasted expenditure in the Main Estimates and that the Supplementary Budget has been approved.
The change has always been cited as a change in forecast and estimate. There has not been an attempt by anybody to hide what happened with the Main Estimates last year and what is happening with the Main Estimates this year. Those are cited on the same column figure on the various pages of this budget book. The numbers of person years are very clearly stated both numerically and in terms of percentages. Nobody is attempting to hide anything. If they were, then I would agree with the Members accusation with respect to the ethics of budgeting. However, that is not the case and I do not share his opinion.
Mr. Phelps: The increase is five percent, not three percent, over what we discussed in this Legislature previously. We are going to have to expect that from now on there is going to be an increase of two or three percent between now and the next forecast. A year from now, the Minister will stand in this House and say it is only a modest increase because they are expected to keep growing as suits their whim and fancy. I do not think it is acceptable. There has been a five percent increase since we last discussed person years. I would hope that not one more, or even the .3 figure more than 1,825.7, shows up next year when we discuss person years on the operation and maintenance side.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I cannot guarantee that the figure will be over or under. Whatever happens will be discussed in the Legislature. The various Ministers will be prepared to provide justification for whatever is proposed for person year establishment in their departments.
I reiterate that we clearly disagree on this matter. The budgeting process has been in place for a considerable period of time. There is no attempt whatsoever to hide the estimates under the dollar figures or person year figures for departments. The standard has been to compare forecasts for the year. We have gone through the supplementaries, we are going into the mains. This is a new debate. We are talking about a representative increase or decrease, dollars or person years between what we have just completed discussions on and what we are initiating discussions on. That has been the standard for as long as I have been in this Legislature. I reiterate once again, that if there was any attempt to hide the figures or votes, I would agree that it would be unethical. I would stand against that. I do not find that to be the case.
Mr. Phelps: I have a modest proposal for the Minister. Perhaps, this year they could hire an extra 100 people until next October and insert that 100 person years in the forecast and then get rid of half of those so that an actual increase of 50 person years would show up as a minus three percent. It would look pretty good in the Star.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I would find that to be a highly irresponsible thing to do. There would be an expectation following our discussions of the general budget figures for the Ministers to justify each and every individual person year that he or she was requesting. I think that would also make good headlines in the Star. In the total picture, that would not be a responsible route to take.
Chair: Is there further general debate? If not, we will proceed with Schedule A.
On Schedule A
Chair: It has been agreed that the Committee will deal with capital estimates before operation and maintenance estimates. I refer Members to Executive Council on page 50 in the Estimates book. Is there general debate on these fields?
Executive Council Office
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I would like to provide a brief explanation for the capital proposal of $22,000. There are two $11,000 items. The first is for the Bureau of Statistics branch to purchase and store information from Statistics Canada. As Members who have been here for previous debates know, this involves the purchase of microfiche readers, storage units, microfiche specialized distribution materials and unpublished census information.
The $11,000 for the Public Affairs Bureau is for the purchase of a colour film processor that will enable the department to process colour film resulting in improved services and greater economy to our client departments.
Mrs. Firth: Does that mean then that the private sector will no longer be required to develop the coloured film for the Public Affairs Bureau that they will have their own ability to do that? Is that what the Minister is saying?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I do not know to what extent the private sector is doing work now. I will be quite happy to check that out. I know there are the facilities inside this government for processing film and developing film. I know, for high quality work, much of it has to be sent south in any case, but I will report back on the exact extent to which we have been using local private sector facilities, and on the extent, if any, that they would be displaced by this expenditure.
On Bureau of Statistics
On Statistical Support
Statistical Support in the amount of $5,000 agreed to
On Research Support Material
Research Support Material in the amount of $6,000 agreed to
Bureau of Statistics in the amount of $11,000 agreed to
On Public Affairs Bureau
On Photographic Section Equipment
Photographic Section Equipment in the amount of $11,000 agreed to
Public Affairs Bureau in the amount of $11,000 agreed to
Executive Council Office in the amount of $22,000 agreed to
Community and Transportation Services
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I have a number of summary remarks about aspects of the capital budget on Community and Transportation Services that I would be pleased to present at this time.
The budget, as indicated, consists of $49,024,000. It reflects a recovery of $19,480,000. There is a $3 million increase in the projected spending from the past fiscal year and it also represents an increase of $3.5 million in recoveries.
In the communications branch, there is $3,855,000 that is going to be undertaken for expenditure. It is related to the operational requirements for an improved service. It speaks to the second year of a five-year program for the replacement of the VHF mobile radio system, putting in place a modern communications network. The estimated cost is $3.7 million. In addition to the replacement of the community radio and television systems, mountain top translator equipment that is used to deliver CBC television signal to the numerous communities in the Yukon is also expected to be completed in 1989-90.
In the community services and municipal engineering section, the capital program has been developed to meet government-wide goals as well as to focus on a number of departmental goals cited in the budget book. Expenditures are, as noted, $16,139,000. The expenditures relate to continuation of infrastructure development in the communities. Major water and sewer projects are proposed in the current fiscal year in the communities of Haines Junction, Teslin, Mayo and Carcross.
There will be work done on solid waste disposal sites planned in Old Crow and the Klondike Valley, as well as design and preliminary development work in Whitehorse West. The budget for this work is $125,000.
There is considerable road and street work planned in Pelly Crossing, Old Crow, Beaver Creek, Elsa and Burwash. The total street and road budget is estimated at $1,080,000.
Rural ambulance and fire protection services are going to be improved. This budget calls for three new fire trucks and three new ambulances.
As well, the Rural Electrification Program has been extended to include telephone services and, as Members are aware, the Municipal Infrastructure Grants Program will be receiving increased funding. This is the block funding initiative. Expenditures for block funding will be $9,129,000.
In the lands branch, again, there are considerable expenditures related to the goals of the government and the department, primarily to improve the quality of life for all Yukon people as well as economic diversification to local control.
There is $8,103,000 in the lands budget, most of which involve land recovery funds for developing lots. There will be a continued focus on residential and land development in light of the demand associated with the current economic activity. In this regard, the primary initiative is the continuation of the Granger neighborhood as well as lot development in Beaver Creek, Ross River, Keno City and Carcross.
There is work planned in the Hootalinqua North area, Golden Horn, Annie Lake, Dawson and Rock Creek.
Also, to meet the demand for industrial and commercial property, there are a number of lots that will be developed in a number of other areas, including McCrae, the Kopper King area, as well as in Dawson in the Callison Subdivision, and also development of highway lots in Dawson City.
