Wednesday, November 22, 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?
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I would like to ask your permission to introduce to the House today visitors in the gallery: the English-as-a-second-language class from Yukon College and their instructor, Mr. David Greig. I would ask all Members to make them feel welcome.
Speaker: Are there any Returns or Documents for Tabling?
Reports of Committees.
Are there any Introduction of Bills?
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
Bill No. 3: Introduction and First Reading
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I move that Bill No. 3, entitled Hospital Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Minister of Health and Human Resources that Bill No. 3, entitled Hospital Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Motion for introduction and first reading of Bill No. 3 agreed to
Speaker: Are there any Notices of Motion for the Production of Papers?
Notices of Motion.
Statements by Ministers.
Family Violence in Yukon
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I rise today to inform the Members of this House of a number of new initiatives being undertaken by the Department of Health and Human Resources to address family violence in the Yukon.
Family violence is a serious problem in Canada and the Yukon is no exception. Nationally, it is estimated that one in four females and one in 10 males are sexually assaulted before they reach age 18. We also know that elder abuse is an emerging problem. The scope of this problem is just beginning to receive attention in Canada.
In the Yukon, since January of this year, there have been 192 case of spousal assault reported to the RCMP. It is estimated that one in seven Yukon women are assaulted by their male partners.
The effects of family violence are long-term and not easily repaired. They are painful and costly. Without healthy families we cannot have healthy communities.
Family violence is a priority of this government. Today I wish to introduce a number of new initiatives to address some of the needs identified by Yukon people.
As of November 1, the Department of Health and Human Resources has hired two new staff people who will be working exclusively in new programs in the area of family violence.
The first position will develop treatment groups for children who have been sexually abused. Support groups for non-offending parents will be offered too. Group facilitators are being trained in November, and the treatment services will start up early in the new year. The treatment program will be developed for rural Yukon in 1990. Local facilitators will be trained to provide group or individual support to sexually-abused children and their non-offending family where there is community interest and demand.
The second position will assist communities to develop safety networks, support groups and safe places. By travelling to communities and meeting with local people, the Safe Places Program officer will be able to help communities develop and implement their plans.
The Safe Places Program has been designed to accommodate the particular needs of individual communities. Through this program we have approved five grants to communities to develop proposals for safe places. Mayo, Old Crow, Teslin, Watson Lake and Faro have all received grants to examine their needs and options.
Some communities are telling us that they need concrete assistance in developing their plans. Some have identified the need for a supportive network of concerned citizens before developing a safe place. We know that people who live in Yukon communities know best. Our approach is to assist communities in their efforts to address family violence.
We know that these two new positions or any number of new positions will not solve the problem of family violence in the Yukon. However, by placing a priority on safety for women and treatment for sexually abused children, we are meeting some of the needs.
There is much work that needs to be done, and the government is playing a decisive role in helping the communities deal with family violence at the local level.
Family violence is a community issue, and all Yukoners have a role to play if we are to reduce violence against women and children. The government is working with individuals and communities to address this problem. By working together, we believe we can make a real difference.
Mr. Nordling: Now that I have the Ministers attention, I want to say that I am pleased with the initiatives announced to help deal with family violence. As I said on Monday, the announcement of a shift from a curative to a preventive approach in health and social services is on the right track. I would like to add that I am pleased with the initiatives announced by the Minister of Education on suicide prevention.
However, I caution Yukoners that we should not let this flurry of announcements and apparently new-found awareness fool us. The Minister and his government cannot be trusted to follow through on promises and announcements. For example, on January 7, 1988, I was pressing this government for a commitment on suicide prevention. Part of the Ministers response then was, and I quote: I would like to remind the Member for Porter Creek West that we are not ignoring it. She went on to say, I would like to be able to come back to this House sometime very soon and outline a plan that we have.
Well, nothing happened. We heard nothing until yesterday, almost two years later, when the Minister of Education, not the Minister of Health and Human Resources, stood up, and his words were to advise us of the Department of Educations initiatives in dealing with the tragic problem of suicide, particularly among the young people in the Yukon.
Another example is on December 9, 1987. A senior Yukon government official is quoted in the Whitehorse Star under the headline of New Mental Health Law Soon as saying that the government had hired a consultant to evaluate the current services, and a final version of the study should be ready by the end of December. Nothing happened.
Then, yesterday, the Minister of Health and Human Resources stood up in this House and announced the Department of Health and Human Resources, and I quote, is conducting a review of counselling and mental health needs. This sounds pretty similar to 1987.
As critic for Health and Human Resources, it is my job to see that the Minister does his job and to make sure he does not stop, now that he has discovered that he has a department, which has been struggling along for years, doing its best without political direction, and now that he has discovered there are problems that need more than lip service.
In making this flurry of announcements, it is obvious that, to date, the Minister has not been aware of what has been going on in the Department of Health and Human Resources, and has not been giving any direction.
In 1984, a comprehensive review of services to battered women in the Yukon was done. On November 1, 1985, the 400-page report on the Task Force on Family Violence was completed and submitted to the Minister of Health and Human Resources. Over four years have passed, leaving the department and other Yukoners and other organizations to wrestle with the serious problem of family violence without any political response or input.
In closing, I would like to assure the Minister that attacking me personally, instead of defending his track record, will not work, and I will continue to press for leadership and decision making in the Department of Health and Human Resources in order to achieve concrete results.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am sure the rules would not permit me time to respond to all the comments in the Members speech, most of which had nothing to do with todays announcement, but which did indicate a high level of confusion on his part about a number of issues. If the Member wishes to take the time, I am sure we can sort out some of those things for him.
He tried to assert that the government has done nothing about a whole range of issues involving family violence, suicide, mental health and counselling. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is our view, as I have said before, that, unlike the Member, we do not believe that the problem of suicide can be dealt with in isolation. As the psychologist Pat Kehoe said recently, it is impossible to predict where lightning will strike next, and you cannot deal with the problem of suicide out of the context of general mental health problems, and a whole complex of issues, economic and social problems.
I fear the Member is confusing the preparation of the Mental Health Act, which will be coming before this House, and the consultation and coordination that we will be doing with the federal government on that mental health policy, which is an area that is still principally in their jurisdiction.
On the Task Force on Family Violence, I would have to report, as I am sure my colleague, the former Minister of Health and Human Resources has done, and the current Minister of Justice, that the vast majority of the recommendations of the Task Force on Family Violence that this government initiated in 1985 - after a long period of neglect by the previous government - have been implemented. The process of implementing those recommendations and dealing with this problem is ongoing.
Speaker: Order please. Before we go into Question Period today I would like to remind Members on each side of the House that Question Period is getting too long. The preambles to the questions are getting too long as well as the answers. I would like to remind you of Guidelines 7 and 9 in this case where a brief preamble is allowed in each main question, and a one-sentence preamble for the supplementary question. The same goes for the answers. The answer should be as brief as possible and relevant to the question asked and should not provoke debate. With this in mind, I would ask Members to please heed this.
We will now go on now to Question Period.
Question re: Mackenzie Valley pipeline
Mr. Phelps: We will do our best.
I have some questions for the Minister of Economic Development regarding the gas pipeline applications that have been filed by various competing consortiums who are jockeying for positions to build pipelines to market gas from the Beaufort Sea, Prudhoe Bay in Alaska and from the Mackenzie Delta area in Canada. My first question is whether the Minister can tell us what position this government is taking with regard to the various competing proposals, all of which interrelate and will directly or indirectly have a significant impact on this territorys future.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The government has taken great interest in not only the National Energy Board hearings with respect to the export of natural gas, but also with respect to what one might refer to as the extra-hearing discussions between the pipeline companies and interested parties regarding various transportation options.
The only company that has made an active application to formally pursue the Mackenzie Valley pipeline route is Foothills, the first off the mark. They are assuming in their application that the Mackenzie Delta gas will start running in the period 1996-97 or onwards. There are also some assumptions they are making with respect to whether or not the delta gas will move before the Prudhoe Bay gas. In any case, the Government of Yukon has had discussions with the proponents of this particular pipeline proposal as well as with Polar Gas regarding the transportation of gas, and we have indicated their position on the record when the National Energy Board held hearings on the export of natural gas as recently as this fall.
