Tuesday, November 21, 1989 - 1:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
We will proceed at this time with Prayers.
Speaker: We will proceed at this time with the Order Paper.
Are there any Introduction of Visitors?
Returns or Documents for Tabling.
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Mr. Webster: I have for tabling a document entitled The Yukon Government Position on Kluane National Park, which was submitted to the Kluane National Park Management Plan Review last spring.
Speaker: Are there any Reports of Committees?
Notices of Motion for the Production of Papers.
Are there any Notices of Motion?
NOTICES OF MOTION
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I have a notice of motion which I would like to file at the table.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I have one, too. It is a different motion.
Speaker: Are there any Statements by Ministers?
Counselling and Mental Health Needs
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I rise to advise all the Members that the Department of Health and Human Resources is conducting a review of counselling and mental health needs in conjunction with National Health and Welfare Canada and the Department of Education of this government.
There are many indicators of needs in the Yukon. Substance abuse, the rate of alcohol consumption and the number of violent deaths are all reflective of a continuum of mental health needs. Increased awareness of family violence and more knowledge of the impact of alcohol abuse on children of alcoholics has increased a demand for more services throughout the country. The Yukon is no exception.
Our approach to these varied symptoms is to move away from the band-aid strategy that focusses on symptoms in isolation. I am pleased to announce today that we are embarking on an integrated approach that builds on the healthy economy of our communities, on job creation that provides Yukon people with opportunities to lead fulfilling lives.
There is no simple quick fix. Our approach recognizes that the complex problems we face must be met by an understanding of the continuum of needs in our communities. Thus we are building a strategy that will include more community empowerment. Through community-based efforts, we will assist in the development, training and support of lay counselling through to the recruitment, if possible, of the best-trained professionals for crisis intervention needs and services; from high level psychiatric needs to lay counselling and support services.
In the Yukon, the federal government through its mental health services has the responsibility of providing assessment and counselling services. Inadequate funding for staff, combined with a nation-wide shortage of trained psychologists, has resulted in a serious shortage of counselling services in the territory.
The Department of Health and Human Resources has been, and continues to be, active and supportive of a range of services to address this issue. I would like to list some of these:
1) We are supporting and are providing additional funds to Yukon Family Services and Dawson Family Services for increased counselling services in Watson Lake, Faro and Dawson City over the next year.
2) Through our Family Life Education Program, the department works with youth in conjunction with the Department of Education and with National Health and Welfare. In addition to talking with youngsters about healthy lifestyles and relationships and giving them pertinent information about health and sexuality, youth are encouraged to build self-esteem. This is an important approach to dealing with the issue of teen suicide. The Minister of Education will address this subject in greater detail today.
3) We are promoting lifeskills programs to encourage individuals to build their self-esteem. We are supportive of the Indian Womens Association Community Infrastructures Program and the Council for Yukon Indians in their lifeskills and family violence prevention projects.
4) In the area of substance abuse, the alcohol and drug services branch of the department has funded alcoholism and cultural awareness workshops for the Yukon Indian Cultural Education Society.
5) We fully support the efforts of community-based groups that are being set up to determine how best to deal with problems in their communities. We have provided funds to the community-based alcohol programs in Watson Lake, Dawson City, Carcross, Pelly, Ross River and in Whitehorse.
6) In our juvenile justice branch, we provide funds to a number of youth groups around the territory to sponsor substance-free dances and to organize events for youth.
I will soon be making a statement to give more details of a number of new family violence initiatives the government is currently undertaking. A longer-range mental health strategy is now being developed to address the future needs of Yukoners.
As I stated earlier this week, the governments philosophy is shifting from a curative to a preventative approach in health and social services. We believe that, gradually, over the long term, the promotion of healthier lifestyles and prevention of disease will help to create healthier Yukon communities. Thank you.
Mr. Nordling: It is obvious that the Minister is desperate to create the illusion that he is doing something.
Our standing orders state that on ministerial statements, a Minister may make a short factual statement of government policy. The presentation we heard was not a factual statement of government policy. It simply announces that the Department of Health and Human Resources is conducting a review of counselling and mental health needs. What we heard today, as we heard yesterday, was a crisis management speech.
Yesterday, I expressed concern that we were not hearing government policy, but simply government propaganda, which would be announced four or five more times before we see any substantial progress. The Minister has just confirmed that prediction. In todays crisis management speech, the Minister again announces the governments philosophy is shifting from a curative to a preventative approach. This sort of ministerial statement is patronizing and an insult to Yukoners.
Last spring, when I questioned the millions of dollars in over spending in his department, the Minister of Health said they were conducting a review of all programs. Seven months later, he announces in this House that his department is conducting a review of counselling and mental health needs.
The Minister deserves to be slapped for the lack of political direction the Department of Health and Human Resources received while he was Government Leader and has received since he took over responsibility for the department last spring. It is sad that Yukoners are being toyed with in this way. Their hopes and expectations are raised, then nothing happens. I am not only concerned for Yukoners who have been waiting patiently for this Minister to act, but I am concerned for the employees of his department, who I am sure do not know what is going on or what is expected of them. As the old saying goes, We tend to meet any new situation by reorganizing, and a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress while producing confusion, inefficiency and demoralization. It now appears that, to help cover his lack of direction and incompetence, the Minister of Health has enlisted the help of the Minister of Education to make an announcement on suicide.
In conclusion, I would like to ask the Minister to stop playing politics with the issue of health services, and get on with the job.
Suicide Prevention Strategy
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I rise today to advise you, Mr. Speaker, and all the Members of the Legislature of the Department of Educations initiatives in dealing with the tragic problem of suicide, particularly among the young people of the Yukon.
A recent survey conducted as part of the Canada Youth and AIDS Study found that Yukon children and teens contemplated suicide far more often than the Canadian average. They felt depressed more often and overall had lower self-esteem than Canadian youngsters taken as a whole.
Suicide is a symptom of this all-encompassing problem, as well as being a highly visible problem in its own right.
There are no simple solutions. My colleague, the Minister of Health and Human Resources, has told you this with respect to changes to be made to counselling services here in the territory. This is equally true when it comes to suicide.
One thing is clear: the responsibility for suicide intervention, for counselling, for training and for educating the public is a responsibility that must be shared.
The government must work with the communities. Within government, we recognize our responsibility by adopting an interdepartmental approach. For example, an interdepartmental team on family violence was established earlier this year. It is our intent to expand this committees mandate to include suicide intervention and prevention.
Our government intends to continue and expand its support for crisis response teams in all Yukon communities. Family violence support teams are now being established in the communities. It is our intention that the teams will complement each other.
It is recognized that these two very serious problems have many common underlying factors, such as low self-esteem and an inability to cope with problems in a healthy manner. In fact, it may very well be that one group will serve both needs: crisis response and family violence support.
An important task of the interdepartmental committee is to coordinate training, in-service and counselling services to be offered in all Yukon communities.
My colleague, the Minister of Health and Human Resources, has already told you about several programs his department offers in conjunction with the Department of Education. The Family Life Education program, which places considerable emphasis on counselling, and the lifeskills program, are joint efforts. In association with Mental Health Services, the Department of Education recently offered training in counselling skills to teachers at Porter Creek Junior High School.