In the transportation division, again the expenditures proposed here total $20,979,000. Again, this government is continuing with the long term capital investment strategy, which is intended to optimize the transportation infrastructure and equipment investment. There will be continued emphasis on base strengthening of the Klondike Highway from Whitehorse to Carmacks as well as completion of the reconstruction south of Stewart Crossing. The Campbell Highway is a priority in the Faro to Carmacks section and on the Silver Trail. Priority will be given to several spots between Mayo and Elsa.
Subject to federal funding under the Engineering Services Agreement, there may be up to $8,600,000 spent primarily on projects to improve the Dempster Highway and the south Klondike between Carcross and Fraser.
Also, there will be some bridge work done on the ore haul route, previously identified. There is capital work planned for rehabilitation on the Takhini River bridge, and there will be pre-engineering design done for the crossings at Pelly at Faro, and on the Yukon River bridge at Carmacks.
This is the fourth year of a five-year program. The Resource Transportation Access Program continues to provide $2.2 million in response to the various resource access needs.
In the aviation section, there will be work undertaken on airstrips throughout the Yukon, with a projected spending of $2.5 million, which will contribute to the upgrading and engineering work expected there. I am sure Members understand that will be determined by the funding actually received from Transport Canada.
In summation, the budget reflects the governments commitments to promote local self-government, to provide support to municipalities and to provide municipal services and facilities in unincorporated communities. As stated earlier, the general thrust is to continue toward the goal of improving the quality of life for all Yukon people, economic diversification and encouraging local control. I would be pleased to answer any questions in line by line or in general debate.
Mr. Brewster: I will not take very long in general debate. I have asked all my experts and people on this side, and they cannot tell me, and I cannot find it. I thought at first I was blind. Where would the LEOP grants show up in this so that, when we get to it, I can ask some questions?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The LEOP monies do not show up in this budget specifically. The money has been redirected to the community development fund in the Department of Economic Development.
Mr. Brewster: No wonder I could not find it.
The other thing I would like to bring up is the Alaska Highway. I just came back from a meeting of all the lodge owners on the Alaska Highway. They are a very discontented bunch of individuals. I am going to have to agree with them on something, although I did not think it was true. When our Centennial comes in 1992, there is no thought of even using the Alaska Highway at all. By then, there will not be anything left, and everything will be rerouted through Dawson.
This is not my thinking. This is the thinking of people up and down the road. You cannot start in 1990 and 1991 and fix that road in time so the tourists can come. We lose tourists every year, and all we have is the same maintenance budget of $9 million, which we have always had. They have not improved it a bit. They lost all the road last year. I do not think anybody has made any preparations or found any money or allowance for the snow this year. You have one whole area that is very upset and very mad, and I have to agree with them. I have been in this building for seven years trying to get something done on the main artery, the main road through the Yukon and, what do we do? We develop every other road but the main road where the main traffic is.
You are going to step back and say it is up to the federal government. The federal government also puts money into the Dempster Highway and the other highways, and they always seem to be able to find money to improve them, but there is never any improvement done on the Alaska Highway. The Kluane Country Association, which has membership up and down the highway, is saying outright that there will be nothing to go up there on in 1992. It will be rerouted through Dawson, and will be routed back the same way, because that road is being improved every year.
I now have it on record, and I would like the Ministers reply.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member quite correctly outlines a long-standing problem facing us: that of the Alaska Highway. When we were in Alaska with the parliamentary exchange there were a series of meetings that took place specifically relating to the Alaska Highway. As the Member is aware, part of the Shakwak Project includes the funding for the portion of the highway from Haines Junction to Beaver Creek by either the State of Alaska or the American government.
The Shakwak Project has reached Haines Junction and is in the final stage of construction. We had discussions on the completion of that project. The Americans are reluctant to continue funding that project as originally set back in 1974, so we have a problem on that front.
I spoke personally with Mr. Hickey, the Commissioner, and their position quite clearly represented that they had funding problems and nothing was going to go forward without some sort of a deal struck.
As late as February 24, the previous Minister of Highways met in Ottawa with the federal Minister, McInnes. The federal government is not prepared to advance funding for the Alaska Highway. It appears that discussions are continuing moreso on the BC portion of the highway. We are faced with something of a dilemma. I have directed the department to step up discussions with B.C., the feds, and Alaska to try to get the ball rolling, as the Member would like us to do.
I do not know what to share further with the Member. We clearly have a problem of funding and I am sure the Member would not want to suggest that we undertake the enormous funding responsibility for the Alaska Highway ourselves prior to some form of a deal struck with the feds, whether it involves the State of Alaska or the American government, or not. The Member understands the financial consequences of that, and I would not even suggest that we take that step. I set this as something of a priority with the department, and this government considers it to be a priority matter and will be attacking it at all levels possible.
Mr. Brewster: We keep going back to Alaska. Alaska never did sign the agreement. It was originally signed between the American and Canadian governments. The Alaskans got stuck with it and they have certainly done their share, and anybody that says they did not is crazy. They have done the Haines Road and they have done 15 miles up to Jarvis Creek. I might add that they have built a road much better than any other road than we have anywhere else in the Yukon using Canadian engineers under American supervision. I challenge anybody in this House to say that is not the case.
I cannot understand why we keep going to Alaska. Now, with an oil spill, Alaska is not going to have too much money to do anything but save their people and valleys for a good number of years. They are going to have a serious problem and there will be no excess cash flow.
I am sick and tired of hearing Minister after Minister, from both sides, say they went to Ottawa and did something. They have not done a thing. It is about time that I bring a motion into this House that we all go down there and sit on the steps of the Department of Public Works until they do something. We are not going anywhere now. Why do we spend these millions of dollars on a centennial to celebrate the Alaska Highway and incidentally, it joins up with Kluane Lake right in the middle of where some of these problems are when we will not have a road at the rate we are going? It is absolutely ridiculous. It is not just me saying this. There are a lot of lodge people and other people who have a lot of their own money invested in this. They are scared about what is going on. When they start making public statements, as they did at that meeting that they do not care about us or this end and that they are taking everything through Dawson then it is time we smartened up and did something.
I do not mean just writing a few letters or standing here and saying we did the best we can or blaming Alaska. Blame the Canadian and American federal governments. The Alaskans have done more than their share. They did not even ask to be in this project; they were put in. It is now apparent that the federal government is not honouring its commitment.
