Monday, April 17, 1989 - 1:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. We will proceed with Prayers.
Speaker: We will proceed at this time with the Order Paper.
Are there any Introduction of Visitors?
LAW DAY TRIBUTE
Mrs. Firth: I rise today to congratulate the professors of law, the jurists, the law students and the lawyers for recognizing and sponsoring April 17, 1989 as Law Day and its theme, Access to Justice.
Law Day is a vehicle for increasing public awareness of the legal system and its process. It is important to be aware of the various channels that provide access to justice, whether it be referring to native justice issues, drug abuse and violence in our major cities, the problems of seniors and of the young, or just the routine matters of everyday life such as thedrawing up of contracts and wills.
I would encourage Yukoners to take advantage of the events that have been organized for the public information processes today: the court house activities of free legal advice, legal trivia contests and free legal information as well as the tour of the RCMP headquarters. We thank these individuals for their participation, and as society grows, public participation in the legal system will grow.
Speaker: Are there any Returns or Documents for Tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I have for tabling a list of government contracts for the year 1988-89.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I have two legislative returns.
Speaker: Are there any Reports of Committees?
Introduction of Bills?
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I move that Bill No. 37, entitled, An Act to Amend the Home Owners Grant Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Community and Transportation Services that Bill No. 37, entitled, An Act to Amend the Home Owners Grant Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: Are there any Notices of Motion for the Production of Papers?
Notices of Motion?
NOTICES OF MOTION
Mr. Devries: I move
THAT it is the opinion of this House that the Alaska Highway has been considered and continues to be an international transportation corridor of vital importance to the United States of America;
THAT both countries are making preparation to celebrate the bicentennial of the construction of this historic highway in 1992;
THAT the Alaska Highway currently is in such poor condition that it is adversely affecting the economics of the State of Alaska, the province of British Columbia and the Yukon Territory, particularly with regard to tourism;
THAT this House urges the Government of Yukon to initiate the formation of a tri-party task force comprised of senior representatives of the Government of Yukon, the Government of British Columbia and the Government of the State of Alaska to lobby the Government of the United States of America and the Government of Canada, urging them to supply suitable financing for the completion of the upgrading of the Alaska Highway;
THAT a copy of this resolution should be forwarded to the respective legislatures of the Province of British Columbia and the State of Alaska.
Mr. Lang: I move:
THAT it is the opinion of this House that the Government of the Yukon should develop a program to hydroseed the roadsides of Yukon highways.
Mr. Phillips: I move notice of the following motion
THAT it is the opinion of this House that littering is a major problem throughout Yukon;
THAT this House urges the Government of Yukon, in conjunction with municipalities, Indian bands, groups, and individuals, to implement a year-round anti-litter program entitled Yukon Pride, which sould comprise the following initiatives:
1) development of an environmental awareness and anti-litter educational program for use in Yukon schools;
2) establishment of a year-round anti-litter advertising and promotional campaign;
3) development of an assistance program to help individuals, groups, and communities to carry out clean-up campaigns in specific areas;
4) creation of a Yukon Pride awards program to recognize individuals, groups, businesses, and communities who have contributed to a litter-free Yukon; and
5) preparation of a feasibility study regarding the establishment of a recycling depot in the Yukon.
Speaker: Are there any Statements by Ministers?
Trapping Awareness Week
Hon. Mr. Webster: Mr. Speaker, I rise to advise Members that this week, April 17 to 23, is Trapping Awareness Week in the Yukon.
As Members know, trapping is the Yukons oldest industry and continues to make an important contribution to our economy, our communities, and our way of life.
This week, the Yukon will host the first Northern Furbearers Conference ever held in Canada. The conference will attract trappers, biologists, fur industry and government representatives from Canada and the United States. As well, the Yukon Trappers Association annual general meeting will bring trappers from all around the territory to Whitehorse.
Mr. Speaker, as these two meetings unfold, I would like participants to know that we appreciate trappings contribution to the Yukon and that we are committed to working with Yukon trappers to ensure the survival of their lifestyle.
As long as trappers are able to earn a livelihood from the land, we will know that our environment, the Yukon wilderness, remains healthy.
Mr. Lang: Contrary to public opinion, there is at times a consensus in this House on various issues, and this is one in particular that our side, in conjunction with the government, totally agrees on.
I would like to point out for the benefit of the record that the Trapping Awareness Week concept was put forward about a year and one-half ago by the Member for Kluane, who has continuously advocated such a designation in order to highlight to the general public the importance of trapping, not only economically, but also as a way of life. I hope that the Minister in his response could outline, over and above the fact that we are having a conference, what other plans are in the works as far as informing the education system of the importance of trapping, and also the general public, by means of posters and various other events that are planned for over the course of this week, to totally expose the public to the importance of Trapping Awareness Week.
I would also want to conclude by saying that the increased publicity regarding this issue that can be generated through the governments efforts will be in the best interest of the trapping industry and the general public we serve.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I want to thank the Member opposite for his comments and support in bringing forth this initiative. I would also like to acknowledge the efforts made over the past few years by the Member for Kluane in putting forth this motion. For some reason, it sat unattended to on the Order Paper for at least two years. I do not have a good reason why it was not incorporated some time ago.
With respect to what efforts will be made to highlight the fact that this is Trapper Awareness Week, this matter will be attended to by the media who will be doing some full length feature stories on the value of trapping to our territory, our lifestyle and the economy as well as on specific matters relating to this, the first-ever Northern Furbearers Conference to be held in Canada.
It is a goal to introduce more training and education of this nature in our school system. To that end, we will be incorporating some aspects of the Yukon Conservation Strategy as well as Project Wild into the curriculum.
Again, I thank the Members opposite for their support on this initiative.
Speaker: This then brings us to the Question Period.
Question re: Ketza River Gold Mine
Mr. Phelps: I have some follow-up questions for the Minister of Economic Development: Mines and Small Business regarding the Ketza River Gold Mine.
We understand that a $10 million law suit was filed last week by Canamax and that the proposed purchaser, Belmoral Mines, has been managing the mine since early January of this year, and that Canamax had to send its senior operations person, Bob Johnson, to the mine last Wednesday to find out what is going on. Did this government meet with or communicate with Mr. Johnson when he was here visiting the mine last week?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Firstly, I would like to congratulate the Member for Hootalinqua on his continuing assumption of the role as Leader of the Opposition. I am sure that the relationship between government and the opposition will remain as useful and worthwhile as always.
I know the department has had discussions with both Canamax and Belmoral with respect to the deal falling through between the two companies. My impression is that it came as a surprise to Canamax and the response has been swift. I am not aware if the mines officials have had specific discussions with officials from either company during the last week. I do know that there has been communication between the department and the two mining companies.
Mr. Phelps: I thank the Minister for his comments. Could we have the names of the people the government has been in touch with? It seems that Canamax has a brand new president and was not in touch with the operating mine very much. Would that be possible to get?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Yes, I can arrange to have that information presented.
Mr. Phelps: Does the government have any idea what the actual production of the mine was for the year? That seems to be the discrepancy. Was it as expected, or was it much lower?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The discrepancy the Member refers to will result in litigation between the two companies. It would be difficult for me to respond in any kind of detail in that respect. We do know the mining company currently operating the mine, Canamax, is indicating it will be continuing production at the mine and that production levels will be the same as they were before. Beyond that, to my knowledge, we have no more solid information.
Question re: Ketza River Gold Mine
Mr. Phelps: On April 10, in response to some questions from myself, the Minister stated we, being the government, had been given verbal assurances that there are no plans to change the operation of the mine at this point.
Would the Minister not agree that these verbal assurances are rather hollow given that, at the time the assurances were given, Canamax did not know the amount of gold produced by the mine?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am certain that the accuracy of that assumption will be a factor that will be brought forward in the litigation. The government has reconfirmed the statement from Canamax that they intend to continue production at existing levels, and that they have no intention of slowing down or reducing their operation in any way. That is the best information we have, in general terms. We will be pursuing the matter further with the company to try to ascertain for ourselves what the production capability of the mine is in the long term. That will be the substance of the discussions in the main with Belmoral, and it would be impossible to anticipate what the results of that legal debate will be.
However, we have communicated to Canamax that we would like to receive information well in advance of any major change in production. We do not want to see a repeat of the United Keno situation, where the information came upon the government rather suddenly.
Mr. Phelps: A news story with the following quotation was attributed to the president of Canamax, ... that the production costs will be among the things that Mr. Johnson examines during the visit ..., which he made last week. Would the Minister not agree that the assurances about keeping open are even more hollow when you realize that they were made prior to the mine knowing what the production cost of the gold was?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I have never been one to take, as absolute word, any commitment in the mining community as to whether or not the people will be producing full bore or otherwise until such time as the event has happened. However, we have what we consider to be honourable reassurances from the mining company that the production will continue, and we have no information to the contrary, to my knowledge. We are seeking further information. Until such a time as that information comes forward, it would not be appropriate for me to accuse the current operators of providing misleading statistics with regard to their production capability.
We will be pursuing the matter with them and they will be enmeshed in legal turmoil over production capability at the mine and the future of the mine. In the end, the information will be out, but at this time the government is in the process of trying to secure more information.
Mr. Phelps: I was not trying to suggest that misleading statistics were given; I was suggesting that the party, Canamax, did not have any statistics to work with at all.
Has the Minister or his department been in touch with the other partner at Pacific Trans-Ocean with regard to the mines future?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: That is a detail I do not know. I am certain that if this is necessary to secure or double check information with other partners then the attempt will be made. However, the primary contacts are between this government and the operating company of the mine, Canamax. The assumption is that, as a reputable mining company, they would have some sense of where they are going in general terms. It would be a reasonably good assumption to make that they are not operating on a day-to-day basis.
They have indicated that they believe their production estimates to be sound and that would be the substance, I am sure, of their case between Canamax and Belmoral. We have no way at this time of ensuring the veracity of that claim because we have no hard information with respect to their ore reserves.
Question re: Mine safety
Mr. Phillips: I have a question for the Minister responsible for mine safety, the Minister of Justice.
Recently, several mine workers at Faro have been issued disciplinary letters for taking part in a sudden walk-out in March. The 60 workers who walked out claimed they did so because of unsafe working conditions that led to several dust fires in the mill. Now that we have the responsibility of mine safety in the Yukon, my question is: did the mine safety branch investigate this problem at the Faro mine and, if so, when?
Hon. Ms. Joe: The two individuals from Occupational Health and Safety were up in Faro the week before last, and they identified a number of areas where it might be unsafe to work. That information was relayed to the mine officials, and they have been given a certain amount of time to make sure that they comply with the safety rules.
Mr. Phillips: Can the Minister tell us what orders were issued to the mine to correct the problems in the mill that she said were apparent when they did the inspection?
Hon. Ms. Joe: I might have had that information if I had been asked ahead of time to bring it to the House. I do not have it with me right now.
Mr. Phillips: I wonder if the Minister could table the results of the investigation in the House. What I would like to know is: when the Mine Safety Branch was made aware of it, when they looked into it, and what recommendations they made to correct the problem, and how long the mine has to rectify the problem so that the mine is, in fact, safe for the workers.
Hon. Ms. Joe: I will take that question as notice.
Question re: Whitehorse sewage financing
Mr. Lang: I have a question for the Minister of Community and Transportation Services. Back in the beginning of March, March 13, the House unanimously passed a motion to help the City of Whitehorse, as far as extraordinary financial contribution was concerned, to deal with the sewage lagoon and the environmental problems associated with it. Some time has passed and the Minister assured us that he would be meeting with the City of Whitehorse to discuss this very real and important issue, that not only was discussed then, but during the course of the election. I would like to ask the Minister if he has met with the City of Whitehorse and could he update the House in respect to just what steps are being taken as far as the question of the sewage lagoon?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I did indeed meet with the City of Whitehorse. It was one of the items of a lengthy agenda. It was dealt with at some length. The understanding that was reached at the time was that there was still inadequate information relating to the nature of the expenditure and the facility that was required. What was decided is that members of the city staff and members of the Community and Transportation Services Department would be sitting on a technical committee to review more specific detail relating to the project. That committee may have met. I do not know at this point the outcome of that technical review committee effort.
Mr. Lang: The area that I have some problem with is in respect to the fact that as these things are being done time goes by. I was hoping that perhaps the Minister could outline to us just exactly what type of time frame he gave this particular task force in order to report back to their various governments so that appropriate decisions can be made, so at least, perhaps, we can start tackling this particular project in some part this year.
Can the Minister outline to us exactly when this task force is expected to report back?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Working strictly from memory, it is my understanding that the technical group would have met this month as well as next month and that approximately a month to six weeks after our last city meeting they would be reporting. In other words, I am looking at a timeframe to discuss it again with the city in approximately mid-May.
Mr. Lang: In view of the timeframe that the Minister has outlined to us, can we be expecting at least some work to be undertaken to correct the situation that now exists this year?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member must realize that the ultimate decision respecting the upgrading of the facilities is a decision that will be taken by the city. The extent to which this government may, or may not, participate in any financial or technical fashion is yet to be determined. I can conclude the point for now by saying to the Member that I look forward to continuing discussions on this the next time I meet with the city.
Question re: Squatters
Mr. Brewster: My question is to the Minister of Community and Transportation Services.
On April 6, 1989, in the Whitehorse Star, there was an article entitled 232 Squatter Bids Approved, which further stated that 23 had been rejected and 60 applications had gone to the land claims negotiating table, because they were on selected land.
My question is: can the Minister advise the House if those 60 applications will be treated in the negotiations as third-party interest and accorded protection?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I have to take notice on the question.
Mr. Brewster: In the same story, the manager of Yukon lands was quoted as saying that April 29, 1986 was D-Day, or the final date for squatters to lay claim. I would like the Minister to advise the House whether any applications were considered after that date, due to extenuating circumstances, and, if so, how many?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am again working from memory. Several applications were accepted late due to extenuating circumstances. I can provide that information to the Member in written form.
Mr. Brewster: I would like to thank the Minister for that answer.
Can the Minister advise the House when the squatters review process will be completed?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I will provide more specific detail to the Member when I respond in writing to the previous question. It is my understanding that the review process has essentially been completed for the original applications.
Question re: Teacher morale
Mr. Devries: My question is to the Minister of Education.
Since the Yukon Teachers Association convention was held this past week, I have had many concerns expressed to me on the sorry state of morale in the Department of Education and the schools in general. In light of some of the recent government personnel decisions, this problem does not seem to be getting any better.
What is the Minister prepared to do to counteract the serious problem?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I can only imagine whom the Member is speaking about with respect to claims that the departmental morale is down, and he is rolling in all the teachers in the Yukon Territory as being part of the department in that effort.
My understanding is quite the contrary, that the departmental morale is quite good. Judging from the reception that the government officials received at the YTA convention, I would think that the outlook for education in the Yukon is very positive, very optimistic, and the people are looking forward to the challenges ahead of all us. I feel confident that the people are there to make sure that their job is done, and done well.
Mr. Devries: I only wish that I had the Ministers confidence in this. During the past two years I worked for a company that lacked direction, and I am well aware of the results of poorly thought-out decisions. We have now the captain of the HMCS Hyland running the Department of Education. Does the Minister have a salvage program in place for the Department of Education?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Member will pardon me if I do not exchange slanderous remarks about public servants on the floor of the Legislature. I have every confidence in the officials who are operating in the Department of Education, and I also feel very confident that the directions that have been taken in Education will be respected by all parties concerned.
The people with whom I have spoken in the Yukon Teachers Association, as well as individual teachers and members of the public, are very confident in the person mentioned by the Member for Watson Lake, and that persons ability to see change happen. That is an expression of support I share. I do not feel comfortable or confident in exchanging slander about the individual, because I do not think it is at all warranted.