The Community Development Fund which, in itself, is an inter-departmental initiative established by our government, has committed $28,000 to assisting the Yukon Indian Womens Association with implementing its lifeskills project - again, tackling not just the problem of suicide but, also, its underlying causes.
New, highly skilled staff have been hired to augment our counselling and special needs programs. Three experts specializing in education psychology are now working with the department to ensure children who need special attention are getting it. In addition to this, a behaviour management specialist is currently being recruited and will be hired as soon as possible. As well, a senior official has been assigned the responsibility to coordinate all departmental activities relating to suicide prevention.
The Department of Education supports and encourages the peer counselling group established at F.H. Collins High School. We will encourage students and counsellors at other schools to follow this inspiring model.
The department recently undertook a study on suicide-related services within the Yukon public school system. We have identified the resources available and required. We are now allocating funds that will allow for the purchase of all available and relevant written and audio-visual materials dealing with suicide, materials that will be clearly identified and easily accessed by counsellors and teachers.
At Yukon College, 11 more community health representatives graduated this year, people with skills in the areas of substance abuse, family violence, sexual abuse and suicide prevention. The college is now looking at meeting the demand for skills-enhancement courses in these areas, as well. It continues to offer a two-year diploma program in social services, a program that provides the Yukon with trained counsellors, as well as preparing students for further university studies toward a degree in social work.
All schools now have either a full-time or part-time person who assumes the role of counsellor. One goal of the Department of Education is to increase the skills of counsellors working in Yukon schools. The department will conduct a workshop this summer for school counsellors. Experts will be brought in to work on problem identification, intervention, prevention and follow-up counselling.
Suicide is a tragedy that has touched too many Yukon people. Our government is committed to tackling this problem with a strategy that focuses not only on suicide prevention but, also, encompasses the problems that underlie and accompany it.
Mr. Devries: It was a bit of a surprise to receive the ministerial statement entitled Suicide Prevention Strategy today. I certainly hope that the timing was not to undermine the efforts of my colleague and myself in our endeavors to address this very issue. We certainly do not want to give people the impression that we are playing political games with their lives.
I must say I am impressed with the initiatives the Department of Education has taken, but I wonder what took them so long. It has been an issue for the four years I sat on the Watson Lake School Committee. I respectfully agree that there are no simple solutions. I wish to make a few points that I am sure will surface once the information comes in that encompasses the suicide-related problems.
In our travels on the Suicide Task Force, the main consistent problem in rural Yukon was the lack of an economic base and meaningful employment. Another major factor was the massive handouts by both the federal and territorial government. These handouts do not encourage a sense of responsibility upon the beneficiaries. This, in turn, leads to the problem of lack of self-esteem or self-worth, which then leads to alcoholism or possibly even suicide.
Politicians often do not carefully think out the deep-rooted implications the giveaway schemes may have on peoples lives. We want our children to be able to grasp the concept that in order to achieve their goals they must contribute toward that achievement and that will not happen without their participation. That is what builds us up to become strong mentally, physically and spiritually. This statement is a step in the right direction, but let us not lose sight of the economic plight of rural Yukon.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I would like to thank the Member for his comments and newly-found insight into the problem of suicide in our communities acquired through his community tour. I would simply like to remind the Member that the issue is not owned by MLAs, it is an issue that is a real one in our communities and must be addressed through the type of strategies that are being developed, not only in the Yukon but around the country. We must also recognize the good work that this government, and previous governments, have done to address the issue of suicide.
It is not a new issue. It is a newly-recognized issue for its seriousness, but it is not a new issue. The government has been doing things already, otherwise the situation would be worse. There is counselling in the schools, and there is lifeskills training going on, albeit in the initial stages. There is professional development for teachers being undertaken now. There is support now for peer counselling at the high school in Whitehorse. The Yukon College is graduating community health representatives who have a special interest in this particular area.
What is new is that there is now a strategy that deals with the underlying causes and promotes better understanding of the problem of suicide. What is new is that there is a shared inter-agency approach. What is new is that the government is supporting and encouraging crisis response teams in communities. There is now a training plan to have better-trained staff in our communities. There is a desire for, a promise for, and delivery of, more experts for use by the whole system and better materials for those experts to use.
So, as the Member has mentioned the problem is a serious one. It has to be addressed by all agencies in government, and by the communities themselves. We believe the steps the Department of Education has taken in conjunction with the Department of Health and Human Resources go a very good measure to meeting the problem that exists.
Speaker: This then brings us to the Question Period.
Question re: Yukon Pacific Forest Products
Mr. Phelps: I have some more questions about the Watson Lake sawmill. The government is trying to absolve itself of any responsibility for this continuing, urgent problem. We on this side feel that the government is largely responsible for the present deplorable situation.
The public has a right to know about the sale and whether the parties are living up to their obligations under the sale agreement. I want to direct some questions to the Minister responsible about the promises made and the explanations given to the Yukon public through his documentation.
I would like to table the documentation that was given to us and the public regarding the sale and perhaps we could deliver a copy of it to the Minister responsible.
This document outlined the steps regarding the sale of Hyland Forest Products and step 3 states that Yukon Pacific received additional cash of $1.6 million from Shieldings for shares. In appendix 1 it says that this $1.6 million will be converted to shares over the next several months. My first question is did Shieldings agreed in writing to purchase these shares from Yukon Pacific as we are led to believe by this information?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I thank the Leader of the Official Opposition for his question. He appears to want to pursue the line of inquiry he began yesterday in which through many questions in Question Period there were two kinds of information sought. The first was a question in respect to the commitments of the Shieldings group to the Yukon Development Corporation and the second set of questions dealt with commitments of that same company to the various creditors - people to whom the operation owes money.
Today the Member is asking me in reference to the first general question if a particular commitment or a particular part of contractual agreements have been met. Of course, without notice of that kind of question in detail, I would have to take notice here today and indicate, as I did to him yesterday, that I would get back with that information.
Mr. Phelps: The Minister did anticipate my second question, which he is not willing to answer, but my first question was whether or not Shieldings had agreed in writing to purchase the shares and pay the total of $2 million, including the second payment of $1.6 million as outlined in step 3. Is such an agreement in existence?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Well, he is referring to a document - he has just provided a schedule of information to me, which is a copy of information I gave to him some months ago - and then has asked me if some particular of this agreement is described in writing. I am almost certain that it is described in writing but I do not have the text of that document with me and therefore I am not in a position to describe its particulars in any way.
With respect to the Member on the other side who is snickering, no Member of this government or any other government would be expected to have that kind of information at their fingertips unless notice had been given of the question.
Mr. Phelps: Is the Minister saying that he does not care whether or not the $1.6 million has been paid? Was it not important enough for him to find out?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: It is quite the opposite. As I indicated yesterday, the major difference between this side and that side is that the Members opposite seem bound and determined to create, through their fear mongering and negativity, an environment in which this operation will fail. We are still striving determinedly, to not only make this project successful and a credit to Watson Lake, but a credit to the Yukon Territory. The kind of fear mongering and demands for disclosure of private information made by the Members opposite...
Mrs. Firth: Point of order.