You suggested that we should perhaps take it over. You made some type of agreement on the Dempster Highway, when it was taken over. That was federal. You seemed to have money to go up there and do a lot of work. Maybe we should be looking at that. Maybe they should be giving us that maintenance money, plus some capital. We seem to be able to do it on hospitals and everything else. Maybe we should be doing it on our main road, the road that counts in the Yukon, and the road that most people use. Check the border crossings to find that out. I am sick and tired of them always doing the B.C. part. Maybe we should be hollering to get some of that. We are not going anywhere the way we are. If we keep this up the number of our tourists dropped by 10 percent last year our tourists will drop again this year. We might as well fold up.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I want the Member to know that, in a large measure, I support virtually everything he is saying. I agree that we have to step up our activity to do something about that highway. I have already indicated some of the problems associated with trying to get some activity going. By no means am I suggesting that it is someone elses responsibility or someone elses fault. I should point out that he should not reject the Americans so hastily. There were some indications by the Americans that they would perhaps be prepared to cost share upgrading and improvement.
I have asked my department to fully explore that. I have already indicated that I have set this as a priority to initiate some action. I am not totally confident, but I am hopeful that we can activate some financing structure that will see us able to upgrade that highway.
Part of the current discussions relate to the 1992 celebrations of the anniversary of the opening of the highway. One of the very obvious jokes across the border in Alaska was how can we celebrate the opening of a road that is so deplorable, you cannot cross over it. We even made the suggestion of inviting the US President and the Canadian Prime Minister to the celebrations and sending those invitations now to start lighting the fires that would draw attention to this highway. I invite the Member to talk to the lodge owners in the region. Get them to start petitions and write letters. Let us activate this to a higher level. I am treating this as a priority and trying to precipitate some productive discussions to deal with the absence of funding.
The fact remains that, if we cannot strike a deal to have some funding provided in the takeover of the highway, it would be ludicrous to take over that responsibility without the bucks to do it. Then the Members across would be screaming about putting all this money into the highway, but we do not have the money for other facilities and services. That is quite logical.
I appreciate what the Member is saying. I encourage him to get as upset and angry as he can about it, because that will help motivate the issue to a higher level where we might be able to activate some action.
Mr. Brewster: It is just like politicians all over the world. We are saying that we are going to do this and we are going to do that. We have two years to do about 140 miles in the one section that is nothing but a wagon road. Where the American army originally put the nine-foot culverts in, the culverts are now showing up, along with the trees they put down to get through the muskeg. The road is now one and one-half to two feet lower than the ground around it, so the muskeg is now coming down on it. We are talking about a centennial. We have two years to go. It has taken them five years to build about 90 miles of road from the BC border up to Haines Junction with the Shakwak project. All of a sudden, with two years to go, we are saying that we may get the money. In 1992, we are going to look at this because this is the centennial. We are going to build this in there.
In 1992, we will have squandered millions of dollars on a big centennial. Whoever on the Alaskan side I call Alaskans Alaskans, not Americans, there is a difference said it was a farce, that we will not have any road, was making one of the truest statements in the world, and I back them 100 percent.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: My only concluding point to the matter at this time is to invite the Member to assist me in raising the issue to the highest profile possible. We do have a celebration coming up in three years. It is a joke, at this point, to celebrate the condition of that highway. I invite the Member to assist me in raising the federal support for striking a deal, and I am sure he will cooperate.
When we were in Alaska, there was a clear message that the Americans did consider the road important. They are not getting nearly as much heat as we are about the condition of the road. That is an important corridor for them. So, they are not quite prepared to say they will never complete Shakwak. If I heard them right, they are saying that they do not have the money to continue it, but they would like our help. They might be able to cost share it. That avenue has to be fully explored, not to mention the levels within our own jurisdiction.
I am looking forward to cooperation from the Member and every assistance possible to raise the level of concern about the Alaska Highway. Together, I am sure we can make something happen.
Mr. Brewster: They suggest we work with them. I believe I have put at least three motions through this House, and I have had all these motions sent to Ottawa. I have invited McInnes, through the Speaker, to meet me in Dawson Creek, and I would drive him down the whole highway at my expense, and I would take him to every lodge and introduce him to everybody, take him in the kitchen and let him talk with people who have lived here and helped build this country. I assure you, when he hit the other end, he would go back with a different impression.
You talk about petitions. There have already been petitions signed and taken in there, both by us and by the federal government. We have written and screamed. As far as my support in Ottawa, I do not think that I am any more popular in Ottawa than I am with the government on that side of the House. I am in a little dream world all my own. I am quite prepared to stand up to any one of them and tell them what a damn mess they are making of the main highway, with an agreement they signed with the American government to keep that road going and maintained and usable at all times.
Mr. Phelps: The first question I have has to do with an item arising from a motion debated in this House and enthusiastically supported by the previous Minister. It had to do with structuring a special agreement with Whitehorse over improving the sewage treatment facilities for the City of Whitehorse.
Will the Minister be amending this motion to put at least $1 under that item so the dreams and aspirations of the previous Minister can be realized?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member who earlier drew me into a strange alliance on taxation now attempts to draw me into another alliance for a specific Whitehorse special sport. The matter came up in a discussion I had with the City of Whitehorse last Friday morning. The city was not prepared to discuss the matter in any detail. There was a full recognition that neither side had adequate detail to make any kind of funding judgment on the project. It was left to future discussions. What was decided on that score was that a technical committee be struck comprised of city and government officials. Some further work would be done in the next month or so to properly assess just what sewage upgrading was required to meet the licence requirements that the City of Whitehorse is obligated to meet, and to try to more specifically determine just what costs we are talking about. The discussion did not proceed in any firm, committed fashion.
Mr. Phelps: Does the Minister feel that he ought to have a line item that reflects the intent of the motion and the ongoing discussions for a $1 item because obviously there may be requirements at someones expense this year?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I cannot respond to the financial technicality of the budget book. I understand that if we do require additional funds for this purpose we can come back to the House. My understanding of the block funding provisions under the Municipal Infrastructure Grants Act and we will have to amend that legislation as well is that strict provision has been provided for projects that do not exceed two-and-one-half times the block fund.
I will be delivering $4.6 million to the City of Whitehorse tomorrow under the terms of the existing legislation. The Member knows that if the project comes in under $11 million, and it very well may, we do not have the legal authority to provide any additional funds. I suggest to the Member that the matter is under full review, currently at a technical level, between the city and us, and I do not have further information on what the requirements are.
Mr. Phelps: I have brought the issue to the Members attention so I will leave it at that for now.