Question re: Whitehorse General Hospital tarsnfer
Mrs. Firth: With respect to the Whitehorse General Hospital federal transfer, last week I asked the Minister responsible for the Public Service Commission a question with respect to the time line of the transfer process and the target date being June of 1990. The Minister responded that the process was on time. However, the memo I quoted from indicates that may be an optimistic time line to meet for that target date. Can the Minister confirm whether they are on time or not, in light of the conflict between her comments and the memo from the department?
Hon. Ms. Joe: I have said that negotiations, meetings and whatever else is necessary in regard to the transfer were on time, and my answer still stands.
Mrs. Firth: The Minister also mentioned that the contract had been tendered to do the job descriptions for the positions and was due to close on April 26. Could the Minister be specific about which positions she is talking about? Is she referring to all the employees, or just the nursing staff?
Hon. Ms. Joe: It is my understanding that the job descriptions of all hospital health care workers are to be done by the person who will be hired to do them.
Mrs. Firth: We are concerned that local private businesses may not have expertise in this area of consultation. Was the tender just advertised locally, or was it advertised outside the territory as well?
Hon. Ms. Joe: I do not have that information. It was an ad that was placed by Health and Human Resources. I do not know whether it was advertised out of town or not.
Question re: Whitehorse General Hospital transfer
Mrs. Firth: With respect to the contract and the process of that contract, how much time will the successful bidder have to do the research and come forward with recommendations or proposals for the government?
Hon. Ms. Joe: I do not have a specific date. If the Member knows what is involved, there are a number of jobs over there that will need to have job descriptions drawn up for this government. We do have a time line, and we will be within that time line. I am confident that someone will be chosen after the closing date.
Mrs. Firth: We are trying to establish how long it will take before the government is going to have some information to work with so that they can pass that information on to the employees involved. Is it part of the terms of the contract that the nurses or other employees be consulted by the successful bidder?
Hon. Ms. Joe: I cannot give the Member that kind of information. I do not have the specific information before me. I do not know what is included in the job description of the person who would be contracted to do that. I am certain that he or she will take everything into consideration when putting those descriptions together. If that includes talking to health care workers, I am sure it will be done.
Mrs. Firth: I would have expected that the Minister responsible for the Public Service Commission could have at least answered how long it was going to take and could have given some of the more general details of the process. Perhaps the Minister could bring us the contract once the tender is closed. If she makes the contract available to us, we can find out what kind of guidelines have been issued.
Hon. Ms. Joe: I will take that question as notice.
Question re: Hazardous waste disposal
Mr. Nordling: I have a question for the Minister of Community and Transportation Services with respect to hazardous waste disposal. Last week, in response to a question from this side, the Minister said that his department and the Department of Renewable Resource are developing a comprehensive strategy to deal with hazardous chemical waste disposal. I would like to know when the strategy will be in place.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I have assigned it a high priority. I suspect that the strategic plan for addressing the increasing need to protect our environment will be dealt with shortly. More specifically, I expect to have a strategic plan within one month.
Mr. Nordling: Who else is working on this strategic plan besides the two departments? Are there federal representatives from the Department of the Environment or city officials?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: It is my understanding that the plan is being developed internally, which will essentially address which approach to take. The extent to which other agencies are involved, I would have to take notice on.
Mr. Nordling: Could the Minister tell us what is happening with the Hazardous Waste Storage and Disposal Committee that was struck in 1985 to deal with this issue?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I will check for the Member. I suspect that there is an incorporation to the current plans of utilizing the information and services of that group, if it still exists.
Question re: Henderson Corner power project
Mr. Phillips: My question is for the Minister responsible for the Yukon Power Corporation. In the past election campaign the Member for Klondike promised the people at Henderson Corner that a power line would be extended to their area. Will the Government of Yukon make this election promise part of their submission this spring to the Public Utilities Board?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I thank the Member for his question. I hope he does not mind if I correct the record slightly in that it was not the Member for Klondike who promised that during the election campaign, it was me. It will proceed according to the commitment made by myself as Minister responsible for the Power Corporation. I would have to take the precise question as notice. I believe the submission made to the Public Utilities Board was probably prepared in advance of the commitment by the utility, but I do not believe, given the capital commitment involved, that it would have a profound or powerful effect on the rate application in any case.
Mr. Phillips: I hope the Government Leader will accept my apologies for saying it was the Member for Dawson who made the promise. There were so many promises made by the other side during the election campaign, I am just confused as to who promised what.
The question I have for the Minister responsible is: will the government be proceeding with the Henderson Corner project prior to the determination of the future of the North Fork project?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I want to accept the Members apologies on behalf of himself and his caucus, including the promises that were made by the Members opposite for which the taxpayers, too, are grateful that we do not have to carry the burden of implementing.
Yes, the decision has been made to proceed with the Henderson Corner line in advance of the North Fork project. Based on the assessment done at current diesel prices for the hydro project on the scale that was contemplated, and based on the work done so far, it is not an economic alternative to diesel at this point in time.
Mr. Phillips: What will the governments policy be regarding any other rural area that has similar needs to the residents of Henderson Corner? Will they be provided with an extension of power lines to serve their needs as well?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Well, the objective of the corporation and of the government is to try to provide power at a reasonable cost to residents wherever they live in the territory. In the absence of a firm policy with respect to the provision of power to rural neighborhoods not presently connected to the service, the corporation will inevitably have to deal with them on a case-by-case basis.
I am certain that, should we have occasion to see a request similar to that from the people from Henderson Corner, we will obviously want to look at the long-term ramifications of providing power to such communities as indeed we are at the moment.
Question re: Henderson Corner power project
Mr. Phillips: I have one more question for the Minister of promises. Just to clarify this, the question is to the Government Leader responsible for the Power Corporation just so they do not all stand up. My question is: when does the Minister expect the Henderson power project to be started and when will these residents actually receive their power? When will they be able to turn on the switch?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I will resist the temptation to respond in kind to the Member for Riverdale North, as we would have the kind of ruckus that would be unseemly at this stage of Question Period.
The answer to both questions is that it is the plan of the Power Corporation that tenders for the work will be issued and power will be supplied this summer.
Question re: Washouts
Mr. Brewster: There has been a very heavy snowfall this winter, and the potential for flooding and road washouts this spring is extremely high, especially in the Alaska Highway North section. Can the Minister of Community and Transportation Services advise the House what contingency plans his department has in place to deal with such an unfortunate situation, should it happen again?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I will take notice of the question to provide accurate information.
Mr. Brewster: I hope he does not talk to the Minister of Tourism about it. Last spring, the government was caught unprepared, and private contractors had to come to the rescue. Will the Minister give his personal assurance that the government will be prepared this time?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member draws reference to the flooding conditions that occurred last summer. It occurs to me that the private sector was extensively used and encouraged, and the government was quite prepared for the restoration of that flooding condition.
Mr. Brewster: I did not get my assurance, but that is usual. Will the Minister give an undertaking to work with the Minister of Tourism to counteract any adverse impact that a washout would have on the tourism of the Yukon?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Minister of Tourism and I work constantly together, and we will continue to do so.
Question re: Elk
Mr. Lang: I have an observation on the comments from the Minister of Community and Transportation Services. I am sure the Minister of Tourism appreciates the shed that was given to him in one Question Period with all the consultation that took place from this side of the House.
With respect to the elk herd around Hutshi Lake, which has been established since 1952, I understand there has been a surplus of bulls identified for that particular herd. There is some question of what is going to be done in respect to trying to rejuvenate the herd. Is the Minister of Renewable Resources prepared to consider another permit hunt similar to the one that took place two to three years ago, sponsored by the Fish and Game Association? The proceeds went back to further elk management.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I will have to take that question under advisement. I am not that familiar with the situation. I understand that one of the intentions of the proposed elk move last weekend was to help alleviate the situation described by the Member.
Mr. Lang: That is correct, and that was part of the arrangement worked out with the Fish and Game Association and the then government, as well as the other parties involved. The idea is to try to encourage the increase in size of that particular herd. One of the problems that is facing the Department of Renewable Resources is the question of a surplus of bulls in the present herd. In order to be able to generate more funds, there is the possibility of a permit hunt being sponsored through the Department of Renewable Resources, similar to ones past.
Can the Minister make the commitment that he will report back to the House in the next few weeks to give us some indication of what the position is the department is taking on that?
Hon. Mr. Webster: Yes, I will make that undertaking.
Question re: Yukon Government annual report
Mrs. Firth: I have a question for the Minister responsible for the Executive Council Office.
I asked the Minister a question a couple of weeks ago and we have been through his budget debate in Executive Council Office with the respect to the Annual Report of 1987-88. As the Minister knows, this report is overdue by about six months.
Can the Minister tell us yet where it is and why it is late for the second year in a row?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I thank the Member for Riverdale South for her question. I did indeed table a legislative return today that indicate the report is expected back from the printers on May 8. I apologize for that delay but I understand that there were a number of difficulties this year in assembling material from the departments. Tenders were received some time ago and we are expecting it back from the printers, according to the date that I indicated in the legislative return, which I believe was May 8.
Mrs. Firth: The government has a legislative responsibility to make this information public, and it should be made public on a timely basis. I would like to ask the Minister what he is going to do to see that this does not happen a third year in a row?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am going to discuss it at some length with the deputy minister of the department. There are some factors that do make it difficult to meet the precise requirements, including the fact that we are trying to make sure that there is no discrepancy between the information contained in the Public Accounts and the annual report. The Member, who was a colleague of mine in Public Accounts, will recall that some time ago there was a problem in the annual report when it in fact dealt with the calendar year end, as opposed to the financial year end, and that it does take some time to gather all of the relevant information from the departments to make sure that it is accurate and to include the graphics and photographs.
I take the question seriously and in fact I will be discussing with the deputy minister exactly what steps can be taken to ensure that it is not as late again.
Question re: Hazardous waste disposal
Mr. Nordling: I have a question to the Minister of Renewable Resources with respect to hazardous waste disposal. Last week I asked about territorial legislation for the management of waste and hazardous waste disposal. In 1987, the Department of Renewable Resources undertook to draft this legislation and we still have not seen it. I would like to ask the Minister if this legislation will be introduced before we recess for the summer?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I can assure the Member that such legislation will not be introduced before we recess for the summer, even if that means another five or six weeks, because, to the best of my knowledge, there never has been draft legislation on hazardous wastes implying PCBs. To my knowledge, the only legislation that has been prepared in draft form deals with pesticides.
Mr. Nordling: Thank you. Perhaps the new Minister can check with his department as to what has been happening in the past couple of years. A new environmental protection act was to have been introduced in the last legislature. Will we see that piece of legislation before we recess for the summer?
Hon. Mr. Webster: Again, I can assure the Member that the environmental protection act will not be introduced before we recess for the summer. As the Member knows, we are hiring an environmental person to start drafting some environmental protection legislation as I say, parts of that for introduction this fall sitting.
Mr. Nordling: Perhaps the reputation is well deserved that this government does not follow through on its Throne Speech commitments. Has the scope of the environmental protection act been changed so much that it is not available as was promised?
Hon. Mr. Webster: The Member is certainly aware that we are gaining new information every day in this area of dealing with hazardous wastes, pesticides and dangerous materials. Every jurisdiction across the country is continuously amending legislation dealing with these matters and dealing with improvements to the environment. In response to the question, I would say that the scope is changing considerably, and that is why we feel that now is the time to bring on stream a person to work full time on such legislation.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now lapsed, and we will proceed with Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Government House Leader that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
Speaker leaves the Chair
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Chair: At this time we will have a brief recess.
Bill No. 51, First Appropriation Act, 1989-90 continued
Chair: Committee of the Whole will now come to order.
We will continue with Community and Transportation Services.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I have some opening summary remarks that I can provide the Members.
The operations and maintenance portion of the Community and Transportation Services budget totals $49,040,00, which represents a six percent increase over last years estimates. These expenditures, as indicated in the budget book, represent an offset by recoveries and revenues that total $19.8 million. The recoveries also reflect an increase of six percent.
The operations and maintenance portion of the budget reflects the various accomplishments that have been achieved by the department and the government to date, and also reflects a number of goals of the government in several areas.
In the community services area, the emphasis of the government is to strengthen the services in communities and essentially improve upon the quality of life to residents. We will be continuing to provide the necessary advisory and administrative services to communities. As well, we will continue to provide support services to unincorporated communities and bands.
Today, I tabled the bill which will reflect the increase in the Home Owners Grant. That will be increasing the grant to $450, and $500 to seniors. There is an estimated cost of $136,000 for that initiative and it is reflected in the budget.
On the economic side, the key area of departmental activity will be in the area of transportation and maintenance of highways and airports. There is an increase of $1.7 million in transportation maintenance. In the area of economic deregulation, the department will continue to ensure that public safety is carried out in all aspects of the highway transportation function, through the implementation and enforcement of the National Safety Code. Additional staff is reflected in the budget to carry that out.
As previously discussed in the capital budget, in the area of lands there is an important emphasis being given to the development of various land categories. This will improve our ability to facilitate growth in communities and provides for planning of commercial, industrial and residential efforts.
Additional resources are provided in the lands branch to improve communications with communities and interest groups. As well, in the lands branch, there will be a need for additional resources to deal with the land claims process and, as already noted, for land planning exercises.
In the area of the environment, there has been considerable discussion in the House on this subject. This is reflected throughout the budget with some $3,700,000 to carry out the water supply projects in Haines Junction and Carcross with improvements in the water and sewer systems in Mayo and Teslin.
The whole area of environmental protection has taken on a much greater significance in the past year in the minds of Yukon people and in the responsibility of the government as discussed in Question Period today. There is the intention to come forward with a strategic plan to deal with hazardous waste identification, collection, transmission and storage. My department will be developing that plan very soon. I expect that I will be advising Members later this summer regarding more specific plans in the expanded nature of that undertaking.
That essentially summarizes some of the emphasis reflected in the budget. I invite any questions now or at the line-by-line stage.
Mr. Brewster: First I would like to thank the Minister and apologize for having to leave and to his officials who were here and then had to come back. I do not know if I gained anything by going there, it is about as rough as being in this place. Having made my apology, I can get back to being just as ornery as ever.
I will, of course, start right out with the Alaska Highway again. I will keep on hammering away at that, even if I have to be here 50 years. You are prepared to put $8 million into maintenance of the Alaska Highway and yet the other highways are getting $12 million for maintenance. There is no comparison in the amount of tourists who travel the other roads as compared to the Alaska Highway.
I do not know when this government will wake up. I never have accepted the way the federal government is always blamed. If the federal government is wrong, we should make some kind of agreements such as we have on these other roads and get this thing going. I do not know how many times we have to holler. If something is not done and done rapidly for the people on the north highway, they are going to be closing up. Our tourism cannot keep dropping like it is everywhere we go. You can read the remarks made about the highway at the information bureaus. The comments made at the Kluane National Park bureau are disgraceful. They are a disgrace to the park, yet we are sitting here saying we are protecting all this and people are literally closing up.
As I said before, I am going to keep right on arguing this. I really wonder why we went back to $8 million when last year it took $10 million to do the repairs. We are back to $8 million, and we did not foresee that there was a flood last year. It took an extra $2 million to fix it. This year we are facing one of the heaviest snowfalls we have had in the last nine or 10 years and people are being told things are back to normal. People should smarten up. That country has always had floods every year, especially around that lake and we have made no contingent provisions at all. Maybe that is the policy of this government. I would like an answer to that. Is it the policy and the contingency plan to re-route everything through the Klondike? Statements like that upset a lot of people on the north highway.
The Canadian army kept that road open and they had their troubles, but they kept equipment in there and they were ready to go when these things happened.