The Minister did this all day yesterday and it looks like he is going to do it again today. The Leader of the Official Opposition asked a very specific question. The Minister could have answered, Yes, they did, or No, they did not, or I do not know. He continues to give these speeches, Mr. Speaker. I wish you would remind him of the rules of the House so that he will answer the questions as they are asked.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Members opposite are asking questions of the Minister responsible for the Yukon Development Corporation about particulars respecting the corporation. They are also asking questions in a particular context, which they explained in their preamble. It is the obligation of the Minister responsible to provide the proper environment and context for the Ministers answer. It appears that the Member for Riverdale South does not like the answers and is using the excuse of raising a point of order to simply disagree with the Minister. I think it is patently obvious that there is not a point of order.
Speaker: I find there is no point of order as Guideline 10 states that a Minister may decline to answer a question without stating the reason for his refusal. Insistence on an answer is out of order.
Question re: Yukon Pacific Forest Products
Mr. Phelps: With regard to the explanation to the public regarding the sale of the taxpayers sawmill, the sale of Hyland Forest Products, step 6 states a new mill is constructed at an estimated cost, at a minimum, of $6 million. Is a new mill being constructed at an estimated minimum cost of $6 million at the Watson Lake site?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The Member is creating the impression that he is more interested in repeatedly putting certain questions on the record, rather than the answers. I took notice yesterday of an almost identical question and gave an undertaking to come back to the House with whatever information I can obtain from the private company doing the renovations and making the improvements at the mill. Twenty-four hours later, I do not have that information. When I do, I will be responding.
Mr. Phelps: When the Minister responsible entered into this agreement and made this information public, was there an agreement in existence that stipulated that a new mill would be constructed at an estimated cost of, at a minimum, $6 million? Was there such an obligation and such an agreement in writing?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I believe the original commitment, the stated intentions of the new owners of the mill were that they were going to put a temporary mill in place, to be followed by a new permanent plant. As I understand the situation, the temporary mill, which they hoped to obtain, was not available and therefore they put in the plant that is there now and are in a process of doing renovations and improvements that are ongoing and will not be complete - at least in respect to the third kiln, as I understand - until next spring. In the course of making those improvements, substantial investments have been made. I am not in a position, as I told the Member earlier, to give him the precise dollar value of those investments.
Mr. Phelps: Just so we understand the Ministers position, then, on step 6, is he telling us that the information that was released to explain the sale of Hyland Forest Products to the public was misleading, because there was not a requirement that the new mill be constructed at an estimated cost of a minimum of $6 million? Is that what he is telling us?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am telling the Members that my recollection of the arrangement is that there was a commitment made by the two owners in good faith to make a certain kind of investment in a certain kind of plant and equipment, with an investment in the order of the amount indicated by the Members opposite, and that the original plan to have a temporary mill in place in order to maintain employment in Watson Lake, followed by a permanent facility, was not able to be completed because of the lack of availability of the particular kind of equipment required for the temporary mill.
Question re: Yukon Pacific Forest Products
Mr. Phelps: Would the Minister agree that the company did utilize a temporary mill by engaging the owners and operators of the mill across the highway from the present mill site to mill lumber for them? Of course, those people have not been paid yet. Would he agree that that was really a temporary arrangement so that there was a temporary mill being utilized by the company?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am absolutely certain that in neither respect, firstly, in terms of the actual plant, nor in terms of the allegation about payment, was that part of the arrangements as we contemplated them.
Mr. Phelps: I would like to move to a new question and table, for reference, a legislative return that was filed on March 29 by the Minister. Perhaps one could be delivered to him, as well.
Question re: Yukon Pacific Forest Products
Mr. Phelps: This question has to do with the issue of necessary debt financing. The answer that was tabled as a legislative return in this House stated, The new mill will be financed by a combination of debt and equity. Any funds required by Yukon Pacific Products in excess of equity subscribed for by the shareholders will be financed with debt. The agreement stipulates that Shieldings will arrange the necessary debt financing for the company. This reflects conventional commercial financing.
Was this debt financing arranged at the time that this legislative return was filed?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: For a certain fact I cannot respond as to whether the debt financing described in the legislative return had actually been secured by Shieldings or whether there was intention to obtain it, whether they already had part of it or all of it, or whether the plans for financing they had made internally had been realized. Again, as I said in answer to a similar question yesterday, the exact arrangements between Shieldings and its banks are not something to which I have been privy.
Mr. Phelps: Would the Minister not agree that, according to this legislative return, if the necessary debt has not been arranged by Shieldings, then the agreement has been breached by Shieldings? Would he not agree with that, according to what is on the face of this?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am sure the Leader of the Official Opposition, being a very good lawyer, will agree that what he is asking me for is a legal opinion, which is not permissible in this House. In any case, a legal opinion that I gave would be worthless.
Mr. Phelps: Does the Minister or his government care whether or not the agreement is lived up to or whether or not the necessary debt financing has been or will be arranged?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Again, this is the second time that the Leader of the Official Opposition has asked if we care. Let me assert very strongly that we care very deeply. We care that the bills of this operation are paid. We care that the commitments made by the new owners to us, to the people of Watson Lake and to the territory as a whole are met. We care so much about the community of Watson Lake and about the prospects for that mill, the prospects for the industry, that not only did we make very substantial investments in that community, and we have done so against a barrage of constant negativity and constant criticism from the other side. In spite of that constant, destructive, negative approach, I personally, and this Cabinet, are resolved that the decisions we made in the interest of Watson Lake, in the interest of the forestry sector there, and in the interests of the people working in that plant, were the right ones and time will eventually prove that they were the right ones.
Question re: Yukon Pacific Forest Products
Mr. Phelps: The Minister mentioned in this House yesterday, and it has been in the media, that he met with the chief executive officer of Shieldings and that the Minister communicated his concerns about unmet obligations to Watson Lake to that executive.
Can the Minister tell us where the meetings took place and when?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The meeting took place in Toronto at the head offices of the company I am sorry I do not have the address at my fingertips during the same week I attended the First Ministers Conference.
Mr. Phelps: Is the Minister telling us and the people of Watson Lake that he went to Toronto and met with Shieldings without first ascertaining whether or not Shieldings had paid the initial $1.6 million for shares, as we had been told they were obliged to do before now?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I will tell the Member opposite, without betraying any confidences, that I was apprised prior to that meeting that Shieldings was generally in compliance with its commitments to us, but they had a substantial problem in terms of their obligations to small business people and other creditors in Watson Lake. My principal purpose in going to that meeting was to make representation on behalf of those small creditors. My objective was also stated at that meeting: the objective of seeing this mill become a success, of seeing the obligations to the Yukon government met, and seeing the obligations and commitments made to all other people by this company realized. My principal purpose in making that representation personally to the head of that company was to see that bills owed to the people in this community were paid.
Mr. Phelps: The $1.6 million paid to Yukon Pacific would have been more than enough to clear up all the outstanding bills.
Did the Premier not even raise the issue of the $1.6 million for shares with Shieldings during the meeting?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am not going to dissect the conversation that I had with the officers of Shieldings, piece by piece. I did note yesterday that we had three separate kinds of representations from Members opposite. The Member for Watson Lake was appropriately making a representation that the bills from his community be paid and that the obligations to the people of that community be met. I took that as his first priority. The Leader of the Official Opposition was concerned about the commitments to the territorial government. The Member for Porter Creek East was arguing about extra-territorial creditors. Our position is that all those obligations should be met. I believed, in our meeting in Toronto, that the public interest required that the small business people in Watson Lake needed to have their bills paid.
