Monday, November 20, 1989
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. At this time, we will proceed with Prayers.
Speaker: We will proceed with the Order Paper.
Are there any visitors?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: On behalf of all Members of the House we would like to join you, sir, in celebrating a very important anniversary today and wish you happy birthday on behalf of all Members here.
Mr. Phillips: We, on this side, would like to join in the wish for a very happy birthday.
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS
Mr. Phillips: I would like to take this opportunity to introduce to the House Lyle Fullerton. Lyle is in the Gallery today and he is the executive director of the Alberta Fish and Game Association. He came to the Yukon to partake in our festivities last weekend and also give some advice to the Yukon Fish and Game Association on some of our future endeavours. I would like all of us to welcome Lyle to the Yukon.
Speaker: Are there any Returns or Documents for Tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Ms. Joe: I have for tabling the Yukon Public Service Staff Relations Board 19th Annual Report for 1989-90. Thank you.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I have for tabling two documents: the Fire Marshals Annual Report for 1988 and the Motor Transport Board Annual Report for 1988-89.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I have for tabling the Yukon Teachers Staff Relation Board Fifteenth Annual Report for 1988-89.
Speaker: Are there any Reports of Committees?
Introduction of Bills.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
Bill No. 66: Introduction and First Reading
Hon. Mr. Webster: I move that Bill No. 66, entitled Pesticide Control Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Renewable Resources that Bill No. 66, entitled Pesticide Control Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Motion for introduction and first reading agreed to
Speaker: Are there any Notices of Motion for the Production of Papers?
Notices of Motion.
Statements by Ministers.
Status of Draft Education Act
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It gives me great pleasure to rise today on behalf of the many Yukon organizations and individuals who have participated in the creation of a new education act, to inform this House on the status of this legislation.
For those who have taken part over the past three years, including community groups, professional associations, aboriginal representatives, school committees, parents, students, and other citizens, this has been a satisfying and productive process.
In 1986, the Department of Education began planning. In 1987 we appointed a public task force to consult all interests across the territory, as well as creating, with the Council for Yukon Indians, a special Joint Commission on Indian Education. And last year we circulated a White Paper on principles for a new education act.
Based on those principles and the comments we received, we have drafted an act for our children and for our communities. When I say we, I do not mean just the Department of Education, but also the Yukon Education Council, the Council for Yukon Indians, the Yukon Teachers Association, the Principals and Vice Principals Association, and many interested parents.
Meanwhile, this government has already acted on many concerns raised during the consultation process. These include the Native Teacher Education Program, Returning to Learning for those who have left the school system or need to seek alternatives to the classroom, a special education policy for those students with special needs, and courses and curriculum based on local knowledge.
I would like to describe the main elements of the new act that will be presented soon to this House and to the public.
Communities have unanimously asked for more control over their schools. We agree. The new act will offer three choices for elected school structures: school councils, with powers to select principals, review local school plans and budgets, develop local curriculum, and advise the Minister on local needs; school authorities, which could also own school property, control all employment decisions, and set local policies and budgets; school committees, to advise the Minister and the local school administration.
Our goal is to enable children to grow to their full potential: intellectually, physically, culturally, spiritually, and emotionally. They must have the fullest opportunity to become productive, responsible, self-reliant members of society.
Toward this end, the new education act will focus all educational activities on students, including their rights and responsibilities.
As well, the act will recognize the rights of parents to participate in their childrens education, including the choice of public, private, and home schooling.
We recognize the balance between community needs and individual rights.
The new education act will recognize the special interests of Yukon aboriginal people. It will, of course, respect all agreements reached in land claims negotiations. It will include guaranteed representation on local school councils, authorities and committees. It will ensure that school courses, materials and methods reflect local culture and history.
The work of the past three years is nearly finished now, and it is my intention to present a draft act to this House early next month. I must emphasize, however, that this draft act is a working document, and the door is open for public comment.
Over the winter, we will go to all communities and interest groups to discuss the act. If our work contains flaws, we want to correct them so that act fully reflects our Yukon community. The final word, of course, quite properly belongs to this House, and I look forward to that debate next spring.
I believe the new Yukon education act will reflect both the wisdom of our traditions and our willingness to build a better future for our children.
Mr. Devries: First of all I would like to thank the Minister of Education, the organizations and the interested members of the public on the work done on the new education act. However, as critic for the department it is my responsibility and desire to see that we get the best act possible for the people and, most importantly, the students of the Yukon.
My concern is that the act reflect the changes taking place in the Yukon now and in the future and also the fundamental responsibilities of the people involved. In my reading of the new proposed British Columbia education act, I notice 20 percent of the curriculum is designated as optional and the balance dedicated to the three Rs; the 20 percent is reflecting local input, the 80 percent preparing the students for the educational challenges of the world at large. It is my hope that the Yukon act will reflect the same balance.
The other concern I have with the ministerial statement is the lack of clarity in the responsibility of the school committees and also the responsibility of parents to ensure the participation of their students in learning. I look forward to debating the new act in December.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I was not entirely clear about the criticisms of the ministerial statement by the Member for Watson Lake; however, the draft education act will be put out for public discussion initially at an Education Council meeting in the first week of December, at which time they will have an opportunity to go over the draft act, consider changes and receive some explanations with respect to the details.
I, too, look very much forward to debate of this very important piece of legislation in the spring of 1990 and will welcome all Members comments with respect to the details that we will be presenting.
Process of consultation re new health act
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I rise today to advise Members that a process of consultation will begin this month to establish the principles for a new Yukon health act. This legislation will be the framework for improving health services in the Yukon.
Escalating health costs in every region of the country are causing governments to examine their health care system and to turn from a curative to a preventive approach. The Yukon must do the same. Although it may be several years before a financial pay off in terms of reduced costs is seen, this preventive system will also yield a healthier Yukon.
The World Health Organization defines health as not merely an absence of disease but a state of complete physical, mental and social well being. Our government endorses the World Health Organizations position that promoting healthy behaviour and preventing disease will help to achieve healthier communities.
Some of the indicators of health used by other jurisdictions include:
- the ability to function well within our environment;
- the ability to work and hold a job;
- the ability to maintain social relationships;
- the ability to care for our families;
- the ability to cope with difficult and painful situations as life demands; and
- the state of being without disease.
It is our policy that a health care system must integrate services, treat the whole person and foster healthy communities rather than focus on disease.
To achieve a healthy Yukon, many aspects of our health care system must be examined. But we must also be prepared to look at public policies on poverty, housing, education, justice, mental health, public health, recreation, environment, substance abuse and child welfare.
Our policy is that health care must be affordable, equitable, accessible, culturally acceptable and accountable in terms of quality and costs. We believe that equality of access to high quality health care is essential. Special attention must be paid to community-based health care services including mental as well as physical health.
The role of culture and traditional medicine in contributing to community wellness should be explored to find its rightful place in the Yukon health care system.
Government philosophy, policies and initiatives must be examined to ensure that they promote good health for both individuals and communities. At the same time, we must recognize that as individuals we can and must take more responsibility for making healthy choices in our everyday lives.
Today, I am announcing the commencement of a consultation process that will result in the development of legislation which will provide a legal foundation for a more integrated, preventive approach to health in the Yukon.
The consultation will start with an invitation to all Yukon residents to comment on the principles I have just outlined.
In the coming months a position paper will be developed and distributed to those who have expressed their interest. In addition, interest groups, Indian bands, communities and individuals involved in health and social services will be consulted.
It is my intention that from the policy paper a bill will be developed and our objective is to table that legislation in this Assembly in the next calendar year.
Mr. Nordling: What we just heard was not just a short, factual statement of government policy. It was a crisis management speech by a Minister and a government that has given no political direction to the delivery of health services. What we have just heard is a typical stalling tactic. I am sure we will hear this same announcement four or five times before we see any substantial progress. We all recall the numerous announcements about the Mental Health Act and an extended-care facility. The Ministers speech does not contain any new information or revelations. We cautioned this government four years ago that a preventative approach was needed to keep health costs down. What has happened is that nothing has been done and annual costs have risen from $37 million to $47 million a year.
When the MLA for Watson Lake and I travelled to the communities on the Suicide Task Force, Yukoners told us that they were concerned with the general health of their communities and did not believe the focus should be solely on addressing the symptoms and curing of disease. They said they had been trying to get their message across, but it did not seem to be getting through. Now the Minister stands up and makes a proud statement as if he is the first and only person in the Yukon to recognize the need for a preventive approach and that attention should be paid to mental as well as physical health.
Now that I have expressed my concerns, I would like to say clearly that I hope these concerns are unfounded and that in this instance we will see action and results in the near future. The announcement is certainly on the right track and I am looking forward to hearing exactly what the consultative process will be and how long it will last. As critic for Health and Human Resources I will do all I can to assist and speed the process of improving health services in the Yukon.
Speaker: This then brings us to Question Period.
Mr. Brewster: I rise on a question of privilege. On November 16, 1989, I debated with the Minister of Community and Transportation Services and it was quite apparent to me by my first supplementary that I had blown it. I was not too sure which Minister was to be blamed and I had several people, including the newspapers, who wanted to see the letter from this Minister and I would like to give him an apology now. It was not the Minister in this House; it was the Minister in Ottawa who wrote those letters. I hope he will accept my apology for it.
Also I might warn the Minister that he may irritate me in the next 20 minutes and he will not be getting an apology for that.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Rising to the Members question of privilege, I want to thank him profusely for the clarification because it was a matter of some confusion at the time of Question Period. I look forward to his provocative question to come.
Question re: Yukon Pacific Forest Products
Mr. Phelps: I have a few questions that relate to the sale of Hyland Forest Products assets to Yukon Pacific Forest Products Limited in Watson Lake and the resulting problems that have been raised on numerous occasions since.
As you know, last March I asked this government to table the entire package of agreements relating to the sale. I have been stonewalled by the government ever since. Have the original agreements been amended, or have the government and Yukon Development Corporation any means of enforcing the original deal made between the parties?
Last spring, the Minister responsible told Yukoners that a brand new, state-of-the-art mill was to be constructed at a cost of at least $6 million, and this has not occurred. What we have is a second- hand mill made out of second-hand parts, circa 1970 vintage.
Has the original agreement been amended to allow for this fundamental change in what we understood were the terms of the original deal?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am not sure how much time you are going to permit me to respond to the preamble which was quite provocative, leading up to a question that was not. As a lawyer, I am sure the Leader of the Official Opposition knows I am not at liberty to provide private information from third parties, and he will know that no private investor contemplating doing business in this territory is going to want to come here if the political leaders in the territory demand they disclose all their private business to third parties.
On the question as to whether the agreement has been amended to provide for the particular equipment that has been put in place, I would have to take the question as notice. I do know that a very substantial investment in improved plant equipment has been made at the mill, and that the working conditions for the employees have been substantially improved as a result, and will be improved further. I am comfortably assured that the kind of capital that has been involved is in the millions of dollars, as originally indicated by the new owners.
Mr. Phelps: Last spring, as part of the governments crisis management of a political embarrassment, these assets were suddenly sold, and Yukoners were told that certain fundamental conditions were to be met by the purchasing group. One of those fundamental conditions was that the mill was to cost a minimum of $6 million.
Speaker: Order, please. Would the Member please get to the supplementary question.
Mr. Phelps: Yes, Mr. Speaker. The mill was to be financed through debt financing arranged by Shieldings Inc. How much debt financing has been arranged for the new mill by Shieldings to date?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Is the Member seriously asking me a question that should properly be put to Shieldings? If he is, I will pass on the inquiry for him, but this is not a question within the competence of this government to ask. The Member is asking me how much money a private company has borrowed to invest in the community of Watson Lake. If I had that information, I am not sure I would be at liberty to disclose it.
Mr. Phelps: These are assets that belong to the people of the Yukon. We were told that there was a certain arrangement entered into by this government and the Yukon Development Corporation. The public has a right to know what is happening to the assets. Is there an enforceable agreement between the Yukon Development Corporation and Shieldings that can be enforced so that the debt financing will be arranged, or is there not?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The Member is quite correct. These were public assets that have been sold. I am certainly hopeful that the commitments that have been made by the purchasing company will all be met. The complete rebuilding and replacement of equipment at that plant is underway. I understand that with the third kiln, which will be in place in the spring, we will see substantially improved plant and equipment there, with the capacity to produce far more product and sell it successfully on the market.
If the Member is asking me about the particular financial arrangements that that company made to effect the sale I will take the question as notice. The Member will know he is playing political games, but as a lawyer he will know that the private business of a third party is not something that can be discussed in the House unless that party agrees.
Question re: Yukon Pacific Forest Products
Mr. Phelps: We are talking about assets that belong to the taxpayers of the Yukon. We are talking about an agreement that the Minister, himself, stood up and spoke to, and released information about.
My question has to do with whether or not these agreements have been lived up to. Can the Minister stand in his place and tell this House that a brand new, state-of-the-art mill costing $6 million has been financed and established at Watson Lake?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The Member is asking me whether a brand new, state of the art, $6 million mill has been established in Watson Lake. I do not know the exact price of the mill in Watson Lake, or to the penny the exact investment made in the new plant and equipment at that facility, but I will ask the question of the new owners and see if they can provide that information.
The Member is asking me questions about the kind of investment made subsequent to the sale. I will ask the question as it relates to the agreement that we made. Subsequent decisions by that company are not ours to communicate nor ours to defend.
Mr. Phelps: That is not true at all. The Minister knows it. The Minister has an obligation, as does this government and the Yukon Development Corporation, to ensure that the agreements entered into on behalf of the taxpayers of the Yukon Territory are enforceable before we enter into them, and are enforced once they are entered into. That is the issue.
Last spring, as part of the verbiage we got from the Minister, we were told that Shieldings was ...
Speaker: Order, please. Would the Member please get to the supplementary question.
Mr. Phelps: ... to pay $2 million to Yukon Pacific for shares, $400,000 right away and $1.6 million over the next several months.
My question is whether Shieldings has paid the full $2 million to Yukon Pacific Forest Products for shares.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I will obviously have to take a question like that as notice. If the Member would like me to provide that information in a timely way in the House perhaps in the future he could either give me notice of the question or provide a written question.
Mr. Phelps: When the Minister is examining this issue, which I am sure comes as a complete surprise to him, in view of all the publicity of the bad debts of the operating company, perhaps he could check to see whether the original deal was amended to allow them to not pay the $2 million over the next several months.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: He is asking me if I would check if something did not happen, or whether it did. How ever the question was worded, I will take that question as notice as well.
Question re: Yukon Pacific Forest Products
Mr. Phelps: I thank the Minister for taking time out of his busy schedule to check into such a picayune matter. Unfortunately, my next question is about the same small problem we have in Watson Lake, and it has to do with debt financing.
Last spring, the Minister told the people of Watson Lake and the people of the Yukon that Shieldings would arrange debt financing to cover the startup costs of the new mill. How much debt financing has been arranged for this purpose to date?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: This sounds remarkably similar to a question I answered earlier, and I will answer it the same way again. If that information is in the public domain, I will establish it for the hon. gentleman.
Mr. Phelps: While he is at it, perhaps he could inquire about the $1.65 million that was to be paid by Yukon Pacific to the Yukon Development Corporation for inventory. When he was trumpeting this fantastic agreement for sale about the territory, the Minister may recall that the terms were that the $1.65 million was to be paid as the lumber is sold and the log inventory used. How much of that $1.65 million has been paid by Yukon Pacific to the Yukon Development Corporation to date?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Again, I will take notice of that question. The Member may not find it surprising that I do not have such information at my fingertips.
Mr. Phelps: The same package of information that was trumpeted about the territory by the Minister when he was so proud of this deal stated that the balance owing of the $1.65 million for the inventory in the yard at Watson Lake was to be paid by December 31, 1989. Does that term still stand, and is it enforceable?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Since I am confident the company is intending to live up to its obligations to us, and since we have not yet reached December 31 of this year, I am sure we expect that obligation to be met.
Question re: Yukon Pacific Forest Products
Mr. Devries: I am concerned about the outstanding debts to creditors of the Yukon and, particularly, to creditors in Watson Lake. These creditors are owed a fair amount of money, dating back as far as last March. I want to know the reason for the poor performance by Yukon Pacific Forest Products, as it is having a devastating impact on Watson Lake small business.
My first question is for the Minister responsible for YDC. Has Shieldings arranged the debt financing for the construction of the new mill?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I believe that is exactly the same question that was asked earlier by the Leader of the Official Opposition in slightly different words. I took notice of that question, reminding Members again that the financial arrangements between a private business and its banks are not ours to disclose. I am sure the Member opposite knows that.
Mr. Devries: We were told by the Minister that Shieldings would arrange financing for the new mill. Is it not true that the new mill improvements are being financed out of operating revenues, and not by loans arranged by Shieldings, as promised?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: As I just told the Member, I cannot give him precise information about the methods by which the company is financing the expansion of the improved plant and the equipment in the mill in his community. I will take the question and refer it to the appropriate source.
Mr. Devries: Is it the failure of Shieldings to obtain financing that has resulted in the local businessmen financing the operation by not being paid on time?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: It is quite possible that there has been a problem of obtaining interim financing for the operation but a problem of that kind would not be mine to discuss in public. I, as does this government, take very seriously the concern expressed by the Member in the preamble to his question about unmet obligations in that community and I have communicated those concerns directly to the chief executive officer of the company and received assurances that those obligations will be met and the bills will be paid.
Question re: Yukon Pacific Forest Products
Mr. Devries: I am sort of astonished that the Minister does not have answers to some of these questions, as this has been going on all summer. Obviously he was going around all summer with his head buried in the sand.
When the sale was announced last spring we were told that the $1.65 million for inventory would be paid to the Yukon Development Corporation, as the hon. Leader of the Opposition previously mentioned. Is the reason that we have all the outstanding amounts owed to small business in Watson Lake that Yukon Pacific has been paying money to the Yukon Development Corporation, rather than meeting its obligations to small business?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I want to thank the Member for his extremely constructive and thoughtful and very positive, constructive preamble. I am sure that will help the people in Watson Lake get their bills paid.
The Member asks a question that is in some sense hypothetical, but he also asks if people in Watson Lake are not being paid because the Yukon Development Corporation is being paid. It seems to me that is an effort to set up a kind of scenario for scapegoating.
The Leader of the Opposition earlier asked if the obligations to the Yukon Development Corporation were being met. It is the position of this government that all the obligations of the new owners of that mill to the people of this territory, in the name of the Yukon government, and to individuals doing business or working in Watson Lake, should be met that both sets of obligations should be respected and it is our wish and our hope and our intention to help facilitate that.
