Wednesday, April 12, 1989 - 1:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will call the House to order. We will proceed with Prayers.
Speaker: Introduction of Visitors?
Are there any Returns or Documents for Tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I have for tabling a couple of answers to questions raised by Members opposite.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I have for tabling various answers to questions raised by Members of the House.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I have for tabling responses to questions raised in the House.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I have three legislative returns for tabling.
Speaker: Are there any Reports of Committees?
Introduction of Bills?
Notices of Motion for the Production of Papers?
Notices of Motion?
Statements by Ministers?
This then brings us to Question Period.
Question re: Alaska Highway pipeline
Mr. Phelps: I have some questions for the Minister of Economic Development about the issue of gas pipelines. Potential gas producers in the Mackenzie River Delta are applying for export permits to the United States. If these permits are granted, the next step will entail various pipeline companies vying to build the appropriate pipeline to export this gas through Canada and down to the southern 48.
All this, of course, is going to have a bearing on the future of the Alaska Highway pipeline. Right now Foothills Pipe Lines are busy promoting their pipelines, which are consistent with the eventual building of the Alaska Highway pipeline from Prudhoe Bay down to Alberta and the southern 48 states.
Does this government have a basic position regarding the Alaska Highway pipeline? Does this government support that pipeline being built or is it against it?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Member correctly identified that the National Energy Board is currently holding hearings with respect to export permit applications by three oil companies in the Beaufort region who hope to export natural gas from the Delta.
The Member correctly identified that, even though the issue is the transportation of gas, either from the Delta or from Prudhoe Bay, which I think is the real subject of the Members question, it is not an issue specifically identified in the NEB hearing; it is also intricately related to the hearing and will ultimately be brought up in cross-examination at the hearing in Inuvik.
As I indicated for the Member for Riverdale North recently, the Government of Yukon intends to make a presentation before the NEB to address those issues. I will be making a ministerial statement before the House early next week with respect to those matters.
With respect to the answer to the Members specific questions, without anticipating the substance of my remarks next Tuesday, I think it would be fair to say that the Yukon Government must show at least some preference to the Alaska Highway gas pipeline in comparison to the alternatives.
Mr. Phelps: If I understand the Ministers answer to my simple, straightforward question, he is saying that when he does present this governments position with regard to the export of national gas from the Mackenzie Delta that this position will be one that supports the eventual building of the Alaska Highway gas pipeline. Is that the position?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I think it is appropriate that we wait until Tuesday. As I indicated, the Government of Yukon would show preference to the Alaska Highway gas pipeline. However, I point out that not only is the NEB hearing about the export permits for the gas, but it is also about export permits for Delta gas, and not Prudhoe Bay gas.
The issues are, of course, integrally linked, and I think I have indicated the position with respect to the Alaska gas pipeline, but the NEB itself will be most interested in the issues with respect to the export permits per se.
Mr. Phelps: Has this government consulted with Foothills Pipe Lines in order to develop a position that would be supportive of the eventual building of the Alaska Highway pipeline?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I have had meetings with the various industry proponents, including Foothills Pipe Lines, which clearly has a prime interest in the Alaska Highway gas pipeline. They have indicated to me their plans with respect to the construction of the pipeline and also their plans with respect to their intervention before the NEB. Certainly, that consultation has taken place.
Question re: Alaska Highway pipeline
Mr. Phelps: I have met with the officials as well.
One competing transportation alternative to the Alaska Highway gas pipeline is an alternate route that would pipe the gas to a port near Valdez, in Alaska, and then ship gas from there in a liquefied state by liquid natural gas to markets in Asia or possibly some markets in California, in the United States.
Has this government communicated with the Government of Alaska to indicate that it supports the Alaska Highway route and would be against the LNG route?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: With respect to the governments position about tanker traffic generally, I think that it would be fair to say the government is extremely concerned about any proposition to increase tanker traffic along the coast of Alaska or British Columbia, or certainly, and most especially, on the north coast of the Yukon.
That is taken as a given. I am certain Alaskan officials are aware of our concern. To my knowledge, while I have not communicated specifically with the governors office with respect to tanker traffic subsequent to the recent disaster at Valdez, I am certain the State of Alaska is aware of our concerns and is expressing their own.
Mr. Phelps: We share the concerns of the potential for environmental disaster. As well, we strongly support the Alaska Highway pipeline on other grounds, because the terms and conditions are extremely favourable to the Yukon Territory.
Will this government mount a communication or lobbying effort to put forward our position as a government in clear and no-uncertain terms to the Alaskan government? Those companies and consortiums in support of the tanker alternative have been working very diligently for the past 12 months or so.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I would like to be permitted to respond to the proposition put forward by the Leader of the Official Opposition that we should lobby Alaskans in favour of the Alaska Highway route, or as Foothills proponents. I would first respond by indicating to the Member opposite that he may know that I have had several meetings with the Foothills people to talk about their general interest in resurrecting the proposal, which has been dormant for some time. We have had presentations with them about the economics of the proposal to pipe Prudhoe Bay gas south. As the Member will know, there is a lively debate about that question, especially given todays prices.
We have also talked to them about their proposal to extend the prebuild to the boundary, which is a very interesting initiative and follows the National Energy Board decision to consider the export licence. Finally, we have talked frankly to them about the situation, in Washington and in Juneau and Anchorage, where there is currently little interest in the Alaska natural gas highway proposal. At this point, the politics in the State of Alaska are that there are other options, including the one being developed by Mr. Hickel, which seem to have received much more favourable attention from legislators in that state.
I am reporting on those discussions but, in answer to the Member opposite, we have not become a lobbyist or an advocate for Foothills interests at this moment in time, per se.
Mr. Phelps: Would the Government Leader not agree with me that it is rather important that this government make its preferences with regard to the alternate routes abundantly clear as soon as possible, because, right now, within Alaska, momentum is building for the LNG because there is more money being spent in the State of Alaska.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I understand very well the economics of the competing propositions as being described by the Leader of the Official Opposition, and I am sure that in the statement by my colleague, the Minister of Economic Development, next week, our position will become much more clear. I am sure the Member opposite will have noticed that there is a profound irony in the position of some Alaskans who are arguing for opening up Arctic National Wildlife Refuge on the basis of national energy self-sufficiency while, at the same time, promoting a project to export their scarce energy fuels to Asia.
The contradiction between those two positions has been noticed in Washington and the Foothills people, I am sure, are making that contradiction very apparent to certain members of Congress as they now consider both the ANWR question and the other issues arising from the recent tragedy in Valdez.
I am sure the Leader of the Official Opposition will also note that there are some quite complex and difficult questions around the economics of all the competing proposals. There are many serious people in the industry who do not accept some of the assumptions made about escalating gas prices and the economics of any of the current proposals right now. Prudently, this government is wanting to take a very serious look at all those questions before we become a passionate advocate for any one of them at this point in time.
Question re: Alaska Highway pipeline
Mr. Phelps: There is the issue of supporting the Alaska Highway pipeline as the best route from Prudhoe Bay. There is also the issue of being against the LNG route, not only because it would nullify the Alaska Highway pipeline, but due to very valid environmental concerns. There is a host of other arguments and figures that would affect the equation.
I still feel this government ought to staking out its ground and making its position clear and communicating it clearly, not only to Alaska, but to the United States politicians as well. I would like to ask the Government Leader if this government will be taking a clear decision and communicating this position to Congress and the President in Washington.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I expect we shall. Whether we shall be doing all of the things contemplated in the Members question in the next few days or weeks, I think, will depend on our ability to satisfy ourselves as to the rightness of our positions on these questions.
The terms of the economic benefits to the Yukon of the competing proposals are quite clear. Obviously, the Alaska Highway gas pipeline has some obvious advantages, but as the Member also knows, there are consequences to each of the alternatives. Let me state one that he has not mentioned, but a factor that is very important to us. We fear that a Mackenzie Valley route, for example, might lead inevitably to proposals to build a North Slope pipeline, something to which we would be adamantly and absolutely opposed.
That leads inevitably to a position in support of the option of the Alaska Highway pipeline as well. But the Member will understand then that it leads to questions about the Dempster lateral, and there are obvious social and environmental questions that have to be addressed about that alternative as well.
Mr. Phelps: One of the ironies is that by strongly supporting the Alaska Highway pipeline and taking a very clear position to the Government of the United States and the Government of Alaska a lot of goals are accomplished. First of all, it goes without saying that that is the alternative to what was known as the Arctic Gas Pipeline across Yukons North Slope. It also enhances our reputation for being concerned about the environment, not only in the Yukon but also in other areas adjacent to the Yukon, so there are all kinds of good reasons...
Speaker: Order, please. Will the Member please get to the supplementary question?
Mr. Phelps: ...for pushing the Alaska Highway pipeline. My question is whether the government will at least consider giving this issue more priority and staking out its territory soon because time is wasting and other peoples positions are gaining momentum.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: This is a fascinating debate and I am sure we are just at the beginning of it. I understand the importance of this question and that is why we are dealing with it very seriously.
Let me say also, since he mentions our environmental credibility, that it is a critical point in all the policy questions around this. I am sure that the Leader of the Official Opposition would accept that if we were seen in other parts of this country, such as the Northwest Territories, as simply promoting the Alaska Highway alternative on the basis of competing economic agendas with them, our position would not have the same credibility as if it was taken in full consciousness of all the complex environmental and social questions that flow from an export position.
Mr. Phelps: The Government of Yukon is indeed fortunate that, through the Berger hearings and the socio-economic hearings on the Alaska Highway pipeline and the environmental hearings that accompanied the hearings in 1977, we have the data base to launch a very good position that would show our concern about the environment. Once again, I ask whether or not the government will move fairly quickly to get their position together and make it known.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: We will indeed do that. Let me make a point to the Member that he did not make. Of course there is considerable research already done, but more importantly, there is legislation and licensing approval of the Alaska Highway gas pipeline, in terms of its positioning. Nonetheless, the fact that there is an act of Congress and legislation in Canada seems to have been ignored or forgotten. Political memories are sometimes very short. That seems to have been somewhat forgotten both in Juneau and Washington and that is a concern to us.
I would make the very important point that we cannot assume that, while there has been a lot of research done on the Mackenzie Valley and some research on the Alaska Highway, few would argue that adequate research has been done on the Dempster lateral, for example, which is one of the questions we have to keep in mind when we are considering all of these issues.
Question re: Fuel Oil Tax Act
Mr. Phillips: I have a question for the Minister of Finance regarding the Fuel Oil Tax Act. There are several categories under the act that are currently now exempt from the road tax, including fishing, trapping and farming, to mention a few. It has been brought to my attention that marine vessels in the Yukon are currently required to pay the road tax. For example, two commercial vessels operating in the Yukon this summer will purchase over 20,000 gallons of fuel. Under the current legislation, they will be required to pay road tax on this fuel. Will the Minister take steps to amend Section 6 of the Fuel Oil Tax Act so that marine use could be exempted from road tax?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Member captured the entire picture quite well in the preamble to his question. I am familiar with the issues that the Member has cited. At this point, I can only say that we will be taking the matter into consideration.
Mr. Phillips: I am glad to see that the Minister is going to be considering the idea. Will the Minister consider a simple amendment that will exempt all marine users, private and commercial, from paying the road tax and bring that legislation forward in this session so that commercial and private boaters can enjoy the benefits this summer?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I cannot give that absolute guarantee. I have indicated that I will be reviewing the matter with the appropriate people. A clear definition of any changes to any act would have to be determined. The impact on revenue would have to be determined. Those things would have to be considered in any responsible decision-making process. Those are the things that I will be considering, along with other matters.
Mr. Phillips: In many other provinces, marine users can purchase gas that is free from the road tax. For the Houses information, fishing, logging, hunting and outfitting, trapping, mining and farming are excluded. We now have several tourism-related boats that are working up and down the Yukon River and other Yukon rivers and we should give consideration to these off-road vehicles that should be exempt from this fuel tax. Would the Minister seriously consider doing that this session, so that these operators, some in their first year, would be exempt from this tax?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I will repeat my answer. The factors that the Member cited are relevant factors in the equation. The government will also take into consideration what our neighbours do. I know what the situation is with respect to the western provinces. There are other matters to be considered. If the decision was made to proceed there would have to be careful drafting. At this stage, those things have not been done, but consideration will be undertaken.
Question re: Whitehorse General Hospital transfer
Mrs. Firth: I have a question for the Minister responsible for the Public Service Commission regarding nurses. In correspondence from the Ministers department to the employees of the Whitehorse General Hospital, the Government of Yukon is aiming for a transfer date of June 1990. Is the government on target with that date? Can it be realistically met?
Hon. Ms. Joe: I would have to find that information out and get it back to the Member. I have not had an update in the last couple of weeks.
Mrs. Firth: The memorandum went to the employees on January 31. Perhaps I could ask the Minister a further question: Since there is no structured system of appointed times to meet to deal with salaries and sick benefits, et cetera, can the Minister tell us how long the nurses will be given to decide whether to accept the offer or to look at leaving the Yukon to look for other employment?
Hon. Ms. Joe: I apologize. I would have to bring that information back. I can certainly try to have it, possibly, by tomorrow morning.
Question re: Nurses, wages and benefits
Mrs. Firth: Perhaps I could direct a supplementary question to the Minister of Health and see if he has any of the information at his fingertips. The nurses are fairly anxious to have some answers.
Could the Minister of Health tell us whether or not it is true that the Yukon government has refused to negotiate particulars such as wages and benefits for the nurses?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: No, of course not, but to be perfectly precise, as the Member may know, in law we are required to negotiate with people with whom we have a collective agreement. We do not have a collective agreement with the bargaining unit referred to by the Member. We have, of course, undertaken to consult, and have an ongoing dialogue, with them about some of the issues of concern. That communication is ongoing. We have indicated that the transfer will not happen until we have arrived at satisfaction for both parties, the employees and us, about the personnel matters. I have indicated that before, and that remains our position. The actual timetable of transfers will be made according to the other issues and, in the main, are largely financial ones in terms of our dealings with the federal government. They will proceed according to the negotiations that are now ongoing.
Question re: Nurses, wages and benefits
Mrs. Firth: I would like to direct my new question to whichever Minister can answer, again regarding the nurses.
There is some concern that the meetings that are ongoing are simply at the request of the nurses and that there does not seem to be a structured timetable when they meet on a regular basis.
I would like to say that the nurses do not appear to be any further ahead than they were before the election as to what will be offered by this government. Summer is coming and the kids are out of school and it is a time that people are making decisions about their lives and, with all due respect, they do not have time to wait for the government to negotiate with other levels of government. There is a shortage of nurses across Canada and we are concerned about the nursing situation here in the Yukon.
I would like to ask the Minister when the nurses are going to be given information about their wages and sick time and when that will be presented to them in order for them to make decisions?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am sure that several of the assertions made by the Member are, in fact, just not supported by the facts. Substantial information has been provided by this government. A commitment was made by this government to meet further with nurses and other health care workers now employed by the federal government, to give them whatever further information they require. Commitments have been made to make sure that by the time that job offers are made as a consequence of a transfer decision, they will have satisfactory information about the kinds of salaries and benefits that they would contemplate under the employ of this government.
Mrs. Firth: I would like to be very specific with the Minister of Health. He talks in generalities, and the nurses want specific answers to their questions as they have to make important decisions. Are the nurses going to know what their wage scale is going to be before they are asked to accept the package the government is going to be offering to them?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Yes, they will. Let me respond to some of the assertions made at the beginning of this debate, including the notion that we have not responded. We waited a considerable time for a formal response from the bargaining agent for the employees under question. We are responding appropriately and fairly in a continuing dialogue with those employees.
To state the obvious, we are not going to be doing anything resembling contract negotiations or collective bargaining on the floor of this House. We are going to deal with the potential employees of this government fairly and responsibly.
Mrs. Firth: We will go back in history and see what happened. What really happened was this government presented a package and said to take it or leave it. They then fell over themselves during the election campaign to tell the nurses they were going to consult with them and that they were going to be involved in the discussions and negotiations and would be kept fully informed.
What is really going to happen is that the government is going to have negotiations with the federal government ...
Speaker: Order, please. I would like to remind the Member of Guideline 7, which states a one-sentence preamble ...
Mrs. Firth: Mr. Speaker, I am in the middle of my question.
Speaker: It states a one-sentence preamble for each supplementary question. Please get to the supplementary question now.
Mrs. Firth: I was in the middle of asking the question, Mr. Speaker.
Are the nurses going to have input regarding their job classifications?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I believe the Member is aware of how the classification process works in this government; there is a classification appeal process. I am sure there will be a dialogue between the employees and us prior to the classification. I apologize, but I am going to have to respond to the inaccurate preamble of the Member, too. She talked about history.
We did not make a take it or leave it offer to the nurses. Also, the Member opposite is on record as favouring an instant transfer of health facilities - a record by motions filed by her in this House. An instant transfer would have prohibited any kind of consultation at all, such as we are now engaged in.
Question re: Nurses, wages and benefits
Mrs. Firth: I am trying to find out some information for the nurses of the Whitehorse General Hospital. I hear very alarming comments from our nurses that I know the community wants to keep here in the territory. When are the nurses going to know where they stand with this government? There have been mixed messages, and the nurses are no further ahead now than they were when this government made all its election promises.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I disagree with the preamble, and I disagree with the premise of the question. We are consulting with the nurses. We are dealing with their responsible bargaining agent. I do not accept the proposition of the Members question at all.
Mrs. Firth: Could the Minister tell us whether or not the nurses have been told how much they are getting paid?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: When we know whether or not we have a transfer agreement, and when we know who is subject to transfer, the people who will be offered jobs at YTG will know what they will be paid.
Mrs. Firth: Have the nurses been told what will happen with their benefits, such as their sick time, housing and so on? Have they been told that?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: We are communicating through our officials in the Public Service Commission with the responsible officials representing the bargaining agent of the nurses and the other health care workers.
Question re: Nurses, wages and benefits
Mrs. Firth: The nurses have not been told one thing. They are no further ahead with information now than they were at election time with all the election promises.
I would like to ask the Minister why the nurses have not been given this information, if they keep having all these meetings like the Government Leader says?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The Member may not know much about industrial relations but, particularly if we were in the collective bargaining situation, we would be required to communicate with the designated bargaining agent of the nurses, which we are doing. In addition, we have committed ourselves to meetings between our officials and the nurses. Those meetings are going on and decisions that have been made by this government are communicated, I am assured, effectively and expeditiously with respect to exactly the matters raised by the Member opposite.
Whether or not that is being passed on by the organization to every single nurse is not our responsibility.
Mrs. Firth: I wish that the Minister of Health would just debate the issue and not attack us personally.
I would like to know if it has been communicated to the nurses what their sick time compensation is going to be and whether they will get housing or not and what their wages are going to be? Has that been communicated to them?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Question Period is not about debate, it is for the purposes of establishing government policy. The government policy is that the nurses and other health care workers who may eventually, as a result of the health care and hospital transfer, come to work for this government, must be satisfied with the package that we are offering. We must be satisfied that the package that is going to come to these new employees is commensurate with the arrangements for our existing employees. Toward that end, we have committed ourselves to ongoing discussions with those people, carried on not only by officials from the Department of Health but also from the Public Service Commission. I am satisfied that dialogue will continue until such a time as both parties are happy.