Question re: Yukon Pacific Forest Products
Mr. Phelps: With regard to the meeting with Shieldings, is the Minister telling us and the people of Watson Lake that he went to Toronto to meet with Shieldings without ascertaining whether the debt financing for the new mill and the startup costs were in place?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Again, I am not going to get into disclosing confidential transactions. I am sure the Member will realize there have been substantial, ongoing communications between us, the Yukon Development Corporation, and the people at Shieldings on a whole range of issues arising out of the agreements made earlier this year. To the extent those deal with the private business of a third party, I do not intend to speculate loosely in this House, or even to describe loosely in this House, those discussions.
I want the Leader of the Official Opposition to know, though, that the officers of the Development Corporation have been persistent and professional in terms of realizing the objectives and commitments that have been made to us. I do not want to suggest there is a hierarchy of obligations in which we want the people of Watson Lake to take second place, or outside creditors to take third place. Our position is that all obligations should be met.
Mr. Phelps: The Government Leader travelled to Toronto to talk to Shieldings about the sad fact that all these small businesses were not being paid and were owed money for months, dating as far back as last March. Did he ascertain whether or not the necessary debt financing for the company had been arranged before he left? If they had been arranged, then the company would not be financing its startup costs and this new mill off the backs of small business.
Did he take steps to ascertain whether or not the necessary debt financing was in place prior to this meeting?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I think the Member would understand that whatever discussions have gone on about the financing arrangements between officials of the Development Corporation, this government and Shieldings would not be mine to disclose in this House, anyway.
I again state that, in addition to the questions to which I have taken notice, the obligations of that company to us and to the people of Watson Lake will be met, and we are doing everything we can to see that happen.
Mr. Phelps: Among all the levels of obfuscation that we are facing here, I take it the Minister did not check into the issue of whether or not the debt financing had been arranged before he met with Shieldings. Did he seek this information from Shieldings during the meeting in Toronto?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: With respect, that is another version of the same question, which I have already answered.
Question re: Yukon Pacific Forest Products
Mr. Phelps: Is the Minister telling us he went to Toronto to meet with Shieldings, and went without knowing whether or not the commitment to build a new mill, worth at least $6 million, was being lived up to? Did he go without even knowing whether or not a new mill worth that much was being built?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: No, I went to Toronto principally for a ministers of health meeting. In the course of my visit to Toronto, I met with other people in that city, including the chief executive officer for Noranda and, also, the chief executive officer of Shieldings. I want the Leader of the Official Opposition to know that I was briefed about the conditions of the operation in Watson Lake and in terms of the developments at that plant and the progress toward seeing a new operation there at Watson Lake.
Mr. Phelps: Is the Minister saying he sought information about whether or not another fundamental commitment, step 6 in this information sheet, was to be lived up to by Shieldings, namely that a new mill would be constructed, at an estimated cost of a minimum of $6 million? Is he saying he sought that information during the meeting?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Again I say I am not going to dissect and describe in detail the conversations I had with a private businessperson in Toronto. I think the Member opposite will know that there have been substantial conversations between us and Shieldings about all of their commitments. My main purpose in having the personal meeting - not the only exchange we have had - with the head of Shieldings was to talk about the situation of the small claimants in Watson Lake. We did discuss the other arrangements. I am not going to now describe for the House the knowledge I have of the private business of a third party any more than I could when I was Minister of Economic Development of the hundreds of businesses with whom we deal and about whom I had knowledge of private financial business.
Question re: Yukon Pacific Forest Products
Mr. Phelps: To move on to a new question, we are not asking for the kind of information about which the Minister alludes to. We are trying to ascertain what the terms of the agreement were and whether or not Shieldings is living up to the terms of the agreement.
These small businesses throughout the Yukon, and particularly in Watson Lake, British Columbia and Alberta, have every right to rely on representations made by the Minister in the documents just tabled. They had every right to carry on business with the mill in Watson Lake in the expectation that their bills will be paid, and they would not be forced to the wall because the agreements would not be lived up to and this government would not insist that they be lived up to.
Is the Minister saying that those businesses should not rely on information that emanates from his office? That the businesses cannot rely on the legislative returns that are filed in this House? Is that his position to the people of Watson Lake and the other people who are owed money throughout Yukon and Alberta and British Columbia?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: There were several questions contained in that question. We are making no effort whatsoever to escape the responsibilities that we have. I would remind the Member that when we owned the operation, we paid our bills promptly. We set a model for paying bills there. In the course of it, we were abused by the Members opposite because, as a result of paying our bills, accepting the advice we had from the private managers, we lost a substantial amount of money.
The Member opposite seems to be making an argument, which is one I am sure he would not defend in any other arena, that if this government has had dealings with some business and this business makes commitments or statements that we then communicate publicly and then subsequently that business somehow fails to meet all of its commitments to the letter, somehow we are directly responsible for that. I do not think this is an argument my friend across the way would make in any court.
Let me again repeat the statement I have made. It is the position of this government that we want to see all the commitments to all the investors in the new plant in Watson Lake met. We are committed to seeing a new mill in place, which can provide long-term employment, security for the forestry industry and prosperity for the town of Watson Lake. I believe that if we can deal with the problems we are now having, and if, in this House, we could be a little more constructive about those problems and about how to deal with them, we will turn the corner and see this plant realize a potential it has never realized before.
Mr. Phelps: Let me correct the Minister on a couple of important points.
When the public is told by this government that there are binding agreements in place whereby the necessary debt financing will be arranged and a new mill will be built, the public has a right to rely on that and to expect that these agreements would be binding and enforced. Does the Minister understand that?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: We understand that every statement we make is made in good faith. We believe that the operation we want to see there and the commitments that were made are to be honoured and respected and realized.
Question re: Yukon Pacific Forest Products
Mr. Phelps: The second area that needs some correcting in this forum is that somehow the public is not entitled to the agreements signed during this sale. The Minister insists on talking as though he was a lawyer, or that I should know better as a lawyer. Is the public not entitled to the agreements that were signed during the sale? Will the Minister admit that we have been pursuing this under the Access to Information Act and that there is a good possibility that we will be taking this to court? In fact, we will be.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I admit that the Member is doing that. I also understand his political motives. As a lawyer, if not as a politician, the Member knows that I cannot provide the kind of private, confidential information he is asking for. He demanded this type of information with respect to the Faro deal. He is now again asking repeatedly for this information. Morally and ethically, I can do nothing else but say no; therefore, he creates the aura that I am hiding something and that something is secret. It is wonderful politics. The Auditor General, who will be reporting and will be providing information to the Public Accounts Committee according to commitments made in this House, has had access to every single document. He will be reporting his findings to this body. The Member knows that I cannot disclose confidential, private information about a third party without their permission. At the Members request, I sought that permission from those third parties and they refused.
Mr. Phelps: With respect, I disagree with every statement that the hon. Member has made. They are simply not factual. The agreements that I am seeking are in no way excluded under section 7 of the Access to Information Act. This is an issue that will be resolved by the judge. I would ask the Minister to wait for the judge to speak before he forces himself into a tighter corner.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I have not had a lot of luck with judges recently. Of course, if a judge hands down a ruling, we will respect it. It is improper for him to ask the question here today if he has the matter before the courts.