Mr. Devries: Last spring we were also told by the Minister and he may have already answered this question that Shieldings would pay $1.6 million for shares to Yukon Pacific over the next few months. Is one of the reasons that Watson Lake businessmen have not been paid that this money has been paid by Shieldings to Yukon Pacific Forest Products?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The question seems to me to very confusing. It says, if one of the reasons why something has not been paid is because something has been paid... Mr. Speaker, I will have to examine the text of the question to see if it makes any sense and if it makes any sense then I will try to answer it.
Mr. Devries: That should have been Yukon Development Corporation.
The Minister said that Shieldings would arrange debt financing for startup costs at the new mill and I want to know whether such additional debt financing was arranged, or whether this too has in fact been financed off the backs of the Watson Lake people.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Apart from the appendix of the reference to the backs of the Watson Lake people, that is an identical question to the one asked earlier by the Leader of the Opposition, to which I took notice.
I am terribly sorry that the Members opposite are so negative about this project, as they have been from the beginning. There have been difficulties and startup problems at this mill. There have been problems at this mill throughout its history, I am sorry to say. I am hopeful that these problems will soon be behind us. This government is still determined to see this project succeed. I regret only that Members opposite seem to be determined to see it fail.
Question re: Yukon Pacific Forest Products
Mr. Phelps: I wonder if the Minister is also sorry that the debts have not been paid to small businesses in Watson Lake, that the town has suffered as a consequence, and it is apparent that the agreement has not been lived up to by the people to whom these assets have been sold including, of course, the shareholder, Yukon Development Corporation.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am not sure there was a question there. As I said earlier, we are of course concerned about bills that have not been paid and, as I said earlier, I have made representations to the head of the company to the effect that it is our very earnest wish that those obligations be met.
I think it is unfortunate that none of the Members opposite today have said a word about the new investment in Watson Lake, the improved plant and equipment or the working conditions of the workers, the 70 permanent jobs there, the business opportunities or what the injection of millions of dollars into the local economy will mean today and for the future for that town.
We are determined. We have taken considerable risks. We have made substantial investment and have suffered a lot of criticism. But we believe the decision we made to put that mill back on its feet and get that town up and running again, bringing in new investments, was still the right decision.
Question re: Yukon Pacific Forest Products/Watson Lake economy
Mr. Phillips: I have a question for the same Minister. Over the past several years I have had the opportunity to visit Watson Lake on many occasions. I have to say that I am extremely concerned about the current state of affairs in Watson Lake.
Most of the current problems are the result of poor management on behalf of the Yukon Development Corporation and the Minister opposite. I wonder if the Minister could tell us after this government has pumped between $10 million and $20 million dollars into Watson Lake why the Watson Lake economy is in such poor shape today?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am not sure that was a permissible question since it was basically argumentative. The Member will know even though he would not want the public to know that mill has been in private management even during the time we owned it. The effort of this government to bring in what we were advised were the best managers available was one to give the kind of confidence or to achieve the best prospects for the mill under private management.
As the Members know, when things did not improve under one manager, there was a change in private managers. The mill is under private management again and also under private ownership.
The Member comments on the economy of Watson Lake. I understand the problems we are talking about, but I can only say that there are 70 more people working in Watson Lake with permanent jobs than were when we got involved in this project. Seventy jobs are nothing to sneeze at in this territory anywhere.
Mr. Phillips: I think history is going to clearly show that it was not previous management that was the problem, it was the fact that the government did not follow the advice of the previous managers. That has led to the problem today. Many businesses in Watson Lake today are owed money by the mill and are experiencing severe financial difficulties because of the mills problems. Can the Minister tell this House if he is aware that one of the largest hotels in Watson Lake, the Belvedere Hotel, has recently gone into receivership because of the problems in Watson Lake?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I will have to accept the Members version of one fact, but I am not sure I would accept the causal relationship between the operations of the mill and the conclusion he reached without further examination. Since he has made that accusation, I will look into it to the extent that I am able.
Mr. Phillips: I find it extremely interesting that the Government Leader, the Minister responsible for the problems in Watson Lake, does not know that the Belvedere Hotel has gone into receivership and that the Belvedere Hotel has received over $300,000 through economic development agreements. I wonder what the Government Leader or anyone in the government is doing to protect the taxpayers dollars that are invested in this hotel that has unfortunately gone under because of the conditions he created in Watson Lake.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I certainly do not accept the Members presupposition that the government was either exclusively or even partially responsible for the significant problems that the Belvedere Hotel faces. I think if the Member had taken the time to do the necessary research into the troubled hotel business, he would have found out that the hotel was experiencing difficulty well over 18 months ago and consequently, because of those difficulties, has gone into receivership.
The Yukon government, as one participant in this enterprise through loan funding, has taken whatever steps it can to ensure that the taxpayers dollars invested in this particular project will be recovered.
Question re: Yukon Pacific Forest Products
Mr. Lang: I am a little confused about the lack of responses to questions put to the Minister responsible for the Yukon Development Corporation. Perhaps some major initiatives have taken place over this past summer that enable him to stand and talk in this House as if he has no interest whatsoever in the Yukon Pacific Forest Products organization.
Is it not true that the Yukon Development Corporation still holds shares in that organization?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: That is a question of public record. As the Member knows, I have told him in the House, and I am sure he has had it confirmed from other sources, the Yukon Development Corporation still holds 15 percent of the shares in that company. We are committed to selling those shares according to statements that we have previously made. As a 15 percent shareholder, our interest in the company is represented on the board of directors by Mr. Jim Holt, a resident of Watson Lake, who is the only representative on the board of the company. As a minority shareholder, we play no role whatsoever in the operation of the company.
Mr. Lang: Now it is somebody elses fault. In order to function in todays economy, any business has to maintain a good reputation that naturally follows a credible credit rating. As indicated earlier, it is no secret that many Yukon businesses, as well as out-of-territory businesses, are owed substantial amounts of money. My concern has to do with businesses outside the territory and whether or not they are being paid. It has come to my attention
Speaker: Order, please. Would the Member get to the supplementary question.
Mr. Lang: It has come to my attention that outside businesses, at least one, have been told that they are not going to be paid, that only local organizations are going to be paid because of political pressures being raised in the territory over the really disgraceful situation that exists.
My question to the Minister of the Yukon Development Corporation, who admitted previously that the corporation does still hold a substantial share in this organization, is: is this true and is it the policy of Yukon Pacific Forest Products, and if so, does the Yukon Development Corporation agree with such a policy?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The Member has made a charge without providing any facts, figures or information. He has alleged that there is a policy by someone to pay local accounts but not extra-territorial accounts. I have no knowledge of such a policy, and the government has made no position or endorsed such a policy.
I do find it peculiar that when the mill was in public ownership, the Members opposite were opposed to government involvement and wanted private ownership. Now that it is in private hands and private management, they are calling for active public intervention. It seems to me there is a fundamental contradiction in their position that they ought to look at.
We have said that we will make representations in the public interest on behalf of the people we serve in the Yukon in terms of getting their bills paid. I do not know what other accounts are due or what private remedies may be available to those people, but I have been given an assurance by the chief executive officer of the company that their bills will be paid and their obligations will be met.
Question re: Yukon Pacific Forest Products
Mr. Lang: I am very concerned about the reputation of this particular mill with outside organizations.
In order to function, we need suppliers and contractors, not only in the Yukon, but primarily from British Columbia and Alberta, to provide certain services. If their bills are not being paid, they are not going to get the necessary equipment to carry on as a successful organizations. This is my concern. There are bills outstanding to outside suppliers......
Speaker: I would like to remind the Member of Guideline 7, which permits a one-sentence preamble.
Mr. Lang: There are bills outstanding over 90 days, as far back as March of last year. Would the Minister make an undertaking to this House to contact the principals of this organization and seek assurance that these outstanding bills will be paid as quickly as possible in order that the mills reputation can be salvaged? If these bills are not paid, the mill is going to reap the long-term consequences.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I understand the point the Member makes regarding the reputation of the mill. I am proud to say that when the mill was owned by Yukon Development Corporation, the bills were paid promptly and on time.
The Member asked if I would give an undertaking to make a make representation to the officers of Shieldings about the payment of certain accounts. I have made such representations and have received assurances from the company.
If the Member is making a representation on behalf of certain private interests outside the territory, perhaps he might communicate to me, privately, the names of those interests, and I will act on that information. I am not sure that I could do much more than I have already done in terms of the general question about the company meeting its commitments.
Question re: Yukon Pacific Forest Products
Mr. Phelps: It seems to me that the side opposite seems to misunderstand the representations and the intent of the questions being directed from this side. After all, it was the government that entered into the secret deal and refuses to make the terms and obligations public.
We are asking the government to look into whether or not the commitments made in this arrangement have been lived up to. Is Sheildings going to arrange the debt financing in excess of $6 million that was necessary to make this operation run smoothly without incurring debt on the back of small business? Is Sheildings going to pay the $2 million that was to have already been paid to the operating company for shares?
Will the Minister responsible look into this with a view to enforcing the agreement, if it is enforceable, to ensure the necessary working capital is put in place so that this operation has a chance? Does the Minister understand what I am saying?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The same question is being asked, in one form or another, for the fourth or fifth time today. I will reiterate that this government has financial dealings with hundreds and hundreds of businesses. It would be a very sorry day if those companies with whom we have dealings felt that we would disclose their private business. The Member opposite well knows that, in response to his direct question some months ago, I asked those third parties if they were prepared to have their private, internal transactions disclosed, and they said no. They refused, so the Members reference to a secret deal is purely political posturing.
Let me deal with the serious and substantial point of this question, which is the concern about the obligations of the purchasers of that mill being met. It is our policy and our determination that those obligations are going to be met.
Some Hon. Member: (inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The Members have asked this question half a dozen times today. Surely, they cannot object to me answering, again, for the half-dozenth time. Perhaps they only wish to put the questions on the record and are not interested in the answers.
We do intend that the obligations of the other party be met, inasmuch as we also intend to meet out own obligations.
Mr. Phelps: We were told last spring that the $2 million for equity would be paid before now. We were advised the debt financing would be arranged for the new mill, and that is in the past tense.
If these obligations have not been lived up to, will the Government Leader, the Minister responsible for the Yukon Development Corporation, take steps to ensure the agreement is enforced so that the money is forthcoming from the other parties?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: In a word, we expect the contractual obligations made by the third party to us and to other people to be met, in the same way that we intend to honour our own contractual obligations.
Question re: Tatshenshini River staking moritorium
Mr. Phillips: Last Thursday in this House, the Minister of Renewable Resources announced a placer mining freeze on a Yukon river. He announced that freeze prior to consultation with the area land use planning committee, and with no consultation with the Chamber of Mines. As well, he made remarks in this House and out of the House in the respect that his government did not have to consult with the mining community because, in his words, they do not consult with him when they do something.
I would like to direct my first question to the Minister of Economic Development. Did the Minister of Renewable Resources consult with you or your department on the placer mining ban prior to you meeting with the Chamber of Mines less than 24 hours before he came into this House and made the announcement of the ban?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The conversations between government Ministers are not something that are normally disclosed in the House. All I can say is that the government policy the Minister of Renewable Resources stated in the ministerial statement Thursday was to express the desire that the federal government remove from future staking lands along the Tatshenshini River. It was not considered to be either a ban on placer mining forever, nor an attack on the placer mining industry, but merely a reflection of the governments interest in the wilderness value of a particular river.
Mr. Phillips: I find that really surprising. This is the government that is the government of consultation. The Government Leader stood in front of Canada less than two weeks ago and talked about how well they consult with everybody. It appears the Minister of Renewable Resources did not consult with the Minister responsible for mines when they made this important announcement.
Cabinet business aside, did anyone in the Department of Renewable Resources consult with the department responsible for mining before they put the freeze on land?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I want to make it clear from the very beginning that we did not put a freeze on mining. We are requesting a moratorium from the federal government on future placer staking in that area until the recommendations of the Land Use Planning Commission have been announced. It is the role of the Land Use Planning Commission to do consultation and to seek views from all interested parties. It is not the role of the Government of Yukon to duplicate that process and consult with everybody before we come up with our own position to be sent to the commission. That is their role. I am quite certain that Yukoners want to hear what the Government of Yukon has to say about the use of the land resource in this area. Based on our own independent assessment, we have done so, and I am quite certain that other organizations, such as the Chamber of Mines and the Yukon Conservation Society, will do the same thing.
Mr. Phillips: Surely to goodness the Minister opposite would have realized that when he strikes a committee in the Kluane area for land use planning, their very job would be to see the decision he made last week preempting anything they would do.
Does the Minister not believe this lack of consultation is totally contrary to this governments own policy with respect to the land use planning process?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I want to make another correction to the Members preamble. It was not this government that struck the committee; it was a joint decision of the federal and territorial governments to give this commission independent ability to hear from all Yukoners on the matter. All we are doing here in making this request of the federal government which incidentally has the final decision on the matter is to ask them to place a moratorium on future staking, so that we can preserve the Tatshenshini River until their final recommendations have been made. We are not in any way preempting the decisions or the recommendations of the Land Use Planning Commission, and I would suggest to you that this could be used the same way when you consider the federal governments approval of developing the Wellgreen property in the same area. I would like to ask the Members opposite if they consider that to be preempting the recommendations of the commission?
Speaker: Time for Question Period has now lapsed. We will proceed to Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Special adjournment motion
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that the House, at its rising on Tuesday, November 28, 1989, do stand adjourned until 1:30 p.m., Monday, December 4, 1989.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Government House Leader that the House at its rising on Tuesday, November 28, 1989, do stand adjourned until 1:30 p.m. Monday, December 4, 1989
Hon. Mr. McDonald: By way of clarification, this motion requesting adjournment of the House for the two days of November 29 and November 30 will permit a number of elected Members of this Assembly to attend a national leadership convention of the New Democratic Party of Canada.
As Members know, the Yukons MP, Audrey McLaughlin, is a candidate for leader and has sought the active support of the government MLAs and most other Yukoners and we on this side of the Legislature wish her success.
Mr. Phillips: Just so that it is on the record, none of the Members from this side will be taking time off to attend that convention.
Motion agreed to
Bill No. 42: Second Reading
Clerk: Second Reading, Bill No. 42, standing in the name of the Hon. Mr. Penikett.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I move that Bill No. 42, entitled Intergovernmental Agreements Act be now read a second time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Premier that Bill No. 42, entitled Intergovernmental Agreements Act be now read a second time.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: As I believe most Members know, intergovernmental agreements of a contractual or political nature either fall under the requirements of section 20 of the Yukon Act or not, and they are referred to in the halls of power in Ottawa as section 20 or non-section 20 agreements. Section 20 agreements require that an agreement is similar to one entered into by Canada with other provincial jurisdictions under federal legislation, and such agreements require enabling territorial legislation.
It is our belief that the Commissioner is not legally required to sign intergovernmental agreements and that those agreements may be signed under the authority of the responsible Executive Council Member of this government. The federal government has maintained that because authority is delegated by the federal government to the territorial government, whose statutory head of government is the Commissioner, it is necessary for the Commissioner to sign such agreements.
We have made repeated representations to the federal government as to the non-necessity for the Commissioners signature. There is lengthy exchange of correspondence between ourselves and the federal government on this point.
Initially, the federal position was that program transfer agreements required the Commissioners signature. Clearly, that position was unacceptable for us and I am sure would be unacceptable to all Members of this House.
Recently there has been movement by the federal government and an indication that they would allow the program transfer agreements to be executed without the Commissioners signature provided we enact an intergovernmental agreements law such as the one before us today. We preferred not to bring in a law that dealt with program transfer agreements only in other words, all intergovernmental agreements, other than those pursuant to section 20.
We have recently had correspondence from Mr. Cadieux, the Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs, who agrees to apply territorial legislation to Canada/Yukon agreements.
As you know there are program transfers under discussion all the time and agreements of all kinds that are being negotiated and signed between the two governments as a fairly regular occurrence. Our position is that the Commissioners signature is not required on any Canada/Yukon agreement. However, this legislation has been drafted in such a manner to ensure that non-section 20 agreements are covered and section 20 agreements are arguable at some future date.
Admittedly the introduction of this legislation represents a compromise with the federal government. The federal government has accordingly instructed the Commissioner to be bound by any non-section 20 agreement entered into between Canada and the Yukon pursuant to this enabling legislation once it is passed. The bill will authorize the appropriate responsible Minister to sign agreements and will legally make that signature sufficient to bind the Government of the Yukon.
Once in effect this legislation will eliminate the necessity to argue the need for the Commissioners signature on each agreement and opens the door for future discussion on the necessity for signature on section 20 agreements or, in other words, on agreements of any kind.
I would respectfully submit that this legislation and its recognition by the federal government represents a small but significant step towards more responsible and autonomous decision making in the Yukon government.
Mr. Phelps: We, on this side of the House, have no problem in endorsing the intent of the bill in principle. As I am sure everyone here is aware, this has been a continuing struggle for quite a considerable period of time. I can recall the previous administration getting into this argument in a fairly bitter way from time to time as memorandums of understanding and other such documents were entered into between the two levels of government.
I must confess that I am somewhat uneasy with regard to the legality of this bill and as to whether or not such agreements signed even with the enabling legislation would necessarily be enforceable. Section 20 of the Yukon Act reads as follows: The Commissioner in Council which of course is the Assembly, may make ordinances authorizing the Commissioner to enter into an agreement with the Government of Canada under and for the purposes of any Act of Parliament that authorizes the Government of Canada to enter into agreements with the provinces, but no such agreement shall be entered into by the Commissioner without the approval of the Governor in Council.
I simply want to say that I am a little uneasy about the legal background as set forth by the Minister and I would be more than interested in seeing some of the background material that he has addressed himself to. Having said that, we support the intent and the move forward if we are able to make such a move.
Speaker: The hon. Member will close debate if he now speaks. Does any other Member wish to be heard?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I would just comment on the three points indicated by the Leader of the Official Opposition.
The first is I appreciate the support for the bill. It comes as no surprise, given that the matter before us is the product of a long struggle, as he indicates. I would even argue that it is a continuing struggle.
I would like to clarify the point about section 20. It is my understanding that the federal government would, for the time being, continue, as it requires, to have the Commissioners signature on section 20 agreements, but this legislation would give us the ability to continue to argue for that change.
In respect to the communications between myself and the federal Minister, if the Leader of the Official Opposition would accept it on an embargo basis, I would be quite happy for him to see the correspondence that details the understandings between us.