Mrs. Firth: When are the nurses going to know this? I would like to ask the Minister when they are going to get this information? Perhaps when they have all left the Yukon and decided to take jobs elsewhere? Then I suppose this government is going to stand up and tell them what they are going to give them.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The Member made a silly little speech there. I want to say in response that I will set our approach to the health care transfer. We committed ourselves, not the federal government and not the previous government, to consultation with the affected employees.
The Member opposite is on record as favoring a midnight, instant transfer with no consultation whatsoever with the previous employees. The record of the Conservatives on this is contracting out, privatization and the dismantling of health services. That is what we are opposed to.
Question re: Nurses, wages and benefits
Mr. Lang: There are nurses living in my constituency who are concerned about the lack of information that is being provided to them, collectively and individually. I do not understand how we can be speaking to any organization or individual about a transfer, unless we are going to tell them what they are going to be paid, so they can make their own personal decisions. Could the Minister tell us why they are not being told what they are going to be paid?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I have previously answered that question. Once we know the positions that are going to be transferred as a result of negotiations with the federal government, then those positions can be classified according to our classification system. We will then know what the people are going to be paid.
At the current stage of negotiations with the federal government, we do not know which positions will be coming to us or if we will be able to make an offer to those people. Those people will know what they are going to be paid, when we make an offer to them.
Question re: Hazardous waste disposal
Mr. Nordling: Obviously, we are not going to get anywhere today with the Minister of Health or the Minister in charge of the Public Service Commission. I am sure we will come back to it.
I have a question for the Minister of Community and Transportation Services. There has been considerable discussion in this House and among the public about the storage of PCBs and Yukons hazardous waste. This House unanimously passed a motion that the Yukon play the lead role in locating and storing PCBs and chemical wastes away from heavily populated areas. Has a storage site been chosen?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: As the Member is aware, the entire issue of the storage and collection of hazardous wastes has taken on a much greater significance in the minds of the public and as a responsibility of this government. The motion the Member refers to is being respected. The Department of Community and Transportation Services, in conjunction with the Department of Renewable Resources, is developing a comprehensive strategy to deal with the approach on the expanded aspect of the problem. I am expecting to review that strategy shortly and will advise accordingly.
Mr. Nordling: Has a storage site been chosen?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The short answer is no. The longer answer is that we cannot select a site until we know the nature of the storage facility, in terms of the types of waste that are going to be stored. As I have indicated to the Member, that is a component of the activity that has to follow a more precise identification of the hazardous waste that the government will be responsible for collecting, including the private sector.
Mr. Nordling: In 1987, the Department of Renewable Resources was going to draft territorial legislation for the management of waste and hazardous waste disposal in the Yukon. Has that legislation been drafted? If so, why has it not come to the House? When will it come? When will these discussions be complete so that we can start looking for a site?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The legislation the Member refers to is in the hands of the Renewable Resources department. I am sure the Minister will respond to the Member.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now lapsed. We will now proceed with Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Introduction of visitors
Mr. Phillips: I would like to bring to the attention of the House several guests who have arrived in the gallery here today. We have the Grade 10 students from FH Collins, and their teacher, Mr. Dueling, as well as the Grade 11 students from FH Collins, and their teacher, Ms. Boughner. I would like all Members to make them welcome. They are here today to help gain a better understanding of how our Legislature works.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: As part of their first lesson, I would like to request unanimous consent to proceed as follows:
Based on an agreement between the House Leaders, I would request the unanimous consent of the House to proceed directly to Motions other than Government Motions, rather than calling Motions for the Production of Papers. I would request the unanimous consent of the House to have only the first four motions called under Motions other than Government Motions.
I would note that it is understood that we will proceed to Bills other than Government Bills at either 4:30 p.m. or at the conclusion of consideration of Motion No. 25 on the Order Paper, whichever is earlier.
Speaker: Is there unanimous consent?
All Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: There is unanimous consent.
MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS
Motion No. 21 - adjourned debate
Clerk: Item No. 1, standing in the name of Ms. Hayden, debate adjourned, the hon. Mr. McDonald.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: To refresh Members memories, the motion that was put forward by the Member for Whitehorse South Centre indicated it should be the opinion of the Legislature that the Yukon should develop a public safety checklist to be used by the government in assessing proposals that involve toxic chemicals or hazardous wastes.
The motion also made reference to the desire and need for the Government of Yukon to work with municipal and federal governments to prohibit the use of dangerous chemicals until appropriate plans by respective authorities in the communities were developed and undertaken to protect the public in the event of accidents.
As we heard two weeks ago, the last time we discussed this matter, the Ministers on the front bench, and especially the Minister of Community and Transportation Services, had indicated that the government had made great strides to provide that checklist of information, to provide the necessary information for all appropriate authorities, in order that that information may be used to ensure that appropriate emergency procedures were in place in the event that accidents happened.
It also heightened peoples awareness, particularly people in the Whitehorse area, with respect to issues that were currently in the forefront of the media of the day with respect to the manufacture of substances that could be considered toxic.
No matter what one considers to be the relative merits or demerits of a particular proposal to manufacture chemicals or to use chemicals in the manufacturing process, or to otherwise use chemicals for educational purposes or otherwise, the fact of heightened awareness in the Yukon and in communities and by municipal councils and by this Legislature is testimony to the fact that people are not only concerned about the environment but that they are concerned that elected officials and appropriate administrations protect the interests of what otherwise might be an unwitting general public.
The information that was provided two weeks ago demonstrated as well that there is already a broad range of what are considered to be toxic chemicals already in use in the Yukon, including the school system. The question that was put forward today in Question Period, with respect to the handling of hazardous wastes, is also an appropriate appendage to the general policy question that is before the public at present.
I think that where I left off last week was a discussion with respect to the importance of a fundamental right of not only the public but also people in the workplace to know what kinds of chemicals they may be working with from time to time. We have heard numerous examples over the years of people who unwittingly worked in what was a hazardous environment, whether it be in coal mines or even mines such as those in Elsa, where people worked for many years underground with relatively poor ventilation in an environment that included radon gas. Twenty years after the fact, lung cancer struck down people who had worked there. The point of the matter is that people had unknowingly, unwittingly, and faithfully worked in those environments without knowing any better.
There is no fault to be imputed to anyone in particular with respect to the matter. It is important, however, that the right of people to know the environment in which they work, or about the chemicals with which they work, is a fundamental right. It is part of the triad of three fundamental rights that have always been considered to be extraordinarily important with respect to public safety. The first one is the right - and the one we are speaking of today - to know, the right to know what chemicals it is that you are working with, what your working environment contains.
The second is the right to refuse work that might endanger either you, your colleagues, your employees or the general public. That is a fundamental right as well. We remember instances in the past where it has not always been a recognized right: the right to refuse to do something that would otherwise endanger the public.
I think Members may recall the celebrated case in Quebec not long ago where a Quebec Hydro employee refused to dump toxic chemicals into the St. Lawrence River and was fired as a result. I think that it is obvious that we have come some distance since that time in recognizing the tremendous public service that person provided and the right of that person to exercise his right to refuse to do something that is unsafe. I think it is important that we remember and apply that right whenever we can.
The third right was always the right to participate in organizations, committees that were struck to consider the safety of the workplace. That is also the final element of the triad of fundamental rights.
I recall a miner who had been mining in Elsa for many many years, who indicated something that was very useful to me, a new miner in that potentially dangerous environment. He indicated that it is only dangerous for you if you are ignorant of the environment itself. It is only dangerous if you do not know the conditions under which you are working.
I think that would be particularly true of many workplaces in the territory. If you were to consider any operating mill at any operating mine in the territory, which has a floatation circuit, you would understand that there are numerous hazardous chemicals that are present and readily accessible in the workplace that could cause instant death if handled improperly. I think that the need for people to know how to handle those chemicals, to be trained to respond to emergencies, are essential elements in a safe environment. I think now that the debate has been carried into the public: the concerns about manufacturing chemicals, whether it be in downtown Whitehorse, or whether it be, for example, the Metafina plant at Faro, that heighten peoples awareness of what happens in our environment. We walk down the street. There are anonymous buildings on either side. Sometimes there are very significant and potentially dangerous things happening just beyond our reach, and it is absolutely essential that the public knows about that, individuals know about that, and the people who are charged with responsibilities of either manufacturing or working in this environment know about it and are able to take appropriate precautions.
The second part of the motion deals with the need to have intergovernmental cooperation in ensuring that the environment is safe. I think it is a truism to say that. It is something that is sometimes forgotten, especially when we have a situation in the Yukon which involves across-jurisdictional responsibilities between the municipalities, the Government of Yukon and the federal government with respect to the Legislative mandates. It is unacceptable to the public that any one level of government ignore the situation or try to pass it off as being the responsibility of someone else or some other level. It is the responsibility of all elected people to ensure that the necessary guidelines, training, and awareness are there to ensure the safety of the public.
Two weeks ago we head the Minister of Community and Transportation Services indicate that the government had already made substantial progress in helping municipalities train their fire departments, in taking a lead role with respect to the Emergency Measures Organization, in terms of establishing appropriate action plans for responding to accidents and dangerous situations. That planning was with the fire departments and with respective authorities in those communities. The training, in fact, was taking place as well. The training itself cannot be underestimated.
We know that in Whitehorse, there is a professional fire department that has professional training as part of the operating procedures of the fire department. We know that in Whitehorse the fire department is made aware of what kinds of toxic chemicals may be placed in any particular buildings so they can respond responsibly to those fires. What we have to understand is that, in many rural communities, fire departments are volunteers and not professional fire fighters - people like us who volunteer their time and put in a few hours per month to undertake the training.
In some communities, the dangers can be every bit as dangerous as in Whitehorse when a fire occurs. No matter how well equipped the fire department is, if the training has not been undertaken it can be considered to be tremendously dangerous for volunteers like ourselves to go into a situation of extreme danger, not knowing what it is that we may be dealing with.
One case that illustrates this point quite well is the situation that occurred in Chicago quite recently where professional fire fighters were fighting a major blaze. While leaving the building and walking away after the fire had effectively been put out, 27 fire fighters were covered by smoke and were promptly taken to hospital as they had been overcome by what had turned out to be extremely toxic fumes. These are professional fire fighters in an urban environment. It could happen to everybody, so training and knowledge are the fire fighters and the publics only protection.
This is what the Department of Community and Transportation is doing with respect to analyzing the hazards. The Minster also mentioned the development of hazard analysis computer programs, which track the potential dangers that might come from any particular fire in any particular place. It tracks all the significant variables and I think that is a prudent and responsible course to take.
I think it is therefore obvious that I am happy to support the motion and I am particularly happy to see that the government, through various departments, is taking great strides to ensure that the public is more protected than it has been in the past. I am also pleased that both the federal and municipal governments are taking a keen interest to ensure that these same objectives are met.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I want to join this debate briefly from the perspective of the Department of Health and Human Resources, for which I am now responsible. I want to begin by first of all complimenting the Member for Whitehorse South Centre for bringing this motion before the House. It is a fine manifestation of her concern for the health and safety of workers and indeed for the health and safety of people and our environment.
I am pleased to speak to the motion because I think we have taken some initiatives here consistent with the policies espoused by the Yukon Economic Strategy and the Yukon Conservation Strategy to integrate economic and environmental considerations in management decisions for which we are responsible.
We do not have to spend much time watching television to be aware that disasters can happen anywhere without warning. The St. Baptiste du Grand fire a few months ago, the Valdez oil spill of just a while ago or the PCB transportation problems in Ontario a short while back, are reminders that these things can happen without warning and that the need for appropriate responses by the public sector is urgent. So too is the need for public information about the products and materials that are involved.
I would like to say something briefly about what already exists. My colleague, the Minister of Education, has spoken about it somewhat, based on his experience in the Department of Community and Transportation Services. I think Members know there is a comprehensive list now available through the Department of Justice, arising from the Workplace Hazardous Material Information System, which was developed by a federal/provincial/territorial committee, and a project that was approved by the Yukon Cabinet back in June of 1987.
WHMIS is a national system designed to ensure that all employers obtain the information they need to inform and train their employees properly about hazardous materials used in the workplace. There are several components to the WHMIS system, including the use of labels and other forms of warning in the workplace, the use of material safety data sheets - inevitably and regrettably reduced to an acronym, MSDS - for the use of control products used in the workplace. There is employee education and training on the handling and exposure to hazardous materials, which is extremely important for the purposes of our discussion today.
In the Department of Justice, we have hired a loss control officer for the purpose of training and promoting the general awareness of employers and employees throughout the territory through the provision of courses from our suppliers for the employees and workers. There have been more than 70 given already, and it is projected that there will be another 125 to 150 over the next two years.
There now is a comprehensive list of hazardous products, which is prepared by Environment Canada and which is published in a widely-available manual. It is distributed to all emergency agencies included in training delivered by the fire marshalls office and the transportation of dangerous goods inspector. It is something we have debated in this House.
There is a Canadian Transportation Emergency Centre, which gives information to emergency personnel any time. I am sure Members will want to know that the Yukon Department of Health and Human Resources has assumed responsibility for emergency social services, should there ever be a disaster here. These services would include emergency lodging, feeding and clothing, registration and inquiry services, and personal social services that can result from such tragedies.
The Environmental Protection Service now maintains a 24-hour a day, seven day a week, call number for dealing with spills, and there is an intergovernmental committee sponsored by Environment Canada, with representation from people in this government, including Community and Transportation Services, Occupational Health and Safety, Renewable Resources and Education. It also includes the federal agencies of DIAND, Environment Canada, as well as the City of Whitehorse. This was set up to examine hazardous waste storage and disposal, something we have talked about before and will be debating further.
The Members will also have heard that the new federal Environmental Protection Act will provide the opportunity for the Yukon to continue to develop our legislation, as well as take over the management and assist in providing more responsive and effective action on local issues, and also to identify substances commercially used in Canada that will be subject to the new federal Environmental Protection Act.
Much work has been done, but there is still work to be done. In the next while, as a result of the environmental legislation to be brought forward, we will be finding a way to coordinate the above activities. In a large area, with a small population, we must know exactly what chemicals are toxic and to what degree. We must have appropriate methods available locally for handling them. We must know how to control their use and when to say no to proposals for the use and storage of dangerous chemicals.
It is important that the mechanisms we put in place and the listing of the materials we are talking about be technically accurate and current. As the Member for Mayo mentioned, new information is constantly available about the toxicity and the volatility of products that may have been available on the marketplace for some time.
It is also important, and this is a difficult point, to try to make those lists not only publicly available, but understandable to the layperson. Many people will be acquainted with toxic products from their commercial or trade name, which is often simple, but the chemical or technical name of the product is often unpronounceable to ordinary people. This is a barrier to understanding the nature of many of these products. Public education is critical and necessary, as we are finding out everywhere in the country.
As I mentioned, our principal method of ensuring safety will be the environmental protection legislation. It will have to be supported by education and a role will have to be played by business and labour in promoting awareness in the workplace.
As Members may know, the community services branch is planning to develop a hazardous analysis computer program to utilize data available in the existing manuals, including local mapping and weather information systems and site-specific data. This will help us handle problems under worse-case scenarios. This will also assist communities in decision-making involving chemicals and their location and their use, particular those that may be dangerous.
All jurisdictions in this country, including this one, have been increasingly involved in these matters over the past few months and years. The Government of Yukon is involved. There is still much to do. We are taking a responsible role in developing new legislation and new mechanisms respecting the management of hazardous wastes. It is important that the mechanisms put in place be cooperative ones and intergovernmental, involving responsible authorities both at the municipal and federal levels.
I compliment the Member for Whitehorse South Centre for bringing forward this motion. I think it is a very constructive contribution to the debate, given some of the issues that have been happening in Whitehorse and the world recently. I think it is time to thank the Member for her intervention. I would be pleased to support the motion.
Speaker: The hon. Member will close debate if she now speaks. Does any other Member wish to be heard?
Ms. Hayden: Our environmental vulnerability as a northern community has been hit hard in recent weeks. Several speakers have outlined systems now in place to cope with such disasters, usually after they happen. There really is so little we can do once a disaster takes place. Our protection lies in prevention and emergency preparedness.
My purpose in bringing this motion forward is to raise public awareness, as many speakers have noted, to encourage cooperation between governments and to encourage the putting in place of a system that would, I believe, try to prevent disasters from happening in our communities.
A public safety checklist of dangerous substances is another step in preparing ourselves for emergency response. We have, as has been noted, the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System. This is working to educate people about the chemicals they use in their daily lives and in their workplaces. This national program is a major step in employee awareness.
We also have a detailed list of hazardous products issued by Environment Canada. While there are no doubt other sources of information, it is imperative that we have what I would call a public safety checklist in place that would be required in assessing industrial proposals that involve toxic chemicals or other hazardous substances. A public checklist would help protect our communities by ensuring that intelligent, well-informed decisions are made involving dangerous chemicals.
I urge you to support this motion and I encourage the Government of Yukon to work with municipal and federal governments to prohibit the use of dangerous chemicals unless community, fire, and other emergency services are in place to protect the Yukon public. We have the information; it is available to us now, or at least most of it is. What we need to do is use it to prevent the disasters from happening in the first place.
Motion No. 21 agreed to
Motion No. 20
Clerk: Item No. 2, standing in the name of Ms. Hayden.
Speaker: Is the hon. Member prepared to proceed with Item No. 2?
Ms. Hayden: Yes, Mr. Speaker.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Member for Whitehorse South Centre
THAT it is the opinion of this House that there is a shortage of park and playground areas in downtown Whitehorse; and
THAT it is also the opinion of this House that the site of the Jim Light Memorial Arena in downtown Whitehorse should become the Jim Light memorial park, playground and picnic area for the enjoyment and use primarily by downtown children and their families.
Ms. Hayden: If memory serves me correctly, the land that the old Jim Light Arena sits on has been zoned recreational since the early 1950s. I understand that it was transferred to the City of Whitehorse by White Pass with the understanding that it would always be used for recreational purposes. At the time, some Members will remember, there was a ball park, a drama club, an arena and a curling club on the site. Later, the YWCA was built as a residence and recreational program facility. Then the Lions Club built the swimming pool.
When an extension was built on the arena, it was renamed the Jim Light Memorial Arena in memory of a man who cared about what happened to kids in Whitehorse and especially downtown kids. There is not much left of that old arena and the curling rink is gone. There is just a bit of a concrete pad and a bit of vandalized property. The YWCA has become a privately owned apartment block and most of the lot seems to be used for parking and is wasted space. The pool, of course, is constantly in use.
All of this is in the middle of a residential neighborhood. Families live there. The kids Jim Light cared so much about live there. But right now, the space that should be there for the neighborhood is nothing but an eyesore. A playground, park and picnic area for people must not be insignificant. It must not be an afterthought to community planning. It must be at the centre of the development that goes into the area. Administrative buildings are not recreation use, in the spirit in which the land first became city property.
Recreation is an activity. Close to 140 area residents have presented a petition to the City of Whitehorse about the arena site. They point out that families, including children and senior citizens, would all benefit from a park, playground and picnic area in the city core. Residents and visitors alike would enjoy this delightful green space. In a tourism-driven economy, this is important. Parks make you feel welcome. They have a sense of freedom and fun about them. I suspect that when you and your families visit a city, it is the parks you remember, certainly not the office buildings.
Children should be able to play somewhere other than on busy streets. There are apartments in the area and a lot of people, families and children live in the area. Many seniors and children do not have backyards and would enjoy a park close to them.