I am very pleased to see that we are developing land; however, I am going to say that we are pricing ourselves out of the market, because the average person cannot pay this. You are charging people for property for what they could build a house for. It is a fact and we had better start growing up to this. Four people have sent me complaints about property, and it is not all about this government. In fairness, some of it is federal government and it is right out of this world; $38,000 and $40,000 for a piece of land to put a house on is absolutely stupid. We had better get hold of whatever we are designing and doing. We did it, and we continue to do it and we had better get hold of these things. It is just absolutely ridiculous that we go ahead and keep pricing things out to where the average person cannot buy them. Sure, you can turn around and have 1,000 lots, but if the people cannot afford to buy them, where are we going to go with them? You are pricing yourself out all over. You are developing land and you are pricing yourself out, and you are doing things on some of this land that people do not even want. They did not ask for some these fancy designs and fancy roads and things like this. They want to get out there and look after themselves. I think we are going to have to face this question in here.
I have other things I will say, but that will be in each vote. I would certainly like the Minister to assure me that the only contingency plan they have is to reroute through Dawson because that is a ridiculous statement and a statement that is not very well taken in my area at any time or any place.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member spoke to two major issues, one being the Alaska Highway and the other being lands. Speaking first to lands, I want to assure the Member that the planning exercise that goes on between the branch and communities is in full consultation with communities. It is not a case of where the government decides what land is going to be developed, at what cost, and where on its own hook. It is a consultation and planning exercise that goes on with the community, irrespective of which community and which authority within that community. So, I want to give the Member every reassurance that if he has some ideas about how to provide land cheaper, I am willing and interested to discuss them.
The fact is, as we discussed, I believe, in the capital portion of the budget, that land development costs are expensive when any measure or level of service is provided, whether it be simple roads or additional services relating to power. Whether it is for engineering or minor administration, there is a price to pay. I do not know how you would bring it down any cheaper.
The Granger lots were kept at the absolute rock bottom level possible considering the level of service that was requested by the City of Whitehorse. In spite of what appears to be a fairly high cost, ranging from, I believe, $26,000 to $32,000, that cost in comparison to other parts of the country is a relatively fair cost for that level of service. How you reduce it, I suppose is dependent on the level of service you provide. If the community authorities do not wish to see those lots or lands developed without the services, then the government is committed, in its consultation process, to provide, as much as reasonably possible, what the communities want.
That is the tough reality of developing land.
The Member spoke about the Alaska Highway and again we have had this debate in the capital budget at some length. While he reminds me that we should not be blaming the federal government, I want to assure him that our efforts in this area are not limited to just blaming; we are doing what we can to address the major issue. That major issue, unfortunately, does relate to the federal government.
I am sure the Member is aware of the extent to which the federal government has reduced its expenditure on the Alaska Highway. I know that the previous Minister was very diligent in pressing for improvements to the funding levels that were required to maintain the highway in decent shape and, invariably, the federal government kept reducing those funds. I am sure the Member is aware that between 1982 and 1986, the total capital expenditure on the highway averaged out around $26 million per year. In 1986-87, the capital budget decreased to $12 million; that is the harsh reality.
On the O&M side, again, decreases are happening. If the Member looks at the budget today, it is the same as last years, on the O&M side. Through the agreement to maintain the highway, the Member is also aware that there was three-quarters of a million coughed up for the flooding condition that he described last year.
A Member from the side opposite tabled a resolution today that is going to cause further debate on the Alaska Highway. I have absolutely no problem with that. I think that the issue is clearly one that warrants as much attention as we can collectively generate. My deputy minister was in Ottawa recently and met with the deputy minister of Public Works on the very issue of funding for the Alaska Highway. Clearly, the federal government is not interested in dealing with us until it has dealt with the BC portion of the highway, and they have made that abundantly clear. To move them off that position I suppose one could say, sure, we will take over the highway, but I hope, as I have said before to the Member, that the Member is not suggesting that we undertake the responsibility without the funds. Nevertheless, we will continue to press for a deal that will see adequate funding for maintenance and upgrading. We have already been through the discussion relating to the Alaska sense of importance about the highway, and I think that perhaps something can be generated there, not just from the Alaskans, but in conjunction with our federal government and ourselves. It is conceivable that we can motivate some higher level of attention to be paid to the Alaska Highway, and I certainly appreciate any suggestions from the Member as many as he has already given me that speak to this increased attention. Until we generate this to a high-profile level we do not have the answers, but I think we are on the right track, and I think that we are moving there. Certainly, until we can get all parties involved with the highway to discuss funding levels, responsibilities, and the future of the highway, we will simply continue to press to have that put in place.
Mr. Brewster: For seven years I have been bringing this up, and I get the same story that they are working on it. We have a centennial where we are prepared to blow $3 million or $4 million to bring people in here. Even if this road is started immediately, there is no way it is going to be improved and ready to used by the time the centennial comes. It is a fact of life, and I do not care what anybody says. It does not work.
I stand by my position on land. The Minister is prepared to pass it on to the municipalities. I suggest that it is like a few other things, that the department gets to these people, they are very inexperienced, being new every three years, and the department gets what they want by just playing politics, like we do in this House, although they are a little more successful at it than I am.
I will not fault you for not having one thing on this map. It is not a very big road, but it is called the Papineau Road. It is one kilometre long. Would the department consider putting a sign there as the buses go down it to turn around? They have a placer mine showing there where the bus people get off and spend about three hours while he placer mines. Right now, there is no direction as to where this road is. He cannot put one up or it would be torn down by our efficient Department of Highways, who catch those signs pretty fast. He has to have some way of getting other people in there. The buses get in there because the drivers know where to go, but a lot of other people and new bus drivers do miss is. It is one of the big attractions we have, especially on the Haines Road, for two or three reasons. He does actually let some of them get gold, and the main reason is that he is an old French person who should be in this Legislature. He is quite good at slinging things around and entertaining people, and he is very popular. I do not think this would take much out of the budget, but it is something I think should be done.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I thank the Member for his representation. I will have that looked into. I am unclear at the moment, but I believe the Member will clarify where the problem lies. Is it because signage is not being allowed, or is it a request to have the government put up a sign?
Mr. Brewster: It is a road directional sign that is needed to get to property. It is a new road. I am not faulting anybody. We just got it graveled last year, and we have put in two culverts so far. It is in your statistics, and it is called the Papineau Road. They would like to have a directional sign. The buses particularly go in here.
Mr. Lang: There are a couple of issues I would like to speak to, the first one being the timing of the release of contracts. Community and Transportation Services plays a major part in the issuance of contracts, in conjunction with Government Services, depending on the project.
Will the Minister give assurances to this House that the bulk of the contracts we went through in the Capital Budget will be out for early tender so the work can be done during the course of this summer?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am being assured that the tenders will be going out as soon as possible. Many are ready, some are being finalized. There seems to be no problem in putting them out.
Mr. Lang: This is a very significant issue. We talked about it earlier in the Capital side of the budget. For example, take the addition on the garage in the Marwell area. This came in almost $400,000 over budget. In part, it can be attributed to the winter conditions. It seems ridiculous to be starting a project in October and pouring concrete. Concrete costs an arm and a leg in May or June. If you start dealing with it in October or November, you are looking at twice the expense. There is also the question of how well the job is being done. That also comes into the equation. It would seem to me that the Minister of Community and Transportation Services should, in his capacity of Minister of Government Services, ensure that instructions are given that these particularly tenders are out early.
Before I go to another item, perhaps the Minister would like to discuss this.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I can give the Member every assurance that, at this point, there is no apparent or foreseeable problem in putting out the expected tenders for this summer in short order. I understand what he is referring to is late contracts affecting the cost of a job. My information is that we have no anticipated late contracts. We should have everything well out in the summer season.
Mr. Lang: I hope the Minister is right. If he is not, it will cost everyone a lot more money.
I want to go to another area of concern. What plans does the government have with respect to making its legislative changes? I am primarily thinking about the Transport and Public Utilities Act. Are there some changes contemplated there? There were also a number of areas under review with respect to the Highways Act. We paid a consultant to look at these. What plans does the Minister have with respect to these areas?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member will appreciate that I am still immersing myself in the legislation that is proposed. The intention is to possibly have two acts ready for the fall session. One is the Highways Act, which I understand has been prepared in a first draft or stage, which I have not seen. Once session ends, I expect to immerse myself in its content. The other is the Motor Vehicles Act. I am not sure what stage this is at. I am advised by the department that it may also come forward this fall. That would all depend where these two acts will stack up in governments overall priorities for this fall.
Mr. Lang: I finally think I see how the system works and I recognize there are certain priorities that one wants to take place, but the reason I was asking was that significant amounts of money were spent here about two years ago, in the neighborhood of well over $100,000 in consultants fees, for these acts to be reviewed. It really makes me wonder why we would go through this exercise; nothing has been provided to the House. It seems like a lot of money to be spending just to leave it as if the project has simply come to a halt. I just want to flag that for the Minister as something we will be looking forward to hearing about.
I would like to go to another item and that is the question of training of local truckers in order to get the necessary licensing for what I believe is called B-trains, for the purposes of people being able to get jobs with Yukon Alaska. I have had a number of truckers come to me in the past, as an MLA, very concerned that they have put their applications in but do not have the experience to get on with that particular organization.
I corresponded with the previous Minister on this. There was some work being done; they had met with the Transport Association. I do not know why, just perhaps to see what kind of deal could be struck with Yukon Alaska and maybe make those five to 20 people available for a one-time, six-week course or something through Yukon College.
Perhaps the Minister could outline for us on what is happening in this particular area. It does not sound like that big a deal, but what you have is a situation where, I would like to see those jobs going to Yukon people if possible. But if our local young people do not get the opportunity to train for these particular types of rigs then they will always have to go outside for experienced drivers. I cannot blame the company. They have a significant investment there, but it would seem to me that we should cut some sort of arrangement that will provide the necessary training for these young people so that they can take these jobs when they come up.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I do recall the issue raised by the Member previously and I do recall there were discussions that took place between highways people and education people and the industry. Unfortunately I do not know the current status of those discussions and where any training program may be. I certainly recognize the concern and have considerable sympathy for it. I can undertake to advise the Member later as to whether or not any program is being developed and any training will be provided. It does seem that it has gone through a preliminary round of discussion and may have some program development. I just do not know at this point.
Mr. Lang: I do not want to belabour this issue the whole day. I do not have my correspondence file with me, but I believe that I wrote those letters. I believe I wrote them last spring, almost a year ago, with respect to the situation I am dealing with.
I think the Ministers recollection is correct. We have had education officials involved and the transport industry and the company involved but at the same time we are here with nothing.
I would like to see the government make the necessary arrangements with the company to put on a program. The government would have to be prepared to pay for it. You will find there is some interest out there. I have had two people approach me; the government may only have 10. It is a start. Perhaps then it could be done on an ad hoc basis once every year or year and one-half. That way, truckers who would like to gain this experience would be prepared to put it on.
Will the Minister make the commitment that he agrees it is a good idea, and that we are not just going to have an update from another committee? I could die before all these committees ever get together, and I am sure we would not want that to happen.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member invites debate, but I will restrain myself.
My recollection is that there were some very positive developments during the course of last summer and fall. I do not know what has taken place over the winter. I have already given the Member the assurance that I will advise him what program development may have taken place and pursue the matter to some resolution.
Mr. Lang: I would appreciate having the information during the course of this session, so I am updated and can get back to people who came to see me.
I have a question about the Transport Board, the same one I raised in Question Period the other day. It has to do with licensing. It is becoming a very contentious issue within the trucking industry. I want to register my concern about the concept of deregulation. We were not to lead the implementation of deregulation. We were going to be following behind, so our trucking industry would not be hurt to the point where we were depending on the trucking industry from British Columbia and Alberta to provide us with our mode of transportation here.
At the same time, the idea was to cultivate and ensure that our trucking industry here stayed healthy. It seems to me the allegations being put forward have some merit, where it is just a question of procedure for anyone who applies for a licence. You publicly advertise for three weeks and you get your trucking licence. Does the Minister have any more information with respect to what is happening in British Columbia? It should be looked into. If our Yukon truckers are not getting the benefit of deregulation in BC, and not getting the necessary licensing expeditiously, then we have to assess policy in the House and through the Minister so we know exactly what we want to see happen with our trucking industry.
Could the Minister report on where we are with respect to that?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I do not have much more to report to the Member from when I spoke to him last on the subject. As I indicated at that time, I had met with the Transportation Association to get a better handle on its understanding of the problem. We had a very good discussion. At that time, I undertook to establish communication with Alberta and BC to try and determine if they were applying their deregulation in a protective manner.
In other words, were they applying the principles of the freedom-to-move legislation as we are here in the Yukon, or are they providing a measure of protectionism by staying with the old provisions? I do not have that information back from the other jurisdictions. The technical aspects of application are going to be explored at the departmental level. I will communicate with the Ministers of the two jurisdictions and, if necessary, meet with them, to more properly affect communication and understanding of the problem.
However, since talking to the Member last week, I took the opportunity to meet with the chair of the Motor Transport Board here in the Yukon to get a clearer understanding of the boards interpretation of things. It was a productive discussion. It appeared to me that the boards interpretation of the freedom-to-move legislation was indeed as originally intended under a deregulation set of principles, where reverse onus was applied and where the firm or trucking company applying essentially had a free entry to the transportation corridors and market and did not have to prove any public need.
I guess what I would be curious to hear from the Member is whether or not he is suggesting that we reverse our position under deregulation where we now revert to a more protectionist policy that may set off a whole chain of reactions and circumstances. Certainly, from some aspects of the industry, I am getting the information that the new regulations are much better than the old and that the competitive nature of the industry has provided a much better service to consumers. I suppose the Member may argue that, at the same time, you can go overboard and injure the existing firms that provide a regular year-round service. It gets to be a fairly complex issue, but perhaps that issue is not even necessary to debate if we get our information from the other jurisdictions and find out more precisely just what they are doing.
Unfortunately, we do not have the evidence of an actual application rejected from the other jurisdictions and I am having that followed up as well. I guess the short update to the Member is that I have met with the chair of the Motor Transport Board locally, and I am still awaiting communication from the other jurisdiction. As I indicated also to the Member, I am quite prepared to travel and meet with the respective political counterpart in those jurisdictions if we have a persisting problem.
Mr. Lang: I think we share the same objective here. Before any revisions of policy are made, we must find out what is happening in our neighbour jurisdiction. At that stage, the seriousness will have to be weighed. I think there is a fine balance with respect to the consumer versus that of a healthy trucking industry. I think the Minister outlined it very well. My concern is that if we go too far the other way, we will be in a situation where we will be dealing with a trucking industry that is prosperous from Alberta during the summer months and there will be very few, if any, involved here in the winter. I do not think we want that. It is a fine balancing act that we are looking at, trying to ensure competitive prices, but at the same time we want Yukon goods, where possible, being hauled by Yukon people. It seems to me we should wait for the information and then take it from there. I will look forward to the information. The Minister has assured me that I will get copies once he has them. I will be looking forward to reading it.
The other area of concern is the stability of our bridges. I would like to believe that there are going to be major renovations done to the Takhini Bridge. Is that true?
I understand that there are some other bridge studies and various other things going on. Are we having some structural problems with some of our bridges? If so, could the Minister report them?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The short answer to the Members question is yes. We have $500,000 identified for repair work and upgrading to the Takhini River Bridge. I would have to check with my officials as to the status of the other bridges. My understanding is that we are examining the bridges on the route of the ore haul, not that any particular problem or difficulty is noted, but we are in a construction phase of repairing bridges before we have to repair them because the associated costs of a bridge once it has deteriorated to a certain point can be astronomical. I have been persuaded by department officials that we must do this work as a preventative, corrective measure, as opposed to waiting for the necessity of doing it. Takhini Bridge is destined for repair this year. There is some examination of the other two main bridges on the ore haul route. I believe one is the Cairns Bridge at Carcross, and the other is the Pelly Bridge at Faro.