Motion for second reading of Bill No. 42 agreed to
Bill No. 45: Second Reading
Clerk: Second Reading, Bill No. 45, standing in the name of the Hon. Ms. Joe.
Hon. Ms. Joe: I move that Bill No. 45, entitled Act to Amend the Employment Standards Act, be now read a second time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Justice that Bill No. 45, entitled Act to Amend the Employment Standards Act, be now read a second time.
Hon. Ms. Joe: This bill contains a number of amendments that affect the administration and enforcement of the Employment Standards Act. The changes proposed in Bill No. 45 do not affect the minimum standards set out in the act, such as overtime, general holiday pay and termination. The Employment Standards Act was proclaimed in effect January 1, 1985, and has received only minor amendments since that date. We recognize that minimum standards that were acceptable in 1985 may not meet the needs of employers and employees in the 1990s. The aim of legislation such as the Employment Standards Act is to set minimum standards for fair and equitable employment. Those standards must change with changing conditions and expectations in society.
I am pleased to announce that, as well as the changes being made in Bill No. 45, we will be starting a full review of the standards set out in the act in 1990. During this review, we will seek input from a broad range of Yukon society. We will be asking Yukoners what they like about the present act and what they do not like. Are there ways we can simplify it? Are there new standards that should be included? For example, maternity leave provisions were included in the act for the first time in 1985 and were on par with provisions across Canada. The trend now is to longer leave entitlement, such as those proposed in the amendments for the Unemployment Insurance Act. Other jurisdictions are looking closely at paternity and parental leave, as well.
Similarly, notice of termination provisions put in the act were acceptable in 1985. Minimum notice of termination in other jurisdictions now increases based on the number of years worked to a maximum of eight weeks. There are a broad range of options that can be considered in designing an employment standards act that will meet the needs of Yukon society in the 1990s. It will be a very exciting process.
One of the reasons this is exciting is the importance of this legislation. It is used on a daily basis by employers and employees throughout the Yukon Territory. During 1989, there were approximately 9,000 employees in the Yukon who fell under the Employment Standards Act, and probably 2,000 employers. Eighteen hundred, or 16 percent, of those individuals contacted the Labour Services Board in the Department of Justice to inquire about the act. Two hundred and ninety-four employees filed wage claims under the act. Employment standards officers were instrumental in collecting $180,000 on behalf of the employees.
The act establishes a framework of minimum standards over which employers and employees can negotiate conditions of work. Clearly, the efficient administration and enforcement of the act is necessary to ensure that all employees receive at least those minimum standards.
The majority of employers know the provisions of the legislation and the established conditions of work that comply with that legislation. They run their businesses in a responsible fashion and treat their employees fairly and equitably. The changes we are proposing in Bill No. 45 will not affect those employers. The changes will affect those employers who are not prepared to provide their employees with the minimum standards set out in the act.
The most important change in Bill No. 45 is the removal of the statutory declaration requirement. At present the Director of Employment Standards must obtain a statuary declaration signed by the employee and served on the employer before a certificate for wages can be issued. This requirement has been identified as a problem by labour groups and employers particularly contractors and by the departmental officials charged with the responsibility of administering the act.
The labour groups have perceived the statutory declaration as an unnecessary burden on the employee and one that impedes the enforcement of the act.
Employers, particularly contractors, recognize that the efficient enforcement of the Employment Standards Act is necessary. They want to know that all contractors comply with the law because they are at a significant disadvantage if they must bid against contractors who are prepared to ignore the requirement to pay overtime or other minimum standards set out in the act.
The departmental officials responsible for enforcing the act recognize that the present-day requirement provides a monetary reward for employers who refuse to voluntarily comply with the act. It makes their job more difficult. The statuary declaration requirements mean that in a situation where there is an infraction of the act involving a number of employees, the employer will end up paying approximately one-third of the wages actually owed pursuant to the act. Labour services officers have found that approximately one-third of the employees will complete a statutory declaration. The director must still be able to prove that each employee is owed wages and must notify the employer of the particulars of the complaint. The amendment will not affect those requirements, nor will it affect the right to appeal the certificate.
We are also proposing an amendment that will allow the director greater flexibility in issuing averaging orders. This change will allow an averaging order to be used in a non-union workplace where a majority of employees have indicated their agreement in writing.
The time to appeal a certificate is being increased to 21 days. Experience has shown that the 14-day time limit is too short. The appeal provisions are in the act to ensure that employers or employees who disagree with the amount of the certificate have the right to be heard by an independent board. We do not want to deprive the parties of the right by having an appeal period that is too short.
Section 14 of the bill dealing with associated corporations is a new provision. This amendment will allow the Director of Employment Standards to treat corporations, individuals, firms or syndicates operating under common control as one employer. This will solve the problem of wages being owed by one employer with the assets held by another corporation.
The maximum fine for a conviction under the act is also being increased from $1,000 to $10,000. When the maximum fine of $1,000 was first established in 1968, it was a significant amount of money. The value of $1,000 has changed since that time. The extent of the change in the maximum fine will send a strong signal to the courts that conviction of an offense under the Employment Standards Act is a serious matter.
The remaining changes are housekeeping changes. We have changed the wording of some sections where the legislation does not reflect the intention of the act and in other cases to eliminate inconsistencies in the act.
The changes will benefit all working people in Yukon and will have no effect on employers who are already complying with the legislation.
Mrs. Firth: The Minister has provided me and some groups with a large, comprehensive package regarding the proposed changes and amendments to this piece of legislation. Upon inquiring, I find that the Chamber of Commerce has received its package but has been unable to review it or examine the implications of the changes. The Contractors Association has not received any information yet from this government. Lodges and other business are also uninformed as to what the proposed changes are regarding the Employment Standards Act.
The representation came via the Federation of Labour and the Carpenters Union regarding some of the changes that the Minister is proposing. At the time, the Minister announced publicly that there were going to be some changes in the Employment Standards Act, she said that consultation on the proposed changes would be limited to those people who approached her office about the issue. I am sure that the government would not like to give the impression that this was some kind of selective consultative process that they had gone through.
In view of some of the concerns I have regarding the proposed changes and those of some of the people I have spoken to over the weekend, would the Minister delay proceeding with the debate in Committee of the Whole until those groups have had an opportunity to review the package that has accompanied the legislation so that they have an opportunity to raise whatever concerns they may have regarding the changes? I think it is fair to say that the removal of the statutory declaration provisions and the streamlining of the issuance of certificates may cause some concern with employers.
Upon first glance at the explanatory notes that the Minister provides, it looks quite acceptable, until one reads the exact working of the legislation, which is very concise and very immediate there is no such streamlining. The complaint can be registered and then the issuance of the certificate for payment happens automatically.
Is the Minister prepared to commit to giving some time to the organizations? I would think they would need a minimum of two weeks to review the proposed changes before we move the bill into committee for a clause -by-clause examination of the impact of all the changes.
Speaker: The Hon. Member will close debate if she now speaks. Does any other Member wish to be heard?
Hon. Ms. Joe: In regard to some of the concerns that were told to this House by the Member for Riverdale South, the amendments are changes that individuals have been asking for over the past year and longer. There were commitments made in regard to such things as declarations that were being signed. The whole process of trying to put together these proposed changes was the result of meetings with many individuals and groups who have been lobbying for this for a long time. At the same time, because we felt that amendments only would not fulfill the need of many of those individuals, we decided we would proceed with a long review process. The process itself has not been identified. We will have a review process in place very shortly.
I would have no problem leaving this bill on the table for awhile not for a long time because I am very anxious to proceed with it. That would allow some of those people whom the Member for Riverdale South has mentioned time to see it. It is my intention to proceed with it. Certainly, if the Member feels that some other individuals out there might be interested in finding out what is in it, I can certainly do that.
Motion for second reading of Bill No. 45 agreed to
Bill No. 55: Second Reading
Clerk: Second Reading, Bill No. 55, standing in the name of the Hon. Ms. Joe.
Hon. Ms. Joe: I move that Bill No. 55, entitled Act to Amend the Occupational Health and Safety Act, be now read a second time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Justice that Bill No. 55, entitled An Act to Amend the Occupational Health and Safety Act be now read a second time.
Hon. Ms. Joe: The amendments to the act are put forward to consolidate the functions of the health and safety representatives, to clarify the present section dealing with safety committee members wages, to standardize the accident investigation requirements and to allow the workplace parties some discretion in determining the types of accidents to be investigated.
You may recall that the Yukons first Occupational and Safety Act was assented to in 1984. Since that time there has been one amendment and that was enacted to accommodate the Pan Canadian Workplace Hazardous Material Information System.
Industry and labour, during the first five years, have expressed some confusion with the sections being put forward for amendment. After listening to the parties, this government has now responded.
It should be noted by Members that these are clearly not major changes; however, they are important in that they provide an accommodation of the workplace parties to continue moving forward and reducing risk within our Yukon community.
As an example, the change to the accident reporting requirements, while maintaining the present reporting criteria, will allow the individual work sites to broaden their scope in investigating and reporting accidents that may be unique to their particular establishment. This flexibility is important and obviously will play a part in ensuring that Yukon workers are protected from the potential of injury.
The remaining amendments simply make the act easier to read and in the case of the extension of the appeal filing timeframe, allow the work place parties more time to reflect on the potential success of any appeal.
Mrs. Firth: The general principles of the bill are not objectionable to this side. I will have some specific questions for the Minister when we go to clause-by-clause debate. I would like to point out that although the Minister says that there are no major changes, there is a subtle change in the fact that the employers have been paying committee members for their work when they were on their regular time of work and the employers will now be required to pay committee members if they are doing committee work on their time off as well.
That is a change and employers will be interested in that. I realize that it does not affect the small businesses, but those with 20 or more employees. That is a subtle change and I may have some specific questions for the Minister regarding that particular aspect of the amendments.
Motion for second reading of Bill No. 55 agreed to
Bill No. 95: Second Reading
Clerk: Second Reading, Bill No. 95, standing in the name of the Hon. Ms. Joe.
Hon. Ms. Joe: I move that Bill No. 95, entitled Miscellaneous Statute Law Amendment Act, 1989, be now read a second time.
Speaker: It has been moved that Bill No. 95, entitled Miscellaneous Statute Law Amendment Act, 1989, be now read a second time.
Hon. Ms. Joe: In most sessions the Miscellaneous Statute Law Amendment Act is passed to correct typographical and other technical defects in existing statute law. Over the past year or so, departments have reviewed the acts that they administer and have identified errors in various pieces of legislation that require correction.
Passing this legislation is purely a routine housekeeping matter for the House, as that act does not contain any policy items. There are 22 acts that are being amended by the Miscellaneous Statute Law Amendment Act, and they are: Access To Information Act, Age of Majority Act, Agricultural Products Act, Animal Protection Act, Change of Name Act, Constitutional Questions Act, Court of Appeal Act, Fine Option Act, Housing Corporation Act, Income Tax Act, International Commercial Arbitration Act, Interpretation Act, Liquor Act, Lottery Licensing Act, Motor Vehicles Act, Municipal Act, Pharmacists Act, Public Services Staff Relations Act, Reciprocal Enforcement of Maintenance Orders Act, Workers Compensation Act, The Young Persons Offences Act, The Yukon Development Corporation Act.
Mrs. Firth: I always find these miscellaneous statute law amendment acts very interesting. I find particularly interesting the phrase routine housekeeping matter, because I am going to be looking forward to hearing the Ministers explanation, her justification, and her rational as to the wise use and wise expenditure of government money.
The first four amendments to acts that are being amended are to remove sexist linguistic uses. I do not regard that as a routine housekeeping matter when this government is either going to hire somebody or use the services of someone already in the department to go through all the bills, from A to Yukon, and change he to he/she and change him to him/her.
I think I am a practical person and do not see this as a great priority, and I have not, frankly, talked to anybody who finds this a major concern or issue. I could see the government, when they bring in new legislation, being cognizant of the fact that they should be using non-sexist language, but really, to now go through the two volumes of books of laws of the Yukon Territory and have someone sit down and pick out all the hes and all the hims and change them I do not find this to be a priority or a constructive use of taxpayers dollars. I would like the Minister to take that concern very seriously, because they have obviously started at Access To Information Act and the intention is to go on through volumes and volumes of bills and change it.
I also am concerned about the changes that are made regarding the titles people have been given or the way we are going to address people within the Yukon Development Corporation or the Housing Corporation. We are not going to call people chief executive officers or executive directors anymore; we are going to call them presidents. Where is the big priority in this?
We sat here this afternoon and listened to Question Period. We listened to the Minister responsible for one of the major issues in the Yukon right now in Watson Lake. He could not answer any questions, yet a priority of this government is to change hes to he/shes, and hims to him/hers and titles of executive directors to presidents.
Frankly, I do not think that is going to do the public a lot of good, and I do not think it is going to improve the service the public is going to be receiving from this government.
I have some other concerns about some of the proposed housekeeping matters, and I will not go into all those now. I will wait until we get into the line-by-line items and raise them at those particular times. I am seeing there may be a couple of errors in the Miscellaneous Statute Law Amendment Act, 1989, and we will resolve those when we come to the clause-by-clause debate in Committee of the Whole.
I hope the Minister takes very seriously the issue I have raised and takes it in the constructive sense. I want to re-emphasize with her that I do not think this is a major issue with the Yukon public. I hope that before we get any further than the Animal Protection Act with the sexist language that we really examine what we are doing, and is it not enough the new legislation we write addresses this issue, instead of us spending the money and time for someone to go through all the bills making these changes.
Speaker: The hon. Member will close debate if she now speaks. Does any other Member wish to be heard?
Hon. Ms. Joe: I would like to let the Member know that I certainly have taken all the remarks she has made very seriously. I have noted them and, as we go through the legislation clause-by-clause, there will be an explanation for it. She has indicated it was not a real priority in regard to changing sexist language. I would like to tell this House it is a very serious issue and that there have been a lot of different individuals and groups lobbying on behalf of those changes. We are not living in the dark ages anymore, and those changes will be made. They will be made under this government when they can. We are starting in a small way by doing the first four under miscellaneous statutes. She has mentioned a few other areas of concerns, and I have taken her seriously, and I look forward to the debate.
Motion for second reading of Bill No. 95 agreed to
Bill No. 72: Second Reading
Clerk: Second Reading, Bill No. 72, standing in the name of the hon. Mr. Webster.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I move that Bill No. 72, entitled Mackenzie River Basin Agreements Act, be now read a second time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Minister of Renewable Resources that Bill No. 72, entitled Mackenzie River Basin Agreements Act, be now read a second time.
Hon. Mr. Webster: Bill No. 72, Mackenzie River Basin Agreements Act, allows the Government of Yukon to enter into interjurisdictional agreements concerning the study and use of water resources in the Mackenzie River basin. This agreement will provide a formal mechanism for cooperation between several jurisdictions: Canada, the Yukon, the Northwest Territories, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and British Columbia. There has been ongoing cooperation between these governments for several years. Many hon. Members will recall that, 12 years ago, this government signed a memorandum of understanding on the water resources of the Mackenzie River basin. Since then, the Mackenzie River Basin Committee has met regularly to share information on water issues, activities related to water management, and developments proposed for the Mackenzie River basin.
The Mackenzie River Basin Agreements Act will provide the legal authority for this cooperation to continue. This agreement has significant benefits for the Yukon. It will enhance the exchange of information between the jurisdictions involved. It will provide the Yukon with access to information on the management of these waters in other jurisdictions, and to the expertise available within other agencies. Under this agreement, we will have the opportunity to increase our understanding of the requirements of managing these resources. In this respect, our involvement will assist with negotiations on the devolution of water resources to this government.
I believe this agreement is of considerable benefit to this territory. It will also reflect the reality that the waters within the Mackenzie River basin are shared resources and that it is up to all the governments concerned to manage them responsibly. This agreement will assist us in managing these resources for the joint benefit of the provinces and territories concerned and help us to achieve our common goals.
I look forward to any questions hon. Members may have and to their support for this bill.
Mr. Lang: I want to clarify our position. We are not opposed to the act as presented, but I think there are a number of outstanding questions that are going to have to be answered by the government with respect to what exactly is taking place as far as the plans for the Mackenzie River are involved.
At the outset, the Minister outlined the fact that there has been a committee in place for, I believe he said, 12 years where information has been exchanged. I think it is important that we have an idea if there is anything major taking place there.
Just as importantly, what does the department project our financial contribution to such an agreement will be? These things are not free. They do cost money. I would like to know exactly what is planned for the studies over the next five years that the Minister has indicated are underway, what our contribution is and what is the end objective for these studies? When I look back at what has taken place in years past with some of the studies on some of the rivers, it seems to me that consultants have earned a great deal of money and the reports go on the shelves. There has to be an end objective for when all this is finished. When you take a look, not only in the Yukon but throughout Canada, at the responsibilities we are going to take on as taxpayers with the tax increases that are going to be coming in at the federal level not even knowing what is going to happen at the territorial level there is only so much money. I believe it is going to be a question of priorities. There is only so much money. I believe the Minister should have that information and should be able to provide it to the House. If he wants us to enter into a formal agreement, he should have an idea of where we are going.
Ms. Kassi: I have spoken in this House many times about how important it is for us to protect the environment in which we live. My remarks today will be short.
I support this act as another step taken by this government to meet the tough challenge of environmental action. Intergovernmental agreements lead to better resource management, but we must also establish a mechanism to guarantee clean-up funds when an environmental disaster does take place. Victims must be compensated, and we must consider ways to correct damage done to our land, water and air.
The Mackenzie River basin is a vulnerable area, receiving as it does water from many rivers in several different jurisdictions. This act makes it possible for the Yukon to set up research agreements and to work on conservation with the provinces and the federal government.
Fish and wildlife in the area are vulnerable to pollution and to interference in their natural cycles brought about by development. In turn, the aboriginal traditional way of life is also threatened. There is often a tendency to think that because large numbers of people are not affected, environmental changes are not significant. I believe attitudes are changing and more and more people are beginning to see that the smallest alteration in the environment can upset the precarious balance in the natural world.
Speaker: The hon. Member will close debate. Does any other Member wish to be heard?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I want to thank the Member opposite for raising his concerns; I can assure him I will bring those answers back to this House when we are debating this bill in Committee of the Whole.
I want to bring it to his attention that the end objective of the studies we will be able to enter under this agreement will be dealing with the proper response of management of the water resource in these areas. We all know that it does take money to conduct studies to determine the proper, responsible way to manage water resources. I will try to come back with an answer as to what our financial requirements will be over the next five years when we sign this agreement.