I have no objection to sport and recreation organizations having a joint office building; in fact I think that it is a very good idea. Given my history in recreational programming, I think the Members would recognize that I know the need for that kind of cooperation.
I strongly question the wisdom of planning to use this particular site for another office complex, even with a few additional recreational touches. What is more, I cannot imagine naming an office building after Jim Light. A park and playground seem a more fitting tribute. A beautiful park should be a part of our downtown planning. The residents of Whitehorse South Centre have said they want open space: a park, a playground and a picnic area. They are willing to work on it. In fact, they have been doing that.
The park is important to downtown people, and it is important to the City of Whitehorse and to the Yukon. We must continue to do all we can to support the development of an attractive, inviting, people-oriented city core in the capital of our territory.
We need the vision and the wisdom to build not only for the present, but to plan for the future.
Mr. Brewster: I would like to thank the Member for Whitehorse South Centre for the motion. I do have a few problems with it. One of the earliest lessons I learned in politics is that you do not sit in this Legislature and tell municipalities what to do. If you do, you are not going to last very long. I have a little problem, as a rural resident, directing the City of Whitehorse on what I think they should do.
I knew Jim Light personally, and I knew how hard he worked. I know how hard it was for him to get the arena, mainly for children. I spent a lot of time in that arena with him, bringing the children from the Haines Junction area in to play in there.
It is very fitting that his name be preserved by naming the childrens park at the old arena site after him. I do not want the debate on this motion to turn into a political football. However, as the motion now stands, it is somewhat deficient. Everyone who knew Jim Light knew how involved he was in encouraging young people to become included in sports. That is why the old arena bore his name; therefore, it is in keeping with his memory that sports should continue to be associated with this site. It was with this in mind that the Whitehorse South constituency association of the PC Yukon party presented the following motion to the annual general meeting of the PC Yukon party in November, 1988.
Whereas the old Jim Light Arena site has been allowed to deteriorate since the removal of the arena,
Whereas there are several multiple resident blocks and group homes in the area, and housing density is high,
Whereas the local children in the area have very few places to play,
Whereas residents near the Fourth Avenue lot have petitioned the City of Whitehorse to improve the condition of the lot by establishing a park for children on the site,
Whereas the Sports Yukon is attempting to develop a sports hall of fame on the same site in a building that would be compatible with the park,
Be it resolved that the Yukon party urges the City of Whitehorse, in consultation with the local residents and Sports Yukon to develop a childrens park in conjunction with the sports hall of fame on the site of the old Jim Light Arena.
This motion was passed unanimously, which means not only the delegates from the Whitehorse area, but the delegates from all over the Yukon, agreed that this should be done.
The Member for Whitehorse South Centre is a little late in the day. The City of Whitehorse, Sports Yukon and others have already done a considerable amount of work on this particular project. I feel a little uncomfortable, in view of all this work, that this House now at this late stage appears to be trying to impose its will on the City of Whitehorse and local residents. The ultimate decision should be made by the city in consultation with the local residents.
I know what happens when senior government tries to interfere with junior governments, especially in the rural Yukon, especially in the small municipalities. Most rural Yukoners defend their freedom and do not like interference from senior government. I would suspect an awful lot of people in Whitehorse feel the same way.
Mr. Brewster: Accordingly, I would like to propose the following amendment to this motion:
That Motion No. 20 be amended by deleting the second paragraph and substituting for it the following:
THAT this House commends the City of Whitehorse for allocating $100,000 to develop a park at the Jim Light Memorial Arena site in Whitehorse;
THAT this House commends the City of Whitehorse for encouraging the Yukon Arts and Sports Organization to examine the feasibility of building an administrative office building on a portion of the site to house the Yukon Lottery Commission, the Yukon Sports Federation, the Yukon Arts Council, the Government of Yukon Recreation Department and the Yukon Sports Hall of Fame; and
THAT this House recommends that the City of Whitehorse name the site after Jim Light.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Member for Kluane that Motion No. 20 be amended by deleting the second paragraph and substituting for it the following:
THAT this House commends the City of Whitehorse for allocating $100,000 to develop a park at the Jim Light Memorial Arena site in Whitehorse;
THAT this House commends the City of Whitehorse for encouraging the Yukon Arts and Sports Organization to examine the feasibility of building an administration office building on a portion of the site to house the Yukon Lottery Commission, the Yukon Sports Federation, the Yukon Arts Council, The Government of Yukon Recreation Department and the Yukon Sports Hall of Fame; and
THAT this House recommends that the City of Whitehorse name the site after Jim Light.
Mr. Brewster: I will not say much more. I do not think the intent of the motion has been changed a great deal. It does, however, give authority back to the City of Whitehorse and the people in that area and I, personally, would certainly support this motion if the amendment is put in.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I would like to speak briefly to the amendment. The amendment would appear to me to speak to providing a facility that is currently being objected to by the residents of the community. It is my understanding that people in the neighbourhood have voiced their objection to a facility being structured there that would restrict the park development from taking place.
I believe that the intent of the motion is substantially changed by this amendment. In essence, the amendment says that we want all these sports and cultural groups to locate on the site and thereby create substantial parking needs and tie up the entire lot in a majority fashion for administrative purposes.
I believe that I am listening to the residents of the neighborhood and they are saying they do not want that; they want more green space downtown. They want the site for recreational purposes that would provide for the kind of outdoor activity that would be very restricted by the creation of this office building. I certainly would invite further debate on the subject, but I think the amendment should not be allowed to stand because it virtually reinforces and endorses what is being objected to in the neighborhood and, I believe, is against the message that the Member for Whitehorse South Centre was trying to present.
While I am on my feet, I would just like to speak to the business of the administration building that is endorsed in this amendment. The administration building essentially calls for a centralized facility for sports and cultural administrative activity. As Members are aware, a number of groups have banded together and have begun an effort to determine the feasibility of putting together a single facility from which they could all work. Sports Yukon and the recreation branch of my department have been involved in a support position with the groups. The Arts Council has been involved as has the Lottery Commission.
I think that, conceptually, the idea of centralizing those kinds of facilities is good. I have already stated that the recreation branch of my department is involved in a support position by providing expertise and assisting the groups with examining this concept of centralizing recreation and cultural sources of administration. The concept is very good. There are a number of reasons why that idea could and should work if it is done. Right now, if you have to address arts business, you have to go to the old train station to see the Arts Council; if you want to see the government relating to programs or support, you have to go into the bowels of this building, weave your way down into the back of several corridors and find the recreation people. If you want to talk to Sports Yukon, you have to go to another location in town.
It makes very good sense to bring those agencies together. In that sense, the concept of centralizing an administrative facility for sports, recreation, and culture is a good idea. If you put them in one place you then have all of the programs in one location. You can deal with programs on a much better basis. A far greater cooperation would take place in the delivery of programs. The public to whom we are all responsible in providing services would have one place to go.
Essentially, what we are talking about is a one-stop shop. In that respect the concept is excellent, and I certainly support that principle. When we try to apply, however, that location, when we try to apply the site of the Jim Light Arena to the location of this facility, we are interfering with what the neighbourhood does not want. It is my understanding that the groups that have undertaken this exercise to examine a centralized facility for sports and recreation have undertaken to come up with some detailed options by July 1. In that respect I am sure that they are still examining it and this must certainly be a site that is being examined, but we are hearing from the neighbourhood that it is not a desirable site for that particular facility.
From my point of view, I do not think that the location of a centralized administration facility for recreational purposes is critical to be on this site. I would tell Members quite bluntly that if the issue of the recreation branch participation in some way is going to be an impediment to the wishes of the community being respected, then the recreation branch will withdraw its participation.
I think that there may be an opportunity - and I respect Members opinions on the matter - or room for a compromise in that the facility would not fill the entire site.
I might add, while I am on my feet, that I will be meeting with the sports and arts council groups next week, and I expect that this will be an issue for discussion. At the same time, I would point out that Members are quite correct when they suggest that this, in the final analysis, is a city responsibility, and the final decision is going to be made by the city. Members suggest that we do not have any business telling the city what to do, and certainly this government has had a longstanding position of devolving responsibility to municipalities and to communities. The decisions made by municipalities and communities are paramount in dealing with local decision-making.
At the same time we have a community here that is stating a position and I want to respect of that. I certainly am not going to encourage support of the amendment because it completely changes the intent of the original motion.
Mr. Lang: From a number of points of view, I want to commend the Member for Kluane for putting the amendment forward.
If we are going to be consistent with the principle expressed by the Minister of Community and Transportation Services that it is the citys responsibility to make the decision as to how that land is utilized, then this House has no moral right to be sending city council almost an order regarding what they should be doing with that property. The writing in the initial motion gives direction to the city as to what it should be doing with that property.
As a Member from Whitehorse, and a proponent of the principle expressed by the Minister of Community and Transportation Services, I think that if we wish to give our opinion to the City of Whitehorse, we should be recommending something. We should not be telling them what they should be doing. That is why the motion commends the city for the work they have done. It would appear from the way the motion is written that the city has not been involved, nor do they care to be involved, with what happens to this piece of property. I think it should be pointed out that last year the city allocated dollars in the budget for the purpose of assessing what that land should be used for. These funds were not expended. They have put an additional $100,000 in this year to see what can be done with that land, with the prime purpose being a park area.
The other area that they are looking at is a feasibility study. They have not given their blessing to putting a building there, but they are examining the feasibility of putting a building there. The Minister of Community and Transportation Services referred earlier to various organizations. In the spirit of what we are discussing here, and, in the memory of a very well-known municipal politician, the building could be the sports hall of fame. In a large part, that would be a tribute to the memory of Jim Light. Some Members in this House may not realize it but, Jim Light would have know personally probably 98 percent of those people presently inducted into the Yukon Sports Hall of Fame. That in itself would be a tribute.
I do know that it is not the intention of city council to build a large structure in that area. I have heard one councillor talking about building a gymnasium and everything else with respect to such a facility. I think it is safe to say that, publicly and within city council, he does not have support for that concept. If it goes ahead, you are looking at an administrative type of building.
I want to be clear. We were just commending the City of Whitehorse for examining its feasibility. By going so far as to say to go ahead and build it, I think we would be overstepping our bounds of propriety. It is up to the City of Whitehorse. As a one window approach to sports and culture in the Yukon, I think that if it is feasible and if the finances are available, both sides of the House would like to see such a building built to house those various organizations.
As far as the size is concerned, I am not, and neither is the Minister of Community and Transportation, in a position to argue whether or not it is a good thing for that particular site. I just think it is wise to be looking at all their options and that is one of the options they are looking at: whether or not that property should be used for that type of facility. I think the amendment is fairly straightforward; it is an attempt to get a consensus from this Legislature that would give some moral support to what the City of Whitehorse is doing.
If we go further than what we have here, I will challenge the side opposite to attach money to their proposal. If we, in this House, are going to start dictating to the City of Whitehorse of what they are going to do and how they are going to do it, we had better attach a price tag to it.
I would also point out that if the side opposite decides to vote against any thought of a building on that property, they had better be prepared to provide alternative property in the downtown area to the City of Whitehorse for such an accommodation, because I do not believe that the City of Whitehorse has any other land that would be suitable for such a structure.
There are a lot of implications to what we are discussing here. I might add that I share the view of the Member for Kluane that this is a long way down the garden path in respect to the planning stages as I understand it in my conversations about this motion with some of the city councillors. I telephoned two or three city councillors to discuss this motion specifically, because I wanted to glean some information with respect to what is happening with the political arm of the city. I was quite surprised to find from the people with whom I spoke that the Member for Whitehorse South Centre had no active discussions with them about this motion. Also, the city council did not even know it was up for debate. Also, when I read them the motion, they were all quite surprised that we were going to be debating this in the Legislature when they thought they had it in hand and they quite frankly wondered why it was any of our business. It was their business. It was their responsibility.
I think that is something that we have to give consideration to and I go forward to the amendment that we have and it is to give some recognition and some commendation to the City of Whitehorse for the work they are doing, as opposed to appearing to be directing traffic from these Chambers.
Another area I would like to address is the question of the dedication of the site to Jim Light. I would like to point out that when the arena was moved from the site where it was when the arena was named after Jim Light to the Takhini site and the new one was built, the City of Whitehorse did put a plaque in the present arena in the memory of Jim Light. I want to assure Members here that the City of Whitehorse has not forgotten the contribution that Jim Light made to the City of Whitehorse. Many Members have said that they knew him personally and they spoke of the work he had done with the young people. I was one of the young people Jim Light took to the hot springs and spent many hours with at the arenas. He took the time and effort to try and direct us as we were growing up.
I know I can speak for those adults who had the opportunity to know Jim Light personally, and had his personal attention in helping to grow up. They, very much, would like to see the site, in some way, reflect the name of Jim Light.
I also want to say this, and that is why in the motion we are recommending - and I am saying recommending once again - that it is the responsibility of the City of Whitehorse that the site be considered to be named after Jim Light. But I want to say this, and anybody who knew Jim Light in the world of politics would know this, if we passed the motion the way it was drafted on this Order Paper, he would very much resent us, as a senior level of government, giving the perception and the appearance that we were telling the municipal politicians in the City of Whitehorse what to do.
We are putting forward an amendment that we feel that the House should be able to live with and yet, at the same time, give the necessary commendation to the City of Whitehorse, recognizing its role. If there are objections to that building being built on that site, then I am sure the City of Whitehorse will make that decision, because the plans for the administrative building, which obviously is going to be the area of discussion here, is that it can basically be built anywhere.
If voting for this, I want to assure the Minister of Community and Transportation Services, we are not endorsing that it necessarily be built on that site. All we are doing is commending that they are studying the feasibility of it. If it is not compatible at that stage then a decision would be made.
I should point out that in order that the government could be consistent I cannot see why they would object to it, because the Government of Yukon is involved in that particular study itself and has been very active in consideration of it. I would find it hard to believe that all of a sudden they would be voting against the work that they have put time, effort, resources and money into, because all of a sudden we have some objection to the area. Those objections should rightfully be put forward to the City of Whitehorse. When the feasibility study is finished, it can be examined and, for example, the MLA for Whitehorse South Centre at that time could be in a position of knowledge to go before the City of Whitehorse and to say whether or not she feels that that type structure would be compatible to the area that we are talking about.
I want to conclude by saying that the city councillors that I have had the opportunity to speak to directly have an intention in good part is to see a green belt and park area established in that area. The only outstanding question is whether or not it is compatible with this type of a structure. They are waiting for the results of that feasibility study before any decision can be made.
I want to conclude by commending the Member for Kluane for a well thought out and well-developed amendment that I think will meet the objective of the side opposite, and at the same time, will not put the City of Whitehorse in a situation of wondering why we are trying to run the business from these Chambers.
Hon. Ms. Joe: The amendment that was presented by the Member for Kluane was mentioned as being a well thought out amendment, but did the Member for Kluane consult with the people in that area? He may or may not have. He has presented it because of a resolution that was passed at a Progressive Conservative convention.
The thing we have realized in the last few years, as MLAs for downtown, is that city residents from the downtown area have not been consulted to any great length in any area of development in the downtown area. That was quite evident with the formation of the Downtown Residents Association. They were concerned that many things were happening in the downtown area that they had no input into, and it was happening all the time.
The Member for Porter Creek East has mentioned that the city should be making these decisions, but should the city not be listening to the people who live in the area? We have MLAs in here who represent each part of the Yukon, and we speak on behalf of those people who live in those areas. There is not a lot of space in the downtown area for parks, for families and for children. The residents in the downtown area have spoken loudly and clearly. They have opposed certain things that were being proposed by different groups.
I am the last person in the world who would oppose something relating to sports activities. I am a supporter of sports, and that is a well-known fact, but we have to be able to tell the city what we are hearing from the people who live in that downtown area. The amendment that was put forward by the Member for Kluane takes away from the original motion.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I thank all Members who have spoken. There may be some broad agreement on a number of things. There is clearly some disagreement on others.
The first thing to be stated clearly is that the City of Whitehorse is the responsible agent for determining where parks will be located within its boundaries. That is a fundamental principle of the separation of authority between the territorial government and the City of Whitehorse. It is something that is a standard that has been accepted by many Members in this House, and it is also enshrined in legislation. It behooves every Member who speaks to this motion to couch their remarks by saying it is ultimately the responsibility of the City of Whitehorse to determine what happens with respect to matters such as this within the boundaries of their community. They do have the responsibility to determine green areas and park areas, as elected politicians with municipal responsibilities.
That should be stated by everyone. I was quite encouraged by the Member for Kluane having made that point. I was puzzled by the amendment to the motion, which I thought was about to reinforce that principle. If there had been any misinterpretation whatsoever about this being an opinion motion, certainly not a House order of any sort, this amendment would reinforce the view of this Legislature that it is not the city council chambers. This is the territorial Legislature.
The amendment did not, in my view, accomplish that task. In fact, it took the issue one step further and not only commented on the concept of a park, but also commented on the destruction of a building that is currently a City of Whitehorse project.
I think that it is important, now that we have this amendment on the table, to return to first principles and indicate clearly that this House is of the opinion that, if Members agree, there should be green space in downtown Whitehorse, and that the House showed due respect to the memory of a famous Yukoner, Jim Light. I think that that is a useful project for the Legislature on this Wednesday afternoon, so long as it is communicated clearly to city council what the effect of this opinion is. I think it is a mistake if there is any concern about the interpretation of the motion, and I think that any amendment of the motion should address that particular concern and not take us one step further by commenting on the details of the project.
Regarding green areas, many of us are residents of communities, and many of us as residents of communities have occasion to enjoy green areas and parks. It is an integral part of the development of families, et cetera, that we enjoy green space; we enjoy park life. On occasion, the territorial government, in the sense that it provides financial resources to municipalities, can provide, indirectly, support for projects like this.
The bottom line is, of course, that municipalities call the shots with respect to this matter. That is a principle that we adopted before and it is a principle that we may have to continue to remind ourselves of from time to time. My view of this motion is that it is an opinion motion. My view is that it is a worthwhile thing to comment on from the perspective of friendly commentators in this Legislature. It is noteworthy that in the past this type of issue has cropped up in various capitals. It has cropped up in various large municipalities, and it is noteworthy that some very significant episodes in our history have revolved around this very issue: the creation of green space within municipal boundaries.
Stanley Park, for example, is probably the best-known example of this initiative. The creation of Stanley Park was even more noteworthy, considering that at the time the decision was made, the City of Vancouver was a very small community, and it was almost completely surrounded by green space. It was almost completely surrounded by bush, and when the city fathers of that time made the courageous decision to identify Stanley Park as a park, the impact has been felt favourably by everyone since.
It was quite a virulent discussion at the time, as I recall from reading the history of the matter, but, nevertheless, it has been a subject of discussion in the past, and I am sure it will ultimately be again.
I think the initial motion before us should be considered as a friendly comment by the MLAs who wish to speak to the motion. It should not, in any way, be considered to be a House order or a government order or direction of the government to inflict a decision on the municipality. If I felt that to be the case, I would vote against the motion because I have very strong principles with respect...
Speaker: Point of Order by the Member for Porter Creek East.
Mr. Lang: Would the Member entertain a question?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Perhaps in a couple of minutes. I do not want to break my train of thought, but in a couple of minutes or so I will entertain a question.