Mr. Phelps: I thank the Minister for his information in this regard. There is an all-Alaska pipeline, a liquid natural gas proposal that replaces what we used to call the old El Paso proposal of liquefied gas going by pipeline across Alaska and from the area of Valdez by ship. This current proposal is strongly supported by the Alaskan government. If it succeeds, of course, the Alaska Highway gas pipeline proposal would disappear and, along with it, the Dempster lateral.
My question is whether this government is taking action with U.S. authorities to find support for the Alaska Highway proposal?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Firstly, we have indicated our position with respect to the use of tanker traffic to remove oil and gas and have expressed special concern about the movement of natural gas by tanker out of Valdez. That concern was expressed even prior to the Exxon Valdez disaster.
The governments position, as the Member knows and as I have expressed in the House before, is that we are in support of movement of Prudhoe Bay gas down the Alaska Highway pipeline reserve. That position is known to everyone.
With respect to the departmental communications between the Alaskan government and the Department of Economic Development, I could take that question as notice in terms of determining the exact times and natures of those discussions for the Member if he wishes. Certainly our position with respect to the Alaska Highway gas pipeline is very clear, and our position with respect to marine tanker traffic is also clear.
Mr. Phelps: I look forward to any information that the Minister can provide us with because it is important that we are on record with the appropriate U.S. authorities.
My second question is more particularly with regard to the Mackenzie Delta gas. Has this government clearly indicated support for the Dempster lateral proposal over the competing proposals, both from Polar and from Foothills?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Our position with respect to the Dempster lateral proposal has been couched in careful terminology with respect to our position respecting a north shore pipeline. We have indicated, on numerous occasions, and continue to do so to all interested parties, including the Inuvialuit, the Government of Northwest Territories, the Government of Canada, Canadian Oil and Gas Lands Administration (COGLA), the oil industry, that we are opposed to a North Slope pipeline. That is the trigger position, shall we call it, which causes us to be concerned about the potential of a link-up between Prudhoe Bay and the Mackenzie Valley gas pipeline.
We are consequently reviewing gas pipeline options and the costing of those options to determine whether or not our fears are well-founded. We feel that they are at this point, given the preliminary reviews that we have done.
Certainly we have a preference of promoting the Dempster lateral over a North Slope pipeline. We indicated that in the past, and we indicated that last spring here in the Legislature. In so doing, we have also indicated that there must be an environmental review to determine that there is no harm done to the migration route of the Porcupine caribou herd, which is a resource that we consider to be extremely valuable to Yukoners.
Speaker: Order please. Will the Member please conclude his answer.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: That is probably enough. The Member opposite will probably ask more questions.
Question re: Mackenzie Valley pipeline
Mr. Phelps: I must admit I am enjoying this because the topic is rather broad, and it must be difficult for the Minister to confine his comments.
I am pleased that the government has recognized the inherent danger of the Mackenzie Delta pipeline applications and the possibility that the building of such a pipeline by either party could very well make inevitable the link-up to Prudhoe Bay, because of the economic situation and the short distance between Prudhoe Bay, along the north coast, to the Mackenzie Delta.
Is the government working with other groups to keep this danger uppermost in the minds of the various people in positions of authority?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I think the government has taken a fairly aggressive campaign forward to make our position known to not only all groups affected by any potential pipeline option and the people within Yukon, but also the people that I mentioned before - the Inuvialuit are a major player in the North Slope, as the Member knows, the Government of the NWT, the oil industry and COGLA. The concern that we have expressed with respect to the North Slope pipeline has been in rather absolute terms, and the concerns that we have, as I said before, have been expressed in this Legislature, and we will continue to do that in a fairly aggressive way.
Mr. Phelps: For the Dempster lateral and the Alaska Highway pipeline to become a reality, two things must happen. Firstly, we must take steps to ensure the all-Alaska liquid natural gas route is not successful over Foothills Alaska Highway proposal. Secondly, the Prudhoe Bay gas must go to market in a timely manner ahead of, if possible, the Mackenzie Valley gas.
Is the government communicating with the producers, the main players on the production side, at Prudhoe Bay to find out when they want to start delivering gas to the lower 48?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Yes, I think the communication is more in the other direction, as to when the oil industry feels the consumer markets in the lower 48 are going to be mature enough to accept the volume of gas that Prudhoe Bay has to offer. When the subject was first broached a few years ago with respect to the movement of Mackenzie Delta gas, it was felt the consumer markets in the lower 48 were not mature enough to handle the volume of gas from Prudhoe Bay and, consequently, the Mackenzie Delta line would be going first.
In recent months, things have been moving quickly in the sense that concern about carbon dioxide emissions from the use of oil and gas being cleaner fuel would cause the markets to mature faster in the United States. This is highly speculative, as I am sure the Member can appreciate, but we are keeping our eye on those developments, as well.
Question re: Skagway dock
Mr. Phillips: I have a question to the Minister of Economic Development with regard to this governments involvement in the proposed new dock in Skagway, Alaska.
On April 19 of last year in this House, I asked the Minister responsible how much the Government of the Yukon was involved in the plan of the dock. The Minister of Economic Development told us at that time that meetings were to take place shortly and he had nothing to report. The only comment the Minister made at that time was the meetings would take place in either Whitehorse or Juneau.
Has the Minister responsible, or his officials, met since April, 1989, with Alaskan authorities to discuss the proposed new dock?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I had some meetings in Alaska earlier this year. I have not been back there since, but officials have. There have been a number of meetings but, as yet, there has been no firm proposal to which we are attached or committed in any way that would involve a financial commitment by this government. It is not at all clear yet exactly what the State of Alaska is going to do on this question. I understand there are competing ideas and competing proposals involving White Pass and other interests in the state. While I am aware of those, I could not report adequately on the positions of all these parties.
Mr. Phillips: I do not expect the Minister to report on the positions of all the other parties, but I would like to know what the position of the Yukon government is with respect to this dock. Have we indicated there will be financial support? What other support are we giving to the proposal of a new dock in Skagway?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: We approached the situation of the port in Skagway from the point of view of the public interest of the people of the Yukon Territory. Many months ago, the Member who just asked this question raised a concern, which we heard from many quarters, about the unnecessary high prices for fuel in the Yukon Territory. As a result of his initiative and other inquiries, we commissioned the fuel price inquiry, which led to the conclusion that we were being very substantially over charged for fuel in this market.
The conclusion reached by the judge in that inquiry was that there was a bottleneck monopoly at the port of Skagway. The port of Skagway is absolutely strategic to the interests of the Yukon Territory, and our argument has been that if the port could be opened up, if there could be competition there, if it could be a free port, consistent with the values and ideals of free trade, then the public interest of the consumers and the producers in the Yukon Territory would be well served.
Our objective is to do whatever we can, and it may end up being nothing in any substantial way, but we are going to do whatever we can to help facilitate that objective.
Mr. Phillips: In light of the recent announcement of another proposed dock for Skagway being built by a private company, is the Government of Yukon still pursuing a fourth dock in Skagway?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: No. The concern we have is the private monopoly there. In the opinion of many people, the private monopoly does not operate in the public interest of the people of the Yukon Territory. That is a situation we would like to see changed. Obviously, it is in another jurisdiction and the principal players in any change to that situation would have to be the State of Alaska and other Alaskan private interests. There is a powerful concern in this community, on the part of both consumers and producers of products for export, to see the situation open up and to see more reasonable prices in that facility.
Question re: Teslin Community College Campus
Mr. Devries: My question is to the Minister of Education regarding the Teslin Community College campus. Contrary to the wishes of the Teslin Community Campus Committee, your department and the Department of Community and Transportation Services have made financial commitments to rent 1,250 square feet of space at a cost of $26,250 per year on a 15-year lease, or approximately $400,000 in total, for a space they do not really want to move into. Did the Minister have the approval of the Teslin Community Campus Committee to enter into this lease?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Department of Education and Yukon College were aware some time ago that better space was required for the Teslin Community Campus. A needs analysis determined there would be space opening up in the new band administration complex that was being constructed by the Teslin Indian Band. At the time the decision was made, the Teslin Community Campus Committee was supportive of the move to the Teslin band complex. However, the Teslin Community College Campus Committee had decided that in order to move things along, they would try to seek space elsewhere. The responsibility for securing space is not with the Teslin Community College Campus Committee, but with the Government of Yukon and the Department of Education. An agreement was struck between the Government of Yukon and the Teslin Indian Band to see to the successful completion of the Teslin band project. One element of the project is the renting of space for the purposes of housing the Teslin Community Campus. This agreement has been struck, and the Teslin Community Campus will be well housed in the band administration complex.