Motion for second reading of Bill No. 72 agreed to
Bill No. 73: Second Reading
Clerk: Second Reading, Bill No. 73, standing in the name of the Hon. Mr. Webster.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I move that Bill No. 73, entitled Yukon River and Alsek River Basin Agreements Act, be now read a second time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Minister of Renewable Resources that Bill No. 73, entitled Yukon River and Alsek River Basin Agreements Act, be now read a second time.
Hon. Mr. Webster: The bill before hon. Members will authorize the Yukon government to enter into interjurisdictional agreements concerning the study and use of water resources in the Yukon River and Alsek River basins. This agreement will provide a formal mechanism for cooperation between three jurisdictions: Canada, the Yukon and British Columbia. There has been ongoing cooperation between these governments for several years. Hon. Members will remember the intergovernmental study on the Yukon River Basin. In 1984, this study recommended that the governments of Canada, the Yukon and British Columbia enter into a formal agreement to coordinate and cooperate on water management activities.
The Yukon-Alsek River basin agreements act on this recommendation. This act will provide to the Yukon the same significant benefits as the Mackenzie River Basin Agreement Act. I look forward to any questions hon. Members may have and to their support of this bill.
Mr. Lang: Just for the record, the same questions I asked about the previous agreement are applicable to this as well. I trust the Minister will bring us a proposal for the projections over the next five years as to what is expected of this agreement and what costs are going to be incurred by the taxpayer and what cost-sharing agreements we are going to have with the various governments involved.
Mr. Joe: I rise in support of this bill. Conservation has been practiced by my people for generations. This is not a new idea. An important part of conservation is knowledge. This act talks about research and collecting information about an important water resource. We are all aware of the serious threat of different kinds of pollution to our waters. Anything that we can do to protect our environment we should do. In the interest of conservation and protection of our resource for coming generations I support this bill.
Motion for second reading of Bill No. 73 agreed to
Bill No. 11: Second Reading
Clerk: Second Reading, Bill No. 11, standing in the name of the Hon. Mr. Byblow.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I move that Bill No. 11, entitled Act to Amend the Municipal and Community Infrastructure Grants Act, be now read a second time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Community and Transportation Services that Bill No. ll, entitled Act to Amend the Municipal and Community Infrastructure Grants Act, be now read a second time.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Bill No. 11 before us proposes an amendment to the Municipal and Community Infrastructure Grants Act. Members will recall that the original act provided for a system of community infrastructure grants to municipalities. One of the more notable initiatives authorized by that act was the grants program contained within it. In that program, the Government of Yukon provides annual grants to each municipality for the construction of various infrastructure services, including water and sewer systems, roads, fire halls, recreation facilities and other infrastructure. I believe this to be one of the most progressive and devolved programs for municipalities in Canada today. I say that with some measure of personal knowledge, having dealt with the program at a recent municipal ministers conference in Calgary. The Yukon Infrastructure Grants Program was cited as a notable model of programs in Canada. With the proposed 1990-91 infrastructure grants, the Government of Yukon, since inception in 1986, will have provided $35 million to Yukon municipalities through the program. The act establishes a process for determining the annual municipal infrastructure grant fund and provides for the method of distributing the grant to each of the eight municipalities. The grants process was developed with the cooperation of the Association of Yukon Communities, and it is the product of considerable cooperation and a consensus from the mother organization.
The proposed amendment before us provides for an adjustment to the distribution formula in order to prevent an undesirable skewing of the grant distribution in future years. The amendment is more of a technical nature and may seem somewhat complex to people who are not familiar with the intricacies of municipal finance. At this point, I will speak to the general principle of the amendment without speaking to the complexities of the formula involved.
As I indicated, we are in the third year of the municipal infrastructure grants program. An undesirable trend has developed in the grant distribution, and particularly as it affects the City of Whitehorse.
In 1987, the City of Whitehorse received 43 percent of the total available grant. The Whitehorse percentage has increased each year to the point where in 1989 the City of Whitehorse received 50 percent of the total funds. This trend will continue should the existing formula be permitted to remain in place. The trend has been a consequence of the disproportionately large increase in the property assessment that takes place in Whitehorse. It is expected that it would continue if we permitted the formula to remain as is. This trend was brought to the attention of the Association of Yukon Communities. The association fully recognized the implications of this distribution trend that was occurring. They agreed to work together with the department to develop modifications to the formula. I am pleased to say that what we have developed here is the product of considerable discussions between the municipalities and a general consensus of agreement on a modification to the formula.
What has occurred in developing a new formula is, essentially, the incorporation of a consumer price index to the formula, and a new factor called municipal price index. The municipal price index was recommended by the smaller municipalities to recognize the different costs to operate municipalities throughout the Yukon. The proposed amendments will result in a Whitehorse grant equalling 51 percent of the grant fund. The result will slow down the broadening skewing in the formula that has been taking place.
Incorporating the consumer price index and the municipal price index is a credit to the municipalities. This organization has responded extremely well to a concern about the future distribution of the grants. I am very pleased with the recommendation that has come forward to redesign the formula slightly before a major problem developed. I believe this demonstrates a respect from AYC for the devolution principle that is inherent in the program. It is a compliment that a consensus has been reached.
In short, the bill will enshrine the amendments that have been recommended by the AYC, and I will be asking for the general support of the Assembly for the amendment.
Mr. Brewster: I have listened with a great deal of interest to what the Minister had to say. I polled all the municipalities today, and they all agree. However, I must point out to them I think the Minister realizes there is some reluctance in some of them of what was going on. However, nobody had a better answer so, as all these municipalities have agreed, it would not be for me to turn around and obstruct my peers that way.
There is one thing that bothers me, however, and it has a little bit to do with this. These municipalities, as they get this much more money, are getting more and more powerful, and are now taking liberties, as far as I am concerned. I would not be surprised if the Minister might agree with me, but they are now attempting to run things outside their municipality. They are making decisions for people who do not live in the municipalities. They are demanding they have these rights, and they were not elected for these things. They were elected to run their municipalities. I see more and more over the last eight to 10 years, since we started the municipalities, with these people going in, and I think it is about time this Legislature and government makes policies to instruct these people in just how far they can go. You will find examples in two or three places where the municipalities want to have a say on these that are completely outside the municipality and are actually trying to interfere with people who have no opportunity to vote these people in, and the people in the municipalities did not vote them in to do these things.
Speaker: The hon. Member will close debate if he now speaks. Does any other Member wish to be heard?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am truly being treated to unusual and unkind punishment from the Members opposite. I only want to express a few thoughts on this bill, because I know what the Minister responsible has gone through to try and find a resolution to the funding formula of this nature. I think the Member for Kluane quite rightly points out that it may not be everybodys first choice but, as a compromise solution, it is the best choice for all people concerned.
We have a motion on the Order Paper this afternoon with respect to the principle of block funding so perhaps I will reserve my comments for that point. I wanted to get on the record my full support for one other thing that the Member for Kluane had to say with respect to the role of municipal councils in rural Yukon.
It is occurring, and has been occurring for sometime, that municipal councils are taking the view that they are in essence a type of regional government, that they represent the interests of people outside the municipal boundaries. This is perhaps an inappropriate perspective on the part of some people who are either on councils or are supporters of councils. Whereas I do respect the right of municipal councils absolutely to take municipal decision making in their own community through the full range and breadth of the kind of decisions that they should take in order to encourage the good health of those municipalities, I feel strongly that those people who are rural residents but who are not voters for the municipal councils should not be subject to the view by this Legislature that the councils represent their views. If there is anything that a rural member wants to avoid, it is suggesting in rural Yukon that once the Government of Yukon has touched base with a municipal council they have touched base with everyone in a region. That is most vociferously and aggressively disputed by people who do not reside inside the municipalities.
I would like to put on record that I support the views suggested by the Member. I am not sure, either, whether they are germane to this particular act, but it is something worth stating in any case.
Mr. Lang: I would just like to make a few observations about the bill. A number of us have been involved in one manner or another in the proposing of legislation to this body in respect to how our dollars are going to be disposed of in the municipalities. I appreciate the problem that the present Minister has in coming up with a formula that is going to be satisfactory to all concerned. It is not an easy task and I was very pleased to see the Association for Yukon Communities coming up with a unanimous decision on how changes should be enacted in legislation.
For the record, I also notice the Minister did not make the point, but the City of Whitehorse did make the point that they were prepared to go with the changes under the understanding that there would be a further look and a further refinement of the formula within the next number of years. That has to be one of the caveats in the legislation because it is always evolving. No matter what formula you come up with and you think you have all the answers you will find down the road that there is a significant change, for example, in the assessment base or some other variable, and all of a sudden the whole formula comes into question. Obviously, if one municipality is getting more money, another is getting less. It is attempting to try to keep peace within the communities so they can conduct business, so that it is not a them or us situation.
I want to caution the Minister, because the City of Whitehorse was very cooperative when it said it would agree with the changes in the amendment. The Minister did not outline what the exact dollars would mean to the municipality of Whitehorse if the old formula had stayed in effect. I am led to believe that if the old formula was still in effect the additional dollars that would have accrued to the City of Whitehorse would be in the neighbourhood of $2 million, which is substantial. There is no question that the City of Whitehorse obviously saw that it was not fair to see that much money going to the capital city.
I agreed to the changes, but at the same time the point is being made, and I think some credence and some scrutiny as time goes on should be given to the disposition of other dollars from this government through various programs, whether it be the Local Employment Opportunities Program, whether it be water and sewer subsidies; for an example, the costs inspection services; for an example, the extra capital projects that are put in some communities where 10 percent is required, whereas in the City of Whitehorse, in some cases, 100 percent is required.
I am just saying that, for example, in the LEOP program, I know there have been some proposals requested by the City of Whitehorse that have, for one reason or another, been turned down, and maybe legitimately so. All I am saying, in trying to seek that area of fairness, is that there are other programs the City of Whitehorse should have good and easy access to in proportion to the people who are involved. When you are dealing with programs where unemployment is a major consideration, obviously the City of Whitehorse has got its fair share of the unemployed; unfortunately, that is a fact. There are a lot of people out there who have a tough time meeting their bills.
I just wanted to raise that as a caution to the Minister in attempting to reach that point of fairness to all communities. This is an area that has been raised to me by a number of city councillors privately and I think it is one that should be given some credence as time goes on because I do not think that anybody wants to get into a situation of them or us type of confrontation. I think there are enough finances to go around as long as it is done judiciously and fairly. I would like to think that all Members are striving to that end.
Speaker: The hon. Member will now close debate if he now speaks. Does any other Member wish to speak?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I rise in appreciation of the support from the Members opposite and that of the former Minister. The Member for Kluane raised the issue of a growing tendency of municipalities to assume a sense of responsibility for neighbouring areas outside of municipalities. I want to tell the Member that that has been a subject of some discussion with Association of Yukon Communities members, and it is a matter that has precipitated some considerable debate.
The only expansion to the points made by previous Members on the subject that I would make is that in areas where there are no other parties or people who are available for consultation, quite often the municipality is used as a sounding board. This does not mean that municipalities have a jurisdiction or is there a suggestion that they have a jurisdiction, but certainly in the consultation process I have tended to use a very broad cross-section of area input on matters affecting municipalities and adjacent areas.
Often the case does arise where matters precisely outside a municipality overlap with matters within a municipality, so it is a matter that has to be treated cautiously, but I assure the Member that the issue of responsibility is more one of consultation than direct authority.
The Member for Porter Creek East raised the Whitehorse position that they accepted the formula for a one-year period, and that is correct. The consensus that was achieved from the eight municipalities was highlighted by Whitehorses position that they were not making a long-term commitment to the readjusted formula but were simply approving it for this next fiscal year and would like to see the issue reviewed. Certainly that will depend on circumstances a year from now.
The formula would appear to provide a basis for funding under municipal infrastructure grants for a number of years. I want the Member to recognize that part of the skewing problem has been the result of far greater construction, and thereby assessment, in Whitehorse than has been the pace in rural communities. It was creating a disparity of funding under the existing formula in favour of Whitehorse. The original intention under municipal infrastructure grants was that Whitehorse would achieve approximately 50 percent of the available funding, and that is what we have tried to restore.
The Member for Porter Creek East also mentioned the amount of money that Whitehorse would have got under the old formula and he used the figure of $2 million. I should point out to the Member that on an annual basis it is just under $300,000, and I suspect what the Member may have been referring to was the 10-year projection that we did.
Certainly, over a 10-year period there is a potential of a $2 million or $3 million variance. It only amounts to some $270,000 per year.
I am sure there will be a number of detailed questions in committee, and I will look forward to them.
Motion for second reading of Bill No. 11 agreed to
Bill No. 84: Second Reading
Clerk: Second Reading, Bill No. 84, standing in the name of the hon. Mr. Byblow.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I move that Bill No. 84, entitled Municipal General Purposes Loans Act, be now read a second time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Community and Transportation Services that Bill No. 84, entitled Municipal General Purposes Loans Act, be now read a second time.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The intent of this act is to renew the Government of Yukons authority to lend money to municipalities. Monies are loaned to provide for or expand major municipal services such as water and sewer services, street paving, and similar type projects where municipalities do not have total funding available to them.
The act has traditionally been passed as required. It provided a limited aggregate amount of monies that could be lent. As the aggregate amount was reached, a new act would be passed to provide for renewed authority and a renewed total lending amount.
Municipalities are able to borrow monies from the Government of Yukon under provisions of this act at a lesser rate of interest than through normal lending institutions. It is also a more streamlined method of borrowing because it provides for much less paperwork to municipalities than would be required through banks or other institutions.
The last Municipal General Purposes Loans Act was passed in 1986. It provided for a lending limit of $5 million. Since that time, we have provided to municipalities approximately $3 million in debenture borrowing under provisions of the act. We have been advised by municipalities that there is an anticipated borrowing, next year alone, for an additional $2.5 million. That would exceed our current authority by $500,000.
With our current lending authority being limited, we must meet next years obligation. This act proposes a new limit of $5 million. This should be more than sufficient to meet the potential needs of the municipalities for a number of years. It would thereby eliminate the need for us to introduce an act each year.
Since 1972, when the first act came into being, a total aggregate lending authority of approximately $22 million has been extended by the various successive acts. Currently, the Government of Yukon has a total of $10,668,000 in actual debenture loans to municipalities. The rest has been paid back. This breaks out to approximately $7.5 million for the City of Whitehorse, just over $300,000 for the City of Dawson and just over $2.5 million to the Town of Faro.
Some examples of projects that have been funded through debenture loans under this act in the past include the Whitehorse Arena, the Klondike Visitors Association in Dawson to renovate Gerties, and the purchase and construction of a mobile home park in Faro.
I would just note that previous municipal general purposes loans acts contained a number of provisions respecting the criteria and guidelines that a municipality had to follow in undertaking the borrowing. All these are provisions that have since been incorporated into the Municipal Act and are found under section 227 of that act. They provide the guidelines of the extent to which each municipality can borrow under this loan agreement. There are limitations such that municipalities do not exceed their ability to repay.
At this time, we do not have any indication from municipalities as to what extent they might avail themselves to borrowings beyond next year. The Municipal General Purposes Loans Act now before us simply ensures that the Yukon government is in a position to lend money as may be required for the next several years.
In summary, this enables the government to provide an additional $5 million in debenture borrowing to municipalities. In turn, these loans enable the municipalities to effectively manage their local affairs by carrying out those public works they choose in a manner consistent with sound fiscal principles.
Mr. Brewster: I suppose the Minister thinks he is Santa Claus when he hands this much money out. I phoned the municipalities again this morning and, of course, they all jumped on this one. I think that is one of my problems in government and around government, is the government has been handing out money so long and so fast that every time you turn around, people want more money. Nobody stopped to think that some day it has to stop.
I have another concern on it, and I do not suppose it is a great concern because you are going to have to have this if we do get a few white elephants. Number one, we are putting people in there who are only in there for a few hours a month and things like this; they are trying to run this, and they trust a manager to go through and get this, so you are bound to get a few white elephants. I guess, if you looked at what bigger governments do, white elephants are not really that bad. It is closer to home, and some of these things can be slowed down. There are some cases of white elephants out there.
However, as long as they keep paying back and do not work the taxpayers over in the areas at the same time and do not start building utopias that we cannot live in, I do not really have a great deal of a problem with it.
Speaker: The hon. Member will close debate if he now speaks. Does any other Member wish to be heard?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Briefly in response to the Members concern about the potential of white elephants and the issue of handing out money, I should repeat this is not money handed out. This is money that is provided in a standard debenture borrowing with appropriate security and appropriate repayment terms. As I indicated in my opening remarks, section 227 of the Municipal Act outlines those guidelines that govern the extent to which a municipality can get into debt under borrowings from this loan account.
For example, I note the total amount of debt any municipality can get into shall not exceed two percent of the current assessed value of all real property within the municipality that is subject to taxation. There are guidelines there, ceilings to which the municipality cannot borrow. Of course, they have to pass the appropriate bylaw and it receives the appropriate approvals, and it is governed by limits and ceilings of what the municipality is capable of carrying.
The Member can be reassured this is an account that provides for borrowing on legitimate projects the municipality can handle.
I am not aware of any white elephants, as such. I have indicated that under this program since its inception some time ago, $22 million dollars has been lent and obviously $12 million has been paid back. We are in the position of owing $10 million right now under debenture. I can give some reassurance to the Member that the loan account is not a handout and has got very strict guidelines for the municipalities ability to handle it.
Motion for second reading of Bill No. 84 agreed to
Clerk: Item No. 1, standing in the name of the Hon. Mr. Byblow.
Motion No. 33
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Community and Transportation Services
THAT this House supports the policy of devolving decision-making power to the municipal level; and
THAT this House reaffirms its support for the principle of devolving the authority and responsibility to make capital planning and spending decisions to the municipal level through the mechanism of block capital funding.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am going to be relatively brief with my opening remarks on this motion. It was originally brought forward in the spring, as Mr. Speaker is aware. I have chosen to bring it forward again.
The principal reason I wanted the motion to receive some debate is because I have received a number of representations from a number of municipalities that they have some question about the future of block funding. Block funding is essentially the Municipal and Community Infrastucture Grants Act which provides for a block of funds to be distributed to municipalities. The municipalities have assisted in establishing the formula by which that block fund has been developed.
The previous Minister was responsible for the introduction of that grant and it achieved a number of devolution principles when it was brought forward. Previous to the time of block funding, funding to the municipalities was on a project-by-project basis. A capital plan was produced by municipalities. It may or may not have been adopted by the territorial government. It was always a case of where municipalities had a difficulty in long-term planning. It did leave a lot of decision-making outside their hands. Certainly the philosophy and approach of this government has been to devolve spending authority to local communities where the decisions have the most impact and where decisions ought to be taking place.