Question re: Yukon Pacific Forest Products
Mr. Lang: I have been listening to the lack of answers to the very specific questions put to the Minister responsible for the Yukon Development Corporation. The public is being told that it is a private company. At the same time, the Minister of the Yukon Development Corporation admitted that the public does own 15 percent of the company, if not more. Is it correct that a member of the Yukon Development Corporation also serves on the board of directors on the Yukon Pacific Forests Products Company?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I do not know where the Member opposite makes these great discoveries. The fact that we own 15 percent of the company, and plan to sell that to the employees at the most propitious opportunity, has been a matter of public record and articulated in this House a dozen times. Yesterday, in question period, I responded to Members and confirmed, for the record, something that has been widely known, that one member of the Yukon Development Corporation board, a resident of Watson Lake, is also on the board of directors of the mill in Watson Lake.
Mr. Lang: That leads me to my next question. Is it not the position of the government that that member on the board of directors serves, representing the public, and is involved in the policy decisions directing the overall directions of the mill, on an ongoing basis, as far as overall policy decisions are concerned? Is that not the purpose of that position?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I do not know to what extent the board of the particular company is involved in the day-to-day management decisions of the operation, since I do not serve on the board and nor does the director, in any sense, report to me about the internal workings of the operation. I cannot answer whatever the question is that the Member is seeking information on.
Mr. Lang: The Minister, earlier, in a reply to a question put by the Leader of the Official Opposition, in a preamble, stated very clearly to this House that the Yukon Development Corporation - and he referred to us, so I assume he meant himself and the Yukon Development Corporation - has over the last number of months consistently pursued the question of the financing and the question of whether people were getting paid from that operation for work being done on behalf of the mill. The shocking revelation that came forward last night, from the CBC documentary on the situation of the mill as it stands in Watson Lake, was that the board member...
Speaker: Order, please. Would the Member please get to the supplementary question.
Mr. Lang: Oh Mr. Speaker, I expect to play by the same rules as the Minister responsible for...
Speaker: Order, please. I have asked the Member to please get to the supplementary question.
Mr. Lang: Is the Minister aware that the board director from the Yukon Development Corporation stated, on public television last evening, that he was not aware of, and did not have the information about, whether or not Shieldings had met its financial commitments to the Yukon Pacific Forest Products and the commitments that were made to the Yukon Development Corporation?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The Member asks me if I was aware of it; of course, I have heard third-hand reports of the television show to which he refers. I of course am not permitted by the rules to comment on media stories, nor did I hear directly the remarks that the Member is attributing to the gentleman from Watson Lake, so I cannot comment on what I did not hear.
Question re: Minister of Renewable Resources statement
Mr. Phillips: I would like to go on to another area, one that I dealt with briefly yesterday. I have a question for the Minister of Economic Development and it is about the comments made last week by the Minister of Renewable Resources, that the Government of the Yukon is only an interest group and did not have to consult with the mining community. These are very poorly thought-out remarks that the Minister of Renewable Resources made to the Chamber of Mines, especially when he is the Minister that is supposedly trying to involve them in the Yukon Conservation Strategy.
I would like to know from the Minister of Economic Development if he agrees with the comments made by the Minister and if he has asked the Minister of Renewable Resources to apologize to the Yukon mining industry.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Government of the Yukon has, on numerous occasions, shown the greatest respect to not only the mining industry but the Chamber of Mines and there have been ongoing consultations on a full range of issues with the Chamber of Mines through my office with respect to specific mine issues, issues that are the purview of the Department of the Economic Development: Mines and Small Business. The Department of Renewable Resources and the Minister of Renewable Resources are charged with certain responsibilities respecting conservation strategy, environmental protection, et cetera, and it is the responsibility of that Minister to discuss with interest groups matters of policy that may be public business from time to time.
Mr. Phillips: That is the longest winded apology I have ever heard in my life. I would like to direct my supplementary, then, to the Minister of Renewable Resources and ask him to take this opportunity to publicly apologize to the mining industry for his irresponsible remarks the other day.
Hon. Mr. Webster: Would the Member please repeat his question? I am not sure what was in front of the question.
Mr. Phillips: I will go a little slower. The other day, the Minister of Renewable Resources made the comment that the government was only an interest group and insulted the Chamber of Mines with other comments. I am asking the Minister to now do exactly what the Minister of Economic Development has done and apologize to the mining community for his off-the-cuff, or offhand, remarks.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I take objection to the Members comment that I insulted the Chamber of Mines. I do not think I made any offhand or off-the-cuff remarks whatsoever.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now lapsed.
Mr. Phillips: I have a supplementary, Mr. Speaker.
Speaker: You had two.
Some Hon. Member: No, the Minister asked him to repeat the question.
Mr. Phillips: He asked me to repeat the question. I have one more supplementary.
Speaker: The Chair recognizes it is a repeat of a question. You can ask the question now.
Mr. Phillips: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Since the Minister of Economic Development recognized a mistake was made with those comments and has instructed his officials to call the Chamber of Mines to apologize, and they have done that, will the Minister of Renewable Resources now accept his responsibility for his foolish remarks and instruct his officials to do the same?
Hon. Mr. Webster: No, I do not recall making any foolish remarks, and I do not know what mistake I have made. Therefore, I do not agree that an apology is in order.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now lapsed. We will proceed to Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Bill No. 66: Second Reading
Clerk: Second Reading, Bill No. 66, standing in the name of the hon. Mr. Webster.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I move that Bill No. 66, entitled Pesticides Control Act, be now read a second time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Minister of Renewable Resources that Bill No. 66, entitled Pesticides Control Act, be now read a second time.
Hon. Mr. Webster: The Pesticides Control Act is a first step in the development of comprehensive legislative measures to protect the Yukons environment. This government is strongly committed to effective environmental protection. The Pesticides Control Act is the first stage of environmental legislation that will ultimately allow for the regulation of air and water pollution and provide for the proper management of waste, including toxic and hazardous materials.
The Pesticides Control Act is designed to permit regulation of the use and application of pesticides throughout the Yukon. As well, it will allow us to provide, in law, for the safe storage and disposal of these substances.
Under this legislation, the government will also have the ability to ban or restrict the use of pesticides identified as unacceptably hazardous to the health of the public or environment. People who want to apply pesticides from aircraft or to open bodies of water will have to obtain a licence. Licences will be required if people are using a restricted pesticide or if they are applying pesticides for hire or payment. Government departments and agencies will be required to comply with this legislation in the same manner as private individuals and businesses. The bill before hon. Members provides for the appointment of inspectors to enforce the legislation.
The penalties spelled out in the bill are significant. It is a clear indication that the government regards offenses under this act as serious. For the first offence a person convicted of a violation will face a fine of up to $15,000 for each day the offence continues, and/or six months in jail.
The Yukon public has given us clear instructions on the need for this act. Public concern over the proposed application of the pesticide Spike in 1988, and continuing debate on the merits of mosquito control programs are symptomatic of a public desire to have more say over what substances are introduced to their environment.
The agricultural community has demonstrated its responsibility in this regard by sponsoring a workshop on the safe use of pesticides in conjunction with their annual agricultural symposium held earlier this year.