It is essential that the motion before us identify clearly our roles and responsibilities. I think it is essential that any communication that we provide this afternoon be considered to be a friendly, non-interfering motion. For those Members who wish to speak, I am sure they will want to reiterate that position. Certainly the Members opposite who have spoken will want to reiterate that position. I do not think it helps matters at all to further discuss the details of this project and I am hoping the Member for Kluane will agree with that, because I think he and I have something very strongly in common and that is respect for municipal government, for other levels of government, and for community decision making.
To that end, I think that it would behoove us to ensure that we do not send any signal to Whitehorse that goes beyond the general, friendly desire to encourage park development in the City of Whitehorse. It does not go further to discuss the rather complicated arrangement of building office space on the site, whether or not that office space will conflict with parks, who will be involved in the office space decision or who is going to be housed in the building or anything of that sort. The room for misinterpretation of the motion could certainly increase if we were to make friendly and encouraging signals with respect to an expenditure we might make to the City of Whitehorse for housing of the Yukon governments recreation department within the project. I think that would send a signal I could not support. The motion basically must be maintained as simply as possible. The Members who wish to comment, in a friendly way, on the park itself - and the Member for Porter Creek East will just have to wait a couple more minutes for his question - should state quite simply that the Members support the concept of some green space and perhaps could commend the City of Whitehorse for allocating resources for the development of the park.
In a moment, I would like to move an amendment to the amendment. If the Members wish, I would be prepared to entertain a question.
Mr. Lang: Point of Order. I would like to direct a question to the Minister. There is some confusion on this side. We do not understand why the YTG has been so actively involved in this feasibility study of establishing a sports hall of fame in conjunction with the administrative offices and supporting it all the way along and, now, they are standing up and saying they do not support the concept whatsoever. I am sure it is going to be very confusing for the City of Whitehorse, as well as ourselves.
If the government is so opposed to such a facility being built there, why has it been so actively involved in planning for it through the feasibility study?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I thank the Member for the question. I am obviously not making my point clearly, but the message we would like to extend from the Legislature this afternoon to anyone who wants to listen is a friendly message to encourage green space, keeping it simple, and bending over backwards to indicate that this is not a motion that intends to interfere with a City of Whitehorse project.
In answer to the Members question, the fact of the Department of Recreations involvement is irrelevant to the point I am trying to make. We are trying to communicate a simple message about green space to anyone who wants to listen. We are going to bend over backward to indicate that we are not prepared to interfere in City of Whitehorse affairs. It is incumbent upon us not to start commenting in great detail about projects within the City of Whitehorse, especially ones that are as complicated as the one the Member mentions.
The issue is not the involvement of the Government of Yukon with respect to the recreation department. The issue is what message we send this afternoon, and that is the point I am making.
The Member for Porter Creek East still does not have the sensitivity toward the interference issue. I was encouraged by the remarks of the Member for Kluane. I believe he still stands by those remarks and the spirit of those remarks, despite the amendment to this motion.
The Member for Porter Creek East said something very illustrative this afternoon about the issue of confusing responsibilities between the City of Whitehorse, or any municipality, and the Yukon government. The Member for Porter Creek East said, If we dictate to the City of Whitehorse, there is a price attached to it. When the Member is talking about price, he is talking about money. He is not talking about the eradication of the principle of community control. He is not talking about wearing down the clear delineation of responsibilities between the YTG and municipalities. The Member for Porter Creek East is making the point that you can interfere, you can dictate to local decision making; all you have to do is pay money.
Well I am not talking about that, and I do not think that the Member for Kluane was talking about that either.
I will have to ignore the Member for Porter Creek East from now on because clearly, even now, the Member for Porter Creek East does not understand the intention.
The motion before us is clear, I think. The Member for Kluane indicated that there should not be a political football made from this matter, that the enduring memory of this debate should be one of respect for Jim Light, and I believe the enduring memory should be a friendly comment to the City of Whitehorse, a friendly opinion to the City of Whitehorse, that we, as individual Members of this Legislative, would encourage park development in the city. That is the message that I would like to impart.
I believe that it may be useful, for those people who misunderstood the preamble to the motion that was speaking to the opinion, to have the House express commendation to the City of Whitehorse for allocating resources to develop a park. I think that is an appropriate opinion for Members to take as well.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: To that end I would like to move an amendment to the amendment:
THAT the amendment to Motion No. 20 be amended by deleting the second paragraph beginning That this House commends the City of Whitehorse for encouraging and ends with ...and the Yukon Sports Hall of Fame.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister for Education
THAT the amendment to Motion No. 20 be amended by deleting the second paragraph beginning That this House commends the City of Whitehorse for encouraging and ends with ...and the Yukon Sports Hall of Fame.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I think that Members can see from the handwriting that the people who work with me on a daily basis are extremely competent.
The motion, as amended twice, would basically indicate the following: that it is the opinion of this House that there is a shortage of park and playground areas in downtown Whitehorse and that this House commends the City of Whitehorse for allocating $100,000 to develop a park at the Jim Light Memorial Arena site in Whitehorse; and that this House recommends that the City of Whitehorse name the site after Jim Light.
I think that that keeps the spirit of the motion, which is not to discuss office buildings. I think it maintains the spirit of the motion to speak to the issue of green space in the City of Whitehorse. I think that it reinforces, for those who need the reinforcement, that this House is expressing friendly opinions with respect to the creation of green space. It does not give anyone the impression that the House is looking favourably on any particular construction project or arrangement that may be constructed to house whatever offices may be anticipated. It sends a simple, friendly message. My impression is that that is the intention of the original mover of the motion and that it is also, with the exception of the Member of Porter Creek East, what I interpret as the real intention of the Members who have spoken so far as the appropriate message.
Mr. Lang: I think it is important to realize that it is a consensus here that both sides of the House would like to see more parks in downtown Whitehorse. If the Member opposite is trying to prove oneupmanship on the issue, I would like to point out that the issue at hand has been discussed for quite some time by the City of Whitehorse. This is not a new issue and obviously there is a lot of planning, as I stated earlier, has gone into the idea of the park in the area.
I want to say for the record - and maybe the media could follow up after and get the Minister to answer my question - I do not understand why YTG was so involved in the feasibility study of the proposed facility for that area until all of a sudden it came into the House here. The question that is being left is why YTG was involved at all. The only reason why we put it in the motion is because we felt that there was a working relationship between the various organizations and YTG, which were looking at the idea of this facility being in the corner of the area that we are talking about being used as a park. I notice the Minister looking down, realizing that he did not answer my question. I want everyone to realize that no one has answered the question of why YTG has been deeply involved with time, people and resources in this particular project if they are so adamantly opposed to it.
I think it important that the motion read as it is where we are commending the City of Whitehorse as opposed to directing. I think the Minister has seen in the way it was drafted that it would be inappropriate if it were to be passed through these Chambers in that light. We appreciate the Minister coming to us and amending the motion in such a manner that it conforms with the various ideas that we have brought forward. I really appreciate the kind and cooperative manner that the Minister always exhibits in these matters when he has to compromise and perhaps sometimes see that either he or his colleagues made a mistake.
I just want to conclude by saying we will support the amendment to the amendment in the spirit that the motion will be delivered to the City of Whitehorse. I am looking forward to reading, perhaps in the local media tonight or tomorrow, why the YTG was so much involved in the feasibility study for the facility there because it still puzzles me.
Sub-amendment agreed to
Speaker: Is there any further debate on the amendment as amended?
Ms. Hayden: Just very briefly, I appreciate the spirit of the amended amendment to the motion. I, too, care a great deal about both the rights of the community to make its own decisions and the rights of the people who live within that community to have a voice.
It seems to me that in some small measure, that has been met with this now amended motion. It is very important to the people who live downtown to have that green space and I think those people who live in other parts of the territory, even in the suburbs of Whitehorse, cannot know what it is like to live in apartment blocks without backyards without places for children to play in and no green space around. It is very important to the people who live downtown to be heard. I appreciate that the House recognizes that.
Amendment agreed to as amended
Speaker: Is there any further discussion on the amended motion?
Motion No. 20 agreed to as amended
Motion No. 22
Clerk: Item No. 3 standing in the name of Ms. Hayden.
Speaker: Is the hon. Member prepared to proceed with Item No. 3?
Ms. Hayden: Yes, Mr. Speaker.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Member for Whitehorse South Centre
THAT it is the opinion of this House that the Government of Yukon should consider taking the following steps to protect the ozone layer from further erosion:
(a) as soon as possible, ban the sale and use of foam packages and any chemicals in aerosol sprays that contain chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), a substance known to harm the ozone layer;
(b) by July 1, 1990, ban rigid foam insulation and flexible furniture foam made with CFCs;
(c) at the earliest possible dates, ban the sale of any other products made with CFCs;
(d) advocate to other jurisdictions in Canada that they adopt deadlines earlier than 1998 to stop using CFCs in the manufacture of refrigerators, air conditioners and coolers as well as other products;
(e) participate in the safe collection and destruction of products containing CFCs;
(f) ensure the safe use and testing of fire extinguishers containing halons; and
(g) contact other jurisdictions in Canada and encourage them to adopt similar bans in order to avoid environmental calamity to northern people caused by destruction of the ozone layer.
Ms. Hayden: I want to give credit to the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and to the United Church of Canada for providing the facts I have used in developing and speaking to this motion.
I believe it is time that the Government of Yukon introduced measures to help protect the people of the north, and indeed, people of the earth, from the harmful effects of ultra-violet radiation brought about by the thinning as well as the depletion of the ozone layer in the stratosphere. We can do that by banning products that use chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and halons in their manufacture and use. We can also encourage other jurisdictions to adopt similar legislation. In 1980, Canada banned the use of CFCs in deodorants, antiperspirants and hair sprays under the Environmental Contaminants Act. Products not covered were oven cleaners, room fresheners, furniture polishes, shoe-care sprays, car-maintenance sprays, insecticides and some food products like the artificial whipping cream that we all use on our desserts.
The Montreal Protocol, a treaty signed by 24 countries in September 1987, asked the worlds industrialized nations to reduce CFC production by 50 percent within 12 years.
That figure is woefully inadequate. It is estimated that the production of CFCs should be reduced by 85 percent to stop the increasing erosion of the ozone layer. The following facts need to be considered.
CFCs are stable gases. First invented in 1928, they are now used industrially as propellants and for refrigeration and air conditioning. CFCs are not water soluble. The chlorine and chlorine atoms bond strongly with the carbon atom. The resultant molecule is heavy and tends to stay near the surface of the earth, but can ultimately be drawn into the uppermost layer of the earths atmosphere by storm action.
When CFCs enter that upper atmosphere, they encounter ultraviolet radiation, which dislodges the chlorine atoms. The freed chlorine atom attacks ozone molecules to form flourine monoxide. The ClO then combines with an oxygen atom, and the chlorine is again released.
This continuing process can destroy 100,000 molecules of ozone. Think of a chlorine Pacman gone mad, gobbling up our earths protective ozone layer. It is well known that a hole in the ozone layer as large as continental USA exists over the Antarctic. A hole as large as Greenland appears over the Arctic. The global ozone layer is diminishing rapidly. As the ozone layer erodes and becomes less dense and, therefore, less protective, harmful ultraviolet radiation is allowed to reach the surface of the earth.
The results have seen a definite increase in skin cancers. There are 16,000 new cases occurring in Canada each year. Additional predicted consequences are damage to the retina of the eye, deterioration of genetic material, DNA, of all plants and marine plankton essential to our global food chain.
It is estimated that 80 percent of the CFCs manufactured over the past 30 years have yet to reach the stratosphere, yet production continues. That is scary stuff, and we seem intent on self-destruction. About 20,000 tonnes of CFCs are produced in Canada annually. That accounts for only 2.5 percent of world production. It almost seems like a hopeless cause, yet we must begin somewhere.
Ontario, which consumes approximately half of the CFCs produced in Canada, was the first jurisdiction in our country to amend its environmental protection act to prohibit and restrict various uses of ozone-depleting substances, including CFCs and halons. Other provinces are considering the banning of substances. Currently, CFCs are used in all types of refrigerating and air conditioning units. Half of the CFCs consumed are used in the service and replacement of existing equipment.
Alternative CFCs, with lower ozone-depletion potential, are being studied for use in refrigeration equipment.
Three main foam products are manufactured using CFCs as blowing agents: rigid packaging foam used for food packaging, rigid insulation foam and flexible foam in use as seat cushions and car dashboards. Chemicals are now available to substitute the CFCs used as blowing agents in rigid packaging foam manufacturing, for example, in fast food packaging and egg cartons, and are being developed to replace CFCs in the manufacturing of insulation and seat cushion forms.
To reassure Members that we do not have to give up our urban lifestyle in order to achieve this reduction in our use of CFCs, I will file with the Clerk an item that I obtained in Whitehorse. It is an egg carton which says This egg carton contains no CFCs. It is quite possible for our packaging to be done without the use of CFCs.
Alternatives now exist for CFCs used as propellants for aerosols as well. Halons are used in fire extinguishers and most are released when testing fire protection equipment. It is obvious that they have to be tested from time to time, but safer methods of testing must be developed.
How does all this affect the Yukon? Scientists with the Federal Atmospheric Environmental Service say the hole in the ozone layer over the Arctic expanded to its largest size ever in February of 1989. Ozone concentration within it reached record lows. It is getting larger and thinner. It is estimated the ozone layer is decreasing by 1 percent to 3 percent annually and that 20,000 Canadians will get skin cancer for every 3 percent reduction.
Yukoners skiing in the high Arctic six or seven years ago noticed unusual blisters on their faces and backs of their hands. At that time no one knew what caused it. Now we know.
We know what the problem is. It is up to each of us to take some responsibility for the solution. We can start by banning from the Yukon those products manufactured with, or using, CFCs. We can establish safe procedures for collecting and destroying existing products containing CFCs and we can set up guidelines for the safe use and testing of fire extinguishers containing halons. We can also lobby other jurisdictions to adopt similar legislation.
Unless something is done soon, it is going to be an environmental calamity that will affect northern people first. I ask for your support for this motion.
Mr. Phelps: I will be relatively brief. I would like to thank the Member for Whitehorse South Centre for bringing this motion forward. It is certainly an issue that is of concern to all of us. Most Yukoners are becoming more and more concerned about the effects of CFCs on the ozone layer. With the recent news of the apparent developing hole in the ozone layer over the Arctic, it is coming closer and closer to home.
I think it is an issue of concern and certainly of general interest to all Yukoners. As I say, I am pleased that we are able to debate it in this Legislature at this time.
First of all, I have some concerns with the wording of the motion itself, the way it is set forward. Thankfully, it does say that the Government of the Yukon should consider taking certain steps. I agree that it should consider taking steps. I am concerned about the specificity of the steps that are being recommended here by the Member for Whitehorse South Centre.
I think that we have to be fairly careful and do a fair amount of investigation before we adopt all of these measures. I think the intent behind them is laudable. I think that each of us does have to take some of the responsibility for trying to reduce our use of the offensive products and packaging. I am sure that most people are willing to make some sacrifices if they feel that by so doing they are setting an example to other Canadians or other citizens in other countries of the world.
Going through the motion step by step, (a) says as soon as possible, ban the sale the use of foam packages and any chemicals and aerosol sprays that contain chlorofluorocarbons, a substance known to harm the ozone layer.
In her opening comments the Member did make a distinction about products that actually contain CFCs and those products that use CFCs as a blowing agent to develop foam. I would hope that the government, in considering the steps that should be taken, would bear that distinction in mind. As CFCs are dangerous when they are released into the atmosphere, aerosol sprays that contain chlorofluorocarbons have been in the past one of the most offensive methods by which CFCs are released into the atmosphere.
When we come to the use and sale of foam packages, many of the packages that we see in use in the Yukon are not in themselves harmful, but are made by the use of the gas containing CFCs. It has been indicated by various scientists and advocates that in controlling CFC emissions into the atmosphere there are other ways of addressing the problem - for example, where chlorofluorocarbons may be a necessary tool to develop foam packages. It is under active study, as I understand it, to ensure that the gas is collected and reused, and not released into the atmosphere. That is a possibility and one that is under consideration by industry and one that I submit may be practical and may address the problem fully.
We have to look at the actual foam packages in use here to get some concept of the cost of an outright ban on all foam packages. There are other options and steps that could be taken. Short of an outright ban, once the packages come here, we have to be mostly concerned with the contribution of Yukoners to the overall release of CFCs. Where foam packages contain CFCs, it seems to me we have to focus more on the disposal of all the packaging we see in the Super Valu for meats and by Mcdonalds, for instance. Recycling is something that would do a lot to reduce the actual release in the Yukon of CFCs.
The hon. Member has placed a date, July 1, 1990, under subparagraph (b) of the resolution. I am not competent to deal with that date in terms of how realistic it might be, but I would urge the government to be very careful and not be bound by the specificity of that clause.
Subparagraph (c) makes sense, if the government is considering banning CFCs. The earliest possible date, I would hope, would take into account all aspects of the proposed measure for the actual ban of the sale of products made with CFCs. I would hope that that ban would make the distinction between products containing CFCs and products that do not contain CFCs but are made with them. If the manufacturing is done in a safe, sane way so no CFCs are released into the atmosphere, then the sale of such harmless products should not be banned.
Subparagraph (d) speaks of us entering into an advocacy role to other jurisdictions in Canada. I fully support that.
Subparagraph (e) speaks to something I have already said, that one of the real contributions we can make in Yukon is to ensure the various products disposed of here are not disposed of in a way that releases the CFCs into the earths atmosphere.
I have no trouble in fully supporting subparagraph (f).
I feel that subparagraph (g) is fully supportable, so long as the government, in its consideration, is practical and careful about the measures it might introduce as a result of this motion.
I could go on at some length about the history of the problem and the steps being taken by other nations. It is clear to me that part of the problem is that some of the poorer countries, which are becoming industrialized, are moving into the manufacture of products that can contain CFCs. It has been recommended by leaders in China and India that the consumer nations ought to look at establishing a fund that would assist the underdeveloped nations in reducing their use of CFCs.
I think that is something this government could consider in terms of its advocacy role and could indicate support for steps by Canada and other developed nations in assisting the underdeveloped nations in making the conversion from CFCs to substitutes.
With those few remarks and largely because of the qualifying words in the opening part of the motion, I will certainly be supporting the motion.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I would like to thank the hon. Member for Whitehorse South Centre for bringing the matter before this House.
A few years ago, the ozone layer was a subject of scientific speculation. The situation is vastly different today. Not only do we now know that there is an ozone layer, we also know what it does and we know what its erosion will do to our planet and life around us. Ozone in the upper atmosphere acts as a screen for ultraviolet radiation. Its erosion by chloroflurocarbons, or CFCs, is now a recognized fact. As they rise through the stratosphere, CFCs break down from exposure from ultraviolet rays, freeing chlorine atoms. Each chlorine atom can destroy at least 10,000 ozone molecules. This process will continue for the 70-100 year lifespan that CFCs will have in the stratosphere. As stratospheric ozone is depleted, more ultraviolet rays will reach the earth. As a result, the incidence of skin cancer is expected to rise. Decreased production of important world food crops such as wheat, corn, rice and soybeans is also expected.
The destruction of the ozone layer is, therefore, a critical problem, and one that has repercussions for all regions of the world. It points to the need for nations and people throughout the world to take effective steps to protect our global environment.