The motion, as stated, essentially calls for this House to reaffirm the support for the policy of devolving that decision-making to communities, in this case municipal communities, and we are reaffirming our support that municipal infrastructure grants are important and that we will protect their continuation in the future.
I believe the concern raised since last spring and throughout the fall revolved around concerns that the principles enshrined in the legislation were going to work in some communities and not in others, that this House was creating additional funding opportunities for some municipalities outside block funding and, therefore, the integrity of the principle of block funding was at stake.
Block funding is an objective and goal of this government. Municipalities are questioning whether we indeed have that commitment. I would like those municipalities to feel reassured and comfortable that the rules and principles contained in block funding will be protected. We have it enshrined in legislation and we have no intention of abandoning the approach taken in 1987 by the previous Minister. Municipalities can look forward comfortably to a secure funding base for their infrastructure needs.
As you are aware, the block fund provides for a sum of money to be distributed on a formula basis to communities. This allows those communities to meet the infrastructure needs within those communities, whether it is requirements for building construction, road upgrading or municipal sewer and water projects. The act provides for that funding to be available each year and they can plan their administration accordingly.
At the same time, the act provides for extraordinary expenses that come up. Each municipality from time to time may be faced with extraordinary expenses relating to their infrastructure needs. The act respects that this may happen and provides thereby an opportunity, whenever any project proceeds two and one-half times the amount that the municipality gets, for a cost-sharing arrangement to be struck with the Yukon government to help fund it.
In part, this is a principle I would like this House to reaffirm its support for because municipalities have raised the concern that they are not sure that this House supports that principle. That principle has been applied on two occasions since the act has been put in place: once in Mayo and once in Haines Junction. In those communities projects that were deemed necessary exceeded two-and-one-half times the amount those municipalities got. So there was additional extraordinary funding for those special projects that those municipalities could not afford on their own, or within the capability of the grant itself.
In essence, the principle that extraordinary funding would be cost shared, that individual municipalities can rely and count on a base grant each year, and the policy that we, as the Legislature, support and approve municipalities making those decisions ought to be reaffirmed here today. I look forward to hearing that in debate.
Mr. Lang: It is safe to say that there has been unanimous support given to the concept of the grant system that was brought into place in 1987. It should be pointed out that legislation was put in place prior to 1987 for the purposes of a formula to transfer operating funds to the various municipalities. I understand that legislation is still in place and works successfully, although changes have to come about every now and then with changes in the various assessments and things of this nature, which happen on an ongoing basis. That is, in part, one of the roles of the Association of Yukon Communities on behalf of the government, as well as itself. The dollars are evenly and fairly distributed throughout the communities.
The principle of the motion is not objectionable to this side. It should be further clarified, in order to ensure that we are all speaking to the same issues. I am going to be proposing an amendment to the motion so that it is very clear that all members of the House recognize that there are extraordinary capital projects that may have to be undertaken at one time or another by the certain communities.
One that comes to mind is the costs that are going to be incurred by the City of Whitehorse for the sewage lagoon. We had a lively debate here last spring regarding the Whitehorse sewage lagoon. It was unanimously agreed by all sides that this project would be seen as an extraordinary financial expense on behalf of the municipality, and that subsequently an agreement would be worked out between YTG and the City of Whitehorse to see what type of financial arrangement can be made with the community.
If the position of the government is that if it is $10 million, and the bill has to be footed totally by the people of Whitehorse, it may be a long time before we ever see a sewage lagoon that is capable of meeting environmental standards ever put in place in Whitehorse.
I am here to tell you that that particular kind of financial expense could not be incurred by the City of Whitehorse without a significant and long-term increase in property taxes.
When you look at the property taxes in Porter Creek, they are significant. People are paying $2,000 and sometimes over $2,000 on an annual basis. That has to be remembered. It is out of your net income.
It is imperative that when we get a project of that kind, that the environment outside the municipal boundaries are taken into account. That is where the YTG has to assume some responsibility.
Members from the other side spoke to this particular case at great length. They have spoken of their commitment to work with the City of Whitehorse to arrest a very serious environmental problem facing the territory. It is one we can do collectively, between the Government of Yukon and the City of Whitehorse. The situation could get out of hand if we continue to ignore it. It is a shame when you hear the people residing in the Lake Lebarge area say they do not feel comfortable drinking the water. There is no reason, in this day and age, that this has to happen.
Mr. Lang: I think it is important that the commitment that was made last spring not be lost sight of. I would ask that the motion to be amended to read as follows:
THAT Motion No. 33 be amended by adding, after the second paragraph, the following new paragraph:
THAT this House reaffirm its support for the principle that the Government of Yukon will enter into extraordinary financial agreements with municipalities for expensive capital projects such as sewage lagoons to meet acceptable environmental standards.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Member for Porter Creek East
THAT Motion No. 33 be amended by adding, after the second paragraph, the following new paragraph:
THAT this House reaffirm its support for the principle that the Government of Yukon will enter into extraordinary financial agreements with municipalities for expensive capital projects such as sewage lagoons to meet acceptable environmental standards.
Mr. Lang: I have to remind some Members opposite that the wording of this amendment is basically taken from the motion that had unanimous support last spring, where all Members spoke to it at great length on their commitment to work out an arrangement with the City of Whitehorse that was acceptable.
You will note in the motion that I said with municipalities. I did not name the City of Whitehorse, because I think it is important we think of such communities as Mayo where, down the road here, some major significant environmental projects are going to have to be undertaken there in the area of sewage lagoons. You have other communities throughout the territory that may well have to be upgraded. The one that comes to mind where significant work is going to have to be done is the one in Teslin. It is not just confined to one community.
It is important we all recognize that these are projects that go well beyond the capital block funding. This is not to say the community does not have to put its fair share forward. If we are getting into the situation, like the City of Whitehorse and the sewage lagoon, where, after $10 million, the YTG will consider sitting down and talking with the City of Whitehorse, then I believe we are shirking our responsibilities here and would be going against the spirit and intent of the words that were spoken last spring.
I will stand in my place and say this right now, and I will probably be standing in my place four years from now, if the position is that the city taxpayer of Whitehorse has to come up with $10 million for a sewage lagoon, for example; the money is just not there. In fairness to those councillors, and the city council as a whole and the City of Whitehorse, which is facing a major problem, and the problems that are emanating from the environmentally unacceptable standards that are being applied today down river toward Lake Laberge, it is going to be a shame if it is going to have to continue, especially when you have a situation where various standards are being set, not by the City of Whitehorse but by other parties. That has to be taken into account as well.
When we talk about a project of this kind, I would like to think the YTG would be able to get some extra funding from the federal government on behalf of projects of that kind. They have the responsibility for environmental control. I am sure the amendment I brought forward, that I view as a friendly amendment, was an oversight by the Members opposite, and I look forward to their support. I think it just clarifies the position of the House, and that is primarily why the motion was brought forward in the first place, as mentioned by the Minister of Community and Transportation Services in his opening remarks. He wanted to reaffirm various principles in the area of municipal financing, and I think this clarifies an area that was obviously an oversight on his part, especially in view of the words that were spoken last spring.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I enjoyed the debate today, largely because the principle of the motion that the Minister of Community and Transportation Services presented is a principle that I strongly support as a Member of this Legislature and a representative of constituents in this territory. The principles of block funding, as outlined in the motion that the Minister presented, are principles which speak to allowing communities to make decisions for themselves.
Briefly, because I will speak to the main motion as well, I would like to respond to the Member for Porter Creek East, who has presented an amendment to the motion that he characterizes as friendly. When he smiles, of course, he is gritting his teeth; that is about as friendly as I think we can expect from the Member opposite. I have the utmost and absolutely total respect for the Member for Porter Creek East on most issues and most subjects; however, with respect to this subject and the amendment that the Member proposes, the difficulty that I personally see with the amendment is that it clearly moves away from the principle of the motion and starts speaking to specific types of projects, which the government will without consideration for the communitys ability to pay, the governments ability to pay be funded by the Yukon taxpayer and by the Legislature.
Point of Order
Mr. Lang: Point of order, Mr. Speaker.
Speaker: Order. Point of order to the Member for Whitehorse Porter Creek East.
Mr. Lang: I would ask a ruling from you, Mr. Speaker. The Member opposite alleges that my amendment has moved away from the principle of the motion and I would ask that you rule as to whether or not the amendment is in order. If it is away from the principle of the motion, obviously, it should be ruled out of order.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Mr. Speaker, I was making the point to the Member, before he rudely interrupted me, that the point of the Members amendment is, in fact, to bring the motion to specifics...
Speaker: Order, please. The Minister of Finance will speak on the point of order.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: On the point of order that the Member brought forward in his attempt to interrupt my speech, the point I was making was not the technical point of whether or not the principle of the motion was being adhered to with respect to the amendment, but whether or not the Member was in fact moving to discuss specifics of the principles. I was about to object that the motion that the Minister presented was one that dealt exclusively with principles, and not with specifics, on purpose. In my view, the technical point that the Member made was not appropriate because I have never challenged whether or not the amendment is in order, technically.
Mr. Lang: On the amendment, I think that it is important because the Minister, earlier, whether he realizes it or not, indicated to this House that he felt it was out of order. I just am asking for a ruling from the Chair as to whether or not the amendment is in order. If it is in order then obviously, Mr. Speaker, it speaks to the principle and we can carry on discussion. If it is out of order then obviously we should not be discussing it at all. All I am trying to do is to go along with the rules of the House and be as friendly as I possibly can to people such as the Minister of Economic Development. I just want to ask you whether or not the amendment is in order.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: On the point of order, once again, and certainly not wanting to indicate to the Members opposite that the amendment is not in order technically, the point that I was making was that the principles of the motion were generally stated and the Member was moving to specifics. I did not challenge the right of the Members amendment to come before the House and I say so in a friendly way. However, if the Member has legitimately misunderstood my remarks, then as far as I am concerned that is fine, but if the Member has intentionally desired to interrupt my debate as a characteristic of just simply being rude, then I take objection to that.
Mr. Lang: I could never be rude to the Minister of Economic Development. I know who to be nice to and when to be nice to him.
I think it is more important than that. I would not want to think that the side opposite would vote against this amendment on the pretext that it was out of order, as the Minister was indicating, prior to me rising on the point of order. I do not want to go against the rules and all I ask is for a fair ruling from the Chair. We would not want to see the side opposite using some technical excuse for voting against a friendly amendment of this kind, especially when they voted for essentially the same motion last spring.
I would ask that the Speaker tell us if the amendment is in order.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: On the point of order, I would not like to indicate that the Member is out of order he may be out to lunch, but he is not out of order.
Speaker: I find that there is no point of order. The Chair has accepted this amendment. I take it that the Minister was not saying this amendment was out of order.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It has taken the Member for Porter Creek East some considerable time to come to the understanding that literally every other person in this Legislature came to a long time ago. It did allow Members to take a coffee break while the Member for Porter Creek East did his typical gymnastics in an attempt to interrupt debate and to stick his snoot into debate yet another time because he has not heard his voice often enough over the last six months.
The more the Member for Porter Creek East speaks, the less friendly I think it is.
I will deal with the actual wording of the particular amendment itself. The amendment says that the Government of Yukon will enter into agreements with municipalities for expensive capital projects. The amendment appears to be a blank cheque by the Government of Yukon to enter into special capital projects. As the Minister of Finance it would be a rare thing for me to agree to such a carte blanche plan to spend money by this Legislature. The attempt by the Member to provide for his amendment is, in my view, financially irresponsible. Consequently, I could not support it as it stands.
Now, if there were some appropriate words that suggested consideration given to ability for the community to pay, ability for the Government of Yukon to pay, then that would make a vast amount of difference. It would not only maintain the principles of the main motion, but it would also provide some financial responsibility to the amendment, which currently does not exist.
The principle of the motion lends one to support local decision making as long as this Legislature supports communities setting their own priorities, for doing their own planning, for providing for communities themselves to determine the long-term capital plan for the communities. It does allow some latitude for oversize projects, if they are within the means of the municipalities and YTG, as the legislation that was passed in this House some time ago clearly stated.
It is wishful thinking from the Member for Porter Creek East that somehow the federal government, as a white knight, is going to come in and provide millions of dollars of funding for capital works of any sort that are the responsibility of this Legislature, and it is naive. It is certainly not in tune at all with the thinking coming out of Ottawa today. I would be surprised beyond belief if there was an offer of the sharing of the capital of a major project such as this.
Of course, I would be pleasantly surprised, but it is practically a fantasy land delusion to suggest the federal government is going to come in at this point and provide this kind of capital support. If there is a desire for someone to provide for some amendment to the amendment done in ever so friendly a way because we would never want to do anything in this Legislature that could be considered to be at all unfriendly which rejects financial irresponsibility in the amendment, I for one would be prepared to support it.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: As the ever-friendly Minister of Community and Transportation Services, I am pleased to rise to the debate on the amendment to Motion No. 33 and respond to a number of concerns raised by the Member opposite and my colleague, the Minister of Finance.
The motion, as introduced by the Member for Porter Creek East, does state and force the government into potentially illegal acts as matters currently stand. The amendment taken strictly on its merits does call for the Government of Yukon to enter into extraordinary financial agreements with municipalities for expensive capital projects.
On the face of it, that could not be done without some amending legislation first. Under the legislation of the current block funding bill, the only agreements that can be made with municipalities respecting capital infrastructure are those under provisions of the bill, and that essentially is the block fund distribution according to the formula and for projects that exceed two and one-half times the amount of funding received by municipalities. The short description of that is that the Yukon government, without amending legislation, could not enter into a special arrangement with any municipality. However, recognizing that amending legislation is possible by this Legislature, I am sure that could be dealt with.
The amendment that the Member has presented calls for a mandatory additional financing outside the act. I am sure it was not his intention to make the case that our legislation should be broken. Recognizing his argument in the special case of Whitehorse and other municipalities that may be faced with extraordinary costs related to infrastructure, I want to entertain some discussion on the subject.
The Member raised specifically the City of Whitehorse and he raised the specific case of the Whitehorse sewage disposal system by reference to a lagoon which may require additional financing outside the capability of Whitehorse to fund. He raised the issue of the motion presented to the House last spring. That motion called for an extraordinary funding arrangement for the Yukon government to undertake with the city to meet the costs related to the sewage lagoon.
I believe the original motion in the spring called for negotiations to take place. I am pleased to tell the Member that considerable discussion and negotiation have taken place. Under provisions of the existing legislation, the Yukon government cannot commit extraordinary funding on a blank-cheque basis, which is what this amendment also calls for. It is perhaps the weakness of the previous motion and perhaps the weakness of the amendment, as introduced by the Member.
My intention in introducing the original motion was to restore the confidence of Yukon communities to the principles of block funding. What the Member has done in his amendment is drawn special attention to one municipality, namely Whitehorse, that, in his estimation, requires special funding to meet its sewage requirements. In general principle, I can respect his concern in regard to the environmental concerns surrounding the sewage lagoon in Whitehorse. I can respect his concerns to seek extra funding for Whitehorse, but I must repeat that, under existing legislation, blank-cheque funding cannot be granted and, under existing legislation, we cannot operate outside the provisions of the existing bill. So, a solution is required.
In discussions I have had with the city respecting the sewage facilities in Whitehorse, we have had considerable agreement as to the approach to be taken. I have advised the City of Whitehorse that, under existing legislation, I cannot provide a commitment to funding for a facility without knowing the cost. No government can. No finance minister would permit that to be approved.
Essentially, the arrangement that has been struck between the City of Whitehorse and my department is that a study must be done to determine the actual costs of the sewage facilities in Whitehorse. The terms of reference are beyond just the replacement of a particular lagoon. It is addressing the entire question of meeting adequate environmental standards for water discharge in the city. We are all quite serious that proper effluent levels be achieved for anything pumped into the Yukon River.
That study is being funded by the City of Whitehorse, because they have recognized that extraordinary funding cannot be committed by myself, by this government, by any Minister under existing provisions of legislation. However, having said that, I want to tell the Member that, in his amendment, he raises the issue of special arrangements with municipalities outside the existing legislation. I am sure his intentions are good. I am sure the intention is to legitimately speak to those municipalities that are not capable of meeting extraordinary financial needs. It is conceivable that the City of Whitehorse may be required to spend $6 million on providing for adequate sewage disposal in the city. It may be required for it to spend $20 million. The facts of the matter are that they get in the magnitude of $5 million right now under provisions of their block funding. Any facility that would cost in excess of $1 million, or an excess of $12 million, the Yukon government would be required to participate and negotiate a funding arrangement.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I will spell out the specifics of that funding arrangement. It could be a 50 percent cost-sharing arrangement or 90/10 either way. It does not specify the level of negotiated funding support in the case of where the facility may cost more than two and a half times. The problem that is created by the amendment is that it is a clear direction that the existing legislation either be broken or amended. If it is applied, it would be broken. To amend the legislation would be possible by this House.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: In the intention of the Member to permit the motion to remain friendly and achieve the desired results of speaking to those municipalities that may have extraordinary financial dilemmas in trying to meeting infrastructure need, I am proposing another amendment to the Members amendment.
I would thereby propose
THAT the amendment to Motion No. 33 be amended by adding after the expression with municipalities the following expression: subject to budgetary considerations.
I think this will achieve the desired goal.
As my colleague, the Minister of Finance has indicated, we cannot, through a motion of this House, direct an illegal act...
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Community and Transportation Services
THAT the amendment to Motion No. 33 be amended by adding after the expression with municipalities the following expression: subject to budgetary considerations.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I believe this subamendment will speak to the concern that I perceive, in that it would not require any breach of existing legislation. It would speak to the budgetary capability both of the Yukon Government and the municipality in question.
The Member for Porter Creek East raised the specific issue of Whitehorse. In part, I spoke to it. I want to draw reference to the City of Whitehorse again. In the discussions we have had with the City respecting the problem of sewage facilities, it has been agreed that the city will fund a study to determine the actual costs and options of sewage treatment facilities for Whitehorse. It has also been agreed that the city will fund it simply because it is inappropriate as well as illegal for the Yukon Government to fund that type of service because it is covered under provisions of the Municipal Infrastructure Grants Act. Should an option be chosen after detailed work is done that is in excess of two and one-half times block funding, it is automatic that, under existing legislation, we would be into negotiations for cost sharing. Those are the facts of life.