The next area that is of concern to me in general debate has to do with the issue of those communities that are under-serviced in terms of TV. As the Minister may know, there was a petition for an extra channel from Carcross and Tagish where there are two new television transmission stations established. Inquiries are coming in from Pelly and Beaver Creek, as I understand it. The policy that was made public last year by the Department of Communications spoke to the possibility of a second TV channel being provided by government.
I want to get this on the record. It seems to me that the cost for an extra channel of some $11,000 is not a very large expenditure given the kind of enjoyment that would be brought to so many residents in the Yukon. I think there are all kinds of people living in Tagish who are retired and are stuck right now with CBC. The addition of one channel would bring a lot of enjoyment to an awful lot of people in Tagish and along the Tagish Road, Marsh Lake, Little Atlin, Carcross and Pelly, who are asking for the service.
When one considers the amount of money that has been wasted and spent on things with little benefit realized, I would like to take this opportunity to ask the Minister to consider the issue of providing some extra channels to some communities because, as I say, there are an awful lot of people who do not get out very much, particularly seniors, to whom such a relatively small expenditure would bring a tremendous amount of enjoyment.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I appreciate the Members, representations, and I certainly will give every consideration within our current policy to address the concerns he has raised.
I do want to point out to the Member that, under our current policy, we have established an upgraded television service in a number of communities. I understand that, in the Members home community, we are part of that delivery service.
What has put this issue in a delayed mode right now is that WHTV has made a proposal to go into the communities and provide a second and possible third channel and so on. Certainly the Member can appreciate that we would like to give every opportunity for this initiative to develop. I would have to update myself on the status of that initiative, but having heard the Members representations, I will pass those on to WHTV the next time that I have any discussions with them.
Mr. Phelps: I appreciate some of the problems that the Minister faces in the very short term, but surely some of the communities such as Pelly, Tagish and Beaver Creek probably are not going to be serviced by the private sector. There is a demand. The facilities that have been put in by the department this last year are much appreciated. There is better quality and it is actually cheaper for the O&M and servicing in Carcross and Tagish for sure. But it has whetted the appetites for the residents who now realize that it would cost very little to have an extra channel. Even one extra channel would make a tremendous difference.
Perhaps I could move on. That is a representation and I am not waiting for an answer on that any more than what the Minister has already said.
Since we are on the capital side of the budget, I would like to briefly get a handle on where we are in being cost conscious about capital projects, and to follow up a little bit on how much the department has been doing to meet some of the recommendations made by the Public Accounts Committee in its last report.
Has there been a clearly defined policy on capital project management government-wide that this department is adhering to now?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am advised that, within the context of this department, a project management set of procedures is currently being followed. In my capacity as Minister of Government Services, I am also advised that a new project management manual has been developed, and I should be seeing and reviewing it shortly. It is a refined set of procedures from what previously has been used. I am expecting to review the project management manual being provided by Government Services, which it is my intention will be put in use government-wide for all project construction and management.
Mr. Phelps: I am concerned about the front-end planning aspect of all the money being spent on capital in this budget. Are we seeing any instances in the Capital Budget before us of the following of a two-step budget process for capital projects? I see some items here that are brand new. Is that for planning projects, or is that the actual cost of every project as projected now?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: From my understanding and recollection of the planning process for capital projects within Community and Transportation Services, generally most projects are a two-step process, where planning is done in one year and the actual construction follows in the second budget year. In some cases, usually because of its smaller size or its more urgent need, the project may be planned and constructed in the same year.
I have heard the representations from Members opposite, as well as concerns from the public at large. It is my intention to closely review the project planning and management process as it affects both this department and Government Services, which gets involved in many of the capital projects of other departments.
Mr. Phelps: Is the department, in planning its capital projects, checking to see what similar buildings and capital projects cost in other jurisdictions in Canada or in the private sector? Are they making those kinds of checks?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am advised that costs of project construction are checked with other jurisdictions. That is a fairly standard practice. It may not take place on all projects, and, again, that would be something I would be sure is addressed in the revised project planning and construction manual that is being developed.
Mr. Phelps: A very grave concern of many of us in the House has to do with the way in which architects and consultants are paid. When they design buildings and projects, there seems to be built-in incentive for them to over-design and have more expensive buildings because they get paid more if that is the case. Have any steps been taken to date to try to ensure that inducements to over design are eliminated? We have all these consultants floating around and they seem to be awfully interested in the most expensive possible project that they can design because they get paid a percentage.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I want to tell the Member that I consider his point quite valid. Certainly, until I am able to review the revised project management document that I understand is being prepared and is on its way to me, I do not know the extent to which a specific step-by-step refinement has been suggested, and I will certainly undertake to share my knowledge when I receive the document. But, I am sure the Member, at the same time, recognizes that a certain amount of responsibility rests with the managers in charge of the planning process, that the best knowledge and expertise of the people who are involved is utilized in assessing proper costs so that those costs then can be reflected when consultants are specifically refining the projects.
Certainly, if consultants are brought in at an early stage, before you even have any assessment of a cost, you might be in a position where it could get out of hand, but certainly, it is my hope that we are going to be able bring cost effectiveness into a refined step-by-step procedure and be comforted with the knowledge that the estimates we do provide are relatively accurate and that they can be held to throughout the construction project.
Mr. Phelps: It is my hope, of course, that government generally will have a hard look at contracts with consultants and architects and design engineers that will be a flat fee, or a fee-per-hour basis and not a fee based on the cost because I really feel that is one of the underlying factors that has inflated the cost of so many of the projects in the Yukon.
I am not going to go through all the recommendations made by the last committee, but I do want to place the Minister on notice, and I am sure some others will be asking these questions with more specificity when we get into Government Services. We will expect answers from the other Ministers on capital projects as well, because these are important issues. We take them seriously. We would like to see money saved so things such as a TV channel can be provided and perhaps even some monies toward improving the north Alaska Highway in the Yukon can be provided. So those are my questions on general debate.
Chair: Is it the wish of Committee to take a break at this point? We will now take a 15 minute recess.
Chair: Committee of the Whole will now come to order. Is there any further general debate on Community and Transportation Services?
Mr. Brewster: I would like to back my leader up on this TV thing. When I was in Beaver Creek, a lot of people questioned why we spent $85,000 to put in an outside skating rink for six children. Yet, when the people suggested they get an extra TV station instead of just having one, they did not get it. Especially in that area, where the winters are so cold and the children are under 11 years of age, I think the extra TV channel would be great.