Mr. Lang: That leads me to the question of maintenance of the highway where the ore haul is undertaken basically, the Klondike Highway. Have we had an assessment internally within the department with respect to the ramifications of the change in the GVW and the axle configuration? Has it increased our maintenance cost and if so, by how much? What steps are being taken so that the road can withstand these substantial weights?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: My understanding of the matter the Member raises is that there are no detailed costing analyses being done on the potential increased cost as a result of the ore haul, other than a comparative study being done of maintenance costs compared to the White Pass days, when the ore haul was under a lower GVW. At the same time, in the process of upgrading, the department has undertaken to upgrade to a higher standard to more adequately deal with the increase in allowed GVW. There is no significant increase in maintenance reflected in the highway from that period to now.
As the Member may also recall, when the mine reopened there was a bulk commodities bill put in place, which does allow a recovery on a tonnage basis for potential increased costs.
Mr. Brewster: Is it true that the department started a new system for licences, had all the forms printed, then changed again at the last moment?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I think the Member is referring to the intention to go to a staggered system of renewing licences. It is my understanding that there were some administrative deficiencies in the institution of that staggered program. I am advised that most of these are nearly worked out and that we should see the implementation of the staggered licensing sometime in July or August.
Mr. Brewster: Could the Minister tell us what this staggered licensing means?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I apologize to the Member. Could he repeat his question?
Mr. Brewster: Could the Minister explain what the reason is for staggering the licences? I presume it is an extra-large cost. Why are we doing it?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member will forgive me if I do not explain it in great detail, as would be expected of someone who is administering it. My understanding of the staggered licensing system is that it provides for people to renew their licences at different times through the year, so we are not faced with the annual lineup that extends halfway around the block at the Lynn Building every year for two or three weeks before and after March 31.
The staggered system will permit people to renew their licenses according to a certain pattern, whether it is alphabetical, or whatever. Each month of the year a certain group of people will be allowed to renew their plates so that it will go in a cyclical basis so that you never have the rush of everyone renewing at one given time.
Mr. Brewster: Well, it is too bad I did not get my motion through on red tape because now we have some more. I should point out that they can start giving out the licenses in January. This is a Whitehorse issue, it does not involve anyone else. This year a lot of them came out to Haines Junction so they did not have to stand in line. All you will be doing is to cause confusion. Are you going to notify everyone about which month they are due? If they forget, it will be trouble. Now we have one day. They know they have to be that day. If they stand in line it is their fault because they have at least two months notice.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: It is my understanding that this is the system used across the country in most jurisdictions. We are one of two jurisdictions that does not have it in place and use the single date per year for people to renew their licenses.
The Member suggests that it is just a Whitehorse problem, but I would suggest it is a Yukon problem and occurs in the other communities as well. You have lineups in Faro, and I suspect in Watson Lake, to some extent similar to that in Whitehorse.
The Member is correct, there will be notification to people regarding which month they will be required to renew. If we kick it in place, for example, this summer, everyone will have had their licenses renewed already to next March 31. So, when their renewal opportunity comes forward this summer, they will be given a particular month in which to renew and they will have the option of going for a four-year period, or, if they have a license that already is in place to March 31, they will have that much of a portion of free time and they can get their renewal period for every April for the next number of years that they will be here.
This is a very popular system in other jurisdictions and will eliminate the hassle of the current method. Believe me, I have witnessed the lineups and the telephone ringing off the wall with people complaining over the stupid system we had here over the last two or three years. I think the staggered system is one I could truly support. I would like to see it put into place.
Mr. Brewster: We put in a good policy where they would sell licences to all the communities. Now, when their turn comes, they are going to have to run back to Whitehorse, Haines Junction, Watson Lake or Dawson City. These are the people who are going to get hurt.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Perhaps the Member could expand on that. As I understand the staggered system, it is still going to apply in the communities where licences are currently sold with March 31 being the deadline day. Where there is an agent providing that service in Watson Lake, Dawson City and Faro, it will continue on a staggered basis year-round at the prescribed time that a particular person fits into that month for renewal.
Mr. Brewster: Then, you are telling me the vehicle will still go around and sell to the small communities once a year, and they will not be on a staggered basis. Is that what you are telling me?
Right now, there are vehicles that go around the Yukon every year. They stop at Destruction Bay, Burwash, Beaver Creek and all these places to sell licences. If you stagger this thing, and they are staggered with it, they are stuck. They are going to end up in Whitehorse, Haines Junction or Watson Lake, and they are going to suffer in order to convenience people in the cities.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member raises a real point with respect to the service that is provided to the small communities. I am also advised that that is one of the administrative snags that prevented the system from being implemented this year. The safety instructors who go around to the communities may be the ones who will provide that service. It is the intention of the government to provide a similar level of service on the point the Member raises, as was done in the past. I am glad he has highlighted it, because I will now watch it.
Mr. Brewster: I will also watch it. What is the difference in cost? How much more is it going to cost us for this system than for the present one we have?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member realizes that we have not got it in place yet. The precise costs can only be calculated as an estimate. There is no intention to change the cost under the new system, as is in the old. There may be some variances when months are sliced in half and things are rounded off in moving from a single-point-in-the-year system to a staggered system. There may be some rounding off changes, but they will not amount to much. The intention is to retain the same general cost of a licence.
Mr. Brewster: I am not talking about the licence. I am talking about the administration. You are now talking about having safety people running up and down the road, which they would ordinarily not be doing. If you are going to have the staggered licensing in the small communities, they are going to have to be there more often. What is the precise amount of money for administration? If you do not know this, you should not be putting the program in, unless you have a general idea of how much more it is going to cost.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am given the assurance that the costs are not going to be any greater under the staggered system than under the current system. Essentially, what is happening is that we are taking what is a concentration of heavy administrative work load in a two-month period, because it usually starts, as the Member knows, in February the lineups begin and it lasts well into March, and I have seen it myself, and spreading it out over the entire year. From a resource and cost point of view, I am advised that there is really no difference. The inspectors are traveling to communities now, and there will no doubt be some administrative detail to work out to assure that they are scheduled to be there monthly to permit the same level of service as is being provided now.
The short answer is that there is no anticipated increase in administrative costs.
Mr. Brewster: We have it on record. I suspect when I come back here whenever they decide they are going to have another budget the Minister might have to eat some words.
I just have one other question; this is out of curiosity. I see on page 69 under statistics that you are putting Japanese asphalt on two sections of the Haines Road. Why would you be doing this? Do you not take that over when the road is completely finished? Why are you putting money into Japanese asphalt there when it should have been put on during the Shakwak project?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am advised that we do that on a cost recovery basis simply because we have the equipment and we get paid to do it under the agreement.
Mr. Brewster: That is very peculiar because I have worked on that road and all the contractors have that equipment too. It would not be because some contractor did not fulfill a job and the federal government bailed out, leaving the Government of Yukon to look after this, would it?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: No, I am advised that is not the case. I would like to amend what I previously said and start again. All Members are clearly aware that the Minister is an honourable man and would never intentionally provide any information that is not totally accurate with respect to the questions the Member raised. What that page shows is the changes to the amount of road that the highways branch maintains.
Where there is a reference to the Haines Road, what it is saying is that because there will be BST put on, there will be 19 kilometres less of gravel surface to maintain. I am advised that contractors do apply the BST. It is not done yet, but it will be done as part of that particular road deal.
Mr. Brewster: I would like to thank the Minister for correcting himself. I almost had him in a position where he would be eating words twice.
The only other thing I can say is that the government is claiming some road that has not been turned over yet. It is still belongs to the federal government.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am not clear as to what the Members question was. With respect to these roads, specifically the Haines Road, I understand that they are under an agreement for maintenance with the federal government, as is the Alaska Highway. That is part of what we are responsible to maintain under our agreement. What further is the Member seeking?
Mr. Brewster: I am not seeking anything. I do not dispute that you maintain the whole Haines Highway. I just wanted to point out that you are claiming pieces of road that this government has hardtopped and put Japanese asphalt on. This is not true, because you have 33 miles of the Shakwak project that is still under the federal government until they put the Japanese asphalt on this spring.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I think the Member and I are discussing our limited knowledge of highways inventory listing. All that is being shown there are inventory numbers of the amounts of road we maintain. The Member is correct in what he says, and I am correct in what I am saying. The net result is that this page simply shows changes that are taking place and what the job is for Highways to maintain.
Mr. Lang: I raised a question the other day about access into wood lots. I am hoping the Minister can report back further. I raised the question primarily for those individuals who wish to cut their own wood. In most part, I think the commercial woodcutters have been taken care of. I have not had any complaints in that regard. I have had a number of observations made by individuals who basically cut for themselves and require access into wood lots for that purpose. Could the Minister outline his plans this year? I am primarily talking about the Whitehorse area. Could he give us an overview of what our wood supply is going to be in the next five years? This is a significant question to a lot of people in the Whitehorse area in dealing with energy costs. It has been promoted by the government as an alternate energy source. Will the Minister give us an update? I am not referring to the logs at Hyland Forest Products.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member identifies an area that no doubt may require some additional attention, and I am certainly going to assure him that I will be looking for his thoughts on how any policy that currently exists should change. I think the Member is perfectly aware of road maintenance policy where certain roads are maintained according to established categories of level of maintenance. With respect to wood lot roads, on a case-by-case basis, this appears to be the approach that is being taken. From Highways point of view, I am not aware of any special consideration that is going to be given to the development of new wood lot access roads.
The Member is aware that there is funding available through RTAP where these resource roads can be capitalized. If the Member requires any specifics, I can undertake to get more information back to him.
Mr. Lang: I understood there was an inventory done some time ago with respect to the firewood available, particularly in the Whitehorse area, and it was primarily done, I believe, through forestry. My concern is that I am dealing with individuals, just strictly home owners, who go and cut their own wood. They will not be applying for a grant to build a road; they are not interested in applying for such a grant. Is the government going to take the initiative, in conjunction with forestry, to identify a number of other areas and put the initial road in that area, making sure there is enough set aside for the private individuals to get their own wood?
I would also like to get an update for the House as to what the firewood supply is going to be in the foreseeable future. It is a question that will have to be addressed sooner or later, perhaps by burning of some areas in order to continue to provide that type of energy supply. Otherwise, we will have to change our method of heating. It is that simple.
I am wondering if the Minister would undertake to have his officials have a look at what is happening in that area of firewood and seriously consider putting in an access into those areas that could be identified. I am not asking for hundreds of thousands of dollars. I am asking for an access road. I have to say that the former Minister was very cooperative on the one issue that I raised on Scout Lake. He got some financing together to ensure that road was passable. All I am asking for is a road that is passable for a 4x4 truck and one that can take some spring runoff. Perhaps you should send in a catskinner and not an engineer.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I hope the Member is not suggesting that we demonstrate some wanton disregard for the environment.
I appreciate what the Member is seeking, and I share his feeling that the whole area of using firewood as an energy source is increasing in use and importance around the territory. I can undertake to see what the inventory is of resource roads of this sort that forestry or Renewable Resources may have. I have a history of working closely with my colleague from Dawson.
The Member will have to appreciate that if we are going to be examining any increased effort to provid access, strictly from a government base of funding, it will reflect an increase in cost. I trust the Member will support any increase in funding this may eventually result in.
I will give the undertaking to assess what inventory of roads we have, that forestry may have, and that Renewable Resources may have, and share the information with him and assess whether some renewed effort in the policy area of this activity may precipitate.
Mr. Lang: I appreciate the Ministers commitment, but I want to make it very clear that I am speaking of new areas to be identified. I hope access could be made available to the more distant areas. Then, woodcutters could go in and make their way through. I want some new areas identified to see what wood supply we have. I see the Minister nodding his head, so I take that as assent.
Mr. Devries: With respect to the Nahanni Range Road, I understand it is being maintained to Little Moose Creek campground by the Yukon government. Originally, some agreement was going to be struck with Canada Tungsten on maintaining the eastern portion. Is there anything in the O&M that looks after this section of road that the Yukon government will eventually take control of before it is washed out and starts looking more like a river than a road?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: My understanding about the Nahanni Range Road is that we are providing an absolute minimum of maintenance beyond the campground. I am advised that we are monitoring it and providing spot repair where serious washing out and culvert reconstruction and support is needed. It is on a need basis to repair where it is deteriorating rapidly and we do not want to see it go beyond a repairable level.
There is a minimum amount identified, but it is an absolute minimum past the campground. With respect to the road becoming part of the territorial responsibility, discussions are continuing on the devolution of that road, along with the other in-territory roads, between us and the federal government. There are some very favourable discussions taking place. There is no way to predict how the final discussions will come out. They seem to be coming to a conclusion. We may be taking over that road sometime within the next year.
Chair: Is it the wish of the committee to take a brief recess?
Chair: I will now call the Committee of the Whole to order. Is there further general debate? If not we will proceed line by line.
On Policy, Planning and Administration
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The policy, planning and administration is essentially the administrative wing of the department, as the Member knows. On page 60 the departmental objectives are outlined. This is essentially the bureaucracy that the Member would refer to which I would not of course that delivers the various programs and services on behalf of the government for the department. As the Member will recognize, there is no increase so it is another reflection of cost-effective efficient management.
General in the amount of $1,404,000 agreed to
Policy, Planning and Administration in the amount of $1,404,000 agreed to
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Again, the communications branch reflects the major initiative we talked about in the Capital Budget. There is some $3 million plus going into the phase one of an installation of a communications system, hand in hand with Northwestel. The previous Minister introduced a policy a couple of years ago that outlined the plans and previous debates that have outlined the major initiative under this particular effort. At the same time, as the Member is aware, the communications branch is responsible for the services relating to the radio and television component, or the participation of the government. There is a reduction in the overall cost to the budget and if the Member has any specific question, I will entertain it.
Mr. Brewster: As I understood it, the television signal, which was taken down the mountain on the other side of the lake and taken to Destruction Bay and Burwash, was to handle both places. Now I am informed that they had to put an extra booster into Burwash. Is this true?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am going to have to take notice on the question because I do not have the detail relating specifically to the Burwash situation. The Member is saying there was an additional booster put in. When? When the mountain tower transmission was taken down?
Mr. Brewster: No, the site across the lake was moved. They could not get up to service it, which was very sensible. They made a study and said that they could put it between Destruction Bay and Burwash. It would handle both of them and the south end of the lakes. Now, the south end of the lakes it did not handle and, luckily, I was able to talk them into putting another booster there for those people at that end. Now I am told that it did not actually handle Burwash and they had to put another booster in there. My question is why do they make these studies when apparently they did not turn out right?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I will take notice on the question and provide the Member with a written response on the detail of that particular issue.
Mr. Brewster: I would appreciate that. I would like to point out at the same time that there are two families north of there who always had television. Now they do not get television, the same as those at the south end of the lake and here, again, they are not doing a very good study if they are cutting people off who had television just to get others on.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I take the Members representation seriously and will provide him with some explanation from the communications branch on the service change.
Mr. Brewster: I would like a breakdown on that.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I would like to ask the Member if it is the $145,000 figure he is inquiring about? The Member nods his head yes. Approximately $19,000 is travel inside and outside the Yukon relating to communications purposes; $100,000 is contract services; utilities are $12,000; direct communications costs are $8,000. That should total approximately $145,000.
General in the amount of $298,000 agreed to
Communications in the amount of $298,000 agreed to
Chair: Are there any questions on the information on page 63?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I would not even suggest the Alaska Highway is a subject of debate. I am sure the Member could be provoked.
The transportation component is clearly the largest component of the entire Budget. As outlined on page 64, the overall responsibility is fairly broad in maintaining a rather elaborate system, highway maintenance being the largest component of it. As we went through the Capital Budget, a number of details relating to the new construction was provided and some stats in the Budget book will indicate the extent of the services provided.