Industrial users, too, such as this governments Department of Community and Transportation Services and the White Pass and Yukon Corporation have voluntarily canceled their plans to use the herbicide Spike in the face of expressed public concern.
While my government appreciates the spirit of responsibility and cooperation shown by these potential pesticide users, we also recognize that it does not diminish our responsibility to ensure that there is a legislative framework for dealing with such concerns in the future. The act before you is just that, a framework which allows us to manage potentially dangerous substances and ensure that those who have occasion to use them are held accountable for their safe use.
While the legislation before us provides a framework for pesticide management the manner of their actual use will be determined by a set of regulations which the act empowers us to develop. It is our intention to develop these regulations through a process of public consultation over the coming months. It is my intention that the act and a complete set of regulations will be in place prior to next spring.
The process of consultation will begin this weekend with the Yukon Agricultural Planning Advisory Committee and will continue into the new year with interested parties who have occasion to use pesticides or have concerns about their use.
Pesticides are also a subject of concern at the national level. We will be closely monitoring developments at the National Forum on Pesticide Registration to be held in Ottawa in January.
Some aspects of environmental management in the Yukon have, for too long, fallen between the cracks of federal legislation. A pristine Yukon environment is too precious to be neglected. The Pesticides Control Act will allow this government to ensure the safe use of pesticides in the territory. The regulations under the act, to be developed in consultation with industry and interest groups, will provide, to both government and pesticide users, the clear guidelines that they need to go about their business in an efficient way that has respect for the environment.
I ask the Members opposite for their support for this legislation and look forward to responding to their questions.
Mr. Lang: We appreciate the act before us. I am a little concerned about the lack of time allotted to deal with the bill. I appreciate the fact that the government indicated that by next Tuesday we are due to give the bill clause-by-clause reading, but at the same time I expected the Minister to be able to table a draft copy of the proposed regulations.
For the record, over the years the government has often said it is very important that not only the legislation be considered, but also, accompanying regulations should be made available to Members when dealing with and passing legislation.
I understand that the Pesticides Control Act, which the Minister has so humbly brought into this House, has been drafted for quite sometime. It is not as though it was drafted last week. The information has been available to the Minister and Cabinet for quite some time. There is no excuse for not having at least a draft copy of the regulations being made available to all Members for perusal to give the intent of what pesticides are to be banned, and to meet other objects outlined in the bill itself.
I have taken the opportunity to send a copy of the bill to members of the community who may be interested, and I would like to get their observations on how it is going to affect them directly. There are people in the landscaping business who could have their business impinged upon in some manner. We hope it will not. I am sure they want to be as safe as they possibly can. Comments from businesses such as may help in formulating the final laws that we pass in this house.
The agricultural community that the Minister referred to should have the ability to comment on the legislation itself, not just the regulations. We can look forward to their comments now that the final bill has been put forward for consideration by the House.
I would like to forewarn the Minister that we would like to have information during clause-by-clause reading next week on the costs associated with administering the law and regulations.
The Minister in his opening statements talked about enforcement. The question is: who is going to do the enforcement? Is it going to be individuals who are presently on staff or will we be increasing the staff? If so, to what degree and what are the costs associated with it?
The other area I think has to be explored further - I hope the Minister is prepared for this, he has some time in view of the fact that we are not going to be debating this until some time next week - is the question of the public relations program on the bill. There are, through the legislation, certain responsibilities associated with the handling of pesticides and obviously substantial fines if they are not followed. People are going to have to be told how to handle these pesticides and what is expected of them.
I want to say that it is easy for us to pass legislation but if we do not tell those people directly affected about the law and how it will affect them then we really cannot expect them to follow it.
I think this is important and it is incumbent on the Department of Renewable Resources in particular to have a public relations campaign of some kind in place whereby they contact and inform the companies, individuals and organizations involved in using this kind of commodity of what is expected of them by the law once it is passed.
I do not see any opposition from this side to the intent of the bill. There are specifics, as I indicated, that we would want to discuss at further length with the Minister in Committee of the Whole. It is important that we take the legislation very seriously. I am looking forward to seeing what comments we get from those individuals who we perceive at the present time may be directly affected by the legislation so that at least their opinions are heard so that during the course of the clause-by-clause debate if there are any major flaws in the legislation, the proper changes can be made if they are reasonable.
Speaker: The hon. Member will close debate if he now speaks. Does any other Member wish to be heard?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I want to thank the Member opposite for his comments. I wish to respond very briefly to his concern about not introducing at least a draft at this time of proposed regulations to accompany this bill. This was intentional, as I mentioned in my speech. We want to be up-to-date in terms of the pesticides that are to be held under controlled conditions or restricted and we will have that information available to us at a meeting coming up in January.
Just as importantly, it gives an opportunity for local people to respond directly to the regulations because often the northern climactic conditions here will present different situations in the application of various pesticides that possibly are not hazardous when used in the south. It will give all concerned an opportunity to provide input to the regulations. This includes the Member opposite.
As for the costs of the implementation of this act, we have in place right now an approved person-year for an environmental protection co-ordinator. That person, who has special training in that area, will have the responsibility for enforcing and administrating this act.
On the comment about public relations for the bill, I can assure you that once this does meet the approval of the Legislature, we will not be keeping this a secret. There will be a communications strategy so that everyone knows the proper application of pesticides in a manner that does not pose any risk to our environment.
I would like to thank the Member opposite for raising those concerns and I look forward to debating the bill clause-by-clause next week.
Motion on second reading of Bill 66 agreed to
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that you do now leave the Chair and that the House do resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Government House Leader that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
Speaker leaves the Chair
Committee of the Whole
Chair: I will now call the Committee of the Whole to order.
At this time I will declare a brief recess.
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order.
Bill No. 11: Act to Amend the Municipal and Community Infrastructure Grants Act
Chair: Is there any general debate?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: During second reading of the bill, the essential principle of change taking place was explained, but only in general terms. I would like to spend some time clarifying what changes are taking place in this bill.
As Members are aware, the Municipal and Community Infrastructure Grants Act is the legislating authority for municipalities to receive infrastructure funding. It was put in place in 1986 and, since that time, the formula has worked for the distribution of money to the eight municipalities. When the formula was put in place, an original understanding was that Whitehorse would receive approximately 50 percent of the available funds, and the other seven municipalities would receive the balance.
Until we pass this bill, the existing formula is quite simple. A base grant was provided to all the municipalities and, then, on the basis of the assessment of municipalities, additional funding was granted. There were essentially those two components to the existing fund. Whitehorse received $1 million as its base grant. Each of Faro, Dawson and Watson Lake received $650,000 as their base grants. Haines Junction and Mayo received $435,000 as their base grants. Teslin and Carmacks each received $375,000 as their base grants. That accounted for the first stage of a funding distribution. Essentially, it was calculated on the base of the size of the community in a category delineation.
Following the base grant distribution, what then took place for the additional funding distribution was a calculation based on the percentage of assessment that each municipality had. When it is determined that the total assessment of all eight municipalities is a certain figure, each municipality receives a fixed percentage, which may result in additional funding Following the base grant, based on assessment, the additional funds were provided.
An interesting observation is that Whitehorse had 79 percent of all the assessment of eight municipalities. So, after the base grant distribution, Whitehorse got 79 percent of the remaining funds that were available.