What this amendment, now amended, would permit is a full consideration of those budgetary considerations within the existing legislation to be given full respect and, thereby, to meet the original intent of the motion as well as the intent of the amendment. I repeat that the original intent of the motion was to restore the confidence of municipalities in block funding and I believe the intend of the amendment was to speak to special circumstances in the municipalities, namely Whitehorse. With this amendment we have met everybodys intentions within existing legislative frameworks.
Mr. Lang: In the spirit of friendliness and in the cooperative manner that the Members opposite have exhibited throughout this debate anytime we discussed the prospects of any improvement to the sewage facilities to the City of Whitehorse especially the Minister of Economic Development, who always stands up and is always so sincere about how he is more than prepared to assist in projects of this kind we are prepared to accept the amendment to the amendment on the understanding that under the present legislation the term and condition, two and one-half-times the amount of money that is made available to the City of Whitehorse through capital block funding, will not be acceptable to the people of Whitehorse. We are going to have to amend this legislation once a suitable financial agreement has been worked out with the City of Whitehorse to do the necessary work on the sewage facilities in question.
I am going on the assumption that on the project I am thinking of you may be looking at a $12 million or $15 million project, maybe even more. In Red Deer, my understanding is that it was $17 million. It depends on the type of facility chosen. The constituents of the Member for Whitehorse South Centre, of the Member for Whitehorse North Centre, of the Member for Whitehorse Riverdale West, cannot afford a major increase in their tax bills. That is the point I want to make. I am not asking for a blank cheque for the City of Whitehorse. I believe every resident in the community has a responsibility and is prepared to pay their fair share.
I am sure what I am saying will be echoed by the members of city council when this issue is debated over the ensuing months. If the facility we are going to put in place is in the neighbourhood of $10 million to $12 million there is no way that the City of Whitehorse can foot the whole bill. Otherwise, you are going to see a taxpayers revolt within the City of Whitehorse. Even with the five percent increase I have had a number of people approach me on the street complaining about our taxes.
At the same time the federal government is talking about GST. We do not know what the YTG is speaking of with the budget they are coming forward with. The poor old taxpayer just keeps on paying.
For the record, we are prepared to accept the amendment to the amendment with the understanding that if it is necessary to amend the present legislation, within reason, this side will do everything it can to cooperate if that circumstance does come about.
The project I have used as an example could apply to Mayo or Teslin and come in significantly cheaper, but I doubt it. It seems to me that costs are coming in higher, not lower. If there are any indications from the costs first spoken about it is going to be a very substantial cost to the taxpayers within the City of Whitehorse to meet those acceptable environmental standards. All sides should strive for this. It is not an issue that one Member can say is his or hers alone. We would all like to see the optimum in environmental standards.
It touches on the question of operation and that is on the other side of the coin and this is not involved in this particular motion. If we are getting into some very expensive plants and technology, then that is another question municipalities are going to have to face. Are they going to be able to afford to run them? It is nice to talk about meeting a certain standard but when it comes right down to it, what are the costs of running it after the capital costs have been spent?
So, Mr. Speaker, in the spirit of cooperation and friendliness that is always exhibited by this side at any given time, and recognizing the financial responsibility of the side opposite in all the projects they have undertaken in the last five years, I would like to say that we would support this friendly amendment to the amendment.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I, too, am in support of the amendment to the amendment, as explained by the Minister for Community and Transportation Services, largely because it does meet the concerns that I have expressed, at least, about the need for financial responsibility that is necessary in the budgets for this Legislature.
We respond to the needs of all of the Yukon and all of the Yukon taxpayers, and not simply the taxpayers of Whitehorse but every one of the people from the territory. We make judgments on an annual basis as to the priorities of the government, on a full range of issues everything from municipal works to education, to health services. We make a balanced judgment with respect to the priorities.
The case right now is no surprise to you, I know. The Government of Yukon expends a very considerable sum of its capital budget, by law, in the field of municipal infrastructure. It was not very long ago in 1985, for example that the budget for municipal infrastructure, or community infrastructure, for municipalities and for communities, was less than half of what the block fund currently is for municipalities alone. The commitment of this government to block funding is substantial. The commitment to Whitehorse, as a significant community within the block funding arrangement, is substantial.
The decision that we made when we established the act was to allow municipalities to do their own planning and it meant that municipalities would establish their own priorities. It was not meant to be a blank cheque. The Government of Yukon did not only provide substantial core funding to municipalities for capital works but also to pick up every project that came along.
There were some significant measures to encourage responsibility in the planning that were injected into the legislation as well. That was the reason we established a project limit for extraordinary grants of two and one-half times the amount of the block fund for a particular community, so that, in essence, any discreet project, in order to be eligible for extraordinary funding, would have to be valued at two and one-half times the amount of capital block funding.
The effect of that provision is the same whether you are a taxpayer in Haines Junction or whether you are a taxpayer in Whitehorse, whether you are a taxpayer in Mayo, Watson Lake or Dawson; the effect is the same. The idea is that if a project is larger than two and one-half times the project that is under consideration, the Government of Yukon should feel a responsibility if they agree that the project should go ahead and should be a priority to cost share that project. Projects less than two and one-half times should be considered the appropriate project of the municipality. The municipality has the ability, with the block funding that it has, to do the necessary planning, to undertake the project under a period of time and still perform the other capital works.
I will take Whitehorse as an example. Only a few years ago, they had in the neighbourhood of $1 million block fund. Now they have $5 million, and it is not a reflection of inflation. It is a reflection of a higher commitment by the government and by this Legislature to municipal infrastructure.
The ability for municipalities to take on even sizable projects has substantially increased and been enhanced under the block-funding arrangement as well as the budgetary allocations of this Legislature. If the Member for Porter Creek East is walking away with the assumption that, no matter what happens in discussions between the Minister of Community and Transportation Services and the city council of Whitehorse, we are going to automatically amend legislation, I, for one, disagree and cannot support that. If the Member is suggesting the taxpayer in Whitehorse is somehow substantially superior to the taxpayer in Haines Junction or anywhere else, then I disagree with that. I say they are both in the same situation.
This Legislature must treat the taxpayers of all municipalities fairly, and that is what the block funding arrangement and the principle behind the block funding arrangement are all about. I support that and will continue to support that in the future as one Member, one vote, in this Legislature.
The issue of priority setting to environmental projects is a real one, and I take the Member for Porter Creek Easts comments on that. It is true that environmental projects are a high priority. Whether we both share the same environmental standards is something that has yet to be determined. I do not necessarily think that to be the case. There will be opportunity in this Legislature to determine exactly what environmental standards the Members opposite are championing.
In the time I have been in this Legislature, I have not seen a great deal in the way of substance with respect to specifics, other than the rhetoric of wanting to encourage environmental protection. I am sure there will be a tremendous amount of opportunity in the coming months and years to determine exactly what it is they are referring to in that particular case.
I can only say the Government of Yukon has a darn good record when it comes to not only devolving control but, also, providing substantial financial benefit to municipalities and to communities. This is reflected in the budgetary allocation. It is better than one-third in the current year of Community and Transportation Services in the capital budget. That is phenomenal and astounding. It has taken the Government of Yukons ability in the field of municipal infrastructure and turned its abilities almost entirely over to municipalities in the balance between the various priorities: education, highways, et cetera. We have taken a substantial amount, increased it, and turned it over to municipalities. If we were to be honest with ourselves and balance off the various capital work priorities, I think we would be accepting of the reality that there are substantial funds given to municipalities, including and especially Whitehorse. That is as it should be.
The Member for Porter Creek East made a point earlier on with respect to the capital block funding and the need to show all communities, including Whitehorse again, speaking for his constituency, that the Government of Yukon maintains a fair amount of capital expenditures in the City of Whitehorse. The proof is in the pudding, with respect to that matter. If one were to look at the current years capital budget, and when one looks at next years capital budget, they will see a substantial amount of money going into works in Whitehorse on all fronts. I am sure the Member can find a program where, on a per capita basis, Whitehorse has not been getting the same share as other communities. However, if you were to look at the entire capital budget and balance out all the projects that are going ahead in the capital city, one could not help but notice that a very substantial and a more-than-fair commitment has been made to this city. Again, that is as it should be.
I do agree with the amendment to the amendment, and I do agree with the principle of the main motion. I do not walk away with the same assumptions the Member has about automatically amending other pieces of legislation, but I do believe the principles and statements the Members have made on both sides of the House are reflected adequately well in the amended motion.
Speaker: Are you prepared for the question on the amendment to the amendment?
Subamendment agreed to
Speaker: Is there any further discussion on the motion as amended?
Amendment agreed to as amended
Speaker: Is there any further discussion on the main motion as sub-sub-amended?
Motion No. 33 agreed to as amended
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and the House resolve into the Committee of the Whole.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Government House Leader that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and the House resolve into the Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
Speaker leaves the Chair
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order. At this time, we will take a short break. We will return in 10 minutes.
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order. We will proceed with Bill No. 42.
Bill No. 42: Intergovernmental Agreements Act
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Earlier today, I outlined the principles of the bill. There was general agreement on both sides of the House that they were commendable principles. I would recommend, if the Leader of the Opposition is agreeable, to move immediately into clause-by-clause reading.
Mr. Phelps: I do agree that we move immediately in. I would like to thank the Minister for providing me with correspondence and background information, which allayed the concerns I expressed during debate this afternoon.
Chair: We will then proceed with clause-by-clause reading of the bill.
On Clause 1
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Section 1 establishes the scope of the legislation in terms of our relationship with the Government of Canada and confirms the ability of the Government of Yukon to enter into formal agreements with the Government of Canada from time to time with respect to any matter within the territorys legislative competence. The clause specifically includes Yukon Act section 20 agreements, being agreements entered into by Canada pursuant to federal legislation, contemplating similar agreements with the provinces. In general terms, the language is intended to cover the full spectrum of our potential contractual relationships with the federal government.
Clause 1 agreed to
On Clause 2
Hon. Mr. Penikett: This clause simply extends the principle expressed in section 1 to our relationship with the provinces.
Clause 2 agreed to
On Clause 3
Hon. Mr. Penikett: In general terms, section 3 here has two sections as indicated. The two subsections provide the formal authority for delegation of signing authority to a particular Minister to sign an agreement alone, that is without the Commissioner, and thereby binding the Yukon Territory. The reading of this section together with section 1 provides the authority for signature by the designated minister alone on all agreements including Yukon Act Section 20 agreements. The agreements we have recently reached with Canada exclude section 20 agreements. That is to say, the federal government is, for the time being, still insisting on the Commissioners signature on these agreements. Having the legislation framed in this manner, will provide any formal authority if, at some point, the federal government backs off on its present position and also serves to strengthen the arguments we can make in that regard since we will have expressly stated that we will be bound by a Ministers signature on such agreements. The position of the present Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs is that he will deal with arguments on each matter on a case-by-case basis.
Mr. Phelps: It should be on record that the Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs has, in order to facilitate the intent of this legislation, corresponded with and given the Commissioner instructions that are consistent with the intent of this legislation.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: If the Leader of the Opposition will forgive me, it is something to be henceforth known as the Cadieux letter.
Mr. Lang: Could that letter be tabled in the House so that it is a public document?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Of course, with the consent of the author. I will seek to obtain that consent.
Clause 3 agreed to
On Clause 4
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Section 4 in this bill is, of course, the standard provision reflecting the supreme authority of the Legislature in approving the expenditure of public funds. A similar general clause is contained in our Financial Administration Act and similar acts in other Canadian jurisdictions.
Clause 4 agreed to
Title agreed to
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I move that the Chair do now report Bill No. 42, Intergovernmental Agreements Act out of Committee without amendment.
Motion agreed to
Chair: I believe that Bill No. 45 has been deferred.
We will then proceed with Bill No. 55.
Bill No. 55: An Act to Amend the Occupational Health and Safety Act
Chair: Is there any general debate?
Hon. Ms. Joe: I would just like for the record to let the Member for Riverdale South know that we have deferred Bill No. 45 but I would certainly like to have it back to the House and dealt with possibly on Thursday.
We are now proceeding with Bill No. 55 and I have some explanations here regarding the changes made under Bill No. 55. I do not know if the Members have any questions with regard to the bill in general debate.
Mrs. Firth: Perhaps I will address the issue the Minister raised first regarding the amendments to the Employment Standards Act. If she wants that bill in here by Thursday, that is only one week since the government tabled the bill. I personally do not think that is going to be enough time for the people who have expressed an interest in looking at the amendments that are proposed, to have their meetings and to consult with their boards for example, the Chamber of Commerce and the Contractors Association. I would ask the Minister to consider giving them more time.
As far as Bill No. 55 is considered, I am prepared to move into the clause-by-clause debate.
On Clause 1
Clause 1 agreed to
On Clause 2
Hon. Ms. Joe: This amendment consolidates the duties of the health and safety representative into one concise, easy-to-understand section. The present legislation separates the duties over three sections and has been found to be confusing by employer and workers alike.
Clause 2 agreed to
On Clause 3
Mrs. Firth: Perhaps I could just point out the change of wording and get a verification from the Minister. The additional words in this clause, specifically, for the purpose of calculating wages owing, be deemed to be spent at work irrespective of whether the member would otherwise have been at work. Is the Minister prepared to confirm that that means that if the employees or committee representatives are on their time off the employer is required to pay them as if they had been working, which is what the previous clause said.
Hon. Ms. Joe: Yes.
Mrs. Firth: Can the Minister tell us if the businesses that were consulted with 20 or more employees are in agreement with paying those extra wages?
Hon. Ms. Joe: The Member knows that there has not been extensive consultation with regard to the amendments to this act. The answer is no, because we have not had an all-out review of the act. Representations have been made by certain individuals to this and there were certain interpretations I believe in the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations that people were a little concerned with. There had to be some clarification with regard to some of the things included in it. This is the section where that would have made the concern a little more plain. I do not have the exact books and terms with me.
Mrs. Firth: The Minister has not answered my question. The companies or businesses that are going to be affected are now going to have to pay the committee representatives for committee duties that were performed during their off hours, not their regular work hours. Have these businesses or companies been consulted to see if they agreed to that? Can the Minister tell us approximately what kind of increase they may be looking at in dollars? Did the department examine how much more money it was going to cost, say to Curragh Resources, to make this change?
Hon. Ms. Joe: The big issue at Curragh was with regard to a misunderstanding on how this section was going to work. I do not know how many individuals or groups were consulted on this section. I do know there were discussions at Curragh, and no, I do not have a list of how much it may cost. The safety inspections and other work that has to be done by committees are not done on a scheduled basis. Sometimes they are used more often than other times. I do not have specific answers.
Mrs. Firth: When new legislation or amendments are proposed, it is always interesting to know what impact it is going to have on the people who are going to have to abide by the new law. I would like to ask the Minister if she can bring that information for us because this is a change that is going to require that employers pay more money. I would like to know whether the government has done its research or not and if they can give us some idea of how much more money employers are going to have to pay as a result of this. Curragh is going to be one, and any other employers that have over 20 employees. I do not think the government would have consulted individuals or groups on this matter. It would be done on the basis of the occupational health and safety department consulting with companies like Curragh to get some kind of estimate of the financial impact this change will have on their business and how much more it would be expected to pay in an approximation of how much more work is going to have to be done by committee members.
If the Minister can bring that kind of information back for me, I would appreciate it.
Hon. Ms. Joe: I can bring an estimate back for the Member if she requires that information.
Chair: There seems to be a typo here in this bill. There are two clause 3s here. Does the Committee agree that we number the next ones four, five and six?
Some Members: Agreed
Clause 3 agreed to
On Clause 4
Mrs. Firth: Why have they changed the wording in the definition: where there is a serious accident or serious injury at the work place? I think it has broadened the definition considerably. Could the Minister give me an explanation of that?
Hon. Ms. Joe: The purpose of this proposed change is to correct an error in the original legislative drafting. Part VII of the act identifies the accident report requirement. However, subsection 13(7) presently suggests that only serious accidents need to be investigated. Many serious accidents do occur where no injuries result, and it is felt that to reduce risk, all serious accidents should be investigated.
Mrs. Firth: Can the Minister tell us what a serious accident is? Who makes the determination as to whether an accident is considered serious or not?
Hon. Ms. Joe: It was my intention to have one of the officers here to help me with some of the questions I might have received from the Member. The gentleman has just come in. I need your permission.
Chair: Is there agreement?
There has been a suggestion that we recess until 7:30. Is there agreement?
We will recess until 7:30 p.m.
Chair: I will now call the Committee of the Whole to order. We will continue with debate on Clause 4 of Bill No. 55.
Hon. Ms. Joe: The Member for Riverdale South was asking for further information with regard to the people who were consulted regarding public perceptions here. I believe that she may have received the kind of information she needed after the House adjourned for supper. I was wondering if that is the case.
Mrs. Firth: We had an informal discussion with officials from the department regarding the proposed amendments to the Occupation Health and Safety Act. I have no further questions for the Minister other than to point out that in a change in the next clause that the wording has been changed from fatally or critically injured person to serious accident or serious injury. I just want to point out that the definition is being broadened considerably. I understand from the officials that there has been concurrence with some of the businesses that were consulted that those employers and employees felt this was in the best interest of businesses and employees, so I will not have any further questions regarding the amendments.
Clause 4 agreed to
On Clause 5
Clause 5 agreed to
On Clause 6
Clause 6 agreed to
On Clause 7
Clause 7 agreed to
Title agreed to
Hon. Ms. Joe: I move that the bill be reported without amendment.
Motion agreed to
Bill No. 95 Miscellaneous Statute Law Amendment Act, 1989
Chair: We will move to Bill No. 95, entitled Miscellaneous Statute Law Amendment Act, 1989.
Hon. Ms. Joe: I was just going to ask if there was any debate on clause 1, but I guess that is your job.
Mrs. Firth: I would like some general debate before we move on. The concerns I want to raise deal with clause 1, but also with another principle in the bill. If the Minister is going to have her officials come down perhaps I can ask some questions about the whole idea I raised at second reading about removing sexist language.
Is it the intention of this government to go through all two volumes of this and do that with all the bills? If that is the case I would like an idea of what it is going to cost us.
Hon. Ms. Joe: I do not think we would be able to come up with an estimate of what the cost would be. We are looking at the possibility of changing a lot of our language down the road. We realize that it will be a long time coming before we have made changes to all the bills we have so there is no longer any sexist linguistic uses in them. It will take a long, long time to complete all of them. We are going through some of the acts now and making some of these changes through this bill.
Mrs. Firth: I would like to make representation on behalf of the constituents I represent and other Yukoners that I do not think this is really necessary. The government has demonstrated that its intentions regarding the use of sexist language in legislation is good. The new legislation being brought before this House is being drafted in a non-sexist way, using person terminology and so on. It is not going to do the taxpayer any good for the government to go through these whole volumes looking at the words he and him and changing them to he/she, or him/her, or them/their, or whatever they are going to do.