Mr. Devries: In January of 1990, Yukon College will be an independent body. How does the Ministers department negotiate, in good conscience, a 15-year lease for this soon-to-be-independent body?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The role of the campus in the devolution of the board of governors does start taking place on January 1, 1990, as planned; that is, the financial and personnel administration sections of the Yukon College. The transfer of buildings and responsibility for space does not transfer with the board immediately, but will take place sometime in the future. In the meantime, there are pressing demands by various community campuses across the territory for reasonable accommodation. There are times when that reasonable accommodation requires longer term commitments. The Government of Yukon is, where appropriate, making those longer term commitments. The college will be obligated to accept whatever contractual commitments the Government of Yukon makes, and the Government of Yukon will be obligated to pay the costs of those commitments in the transfer agreement.
Mr. Devries: My understanding is that the Community Campus Committee suggested that they move into the community centre, which could be renovated at a cost of $71,000 and rented for a total of $1 per year. They would have to possibly pay the heating and lighting. Would the Minister agree that it would be more economical and convenient for the campus to be located in the old community centre as the committee vigorously recommended?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The community that I refer to in Teslin is broader than the Community Campus Committee. There is a broader objective between the Government of Yukon and elements, groups and organizations in Teslin, as I am sure the Member is aware. One of those broader commitments is to see to the successful conclusion of the project jointly undertaken with the Teslin Indian Band. One element of that is the rental of space for the purposes of the Community Campus Committee. The Community Campus Committee at one time was supportive of this move. The matter respecting the committees change of heart respecting this matter is unfortunate, but, nevertheless, the Government of Yukon is the responsible agent for securing the space and the broader government objectives are being fulfilled in Teslin with a number of community organizations and groups in that village. In my humble opinion, I believe the broader good is being served by this arrangement.
Question re: Teslin Community Campus Committee
Mr. Devries: Does the Minister realize that over the next 15 years this is going to cost an additional $300,000 of taxpayers money to move this campus into the band hall? Does the Minister think we can throw money around like that?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: What an incredibly unfair question to put at this point.
First of all, the Member is trying to make it seem that the Government of Yukon can secure space in Teslin for free with no operational costs. That is not fair and it is what the Member is suggesting. Certainly, the rental of the old community hall would require $1. The cost of renovations would also require money. The Member will say that the Department of Education is not required to pay that cost, but the community development fund is expected to pay that cost.
Then there is the cost of heating and operating the community centre. There are costs to leasing space no matter what community we deal with. I hope the Member realizes that.
With respect to this particular matter there is an agreement to see to it that a particular project is undertaken and successfully completed with a whole range of objectives. To pick one element of this project with respect to the rental of a particular space in that administration complex is an unfair critique of this whole initiative.
Mr. Devries: I am not picking on only one element. The library would like to move into this community centre. Both the library and college are very upset about this. There have been several committee members who resigned because of the Ministers dictatorial decisions in this matter.
Would the Minister be willing to reconsider the situation?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The answer is no, largely because the government and I have not been acting in a dictatorial manner in this situation at all. We have been responding to a series of very significant community requests that we are pleased to be able to resolve.
Firstly, the matter of the library is not as the Member states. The arrangements that have been made do not state that the library has to move into the band administration complex. That is a mistake the Member has made...
Speaker: Order please. Would the Member please conclude his answer.
Question re: Judges sabbaticals
Mrs. Firth: I have a question for the Minister of Justice and it is in regards to the judge-land claims negotiator. On June 27, the current land claims negotiator, for whom the third judge position is being held open for, made a public announcement in the newspaper saying that before returning to the bench he was going to have a years sabbatical leave. On November 2, the Minister signed an order-in-council for judicial sabbatical regulations regarding judges taking leaves. On November 15, the Minister made a public statement, I believe on the local CBC news, about the sabbatical leaves that were now available. I would like to ask the Minister if the regulation that she has just signed applies to the land claims negotiator?
Hon. Ms. Joe: The regulations that we have just approved relate to all judges. If we are talking about the sabbatical that was agreed to by Judge Stuart when he was a judge, that was a term of his contract at that time. The regulations that have been approved apply to all territorial judges.
Mrs. Firth: I take that as a yes.
In the judicial sabbatical regulation there is also a clause that deals with remuneration paid to a judge while on a sabbatical and that it would be 70 percent of a judges salary. I would like to ask the minister if the 70 percent that is going to be paid to the individual is going to be 70 percent of his $89,500 per year judges salary or will it be 70 percent of his much larger land claims salary of $132,000 per year?
Hon. Ms. Joe: The 70 percent would apply to the judges salary.
Mrs. Firth: I would like to ask the Minister how long her department worked on developing the policy regulations regarding judges sabbaticals?
Hon. Ms. Joe: The discussions regarding judges sabbaticals were started in 1985 and began then with Judge Bladen. They have been ongoing since then.
Question re: Judges sabbaticals
Mrs. Firth: That last answer will be clarified with a few more questions here.
I have another question for the Minister of Justice. I wrote to the Minister of Justice on July 28 - quite some time ago - regarding a request I had for information about the land claims negotiator. I asked in the letter if the government gave a commitment to Mr. Stuart for the sabbatical leave and whether or not he would be receiving any financial payment from the government during that time. The Minister did not reply until just recently regarding that matter and she did not answer the question about when the commitment was given to Mr. Stuart for this sabbatical. Was it in his contract of August 8, 1985, when he was first seconded to the land claims as a land claims negotiator?
Hon. Ms. Joe: On the agreement with Judge Stuart in regard to his contract, those decisions were made during that time and were included in his contract.
Mrs. Firth: That is the contract of 1985 when those commitments were made. Have any new contracts been signed with the chief land claims negotiator-judge confirming that commitment?
Hon. Ms. Joe: I have not been involved in any contracts with Judge Stuart.
Mrs. Firth: Has the Minister not signed any contracts recently, for example, as recently as this summer with the Minister responsible for land claims and the chief land claims negotiator, perhaps around June sometime?
Hon. Ms. Joe: I have just answered that question. I have not been involved in signing any contracts with Judge Stuart.
Question re: Judge Stuart
Mrs. Firth: I want to go back to the letter I wrote to the Minister about the next question I asked her. This is the letter of July 28, and just to get the dates in the correct order: June 27, the negotiator announced a sabbatical; July 28, I made a request; November 2, the announcements were made regarding sabbatical regulations.
We will go back to the letter of July 28. I asked if the government has any concerns about Mr. Stuarts return to the bench after having been the land claims negotiator. I received no answer until recently, when the Minister told me in her correspondence that, In regard to your query about the government having any concerns about Judge Stuarts return to the bench, I would advise that it would be inappropriate for me to comment, as to do so would be infringing upon the concept of judicial independence. Whether or not Judge Stuart returns to the bench would be a matter for discussion between him and the Yukons Chief Judge on the Judicial Council.
In the contracts or any agreements that Mr. Stuart has with the government, is that specifically stated, or is the decision simply left up to Mr. Stuart?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I can help answer this question. I do not believe there has been a public announcement, but Judge Stuart has conveyed to me his intention to return to the bench at the end of the sabbatical, which was what was contemplated when the discussions about sabbaticals for judges were undertaken back in 1985.
Mrs. Firth: I am not quite sure what the Minister responsible for land claims said. I asked the Minister of Justice specifically if the decision to return to the bench was up to the Chief Judge, as she has said in her letter, or was it the terms of the agreement that has been signed between Mr. Stuart and this government?
Hon. Ms. Joe: With respect to the decision to return to the bench, my information is that he will return to the bench. I have not been told otherwise. The terms of his contract were drawn up in 1985, and it was his intention then to return to the bench. I have not received any other information.
Mrs. Firth: Could I have a copy of the 1985 contract between the Government of the Yukon and Barry Stuart? It would be public information. We are entitled to these documents, I think.