Burwash Landing has had radio for 30 years. The telephone company decided to take the line down. They had been getting radio by the line. I inquired of the department at the Yukon territorial government, and they were very cooperative. They went to the CBC to see what they were going to do about it. We got the great bureaucratic runaround that it was not their problem, because they were not supposed to be there in the first place. Burwash has been there for over 30 years, and it will be there for a lot longer. I would appeal to this government to find what little it is going to take to get CBC radio back into there. I am not an expert on radios, but I understand that with the radio being just 10 miles away at Destruction Bay, just a small amount more voltage will bring that there. You can get it all through that area with a car radio, but it will not come into the house. People who are more expert than me tell them that it is a matter of increasing the wattage. Burwash is now a larger community than Destruction Bay, and they have nothing because someone took some power lines down.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I take the Members representations about Beaver Creek under advisement. I will review his request and address it in the context of future budget planning.
I am somewhat familiar with the Burwash Landing issue. It was brought to my attention. My understanding of the situation is that a $10,000 upgrading of equipment would improve the service to that community. I understand, also, that our officials have dealt with CBC on the issue, who have declined to place that additional equipment in there. I have taken the initiative to write to Pierre Juneau, the president of the CBC, on this specific case of Burwash Landing. I have not had a response yet.
In short, I will await that a little longer before taking any further action. The Member has to recognize that we did not budget for any equipment upgrading in that community this year, and we are talking about $10,000. That may be an option for the future.
Mr. Brewster: I thank the Minister for that. I would also like to point out that after being in the Legislature for 10 years, $10,000 could be found very rapidly and is not really a great amount of money regardless of which government sits on that side of the fence.
Mr. Lang: We asked some serious questions over the course of the Supplementaries with respect to how much various capital projects come in at and what the costs were. The Minister will recall that he undertook to get that information for us. Does he have it available? I would like to know how much the curling rink in Elsa cost and things like that. We never did get a final accounting.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Yes. I want to tell the Member that material is still being worked on; it is not ready for any formal tabling. Some of it will come forward in the line by line of the specific projects, but that is not completely available yet.
Mr. Lang: I just want to voice my objections in respect to this. These questions were asked about 10 days ago; we are not talking about yesterday. We were dealing with the Supplementaries quite some time ago. The Minister undertook to provide it to the House. I just want to say that I think that his staff has to be taken to task for not having it available to yourself as well as to us, because it is all very clearly there. There are not that many questions. The undertaking was taken that it was going to be provided. I just want to put the staff on notice.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I have already indicated to the Member that the material is being assembled. He should remember that his request did speak to costs of projects going back as far as 10 years ago. I do not know if we can quite provide it in all that detail. Certainly it is being worked on, and I am sure my staff is doing the best job humanly possible to produce the information.
Chair: We will proceed line by line on page 89, Capital Expenditures.
On Highway Construction
Planning and Engineering
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The $420,000 is comprised of engineering work for $160,000, capital planning for $210,000 and for gravel source identification that is for gravel pits for $50,000. More specifically, the engineering relates to various planning and pre-engineering projects not specifically identified in the budget, for example, items like traffic studies, professional advice to highways departments and participation on various committees such as the Lands Acquisition Review Committee. There is a continuing demand to carry out various engineering studies, field surveys, and provide technical support to other branches within Community and Transportation Services and other YTG departments.
The $210,000 for capital planning speaks to planning and transportation development studies and analyses that are undertaken to reflect various needs as well as requirements.
The $50,000 relating to gravel pit identification is simply that: the identification and examination for suitable gravel deposits for surfacing purposes.
Planning and Engineering in the amount of $420,000 agreed to
On Klondike #2
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Would the Members like me to identify which areas of the Klondike No. 2 are going to be upgraded?
From kilometre 193 to kilometre 248 of the Klondike Highway, there is reconstruction and paving, as well as some preliminary engineering work. Between Fox Lake and Braeburn, being kilometre 248 to kilometre 276, there is reconstruction and crushing. Near Carmacks between kilometre 309 and kilometre 346, there is reconstruction as well as BST. Near Stewart Crossing, between kilometre 510 and kilometre 538, there is reconstruction and BST. Additionally, there is $500,000 being spent on various spot work and reconstruction of damaged areas. There is $20,000 in the Carmacks area for some slope repair and guard rail installation at Five Finger Rapids.
Mr. Brewster: I would like to ask one question. I notice that at some places you are putting pavement and at some you are putting Japanese asphalt. What is the policy as to what goes where? If you are a little confused, between 193 and 248 you said pavement, or did you mean Japanese asphalt there, too?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member is very alert. A small section is being paved. It is a reconstruction section at Fox Lake. It speaks simply to the engineering standards and assessment of a requirement for that particular kind of roadbed along the slope of the cliff at the lake. So, there is a small section that is receiving a higher standard of surfacing for legitimate engineering reasons.
Klondike #2 in the amount of $3,277,000 agreed to
On Campbell #4
Campbell #4 in the amount of $1,540,000 agreed to
On Silver Trail #11
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The money identified is intended to pay for some reconstruction work between Ross River and Faro. Additionally, there is some reconstruction work intended on the Faro to Carmacks section. The current plan of the Faro to Carmacks section is to upgrade some sections of the Mitchell Road, which is that portion of the road between Faro and the junction. Some spots are soft and not standing up to the traffic load.
As well, there is to be some slope work done leading out of Pelly River. The principle portion of the money is earmarked for reconstruction in preparation for paving of the section of the highway from the junction toward Carmacks. It is expected that approximately 10 kilometres should be done. It is also the section of the highway that is in the worst condition with respect to grades, glaciers and deteriorating road.
Mr. Brewster: I am presuming that you are going to use BST for reconstruction and not just leave it gravel. The other thing that puzzles me is that we once more get back into some pavement. Is this another section that has that pavement instead of the Japanese asphalt?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am not sure I picked up the Members question entirely but the BST intended for that portion of the highway will not happen this year. This is a construction year and BST will be applied in a subsequent year when proper settling and roadbed preparation are complete.
Mr. Brewster: You did mention that you were going to pave the 10 miles of the Mitchell Road. You seem to throw BST and paving around and there is a difference between the two. The Minister realizes this.
I would also like to point out that you mention doing the Mitchell Road and yet if you go to the bottom you will have another $185,000 for the Mitchell Road.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member is correct. The Mitchell Road is not part of this particular vote. The information I gave on Mitchell Road is accurate and is just applied to a different vote. The $1.5 million is intended for the construction portion of the Campbell Highway from the junction on.