The government should examine that very seriously. I have talked to many people outside the Legislature about this issue and they find it quite ridiculous that the government would do this. The government is demonstrating a commitment to groups that have raised this with the Minister that its intentions are good. I agree personally, and I know my colleagues agree that the legislation now being drafted should be written in a non-sexist manner. It must take one lawyer just to do this, and it will take a long, long time to go through all this legislation.
As a Member of the Legislative Assembly and a critic for the area of Justice, my salary, which is being paid by the taxpayers, is to pay for me to sit here and read to make sure the draftsperson has not missed any hims or hes. I do not think it makes any sense to be spending money that way. Surely, the Minister can offer some commentary that this perhaps is not the wisest use of government resources.
This government does have a lot of outstanding legislation: the mental health act, the education act, the environmental protection act. Surely, the draftspeople could be used in more constructive and meaningful ways when it comes to drafting legislation than doing this.
I remember in high school, we used to have these particularly sadistic teachers who, for a punishment, would give you a couple of pages of typed documentation and you would have to fill the zeros in with a little black pencil. That is the same kind of task as what we are asking a professional lawyer to do when it comes to changing he to he/she and him to him/her.
I would really impress upon the Minister we have done four as: Access to Information, Age of Majority, Agricultural Development and Animal Protection. I do not see the necessity of going all the way through these volumes to the ys to complete this. In some provinces like Saskatchewan, I know they have all their legislation computerized. If they want to make those kinds of changes, they can do it on the computer. I do not know if we have that capability here or not but, if we do not, I do not think we should start it unless it is for the new legislation we are enacting in the Yukon Territory.
I make that representation as a constructive criticism. I would like the Minister to give it some very serious thought so we are making wise decisions on behalf of the Yukon people we represent.
Hon. Ms. Joe: I believe we are making wise decisions for the people of the Yukon. If we were, for instance, to pick on a piece of legislation that was very long and try to include that in a miscellaneous statute law amendment act, that would be a waste of time at this point. Right now, we are dealing with some very small changes that have to be made in pieces of legislation that are not that long. It is not as if we are spending days and days doing it. We are including it in an act that includes many other things, dealing with other small changes that have to be made.
If we can take the time now to deal with some of the smaller pieces of legislation to include using the proper terms in this day and age, then I do not think we are wasting anybodys time, least of all the taxpayers of the Yukon, who are offended by some of that sexist language in our laws. We are dealing with four pieces of legislation in two pages. I do not think that is a real waste of time.
I understand what the Member is saying, and I have taken her remarks constructively. I think she has made a point, but I also believe that if we are going to be changing legislation through this act, it makes perfect sense to include the small pieces of legislation that are included in here.
Mrs. Firth: I am just going to say one more thing about it. Obviously the Minister and I are going to have to agree to disagree. You can not have it both ways. Either you have to change it all or you are not going to continue on with any more. It does not make sense to say we are just going to do the little short acts but we might not do the big long ones.
The principle of the law is what we should be concerned with. The acts as they are now, even though the language may offend some people I would submit that it is a very small percentage of the population that finds it offensive really, lawyers, the public, the court system, the judiciary system can operate with the way the legislation is written now. It does not change whether the judge can make a decision based on our acts or whether people know what the law is based on the way it is written now just because it does not say he or she or him or her in it. I think the position we are presenting is a more practical position. It is a more responsible position. You may have to go to the few people who find it offensive and say I am sorry, I can not address and meet your needs because the majority of people do not feel that this is a necessity or a priority with our government right now. We are drafting all new legislation to meet your requirements. That makes sense and seems to be a reasonable, practical approach. I would like the Minister to consider talking to those people and see if they would be prepared to accept that. Otherwise, I am prepared to move on to the Access to Information Act and we will go through the hes and shes and hims and hers.
Hon. Ms. Joe: I take her remarks constructively and I think she has made a point but, as I have said, if I can change the terms in these three acts through a miscellaneous statute law amendment act, I think it makes perfect sense to do it. As she said, we are going to have to agree to disagree and that is exactly what we are doing. I am prepared to go through it clause by clause.
On Clause 1
Mrs. Firth: In subsection (3), I would like to point out to the Minister that in the Access to Information Act, under request for information, clause 4(4) in the present act there is a word him, and yet on this Miscellaneous Statute Law Amendment Act I do not see any proposed amended for clause 4(4) to have him changed to him or her. I believe the department has forgotten a him.
Mr. Nordling: I just wondered if the Ministers intent was that clause 4(4) would only apply to males and not to females.
Mrs. Firth: There has been one missed. I am not bringing amendments in for the Minister, her department will have to do that for her. I would just like to bring to her attention that in clause 4(4) there is a him the department has missed and they can deal with it accordingly.
Hon. Ms. Joe: I take what I am doing very seriously when I talk about changing legislation to change the terms when they do not necessarily have to be used. It is a very serious part of my job. If the Members across the House feel that it is a bit of a joke, that is their problem. I would like to thank the Member for Riverdale South for bringing it to my attention that there was one word that was omitted from these amendments. Of course, that could be included at another date, but certainly I think that changing this kind of legislation and changing terms to meet the times and not live in the dark ages anymore is a good move.
Mrs. Firth: There was no fun made on this side of the House. I, too, take this seriously. I have been here all weekend reading this legislation that some lawyer had to draft up who is making a lot more money than I am as a Member of this Legislative Assembly. There are two salaries that are now going into changing this terminology.
I would like to point out that there is another him that has been omitted by the department. I am prepared to pass all the clauses. If we could move to clause 11(2), there is a him under further appeal to Supreme Court, On the appeal to him the Supreme Court Judge may require the production of ... So there are two hims that have been missed, so the Minister could have her department officials address that error. This is just to indicate to the Minister that I am taking what I am doing very seriously as well.
Chair: We will deal with clause 1 first, and then we will ask the consent of the Committee as we go through the whole thing up to clause 11. Is there agreement?
All Members: Agreed.
Chair: Is there further debate on clause 11?
Hon. Ms. Joe: I am not sure what we are doing here.
Chair: The unanimous consent has been given on clauses 1 to 10 and we are now debating clause 11.
Mrs. Firth: I am pointing out to the Minister that another him has been missed. In the book in clause 11.(2) there is another him that needs to be changed to him or her. I am not making fun of the Minister; I have done my homework, and I am bringing it to the attention of the department. I could have brought amendments in, but I do not feel that it is my responsibility. The department is moving in this direction and since I have disagreed with the concept, I do not feel it is up to me to bring amendments in. The department can look after that for the Minister.
Hon. Ms. Joe: I would like to stand this section over so we can bring the proper amendments back.
Chair: Does that mean that Clause 1 is not carried?
Clause 1 stood over
Mrs. Firth: That is not what we are after.
Chair: Mrs. Firth, may I ask you what you mean by seeking unanimous consent? On what?
Mrs. Firth: I did not ask for unanimous consent. In the access to information amendments, two amendments should have been made that I found in the main bill that were not brought to the Legislature in the Miscellaneous Statutes Amendment Act, so I pointed them out to the Minister. Her officials have now indicated that they will stand the whole access to information amendments aside until they bring those two in that I pointed out, and we will be able to clear it at that time.
Chair: Thank you for that clarification.
On Clause 2
Clause 2 agreed to
On Clause 3
Mrs. Firth: Clause 3(3) is a new clause. Could the Minister give us the reason that was included? Is it a new clause just to change the sexist language that was in the previous clause?
Hon. Ms. Joe: It has been changed for exactly that reason. It does not change the effect at all.
Clause 3 agreed to
On Clause 4
Mrs. Firth: With respect to clause 4(6)(b), when I read the Animal Protection Act, the terminology used is in 3(1)(d), and I believe the terminology used is his powers. They have referred to it here as his duties. I believe that word should be powers, not duties, which would be an error in the drafting of the miscellaneous statute law.
Hon. Ms. Joe: The Member has identified an error that was made in the amendments. Where it says his or her duties is substituted for the expression his duties should be changed to powers.
Chair: Will there be an amendment?
Hon. Ms. Joe: Yes.
Clause 4 stood over
On Clause 5
Clause 5 agreed to
On Clause 6
Mrs. Firth: I have a question about this. The amendment looks correct and everything, but I would like to ask what the problem was this change is going to resolve. Can the Minister give me any instances where, for example, the court was unable to render a decision because of the old wording that necessitated this change of wording?
Hon. Ms. Joe: The Member has asked a question with regard to whether or not there were problems in the court. So far, there have been no problems, and the changes were made to make sure problems did not arise. We recognized there could be one. The explanation I have here is that the amendment is to make clear that the provision applies only to resolve constitutional issues concerning the division of legislative authority, and that it does not apply where the question is merely whether, on a proper interpretation of the act, it is this Yukon enactment or that one which applies. That is the explanation.
Mrs. Firth: There are no problems then, is what I am getting at.
Clause 6 agreed to
On Clause 7
Clause 7 agreed to
On Clause 8
Clause 8 agreed to
On Clause 9
Mrs. Firth: In the explanation, it says this amendment for the Housing Corporation Act was to change the title to president for the chief executive officer of the corporation but, when I read the act, there is nothing really designating that there is a chief executive officer. So, this not only changes the title, but does it not also create the position of a chief executive officer? In a sense, is that not a new policy direction?
Hon. Ms. Joe: I am informed that this is not new. It is new in the act but not new in the practice. That is the explanation I have been given.
Mrs. Firth: I guess what the government is doing then is coming in here and asking us to legalize what they have been doing, so they have been doing something they had no law to do, or was against the law, or what? I am told these are housekeeping amendments. In the explanatory note, it reads that this creates the title of president for the chief executive officer of the corporation. That is kind of an inaccurate statement if we never really had a chief executive officer in legislation, just in practice. Now, they are saying they are changing the title of it. Is that not somewhat stretching things a bit?
Hon. Ms. Joe: It is a new policy that has been developed and there are changes in the names of some of the positions that are in existence. Under the Housing Corporation this is one of the positions that will be changed to president.
Mrs. Firth: Perhaps the Minister of the Housing Corporation will want to answer this question; I do not know. I understand from practice that there has been a chief executive officer in the Housing Corporation. Legislatively, there is nothing to create that position. Someone had to create that position. Who did it? The Minister? Cabinet? Who authorized the salary dollars for that individual and what was the salary they were getting? We are now legitimizing this position, but how did it get to be a practice in the first place if there was no legislative authority for it?
Hon. Ms. Joe: Apparently there is provision for it under the Public Service Act.
Mrs. Firth: I would like to know where that is because in all the other acts that deal with corporations liquor corporations, development corporations it states in their own act that there will be a board and the board of the corporation shall choose someone to be the chair or the chief executive officer, or whatever, but the Yukon Housing Corporation Act did not. It simply said that the board of the corporation shall appoint such employees as it considers necessary and fix the salaries or remuneration for its employees.
Now we all know that there has been a president of the Yukon Housing Corporation and that the position has a healthy salary. Now the government is saying that because it has been the practice they now want to put it into law and bring it here as a new policy under the guise of a housekeeping matter. Then, they want to change the title from chief executive officer to president. It would not be controversial if the government had been up front about it and indicated what they were doing.
I think it has to be noted that this practice has carried on without legislative authority. There has been a president of the Housing Corporation. I do not know who made the decision that they would have a president and who decided on the salary. I would like to know whether it was Cabinet or the board and who made the decision and who hired the individual. I guess it is about time it was legitimized in legislation.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The board has historically hired a number of employees to perform the work of the board without diminishing the responsibility of the board under the act. The board had previously hired an executive director and that person had been performing the functions of what is commonly referred to as president for sometime, and certainly before we came into office.
Subsequent, to our arrival in office, the Housing Corporation board indicated to me that they would like to see the executive director named president for a number of reasons. It was the board of the Housing Corporation that chose the name president for one of their employees. Consequently, that is how it happened. What is being proposed here is that the name of this employee be recognized in the act as the president.
Mrs. Firth: There is more than just the name being recognized as president being proposed. What is being proposed is that there is a chief executive officer, according to legislation, in the Yukon Housing Corporation Act now. There is nothing in there previously to allow that kind of appointment. I am simply pointing out to the government that this does not only change the non-existent the Minister is shaking his head read the legislation, it is right there stating what the board can do with its employees. Look at the compensation board, the liquor board or the Yukon Development Corporation board and look at what their board responsibilities are. It states in all of those that they can appoint one of the board members or they can hire someone to be the chief executive officer. This act does not say that. What it is doing is creating the position of that chief executive officer as well as changing the title to that of president.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Housing Corporation has for a very long time had a chief executive officer who was an executive director of the corporation. That practice was in place since 1982 onwards, as far as I know, with the exception of the time in 1985 when the chief executive officer was rolled into the position of director of lands and housing. Prior to that there was an executive director and that person performed basically the function of chief executive officer. I presume that was a decision by the board of that day that that be the case.
After 1985, the board did hire a person whom they appointed as chief executive officer for the corporation. It was one of their employees and they named that person as director. In the recruitment of a new director, at one point, they indicated that housing corporations across the country have presidents, and they do not commonly have executive directors. They wanted to hire somebody of the calibre of president and consequently requested that the name of their executive director, who was acting as the chief executive officer, be named president. So this is a practice that has been ongoing since 1982, to my knowledge, with the exception of that one year when the managing director of the housing corporation, who was performing the role of the CEO, was rolled into the director of lands and housing. That, too, was not exactly conforming with the legislation.
What is being proposed here is to normalize a process that has been ongoing for a very long time. It does not denote a change in policy, it reflects a respect for the Housing Corporation to hire employees and to give them such duties and responsibilities as they see fit as a housing corporation board.
It also reflects the practice that the Housing Corporation has established, which is to name the executive director, the CEO, the president. That is all that is happening.
Mrs. Firth: Then it should not be brought in as a housekeeping matter now. That is the point I am making. What does this Minister think, that we are going to just say okay? That should have been an official change to the act, then. I know whoever was in charge of the Housing Corporation in 1982 did not have the responsibilities of a chief executive officer, nor did they share the luxury of the salary that that position now takes with it, nor did they have the responsibilities.
Look at the Housing Corporation of 1982 compared to what it is now. It is a huge corporation. How many employees is this individual responsible for? The argument is not what there is now compared to what was there in 1982, but how can the Minister say that all we are doing is legitimizing the title? What we are doing is creating this special title and we are changing it now to president. This is not just a name change from chief executive officer to president, it is the creation of the position. Otherwise, the amendment would not be worded to say 9. The following paragraph is substituted for paragraph 5(1)(a) of the Housing Corporation Act: (a) appoint a president, who shall be the chief executive officer of the corporation, and such other employees as the board considers necessary".
In the other amendments, for example, the Workers Compensation Act, the title president is substituted for the title executive director. They did not even have a title to substitute president for. They had to completely create the title of executive director, or chief executive officer, so they could substitute the title president for that position.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Housing Corporation Act is a reflection of an older piece of legislation that has not been brought before the House for some time. I cannot remember the exact date of the act. The Yukon Development Corporation Act, for example, has been before this House recently, and the decision was made to identify a person who would act in the name of a chief executive officer.
That is the practice of the Housing Corporation. The role of chief executive officer does not denote the size nor the numbers of employees in the corporation. The corporation could have two people working for it and still have a chief executive officer. It could have one person and still have a chief executive officer, or it could have 25 people and have a chief executive officer. That is not a reflection of whether or not a person plays that role.
This is not new policy, and that is the reason why it is brought in in this form. This is a situation where the drafters of the original Housing Corporation Act did not anticipate a desire to make this particular move, or denote a particular employee to perform this role, but it is common for all the corporations to have a chief executive officer. That has been the practice for some considerable time. It has certainly been a practice in the Housing Corporation.
It has been the choice of the board, over the many years, to have a chief executive officer, and they have given that person a variety of names. This is not new policy for either the Housing Corporation or for this government. It is quite consistent with what is happening with other Crown corporations. It is consistent with the past practice of the Housing Corporation itself. Not only is the office of chief executive officer consistent with the past practice of the Housing Corporation, but the name of president is something that the Housing Corporation has chosen to call this person they hire and that they are entitled to hire under this act. We are simply formalizing and recognizing that in the legislation, for the sake of consistency with other pieces of legislation that deal with Crown corporations.
Mrs. Firth: Why, then, do the other amendments in this Miscellaneous Statute Law Amendment Act, 1989, in the other areas they are amending the Workers Compensation and the Development Corporation have title substitutions, and this one is not a title substitution? It is an appointment. It does not belong in this kind of an act. It should have been a separate amendment to the Housing Corporation Act. Do not try to pass this off as a title substitution, because it is not.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: What is obvious in the Liquor Act, Workers Compensation Act and the Yukon Development Corporation Act is that they are taking the words either executive director or manager, whatever the legislation had called those positions, and changing them to president. The Member is quite right about that.
With respect to the Housing Corporation, even though the legislation has not been changed, the practice has been perfectly consistent with respect to the appointment of an executive director position for the Housing Corporation, or chief executive officer for the Housing Corporation, for a significant period of time, which is allowed for under this act.
The Member has already read out that the board of the corporation shall appoint its employees. This is not to say that this employee will appointed by the government. It does not say this employee will be elected. It does not say that this employee will be anything other than appointed by the board of the Housing Corporation.
Mrs. Firth: On a point of order, it does not say that it will be a chief executive officer either. It just says that it will be an employee. That is the point. It does not say it will be a chief executive officer. There is no such thing in the legislation for the Yukon Housing Corporation Act. So the practice that this government had was an illegal one. I do not care if they have been carrying it on for twenty-five years.
Chair: Order, please. There is no point of order.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Obviously the rude attitude of the Member for Porter Creek East is infectious on that side of the House.
Mr. Lang: Point of order. That was totally uncalled for, to impute motives of that kind, and I would ask the Member to apologize to me. That was totally uncalled for and if he wanted that type of debate I am more than willing to give it to him.
Chair: Order please. Mr. McDonald, on a point of order.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There is no apology from my seat coming. The Member for Porter Creek East this afternoon proved himself to behave quite badly and that is all there is to it. That is all that I can say. The Member from Riverdale South just recently wanted to interrupt the remarks I was making and had no point of order. She simply wanted to disagree with me.
Chair: There is no point of order.