Hon. Ms. Joe: I will take that question as notice.
Question re: Judge Stuart
Mrs. Firth: I have a new short question for the Minister. Would she also provide any other contracts that have been signed by the Government of the Yukon and Barry Stuart, maybe as recently as June of this year?
Hon. Ms. Joe: I will also take that question as notice.
Mrs. Firth: Could we have an answer tomorrow on this matter?
Hon. Ms. Joe: I will endeavour to see if I can bring that information back tomorrow.
Question re: Lake Laberge road maintenance
Mr. Phelps: I have a constituency matter I want to raise today with the Minister of Community and Transportation Services regarding road maintenance in Deep Creek and Lake Laberge. I gave notice to his office that I would be asking a question as a follow-up to some letters regarding snow removal on certain roads at Deep Creek leading to residences along the lake north of the campground. Has the Minister had a chance to review the correspondence and has he made a decision with regard to snow removal?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The matter the Member raised was indeed looked at under direction of his original letter. As the Member is aware, the road identified is not the one intended to be mentioned.
Department officials are now examining the second road in question. On the original road that maintenance was requested for, there are problems. It is extremely narrow and overhung with trees that would have to be removed. I have asked the department for a further assessment of what it would take to provide maintenance on that first road. I do not have details on the second road yet.
Mr. Phelps: In coming to a decision on this matter, did the Minister take into account that the lots were sold through government, and there are families with small children living there who go to school, and snow conditions may prevent certain residents from getting their kids to school.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I appreciate the Members representations. I am sure it is being taken into account as it was suggested in his letter. I will be pleased to report to him later on details surrounding cost and ability to maintain.
Question re: Agricultural policy
Mr. Lang: I have a question for the Minister of Renewable Resources.
For sometime there have been public statements made about the development of an agricultural policy. Further, at the latest economic conference, in some information provided to delegates, it stated that the overall agricultural policy has been developed by officials in consultation with the industry. I would ask the Minister if he could table the agricultural policy.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I will be pleased to table the agricultural policy some time within the next two weeks.
Mr. Lang: Since this policy has been a top priority of the government - at least when speaking in public they say it is a high priority - can we expect legislation accompanying the policy?
Hon. Mr. Webster: No, there will be no legislation accompanying the policy at this time. The intention of this policy is to have it for public review.
Mr. Lang: The Minister said, Some time within the next two weeks. In the documents provided to us, it stated that an overall agricultural policy has been developed by officials in consultation with the industry. Why does this House have to wait for two weeks if it has been developed? It does not have to be bound; it can just be on foolscap so that I can read it.
Hon. Mr. Webster: That is a very good question from the Member opposite. It is going through some minor revisions; yes, he is quite correct that the policy has been developed. He must know that it is not only dealing with my department, the Department of Renewable Resources, it is also dealing with the Department of Community and Transportation Services, specifically in the areas pertaining to the acquisition of land for agricultural purposes. This is why it has been delayed for a brief period and, as I indicated to the Member earlier, it will definitely be tabled in two weeks time.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now lapsed.
Before proceeding to the Orders of the Day, the Chair would note that Motion for Production of Papers No. 4 has been satisfied by the document, entitled Yukon Government Position on Kluane National Park, tabled yesterday by the Minister for Renewable Resources. The Chair will therefore order that the motion be withdrawn from the Order Paper.
We will now proceed with Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Hon. Mr. McDonald: On behalf of the House Leaders I would request unanimous consent to proceed to Motions Other Than Government Motions and for the motions to be called in the following order: Motion No. 22, Motion No. 46, Motion No. 47, and Motion No. 48.
Speaker: Is there unanimous consent?
All Members: Agreed.
MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS
Clerk: Item No. 1, adjourned debate, Mrs. Firth.
Motion No. 22 adjourned debate
Speaker: It has been moved by Hon. Ms. Hayden
THAT it is the opinion of this House that the Government of Yukon should consider taking the following steps to help protect the ozone layer from further erosion:
(a) as soon as possible, ban the sale and use of foam packages and any chemicals in aerosol sprays that contain chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), a substance known to harm the ozone layer;
(b) by July 1, 1990, ban rigid foam insulation and flexible furniture foam made with CFCs;
(c) at the earliest possible dates, ban the sale of any other products made with CFCs;
(d) advocate to other jurisdictions in Canada that they adopt deadlines earlier than 1989 to stop using CFCs in the manufacture of refrigerators, air conditioners and coolers as well as other products;
(e) participate in the safe collection and destruction of products containing CFCs;
(f) ensure the safe use and testing of fire extinguishers containing halons; and
(g) contact other jurisdictions in Canada and encourage them to adopt similar bans in order to avoid environmental calamity to northern people caused by destruction of the ozone layer.
Mrs. Firth: I rise today to respond to this motion that was presented to the Legislature by the Member for Whitehorse South Centre regarding the use of chlorofluorocarbons or CFCs. It is a little difficult to get back into debate seven months after we were debating the issue. I had some really strong feelings about it then but I will have to get myself charged up here regarding the issue seven months later.
Just to refresh peoples minds, I think I will just give a little idea of the principles that the Member has listed in her motion. She is requesting that the Government of Yukon consider taking steps to help protect the ozone level from further erosion. Some of them are very specific actions requiring, I would conclude, legislation and perhaps some very drastic action in some areas.
So we are asked to consider taking the following steps: banning the sale and use of foam packages and any chemicals in aerosol sprays that contain the chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs); by July 1, of 1990, ban rigid foam insulation and flexible furniture foam made with CFCs; at the earliest possible dates, ban the sale of any other products made with CFCs; advocate to other jurisdictions in Canada that they adopt deadlines earlier than 1998 to stop using CFCs; participate in safe collection and destruction of products containing CFCs; ensure safe use and testing of fire extinguishers containing halons; and, contact other jurisdictions in Canada to encourage them to adopt similar bans.
Some of the points I do not have any concern with because they are genuine motherhood statements and we can certainly act on some of them fairly immediately. I went back and examined what my colleagues had said and what the Members from the other side of the House had said and really the only Member who brought in any facts or any statistical information or what I refer to as factual information about the issue was the Member for the Klondike riding. He made quite a comprehensive presentation about stable gases, at which time he also mentioned the Montreal Protocol, with which I am familiar. I understand that industry is responding to and following the Montreal Protocol very closely, so I wanted to make mention of that and thank the Member for his interesting, factual information.
So often when these motions come forward in the Legislature they are motherhood statements; they are statements of philosophy and ideology. I have a habit, traditionally, of looking at these things from a more practical point of view and I would like to present a more practical approach today.
I am interested in the facts. I do everything I can to accumulate factual data about the environment, as I am sure all the Members in this Legislature do, such as information about the ozone layer. The atmospheric environment service is very cooperative in providing extensive details about current studies that are being done and current theories on the ozone layer and whether the causes of the hole in the ozone are all from chemicals caused by us and civilization or if some is due to natural causes as well. I think it would be a combination of all three. There would be chemicals and natural causes and a combination of people and natural causes such as the burning of rainforest areas.
I am very interested in collecting factual information for my constituents so that, should the government consider taking some of these steps, we do it in a practical and realistic way and so that it is not considered to be extreme and that it be without consulting industry, people in our constituencies and other people and governments in Canada and on an international level as well. I know this is happening.
I am always interested to hear the government Members talking about these motherhood, emotional motions, because they always stand up and give us a big story about what a good job they are doing, how great their track record is and how we are all concerned about the environment and everyone being safe and healthy and all the rest of those good things. It is somewhat interesting to note two other suggestions that have been made regarding the storage of PCBs, which is related to this whole issue, I think. We have had discussions in the Legislature about the storage of PCBs and where they should and should not be. In my research and in doing my homework I find the government is storing PCBs in the industrial area in the middle of Whitehorse in building No. 215; I believe it is the sign shop. I see the Minister-of-everything cringing; I think it is fine to say, We are doing all these wonderful things, but let us see what the government really is doing. My colleague from Riverdale North says there is some out at the dam, too. Everyone knows that; they drive by it every day. I was really quite shocked to find out that this government, who stands up and professes to have such good intentions regarding the environment, CFCs, PCBs and recycling programs and ecological advancements, would do something like that.