Mr. Brewster: The Minister stated he was going to do some paving. He brought the Mitchell Road in and I have no problem with that, but is it pavement or BST? Let us get is straight because I would like to know what the criteria is to warrant pavement or BST. For instance, on the Alaska Highway there is no pavement. I do not think there is any south of here except for Fox Lake and I do not have any problem with that because it is a bad piece of road. I am not too sure the 10 miles on the Mitchell Road is all that bad, and yet you say it will get pavement. Is it pavement or BST?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I hope I understand the Members question. He is asking what constitutes the justification for putting BST on instead of pavement. If that is the issue, the answer is that the policy of the department is to try and provide BST road surface to as many primary-use roads in the territory as possible. To clarify about the Mitchell Road, which is a different line item, there is no BST intended for this year. It is an upgrading of some bad spots.
Mr. Brewster: I have my earphones on, and I am quite sure I will have to wait until I get the Blues tomorrow. He said pavement on that piece of road. I shall be back tomorrow with a question on that.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: To clarify for the record, so we are not confused reading the Blues, if I used the term pavement, it should have been BST. I use them interchangeably sometimes, and I should be more careful.
Mr. Brewster: That made my day. I finally made a Minister admit that he said something he did not mean to say. Now, we understand what the difference is between pavement and BST, so we are away.
Campbell #4 in the amount of $1,540,000 agreed to
On Silver Trail #11
Hon. Mr. Byblow: This item speaks to reconstruction and BST of a portion of the Silver Trail between Mayo and Keno. Part of the work will involve improvements to alignment. In particular, one curve at what is known as Glacier Hill will be upgraded. There will be some slope stabilization done. The total cost is $560,000.
Silver Trail #11 in the amount of $560,000 agreed to
On Bridges - Numbered Highways
Hon. Mr. Byblow: As I had flagged in my opening remarks, the principal cost of this item will involve the improvements to the Takhini Bridge just outside of Whitehorse on the Mayo Road. It will consist of some concrete deck work, as well as some repairs to the main structure where the bridge sits on rotating bearings. There is $480,000 intended to be spent on that bridge, and an additional $50,000 is allocated to assessment work on a number of other bridges.
Mr. Brewster: I am presuming on the Takhini Highway item that the other two bridges being assessed are on the road Curraugh Mines uses and because of the extra heavy traffic has to be reinforced. I see the minister shaking his head. I guess that is a yes.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Yes, the money is identified for some assessment work on the Pelly Bridge at Faro and the Yukon River Bridge at Carmacks.
Bridges - Numbered Highways in the amount of $530,000 agreed to
Mitchell in the amount of $185,000 agreed to
On Other Roads
Hon. Mr. Byblow: This activity essentially covers three principle projects, one of which is some territory-wide survey and design work for $25,000, $200,000 is for some miscellaneous construction around the territory some culvert improvement at Little Salmon Lake, and Scout Lake road improvements are planned. There is some auxiliary lane work proposed and at Takhini Hotsprings there is an upgrading in the amount of $65,000 to provide for a turning lane there. I think the Member for Porter Creek West should be encouraged by that.
Mr. Phillips: I have been going through the budget here looking for a line for Wickstrom Road and have not been able to find it. I was wondering if it might be included in these other roads?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am pleased to tell the Member that it indeed falls into the budget under the policy of year-round road maintenance. It is not identified specifically for any upgrading. The Members representations have been passed on to the department. We will be looking at that road over the course of the summer for the planning season.
Mr. Phillips: I would suggest, since that road runs along a bank where there is water, it may warrant paving too under the governments policy, like the Fox Lake section high quality road there. I guess the concern I have is that every year the previous Minister has directed the department to go over and put calcium chloride on the road in the spring, and I thank the previous Minister for doing that, but the difficulty is, like I mentioned to the Minister in previous conversations, the bed of the road is just not suitable. It needs to be upgraded and there are now many residents on that road. I would appreciate it, if possible, if some work could be done this year to at least rebuild that road bed so we will not have to continually go back to redo the work, that three days after we put calcium chloride down, the road is full of potholes again. I think we should look at upgrading the road to a better standard. There are now over a dozen residences along that road and there is a lot of traffic from Whitehorse that travels along that road to get to a recreation area behind. I think that it does warrant some serious consideration.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I appreciate the Members representation both today and last week when we discussed it at some length. I repeat: I have passed the concerns on to the department for some form of an assessment of our capability to provide some upgrading. I cannot give the Member anything firm until I have dealt with further information on it.
Mr. Phillips: I would like to move on to another area for a moment and that is signage of our highways. I believe that falls under the mandate of the Department of Highways. We are finding that about 80 percent of the people who travel up the highways in the summer months are American tourists. We have made this representation before in the Legislature. Most of those tourists who come up the highway do not understand our system of kilometres. We are in the tourism business, and we should be doing everything we can to facilitate the people who come here. It is not much to ask for the Department of Highways to look at putting signs at the beginning of each community or at strategic points along the highway that would not only point out in kilometres but in miles as well how far away the next community is located. We cannot expect our American neighbors and friends, who are only on a three-day holiday in the Yukon, to understand the metric system. I think that this should be looked at. It is a small thing to do, and I can assure you that it will be very useful to the many Americans who travel up the highway every year.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I appreciate the Members representations, and I admit to the Member that I have never given the matter any serious consideration. I understand that our policy adheres to the Canada-wide policy of metric. We have put this in place at border crossings and strategic locations along the highway. We do remind the travelling public that our signs are in metric. I have not been involved in any major debate on this, but I will certainly check the record.
Mr. Phillips: I just came back from Juneau the other day, and I drove to Juneau. As you drive off the ferry in Juneau, our American neighbors have seen fit to erect a sign at the ferry terminal that says Whitehorse is so many kilometres and so many miles away. So, they know that we understand kilometres, and they respect that we travel in their jurisdiction. I think we should reciprocate. After all, we are in the tourism business, and 75 to 80 percent of those people who travel the Alaska Highway in the summer are Americans, and they do not or will not or cannot understand the metric system in a three or four or five day visit. I think it would be very useful to them if we put something like that in place outside each community in the territory.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Again, I appreciate the Members comments, and I will take them under full consideration and come back to him with some thoughts on the matter.
Mr. Brewster: Although I agree with my colleague to my left, I would not get into that again. I remember going through that with motions in the House. The Minister must have a short memory, because I put two motions in, but they were common sense motions that you cater to the people who put the money in your pocket that pays for groceries. They were both shot down. I have a file of letters from Dawson Creek right to the border supporting me, and we did not get anywhere. So, I am not going to get into that one anymore.