Mr. Brewster: The Minister never made a truer statement when he said I was provoked that we did not mention the Alaska Highway. He is correct. I am provoked.
Mr. Phillips: Is this the area where I might find Wickstrom Road, the only little road in my riding? We have been looking for it in all the budgets. The Minister assured me that there was something in one of these budgets. Is this line where we would find Wickstrom Road?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am not sure the Member wants to hear what I am going to say. The issue that he raised with me previously amounts to a capital cost of reconstruction and upgrading. That would not be here. The maintenance of the road is in this portion of the budget. The extent to which the maintenance is provided on that road is found here.
Mr. Phillips: I am sure if we check back in Hansard, the Minister will see that I was probably inadvertently mislead. I raised the Wickstrom Road issue and was assured by the Minister, so we would not get into a long debate at the time, that there would be an area further on in the budget where Wickstrom Road could be considered. In my discussions with the Minister, we went as far as to discuss different things that could be done with the road to bring it up to a standard so that it, at least, could be chip sealed next year or the following year.
Can the Minister find enough money in this O&M budget? It is basically operation and maintenance that we need there. The road is not very operational in the condition it is in now. The work the department does, by putting calcium chloride on, is fine. There is no base whatsoever on the road. It is not properly ditched. There are no culverts or proper drainage. The difficulties we arrive at is that a week or 10 days after the government fixes the road, it is in the same shape it was when we started. We are throwing good money after bad. The constituents in that area are concerned about the condition of their road and the dust problems created. We are not talking about a major expense, but we are talking about the only road in Riverdale North for which the Government of Yukon has responsibility. I was hoping that I would find some figure in this budget that would bring that road up to an acceptable standard that the roads, even in the Ministers riding, are at. The road is in poor shape. It changes almost with the change in the weather. I think the Minister should seriously look at that.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I take the Members representations as seriously as I did when we met recently.
This is an operations and maintenance budget, as the Member is totally aware. Whatever monies are going to be used for improving that road on a maintenance basis is going to be reflected in here. On page 65, it would be found in the category of other roads, which is not delineated out other than to the single figure of $2.5 million.
I took the liberty to review the road on a firsthand basis, given the Members representations about it, in order that I would have a firsthand knowledge of what the Member was talking about. I understand what he is telling me about the need for some level of upgrading. The upgrading that would be required would amount to some dollars that are a capital cost. We are talking about doing some engineering, doing some ditching and doing some road surfacing. It could amount to far more than what is permitted or what is allowed in the maintenance budget.
I give the Member every assurance that I will be looking at that road in the coming budget and providing a reasonable and fair level of maintenance to it in the interim.
Mr. Phillips: I thank the Minister for his genuine concern by going over there and actually having a look at the road. I hope that what the Minister said indicates they will seriously be looking at improving the road next year in the Capital Budget with the possibility of bringing it up to standard next year and, in the year following, putting chip seal down or paving the road, or doing whatever is necessary to bring it up to the standard acceptable for all the roads.
I am pleased to hear that. I did not expect this money would be totally allocated to the maintenance of Wickstrom Road this year. I do not think it will take that amount of money. I would suggest to the Minister that, when they put calcium chloride on Wickstrom Road this year, they check it periodically. Last year, we had a rather wet summer. They put the calcium chloride on Wickstrom Road and, within one week, the calcium chloride had virtually washed off the road and it was full of potholes again. It did not get another application for the rest of the summer. It was an unusual summer, but the unfortunate thing was that, within a week of applying the surface, it was gone again. Perhaps they could have regular maintenance checks over there if we get another wet summer, and keep that road up to a reasonable standard.
On Branch Administration
Branch Administration in the amount of $1,348,000 agreed to
On Highway Maintenance
Hon. Mr. Byblow: On page 71 of the budget, the specific road-by-road dollars are reflected that make up this $29 million.
Mr. Phillips: Could the Minister confirm that we do have a sanding truck stationed at Fraser Camp on the road to Skagway, and that truck will be actively sanding the road next year? It was quite a hazard last year. Is that truck now in place?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: If I understand the Members question correctly, he was inquiring as to whether a sanding truck would be stationed at Fraser. If that is the question, it is my information that that is not the case. The sanders are located at Carcross. It has been the subject of some debate in the past. I am sure the Member is familiar with the details.
My recollection tells me there are three sanders located at Carcross. The problem with Fraser is that there is no place to store the required sand and truck, that some sand for emergency purposes is located at Fraser, but the trucks operate out of Carcross. That seems to have provided adequate road protection in the past.
Mr. Phillips: Up until about December or January, the sanding on that road was inadequate from the BC border to the Alaskan border, mainly along Tutshi Lake. I am just wondering if the Minister is telling us that he has stepped up the sanding of that section and is going to do that from Carcross? That section of the road by Tutshi Lake is bad. The lake stays open most of the winter and the road virtually glazes over like a curling rink with the frost in that area.
Many truckers have expressed to us, their union and others that it is a real hazard along that road. I drove that road a couple of times last winter. It is like a skating rink. There was very little sand on it and yet when you reach the American border there were tons of sand all the way down the hill and it was quite safe. It is the same when you reach the Yukon border; it was sanded from Carcross on. It seems there is an area there in BC that we have the responsibility of maintenance for that got very little sand. It is quite a hazard. I would like to know if they are going to step up the maintenance in the area with sanding at the necessary times in the winter months.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I trust the Member will recognize that the issue of sanding the portion of Carcross to Fraser has been the subject of some debate and some investigation. I recall specifically that the safety committee, which consists of Yukon Alaska truckers and members of the branch, have looked at that very thing and the installation of the additional sanding truck at Carcross has helped alleviate the problem to some extent. I guess the short answer to the Members question is yes, there will be stepped-up activity as required. I know that section of the road; I have driven it as well as the Member. It is something of a problem to maintain sand on it in certain weather and wind conditions. The sand is hard to keep on the road but there is every effort, I can assure the Member, to maintain the road in as safe a condition as possible.
If the Member has any specific observations or suggestions I would take them at any time he wishes to give them.
Highway Maintenance in the amount of $29,106,000 agreed to
Mr. Lang: I would like to know the status of the transfer of the airports at the present time with the Government of the Yukon.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: My understanding of the airport devolution stage right now is that there has been an agreement reached at the administrative level. I have not seen the deal as it has only recently been achieved. I would expect that the next step would be for this Cabinet and the federal Cabinet to approve the administrative local agreement, with or without change.
Mr. Lang: When was that administrative arrangement agreed to between the two levels of government?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am advised that the initial letter of understanding respecting the transfer took place in December at the deputy minister level. Since then, the respective administrations have been working out the minor details of the agreement in preparation for the two Cabinets to address it.
Mr. Brewster: I presume the Haines Junction one will be one of them. I hope that, in your agreement, you are going to get that up to standard with lights and a few things. It is one of the most-used airports. If Craggy Windy and Quill Creek go, that airport is going to be very important. Right now, they are flying one airplane a day out of here into Craggy Windy, which should be flying out of Haines Junction. If you will have signed agreements by the next time I come here, I hope they are not going to say it is the federal governments fault. We need lights and a building there very badly.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I thank the Member for his representation. I can assure him that we, too, are pleased with the ability to address some of these issues that we have had to deal with through the intermediary of the federal government. I hope that, in the highways area, that will happen soon, too, with the appropriate funding to carry out the services expected.
Airports in the amount of $1,703,000 agreed to
On Transport Services
Transport Services in the amount of $1,517,000 agreed to
Transportation in the amount of $33,674,000 agreed to
Chair: Are there any questions on pages 66 to 73? There are none, so we will continue to the next program of lands. Is there any general debate?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am going to be very cautious in my statements so I do not provoke the Member.
We had something of a debate in general debate. This is the administrative component that delivers the various land development exercises around communities on behalf of the government.
To a large extent, the increases are reflected by the need to address some increased issues relating to land claims, to the increased activity in land development, and I trust that will continue our programs to make land available for Yukon people.
Mr. Phelps: I have had some correspondence with the Minister with regard to a specific case dealing with the squatter policy. My purpose for rising at this time is that I understand from a previous discussion that the Minister would be willing to have a meeting with that constituent, me and officials. I am speaking of Ms. Leonard.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Since the Member raised the issue through correspondence and a subsequent discussion we had in the hallway, I have had an opportunity to review the file. It is a complex case, as the Member can appreciate. The party involved has also met with my staff and I have certainly undertaken to have the case reviewed. The Member can appreciate the complexity of the problem as it may relate to a squatter appeal, and I am certainly more than willing to sit down with the Member to discuss the case in some detail. I have asked for some additional information relating to the case and relating to facts surrounding the original status of the case. Certainly, the Member appreciates the legal ramifications given that there is a legal matter before us on the issue right now. I guess I can only tell the Member that, if he could permit another week or so for some information I have asked to be produced to be provided, I would be more than willing to have the case reviewed.
Mr. Phelps: I thank the Minister for that. I would just like to say that it seems to me we did discuss the issue of ignorance of law being no excuse. That is not what we are saying here. It is a mistake in fact because of a misrepresentation and that is different entirely from ignorance of the law; she simply did not know the status of the land that she was on.
Mr. Brewster: I wish to bring something up to alert the Minister to what is going on. I had an individual visit me on Sunday. He was on the squatter list and he went through it and was turned down because he was on selective land, which he had no problem with. He then went to the band and a few times. Now when the land people were out in Haines Junction they had no record of any of this. Surely these people are keeping together on what is going on. He claimed they could not give him any answer to anything out there on it. I might add that he has lived on that land since about 1976.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am certainly disappointed if there was a case in the Members constituency where information that we have records of were not properly transmitted to interested and affected parties. I would invite the Member immediately to privately, or otherwise, advise me of the case and we will track it immediately.
Mr. Brewster: You have it wrong. He did get all the information. He has gone through lands branch. There was apparently no communication between them and the land negotiators. When they were out at Haines Junction, they could not answer a thing. They did not even know he had a map drawn. I have it on file, the same as they have it upstairs. It seems apparent that they do not get together on these things. This is another one of the things I call bureaucracy.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: If what I am understanding from the Members statement is correct, he is saying that a person went through the squatter process of acquiring land but did not receive the land under the policy. However, when land claims negotiations took place affecting the area, there was no knowledge of this interest. I invite the Member to provide us with the details about the party in question, and we will check it out to determine what may have gone wrong, if anything.
Mr. Brewster: I know that the files are upstairs. I have copies of them and some of them are my letters. Apparently, they have not talked with the land negotiator. They are not getting this information back and forth between the two of them.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I will undertake to scrupulously investigate this. My familiarity with the squatter policy is that wherever there were land claims conflicts, those applications went immediately to the Land Claims Secretariat, or whatever body in the process addressed them. What may have taken place in this case is very puzzling. I would appreciate it if the Member could advise us shortly and we will tcheck it out immediately.
Mr. Brewster: I believe the individual was going to be upstairs today to find out why the two are not getting together. It is very disturbing for an individual who has lived there that long. He has burned down one house and rebuilt it. He has gone through the band for the little land he is asking for. They agreed to this. Then he goes to the land claims meetings, which are supposed to tell you what they are going to do in a community, and they did not have any idea of what was going on.
Lands is the amount of $1,039,000 agreed to
On Community Services
Hon. Mr. Byblow: This is the administration component of the entire area of municipal and unincorporated community services. There is quite a large activity that goes on with communities. The staff component is fairly substantial. It is broken down into the categories shown in the individual line-by-line items. It is the branch that talks to communities and helps us with the planning process and service provision for these communities, whether they are unincorporated or municipal, or whatever.
Chair: Shall we proceed with line by line?
On Branch Administration
Branch Administration in the amount of $6,391,000 agreed to
On Protective Services
Protective Services in the amount of $2,044,000 agreed to
On Emergency Measures
Mr. Brewster: I suspect that this is the part where they had the floods on the highway. I suspect these Emergency Measures people are the ones who turned everyone around at customs and sent them down into Dawson. I presume that this was all done by the Emergency Measures people because it certainly was not done by the people north of Kluane. Would this be correct?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The customs people, in consultation with our transportation people, advised people which route they could take given that one route was closed. I am advised further that people were given the option to either stay on the Alaska Highway route in the full recognition that it was temporarily closed or they were allowed to go the other route.
The decision was made by the custom officials from both jurisdictions in consultation with our officials.
Mr. Brewster: The only thing I have to say about it was that it was very poorly handled. There were places that had no business for days and days and others were completely flooded. When it was over, there was no advertising regarding the road. People were asking the businesses if the road was open. I would have thought the Emergency Measures people would have taken control and would have gotten press releases out so people would know what was going on.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member and I are going to have to sit down and talk about last years flood, because the Member is making a number of allegations about the efforts to deal with it. I would like to understand exactly where he is coming from, because my recollection of the issue is that there was a fairly coordinated exercise to repair and restore the road for the use of the travelling public in an impressive manner.
It was a major slide and wash out. There were severe conditions. Within four days the road was reopened. Emergency Measures was involved in the later stages of the flooding condition. I know for a fact that there was food provided under Emergency Measures. There were daily bulletins almost on an hour-by-hour basis. I heard them on the radio. I am getting nervous about what the Member is getting at about what was so bad in this serious emergency situation.
Mr. Brewster: I will give you one example. In Haines Junction, they put a roadblock up right by the police barracks, and they put another one up the road six miles. There were three lodges inbetween that did not get any business, because they would not let them up there. Why they had two roadblocks in that distance, I will never know.
Another case was where a lodge deliberately ran trucks across the road and blocked it off so the other people could not get it. I would suggest that the Minister and a few others should have been talking to the lodge owners, instead of waiting until now. I never did see a Minister up there to see what was going on. Yes, there was food. The one lodge put their boat down. The government did not do that. They brought their boat down the lake, picked it up off the freight truck and took it back. The government had nothing to do with that. He brought that down in the boat because he was full, yet 10 miles up the road, they were empty.
Emergency Measures in the amount of $87,000 agreed to
On Sport, Arts and Recreation
Sport, Arts and Recreation in the amount of $1,554,000 agreed to
Assessments in the amount of $451,000 agreed to
Taxation in the amount of $1,330,000 agreed to
Community Services in the amount of $11,857,000 agreed to
Chair: Are there any questions on pages 78 to 83? There are none, so we will proceed with municipal engineering. Is there any general debate?
On Municipal Engineering
Hon. Mr. Byblow: This is a branch that deals with preparing a lot of the technical information relating to water and sewer jobs. I suspect it also deals with some lands issues, on the specs of surveys and lot configurations and so on. It is a highly technical aspect of support service to the entire government.
Administration in the amount of $264,000 agreed to
On Unincorporated Communities
Mr. Brewster: I would like a breakdown of that amount, and what it means.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: There is $118,000 that is a cost associated with various services, like utilities, street lights in various communities, garbage dumps in other communities, salaries and wages related to that. The additional costs are: contract services in the amount of $107,000, which would be services to investigate aspects of jobs for upgrading, like dumps, where our own staff would not be able to do that investigation without an outside contract.
There was repair work to various unincorporated municipal services, repair work relating to dumps and associated services. There is another $9,000 relating to various supplies needed. One hundred and ten thousand dollars of that pays for utilities; that is, electricity costs for various community services.
There are additional small components related to travel, rental and communications. It is essentially a breakdown of costs for various services to various communities.
Mr. Brewster: You mentioned garbage dumps. This is a holy terror. Federal forestry say they run some; Renewable Resources say they run some of them; the Department of Highways say they run some of them. Surely we can get all these under one jurisdiction so people understand where they are supposed to be dumping. I might mention that a lot of them are in a mess all the time and are never cleaned up and looked after.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The issue of dumps being looked after by various branches and governments is an issue that has been of some concern to the department and the previous Minister. Actually is an undertaking in the current fiscal year to bring all the garbage dump responsibility under this branch of the government. So what the Member is talking about is an undertaking that is supposed to be done this year, so we will be taking monies, perhaps from other branches, for various dumps and try to coordinate it out of one.