I know that tomorrow the Minister of Government Services is going to get on this right away, and maybe we will see the government making some decisions about the storage of PCBs and where they will go. This is a problem that is immediate. It is, in my humble opinion, a bigger priority right now than the motion that the Member for Whitehorse South Centre has brought forward. That is not to diminish the importance of her motion. It is just to indicate that priorities have to be made and situations have to be dealt with immediately. I think the government had better look after those PCBs that are down in the industrial area.
Another thing that concerns me is the question of recycling programs. Again, we are dealing with the environment. We are dealing with the foam packages that all the other Members mentioned were all over the territory: styrofoam packages, pop cans, beer cans and so on. All Members made mention of the litter and the problem of what to do with it. Instead of just telling the government to ban all of these things, perhaps the government should take some advice from the public and the Opposition when it comes to the recycling program.
I remember the Member for Riverdale North coming in with motions suggesting educational programs, get into the schools and get to the kids early. But we have had no feedback from the government, except for a couple of classy political appointments to chair boards to look at environmental issues.
The Member for Whitehorse South Centre must feel, herself, that her government is not addressing the issues she is most concerned about, or she would not be bringing this kind of motion forward.
We go back to recycling, and I have heard the Government Leader get up and go on and talk about how their intentions are good, and he has a very good way of making people feel quite securely that he is taking care of them, and he is looking after them, and everything is going to be fine. I believe at his most recent Yukon 2000 strategy conference he got up and gave the speech again about the short-term pain for the long-term gain in the context of the environment. We heard all the information that has been coming forward that has been fairly controversial in the last three days from the Minister of Health about all the announcements in the health department.
I want to give the political director of this government, the Government Leader, some advice. He has obviously mastered the art of recycling when it comes to his old political rhetoric and his political speeches, and his promises, and his extended care facilities, and hospital transfers. We have heard some of these announcements no less than four or five times, so we know the Government Leader has mastered the art of recycling.
In my humble opinion, I would like to suggest the Government Leader apply that practice to the problem of the litter out in the street, the foam packages out in the street, the cans, the containers, and perhaps he should look at the government taking a lead role in identifying what could be done about that, instead of leaving it up to the Conservation Society without any support from the government.
As I said earlier, the industry is becoming more aware, through educational programs, through conferences and things like the Montreal Protocol. Their concerns are sincere. Some of their actions have been quite sincere when it comes to addressing the issue. They have been taking some steps toward developing new products to use in the place of CFCs, to get rid of the substances that are causing the problem. The only way we are going to be able to work in a cooperative manner is if industry, governments and we politicians take a cooperative approach, not an extreme approach and say we are going to legislate that this has to stop in 1990, or 1998, or tomorrow, or whenever, until we have all the facts, until we know what the implications are, until we know whether we can do without Pampers.
I know the Minister of Education can do without Pampers, because he stood up and told everybody in the Yukon that he did not need to use Pampers anymore for his future children. A lot of women were really pleased to hear that. Some day, on a private note, I will have to pass some of the comments on to the Minister that I heard about his comments.
We have to approach this in a sensible, rational, common sense way. I do not disagree with the principles the Member for Whitehorse South Centre is bringing forward. I do not think anyone in this Assembly would disagree, nor would you, Mr. Speaker, or any Yukoner, for that matter, but we have to be careful we are not bringing forward extreme solutions and taking extreme positions. Again, they are the masters at that and I have heard that recycled speech from the leader several times. The motion would have had a lot more impact had the Member considered a more practical approach.
However, I am not going to disagree with it. I do not want the Member to be concerned that we will not be supporting this motion. We will be supporting it because it is giving the government some suggestions to consider, and I think any suggestions we get from anyone is always good and makes for a health environment and attitude.
I want to thank the Member for bringing the motion forward. I hope she has taken my small criticisms in a constructive way and taken my compliments in a big way.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Many years ago when I was in the classroom, I learned and applied a principle that you always compliment a student before you apply constructive criticism. To that extent, I agree with the Member who has just spoken that the issues of environmental concern are ones of priority in society today. They are ones to which we have become much more sensitized. Conservation and protection of the environment are issues that are on the forefront for many people. In that context, they are forefront in the minds of people of the Yukon.
The motion before us, introduced by the Member for Whitehorse South Centre, is comprehensive in speaking to the issue of CFCs. Yes, indeed, it does have many applications or suggestions within that motion of things that can be done to reduce the emission of CFCs which, as we all know, destroy the protection of the ozone layer.
In many circles of the country, environment issues, including CFCs, are being given special attention. In fact, my colleague, the Member for Porter Creek West, and I were in Yellowknife last weekend for a parliamentary conference and issues of the environment were the subject of some considerable discussion.
In nearly every forum across the country, environment has risen to the forefront of concern. I agree with the Member that it is not just adequate to express concern; it is equally and more important to do something about that expression of concern. Certainly, last spring a number of concerns had been raised by speakers to this motion. The immediate banning of some things may pose some difficulty to the originators, suppliers or producers of certain products. I do not think that is excuse enough to postpone the banning of certain materials that are, in this case, damaging our ozone layer, which could have untold hazard for the world environment.
We have to be progressive, pro-active and do things to back up our expressions of concern. Members who have spoken previously have indicated we may be moving too quickly; we may not have the authority to ban certain things and we may not be in a position to do things as quickly as suggested by the motion. I think for the most part we are. The only problem I see in the context of the motion lies in section (b) where a specific date of 1990 is suggested for the banning of rigid foam insulation and flexible furniture foam made with CFCs. It may be, as pointed out by the Minister of Renewable Resources during debate in the spring, that we do not have the legislated authority at this point to impose such a ban.
For the benefit of Members, I will be proposing an amendment shortly that will suggest that that date is not achievable. To lend full credence to the motion, I will be proposing a short amendment.
I would like to speak to a couple of points raised by the previous speaker, particularly in relation to PCBs. The Member suggested, quite erroneously, that there is some neglect and irresponsibility being shown by this government in the storage of PCBs. To provide Members with some background, the PCBs in question are ballasts from fluorescent lighting fixtures throughout government buildings. Fluorescent lights that have been installed in the past contain minute quantities of PCBs in their ballasts. My department has undertaken a program that will see to the removal of all those ballasts by 1993. They are being contained in storage in the Marwell area. This interim storage of the barrels in which the ballasts are contained is being carried out in full accordance with an interim order respecting the storage of waste containing PCBs, which falls under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. The storage of these ballasts is fully within the requirements of the federal act and, accordingly, we are providing the safest and best storage possible.
The storage area has been inspected and approved by inspectors from the federal governments Environmental Protection Services. The actual quantities of PCBs contained in those ballasts are minute, however hazardous. The entire sealed units of those ballasts are contained in barrels in proper storage.
The Member also raised the issue of recycling. This government has shown and demonstrated some aggressive action in addressing the recycling question. The Minister of Renewable Resources, in conjunction with the Conservation Society, has helped to initiate a recycling of cans program.
My Department of Government services is currently in discussion with the Conservation Society to address the question of recycling of government paper. There is tons of it. We are also looking at pelleting waste paper and considering its use for fuel.
On those two specific points, the Member for Riverdale South is not accurate in suggesting that there has not been aggressive action or that there has not been some demonstration of things done, as well as just expressing concern.
In July, I took the initiative through the Department of Government Services to eliminate the use of any building materials in government contracts that contained CFCs. We did that through rewriting the specifications for all materials that previously contained CFC-based material, whether it was styrofoam or forms of insulation. We simply eliminated specifying them into contracts. All contracts since July for the government specify materials that do not contain CFC-based materials. Those are actions that we have undertaken.
To extend this beyond the government will require some legislative authority. We do not have the authority to ban the use of CFCs at this time. We well may be in that position with the introduction of appropriate legislation to come.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: It may be appropriate at this time for me to introduce an amendment that will address the one date change I would like to see in this motion
THAT Motion No. 22 be amended by deleting from paragraph (b) the words by July 1, 1990" and substituting at the earliest possible time".