I think we have reasons to be optimistic about global action on this problem. In the fall of 1987, the worlds first treaty on the atmosphere, specifically on the issues of ozone depletion, was adopted in Montreal. The Montreal Protocol, as it is known, calls for a 50 percent reduction in the use of CFCs by the end of this century. Since this treaty came into force at the beginning of this year, 28 countries have ratified it. These 28 countries account for more than 80 percent of the worlds consumption of CFCs.
To its credit, the Canadian government has taken a bolder step beyond the Montreal Protocol. It has announced that Canadas goal will be the complete elimination of CFC use by 1999. It has also called on the global community to set, as its common target, the reduction of at least 85 percent of CFC use within the next 10 years.
Ontario has shown similar leadership in announcing a ban on certain products that commonly contain CFCs by July 1, 1989 and by establishing a schedule for the phasing out of other products which contain CFCs or use them in their manufacture. British Columbia has recently indicated that it will follow suit. The steps taken by Ontario are significant. Ontario consumes about half of the 20,000 tonnes of CFCs produced in Canada annually, about one percent of all CFCs produced. A significant number of CFC producers are based in Ontario as well, which means that a phase-out of products in that province will affect the products seen on store shelves across Canada.
Other actions are needed to help deal with this issue. Our global awareness and action toward the problem of CFCs has developed much more rapidly than our knowledge of just what products contain CFCs. We need more information on brand-name products that contain or use CFCs, so we as consumers can make responsible choices.
A list prepared by Dupont Canada contains more than 150 types of products that are made with, contain or use CFCs; everything from egg cartons to mattresses to stuffed toys. We need alternative products. According to the federal government, the largest percentage of CFC use in Canada is in refrigeration. As yet, we do not have commercially available products to replace those with CFCs. These are the challenges ahead for us all - governments, industry and individuals.
What can Yukon do to respond to these challenges? How can we contribute to worldwide efforts to protect the ozone layer? We should begin by saying that we do not have a mechanism in place that would allow us to ban the sale and use of CFCs in a range of products. Unlike other jurisdictions which have well established environmental protection legislation, we in the Yukon are just beginning the process of establishing our own. I think we have an excellent opportunity to legislate effective actions against CFCs as the Yukons environmental protection act is prepared. We will continue to lend our voice to the national discussions on effective measures to reduce CFC use and to ensure that Yukon interests are addressed in the national arena.
The Yukon has a seat on the Canadian Council of Environment Ministers and I, as Minister of Renewable Resources, will make the Yukons voice heard on that council. It is a very effective forum for communicating concerns to other jurisdictions since environmental ministers from across the country, including the federal minister, are members of this council.
I fully expect the CCEM will continue to promote speedy action on CFCs. Here in the Yukon, I believe initiatives such as the Yukon Conservation Strategy will not only provide the government with a guide to environmentally-sound development, but will also provide a guide for individuals to make rational choices for a better environment.
What we already know about CFCs should make each of us think twice before we pour our coffee into a foam cup or buy food from an outlet that uses foam packaging.
In conclusion, the problem ozone depletion is a serious problem for our world. We are taking steps to solve it, as well as other environmental issues. The decisions each of us make in our daily lives have a role to play.
I thank the Member for Whitehorse South Centre from bringing this forward. I look forward to comments from all Members of the House.
Mr. Phillips: I rise today to support the intent of the motion. I commend the Member for Whitehorse South Centre for bringing it forward. I have a few comments that I would like to make.
It seems that in recent weeks, many politicians, not only in this Legislature, but in Legislatures all across Canada, have just discovered how important the environment is to all of us. I am pleased to see that. I have spent the past 12 years of my life involved in environmental issues in the territory. I think that politicians are wise at this time to be more concerned with the environment and its effect on our daily lives.
I would like to put out a cautionary note that I think we have to be very responsible in any decisions we make. We limit industry and limit businesses with respect to control so that we have a better environment to live in only because we can overreact in these times. There is a move now to put more environmental controls and guidelines in place to protect the environment. It is very easy for us now to capitalize on that and overreact and almost create more problems than we solve.
I think that all Members in the House are aware that we have the Yukon Conservation Strategy in progress and the Yukon Conservation Strategy, as the Minister of Renewable Resources said, will be addressing problems such as this.
I do have a concern though, as the Leader of the Official Opposition did, about the timing in the motion where it lays out specific dates that some of these products, CFCs, have to be phased out, and I think that we may be putting a burden on some small local businesses that are at the mercy of their parent companies. I can assure the Members of this House that I have had discussions with several of these businesses in Whitehorse over the past few years, and they have all told me that their parent companies are working on alternative products. I understand now that some major companies are using an alternative product and others are working on that, and they are very conscious of the dangers of these CFCs, and they are working to remove them from some of the products that they use.
Another issue that I would like to raise before I close is that many products that use CFCs not only have a very detrimental effect on the ozone layer, but these are the very same products that are, in most cases, not biodegradable. I think that one just has to drive around in the Yukon this time of year, almost any time of the year, and look along the sides of the roads and you can see these products all over the roads. If you have the pleasure of making a trip out to our local dumps, you can see them lying around the dumps and they are there for years and years and years, and they have become a major litter problem in the territory. I think that is something that we have to address. In fact, in this sitting of this Legislature, I plan to bring in a motion that will be addressing the litter problem and I hope that all other Members on that side will consider supporting that motion.
Again, in closing, I would like to commend the Member for Whitehorse South Centre for her efforts to bring forth environmental motions in this House and I strongly support those efforts. I will be supporting this motion, again with some concerns over the possible unachievable time limits put on local businesses in phasing out these products, but I thank the Member for bringing it forward and I will be supporting the motion.
Ms. Kassi: I want to first of all, as well, thank the Member for Whitehorse South Centre for bringing forward this motion. It gives me the opportunity to speak wholeheartedly about what is so important to our daily lives, the environment.
The rate of depletion of the ozone layer is of particular concern for the people in the Arctic. The earth and the atmosphere cannot tolerate any more chemical intrusion. We must take steps to protect our environment. We must move quickly to ban the sale and use of foam packages and products that are manufactured using CFCs. We must make sure that fire extinguishers containing halon are used and tested safely.
Further, we must prepare to take the lead and encourage other jurisdictions in Canada to take action, also. The very future of the north is at stake. When we fly around the Arctic, often we cannot clearly see the earth below because the haze is so thick. I can see the effects of this environmental damage on the land. Plants are dying. Many of our lakes are drying up. The terrain is just not the same as it used to be, and all this has happened in what is really a very short time. The long-term effects of ozone depletion on plants, animals and human beings are frightening to think of.
As my colleague mentioned previously, the Arctic skiers get such bad sunburns that their skin blisters in painful sores, and we have experienced that as well. This is the beginning of what is a frightening situation. CFCs have been proven to be the major polluter of the ozone layer.
The Gwichin have taken care of our lands in the Arctic for generations, and we always will. We have always been concerned about our environment. It is not just lately; we have always been concerned. We did not bring CFCs to our lands, but we are being threatened by what they do. This is very sad.
We are faced with the consequences of acid rain, and particularly what has happened in Valdez, Alaska, is very sad.
We will not sit quietly and be the victims of irresponsibility. I hope the Americans and many oil companies have learned a lesson they should remember for a long time. The people in Alaska will never forget this and the consequences are what all of us will suffer.
This so-called accident that could have been avoided if people had been smarter and not so greedy makes me angry. The Gwichin will not forget, either. We have cherished and protected our lands, and we will never abandon them. The land provides our spirit, our culture and our way of life. We will preserve our natural environment and continue even more so now to follow the natural laws that no one can govern, but only follow.
There is a delicate balance on the North Slope that we cannot allow to be disturbed. Education is important on all fronts on the vital importance of preserving our environment. We must work to educate the people in the Yukon, and we must reach out, as environmental leaders, to the rest of the world. Yukon consumers need to know what CFCs really mean to them. We need to put out more and more information about the damage CFCs are doing in our world. The government must develop an education process to make people aware of damaging products and their effects on the environment.
I know the world around my area has changed. We can all notice things that are different.
There is much that each of us can do. Right now, I want to point out that the local Super Valu, for example, promotes the use of biodegradable garbage bags. I want to commend the individuals involved for taking this issue seriously. Something like an environmental achievement award, presented by the government, would give recognition to businesses that are doing something about the formidable problem we are facing.
On the other hand, we have the example of Exxon Oil doing too little, too late, in terms of cleaning up the Valdez oil spill. Alaskans are frustrated by the attitude of this large international company that has so little regard for our community.
The spill should be a warning to us to beware of this kind of development in the north. It should show the rest of Canada and the world why we are willing to fight so hard to save the biological areas of the Arctic, the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge and the north Yukon.
If a disaster like this were to happen in the sensitive Arctic lands, we can never replace them. It just might happen if we do not take measured steps with respect to development. We cannot rush out full force and develop these oil fields. The range of the Porcupine caribou herd must be defended. Our lands are beautiful. We have many resources to share with many people. We have wild animals and decent water and one of the very last of an indigenous tribe of people in the Arctic that we have to protect. We can lead the world with our determination to keep our northern lands undeveloped for the future and survival of all.
The motion before us to protect the ozone layer from further erosion is one we must take seriously. We must develop public awareness and focus public concern on the issue. This government has committed itself to sustainable development. This motion is really an extension of that promise, a promise that there really will be a future for our children.
Mrs. Firth: I move that debate be now adjourned.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Member for Whitehorse Riverdale South that debate be now adjourned.
Motion to adjourn debate agreed to
Bill No. 101: Second Reading
Clerk: Second reading, Bill No. 101, standing in the name of Mr. Lang.
Mr. Lang: I move that Bill No. 101, entitled An Act to Amend the Students Financial Assistance Act, be read a second time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Member for Whitehorse Porter Creek East that Bill No. 101, entitled An Act to Amend the Students Financial Assistance Act, be now read a second time.
Mr. Lang: I have brought forward an amendment to the Students Financial Assistance Act, primarily at the request of a constituent of mine who experienced some problems with respect to becoming eligible under the act. I just want to say at the outset that I want to commend the Student Financial Assistance Committee and the administration for the work that they do in this area. I know at times it is onerous and decisions have to be made and I respect the work they do on behalf of the Legislature and the people of the Yukon to ensure that the spirit and intent of the Students Financial Act is followed.
What we have before you is an amendment that clarifies a section of the bill that seems to be unclear at the present time. I know from discussions with the Minister of Education as late as this morning what the intent of section 7.1(c) on eligibility is. It states that an individual is ineligible if, for reasons beyond his or her control, he or she has had to leave the Yukon for a period of time. I just want to point out the situation that has occurred with a constituent of mine who spent a considerable time in the Yukon.
The individual in question has had correspondence with the Minister of Education. The Minister of Education did make every effort to see if he could be assisted on the matter. I commend the Minister for that.
The individuals family was in the north since 1961. The individual, who hopes to become eligible someday under this act if this amendment is brought forward, was born in Whitehorse. His sister also comes from Whitehorse. His sister became quite ill. The medical treatment was very expensive because a lot of it required travel outside, primarily to Edmonton. After a year of that trouble and expense, the family decided to move to Edmonton. The children took their education in Alberta. Subsequently, the parents have moved back to the Yukon. The children have moved to Whitehorse to work in the summers. They intend to establish residency here.
I want to quote section 7(1): Notwithstanding section 6, the committee may recommend to the Executive Council Member the payment of financial assistance to a student who is not otherwise eligible under this Act or in the opinion of the committee,
(c) his ineligibility under paragraph 6(2)(b) or subsection 6(3) or (4) is entirely the result of extraordinary medical, educational or similar reasons that make it reasonably necessary for him to be absent from the Yukon."
This deals with extraordinary medical. If the student was the individual who had been sick and could prove, through medical documentation, that he had to attend school outside because of his medical ailment, then there would have been no problem for the Student Financial Assistance Committee to, at least, hear the case.
We have is a situation here where the student applied to the Student Financial Assistance Committee and was turned down. I will quote from correspondence: I write to advise you that, as a result of the appeal hearing on Tuesday, April 26, 1988, the committee, after much deliberation of section 7(1)(c) of the Students Financial Assistance Act were unanimous in their decision that Darren does not qualify for the Yukon grant as he does not meet the requirements for a dependent or independent student.
The amendment I brought forward for your consideration asks the House to add or his family so that, in this particular case, he could be considered under this section. I want to say that this does not necessarily give this individual or other individuals automatic right to these grants. It gives the clear direction to the Student Financial Assistance Committee that they can hear these cases and that they must make their decisions on the merits of the case.
This is one of the situations that seems to fall between the rules. For example, in some of the correspondence that was written to the Minister on this particular case, and I quote the letter, I cannot understand why a person living in the Yukon for a period of only two years is eligible for the grant, while our family has spent a total of 13 years contributing to the economy of the north and cannot qualify for the same grant.
I have some sympathy for that argument. In my conversations with the Minister, he has indicated the student in question is presently eligible for funding from the Province of Alberta for the past year. I do not argue that, but my question is about what will happen for this year coming up. I realize you are only going to be eligible for financing from one particular jurisdiction. Otherwise, we will be in a situation where an individual is playing two or three jurisdictions against each other.
I wanted to identify that the family had to move out because of extraordinary medical reasons, and it could be proven, through medical documentation, that since at least one of the students within the family is going to be eligible, they should all be considered for eligibility. The irony here is the reason the family had to leave is because the young lady in the family would be eligible for student financial assistance here, but the brother would not be.
The point I would like to make is that each of the family members situation should be taken into consideration for application. I realize the Minister may well have been advised that the department has said the family can be considered under this section. According to the correspondence I have received, it is clear that section 7(1)(c) is not the section under which they could bring his particular case forward, because the medical situation is not affecting him directly. He has been indirectly affected because the family had to move.
I feel there should be some mandate given to the Student Financial Assistance Committee to consider cases like this. I will conclude by saying that I recognize they make the decision, and so they should. They are the ones who have to look through the information they have been provided with in order to make that definitive decision. I am only asking for fairness, and that is what the amendment is all about.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I can assure the Member that the governments objective with respect to these matters is to achieve fairness in the application of the legislation.
The Member is correct that we have spoken on this matter. We spoke earlier today about the interpretation of the legislation with respect to the eligibility requirements for people who must leave the Yukon for a variety of purposes, in this particular case, medical reasons.
The Member is correct in saying that there is a difference of opinion regarding what the legislation currently says with respect to this matter, and I will explain myself further.
I will begin with the conclusion that we will support the bill in second reading for the reasons I will cite. It is a matter of great joy for me to support, as I generally do, many of the things that are brought forward to this Legislature by the Member for Porter Creek East.
However, I am unable to support all of those things because by conscience, the vast majority of the Yukon public would not allow me.
The matter before us is simple and complex at the same time. I does involve two clauses in the Students Financial Assistance Act and it has everything to do with the eligibility requirements for the students under the act. The first section that is relevant is section 6, which determines who, basically, is eligible to receive student financial assistance through the Government of Yukon. Section 7 determines who may not be technically eligible to collect student financial assistance, but cites cases where special consideration is warranted. That is section 7. Now, one feature of section 7, the section which identifies who may be considered as exceptions to the basic eligibility requirements, is the feature that demonstrates that if a child is forced to leave the Yukon to get medical treatment, they do not have to qualify under certain significant sections of section 6.
The reason for that, as the Member identified, is that it was patently obvious to the people who designed the bill in the first place, that there are situations beyond the control of the child and of the family that would make it impossible for them to remain in the Yukon, and which would eventually lead to their eligibility to receive student financial assistance.
One of those reasons cited is the subsection on medical reasons, which basically, refers to those persons who leave the territory for medical treatment and who can prove that they have left the territory solely for medical treatment and have not returned because the medical treatment is ongoing. Those people can apply to the Student Financial Assistance Committee for special consideration.
Section 7(1)(c) is the relevant section that refers to and cites extenuating circumstances that are medical. That is the reason why the constituent that the Member cited was allowed to appeal in the first place. It was under section 7(1)(c), the exception clause, that the constituent was considered for special consideration.
In saying that the person may be given special consideration for purposes of medical reasons, it is also understood in the act, of course, that the student is not also eligible for assistance elsewhere, as the Member cited. It also assumes that the student has close and substantial connection with the Yukon, to quote the legislation, in the opinion of the Student Financial Assistance Committee, and that the child was absent entirely as a result of extraordinary medical reasons. That means that the childs initial exit from the Yukon may be the result of the need for medical treatment. But it also suggests that the child continues to be absent for medical reasons.
In the application of the law, which is the matter that is relevant here, the concern is whether or not the relevant sections refer to the child receiving the medical treatment as being the same child who is applying for student financial assistance or whether it also refers to the siblings who may apply for student financial assistance but because the family had left the Yukon would not be eligible.
As I understand it, in the application of the case that the Member cites, and in past applications, it has been the practice of the Student Financial Assistance Committee and the Department of Education to consider relevant those cases that have to do with the brothers and sisters and other family members of individuals who may be forced to leave the Yukon for medical reasons. What I am saying is that, if one child leaves the Yukon for medical reasons, a daughter, for example, who has become sick, then the brothers and sisters of that child would be considered eligible under the section 7.1(c) for special consideration because their family and one member of the family in particular, was forced to leave the Yukon for medical reasons.
That, I am told, is the stated interpretation of the application of the particular law. It is for that reason that we would have no difficulty in accepting the Members amendment because it is considered to be the case today that that is the way the law is applied. If there is a misunderstanding or confusion about how the laws apply, then I think that the Members amendment to the law is a useful exercise, and it would be worthwhile to pursue this through to assent.
The Member knows, as I have had discussions with him about the case, that it does not resolve, certainly not in the short term, the situation as to how it applies to this particular constituent at this time. Largely because even though a member of this persons family was out of the Yukon for medical reasons, there are other elements of the act that would disqualify this individual. The Member cited the section that involves this child or this young adults eligibility for student financial assistance in another province, which is, I understand, the case in this instance.
There is also the section in the legislation itself, as I have cited already, which allows some subjective judgment by the Student Financial Assistance Committee to determine whether or not the student has a close and substantial connection with the Yukon. Realizing that is quite broad, there is the one escape clause which has allowed various applications to be reviewed and are, by most peoples standards, common sense applications.
That will not change by this amendment. The Member is correct in citing that there may be circumstances that will allow this individual to legitimately make application in the future. There may be circumstances that allow for change in the environment of this case, which would allow the young adult to apply successfully.
Having said that, it is clear that the interpretation of how the law should be is shared by both sides. The amendment clarifies the application we both presently share. For that reason, we will have no difficulty in agreeing to it.
Mr. Phelps: My colleague would like to move this bill through quickly, but I thought I should speak on second reading. I, too, share some concerns about the way in which section 7(1) is being construed by the government and by the committee. This amendment would clarify the intention of government with regard to the kind of situation the Member for Porter Creek East has put forward.
My concern is with another singular situation. It has to do with the case of a student who was forced to leave the Yukon in 1968 because her father was posted outside. Two years later, the family returned and have been here ever since. The posting meant the person I am thinking of was unable to meet section 6(3). She has been here ever since, is now taking a course in social work, and intends to return to the Yukon.