Mr. Brewster: It took three to five years to get that. Now I have the Minister committed so I am doing pretty well on this.
Last year they allowed everyone in Beaver Creek to dump their sewage in one pit except for the big lodge which is the biggest taxpayer there. I hope that this is straightened out, and there is a proper place for everyone to dump their sewage.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Could the Member tell me why the lodge was not allowed to use the community dump?
Mr. Brewster: It was not the community dump. There had been fighting about the dump for quite a while. Some people wanted it in one place, others in another. Of course, they had to pump all their septic tanks out so apparently this little deal was cooked up between, I suppose, the federal people there and the territorial people. The Department of Highways opened up a pit and allowed everyone to dump there, but they would not allow the big hotel, saying they simply had too much.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I will give the Member the limited understanding I have of the issue. At the same time, I will undertake to get a more thorough response to him.
I am advised that with respect to the lodge, the eduction from its system is more than can be handled by the existing dump facility, not in that community, but in the community down the road. There seems to be some problem about quantity of sewage and size of an available dump. That is my limited understanding. I will undertake to more thoroughly advise the Member.
Mr. Brewster: I am not going to carry it on. I would like to point out that if it was not for that hotel, the whole town would flop. That is the only taxpayer there is. It keeps around 300 people there every night. You would think the government would at least try to assist them with some services. They put their own sewers and everything in. You would think they would get some assistance instead of being told they are the only people who cannot have it.
Unincorporated Communities in the amount of $409,000 agreed to
On Special Programs
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Special Programs should be more properly be labeled Mosquito Control Program. That is what the money is for.
Mr. Brewster: If they would speak the language we speak on the street, I would not have to ask questions.
Special Programs in the amount of $95,000 agreed to
Chair: Are there any questions on Allotments or Person Year Establishments
Municipal Engineering in the amount of $768,000 agreed to
Chair: Are there any questions on the information on pages 86, 96 and 98?
O & M Expenditures for Community and Transportation Services in the amount of $49,040,000 agreed to
Executive Council Office continued
Chair: Mr. Penikett, are you prepared to return to the item that was stood over in Executive Council?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I have previously tabled before the House in Legislative Returns the response to questions from Members opposite. There were three questions that I am sure are documented.
Chair: Are there any questions on the item that was stood in Executive Council?
On Cabinet Support
On OIC Personnel
Mrs. Firth: The salary of the principal secretary that was in question the Minister has given the range. I noticed when the principal secretary was hired, he was hired at a salary of $51,824. The next year he received a $7,000 increase to bring it up to $59,000. The high range of that position now is $70,000. Would it be fair to say that that is where that individual sits now with his salary?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: No, it would not be.
OIC Personnel in the amount of $657,000 agreed to
Executive Council Office in the amount of $5,308,000 agreed to
Department of Education
Chair: Is it the wish of the Committee to take a recess until 7:30?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It might be useful for me to provide some opening remarks, to allow the Members to digest them over dinner time, and then we will get into the real debate. Of course, it will all be smooth sailing, once I give out the information that is relevant to this budget, I am sure.
The O&M budget that I am presenting this afternoon totals $51,253,000, which is an increase of approximately eight percent over the 1988-89 projections. The increase reflects new funding for a variety of new and recently-introduced initiatives of great significance to education, as well as standard costs of inflation for the continued provision of a wide range of ongoing school, college, library and archival programs and services.
The government has placed great emphasis on three major principles for provision of educational opportunities. The guiding principles are the provision of universal quality education, enhanced public involvement and the provision of an integrated system of education. These are reflected in the direction that I am about to provide.
Returning to learning is a major new departmental initiative to ensure an appropriate education is available to a broad spectrum of learners. The initiative has several component parts spanning three program branches of the department. As part of returning to learning the public schools branch is launching three new programs, the first two of which are the result of cooperative work between the Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human Resources. An amount of $115,600 has been allocated for a program tailored specifically for pre-teen and early teen students who are not coping with the regular classroom environment but who could learn to cope if they receive specialized attention and assistance for a period of time. The program will involve parents as well as the students, and will provide educational basics plus a large amount of life skills, counseling and coping skills. The program is designed for flexible entry and exit so that after students enter and work through the program they can exit directly back into regular school programs.
The public schools branch is also launching a pilot program for teen mothers. This program is designed for 12 students in Watson Lake and FH Collins schools. Mothers will bring their babies to a school-based nursery where a nursery aid will care for the infants while their mothers attend regular classes. The program will also incorporate parenting and life skills classes. If successful, the program could expand to include expecting teen mothers in future years.
The third program to be sponsored by the public schools branch under returning to learning is a wilderness camp associated with Yukon schools. This program, for which $111,400 has been allocated in this coming year, is designed for 10 students and a time with separate programs for boys and girls. Students will enter the program by parental choice on the recommendation of the school and exit to an existing school program.
The emphasis in curriculum will be on land skills, interpersonal skills, coping skills and life skills, and the curriculum will be designed to be culturally sensitive. Students will be expected to do basic camp chores under adult supervision as part of the program.
All these new programs outlined above are designed to encourage students who currently tend to drop out to stay in school instead. It is intended that students integrate back into the regular school classes following their participation in the new programs.
For adult students Yukon College, in collaboration with the Open Learning Institute, will offer a number of first year arts and science independence study courses to students in Whitehorse and the rural Yukon communities, at a cost of $27,000 for 1989-90. Students will receive independent learning packages and will have access to a tutor who can assist them. This is the first time students outside of Whitehorse will have access to such university level courses in their home community, and it is an important step in the development of post-secondary education in the Yukon.
Returning to learning is also being supported through an allocation of $20,000 to the libraries and archives branch, which will allow for the Whitehorse Public Library to be open to the public in the mornings. Morning library hours will allow greater public use of the facility, as well as providing time for school tours and programming for preschool children. This will also provide more time for literacy tutoring to take place.
The Community Administrative Skills Training program, or CAST, is another new program initiative that strongly supports growing public involvement in community-based education and training. CAST will be implemented in 1989, with $141,600 to be added to the base budget for its operation. The program will provide people in the communities with an opportunity to acquire basic administrative skills, suitable for work in business development offices with Indian bands or municipalities as economic development workers and administrators, or with private and community businesses. Individuals with these skills are critical to continued economic and community development, especially in rural areas. The program will operate in the communities with selected candidates who have appropriate job commitments in which they can develop their skills.
As a major new initiative, the department began development work for a Yukon-based native teacher training project in 1988. The implementation of the program is expected to take place in September of 1989, and $400,000 has been included in the 1989-90 base budget for the program. Fifteen students will be able to participate in the program, which will likely take three years to complete. The program will combine coursework at Yukon College, with coursework that can be completed in the students home community, plus a large amount of practical classroom experience and practice teaching.
Successfully-completed coursework will be transferable to a Canadian university for credit toward a Bachelor of Education degree. This innovative project is designed to encourage more native people to become teachers in schools throughout the Yukon, something many people would like to see occur.
In the international forum, the Yukon will be hosting a third Ministerial Circumpolar Conference on Education this summer. The event will bring together ministers from many northern nations to discuss educational concerns and projects of common interest. The cost to this government for the conference will be approximately $8,000. The other participating jurisdictions will also contribute to the cost of the conference.
In addition to these new programs beginning in 1989, several major initiatives were launched over 1988-89, for which funding has been added to the base budget for 1989-90, so they may continue into the future.
The new Yukon College officially opened this past September. The operation of the larger facility is more costly than the previous buildings, and $500,000 has been incorporated into the base budget to cover infrastructure growth for Yukon College.
These funds will pay for the higher cost of utilities and custodial and security services, as well as providing the salary for the college president and a secretary.
The Yukon College conversion process, which will see Yukon College become more autonomous from the government under the direction of a public board of governors, is well underway, and a full transfer is to take place by the end of 1989. The conversion team is working with college staff to ensure a sound and solid conversion process is developed and implemented.
An amount of $461,200 has been added into the base budget for the Northern Studies Program at Yukon College to support the development and implementation of various component parts of this exciting and important new university level program. This allocation includes course development and implementation funds for four of the five areas of study that will make up the overall northern studies program, including native studies, northern justice, northern science and a skills-oriented justice training program.
The funds also support the adjunct native faculty training program and visiting northern specialists program, which will enrich and enhance the various courses offered.
In addition to the increased base budget funds, the budget contains a further one-time-only allocation of $49,050 for the northern science component to cover initial course development work. Along with the other expanding arts and sciences course offerings, the Northern Studies Program, as a whole, provides an expanded base of university level courses in the territory, allowing Yukon students to access quality university programming right on their doorstep.
Implementation of the landmark special education policy has required the addition of $520,000 to the base fund.
This amount provides for the ongoing services of several new individuals, who are to be recruited to meet the needs of the school system in a special education area. The funds further allow the department to contract and hire necessary support services on an as-needed basis from such professionals as a physical and occupational therapist, psychologist, psychiatrist and teacher aides.
To ensure the continued provision of up-to-date quality service on the front line, money is allotted in the budget for increased school staff in-service training. The new funds will also support a separate speech and language program and the operation of a student placement review committee, should any student placement appeals reach this final step.
In addition to the $520,000 allocated as new funds to the department for special education, a further $52,000 has been transferred, along with one person year, from the Department of Health and Human Resources to Education to provide a teacher for closed-custody students. In response to a growing student population and expanded program offerings in Yukon schools, the public schools branch hired 12 additional teachers and one remedial tutor for September 1988. The need for these teachers will continue into the foreseeable future; thus, $787,000 for their salaries has been built into this base budget. Furthermore, as a necessary support for special education in Yukon schools, $168,000 has been incorporated into the base budget to retain additional teacher aides who were hired as of September 1988, to assist children with very specialized needs in the classroom.
The highlights that I have just outlined represent significant new operations and maintenance expenditures contained in the budget. In addition to these highlights, the budget will allow the Department of Education to continue providing the many services and programs it has built up over the years. These include the wide range of programs and services offered through Yukon schools, libraries and archives, and Yukon College.
There are also a number of significant activities that will continue in the year ahead that deserve special mention. A new education act will be drafted this year, with opportunities for further public input, and work proceeds on the legislation. A teachers professions act will also be developed that will provide teachers with a number of important self-regulating powers. The department continues to be closely involved in a number of committees pertaining to land claims, such as the Training for Implementation Committee, and we will see increasing involvement in land claims as band-by-band negotiations get underway. Each of these major initiatives will shape the future direction of the department and obviously will affect the programs in the years to come.
That concludes the opening remarks and perhaps at 7:30 p.m. we can discuss them at greater length.
Chair: Is it the wish of the Committee to take a break until 7:30?
Chair: I will now call the Committee to order.
We will proceed with general debate on the Department of Education.
Mr. Devries: First of all, I am sure from the question I asked this morning that the Minister is aware that I have some concerns about the department. These are not concerns I have come upon lightly. These are concerns that are very real and have been presented to me by others. The biggest problem with us as politicians and bureaucrats is that often we spend too much time talking, and not enough time listening to those we represent. We all make mistakes, and I only hope that two years down the road I can say I was very wrong in this analysis.
The Minister mentioned that universal, quality education is going to be the emphasis. I have read two small booklets on the White Paper on the Education Act, and talked to many educators. Everyone believes that universality cannot be accomplished without lowering quality. They went on to great lengths to explain this idea, but I will not get into that right now. I feel if the emphasis was on quality enriched education, I would agree with it much more wholeheartedly.
I am happy to see some emphasis directed towards the I do not care about school crowd, of which I was one when I was in my teens. I am not proud of this, but I am a grade nine dropout, and I have managed to reach my goals through correspondence and reading and a wholehearted attempt to better myself.
I find the Return to Learning Program very interesting. I recently was given some small booklets by the Department of Education, and I am really impressed by them. Exploring Carcross, Exploring Haines Junction, Exploring Whitehorse: I think are great because that was one of my greatest concerns when I was on the school committee. There was a lack of programs directed towards knowing more about the Yukon and the Yukon peoples and how all these things came about. When my daughter was in grade five she did not know the name of the communities in the Yukon. When you think we only have a dozen or so, that seemed strange.
Those are some of the major concerns. Another one would be the native training program, which I understand is of great concern to the Yukon Teachers Association. It is important that we do not sacrifice quality for quantity. I am not saying that I am not in favour of the native teachers training program, but I think that it is very important that we do not get forced into a situation where we have to lower a standard or a criterion just to accommodate this. I am not saying that they cannot achieve it on the present basis; I want to be very clear on that. I think that it is great and I hope that it will work out and be of a real benefit to the Yukon students and especially for the native children, who possibly will feel more relaxed seeing more teachers of their own race within the system.
I think the wilderness camp for those kinds of students is a great idea. There are lots of good ideas there, but my main concern is with the department itself I do not know. I do not really want to get into this again. I am concerned.
As for budgetary matters, I think I will get into them as we go line by line rather than elaborating now. One thing that I am interested in is the number of people who have been added to the administration portion of the Department of Education staff in the last four years, in comparison to the number of teachers who have been added to the staff. It is a curiosity item. I feel that perhaps the bureaucracy has grown a little faster than possibly the area where growth is most necessary.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Member has brought up a lot of points that I should comment on briefly now, and then perhaps get back to him with some of the answers to the questions he has asked.
The Member began by indicating his view that departmental morale was low, which I presume would affect the performance of the department in the many good ideas that are obviously coming forward, many of which are in this current budget, and the implementation of those ideas in the coming year and years.
I hope Members understand that I have to resist getting into a discussion respecting individual staffing decisions within the department because there are obvious ethical reasons for staying away from that area.
About the question of departmental morale and I will expand the definition of morale to include teachers is something that is of great interest to me and I am sure to every Minister before me.
The Member made mention that it is important to listen to the public with respect to matters such as this and in the definition of public I would again include all teachers as part of that definition, so they cross over in both fields both department and public and they are education leaders in their respective communities.
I think it is precisely because I have been listening to the public very, very carefully over the past number of years that many of the initiatives in the education act white paper are coming forward, especially those that affect the members of the departments ability to exercise their own creativity and own imaginations, their ability to be innovative in the class room, in the school, in the community. I think in order for an education system to be effective, even one as small as ours, and to meet our expectations and admittedly our expectations in the territory have always been very very high, and perhaps unattainable, classically we must make absolute best use of the people we have. I think one of the things that I wanted to see happen three years ago when I came into the portfolio was a change made to the way the government and the department delivers education programing because, clearly, the frustration levels at the school level and it did not matter which community you were in were significant because the teachers had good ideas, principals had good ideas, school committees had good ideas, and the inability to shake that straight jacket of control from the central administration was hampering people from exercising their good sense and imaginations. We hire people, we pay good money for teachers, we pay good money for the education departmental support and we have good quality people throughout the entire educational system in the territory right here. It is absolutely essential that we tap what they have to offer us; we do not tap that potential by dictating every detailed procedure under which they operate.
It is that strait-jacket that has to be lifted from the system. That is what will ultimately improve departmental morale. This afternoon in Question Period, I indicated I did not see the same general concern about departmental morale as the Member did, especially insofar as departmental staffing was concerned. I had not had that same indication from the many people I have spoken to.
In general terms, if we are going to leave it at this level, if the departmental morale is to be better so people are going to grow professionally, they are going to have to be trusted for the skills they possess. That comes not only through the provision of alternatives for the annual programming for the department, but it also comes constitutionally through the legislation that provides the direction from the Legislature on how the education system should run for parents and children, primarily.