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Community and Transportation Services
THAT Motion No. 22 be amended by deleting from paragraph (b) the words by July 1, 1990, and substituting at the earliest possible time,.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I proposed the amendment because I feel it is necessary to underscore the point that while we feel there is real urgency in this matter, we want to proceed in a rational and balanced manner that allows all parties to properly plan for and adjust to the change. At the same time, I recognize we do not have the legislated authority to ban rigid foam insulation and flexible furniture foam made with CFCs unilaterally, so why suggest that we can. My amendment accords the motion full justification and achievement.
The additional point I would like to make on the issue of the amendment is that, at this time, we are addressing the issue of foam insulation and flexible furniture foam made with CFCs, as we speak, through Government Services. We have a program where furniture is acquired. We are looking at rewriting specs for that just as we did for building materials on contracts. Again, we can only do this within the government sphere of activity. As the amendment suggests, we can only do this unilaterally if we have the legislative authority to do so. My amendment permits that to take place.
Ms. Hayden: I consider the amendment a friendly amendment, particularly considering the length of time it has taken us to complete this debate. I would be happy to have it added to my motion and have my motion changed with this amendment.
Mr. Lang: I am just following up the comments by the Member for Whitehorse South Centre, that it has taken a considerable period of time to complete debate on this motion. If you will recall, it was last spring when we adjourned debate. I want to hearken everyones memories back to the debate that took place at that time. This side presented the point of view that we had to work in the context of not only the national scene but the international scene, and work in step with them.
From our perspective, in order to clarify the situation, it is a very welcome amendment. Like our amendment yesterday, we see it as a friendly amendment.
Amendment to Motion No. 22 agreed to
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The debate that took place last spring was an interesting one, in many respects. The debate today is interesting, if not somewhat quiet. It causes me to want to think about a motion like this, given some of the experience I have had in the last couple of months dealing with energy ministers and carbon dioxide emissions, a related matter respecting our atmosphere.
I got the impression from the Member for Riverdale South that the most prudent response to a motion such as this is that we should be cautious, that we should not change anything if it causes interruption in the supply schedules of manufacturers, we should be conservative, we should be responsible, we should show common sense, we should be rational, we should fall asleep, and we should make decisions about as boring a subject as one could hope to imagine in order to make it seem as if this is just another event in the daily lives of legislators in the Yukon Legislative Assembly.
In the interim, we can try and divert attention somewhat to the issue of PCBs and other environmental concerns that the government side has expressed over the last couple of years, and we should be reminded once again of the incredible amount of research the Member does on everything from my familys use of Pampers to the storage of PCBs in the City of Whitehorse.
I think it is fantastic that the light of understanding is shining in for the Member for Riverdale South, who wants us to remember her homework schedule.
In 1987, I tabled a list of the storage sites for PCBs and indicated one of the reasons why we had to find alternate sites, secure sites and a long-term storage site was because we were storing PCBs in locations in the industrial area of Whitehorse. This is not a new revelation. It is not useful, in a debate such as this, to simply ignore the fundamental issue that the Member for Whitehorse South Centre has brought forward in this debate.
This is one of the foremost environmental issues of our age. This is one of those issues we cannot afford to ignore. This is not the standard political equation. It is one of those issues where we know we have to act. It is just a matter of how much and how soon can we act.
This is not an issue where we can draw an equation about whether or not manufacturers can react in time to take full advantage of the market potential for transferring from one product line to another. It is not the sort of a question where we can say we can just extract all of this resource and promise that we will try not to do it again; we will use these CFCs until we can find something better because we do not want to cause too much disturbance out there.
There is a difference between saying we should be responsible, show common sense and be rational when it comes to the standard political equation of balancing economic interests in our society and the desire to be rational when it comes to saving everyones lives on this planet. This is not the standard equation. People across the world conservative, liberal, socialist governments everywhere have recognized that this is a substantial problem. This problem requires an absolutely firm hand when it comes to recognizing and identifying a problem and doing something about it.
The Member for Porter Creek East is waking up. That is good.
The atmosphere, water and the earth at one time were considered to be unbreakable. They were forever considered to be consistent and safe. We thought we could count on them forever. They were never considered to be exploitable commodities. They were never given value in economic accounting. Their simple existence had never really entered our consciousness, really, beyond their aesthetic value. But now we have solid scientific evidence that suggests that our faith in boundless resources is misplaced, and that our faith in technological change to resolve our problems is also misplaced.
What happens is that people sit back and say that responsible, reasonable people will do something about it. That is fundamentally a dangerous assumption for many good reasons. People may say that people are being alarmist or that there is still lots of time and scientists cannot predict when we will all be dead and there is lots of time to deal with our problems. That, too, is a recipe for delay. It is either because the problem and issues are too big for people to comprehend or that the effects have not been experienced in peoples own homes and daily lives.
Quite often, when an issue is down-to-earth, people understand it. They understand the basic conundrum that politicians face in decision making, for example. If one were to say that the streets will be paved outside my house or we should work on building a ski hill in Whitehorse or we should consider even pipeline development, these are manageable issues in many peoples minds. Certainly they are in mine. Large issues that mean change are disorienting because people do not want to deal with them. But this is one issue where we have to draw a bottom line and work towards it.
I can understand the psychological impact of learning about problems with the atmosphere, water and the land are very disorienting because we as a community have no place else to go. It is like being in a spaceship. If you can deal with the problems inside the spaceship, everything is fine. But once you find out that the spaceship itself is in danger, it is disorienting because it cannot be dealt with. There is no place to go. That is the psychology around the problems we are facing now and we need to encourage people to deal with them.
The energy ministers this past year were asked to deal with issue of carbon dioxide emissions and they were also asked to take some political leadership respecting those emissions. It is a greenhouse gas; the evidence is in; the ozone level is depleting. For every three percent depletion of the ozone layer there are 2,000 new cancer cases in this country, leading perhaps to 70 deaths per year. It is scientific evidence; it is on the table.
You have to deal with it; you know you have to deal with it. Energy ministers were asked to take a stand to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and the debate amongst ministers was quite similar to the debate that we hear today in this Legislature - that we know there is a problem, or we think we know there is a problem that may be too big for us to comprehend but maybe we should be thinking about what kind of economic dislocation this is going to entail.
On the other hand, there are people saying that there has to be a decision made to make the change and then we will deal with the issue of economic dislocation, which is a real one for all politicians. The vast majority of ministers of energy in this country said that they believed that the issue was so serious that a final decision had to be made and had to be made right away, that we could not wait, because the future life on the planet was at stake. Certainly the future life in this country is at stake.
The energy ministers, for the most part, showed courage, in my view, for being able to take that position. The only shortcoming was that we put off the final, final decision for six months, but the statements by those people who knew there would be some economic dislocation accompanying a decision like that was downright brave.
The problems that we are facing here of carbon dioxide emissions are very real. It is my view that this Legislature has to act. I think it is also obvious that there has to be good education about the effects of ozone depletion, largely because, as many people pointed out during the Yukon Economic Strategy Conference this last month, this is the responsibility of everyone. It starts not only in a Legislature such as ours, or the Parliament of Canada, or the UN organization, it starts in your own home and the way we live.
It was in that context that I made remarks to the conundrum that people face. On the one hand they understand the need for making the changes but on the other hand they feel the desire to continue on with a standard of living and a way of life that they have become accustomed to.
Everyone in this room is going to be walking out of here this afternoon; they are going to hop into their cars; they are going to turn them on; they might even heat them up; they will be throwing some carbon dioxide emissions into the air and contributing to the problem. They may even be aware of it, but the difficulty has been that we have not done anything about it in our own personal lives, and that is where we have to show, I think, some innovation and imagination as to the changes that are necessary in our lifestyle to help make a difference. I believe, at least, that it starts with education, but it also continues throughout every forum, every initiative, every action of government and of private sector organizations.
I can only say that, given the weight of technical evidence, which I will not repeat for the record I have a good deal of it sitting in front of me; I do not think it is necessary to go through the scientific jargon in my view the evidence is very convincing. In my view, solid and more courageous action has to take place. In my view, the statements about being very cautious about the effects on economic life are misplaced, largely because the future of this world is at stake and it is not appropriate to ignore that fact.