I have had correspondence with the department about this particular case. It is my view that it is a situation in which the department and/or the committee seem to be taking a very narrow construction of section 7. To explain it more fully, under section 7(1)(c), it says, his ineligibility under paragraph 6(2)(b), or subsection 6(3) or (4) is entirely the result of extraordinary medical, education or similar reasons.
I would be interested in pursuing this in Committee of the Whole, but it is my view that similar reasons ought to take into account situations where the family is forced to go outside, and yet have come back as quickly as possible and remained here ever since. There ought to be more flexibility exercised by both the officials and the committee.
I will be interested in pursuing this further once we get into Committee of the Whole.
Speaker: The hon. Member will close debate if he now speaks. Does any other Member wish to be heard?
Mr. Lang: I appreciate the position of the government with respect to the amendment. I know that the government side has put some thought and work into it.
I would like to point out that in the case I am dealing with, the question for the student is going to be determining residency. That is going to be the outstanding question that he, in his own mind, will have to resolve and where he is eligible for financial assistance. We have done our duty in passing this to ensure that the door is open for consideration if all the factors are taken into consideration and he and future students are eligible.
Motion agreed to
Mr. Lang: I move that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Member for Whitehorse Porter Creek East 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. Is it the wish of Committee to take a short recess, or go ahead with Bill No. 101?
Mr. Lang: It would be our preference to deal directly with the bill.
Bill No. 101 - An Act to Amend the Students Financial Assistance Act
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The point of the matter is that the application of the act is and should be interpreted as covering extraordinary medical reasons that would affect the entire family. That is a given, no matter what the situation is with respect to individual cases. I think that is legitimate. I think that was the intent of the drafters of the legislation. I was not around when all the various restrictions were put in to try to focus the eligibility of students so that some control could be exercised on the expenditures under this bill.
But for a lay persons reading of this bill, it seems patently obvious that, while there were some rather strict restrictions put on who is eligible, there is also the recognition that, where there are medical reasons that do affect an individual or an individuals family, there should be special consideration given to those who apply and who are subject to those medical emergencies. The same is true for education situations. I can only think what some of the emergency education situations may have been. I could probably list some of them, but I do not think it is relevant here.
In responding to Mr. Phelps remarks regarding extraordinary reasons cited under Section 7(1)(c), I would think it would be a difficult proposition to believe that the drafters of the legislation had anticipated that a transfer of a breadwinner in the family constituted an extraordinary situation. It is, I think, quite an ordinary situation. I think that there would be many cases of persons who were transferred out of the territory as a function of their job. Federal employees are transferred in and out regularly, whether they be departmental employees or RCMP officers or otherwise - Air Force even. I could cite a variety of instances. Even miners are transferred in and out from time to time. I would not think, therefore, that that was anticipated by this section. I would expect that if amendments were made to incorporate the concept of transferring breadwinners in the family as being the extraordinary circumstances, we would award special consideration for a students assistance application. I would think too, considering its rather ordinary nature given life in the Yukon, that it would be cause for much increased expenditures under this bill. I do not believe that is the case in the situation the Member for Porter Creek East has cited. I think that the drafters of the legislation had anticipated that medical reasons would be rare and uncontrollable. In seeking those areas where exceptions were warranted, this was one priority area they wanted to identify. Basically I agree with that and I agree with the Member for Porter Creek East.
I would be pleased to hear what the Member for Hootalinqua has to say with respect to this matter, because I am aware of the details of the case he has cited. Perhaps he wants to explain further.
Mr. Phelps: I do not totally disagree with the comments made by Mr. McDonald. The difficulty I have is that 7(c) does seem to set up certain extraordinary kinds of situations. By definition, extraordinary would limit the scope of section 7(c). Subsection (2) puts a further safeguard on the word extraordinary by stating that a student who is eligible for financial assistance in another province or country, or where the student does not, in the opinion of the committee, have a close and substantial connection with the Yukon. In those cases, there will not be a recommendation for any payment of financial assistance.
Mr. McDonald has spoken about all the transfers that take place in the Yukon, and I agree that most transfers would not fall within this special cases I envisage in section 7. In an extraordinary situation where a family is in the Yukon and all the children attend school here, one of them misses out because the family is posted away for less than two years. This posting forces upon the family breadwinner a decision to stay in the Yukon and not receive his retirement benefits from the Armed Forces, or to go and finish up his less than two-year stint and then return to the Yukon. In this particular case, we have a situation where this occurred and the one child attended FH Collins High School for 1967-68. In 1970, the family moved back. This is a well-known family that has been here ever since. There is at least one brother who teaches at Yukon College.
It seems to me that the committee should be exercising some flexibility in an extraordinary situation such as this, where the absence is only for a year or two, and where they have been here ever since, including the applicant. I do not see where exercising some flexibility under the wording extraordinary medical, education or similar reasons, opens up Pandoras Box. I make these comments, suggesting there is some credence to the view that the officials and committee tend to be somewhat restrictive. There ought to be at least a little flexibility exercised in these kinds of extraordinary situations. I cannot think of any similar situation that has come to my attention in recent years.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Unless we are prepared to consider a major overhaul of the act and pay the consequences, I think that the operating principle here is the consideration of extraordinary circumstances. I think that was what the drafters had in mind in the beginning, and considered medical and educational reasons as being those that would count as extraordinary circumstances as well.
I would have difficulty simply transferring to the Student Financial Assistance Committee the authority to decide more cases solely on the strength of their interpretation of whether or not the applicant had a close and substantial connection with the Yukon. The reason for that, and I realize the need for the outlet ..... because there were circumstances that the committee and the drafters could never consider, that may come up, that would be cause for reexamination of the particular application. But, the problem, I think, here is that the more opportunity the committee has to consider cases under that rather subjective broadly-stated restriction, they have a close and substantial connection with the Yukon, would create, certainly, in a not very long period of time, the potential for the uneven application of the law. What I am saying, I guess, is that if there is more latitude and more cases are coming before the committee, based on that one clause, their connection with the Yukon, then the possibility of the latitude for the committee to consider various cases and their application of this clause could cause them to unwittingly act in a manner that could be under great dispute.
For example: someone is transferred to the Yukon because having taken a job in Vancouver, for example, and not believing when they took the job, that there was any chance of transfer, and they were surprised at the fact that they were transferred into the Yukon and transferred out of the Yukon as a function of their job. It was not expected. It was not part of the job to be transferred. One would wonder how the committee would interpret that situation as compared to a situation where a person takes a job with the RCMP and they know from the outset that transferring is part of the job. They will be in and out, they will be all over. It is not a matter of circumstance, it is a rather ordinary and expected circumstance. So, one would wonder how the Student Financial Assistance Committee would interpret that.
There are literally, I think, hundreds of people who have transferred in and out of the Yukon all the time, and I would think that the desire of the people who drafted the bill, and certainly my desire now, given the budget limits for this particular government service, is that we would want, definitely, to take care of cases that met the interests of the initial drafters of this legislation, and also those rare cases that we would not be able to consider the details of now.
But to open it up further would definitely mean an increase in expenditures in this area and would definitely lead us to other policy questions of whether or not those people transferred out should have preference over other people who may have legitimate reasons or substantial connections to the Yukon that would make them feel eligible for assistance. Those are substantial policy questions. Do we give preference to people who experience job transfer? Is it a transfer that is expected as part of the job? These are policy questions we have yet to address in changes to the act should they come.
I do not want to drag this out too long because I know the Member for Porter Creek East wants this bill through Committee today and I support him in that endeavor, but if the Member for Hootalinqua has more he would like to say about this I would be more than interested to hear and if he wants to carry it on after the sitting this afternoon, I would be more than prepared to discuss it with him.
Mr. Phelps: I have just a very quick question and I hope it receives a quick answer. I wonder what the legislators who passed this bill meant when they added the words, ...or similar reasons. It reads, extraordinary medical, educational or similar reasons. What is that?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Many of the people who were involved in drafting this bill are sitting with us. I can only surmise that the department views the interpretation of this particular clause with similar reasons being somehow connected to extraordinary medical or educational events or factors rather than suggesting that there are further categories beyond medical or educational that would warrant consideration.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I would just like to enter the debate on this measure very briefly. As a constituency MLA, as the Member for Whitehorse West over a good number of years, I have experienced some of the concerns being indicated by Members today in discussing this matter.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I want to make a couple of observations at the time we are considering this amendment. I want to make these observations in light of the fact that the Minister of Education has indicated, for good reason, that he is not contemplating a major overhaul of this act at this time. I understand the appropriate reasons for not doing so. We are developing some magnificent post-secondary education facilities. That will change the pattern of schooling for most people in the territory beyond grade 12.
In my experience in dealing with constituency complaints about this legislation, the most potentially offensive section of all is 6(3)(a). This section requires people to have done two years of high school here. I know the Leader of the Opposition knows, as I do, that there are many people in the territory who have essentially been disenfranchised from educational assistance by virtue of this offensive clause. These include people who have lived here for generations and happened to live in a rural community, so they were sent south to high school to stay with a relative during those high school years, as this was considered a more desirable alternative than attending high school in Whitehorse. It also includes people who, for one reason or the other, were charges of the Department of Indian Affairs but subsequently became, in law, non-status Indians and, therefore, the responsibility of the federal government with respect to educational matters. I know people who have cursed the authors of that particular clause because of what it denies them.
The second group of people who are profoundly affected by that particular provision is a group I know has grown considerably, was a new phenomenon when I was in university, but is now a very large group of people. That is the group of people known as mature students. It is common for people in their 20s, 30s, 40s or 50s and older to go back to university. I personally have a relative who is retired and is now back in university. This is someone who spent several years in the Yukon Territory. These people may not have gone to high school at all, but they are eligible for admission as mature students in most universities in North America.
On the basis of their life experience or other criterion, they can gain admission to universities. The requirement that they attended two years of high school in the Yukon disqualifies them for assistance under this legislation. The fact they did not go to high school anywhere else, or have eligibility anywhere else in the country, means there is no assistance available to them. It is a solid and substantial question that must be faced by this House at some point in the future as to whether that is a just and appropriate situation, whether fairness and equity is served by this peculiar restriction that states that you have to have attended high school for two years in the territory.
In closing, my point of observation is that a decision to change the legislation in this respect probably has significant financial implications that may be extremely difficult to calculate at this point. Without actually receiving the body of applications, it would not be an easy task to do a precise estimate of the financial implications. I think we are going to have to recognize that there are certain things happening in society where it is going to become increasingly common in the future for people to be trained not for one occupation in their lives, but to go back to be retrained several times in other occupations. There will be people whose skills have become redundant. There are going to be people who have become bored and burned out in their current occupations and are going to want to learn a new one.
Increasingly, the kind of training that they will require will be university or college level training. In many cases, they will be people who have gone back to school because they have had a family breakdown and are now the sole support of their family. They will find that, given the unattractive options of the bottom end of the labour market, they will want to go back to school to acquire new skills. That will usually mean a college or university education.
It is appropriate that society, and indeed this Legislature, as have most others in the country, consider what the appropriate financial means are that we should make available to such people.
I welcome the debate today only as an opportunity to speak as a constituency member and reiterate those concerns that I have expressed before in this House on several occasions. I do so in recognition of the substantial financial implications of the consideration of such issues, but I would argue that the issues I have raised, in terms of the impact on numbers of people, are of an even greater consequence than the matter that has been addressed by us in the amendment before us today.
Mr. Phelps: I appreciate the comments made by Mr. Penikett. I agree with what he says but there are all kinds of areas of injustice that will have to be dealt with by this Legislature. I do not intend to delay the passage of this bill, which is a minor amendment.
I still feel rather strongly that in the interim the committee and the officials ought to look at the extraordinary situations that fall fairly close to medical or educational areas. I must speak privately again to the Minister about putting forward this particular constituency case of mine. However, in view of the time, I will take my place and hope that we can get this thing through the third reading.
Chair: Is there any further general debate?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that the bill before us be deemed to be read.
Chair: Is there unanimous consent?
All Members: Agreed.
Chair: There is unanimous consent.
On clauses 1 to 3
Clauses 1 to 3 agreed to
Title agreed to
Mr. Lang: I move that you report Bill No. 101, entitled An Act to Amend the Students Financial Assistance Act, without amendment.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that the House do recess until 7:30 p.m.
Motion agreed to
First Appropriation Act, 1989-90 -continued
Chair: We are on Bill No. 51. We will continue with general debate on Yukon Housing Corporation.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Perhaps we could proceed to line by line. There was one outstanding matter from yesterdays debate. Perhaps I could raise it at the appropriate time later.
On Social Housing
Hon. Mr. Byblow: This constitutes the major single item of the entire budget. It is, as the Members know, a recoverable cost.
There are 12 units that are going to be acquired through the Steele Street construction. The estimated cost for that is $1,127,000. The 13 units to be constructed in Dawson are projected to cost $1,200,000. There are two in Watson Lake at a cost of $113,500. That totals 27 units for a total of $2,487,000.
The balance of the money in the amount of $2,700,000, or, nearly $2,800,000, is what I spoke of earlier. It funds the turn-key operations that the Housing Corporation is going to be calling for from the private sector. The Member for Watson Lake referred to it earlier. It is the intention of Yukon Housing this year to call for proposals to have various modest housing was constructed in various configurations. We will be calling for these proposals from the private sector and in the turn-key operation that is intended, the proponents will be responsible to acquire the land, assemble the package for the housing configuration and construct it. The corporation, through this program, will be buying the units.
That approach has been received extremely well by the home builders and, I hope, by the construction community at large. The 33 turn-key units andded to the 27 other units I described will total the 60 units I referred to yesterday. That is the unit allocation under the CMHC program for the Yukon Territory, so that is the source of the funding.
Mr. Lang: Personally, I like the concept of the turn-key construction. What criteria are you requiring generally for people submitting a proposal? Are you just requiring that there be a three-bedroom bungalow or are we saying a five-bedroom bungalow, or exactly what are you asking as far as the general parameter so that a persons proposal can be seriously considered?
I also want to emphasize from our side that the home should be well built, of course, according to the National Building Code, but at the same time, I think we have got to be very careful. If you start building these homes in such a manner that, in some cases, they are some of the better built homes on the block, it really causes resentment, especially in some of the communities.
Now, I will speak of Watson Lake, where I spent spring break - as the Government Leader would say, I probably hate everybody down there so I go and visit every couple of months just to say hello to the people down there because I do not care about them - I would say that the people who are in one part of a subdivision are in mobile homes and they are all paying for their own homes, and right across the street, according to the cost figures you are giving us, are $110,000, $120,000 homes. That causes some hard feelings in the community, when the one guy says, here I am, working, paying my mortgage, and what am I getting out of it? By the time I am finished, I am going to have a home that is depreciated and it is not going to be of as much value as when I started out, yet the person who, perhaps, is not working, for whatever reason, is in a better home than I am.
I just want to caution the Minister that I think that that has to be looked at from a social point of view, as far as this housing is concerned.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I want to let the Member know that these will not be elaborate homes. The 60 homes to be constructed this year are very modest. Those on Steele Street, for example, are going to be fairly modest apartment-type accommodations. The same is true in Dawson. In Watson Lake, I believe they are single detached units and the price is the highest of the three particular communities. I think that the cost of units in Watson Lake breaks out to $119,000 per unit. That is part of the problem that we are facing in the rural communities. Single family detached homes are fairly costly, and it does not have a direct relationship to the value in the marketplace.
Perhaps this is the appropriate moment to answer a question raised by the Member yesterday about the extended mortgage guarantee program. The Member asked the following question: is the program in place and is it utilized where the home buyer can approach Yukon Housing for the guarantee of that amount of financing over and above what the bank will finance, and what the actual unit will cost?
It is typically a problem in the rural communities. You have a home with a construction cost of $100,000, but its value in the marketplace would probably be more like $75,000, so the bank will only finance you to 75 percent of that. Yukon Housing is prepared to guarantee the additional financing for that portion up to 90 percent of the cost of the unit. So, in fact, it allows the home buyer to acquire a house with 10 percent down. The Member asked about the details of that program in terms of its use. To date, there have been no takers. The Member might recall when the previous Minister announced a number of housing programs and initiatives, and that was included in it. An interim agreement was struck between CMHC and the banks to permit that to be rolled into the financing of the first mortgage.
I do not know if first mortgage is the right term because it is all one mortgage. I understand that, as recently as today, a final agreement has been reached with CMHC and the banks, so we are in a position to use it, but nobody has been taking it yet. I think the Member can understand why there may be some difficulty in people undertaking to do that, unless they have a long-term firm commitment to a community. Anyone who is trying to apply that program has to question why he would undertake the financing of a house that he is at risk to sell for the same amount. That is one of the handicaps of the marketplace. If a person is planning to stay in a community for an extended period of time - five, 10, 15 years - gaining that equity would be useful. So, we are hoping there will be some takers on it. That speaks to the extended mortgage guarantee program.
More specifically, responding to the comments a moment ago, I indicated the highest cost of units being constructed this year is in Watson Lake. In Dawson City, the estimated per-unit cost for the 13 units going up there is $95,000 each. That project is still awaiting land negotiations at this point, but it is fairly well into the design stage.
The Steele Street project is projected to come in at $107,000 per unit. If the Member calculates it, the balance of the $5 million we are appropriating here that is left after Dawson, Watson Lake and Steele Street, is nearly $2.8 million, which anticipates a per-unit cost of about $85,000, if we can accomplish the 33 units we are planning to undertake.
I am not sure what was left outstanding from the Members comments. I want to tell him that the type of construction will be to quality standards and CMHC approvals, although it will be modest housing. It will be of a variety of housing but, principally, multi-unit accommodations. To be fair in the debate, the one area I can anticipate we all may be drawn into at some point in the turn-key process is the public consultation step. That is one that we all witnessed become a very sensitive matter in the Steele Street project. I expect the industry is going to be fully cognizant of its role in that, and I expect Yukon Housing to be fully involved in that consultation process so that we are not putting units into neighbourhoods where there is violent objection and where it may change the complete housing configuration of the area. The public consultation step is one that we are going to stay close to, even with the turn-key approach.
Mr. Lang: I am not going to belabour this debate. I would like to make one further recommendation with respect to the apartments or complexes that you are building. I would strongly recommend that serious consideration be given to building in such a manner that they could perhaps, at some time, be sold as condominiums. The reason is that you may find down the road that the need for social housing or staff housing is no longer there. Five or ten years down the road, this would give you the option to sell the units to the people who are in them, as opposed to keeping it strictly as an apartment block. I ask you to consider this option. If you do this, there are some building requirements. I do not know how substantial these requirements are, but it should be considered.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I take the Members representations. I am sure the Member will agree that we are faced with a critical modest housing shortage, meaning that it is not the $150,000 homes that we need. We seem to have a lot of those. It is the more affordable ones of $80,000 or $90,000 homes that we do not have. That is the marketplace slot we are trying to move toward.
I take his representations about selling housing back to the private sector when it is no longer needed. I think that will prove to be an important and wise decision if, down the road, there is a excess quantity of this housing not being used.
Mr. Lang: I am not going to go much further on this. He will have to build it to meet that standard to do that.
I want to impress upon the Minister that they have to be in the process of planning now and construction has to be built in that manner in order to give you the option of doing that down the road.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I appreciate that observation.
With respect to the turn-key call for proposals, I understand that the call will probably take place sometime in May. The call for proposals is being defined and developed now. That is something that is being addressed and will be addressed in the call for proposals, to create those kind of configurations that lend themselves to eventual disposal if that is the reality down the road.