Mrs. Firth: Perhaps we could ask the Minister of Justice. She is sponsoring this legislation. Perhaps the Minister of Justice could tell us how she sees it. I do not think we are incorrect in interpreting that in previous legislation that is why it is here and that is why her officials have drafted it the way they have there was no previous designation as chief executive officer or any other title that could be substituted by the word president and that is why it has been brought in here. Is that not correct?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The point I was making in the beginning was that there are four corporations. The Miscellaneous Statute Law Amendment Act attempts to deal with conformity, to conform not only with the practice, operating within the principles of the various pieces of legislation with which they are dealing to do otherwise would mean a formal amendment to the act and to provide for the designation of president for each of the corporations.
If the situation involved a change of policy, the Member would be right. Unfortunately it does not denote a change of policy and it does not breach the intent of the Yukon Housing Corporation Act either because the act does indicate that the Housing Corporation board has the power and authority to appoint employees. It is in fact the practice of the Housing Corporation and the policy of the board to appoint somebody who they deem to be the chief executive officer. It is also the policy of the board to denote that person as president. These are all things that are current and common practice. The point of this act is to bring them all into conformity so that they all have the same sort of designation in each of the acts for the purposes of conformity.
Mr. Lang: We talked about rudeness a little earlier. I would appreciate it if the real Minister of Housing could stand up and talk about his particular portfolio. I do not understand why the now designated governor of all departments who cannot even be bothered to return calls to the media, according to what is in print today, is now having to answer for the Minister of Housing and the Minister of Justice. I do not understand where suddenly he has all the knowledge. Perhaps the real Minister of Housing should stand up and speak to the Miscellaneous Statute Law Amendment Act as opposed to the Minister of know-it-all.
Mrs. Firth: I would rather pass the debate back to the Minister of Justice. It looked like we were getting a reasonable answer over there instead of this twaddle that the Minister of everything is giving us on the other side of the House. I am fed up with that. When I asked a question of the Minister of Justice about this proposed amendment, I saw the official indicating by nodding his head that this was correct. They had worded it that way because there was no chief executive officer. They had to word it that way so that they could then substitute the word president for that position. I am prepared to accept that from the Minister of Justice and take our point as having brought it forward. Now everything is legitimized and the Housing Corporation has a president for a title, which brings me to my next question to the Minister of Justice: why are we changing all these executive director or manager titles to president? What is the purpose of that and how is that going to benefit Yukoners?
Hon. Ms. Joe: The Member has made a lot of comments with regard to different things. I noted at one time I was being asked a question and at the same time the Minister responsible for Housing was being asked a question. My colleague, the Minister of Education, responded to some of the questions that were being asked at the time. I have been informed by my official here that the job title has not been mentioned previously in the act, but the job has existed for years. For that reason we have brought it forward.
With regard to all the other titles being changed to president, I think there are many different titles and positions belonging to corporations and boards, and it is just a matter of being consistent so people would understand that two positions with two different names would be doing the same kind of a job. It just boils down to the fact we are looking at having something consistent so people can understand exactly what it is.
Clause 9 agreed to
On Clause 10
Clause 10 agreed to
On Clause 11
Mrs. Firth: I would like some explanation on that because in the act itself section 21 is definitions, words and phrases. I believe it has 21(1), 21(2), 21(3), and 21(4). Should this (4) be a (5)? Is this another error?
Hon. Ms. Joe: I am checking it.
There is a correction here. That should be (4.1). I will provide an amendment for that.
Mrs. Firth: Perhaps the Minister could explain why it is called (4.1). It is about the postal service. Is it related to (4) that deals with terms Yukon and the Yukon. Would it not be its own separate entity as opposed to a subsection under (4)?
Hon. Ms. Joe: Once again there is an error here. That would have to be another amendment to add that. It would probably be (6). We will make that amendment.
Clause 11 stood over
On Clause 12
Clause 12 agreed to
On Clause 13
Clause 13 agreed to
On Clause 14
Mrs. Firth: I have a concern about the wording in 14(2) as well. I think it incorrect. In the Motor Vehicles Act, on page 85, section 231 deals with driving disqualification. Section 231 says subject to section 234" and the proposed amendment is saying under section 234", so I think that that wording is incorrect. Does the official follow my concern? It is in clause 231(1). The terminology is subject to section 234" so in the Motor Vehicles Act amendment it says in 14(2) In paragraphs 231(1)(a) to (c) the expression or under section 234 is substituted for the expression or under section 234".
I believe the wording is subject to section 234".
Hon. Ms. Joe: I would move to stand that section aside.
Clause 14 stood over
On Clause 15
Clause 15 agreed to
On Clause 16
Clause 16 agreed to
On Clause 17
Clause 17 agreed to
On Clause 18
Clause 18 agreed to
On Clause 19
Clause 19 agreed to
On Clause 20
Clause 20 agreed to
On Clause 21
Clause 21 agreed to
Chair: We will have a brief recess.
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order.
On Clause 14
Hon. Ms. Joe: There were some comments on clause 14, under the Motor Vehicles Act. During the break, we had a short conversation with the Member for Riverdale South, and we agreed that the paragraph, as stated, was correct.
Chair: Order, please.
Clause 14 agreed to
On Clause 1
Hon. Ms. Joe: I would like to propose an amendment. I move
THAT Bill No. 95, entitled Miscellaneous Statute Law Amendment Act, 1989, be amended in clause 1 at page 1 by adding the following subclause:
(6) In subsection 4(4), the expression him or her" is substituted for the word him.
(7) In subsection 11(2), the expression him or her" is substituted for the word him."
These are the ones that were identified by the Member for Riverdale South.
Chair: Has the Member had a chance to look at it? This amendment is technically out of order because it opens a subsection and a section of the existing act that this bill does not address. If it is the wish of the Committee to deal with this amendment, the Chair must require unanimous consent. This would not then be seen as a precedent.
Mrs. Firth: I think this side is prepared to give unanimous consent. However, I do not want it to be a precedent, and I am raising a very big concern that it not happen again, and we not have to go through this kind of procedure again. It is a very serious matter. The reason we are giving them unanimous consent is because I think this is not of a high enough priority to hold up the House business any further, and we may as well get it done while we have it here. I do not want to see these hims and hers things again in this session.
Mr. Lang: I want to make a point here. I find it ludicrous that we have a bill with substantial errors throughout it and now we have an amendment that is also technically incorrect. I will give unanimous consent to have it read the way it is, but more research has to be done on some of this legislation. Obviously there are major problems and it is an embarrassment to all of us, not just the Minister who brought the bill forward, especially when we have been told that somebody spent many hours to bring forward these amendments. It is totally uncalled for and a great expense to the taxpayer.
Chair: Is there unanimous consent?
Amendment agreed to
Clause 1 agreed to as amended
On Clause 11
Hon. Ms. Joe: I am proposing another amendment
THAT Bill No. 95, entitled Miscellaneous Statute Law Amendment Act, 1989 be amended in clause 11 at page 4 by substituting the expression (6) for the expression (4).
That was another clause identified by the Member for Riverdale North.
Mrs. Firth: The official has indicated that there is a (5). I do not recall seeing that when I looked at the amendments in the Yukon Statutes for the Interpretation Act. I think it should be (5) from the look on the officials face.
Hon. Ms. Joe: The correction is to substitute (5) for (4).
Chair: Could I ask you to read it the way it should be?
Hon. Ms. Joe: I move
THAT Bill No. 95, entitled Miscellaneous Statute Law Amendment Act, 1989 be amended in clause 11 at page 4 by substituting the expression (5) for the expression (4).
Amendment agreed to
Clause 11 agreed to as amended
On Clause 4
Hon. Ms. Joe: I move
THAT Bill No. 95, entitled Miscellaneous Statute Law Amendment Act, 1989 be amended in clause 4(6) at page 2 by substituting the word powers for the word duties where it appears.
Chair: Is there any debate on the amendment?
Amendment agreed to
Clause 4 agreed to as amended
Title Agreed to
Chair: Order please. Can I ask Mrs. Joe to report the bill with the amendment.
Hon. Ms. Joe: Yes, I will. But first I would like to apologize to the House for the confusion that has been caused as a result of this bill and I can assure the House that further work will be put into bills that we introduce to the House in the future. I move that this bill be passed with amendments.
I move that you report Bill No. 95 with amendment.
Motion agreed to
Bill No. 72 Mackenzie River Basin Agreements Act
Chair: We will proceed with Bill No. 72. Is there general debate?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I would like to begin by responding to some of the concerns raised by the Member for Porter Creek East regarding the financial implications of the Yukon entering into this agreement. The anticipated costs to the territorial government over the next three years will be nominal. Basically, it will be the cost for us to attend meetings. Our representative on the committee will have to travel to outside jurisdictions. The federal government provides secretariat services to this committee.
With respect to studies undertaken by the committee, it is established under this act that the majority of the funding requirements would require an appropriation by the jurisdiction or jurisdictions who decide to undertake the study. It is clear at this time that the Yukon government does not intend to initiate any studies. As you know, right now in Yukon the body responsible for water management is DIAND. Any studies that would be undertaken in the next while that would involve Yukon and some costs to us would be borne by that agency.
I realize that when responsibility for this resource is evolved from the federal to the territorial government, we would then have to assume a responsibility for some partial funding of such studies. That would be covered in the agreement with the federal government when it comes time to devolve that responsibility.
So, I do not anticipate any large expenditures for the foreseeable future but the advantage of entering into this agreement with other jurisdictions is to share information that they may gather in this river basin.
Mr. Lang: Could the Minister just update us. Is a study being undertaken at the present time of the Mackenzie River basin and, if so, to what extent. Are they going to affect the Yukon in any way?
Hon. Mr. Webster: No, at this time there are no studies underway; however, there is one being contemplated and that would look at the Mackenzie River Delta, to see the changes in the physical structure of the delta there and the impact that has on the vegetation, the fish, and the wildlife resources.
Mr. Lang: Could the Minister indicate why this study is being undertaken on the delta, other than the fact that there are obviously some habitat questions. Are they looking at some kind of dam, or some energy project?
Hon. Mr. Webster: No, it is not as a result of any proposed development there. It is just a way to better understand the effect that the delta has on the resources in that habitat.
On Clause 1
Mr. Lang: I would submit to the Minister that, once again, there are further drafting errors. It does not read properly to me. It reads, The Commissioner in Executive Council is hereby authorized to make agreements on behalf of the Government of the Yukon with any one or more of the Government of Canada or the government of a province.... I would submit that I do not know, maybe there is a word missing, one or more departments of the Government of Canada or perhaps the Minister can tell us why it is written the way it is.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I think that because we are talking about five different jurisdictions here it is possible under this agreement to conduct a study with, say, two or three or four of the total number.
Mr. Lang: It would seem to me that this is referring to the Government of Canada. There is no reference to provinces or the Northwest Territories. It says one or more of the Government of Canada.... I would ask the Minister to re-read it, because it certainly does not make sense, if that is the intent.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I point out to the Member opposite that there are indeed five jurisdictions that are involved in this agreement. There are four jurisdictions that are of course involved in the Mackenzie basin they being British Columbia, Alberta, the Northwest Territories and the Yukon and the fifth one is the Government of Canada. So what this clause says is that we can enter agreements with any one or more of those five.
Mr. Lang: Well, following that explanation, why is the Government of the Northwest Territories not mentioned here? It talks about the Government of Canada, or the government of a province, so why is the Government of the Northwest Territories not mentioned?
Hon. Mr. Webster: Is the Member suggesting that an amendment should be the government of a province or territory?
The point is well taken. I do not know if it is written this way because at this particular time the Government of Canada through the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development has the responsibility for the water resource, but I will suggest to the Member that I will accept his amendment with the inclusion of or territory in there, to make it clear.
Mr. Lang: I do not have an amendment here. If the Minister wants to stand it aside and bring an amendment, it would be all right with me.
Hon. Mr. Webster: According to the Interpretation Act, clause 21(1), in such legislation, province means a province of Canada, and includes the Yukon and the Northwest Territories. I want to thank the Deputy Clerk for that information.
Clause 1 agreed to
On Clause 2
Mr. Lang: I looked at the old statutes, and we did have a Yukon River Basin Study Agreement Act in 1980, and it was amended in 1983. One particular section was very clear in respect to the act itself. It stated the agreement authorized by subsection (1) shall provide no expenditure of money under its terms shall be made by the Government of Yukon unless the Legislative Assembly has appropriated money for the purpose.
In the interpretation of this section, does this give the government the latitude to spend money prior to the appropriation of dollars? The way it is written is unclear. Is it the intent that the appropriation must be made first and authorization given through that appropriation prior to going into an agreement?
Hon. Mr. Webster: The latter interpretation is correct. Before we enter into an agreement, we would have to seek appropriation approval through this House before spending that money.
Clause 2 agreed to
Title agreed to
Hon. Mr. Webster: I move you report Bill No. 72 without amendment.
Motion agreed to
Bill No. 73: Yukon River and Alsek River Basin Agreements Act
Speaker: Is there any general debate?
Hon. Mr. Webster: This agreement is very similar in nature to the one previously discussed. Again, it gives us the legal right to be part of an agreement to which we will have representation. Again, the benefit of this is to share information on all work done in this particular basin.
Mr. Lang: That leads me to my question. Back in 1980, we entered into the Yukon River Basin Study Agreement Ordinance, and amended it further in 1983. What more are we doing on the Yukon River, as far as studies are concerned? Could the Minister update us? How much money was spent in the past agreement, which was confined to the Yukon River basin?
Hon. Mr. Webster: The Member is right. The study was released in 1984. The study recommended that the Governments of Canada, Yukon and British Columbia enter into a formal agreement to coordinate and cooperate water management activities in this basin. There has not been any work done since that time other than the drafting of this simple agreement.
I would have to come back with the information on the amount of money that was spent for the 1984 study. I really do not know.
Mr. Lang: What plans do we have for these particular study areas in the next five years? These have much more effect on the Yukon than the Mackenzie River study, obviously. I am curious. They must have some formal plans, and I would like to know what they are.
Hon. Mr. Webster: Because there has been no formal work done by this committee over the past few years, there are no studies being contemplated at this time.
Mr. Lang: I would have thought that if you bring an act before the House you would have some ideas of what you are going to put into the act and what you are going to do as a consequence of the act. I do not understand this. Are we passing the act so people can formally get together to decide what to do?
Hon. Mr. Webster: No, I would imagine that there will be some activities regarding development that will arise in the next few years that will have to be addressed by the committee that has been struck by this agreement.
Mr. Lang: I do not intend to block legislation, but if you are going to bring an act before the House, you should know the consequences of passing the act. You are asking us to pass the act and hope that some people will get together in the next couple of years. They might, or might not, decide that they are going to research, collect and publicize data about water resources; they might do some conservation, development, or use water resources; or they might have some regulation about the control of the quality and quantity of water resources; or they might establish and operate in an intergovernmental committee. It seems that if we are going through the expense and exercise of passing legislation of this kind and it is all taking the time and effort of 16 people and a supporting staff certainly there has to be a reason for the act. It seems to me there was a lot more reason for passing the previous bill because there is actually some work being done on the Mackenzie River.
For the Ministers sake, since he was not here, the Yukon River Basin Study Agreement Act was passed because certain commitments were being made by various levels of government to do certain things, and that is the reason the act was provided to the House.
I would like to ask the Minister if the government is perhaps looking at options for further energy development for the territory along the Yukon River basin or the Alsek River basin or any other basin that would be affected by this act.
Hon. Mr. Webster: As I have pointed out, at this time there is nothing specific being contemplated but by entering this agreement and striking a committee that has Yukon representation on it, it will be ready to deal with new matters as they arise which require management of water resources in the basin. I cannot contemplate what they could be right now but the Member opposite has suggested one, a hydro-power development in that area which would cause this committee to get together to possibly undertake studies and gather information related to the wise use of the water resource in that area.
Mr. Lang: I am just wondering if there is going to be any political direction given to the representatives of YTG about what we should be looking for in the Yukon River basin or the Alsek River basin. Surely the Minister must have some thoughts about what this particular body should be looking at with the idea of coming back to this House at some given time to debate certain issues in the area of water control or energy.
There has got to be a reason for the act. It sounds to me like we are passing this for the civil service to get together and then they will decide what to do. I always thought that the Minister, in conjunction with his top officials, gave the policy direction. Subsequent to that, the committees would meet and look at the various aspects of a problem or an issue so that down the road that information could be used to make some serious decisions. If he does not have any ideas, maybe the Minister of Indian Affairs would have some ideas as to what they should be looking at in the Yukon or Alsek River basins.
Hon. Mr. Webster: At this particular time, I have no direction to give this committee to start studying something. However, there may be something from the Government of Canada or the Government of British Columbia perhaps on fish habitat or fish enhancement stock work that may require this committee to gather information on management of water resources to enable this work to go ahead.
Mr. Lang: Has the State of Alaska been involved in the discussions on this, since the Alsek River does have a bearing on the State of Alaska? Is that going to form part of any agreements?
Hon. Mr. Webster: The answer is no.
Mr. Lang: I am not going to hold the act up. I want to go on the record that I am amazed we are seeing this legislation, in view of the fact the Minister cannot tell us what the purpose is, other than to get various levels of the civil service together, which could get together in any event. I want to express my disappointment that there should have been some thought on what we were looking at and some idea of a direction we are going in these areas of study. There is obviously going to be a public expenditure of dollars at some point down the road.
I hope the next time we see a bill like this a little more thought could be given to it so there is a reason why we are debating it, other than just passing legislation for the sake of passing legislation. It is obviously not needed. The Minister said it could be a year or two or three years down the road prior to this act coming into force, in any event.
Clause 1 agreed to
On Clause 2
Clause 2 agreed to
Title agreed to
Hon. Mr. Webster: I move that you report Bill No. 73 without amendment.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Motion agreed to
Speaker resumes the Chair
Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
May the House have a report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole?
Ms. Kassi: The Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 42, Intergovernmental Agreements Act, Bill No. 55, Act to Amend the Occupational Health and Safety Act, Bill No. 72, Mackenzie River Basin Agreements Act, and Bill No. 73, Yukon River and Alsek River Basin Agreements Act, and directed me to report the same without amendment. Further, Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 95, Miscellaneous Statute Law Amendment Act, 1989, and directed me to report the same with amendment.
Speaker: You have heard the report of 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 that 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 9:26 p.m.
The following Sessional Papers were tabled November 20, 1989:
Yukon Public Service Staff Relations Board, Nineteenth Annual Report, 1988-89 (M. Joe)
Fire Marshals Annual Report, 1988 (Byblow)
Motor Transport Board Annual Report, 1988-89 (Byblow)
Yukon Teachers Staff Relations Board, Fifteenth Annual Report, 1988-89 (McDonald)