Obviously, I stand in support of the motion. I feel the Legislature, the government, individuals in this room and individuals who are listening, should all recognize that they have a part to play. Nobody is immune. Nobody simply records the actions of others; everybody has to play a part. Hopefully, if we are lucky enough to grow old, our children will be in the same position as we are and have hope for the future.
Ms. Hayden: I thank the hon. Members for support of this motion. Regardless of whether or not there are natural causes for ozone destruction, it is obvious that we, the people of this earth, must take responsibility for what we do to destroy our environment.
This is, indeed, a motherhood issue. This is an issue that affects life itself. As the Minister has said, yes, there is more work to be done on recycling. Yes, there is more work to be done on storage of special wastes. That is not to say that we can afford to overlook specific damaging products like CFCs.
There is little doubt that our planet is sick. Carbon dioxide pollution of the atmosphere becomes worse every year. A Globe and Mail article dated November 16 of this year told us about the continuing depletion of the ozone layer. Studies reported in the British magazine Nature found an ozone loss averaging 15 to 30 percent outside the current Antarctic hole in the ozone layer. The more we learn about ozone loss, the more we discover how little we understand the process and the problem.
Other recent scientific reports have shown the ozone layer depleting in Arctic areas leaving ocean phytoplankton vulnerable. This plankton is the first step in our food chain. This relates to a continuing global warming trend.
At the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Conference in Barbados, I heard the fears of the Caribbean and South Sea island countries that the rising ocean brought about by the warming trend will destroy them. Many fear their islands will be flooded completely. They are very fearful of that. Like us, they are small jurisdictions and have little control over the big polluters. Along with their fear goes a feeling of powerlessness. We must all start somewhere.
Under-ice research conducted by the United Kingdom in the Arctic has revealed a 15 percent melting moving up from beneath the ice. Ice thickness has decreased from an average of seven feet to an average of five feet. This break-up of the ice will leave the vital phytoplankton even more vulnerable to solar radiation. Our unchecked spilling of harmful gases into the environment is the cause of this destruction. This pollution will be felt by many forms of life for generations to come. This is an urgent problem, and it is time we addressed it in a practical manner by banning the sale and use of foam packaging and aerosol sprays that contain CFCs, by banning flexible furniture, foam and rigid foam insulation that has been manufactured with CFCs, by banning other products made with CFCs, and by the very careful testing of products that use halons.
There are alternatives available. We should use them. We need to remember that we did not inherit this planet from our ancestors, we have only borrowed it from our children.
Motion No. 22 agreed to as amended
Motion No. 46
Clerk: Item No. 4, standing in the name of Ms. Hayden.
Speaker: Is the Member prepared to deal with Item 4.
Ms. Hayden: Yes.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Member for Whitehorse South Centre
THAT it is the opinion of this House that violence within the family is a major problem throughout the Yukon;
THAT this House urge the Government of the Yukon in co-operation with professionals, First Nations, interest groups and victims to continue to develop policies and establish programs that address the issue of family violence and its destructive impact on Yukon society; and
THAT these policies and programs address, in a culturally appropriate manner, education, prevention of all forms of violence, treatment for abusers and victim support services.
Ms. Hayden: At the outset, everyone in this House should have a clear understanding of what family violence is. Family violence runs the gamut from telling our children they are stupid, to hitting, to slapping, to torture, to sexual abuse of our sons and daughters. Family violence is the physical, physchological, sexual and emotional abuse of those who are smaller and weaker. Family violence is meted out by those who are bigger and stronger, by those who have power.
We must be clear about who is the abused and who is the abuser. For the most part, men abuse. Our children, the elderly and women are the abused. Most men are bigger and stronger. Women, the elderly and children are the vulnerable, and we are taught to be vulnerable by our society.
There is in our society an all pervasive and inherent acceptance of violence as a way of coping with our emotions, our opinions and stress. Babies and small children are hit, kicked and sexually abused, not by strangers, but by the people they most trust: parents, siblings, extended family members and other care givers and educators. Little wonder they grow up to be violent, believing violence is normal and that the abuse they received is somehow their own fault for being less than perfect. They are little children and they grow up feeling guilty.
Victims of sexual abuse experience a variety of emotional reactions ranging from shock and disbelief to fear, anxiety, guilt, humiliation, helplessness, anger, rage and revenge. The most overriding emotion of victims of violence is fear: fear of death, fear of the offenders return and fear that it will happen again.
Until adolescence, abused children try desperately to please their abuser or, in the case of sexual abuse, to block events out of their minds entirely. They often have little or no recollection of sexual assaults. When as an adolescent or an adult they begin to remember, they still believe that they must be at fault, bad or guilty, or this would not be happening to them. Their self-worth, self-esteem and self-confidence is almost nonexistent.
Many teenagers and preteens try to escape both their tormentors and, yes, it is often plural and themselves by running away, selling themselves into prostitution, using drugs and alcohol or getting involved in some combination of all four. Almost always, these children believe they have asked for help either directly or indirectly, but no one has listened.
The Spirit Weeps is a book about the experiences of abused children. One child is quoted as saying it seemed like I told everybody about what was happening, but nobody would listen. They finally listened when I packed my bags and left. We just do not listen.
If they are very young, they do not know the language to use. They have been threatened, bribed or coerced. They have been told your Mommy will be very angry at you if you tell on me.
Often their attempts at revelation are brushed off by a too-busy grownup. Lack of self-esteem, embarrassment and a fear of being labelled different in the teenaged years is an inhibiting factor in disclosure.
The teenage abused child also knows that telling will break up the family unit and again, it will be their fault. They are trapped. Little wonder many turn to suicide as the only way out. It is unclear how many child sexual abuse victims commit suicide, but by letters left behind it is apparent that some do.
If sexually abused children make it through their teenage years - and let us not fool ourselves that it is only little girls who are abused, little boys are abused too, and I believe that young boys may be suffering sexual abuse in much greater numbers than our statistics reveal. Sexual abuse is not really about sex. It is about exploitation and the exercising of power over someone who is smaller and weaker. In families, schools and even our churches, the men who abuse choose the smaller, the weaker and most vulnerable as their victims, and I suspect young boys are every bit as vulnerable as young girls.
Even with the recent reporting of abuse coming out across the country, I believe that the sexual abuse of boys is one of the best- kept secrets in our society. Unfortunately, investigations into sexual abuse or incest often overlook the possibility that the boys in the family may also have been assaulted.
If sexually abused children make it through their teenage years and into mid-adulthood, they may at last have the courage and support to accuse their abuser. Then begins another nightmare chapter in their lives. This is a chapter of revealing to family, friends and co-workers. This is the chapter of disbelief, pity, gossip and interminable questioning if they proceed with laying charges. If they are married, it is a rare couple that survives this kind of disclosure. Years of therapy and thousands of dollars in expense lay before them. Ultimately, they must decide whether to lay charges against a father, brother, uncle, teacher, babysitter, cousin or family friend. The fabric of the entire extended family is torn apart. Little wonder so many keep quiet or become so desperate for help they try to commit suicide as a cry for help. Some of them succeed.
Victims who keep quiet do not get the help they so badly need to learn how to cope with their emotions. They often grow into adults who in turn hit, assault and abuse and the cycle goes on and on and on.
It is that cycle that we must break. It is that cycle that we all - government, professionals, first nations, advocacy groups and even the victims and abusers themselves - must all work together to stop. For victims and abusers alike, disclosure is probably the only way to break the cycle. It is a most painful catharsis for everyone involved.
I repeat here that one of the best kept secrets in our society is the exploitation and abuse of boys and young men. We see signs of it here and there across our country and at home, but our statistics say that one in four girls or women is sexually assaulted and one in 10 boys. I believe the ratio may be much higher.
Let us look at sexual abuse from an historic perspective. It was the small boys who were taken on the crusades. It was the small boys who were taken into the monasteries and out to sea. It has always been small boys who have been told they have to be tough and stoic, never cry and never, never tell.
It is the small boys who are taught that might is right; power and force are the way; slap someone around if you have to. If that is not a training in violence, I do not know what is. If that lifestyle is intolerable, again, there is little option for them. Violence and stoicism have been much admired. If you are neither violent nor stoic, I suppose you can drop out of male society, learn new ways of living or, like many violent men do, threaten to kill yourself.