Faro had five percent of the assessment of the total assessment of eight municipalities; Dawson City had 4.3 percent; Watson Lake had 5.6; Haines Junction had 2.2; Mayo had 2.2 as well; Teslin had .9, as did Carmacks. So, based on that percentage of the total assessment, the rest of the municipalities got that percentage of the remaining funds. In 1989, the current fiscal year, some $4.5 million was distributed under the base grant and, as I explained earlier, to each of the eight municipalities according to their categories, and then, on the basis of the assessment, the additional $4.6 million was handed out - Whitehorse, of course, getting $3.6 million under the assessment portion of the formula. Combined with their million dollar base grant, they then got a total of $4.6 million. The formula was essentially quite simple.
As I explained at second reading, the problem that has developed is that while the base grant does not change, assessments do. Because the increase of construction in Whitehorse over the past three years has naturally affected the assessments for the city - after the base grant distribution, because Whitehorse was growing at much faster pace than the other seven municipalities - it was taking more and more of the assessment portion of the grant. Leaving the base grant where it was, Whitehorse was getting more of the balance and municipalities recognize this as a developing anomaly. There was considerable discussion and, as I explained to the Member yesterday, the municipalities, after considerable discussion, considerable communication and a number of meetings, came up with the formula that is being introduced in this bill.
The formula will reveal itself as we go through clause-by-clause, and Members will recognize what we had to do to restore the skewing that was taking place. As I explained, that skewing was simply taking place because part of the formula was based on assessments; Whitehorses assessments were increasing at a much faster pace than the rural communities, so the rural communities began to get less and less of the fund, and Whitehorse began to get more and more. When the formula was introduced in 1986, Whitehorse was getting approximately 43 percent of the total fund; in this past year it received 51 percent of the fund, so in three short years Whitehorse moved nearly 10 points in terms of a percentage of the fund. So, to try to prevent this skewing from broadening even more, this new formula has been introduced. As we enter into clause-by-clause reading, I would be pleased to explain it in some detail.
I have taken the liberty of assembling a couple of sheets that do explain the formula in some detail, and I will circulate them to Members if they want to follow any discussion in clause-by-clause reading, so perhaps I could ask the pages to circulate them.
The sheets that I put into circulation will help in part to explain the new formula, and I look forward to any general comments from Members opposite before we proceed to clause-by-clause.
Mr. Brewster: I understand that the agreement will be opened up in one year so Whitehorse can see if it is still satisfactory. Is this correct?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I cannot say definitively that the formula will be re-opened in a years time. The consensus by all members of AYC, that is the eight municipalities, was achieved with a clear statement from the City of Whitehorse that it was going to accept this formula for this year, but it declined support beyond that. I accepted that position before proceeding with implementing this formula. We will look at it next year to see if it is deserving of another review.
We structured it, as the sheets I circulated indicate, so that in 1991 the City of Whitehorse would move naturally under this formula to 51.5 percent of the total fund. This year, it is at 50.9 percent. Next year the City of Whitehorse would increase its percentage of the fund by one-half a percent. It would appear that there may not be a need to re-open it. It is so structured now that the increases are very minor each year. On an understanding that assessments will grow normally, if you can predict what normally is, Whitehorse will still be receiving a slightly larger and larger share of the total fund, but only by a small amount.
My position to the City of Whitehorse was that I do not expect to have to open it next year. It has been worked through to still favour Whitehorse in the coming years. The short answer to the Member is that I recognize that Whitehorse made its position clear that it would want to look at this again next year. We can look at it, but at this point it is impossible for me to say that there will be a case strong enough to amend the legislation.
Mr. Brewster: Would the AYC have the final say as to whether or not this is opened up again? Who makes the final decision if Whitehorse is not satisfied?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member is correct, to an extent. I have used AYC as a body for advice and direction and I value its recommendations. The authority to re-open this bill would rest in this House. This new formula was worked through with all the municipalities. AYC has essentially given its stamp of approval through its individual members, with whom I spoke prior to proceeding. The final decision will rest on this floor.
Mr. Brewster: You are quite correct when you say that it increases. I understand that in 1992 Whitehorse will be receiving 52.58 percent, and Faro drops a little. There must be one or another that drops some to pick this up. Is this correct?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Yes, the Member is correct. The only reservation to absolute correctness is that this is based on a projection of what assessments will be. We are calculating from our best guess, based on patterns of growth in the past that that is what the assessments will be five years from now. On the basis of that, this is what the formula will generate for funds.
There is a potential for some adjustments. If Whitehorse growth slows down and a couple of the municipalities have their growth increase and the assessments increase, naturally that will affect the formula. The assessments portion of the formula is based on 100 percent of all eight municipalities. If Whitehorse unusually reduces its growth and assessments, and Haines Junction increases, clearly that would favour Haines Junction. That also speaks to the principle of the bill. On the assessments side the principle is that money is provided to service infrastructure. The funds are calculated on the basis of the need for the municipality to service the infrastructure that it has within that municipality. So if you have an increased assessment that means you have increased facilities. If you have increased facilities then you have increased costs. So it logically follows that as any municipality increases its infrastructure it gets more money to pay to maintain that infrastructure.
Mr. Brewster: I have talked with the council several times by phone. I have spoken with the accountant who helps look after these, and I value his judgment very well, and I have talked to a colleague who represents Whitehorse. We would deem this bill to be read and pass it through committee. It is a housekeeping bill.
On Clauses 1 to 4
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am overwhelmed with self confidence. I appreciate the Members offer to deem the bill to have been read. I take it that Members are comfortable with the detail of the formula. It is complex. It is introducing a couple of new elements: a municipal price index and a consumer price index. These are calculations that essentially lend support to the higher cost of providing services to the rural communities. That is the basic principle of the new formula. I accept the confidence that the Member has shown in deeming the bill as having been read.
However, it has been brought to my attention that there is a typo error in the text of the bill. In the original draft it was correct, but in the final printing, a numeral has been omitted and I would like to point it out. It is on page 2 of the tabled bill, in section 3, four lines down, where it reads right after the number 3. In subsection (3) of the said Act.... That should read In subsection 2(3) of the said Act....
That is a numerical typo change. If we deem the bill to have been read it would be necessary to consider that typo corrected.
Mr. Brewster: I have no objection to that. I do not know if we would have picked that up anyway. It sounds like some of the legislation we had last night. People are not doing their homework. I have no problem with that being changed.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I thank the Member for supporting that change. I, too, was disappointed that this numeral was omitted in the final printing and I have been assured by my officials and officials who are responsible for this that it ought not happen again. If we are deeming this to have been read, I move that the Chair report the bill.
Chair: Is there unanimous consent that this bill be deemed to be read and carried?
Clauses 1 to 4 agreed to
Title agreed to
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I would move that you report Bill No. 11, entitled Act to Amend the Municipal and Community Infrastructure Grants Act without amendment but to include the typographical error correction to the Assembly.
Motion agreed to
Bill No. 84 Municipal General Purposes Loans Act, 1989
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Again, we dealt with the principle of what is taking place in this bill during second reading but I would not want to hasten passage of this bill without giving full opportunity for Members to raise appropriate questions if they deem them necessary.