In general policy terms, that is where I think the government is going, and that is what is going to ultimately increase job satisfaction for people who work within the department.
The Member mentioned the issue of universal quality education. I do not think there is anybody who is fool enough to state categorically that the education system will be as useful and productive for one child as it is for every other child. That is a goal that is worth pursuing but, almost by definition, it is an unachievable goal.
What we offer in Beaver Creek is not what we can offer in Whitehorse. It is a simple economy of scale. We can make efforts, and I think this Legislature is obligated to make significant efforts, but it will never achieve the same level of service for all the students.
There are some areas where one can put their efforts initially. As a matter of policy, we have chosen to pursue better programming, better alternatives and better opportunities for children who are having difficulty and for rural children and for native children. We see those as being the groups that face the stiffest obstacles in achieving education, whether you look at it statistically, or whether you look at it in more human terms: who is doing well, who is not, who is upset with the system, who is performing well and who is not.
In general principle terms, that is the reason why, legitimately as a Legislature, we can state our desire to pursue certain objectives, realizing that some of them will ultimately be an unachievable goal, but worthwhile, nonetheless.
There are many ways that you could provide better support and better systems for children who are having difficulty, whether we discuss literacy or returning to learning initiatives or the special education program or native teacher education or even library services and numbers of teachers in the system. There are many different factors that determine curriculum, how you teach, not just what you teach all these factors can be maneuvered to provide for a better system for children who are doing less well than others.
I do not think it comes to a point where you must sacrifice the quality the system has. The system performs very well for many students. Statistically and objectively, many of the Yukon students perform as well or better than their counterparts in the rest of Canada. That is a fact on paper. It cannot be disputed. When we are pursuing changes to the education system, since we are all talking about the character of change, we often focus on the areas where we need to improve, and we do not spend enough time on the public relations in areas where we are clearly doing well, that people are happy about and fully support. I think I take the Members point, though, that you do not forget or sacrifice the things you are doing well. You concentrate your energies, efforts and resources to meet the needs of those who are not doing well.
With respect to native teacher training, I think the first people who would indicate they want a quality education program for native teachers and who would indicate they want their teachers to be respected colleagues of the teacher complement in the Yukon and that the teachers themselves must be respected, not only in the Yukon but elsewhere, would be the native people themselves. That is not a difficult objective to meet. It should not be our first thought that one engages in a native teacher education program simply because there are few native teachers in the system. It is somehow engrained in native people that it is difficult to achieve academically. This is not true, but it does require cultural sensitivity that the system has had a hard time expressing. It is absolutely mandatory that the system change to reflect the interests and the cultural sensitivities of the people whom it is serving. One of those things is native teacher education, and with the right sensitivity to this program and determining who is going to be involved from day one, you can get a native teacher education program that will produce graduates that will be respected in the native community and among teachers themselves. This has been proven in other provinces; there is no reason why the same effort cannot produce the same or better results here.
I think there are a number of good elements of the returning to learning program. It is in direct response to the concerns expressed by people during the White Paper process. If one is to discourage long-term suspensions or the abandoning of the child because you cannot incorporate them into the general system, then one is obligated to come up with alternatives. The returning to learning concept has a number of alternatives through the various branches of the department, to encourage people to develop the discipline and social skills required to live and do well in the school environment. Many of these children face all kinds of problems that have nothing to do with the school system. The school system, responding as one partner in the education system, has to try to recognize some of the difficulties that these children are in and respond to that.
With respect to the partnership itself, it is essential that it be a complete circle. All the partners, in their respective roles, rights and responsibilities, must be full players in the decision-making process of education creation. Parents, students, teachers and school administrators must all participate. Everyone has responsibilities. Everyone has a role to play. Everyone is a respected partner in that system. If anyone, or any group, is neglected or receives shabby or superficial treatment, then the partnership breaks down. It is not a real partnership. It does not take long for any one of those parts to rebel, and you do not receive the value you are seeking out of the education system.
With respect to the teachers and administration, maybe the Member could identify what administrators he is talking about. There have been people who have been added to nonteaching staff, who provide support to the teacher, but who are not part of the administration. They do not process pay cheques or paper. They do not even perform the function of supervisory roles. They provide support to the teachers. In general terms, the number of teachers and support teachers in the administration have increased. I think that has been fairly obvious to people over the past three years, and I think it will be obvious in this budget as well.
Mr. Devries: I am mostly referring to the people who are in the curriculum development upstairs here or anyone working in conjunction with the Department of Education who would be in this building rather than support personnel. I feel that the support personnel for teachers in the school is very well utilized. I sometimes wonder about the others.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I can provide information with respect to staffing increases. The people in the Department of Education feel that they do provide support and do not interfere with good education. If the Member wishes to know who is in personnel and finance versus support for the classroom, I can get those numbers for him.
Chair: Shall we proceed with line by line?
Finance and Administration, is there general debate?
On Finance and Administration
Mrs. Firth: Perhaps the Minister could tell us why there is a 76 percent increase in this particular area?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The vacation relief for the department has been centralized in the finance and administration branch, and that shows at $82,000. A person has been moved from finance and personnel to the administration section and that accounts for about $55,000. There is a contract for the termination of the conversion benefits for the Yukon College, at $67,000. Certain responsibilities that have been housed in Government Services with respect to the Xerox and paper supply et cetera, are now housed in this section of the department, at $20,000. The salary increases, merit increases, et cetera are just over $19,000, and those basically make up the approximately $250,000 increase.
Administration in the amount of $588,000 agreed to
On Finance and Personnel
Hon. Mr. McDonald: A person was moved from this branch to the administration branch and that is part of the reason for the decline.
Finance and Personnel in the amount of $380,000 agreed to
On Facilities and Transportation
Hon. Mr. McDonald: This entails the salary increases, YGEU and merit increases, the repairs and maintenances to schools and custodial supplies.
Mr. Devries: When will the busing contracts be coming up for renegotiation?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: In 1990.
Mr. Devries: What is the total cost in busing presently?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It is $1,614,000.
Mrs. Firth: That is for the past year?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: That is for the coming year.
Facilities & Transportation in the amount of $4,519,000 agreed to
Finance and Administration in the amount of $5,487,000 agreed to
On Public Schools
Administration in the amount of $1,508,000 agreed to
On Program Delivery
Program Delivery in the amount of $24,509,000 agreed to
On Program Support
Mrs. Firth: I heard the report on the radio and in the paper about the pupil/teacher ratio as a result of the legislative return that the Minister tabled in the House, and I, subsequently, had a few phone calls from parents, mothers particularly, who said that what was represented did not always mean there were always 19 children to one teacher. Can the Minister tell us how many classes, within the Whitehorse area from where I had the calls, would have in excess of 25 to 27 children in a class room? Does he have that kind of information?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I recall asking some time ago. I might have to update my information, but I had asked some time ago how many classes were over a certain number, and I believe there were none over 27 or 28 students; I think there were maybe one or two at the time, but I am not sure. I will have to check on it. Certainly, the numbers could be identified, but the averages that we provided were, in fact, averages, and it is the same thing for other jurisdictions as well. The figures provided are averages. Generally speaking, the class sizes get smaller the higher the grade. Urban, as Members know, is higher than the rural, traditionally, here.
Program Support in the amount of $2,120,000 agreed to
On French Language
Mr. Devries: My understanding is that the funding for French language is all recovered from the federal government?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It is a very high proportion, but only that which is covered between the Secretary of State and the Yukon Government is covered. Approximately $732,000 is what I believe we would recover under the bilateral agreement. As you know, for example, there are some services that are funded in order to initiate the activity in the Yukon. For example, for French immersion the Secretary of State provides seed money to get the program started and then the Government of Yukon is charged with the responsibility of ensuring that the program continues.
There are some things that are negotiated and other things that we do ourselves, certainly, traditionally
Mr. Devries: I noticed there is a 21 percent increase. Is the $732,000 that is recoverable also approximately a 21 percent increase over what was recovered in the previous year, just to keep things balanced?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The increased recovery is fairly substantial. I can get more precise information if the Member wants to wait, or I can provide it tomorrow.
Mr. Devries: What grades in French immersion is the YTG paying for now?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The lead year for French immersion is grade 8. That is the year the Secretary of State provides funding for. All past years are YTG responsibilities. From the Secretary of States point of view, the thinking behind that is that if the program is initiated and is going, and if there are is large number of students in the French immersion program, at least equivalent to the English stream in terms of numbers, they would still be in the education system and, so, would have to be supported by the Yukon government. The Secretary of State therefore feels only obligated to provide for lead-year funding to initiate the extra funding that would be required to initiate the program into the school system.
French Language in the amount of $1,283,000 agreed to
On Special Programs
Hon. Mr. McDonald: This requires an explanation. The equivalency program has been transferred from program support to this area, and that is $100,000. The additional support for the returning to learning initiatives are located here for a total of $214,000. The speech language program is $66,000; the professional development program is for the specialist fees and materials for the special programs, at $240,000; and the special education administrative salaries for a full year of support material is $92,000: for a total of $714,000.
Mrs. Firth: With respect to the professional and development fees of $240,000, what is that for?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: What I should do is just read out what is provided for the coming year and indicate what it involves. There will be total for this section in special education: a Director of Special Programs for $70,000 plus $2,500 for travel; a Speech and Language Pathologist for $57,000 plus $9,000 for travel; a teacher for the hearing impaired for $56,000 plus $6,000 for travel; a teacher for behavior modification for $51,000; a teacher for closed custody facility for $52,000; physio and occupational therapy contract services for $101,000; and, school staff and service training for $30,000. That is all professional development. The additional teacher aides come to $121,000. The Summer Speech and Language Program and the extra aides for that come to almost $9,000, and the Student Placement Review Committee comes to just over $2,500,000.
Mrs. Firth: Are those all new person years within this special program area? Is this going to be an ongoing cost for professional development fees like personnel fees once all of these programs are established? We are looking at an increase of almost $250,000 for personnel to deliver these new programs. Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: That is correct.
Mrs. Firth: Where will that go next year? It is going under special programs now because a lot of these are new programs. Will that go into administration next time or program support? What program are these people going to be considered under?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: This is to be consolidated in the special programs area. This is largely the reason for the increase in this particular area. It incorporates the funding for this increase to special education.
Mr. Phillips: Under the special programs, is that the area where we would look at the operation of the Child Development Centre?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The funding for the Child Development Centre is incorporated, I believe, in program support. I think I indicated the other day what we put into the Child Development Centre. I can repeat that, if the Member wants.
Mr. Phillips: I do not think that is necessary. I do have a question, though actually it is more of a concern than a question.
In previous years, the Child Development Centre was right beside the Selkirk Street elementary school, and many times efforts were made to integrate the children from the Child Development Centre with the children at the Selkirk Street School. I expressed concerns previously, when I heard that they were moving to the old Yukon College, that this integration would cease. I think it is very valuable for these young children to carry on as many normal activities as possible with the other kids in the school, because, after all, that is the whole process: to try to work on their basic needs in the Child Development Centre so that one day they may be able to go to the regular school. How does the government plan to integrate it now that the school is one-half mile away?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: As I am sure the Member knows, many of the children who are integrated into the existing school system come from a number of schools and are bused to the Child Development Centre for the special assistance that the Child Development Centre can provide. They are not all enrolled in Selkirk Street School; there are many from schools around the city. That integration will continue, of course, in the new facilities, but it was felt that the new facilities, with the enhanced space, which was of critical importance to the Child Development Centre, would now perform functionally better than it had before, at no increased cost whatsoever. The busing from other schools and the provisional services to clinics, if there is physiotherapy required, would continued unabated. That sort of activity would not be diminished at all.
Mr. Phillips: Surely the Minister would agree that previously the children even from the other schools could be in various programs at the Child Development Centre, and they were integrated with the children at Selkirk Street elementary school. That will no longer be the case. Once they go to the Child Development Centre they will be separated from any other elementary school, other than having to bus them again to these schools for certain activities. That was the concern that was raised, that it was just more convenient with the Child Development Centre there. I think we have said in the House before that we would have preferred to see, if there had to be a new Child Development Centre, that it was attached to, or very adjacent to, an elementary school, specifically for the purpose of integrating the children. I think that the government may find that this is going to create more difficulties now when we have to bus these children back and forth much moreso than we had to before.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Except that there was some involvement between the Child Development Centre and the Selkirk Street School, that is true, busing already takes place between the various schools and the homes to the Child Development Centre, and that will not diminish. Certainly, in an ideal setting and an ideal world, I would agree with the Member that, ideally, it would be great to have the students physically adjacent to an elementary school. It was a question of providing extra space and I think it was a sound decision to make. I think, given the space that is available, given the characteristics of the space, it will certainly be much better for the children than it was before. With the services that are now available within the system to provide the service for the students, whether it be to and from a particular school in Whitehorse, or to and from home, or to and from clinics, the services that we provide will not be cut back in any way, and they will have the benefit of increased space. There will be some cost to that. Those students who had been liaising or integrating with the Selkirk Street School will have to seek transportation to and from the Selkirk Street School in much in the same way that students who came from other schools would have to seek transportation. I am not in control of an ideal world, however, and I thought the compromise to be reasonable one and I am sure it will provide improved services.
Special Programs in the amount of $1,020,000 agreed to
Chair: Are there any questions on allotments or person year establishment?
Mr. Phillips: Before we clear this item, what is the status of Project Wild? Is that being implemented this year?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The answer is yes. The program was piloted last year, and there have been a number of introductory workshops for teachers in the system. About 50 teachers have attended the workshops. At this point, there is even some consideration being given to introducing it into the French program as well. The department and teachers regard it as a worthwhile project. I understand the resource materials are very good, and it is for that reason that it is catching on here.
Mr. Phillips: I am pleased to see that, and I know it is available in French as well as English. Many of the schools in Quebec have Project Wild in their system.
I am familiar with the program. Did we make any attempts at all to northernize it? I understand there are a lot of things in Project Wild, like skunks and raccoons, but there is very little about caribou or polar bear, or species that are indigenous to the north. I suggested that to the Canadian Wildlife Federation, and I have also brought it up here in the Legislature. Did we make attempts to try and follow the model of Project Wild and put in a northern section? I would even suggest that we should go further than that. If we have that together, we should probably send that stuff off to Project Wild Canadian Wildlife Federation headquarters. I am sure they would love to use it all across Canada. It would be valuable for southern students to have this information, as well.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The department would be more than pleased to pass on the various lessons and activities they have developed that more accurately reflect the Yukon wild, because that is what is happening with respect to adaptation. Lessons about opossums, skunks and snakes are very interesting, but I think the education about moose, caribou and longhorn sheep is more immediately relevant to Yukon people and much more fascinating, as a result.
We are trying to adapt the curriculum to be more Yukon specific. We would be more than happy to share what we have developed.
Mrs. Firth: Could we get a commitment from the Minister to provide us with some information regarding the three new programs he announced today: the pre-teen and early teen students who are going to be getting the specialized attention, the teen mother program, which is a pilot project, and the wilderness camp project? We would like some information regarding the outline of the programs: how many students would be expected to benefit from them, what the cost for this year would be and what future costs are anticipated. This could be tabled at a later date. When is the teen mother project going to be reviewed? Could that information be provided to us at a later date?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I will provide that information.
Public Schools in the amount of $30,440,000 agreed to
Chair: Are there any questions on information pages 134 - 139?
On Advanced Education
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Just so that Members can anticipate the Yukon College budget, a number of items had been put into the 1988-89 forecasts that are now included in the college budget. In particular, the college board honourariums, the college board president and board implementation are two items. The college opening is not included, because it is only opened once.
Administration in the amount of $260,000 agreed to
On Research and Planning
Hon. Mr. McDonald: This is where the Community Administrative Skills Training Program is to be implemented. That is the reason for the increase.