I have also written a letter to the Minister on this policy of the road crews throwing all their snow on our driveways, leaving it and then refusing to clean it up. I approached the former Minister before you, and he was quite cooperative and wrote letters and informed them that should not be done and that those were the regulations. They continued to do it. I have had eight complaints in the last three weeks about this. It appears that it is a decision made by foremen. In some sections, it is done for everybody automatically. In the other sections, it is not done. With our modern cars, it does not take much to tear your muffler off and a few other things. They throw it on at four oclock at night and then you come out the next morning and lose a muffler and everything else. That snow did not belong to us; it belonged to the highway crew. We keep our own driveways clean. We are not asking for that. We are asking them to keep their own snow away.
I can recall the army used to do this. One day, I was out with a No. 10 scoop shovel, throwing the sand back on the road, and the foreman asked me what I was doing. I said, It is your snow, you keep it.
They came up and cleaned it out. Four or five days later he was not feeling very good. I think he wanted to come in for a beer. He hit one of those wind rows and knocked his glasses off and went flying off into the ditch. Within ten minutes I had graders up clearing. Do we have to keep doing this? The Minister is not listening. We can do it this way and get these driveways cleared.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I appreciate the Members representation. The matter is something of an issue periodically. I have no hesitancy in admitting that the plowing and clearing of highways often creates problems with residents along the road regarding the clearing of driveways. I am prepared to address the matter for the next season and ensure that our policy is tightened up and that we meet our obligation in maintaining driveways clear of snow as much as reasonably possible. The Member can appreciate the nature of the beast in that plows go up the highway and back. It is then a secondary exercise to clear those driveways. It has been a problem and, periodically, is worse than ever. Perhaps in some communities it is worse than others. I will give the Member the undertaking that I will have the policy reviewed and have a thorough discussion with the department to ensure we are doing the best job possible.
Mr. Brewster: I would like to thank the Minister. I would also like to point out that I agree with him. He has probably had the same problem, given the area that he comes from.
We do not expect him to do it when the road is a serious problem when they have to clear the snow. Invariably, after that, the graders go down to tidy up and they go right by your place and ignore the snow that is there. I know that it is to get back into camp a little earlier. Most of them do not get back until five oclock. All we are asking is that when a grader is going back to the shop with is blade up, it take ten minutes to drop it and clear a driveway here and there. I have worked on construction with Lobe Construction. A good blade operator would hardly have to slow down. He could place his blade at an angle and kick the snow out of a driveway. That is all we are asking.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I will repeat my commitment to the Member. I appreciate that he understands the nature of the problem. I think it is more aggravated when the plowing is done by the truck-mounted snowplow because it is near impossible for that unit to come back and clear a driveway. It has to be done by a grader, which is clearly a secondary process and often a day or more later. My earlier undertaking stands.
Mr. Lang: I want to make one representation to the Minister. A number of complaints have come my way about the fact that there needs to be more access into woodcutting areas. I know the government went to a lot of work, and I applaud it, on the Scout Lake Road. The problem that is occurring is that there are fewer areas for people to privately cut. Most people who want commercial leases have them and are providing a service. I think it is an area where the government could take the time to identify some areas and see if we can get some further wood cutting areas opened up, particularly in the Whitehorse area, for people who are using that type of energy supply.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I accept the Members representation. I certainly expect to be reviewing the road maintenance policy. I think the Member is familiar with it. We seem to be constantly adding more and more new roads to the maintenance list of roads and it is something that we have to deal with. They cost more money. They require more equipment. Improvement and an increase in the level of service is all that is expected of the highways branch.
Certainly if the Members representation comes with support for any additional funding that it requires, we would be happy to address the situation and deal with it very responsibly.
Mr. Lang: I do not want to prolong the debate, but I am sure some money could be made available through the Roads to Resources Program. I am not talking about maintenance; I am talking about providing access into areas that would provide more firewood in the Whitehorse area. I recognize there has to be a minimum amount of maintenance, but I would emphasize a minimum amount. If people are going back there to cut wood they should have a pretty good rig to get in and out. It just has to be passable. Areas could be identified in conjunction with the forestry branch, because they are aware of the woodcutting areas. Time and effort could be put into punching some roads through there so there is some access for private citizens.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I think the Members suggestion is a good one. Certainly the Resource Transportation Access Program is available for providing new road access to resource-oriented activities. Certainly if the Member wants to make specific representation, the department would be more than pleased to address it.
The RTAP program lends itself to sponsorship by any private sector interest as well. The suggestion is a good one. I welcome any specifics on road development of that nature.
Other Roads in the amount of $275,000 agreed to
On Resource Transportation Access Program
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The RTAP program we just talked about is essentially to provide funding for resource-oriented development. It is my understanding that last year we spent almost $1.9 million, and this year it is being stepped up. It has been a popular program, and I expect it to be subscribed to fairly heavily again. A lot of industry and individuals have made use of the program, and I am quite pleased we are able to offer it again.
Mr. Brewster: We have already gone into the fact that the Chamber of Mines would like a different type of road than Highways is building, like a road they can use to get in to mine and not spend a lot of money on a wide road, like they did at Carmacks, without really going anywhere.
There is one other thing. As a member of the select committee, we traveled around and there were a lot of other people who agreed with me on this, and it is a conviction. When you put these roads in, there should be some laws that people are forbidden to hunt on these roads. We are opening up more and more country all the time. I can give you examples of roads that have been put in where the sheep have been killed off and everything else. These roads are put in to bring out the resources and minerals, but this is one of the problems these roads create with people. The purpose is very good, but it gets abused by other groups. I realize the Minister of Community and Transportation Services cannot say it, but I said it. The Minister of Renewable Resources has perked his ears up, so maybe we can get the two Ministers together to come up with something.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: If I am understanding the Members comments correctly, he is suggesting we should not allow hunting on these resource roads that we develop into remote areas of the territory. If he is also telling me that the fact that these roads have been created has caused depletion of wildlife, I take his representation seriously. My colleague, the Minister of Renewable Resources, and I will be discussing this matter further, along with storage sheds.
Mr. Brewster: I would not say you should put in a law saying they cannot hunt. If a guy puts a pack on his back and walks 30 miles in there to get a sheep, I think he deserves that sheep. I have no problem with that. I have a problem with four-wheel vehicles who camp out on weekends and go to these places, which they never could get to before. I can give you a really good example at Kluane Lake, where they put a road along the side of the mountain. When I first came to this country, I worked for an outfitter and you could get any sheep you wanted at any time within three or four days. Within a year and one-half after they put that road in, there was nothing but a few ewes in there and a few small rams. Everybody went in there, including people who do not really appreciate hunting. I have a problem with people who run around in vehicles and hunt by road. I have no problem with them staying on the road but, as we make roads for other businesses, these people use these and our game cannot stand up to this. If they want to walk in or go in by boat, I have no problem with that, because they work for it, and you cut it down by probably 90 percent. The other 10 percent who do that are sincere hunters. If they go in with horses, they are sincere.