The Municipal General Purposes Loans Act surfaces in this Legislature periodically, every few years. What it does is provide loan money to municipalities for funding those services, facilities and elements of infrastructure they do not have other funding sources for. This is outside block funding and taxation. It simply allows a borrowing by a municipality for whatever construction purposes it deems necessary. I indicated yesterday that a couple of examples of this are to do special land development, building construction or paving streets. These are the sorts of things municipalities may want to borrow money to do now and then repay it. I want to make it very clear that all the debentures that have been entered into by the Yukon government since the inception of this approach in 1972 have not resulted in any bad debts to date. Twenty-two million dollars has been lent to municipalities since 1972. Currently outstanding is just over $10 million. Twelve million dollars has been repaid and has been repaid by annual repayment terms as a rule.
Those annual repayment terms are provided for through the municipal tax base. As Members are aware, under the block fund, special provision can be made to pay out debentures or to pay towards debentures, and some municipalities have indeed done that.
Yesterday, the Member raised some concerns about white elephants. I assured the Member there were no white elephants, because the loans were structured under rules that made sure the municipalities could afford to repay. There are no indications that a municipality in the Yukon today is unable to pay.
The rules are laid out in the Municipal Act. I drew attention to the Member previously that section 227 speaks to those rules, and they will guide the extent to which a municipality can borrow money. For example, in any given year a municipality cannot borrow more than one-quarter of one percent of its assessment. At any time, it cannot exceed two percent of its assessment overall. Those are a couple of the limitations spelled out in the Municipal Act that govern the extent to which municipalities can repay debenture borrowings. At the same time, the Member is a reasonable person, and people in municipalities and municipal services in the government are reasonable people, and loans are negotiated on the strength of the ability of the municipality to pay. Responsible people do not borrow beyond what their means are to repay. The same principle is applied, but spelled out in rules under section 227.
The Member for Porter Creek East is desirous of getting into the debate. I would simply invite him.
Those are some of the points I raise in general debate on the bill in committee. If Members have any questions, I would be pleased to try and answer them.
Mr. Brewster: I am not going to lead the Minister on where he can answer more questions and filibuster more on it. I am very glad to see that rural Yukon is paying back its debts. I figured that would happen. Most people in rural Yukon are very good and very loyal. I also realize that, in most cases, they do a very good job, considering they have to work on weekends and nights after their own jobs and run quite a large budget.
I would just make one remark about the white elephant. I do not know if the Minister or I am colour blind. One of us is. He keeps referring to a white elephant as not getting a payment back. That is not what I call a white elephant. I call a white elephant something that is built that is of no value to anybody and is a farce. There are some of them out there.
The only other comment I would make is that the Minister made a remark about the people being reasonable and governments being reasonable. I wonder why I continually have a file of complaints against government people, if they are so reasonable.
Besides that, we close general debate off.
Chair: We will proceed with clause-by-clause.
On Clause 1
Clause 1 agreed to
On Clause 2
Clause 2 agreed to
On Clause 3
Clause 3 agreed to
Title agreed to
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I move that you report Bill No. 84 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. 11, entitled Act to Amend the Municipal and Community Infrastructure Grants Act, and directed me to report the same without amendment but with a numerical typographical error and Bill No. 84, entitled Municipal General Purposes Loans Act, 1989, and directed me to report same without amendment.
Speaker: You have heard the report from the Chair of the Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
Bill No. 55: Third Reading
Clerk: Third 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 third time and do pass.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Justice that Bill No. 55, entitled Act to Amend the Occupational Health and Safety Act, be read a third time and do pass.
Motion for third reading of Bill No. 55 agreed to
Speaker: I declare that Bill No. 55 has passed this House.
Bill No. 95: Third Reading
Clerk: Third 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 be now read a third time and do pass.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Justice that Bill No. 95, entitled Miscellaneous Statute Law Amendment Act, be now read a third time and do pass.
Motion for third reading of Bill No. 95 agreed to
Speaker: I declare that Bill No. 95 has passed this House.
Bill No. 42: Third Reading
Clerk: Third 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 third time and do pass.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Premier that Bill No. 42, entitled Intergovernmental Agreements Act, be now read a third time and do pass.
Motion for third reading of Bill No. 42 agreed to
Speaker: I declare that Bill No. 42 has passed this House.
Bill No. 72: Third Reading
Clerk: Third 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 Agreement Act, be now read a third time and do pass.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Renewable Resources that Bill No. 72, entitled Mackenzie River Basin Agreement Act, be now read a third time and do pass.
Motion for third reading of Bill No. 72 agreed to
Speaker: I declare that Bill No. 72 has passed this House.
Bill No. 73: Third Reading
Clerk: Third 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 third time and do pass.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Renewable Resources that Bill No. 73, entitled Yukon River and Alsek River Basin Agreements Act, be now read a third time and do pass.
Motion for third reading of Bill No. 73 agreed to
Speaker: I declare that Bill No. 73 has passed this House.
Bill No 11: Third Reading
Clerk: Third 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 third time and do pass.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Community and Transportation Services that Bill No. 11, entitled Act to Amend the Municipal and Community Infrastructure Grants Act, be now read a third time and do pass.
Motion for the third reading of Bill No. 11 agreed to
Speaker: I declare that Bill No. 11 has passed this House.
Bill No. 84: Third Reading
Clerk: Third Reading, Bill No. 84, standing in the name of the Hon. Mr. Byblow.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I move that Bill No 84, entitled the Municipal and General Purposes Loans Act, 1989 be now read a third time and do pass.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Community and Transportation Services that Bill No. 84, entitled Municipal and general Purposes Loans Act, 1989, be now read a third time and do pass.
Motion for the third reading of Bill No. 84 agreed to
Speaker: I declare that Bill No. 84 has passed this House.
We are now prepared to receive the Commissioner, acting in his capacity as Lieutenant Governor, to grant assent to the bills passed by this House.
Commissioner enters the Chamber announced by the Sergeant-at-Arms
ASSENT TO BILLS
Commissioner: Please be seated.
Speaker: The Assembly has, at its present session, passed certain bills. In the name and on behalf of the Assembly, I respectfully request your assent.
Clerk: Intergovernmental Agreements Act, Act to Amend the Occupational Health and Safety Act, Miscellaneous Statute Law Amendment Act, 1989, Mackenzie River Basin Agreements Act, Yukon River and Alsek River Basin Agreements Act, Act to Amend the Municipal and Community Infrastructure Grants Act, Municipal General Purposes Loans Act, 1989.
Commissioner: Thank you. I hereby assent to the bills as enumerated by the Clerk.
To commemorate the occasion of another onerous signing authority having been removed from the Commissioners responsibility, I thought I should perhaps give to each Member of the House through you, and I would ask the Clerk to distribute it just hot off the press, the official logo of the 50th Anniversary of the building of the Alaska Highway. I would so give them to you, Mr. Clerk, to distribute to commemorate this occasion.
Commissioner leaves the Chamber
Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
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 adjourns at 3:52 p.m.
The following Sessional Paper was tabled November 21, 1989:
Yukon Government Position on Kluane National Park (Reserve) (Webster)
The following Documents were filed November 21, 1989:
Report on Sale of Hyland Forest Products (Phelps)
Debt financing and equity re Yukon Pacific Forest Products (Phelps)