Research and Planning in the amount of $2,281,000 agreed to
On Human Resources and Career Development
Mr. Devries: I will be interested in the 11 percent increase. First, I have a few concerns about this. In the program objectives, it states this program is to implement and maintain an adult career counselling program that provides a comprehensive service throughout the Yukon. I believe the government, during the election, made a commitment to provide more career counselling in the local communities. In Watson Lake, we have the Outreach Program, which is federally funded. It is funded on a three-year grant basis. The two people who work there are doing a marvelous job, and it is a real asset to the community. The big problem is that with it being on a grant basis, they do not have any sense of security. They do not have any benefits. It is basically a grant that is given to the community and then you have a community advisory board that decides on how the money is distributed and how many people are involved. Another concern is regarding the benefit package. They are never sure if it is going to continue from one year to the other. Is there any possible way that these monies could be transferred to the Government of Yukon so they could be put on the Government of Yukon payroll? It might not even be in the Department of Education because it overlaps into unemployment insurance, et cetera. I ask out of concern for the individuals who work there and the fact that it is an important program for the community.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I believe that the Member has hit the nail right on the head with respect to the importance of outreach to rural communities. The first office to close in the last couple of years was the one in Mayo. Suddenly, the banking functions that the office offered, the career service functions, the help with UI, the resume writing service and the every-person service they used to provide disappeared instantly. The community and the district has suffered ever since.
With respect to the program itself, it is true that the government has never sought, to my knowledge, programs within the federal Department of Employment and Immigration, largely because they have never been offered, I presume, and also because they have never been requested. It may be a worthwhile attempt to try to request the transfer of the funding and certainly I would consider doing that if only to save the resources that are dedicated to this project right now. We have in the Government of Yukon enough support to provide the necessary support for the office. I would believe that with no extra resources the government could continue to provide the necessary support. However, I would doubt very much that Canada Employment would agree to such a move but that does not mean it should not be done and in fact I will give it a shot. But the service is run in part from the Unemployment Insurance offices and the program itself has never been isolated for the purposes of devolution to the Yukon or to anybody else, including the provinces.
I think it would be worth a try. I agree with the Member that the officers who work in the Outreach offices around the territory are feeling nervous about their job tenure and they have every right to be given what has happened recently, and it would be a real shame to lose that service. I will therefore take his suggestion and let him know how things go.
Mr. Devries: This will be off the subject slightly, but there are three empty houses in Watson Lake and if some Mayoites would like to become Watson Lakers and use Human Resources to find jobs, we have three empty houses.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am sure there are some Elsa people who would like to move to Watson Lake. It is a beautiful community. If they want to move there to get the services of Outreach it will increase the Outreach statistics by three or four people and that will help to adjust any losses in Watson Lake as well. It would be a wonderful meeting of the minds and blending of the services and if I meet up with any of those people in the next few days, I will certainly tell them of your kind invitation.
Mr. Devries: I do not want to be picky, but I would prefer Progressive Conservatives.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There are no such people in my riding.
Human Resources and Career Development in the amount of $2,248,000 agreed to
Chair: Are there questions on allotments and person year establishment?
Mr. Devries: You did not elaborate on the 11 percent increase. We got sidetracked.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Eleven percent is accounted for in the additional apprentices for the in-house apprenticeship program. Person year increases amount to $101,000; general salary increases is $17,000. There is a Conference on Inter-provincial Standards Committee in Whitehorse of $10,000. The apprentice incentive marketing program is showing and increase to $54,000. Roughly, the balance between the figure forecast and the estimates is due to vacancies that were contained in the department last year that will be filled in this coming year at $34,000.
Advanced Education in the amount of $4,789,000 agreed to
Mr. Phelps: I have one question, going back to page 139. I am curious about the chart, specifically the population line in the top chart. I do not understand why it plunges down to the zero in 1984.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I can only explain it by saying that there were no students in the school system that year.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It certainly would not drop one hundred percent even though 1984 was a difficult year, but I do know of some kids who were in the system.
Chair: We will have a brief recess.
Chair: Committee of the Whole will now come to order.
Is there any general debate on libraries and archives?
On Libraries and Archives
Hon. Mr. McDonald: This is pay increases.
Administration in the amount of $191,000 agreed to
On Technical Services
Technical Services in the amount of $272,000 agreed to
On Public Library Service
Hon. Mr. McDonald: This is pay increases, and there is an additional half-term person year to open the Whitehorse Public Library in the mornings. There is $24,000 for books and periodicals that I announced in my ministerial statement. There is $6,500 to increase the Writers-in-Residence program, and an extra $19,000 for community libraries.
Public Library Service in the amount of $768,000 agreed to
On Yukon Archives
Yukon Archives in the amount of $452,000 agreed to
Chair: Are there any questions on allotments and person year establishment?
Libraries and Archives in the amount of $1,683,000 agreed to
Chair: Are there any questions on information pages 149 to 150?
On Policy and Planning
Chair: Is there any general debate?
Policy and Planning in the amount of $185,000 agreed to
Chair: Are there any questions on allotments and person year establishment?
On Yukon College
Chair: Is there any general debate? Shall we proceed with line by line?
Mrs. Firth: It would be interesting to know what the total operating and maintenance cost is of that college. We have heard various reports about the heating system not being as efficient as it could have been. I believe they have had an incident of some pipes freezing within the college. We require security services. Could the Minister give us a figure of the total operating and maintenance costs?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: At this point, I can only give the rough figures for the Department of Education. I would not be able to provide the Department of Government Services figures. If the Member wants a breakdown of total operating costs, including what Government Services might spend plus Community and Transportation Services, which will also spend money in terms of the grant in lieu, I can provide that in a legislative return.
Mrs. Firth: Do I understand that there are three government departments that are paying the total O&M costs of the college?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There are two departments, Education and Government Services. Community and Transportation Services pays a grant in lieu of taxes for the facility. That is attributed directly to the building itself.
Mrs. Firth: We will wait to get the legislative return back with the total breakdown of the costs.
Could the Minister give us some indication as to the efficiency of the heating system, or is that going to come in a legislative return as well?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The heating system information will come in the legislative return because that is Government Services. The Department of Education would deal more with custodial staff, et cetera.
Mr. Devries: Would this just be Yukon College here, without counting the community campuses?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The overall budget refers to the cost of operating the Yukon College system, including the Whitehorse campus. I believe Mrs. Firth was asking for information with respect to the Whitehorse campus. I will provide that in the legislative return.
Yukon College in the amount of $8,669,000 agreed to
Grant in the amount of one dollar agreed to
Chair: Are there any questions on information pages 153, 163 and 164?
Department Education in the amount of $51,253,000 agreed to
Department of Finance
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Department of Finance is requesting almost $4.1 million for this fiscal year.
There is a $1,200,000, or approximately a 32 percent increase, over the forecast expenditure for 1988-89 of approximately $2,900,000, $963,000 of which is due to the addition of a new program to the departments activities, and I refer specifically to the public utilities transfer, in a line shown under Treasury on page 470 of the Main Estimates.
If this new item was factored out of the 1988-89 Budget, the increase of spending over the 1988-89 forecast is $242,000 or $8,500,000 as compared to the 1988-89 Main. At a comparable basis the increase is approximately six percent.
In the Main, the increase over the forecasts in the personnel allotment is the 10 percent increase as shown. This is a fairly high increase because the personnel establishment is unchanged, but it must be remembered, of course, that the forecast of 1988-89 incorporates a number of vacancies that we are assuming, and hoping, will not occur in the coming year.
There is an increase of five percent in the allotment for other expenditures. We are not budgeting for any change over 1988-89 for the Workers Compensation Board supplementary benefits. This item, as Members know, is a function of billings that we receive from the board. There is no reason to believe that these billings will be any different than they were in 1988-89. This is a legislative program designed to top up the compensation benefits being received by people injured prior to the enactment of the Workers Compensation Act in 1973. This act specified higher levels of compensation than existed under the private compensation carried prior to that date so a Supplementary Benefits Act was passed to bring the privately paid compensation up to that paid by the Workers Compensation Act.
As has been the practice in previous years, we are not providing any budget funds for the prior period adjustments or the allowance for bad debts. Prior period adjustments is meant to encompass any miscellaneous or undiscernible accounting adjustments for prior years that may come to light during the course of the new year. By definition, the amount of adjustments, if any, is unknown but would likely be insignificant.
Members will be aware from the discussions we had on the Supplementary No. 1 in this session that the allowance for bad debts is considered to be a volatile expense. It makes for budgeting at an early stage meaningless and, as Members know, the allowance is determined on a formula that I tabled in a legislative return a couple of weeks ago.
The new item of the $963,000 for the public utilities transfer is as a result of the rate rationalization reduction plan for the territory that has been previously announced by the Yukon Development Corporation and Yukon Energy Corporation. As Members know, new rates came into effect April 1. The $963,000 is an amount equal to the estimated federal and territorial income taxes that will be paid for the period April 1, 1989 to March 31, 1990 by privately-owned utilities in the territory.
These funds will be paid to the Yukon Energy Corporation, which will use them to carry out the plan that I just mentioned.
Members will note the department is projecting an increase over 1988-89 of approximately $2.9 million in revenues for which it has primary responsibility. This is an increase of 7.7 percent and it is accounted for primarily by increases in income taxes and the interest on investments. I feel the estimate is achievable, given the recent trends and both interest rates and income tax estimates we are receiving from the federal government. If Members have any other questions about those matters, or others, we can discuss them now, perhaps.
Mrs. Firth: How are the increased projected revenues going to be affected now in light of the Elsa population decline and the closure and loss of revenue from that resource?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: In the budgeting exercise, in establishing the expected revenue picture, the Department of Finance felt it was providing a fairly conservative estimate as to what the revenues might be for the coming year. There is the view that we should still receive the expected revenues in the budget, possibly without Elsas participation in the coming year to provide revenues to the government, but the estimate will be tighter than was originally envisaged. However, there is still some room for optimism that we will achieve these figures.
Mrs. Firth: I would conclude from the 7.7 percent increase that this would be more than just a conservative estimate of revenues. I would say it would be almost a best-case scenario estimate. Perhaps the Minister could give us some indication of what the variance in the figures could be in consideration of some of the news announcements that have been made regarding certain mines I am sure the government has taken this into account in its projected revenues.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: As I understand it, in the past we have not enjoyed what would openly be our due in terms of revenue and we are now picking up fairly large adjustments from the federal government that are in effect two years after the calculations would be complete for a particular year, and we feel that at this point our revenue picture, as a result, should be just about dead on. We did consider the estimates that we had provided as being conservative in the revenue projection. Even with Elsa not continuing to provide revenue to the government, we still feel that because the adjustments are coming in now, fairly substantial adjustments, that we can still meet the revenue picture that we anticipated when the budget was put together.
Mrs. Firth: I guess we will just have to wait to see what revenues are produced because I believe the population estimates are not expected to increase that much from the statistics that are being presented, so we would not be looking at a great increase in revenues from that, nor increases in revenues from some of the other general tax revenues, such as income tax and school and property taxes, and so on. I suppose we will have to wait to see what the revenue picture does look like after the first supplementary comes forward.
I would like to ask the Minister about the Public Utilities transfer and Workers Compensation Board. I notice there are no person years identified for this $1,323,000 project. Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: That is correct. There is really very little administrative work necessary to provide the funding to the Corporation.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The major reason for the increase over the forecast expenditure is that the deputy ministers salary was not carried in this line item in the past year, as the position was an acting position. The deputy ministers salary will be incorporated into this line item this year as the position is now appointed.
Administration in the amount of $355,000 agreed to
On Financial Operations and Revenue Services
Mrs. Firth: I wonder if the Minister could indicate to us whether the commitment control system is up and running and right on target now? Has it required any additional staff or person years to be added, or have they been able to handle it?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: At this point the commitment control system is running fairly well. It is running well enough at this point to give one the reassurance that it is running well. No special person years or new person years are associated with the commitment control system itself.
Mrs. Firth: Could the Minister give us some indication when they will be able to tell whether or not the commitment control system is in fact responding to the over expenditure concern, and whether or not we have some conclusive evidence that it is working or not working?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: When period 13 rolls around and we see the final figures for the various departments we will have a fairly good indication of how well it is working. The preliminary indications are that we will be pretty well on target with our expenditures. We will not know with certainty for a few weeks but certainly we will know conclusively how well it is working once the final year-end figures are in.
Financial Operations and Revenue Services in the amount of $1,553,000 agreed to
On Budgets and Fiscal Relations
Mr. Phelps: This was to pay for a secondment from where?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: In the supplementaries when we discussed the person years dedicated to land claims, one was not filled in the forecast year but will be filled in the 1989-90 forecast year, and that accounts for one of these.
Budgets and Fiscal Relations in the amount of $612,000 agreed to
On Management Board Secretariat
Management Board Secretariat in the amount of $223,000 agreed to
On Public Utilities Transfer
Mr. Phelps: Was that the income tax rebate being transferred over?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Yes, that is correct.
Public Utilities Transfer in the amount of $963,000 agreed to
Chair: Are there any questions on allotments or person year establishment?
Mrs. Firth: Could the Minister tell us why the Other has a 40 percent increase? What does that indicate?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Two items primarily account for the increase. The first minor item is the responsibility for photocopying, et cetera, has been moved out of Government Services and into the departments. So, the Department of Finance is picking up its share.
The other item is approximately $40,000 that, if necessary, will be dedicated to studies that will support our formula negotiations with the federal government, given that this is the year to negotiate a new arrangement. Any studies that we might have to undertake to support our negotiations would be taken from that item.
Mrs. Firth: When would those negotiations begin?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The first formal meeting is expected to take place at the end of May, at which time the officials will begin discussing the future years arrangements for the next fiscal year with federal officials.
Mrs. Firth: With respect to the $40,000, the Minister said it was in case we needed it. What would we need it for? Would it be for consultants? Are the negotiations not done internally with department officials?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Yes. The formula negotiations are primarily undertaken by Finance officials with support from the officials from the administrative sections of various departments. However, if there is a need to do tax capacity studies for the government, this would be a special project, which would be incorporated in the line item to support our positions.
Mrs. Firth: Did the department require that kind of consultative service the last time they entered into the negotiations? How much did they spend?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: A few years ago when negotiations were underway, a fairly major study was undertaken for, I understand, about $55,000 for basically the same purposes.
Treasury in the amount of $3,706,000 agreed to
Chair: Any questions on the information contained in page 171?
On Workers Compensation Board Supplementary Benefits
Chair: We will proceed with Workers Compensation Board supplementary benefits. Is there general debate?
On Supplementary Pensions
Supplementary Pensions in the amount of $360,000 agreed to
Chair: Are there questions on allotments or person year establishment?
We will go back to page 168.
On Prior Period Adjustments
Prior Period Adjustments in the amount of one dollar agreed to
On Allowance for Bad Debts
Allowance for Bad Debts in the amount of one dollar agreed to
Department of Finance in the amount of $4,066,000 agreed to
Mr. Phillips: I move that you report progress on Bill No. 51.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that Mr. Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Motion agreed to
Speaker resumes the Chair
Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
May the House have a report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole?
Ms. Kassi: Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 51, 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. McDonald: I move the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Government House Leader that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: This House now stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. tomorrow.
The House adjourned at 9:20 p.m.
The following Sessional Paper was tabled April 17, 1989:
Government Contracts - 1988-89, By Type (Byblow)
The following Legislative Returns were tabled April 17, 1989:
Yukon Government Annual Report - anticipated date for tabling and public distribution (Penikett)
Oral, Hansard, p. 227
Processing of colour prints and colour slides - acquisition of new equipment by Public Affairs Bureau (Penikett)
Oral, Hansard, p. 183
Salary ranges for Devolution and Order-in-Council positions (Penikett)
Oral, Hansard, p. 346, 347