Mr. Devries: This is the same program, I believe, where there is joint funding. For instance, are the Hyland Forest Products access roads funded 50/50 through this system?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am advised that indeed this program can be accessed by Hyland and has been on one application, but I do not have the details here today. If the Member could indicate the nature of the detail, I could undertake to bring it back to him.
Mr. Devries: I am mainly interested in what is known as the Rancheria Loop Road. I feel that possibly, if I had the figures on that road, I could make some very startling revelations to the Minister on gross mismanagement of the building of that road.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am certainly not afraid of any startling revelations. The program is made available with public funds. The projects are public. The information should be public. Certainly, if the Member is willing to allow me to provide further detail on the Rancheria Loop Road, which I understand does relate to the RTAP Program, that is fine with me. If he has any further detail that my response could speak to, I would appreciate that too.
Mr. Brewster: I would like to back up the Member for Watson Lake. You should be more closely checking on an awful lot of these, because I can tell you about cases where they ran a bulldozer through and smashed the country all to pieces, collected a great deal of money and walked out. This program goes back to when I first came to this country. It used to be the Tote Road Assistance Program where they would give you $100,000 to make a road into a mine, and in those days that was a lot of money. They would simply run a D-9 through there, push the trees down, pick up the money. It probably cost them $25,000 and they pocketed the rest. I suspect there are still some people trying to do the same thing right now.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I would appreciate any representation the Members can give on the quality of project delivery under this program, because I know that the application process is fairly rigid in that it is closely scrutinized; the program applications go through a technical review. They go through a management level of review. It is supported by engineering and technical support from the department. I would be very concerned if there was project abuse of this program.
Mr. Brewster: I agree that it goes through all these things, but how many times is there a government man out there to see what they actually did? In some cases they change their minds in the middle of it and they can say there is an investigation. There are roads all over and they lead to nowhere because they got the money and when they got the last payment they just took off. This is a fact and it is happening. These roads are just tearing up the country and we get a bad name and the mining companies get a bad name because of these things. It is irresponsible and it happens. The taxpayers help pay for it.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am a little concerned about the Members remarks. This program, to my knowledge, is extremely well run in that there is no advance of funds until invoices are provided. There is no up-front money. The work has to be proven as having been done and proper receipts shown. At the same time, I know that the project is inspected by branch people. If the Member is suggesting that it is not inspected adequately, he should say so. If there is some deficiency to the program I would like to hear specifically what it is. If it is any comfort to the Member, I recall helping to set up this program and we looked at those very things to insure that there was no abuse of this kind of money for resource access.
Mr. Brewster: Well, you say you set these programs up. As I said, when I first came to this country, there was one in place under a different name. It probably was not set up as tight as this one and I agree with that. I can name one road for which your government is not to blame, that goes from Burwash right down the Nisling. They put in a Cat road, and meanwhile they went the other way way up through the Dawson range and came down to join up to get to a mine that never did operate. Now a proper road is being put in, but it is not being done the way that the mining companies asked for it to be done. You spent millions of dollars and went very little distance, because you got off what you were doing with road access for mining. You decided to start training people on the road. That was not what the program was for. It was to get a road in for the mines to operate.
In the last two years, I have not picked up any examples, but within three years I can show you an example of one. In fact, I can show you two or three of them. They exist, and if you think they do not, you are just hiding your head in the snow.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I guess my immediate response is to tell the Member that if there have been abuses of a similar program previously, that is extremely unfortunate, because it not only is a waste of money, it is also a waste of the environment. We all have a serious concern about that.
If the Member has any specifics, and I say that to the Member for Watson Lake as well, of abuse of the program, where money is wasted or squandered or the program delivery has fallen short of the strict guidelines we have set for it, I must know.
Mr. Brewster: Well, it is really funny that this government is such an angel when the same people are working in this building as were 20 years ago. They are administering the same things, and all of a sudden, this government is clean they did not do a thing. Yet the Chamber of Commerce says that they squandered money all over the place on one little road. Things do not change. It is only because of people like myself or the Member for Watson Lake the Minister puts his arm up. Let me tell you something. Once you become a Minister or once you become the government, you tend to cover these things up. Do not tell me you do not. This government here has not done a better job, although they may have cleaned up some of it. The abuses are still out there and the Minister knows it.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Well, again, I conclude my remarks by saying that I invite the Members to provide specifics. It is certainly not our desire to have a program that is wasting money or abusing its guidelines.
Resource Transportation Access Program in the amount of $2,250,000 agreed to
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that 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 resumes the Chair
Speaker: I now call the House to order. May we have a report from the Chairman of the Committee of the Whole?
Ms. Kassi: The Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 51, entitled First Appropriation Act, 1989-90, and directed me to report progress on same.
Speaker: You have heard the report from the Chairman of the Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
Motion for Production of Papers No. 3 withdrawn from Order Paper
Speaker: It would appear to the Chair that the Motion for the Production of Papers No. 3 has been satisfied by the document tabled earlier today by the Minister of Economic Development. The Chair will therefore order that the motion be withdrawn from the Order Paper.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. House Leader that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: This House now stand adjourned until 1:30 p.m. tomorrow.
The House adjourned at 5:27 p.m.
The following Sessional Paper was tabled April 4, 1989:
Silviculture Survey Report, Prepared for: Hyland Forest Products, Watson Lake, October, 1988 (McDonald)
The following Legislative Returns were tabled April 4, 1989:
Public Service Commission, re $15,000 over expenditure in Administration (M. Joe)
Oral, Hansard, p. 37
Termination of employees, and amount of payout, for 1987-88 (M. Joe)
Oral, Hansard, p. 37
Job description for Coordinator of Devolution (M. Joe)
Oral, Hansard, p. 38
Termination of employees, and amount of payout, for 1988-89 (M. Joe)
Oral, Hansard, p. 38
Costs of Deputy Judges to March 15, 1989 (M. Joe)
Oral, Hansard, p. 58
Delay in producing sessional volumes (M. Joe)
Oral, Hansard, p. 60
Document to people of Old Crow re skidoos requiring insurance (M. Joe)
Oral, Hansard, p. 61