Mr. Devries: I would like to add a little to this. I have talked to the manager of Klondike Cabins, a resident of Watson Lake, regarding his business. He pointed out that presently the government seems to be going for R-2000, $100,000 houses. He presently builds 2- or 3-bedroom, prefab log homes. Possibly, they are not quite as heat efficient as the R-2000 homes, but he feels they would certainly fit more into the native type of lifestyle where you do not have the institutionalized gyprock walls. They would feel more at home in these type of homes. They would have wood heating and, naturally, fresher air, since they are not R-2000. I understand that he built several of these houses in Ross River last year through Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation - I do not know if Yukon Housing Corporation was involved. He says they were quite successful and that the people thought they were nice homes and the cost was around $50,000.
He is also planning to do an energy heat loss audit in conjunction with the energy people to determine the exact R-value of these houses. Another thing he added was that these houses are almost 100 percent Yukon products other than the nails, windows, shingles and plumbing. He pointed out that approximately 18,000 board feet of lumber go into one of these houses, and that they are predominantly made in Yukon with Yukon trees, sawn lumber and built by Yukoners. It takes five guys one day to get it out of the bush so that is five man days. It takes seven men a day to cut it in the sawmill, so there are 12 man days there, and it takes about 66 man days to put the house up, so that is 78 man days of Yukon jobs to put these houses up.
We have these guys coming to Watson Lake from PolarTech in Dawson Creek. They do not use any Yukon products, to my knowledge, and they throw this house up in two to three weeks and then they are gone. They are not contributing much to the Yukon economy other than giving us a house.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I think the Housing Corporation could find satisfactory kinship with the contractor the Member speaks of, because certainly in the way he speaks of him, the ability of the contractor to construct a Yukon-built home and still meet adequate standards would be very favourably received. The Members information is now on the record, and I am sure the Yukon Housing officials at this instant are listening to us as we speak so I am sure this will be followed up quite adequately.
I would point out to the Member that the contractor that he describes has an opportunity to joint venture with Yukon Housing Corporation and build a development, whether it is two houses or one-half dozen houses or any number of configurations of houses. The joint venture program that we will be moving into in the next vote speaks to this very thing, so I would certainly encourage, through the Member, that the contractor he describes approach the Yukon Housing Corporation expeditiously.
Mr. Phillips: I would like to ask the Minister if we are, in any way, affiliated with the Grey Mountain Housing Authority? Are we affiliated with them in any way in funding, or do we discuss with them where our houses or their houses are?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Not to my knowledge. I believe that is a CYI initiative and a society of its own.
Mr. Phillips: Is it a social housing project? Is that what it is designed to do?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I hesitate to speak at any length because I am not sure of the details of that society. I believe it is a non-profit society that has its own goals and objectives to provide housing stock for its members within the society and under various rules. I suspect that any connection Yukon Housing has is to support its initiatives with CMHC - in other words, to provide a support and liaison with CMHC, because the society would have to get that kind of funding under terms for itself, similarly to the way Yukon Housing does it.
Mr. Phillips: The reason I asked the question is that a constituent has brought to my attention that the society believes it is a social housing program. The question they asked me was, since we have Yukon Housing as a social housing program, do we coordinate and work together to make sure that we are not overlapping? They have a demonstrated need within their association and are we sometimes providing for a need for the same people? There may be people identified in their group who are looking for a home, and they may the same people who may have approached Yukon Housing looking for a home. How do we make sure that we are not overlapping in these two programs?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: To avoid making any errors of fact, I would like to take notice and provide the Member with more detail related to the Grey Mountain Housing Authority. I know that non-profit housing societies take advantage of Yukon Housings efforts in respect of negotiations with CMHC. As the Member is aware, the relationship between CMHC and Yukon Housing is a very close one by virtue of the funding arrangements for social housing. The funding that flows forward to Yukon Housing is established on the basis of a number of criteria that Yukon Housing lobbied for, especially for the north, to increase the per-unit allocation. These societies would be able to take advantage of those negotiations being done by Yukon Housing. I am sure, from my previous experience, that these societies do work in close proximity with Yukon Housing to take advantage of the services and the efforts between Yukon Housing and CMHC.
I will undertake to provide the Member with a little more specific detail respecting any relationship that may or may not exist between Grey Mountain and Yukon Housing.
Mr. Phillips: I guess this is a bit hypothetical because the Minister is not quite sure whether or not Grey Mountain is a social housing program, but another concern that was raised is that on some streets in my riding, Grey Mountain Housing Authority has one or two or possibly three homes. Yukon Housing is now, or has looked at in the past, and I think is still looking at, one or two houses on that street - either purchasing or turning them into a social housing unit.
The concern that the resident had is that we might be putting too many social housing units in one area or on one street. That is, I think, the legitimate concern of a resident in the area who owns their home and is concerned about possible property value problems down the road. I think that we should try to spread them out as much as we can in the neighbourhood so that they can integrate. Like I said, in my riding, in most cases, you would not know who owns the homes; most people take very good care of their homes. I think that it is important that the Yukon Housing Corporation and the Grey Mountain Housing Authority coordinate their efforts.
The Minister brought me a list of the homes and the addresses in Whitehorse that were Yukon Housing homes. I wonder if he could provide the same list of houses of Grey Mountain Housing units in Whitehorse?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I was just provided with some information on Grey Mountain. It is a non-profit housing society, which would put it in the category of a social housing society. It provides housing and scales the rent on a geared-to-income basis. In that respect, it is a social housing society.
I am advised that there are approximately 30 houses in Whitehorse that are under the administration of Grey Mountain. In the case of a Yukon Housing relationship, I am advised that we do not provide any direct funding, but we do work with them in a support-of-information fashion.
When the Whitehorse Housing Authority, which is the social housing authority in Whitehorse, clears applicants on their waiting list, it does ask if people are also on the waiting list of Grey Mountain. So, there is some relationship. I will undertake to provide more detail to the Member.
Mr. Phillips: Could the Minister provide me with a list of the addresses of those homes in Whitehorse? We had the issue arise in Porter Creek East last year where Yukon Housing wanted to build three or four units on Bamboo Crescent, and there were already two or three there. A lot of the residents in the area got concerned that, out of eight or nine houses, four or five of them were going to be social units. That is what I mean by coordination, so we spread them around through the whole community and do not have a whole street of social housing units. That was my concern, and that is why I would like the list to see how we are coordinating that now.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I can make every effort to provide it. I have to assume that it is available to us. If we are in any coordinating relationship, it should be available.
Construction/Acquisition in the amount of $5,282,000 agreed to
On Renovation/Rehabilitation/Capital Upgrade
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The $1 million being provided in this line item is essentially for retrofits and upgrading of various units around the territory. I can give some breakdown of how the $1 million is going to be spent. In Carcross, $39,000 is going to be spent on two units for retrofit, plus some miscellaneous upgrading. There is going to be $70,000 spent in Carmacks on three major retrofits; $150,000 in Dawson on five duplex retrofits; $80,000 on four retrofits in Haines Junction; $125,000 on five duplex retrofits in Mayo; $125,000 on five retrofits in Ross River; $27,000 for various upgrading work in Teslin; $50,000 of upgrading in a number of units at Watson Lake; and $343,000 anticipated for the new roof and retrofit, ventilation, insulation, et cetera, of the Ryder Apartments in Whitehorse.
Renovation/Rehabilitation/Capital Upgrade in the amount of $1,010,000 agreed to
On Proposed Development Funding
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am advised that this is money that was put into the budget in order to provide some feasibility study money for private non-profit groups or municipalities to develop proposals that may be desired in various communities for nonprofit housing projects. An example would be where a non-profit society may wish to investigate some effort to develop housing. It could use some of this money for that. I am advised by Yukon Housing that there have been some requests of this sort, so this money was identified for that purpose.
Proposed Development Funding in the amount of $27,000 agreed to
On Home Improvement
Hon. Mr. Byblow: As Members may be aware, the home improvement initiative of Yukon Housing has essentially three components to it. One is the extended RAP program, another is the municipal services program and the rehabilitation for persons with disabilities program.
In that regard, the extended RAP program, which is a CMHC recoverable rehabilitation program to houses, piggybacks on the regular RAP program and permits upgrading of houses to a minimum standard. In that area, throughout the territory, $318,000 is identified. The municipal services home improvement initiative, as Members are aware, is a program that permits home owners to provide various water and sewer services. I think it is being utilized, to a large extent, in the rural areas for digging wells. One hundred and eighty-six thousand dollars is identified territory wide for that.
In the rehabilitation for persons with disabilities portion of the home improvement initiative, which is essentially to improve access to homes, there is $534,000 identified.
Mr. Lang: I just would like to make a representation here. It has to do with the municipal services program, which I understand provides a $7,500 grant to an individual depending on their income. I am just wondering what the Minister is going to do when the individual who is involved in delivering water to these rural communities, specifically around Whitehorse, is forced to go out of business because the majority of people have wells. What is going to happen is that there will still be a significant number still there needing water delivered. Is the Minister then prepared to go into the water business? What you have got is a situation where a lot of people will take advantage of the $7,500, with good cause - I would too - but there will still be a requirement for water delivery but there will not be enough volume to keep someone in private business.
My question is two-fold. What are we going to do about the guy who has a business predicated on the assumption that there would be enough people out there needing water delivery and now the government is giving out all this free money and less and less water delivery is required and he subsequently goes out of business?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I have not thought at any great length about the issue the Member raises. The one thing I have heard about the home improvement programs being supported by Yukon Housing is that they could use some streamlining, in other words, they could use some review of criteria. At the same time, it appears we have some additional programs through other departments and there is going to be a serious look at trying to roll some of these home improvement programs into one major program, something like a one-stop shop, to assess the upgrading opportunities for home owners. The SEAL program comes to mind from another branch of a department and is one of the things I have asked Housing Corporation officials to address this year and perhaps look at a coordination and streamlining of the programs and a review of the criteria under which they flow.
I am open to suggestion. If the Member is serious that when individuals throughout the rural areas start having their own wells and it affects the water delivery service, I suppose there are a number of options that would have to be taken into account. I am not sure if the Member is suggesting that we subsidize the water deliver service or if we are to start providing the service ourselves as opposed to contracting it, which is done, I believe, in many instances now.
I guess the only assurance I can provide the Member is that I have asked for these home improvement initiatives to be reassessed and realigned and some effort made to review their criteria so that we do not have any abuse of the programs and at the same time there is one place where we can assess what improvement support is available to people.
When I spoke to the Homebuilders Association and raised that prospect, it was extremely well received because there was a perception that, while there seemed to be a number of programs available, you had to go to various different shops and make various representations before you could determine just what you were qualified or eligible for.
We are going to try to coordinate that exercise. I suppose the concluding point on that issue is that we have a number of programs funded through Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and other sources. While we will be reassessing and reviewing criteria, we will have to be cognizant that we are able to provide some of these programs because the money flows to us. We do not want to give up something that is useful simply to prevent it from being widespread.
Mr. Lang: I want to conclude this by saying to the Minister that I am very serious about this. It is an issue that I have raised before with the previous Minister. I think it must be taken seriously. I have heard a lot of complaints and negative remarks with respect to this grant to go out and drill your own well with free money from the government. Then, right next door someone who did not know the program existed, went out with their own money and drilled their own well. All it has done is cause hard feelings in a lot of these subdivisions outside of Whitehorse. I am forewarning the Minister that if it carries on, you are going to be in the water business because the guy in the water business will not be able to continue his business because he does not have enough customers. There will be people out there demanding this service. That is going to be the effect of it. It will be a tragedy if that happens because you have taken an individual and his family, who have lived here for many years and raised a family here, bought a home here, started a business, and not knowing that the government was going to go into competition with him. He has no problem with anyone drilling their well, but he has a problem with the government financing them to build their well. That is his argument and I think it is a valid argument. We will be looking forward to seeing what this reorganization is going to be.
Home Improvement in the amount of $1,040,000 agreed to
Social Housing in the amount of $7,359,000 agreed to
On Joint Venture
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am sure the Members are familiar with this from its introduction from last year. It is one I flagged earlier for the Member for Watson Lake as a type of program we believe can be subscribed to that will encourage the development of land and housing. The intention of the program is to encourage the first-home buyers. It is geared to a moderate type of housing. What it amounts to is that there is money available to joint venture with the private sector, up to 50 percent of the cost of the project. I believe there is a ceiling on it. I momentarily forget what it is. I am advised that once this budget is approved, there will be a call for proposals to the private sector, contractors and construction industry to assist with the development of moderate, modest housing.
It is a short-term investment, because the whole thing is geared to assist with the development being built and, then, the units being sold. It is an immediate recovery of the investment and amounts to a pot of money that revolves around encouraging home building.
Joint Venture in the amount of $1 million agreed to
On Home Ownership
On Lease Purchase
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Like the previous vote, this is a totally recoverable item. I believe we have already talked a bit about the lease purchase program. I have provided to the Members 18 of the 20 units that were applied for and received last year. When the program was introduced about a year ago, there were nearly 200 applicants for the lease purchase program. In the last budget, we only provided for the acquisition of 20 units under the money that was budgeted. This year, we are increasing that to 30 units, and we expect that that should be fully subscribed, as last years indications showed.
It is impossible for me to say at this point where these units are, as the lease purchase applicants have yet to be selected. As soon as this moves forward through the budget, there will be a public announcement of the funding availability, with the appropriate applications. There will be a screening process, and people will be approached to strike the deal that is available under this program.
Mr. Devries: Could the Minister explain what would happen if we went into an economic slump and half of these people had to rescind on their agreement? Would they lose their house?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I would like to think that Yukon Housing, while they are in the business to be good financial managers, would also be sensitive landlords as well. As the Member is aware, the lease purchase program is a form of bridge financing to home owners. It is geared to the type of home owner who is not quite able to provide the down payment for his home. The person who wants the house, with Yukon Housing, selects a house they would like to buy. Yukon Housing essentially buys it, and holds the title to the building, and the client pays rent scaled to what the mortgage payments would be.
When the client is able to meet the full mortgage payments, it is rolled over into a bank mortgage. That could take two, three, four or five years. The Member asked what would happen if there was an economic slump and these people could not meet their obligations. Until the mortgage is rolled over to the bank, at the point where the person can meet the mortgage payment, Yukon Housing holds title. I suppose they would have ownership in that interim period. After that, the home owner is on his own with the bank.
Mr. Lang: The Member for Watson Lakes question has not been answered. If there is an economic decline and if the individuals walk away, the Yukon Housing Corporation owns all of the houses, because you own the mortgage and you have the title. I think that we have to get that clear on the floor here. The taxpayer owns those 20 or 30 or 40 or 50 units. If there is a downslide in the economy and the market goes down, the purchaser is going to look at it and say, why should we be buying this house for the agreed-to price of $100,000 when across the street there is one for $85,000 because there has been a decline in the market? Anyone in their right mind is going to say to the Minister: here are your keys, I am walking across the street if I want to own my own home and get it for $15,000 less. Whoever came up with this brain child was pretty stupid.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I do not want to enter into a major debate with the Member about a program that has been extremely popular. We are increasing its popularity by making it more available. What are the alternatives? We are providing an opportunity for someone who ordinarily cannot own his own home to eventually own his own home within a year or two or three, or whatever it takes for him to become strong enough, economically, to carry the mortgage. At that point he acquires title, along with the bank. In the interim period, we have title, and I suppose we have title to quite a few houses, but at the same time, we are providing housing, so where is the saw-off?
Mr. Lang: Where the difficulty is with a lot of people, and the Minister will have to agree me, is their inability to come up with a down payment. You just said that in your opening remarks. It would be much smarter to go ahead and give a one-time first-home ownership grant, up to say 50 percent of the down payment to an individual or a couple, as opposed to the situation where you are holding the mortgage of the house.
We hear all sorts of stories respecting the lease-purchase program, where people go in who, for one reason or another, might not have money elsewhere, and they just say that they do not have enough for the down payment. I would love to purchase my house under the terms and conditions of this program. You have all your options covered. You are paying rent and if the market goes up in three years, you get your equity, pay your difference, and then flip the house. If it goes down you give the keys to YTG and walk away saying that it was a bad deal.
You asked for other options and I am just giving you one. If you continue to expand it, anybody in their right mind is crazy if they do not take advantage of it. You have all sides covered as far as purchasing a home is concerned. There is no risk; the only risk you have is moving in.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I beg to differ with the Member. He suggests that we should provide a a grant to the first-time home builder, and that would solve all the problems. I do not think that is necessarily the case, because you provide 50 percent of the down payment to the acquisition of the home. What is to stop that person from flipping the home the day after? Under this program, the home owner who is attempting to own his own home has possession of that home under an agreement with the Yukon Housing Corporation. At that point, where they can meet mortgage payments and they can get a regular mortgage from the bank. That is when they assume a second stage of responsibility. We have provided in this program for the person to gain an equity in that home and extend his home ownership strength, if you will.
Lease Purchase in the amount of $3,000,000 agreed to
Hon. Mr. Byblow: It is essentially an extension of the lease purchase program, and instead of picking out a home that you want to purchase, you would set up an arrangement with the Yukon Housing Corporation to acquire the land and actually build the house. The equity is gained through your construction component of it and, much like the lease purchase, and when you can meet payments of the mortgage, you can take over title.
Mr. Nordling: Are there guidelines or information on this program that the Minister can table for us, explaining how it works and what is going to be done?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: There is all sorts of information I can table. I can provide some of the guidelines, application forms and related information to all these programs under separate correspondence. I will send over the information booklet that was publicly provided on all these programs. I am sure the Member has that.
I will undertake to circulate details of the program, guidelines and application forms.
Owner/Build in the amount of $475,000 agreed to
Home Ownership in the amount of $3,475,000 agreed to
On Staff Housing
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I want to rise at this point on that item and advise Members of the House that the item in the vote called construction/acquisition should not exist as a line item of its own. It should be rolled into the $490,000, so the entire component of this portion of the budget speaks to upgrading of units, as opposed to acquisition. There will be no acquisition. It is incorrectly stated that there will be any.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The intention of the $537,000 for staff upgrading is to be spent in this fashion: Three staff units in Carmacks will receive retrofits in the amount of a total of $54,000; in Dawson City, the Korba Apartments are going to receive a major retrofit for $250,000; in Faro, $20,000 is going to be spent on windows to five staff units; in Pelly Crossing, $50,000 will be spent on two septic tank systems; in Ross River, $100,000 will be spent on one retrofit and three septic systems.
In Watson Lake, one of the staff duplexes will be retrofitted and one staff single unit will be upgraded, for a total of $63,000 and that should total $537,000.
Mr. Lang: Could the Minister tell us if, of the septic tanks that are going to be redone in Pelly Crossing, is one of the infamous $100,000 mobile home?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am not sure what the Member is referring to, but I do know that the trailer moved from Faro is not going to be part of this cost.
I am advised that the $20,000 is going to be spent on the installation of fax equipment at the housing associations in the communities.
Mrs. Firth: Should that not be under office equipment? I thought it was furniture for houses or offices or something, when in fact it is fax equipment. Is there going to be a fax machine put in every community? Is that the plan?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I happen to agree with the Member that it should more properly be, in the instance of this expenditure, called equipment, but the total heading, I am advised, was furniture and equipment and this was how the budget book was printed. In previous years, there was furniture involved. This year it happens to be strictly equipment. I agree with the Member, though, the proper label should be equipment as that is what the money is being spent on but it just happens to be in the furniture category.
Operation and Maintenance Budget
Chair: I will now call the Committee of the Whole to order. We have finished with the Capital Estimates. We will now proceed with the Operation and Maintenance part of the budget. Is there general debate on the overall O&M expenditures?
Mrs. Firth: I wanted to ask the Minister if he can tell us whether or not the life cycle costing of the capital projects that we have just discussed have been taken into account in this new Operation and Maintenance budget for all of the projects that we have just debated?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The short answer is yes. The slightly longer answer, and there are other answers, is that that is precisely the reason why it was designed that we would have Capital Estimates and O&M Estimates simultaneously so this very subject matter would be pursued appropriately and properly in one bill. But the short answer is that the O&M consequences of capital projects that may go ahead this year, or that went ahead last year, will be rolled into this budget.
Mrs. Firth: I remember when we were presented this budget the first time in the budget lock up. We asked a question about the analysis of the United Keno Hill shutdown and whether that had been identified in the budget and whether it had had some impact in the budget and we were told that it had not been identified in this budget; however, they were expecting some impact on the budget, probably in the area of revenues and so on. Can the Minister tell us if there have been any adjustments made to deal with that particular issue?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The situation, of course, has not changed since the budget lock-up because this is the same budget we were talking about then. The Yukon revenue picture is expected to change in the coming year, but of course, the provisions in the formula financing arrangement would make up for any lost revenues that we might otherwise have gained from United Keno Hills operations, so we do not expect our revenues for this particular year to change.
Mrs. Firth: I would like a breakdown of the increase in person years and the decisions that were made by Management Board. In this budget for 1989-90, there is a net increase of almost 47 person years that have been approved by Management Board; I noticed last year that it was almost 23.
Is this going to become quite a common practice with this government, that it would look at approving so many person years in the Management Board process? It does have quite a tremendous impact on the final outcome of the budget after the Supplementary Estimates are tabled and we see the implications of the approval of all of those person years.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I think it would be most appropriate for the various Ministers to explain why person years were approved at particular times during the year. I can only speak from experience with respect to my own departments. Obviously, in the case of teachers, for example, the requirement for teachers was noted after last years O&M budget was established, because the estimates could not be accurately predicted in November, prior to the upcoming school year in September. They were more accurately predicted in June, so, consequently, Management Board was able to make a more accurate prediction with respect to the number of teachers. That is one example. I am sure that other Ministers could explain why individual person years were approved at a particular time, after the O&M budget was established. That would probably be a more appropriate way, rather than trying to deal with situations in a global context.
Mrs. Firth: I suppose I am trying to get at how flexible the Minister of Finance is going to be when it comes to approval of addition person years through the Management Board process. The department heads do person year estimates because they are supposed to be managing their departments and in control. I can see some instances where more teachers may be required.
What about new programs? Is the Minister of Finance going to give any direction to the Ministers, that they are going to have to have pretty good explanations as to why they need a new person year, that they are only going to allow new person years for certain circumstances, or is it going to be something that they are just going to take a look at each time a Minister brings in a new request for a new person year? It used to be a fairly serious matter when you tried to get a new person year within government; you practically had to explain yourself away for three hours to justify that addition. I would like to know if the policy has become more flexible in light of the increase in the person years?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It remains the case that you almost have to sell your soul to the devil to get person years in Management Board. There is a great deal of justification that is required. One of the things that has changed is that government has turned to one supplementary at period 6 rather than period 4 and period 9, because there is the desire to encourage better and long-term planning rather than what might have been considered knee-jerk planning that has taken place from time to time.
Not only for person years, but the situation for funding will require a great deal of justification in Management Board in order to acquire approval. As time goes on, there will be more emphasis on the need to do the proper long-term planning prior to coming to Management Board and, ultimately, to the Legislature, for any new requests.
Chair: Is there any general debate?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: There has been an decrease of $201,000 in this vote for this Legislature over the forecast for 1988-89. This is largely due to the cost of the recent general election being included in the forecast and not in the 1989-90 estimates.
The breakdown of the major changes to the Legislative Assembly budget include the following: There is an increase of about $28,000 in the amount budgeted for MLA indemnities and expense allowances. This adjustment is made pursuant to the provisions of the Legislative Assembly Act based on a projected 4.4 percent annual increase in the cost of living over the past two years.
The amount provided for caucus support services has risen by $12,000 due to an increase of $900 in the MLA research grant, now at $21,900 per Member, and of four percent in salaries of the secretaries to each of the caucuses.
There is an additional $10,000 to assist in covering the cost of hosting the 1989 joint meeting of Canadian and American clerks. This meeting is being jointly hosted by Yukon and Alaska. The program will be known as Clerks and Clarks, just like the radio program.
An additional $6,000 has been transferred to this budget from the Department of Government Services to cover the costs for photocopier service and supplies.
There are small increases in communications, $2,100; in travel, $2,100; in office supplies, $1,100.
There is an addition of $2,000 to cover increases in salaries and fringe benefits for the Legislative Assembly staff.
Those increases plus $1,700 in miscellaneous increases total $65,000. They are offset by four decreases, totalling $266,000, which may be broken down as follows: As mentioned before, the cost of the general election, $243,000, is included in the forecast and not in the Main Estimates.
There is a reduction of $9,000 in the chief electoral office activity, which is the result of certain training taking place in 1988-89, which will not be repeated this year.
There is a reduction of $12,000 due to the decision by the Member Services Board, in my absence, not to continue the legislative internship program in 1989-90.
There is a $3,000 reduction in the travel budget for the Public Accounts Committee, which is due to the fact that the annual meeting of the Canadian Public Accounts Committee is in Alberta this year. It was in Halifax in 1988, and I understand Alberta is closer than Halifax. Therefore, it was slightly cheaper.
I can tell the Members that by way of opening comments, and I will be happy to respond to any easy questions the Members have. The difficult questions I will refer to the Legislative Assembly staff.
On Legislative Services
On Legislative Assembly
Legislative Assembly in the amount of $996,000 agreed to
On Caucus Support Service
Caucus Support Service in the amount of $326,000 agreed to
On Legislative Committees
Legislative Committees in the amount of $32,000 agreed to
On Commonwealth Parliamentary Association
Commonwealth Parliamentary Association in the amount of $39,000 agreed to
Legislative Services in the amount of $1,393,000 agreed to
On Legislative Assembly Office
On Clerks Office
Clerks Office in the amount of $365,000 agreed to
Legislative Assembly Office in the amount of $365,000 agreed to
On Chief Electoral Office
Chief Electoral Office in the amount of $75,000 agreed to
On Elections Administration
Elections Administration in the amount of one dollar agreed to
Elections in the amount of $75,000 agreed to
On Retirement Allowances and Death Benefits
On Retirement Allowances
Retirement Allowances in the amount of $24,000 agreed to
On Death Benefits
Death Benefits in the amount of one dollar agreed to
Retirement Allowances and Death Benefits in the amount of $24,000 agreed to
Executive Council Office
Chair: We will proceed with Executive Council Office, page 32.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am pleased to present the O&M Estimates for the Executive Council Office for this fiscal year. As Members will note from page 32, the 1989-90 ECO Estimate of $5,308,000 is slightly over the forecast for 1988-89. In comparing these two figures, there are some differences I would like to bring to the Members attention before discussing in detail the actual program budgets.
Firstly, personnel costs are up slightly because of the new languages program and the built-in salary increases. Other costs are down because of the completion of the Fuel Prices Inquiry and reduced operating expenses forecast in the land claims area.
The leading objective for the ECO in the coming year, as it is for the government as a whole, will be to proceed with negotiations towards final agreements with several Yukon First Nations. We expect this to be done following the ratification of last falls framework agreement, which has recently been achieved by all parties. It is expected that several program transfers from the federal government will be included, and Members know about the Fisheries Program and the Mines Safety Program, which recently went into effect this month. We are still anticipating land titles and community airports to be concluded soon.
The department is also actively involved in the negotiation of the transfer of several other programs now under federal jurisdiction, and Members know about the Northern Accord on Oil and Gas, the forestry negotiations which are getting underway and health services, which have been underway for some time, the first stage of which involves the Whitehorse General Hospital transfer.
We are also pleased to begin the first full year of operations of the new French and Aboriginal Languages Program under the joint agreement with the federal government. As outlined in that agreement, the coming year will be devoted to research on language needs, specifically to locate and identify the services that are likely to begin in the following year.
As in the past, the Executive Council Office budget represents a number of other diverse activities, such as the statistics branch, the public affairs branch, the internal audit branch, the Federal Elections Office and others.
The core function of the department remains to provide support to Cabinet and its committees and coordinating the activities of the departments.
I would like to mention some of the highlights of this budget. The Members will notice that this year in the Administration Secretariat we are combining what were two separate programs into one, since they are essentially one activity, which is providing support services to Cabinet and its committees.
In the land claims area, it is impossible to accurately predict the pace of negotiations and, at the time the budget was put together, it was impossible to know exactly when federal ratification would occur and, therefore, what kind of activity we could contemplate this year. We are asking for a modest increase this year over the original 1988-89 estimate in order to carry out the band-by-band negotiations in the coming year.
In the area of public affairs, the installation of the toll-free 800 number has been well utilized and is proving to be economical. I think the statistics on that service are evidence of that.
In the policy and intergovernmental relations branch, work has gone on during the past year on a Yukon science strategy. I am hoping, depending on how long this session lasts, to make a ministerial statement about that soon. This branch has also coordinated activity in connection with the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve lobby and negotiated contribution agreements with Canada arising from the languages program agreement and has been implementing that program, as well as being involved in a wide range of other issues of a broad governmental nature over the past year, and they will be again in the coming year.
As the Members know, the program evaluation function is now being carried out by the internal audit branch, and some expansion of that function is contemplated in this year. The devolution activity is given some emphasis by the engagement of legal council to take part in negotiations on many of these questions.
If I could just say something about the personnel line on page 32, you will note there is an increase in personnel of $408,000. I would like to basically describe this increase. This consists of the following elements: of $158,000 for the language program salaries, which the Members all know are fully recoverable from the federal government, there is a $140,000 increase in the total budget due to economic increases, merit increases, fringe benefits and the Yukon bonus. There is $110,000 budgeted for full staffing levels whereas the 1988-89 forecasts takes into account vacancies that occurred during the previous year. The other line talks about a decrease of $389,000 from the previous year forecast, and this breaks down as follows: reduction in the forecast of $235,000, because at this point no public inquiry has been budgeted for, following the fuel price inquiry. There is a reduction in the estimates of the language program simply because I think we are now, even though the funding level from the federal government is open ended with respect to the French Language Program and capped at $1,000,000 with respect to the aboriginal languages program, trying to present a budget here that accurately represents what we think we shall indeed spend in this area. There is $65,000, which is an increase, which is transferred from Government Services for their services, namely photocopying. There is a $25,000 increase for program evaluation and there is a $42,000 increase, which represents an inflation factor across all programs. That works out to a $389,000 decrease in the other line.
With those introductory remarks, I would be pleased to either contemplate questions in general or answer questions line by line.
Mrs. Firth: I have some general questions in order to clarify the organization of the department. The Minister is saying that the administration and what used to be Executive Council Office secretariat have been combined into administration secretariat. Making the comparison, I have noticed a substantial increase in personnel and under the line item, other. We can debate those when we get to that particular line item.
With respect to the French and aboriginal language information, the Minister was going to bring an organizational chart for this debate as to how he saw that particular function operating. I notice there have been some advertisements in the paper for translators. Is the Minister going to be hiring translators in this area? I believe the ad is for French translators.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Yes, there is some staffing beginning already at the ECO level to carry out some translation functions and program development functions. I apologize, but I know the very excellent Mr. Fingland has prepared for me the organizational chart requested by the Member previously. The last time I saw it, it was on his desk. Unfortunately, he is not here tonight, because I wrongly advised him I did not think we would get as far as the ECO tonight. I will have it by tomorrow, assuming we are still debating that item by then.
Just to anticipate the question the Member mentioned, the combination of the administration and secretariat, by my calculation, changes nothing in the staff complement. It does include the DM and ADM, three finance and administration staff and five clerical staff. As we are now including it, that is the unit that is comparable to the way it is described in most other departments as a single administration unit, including the DM and ADMs.
Mrs. Firth: I will wait to get the information from the Minister tomorrow. The issue I was raising with the increase with the combined administration secretariat is not in the personnel allotment. I can see it has remained at 10 person years; five from the executive council office secretariat and five from the administration. However, I do take note that, in the last years estimate of 1988-89, there was a 39 percent increase in personnel. This year, there is a 15 percent increase. There was 16 percent in the Executive Council Office secretariat last year. That would coincide with the 39 percent in administration. When you look at the increases that have been happening in the personnel under allotments, they seem to be quite substantial. I will have questions when we get to the specific line and we get the breakdown from the Minister about those areas.
Has the assistant deputy minister position been filled yet? I noticed the advertisement in the newspaper for that, also.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: It is being filled on secondment now, but I do not believe that a formal competition has been filled.
Mrs. Firth: Can the Minister tell us who is filling it on a secondment right now?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: It is being filled by an ADM from another department, in fact Mr. Sinclair, who was ADM in the Department of Health and Human Resources.
Mrs. Firth: I recognize the persons name. Is the Minister expecting that that position will be filled soon? I believe the competition closed and I was expecting that it would have been filled on a permanent basis by now.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I will have to report back with the exact status of the competition.
Mrs. Firth: I have the ad here and it says that the closing date is March 8, so it closed over a month ago. I would have expected that perhaps it would have been filled on a permanent basis by now.
Can the Minister tell us just what the ranges of the deputy ministers salary is? Is that changed at all? I am not asking for this individuals specific salary, but what the range is.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: From memory, the range is quite substantial, but I think the Executive Council Office deputy minister is in the top group of the deputy ministers. Again, I can report to the Member exactly what the floor and the ceiling of the range are and that I am sorry that I do not know it from memory.
Mrs. Firth: I assume from what the Minister has said then that there has been no change in the categories of deputy salaries. There are several different levels and I am assuming from what the Minister is saying that that practice is still in place and that this is in one of the higher categories.
There was some reference made to the deputy ministers, I believe, in a Legislative Return we received, that deputy ministers had received a increase of salary of $3,500 a year. Does that apply to all deputy ministers, and is it just a flat $3,500 per annum increase that they got?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: As you know, following the conclusion of every collective agreement, it has been the practice of Cabinet to contemplate a policy decision about an appropriate compensation for the management group, including the deputies. Following the last round of collective bargaining, Cabinet made such a decision with respect to the deputies. In addition to that, there is a performance evaluation every year, as there is for all employees and senior people, and there are merit increases that can follow from that.
The only group where the actual amount of the merit increase is a Cabinet decision is the one for deputies. This is a long standing practice. They are evaluated and, based on the evaluations, there is a decision by Cabinet about whether there is some compensation with respect to those evaluations.
Mrs. Firth: I have the relevant Legislative Return. I believe the amount I gave was correct. With his comments, the Government Leader is indicating to us that deputies have been getting regular evaluations. Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: As has been the long standing practice prior to my coming into this job, deputies were evaluated first by their Minister and then, ultimately, by the Government Leader. Those evaluations are the exclusive property of those Ministers and those deputies, plus the Public Service Commissioner. Following the evaluations, the deputy can discuss it with the Minister, or the Government Leader, or both.
On the forms that are required to be filled out, there is a question about whether an increment should be denied, granted or recommended as a result of these evaluations. That is one of the questions that must be signed in the evaluation and, then, there is a consequent financial decision following that.
Mrs. Firth: Could the Minister tell us if it has been the practice to make any notations regarding the managing of departments. I remember the Minister saying, when he was Minister of Finance, that a strong indication would be given if managers over spent within their departments. Is that the kind of constructive criticism that would be included on the deputy ministers evaluation? Is that the practice of this government?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I think it would be highly improper of me to report in this House on any comments I have made on deputy minister evaluations. I believe it is fair to say that they have covered the full range of possible comment, from complimentary to the opposite. Among the issues the deputy ministers are evaluated on is, of course, the question of financial management.
Mrs. Firth: The reason I raise the point is because the Minister of Finance, in his comments regarding discouraging over expenditures, cited evaluations as one of the methods of control or one of the discouragements. I would like to get some verification that these evaluations are happening. I do not think we are revealing any personal evaluations of any particular deputy minister, but I think it has to be stated on the record.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am quite happy to state on the record that if in my opinion any deputy minister had willfully over spent any budget that had been allowed him by this Legislature, very serious consequences would follow. I believe I would also make the case that in every case we have been presented with in this House, where a departmental over expenditure, it has been warranted. I know in the case of departments that I am responsible for, in the Public Service Commission, there was a technical over expenditure as a result of a leave accrual, which was a book entry recommended by the Auditor General; and I think in the case of the Department of Finance, there a small over expenditure as a result of an allowance for bad debts; and in the case of Health and Human Resources because of some late billings about hospital and health charges. I would be happy to talk more about this tomorrow.
I am receiving frantic signals from the table suggesting that I report progress on Bill No. 51.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move the Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Chair: It has been moved by the hon. Mr. McDonald that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: I will now call the House to Order.
May the House have the report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole?
Chair: The Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 101, an Act to Amend the Students Financial Assistance Act, and directed me to report the same without amendment.
Further, 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 Chair of Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed.
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I move that the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Government Services that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: This House now stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. tomorrow.
The House adjourned at 9:30 p.m.
The following Legislative Returns were tabled April 12, 1989:
Cost of developing a well in Upper Liard (Byblow)
Oral, Hansard, p. 239
Pull-outs along Alaska Highway (Byblow)
Oral, Hansard, p. 247
Person Year Changes, 1988-89 to 1989-90 (McDonald)
Oral, Hansard, p. 202
Pupil:teacher ratios in Yukon schools (McDonald)
Oral, Hansard, miscellaneous pages
Furniture purchased for Yukon college residence (McDonald)
Oral, Hansard, p. 113
Use of existing St. Elias Residence facility (McDonald)
Oral, Hansard, p. 111
Various Yukon school facilities requirements - report dated June 10, 1988 (McDonald)
Oral, Hansard, pp. 149-150
Source of funds to cover losses of Hyland Forest Products (Penikett)
Oral, Hansard, p. 105
Yukon Development Corporation and Yukon Pacific Forest Products - lease of temporary mill in Watson Lake (Penikett)
Oral, Hansard, p. 171
Hyland Forest Products - inventory and value of logs (Penikett)
Oral, Hansard, p. 170
Yukon Pacific Forest Products - utilization of logs (Penikett)
Oral, Hansard, p. 170
Yukon Pacific Forest Products - utilization of oldest logs (Penikett)
Oral, Hansard, p. 170
Hyland Forest Products - re disclosure of sale documents and records (Penikett)
Oral, Hansard, p. 170
Rancheria Campground, arrangements for operation (Webster)
Oral, Hansard, p. 199
Money matters re Pounds Act and picking up stray animals (Webster)
Oral, Hansard, p. 183
Anticipated publication of book - Yukon - A Natural History (Webster)
Oral, Hansard, p. 183
The following Filed Document was filed April 12, 1989:
An egg carton that contains no chlorofluorocarbons (Hayden)