Violence and stoicism are still the most admired role models characteristic for males. If you have any doubt, watch a few hours of television, check out our most popular sports and visit a toy shop.
What about young women? Young women and girls are particularly vulnerable. The recent episode of male students vandalizing posters promoting a womans right to say no to sexual advances at Queens University in Kingston, Ontario, showed once again how little importance establishment males place on a womans right to say no. When young men, who are otherwise considered the cream of the crop, change a sign that reads No means no to No means give her another beer, and No means kick her in the teeth, we have to realize we have a serious problem.
Establishment males have to realize we have a problem; they have a problem and, yes, the principal at Queens University should apologize, but not just to Queens women. He should apologize to every woman. He should take the lead and show that cruel and violent behaviour is not acceptable. Any expression of cruel and violent behaviour is not okay.
He should apologize to the women, and he should apologize to the men who also found the actions of the vandals offensive. Instead, we have a situation that pervades all aspects of our society. When a woman says no, it is inferred that she really means yes. Belittling and devaluing of girls and women through language, attitudes and established institutions contributes to the victimization of females, and a victim mentality leads to fear.
Just yesterday, we heard one Member of this House suggest another Member should be slapped. I was stunned, and I was distressed to hear this kind of language in this Legislature. Violence starts with words, simple words. If we tolerate the vocabulary of violence, we condone the violence itself. A slap is a little thing, nothing significant to too many people, but how insignificant is a slap to a woman who has just been slapped around? How insignificant are the bruises, and how insignificant are the broken bones? How insignificant is the fear?
With this fear comes immobilization and more fear. Is this a way of life that we want to encourage?
Sexual assault and violence in a family does not end with marriage. Quite the contrary. In many instances, a marriage licence is also seen by many men as a hitting licence. Many women are on the receiving end of violence from men who were never violent prior to marriage, or even during several years of cohabitation. These men often revert to the role of their violent parent, usually the father, once the ceremony is over, and a stunned wife wonders what she has done to bring on the attack, for she is told it is always her fault. She is blamed for being too ugly, too fat, too thin, too stupid; she cannot cook; she cannot keep house, and it goes on and on. Many women are totally controlled with no access to money, vehicles or friends. They are owned, and the longer they are owned, the worse the violence becomes.
A man who hits once will hit again, if the woman sticks around. He will be very sorry and vow never to do it again, but the circle of emotion will build up and he will blow again, and he will hit harder the next time and the next.
Why does she stay? For one, she probably still loves him and believes him, as he believes himself when he says he will never hit her again. He promises to get counselling, and she believes. He presents an almost perfect facade to the rest of the world, and it is likely her friends and family would not believe her about the beatings if she told them.
Usually she has no safe place to go and no money to get there, if there were a safe place.
As the violence gets worse, and it will, she soon must begin to choose between risking her life or leaving. She makes numerous trips to the hospital with so-called accidental injuries - her own or her childrens - until usually he throws her out for something like not having his dinner just right, or for looking at him in the wrong way, or because the child said the wrong thing.
In my experience, one woman was thrown out on a very cold Christmas Day in her night dress and bedroom slippers. As she slipped and slid down the driveway, the Christmas turkey came skidding after her.
She left several times before finding the courage and the money to make it on her own with her disabled teenaged son. The reality for black and blue women is poverty, loneliness, isolation and fear. Always fear. The fear is always there. It never ends. She knows he will never release his claim. You have only to be with these women to see their fear. Run with a woman who is being stoned or with another who is being chased with a jar of acid. Search for a child abducted by an abusive husband or father with a mother who fears. The fear is real. It is so palpable you can touch it. It is reality for far too many. The woman runs, and if she is fortunate, she finds a safe place and caring people to help her and her children.
Yet, somehow the priority is wrong. Why is it the victims who must leave home, clothing, food, jobs and school, while the abuser stays at home, probably complaining that there is no one to look after him? After all, his mother looked after his father, his grandmother looked after his grandfather; she should be there looking after him. By mid-life, this man has almost entirely assumed the role of that violent patriarch, and he is raising his sons in the same mold.
In our society we often blame or punish the victim. Our priorities are wrong. It is the abuser who should leave home. The victims home should be protected. There is a story about the early days in Israel when Golda Meir was head of the government. It concerns a discussion in the Knesset about the rape of numerous young women on the city streets. The venerable legislators in the Knesset proposed that a curfew be proclaimed banning young women from the streets. Meir rose in the Knesset in all her majesty and said, It is not the young women who are doing the raping. If there is to be a curfew, they are not the ones to be banished from the streets. We are told there was no further talk of curfew from the gentlemen of the Knesset.
We need to incorporate Gold Meirs philosophy into our own programs and policies aimed at the prevention of violence. Somehow we must stop punishing the victim. We need to learn new ways.
We have talked about sexual abuse, child abuse, sexual abuse of boys and girls, sexual assault of young woman and young men, suicide and wife assault. We have talked about how violence within the family perpetuates the cycle from generation to generation.
What of that other even less powerful group in our society, old people. Old people also face the specter of actual violence: sometimes by unknown people in our culture preying on the helpless, but more often by abuse and neglect within the family or in our institutions. Abuse may be violent, or it may be monetary: taking Grannys pension cheque and giving her just enough to survive on. It may be outright neglect: the actual deprivation of food, shelter and clothing.
Then there is the out-of-sight, out-of-mind kind of neglect of isolation, loneliness and lack of love: exploitation or neglect by the family or by a community - both are abuse - and both are no doubt symptoms of our own unwillingness to acknowledge that we will all be old one day - if we are lucky.
Family violence. The term somehow segregates it from other forms of violence, yet each of us was born into and influenced by a family or our culture, or our society.
In one sense all violence is family violence. We are all appalled that the very unit that is supposed to be the most caring and protective is oftentimes the most abusive.
Alcohol plays a part and so do drugs and peer pressure. But most important of all, are the lessons we learn, quite literally, at the feet of our father and mother.
So where does government fit into this picture? It is my belief that only as society as a whole ceases to accept as a familys - and particularly as a mans - right to own and and rule rough shod over the members of that family, and begins to accept that children are everyones responsibility, and only as we learn new parenting and living skills, through parenting, anger-management and lifeskills programs, can we hope to break the cycle of violence. Government can provide those programs and policies, but only peer pressure by men like those present in this Legislature will eventually make it happen.
The abuser is a person who has an ability to exercise power over those who are weaker and more vulnerable than he is. The reason we call this family abuse is because it is within the family that this tragedy unfolds.
It is not all men who abuse, but it is the men in our society who exercise the power in our society. Look around, even in this Legislature. It is the men who form the majority. It is not all men who abuse, but it is the responsibility of all men to apply the peer pressure necessary to stop the abuse. I ask for your support on this motion .
Mr. Nordling: If the Member for Whitehorse South Centre was stunned when I made my remarks to the Government Leader, I am stunned by her remarks. I am stunned that she would assume that my use of language was violent or that I wished any violence upon the Government Leader. If she would have taken the time to look up the word slap in the dictionary instead of coming to this House to make a point which is not relevant to this debate, she would have seen that the word slap is meant as reprimand. I was using the word slap to reprimand the Government Leader, and he deserves to be reprimanded.
If the Member for Whitehorse South Centre takes exception to that sort of language, she should have been in this House to hear some of the words used by the Government Leader in general debate often in this House. Certainly, there was nothing but violent language when he, with self-satisfaction, described actions of torture when we talked about the Torture Prohibition Act. That was violent language not used by myself.
So if I have upset the Member for Whitehorse South Centre, I apologize for that, but I think she jumped to a conclusion she should not have.
With respect to the motion, I would like to thank her for bringing the motion and for the detailed information on the subject she has provided to this House. The motion serves the purpose of focusing the attention of all Members of the Legislature on this most serious problem. In fact, I have heard that the Yukon figures for family violence are four times the national average. I believe that this government does need the urging that is called for in this motion, and I know that the motion will be unanimously passed.
In past years, a lot has been done to address the problem, but a lot more can be done. One thing that is encouraging is that in the past five or six years there has been an emergence of this problem and i has been brought out in the open, not only in Yukon, but across Canada. In 1984, there was a report done by the Yukon Department of Health and Human Resources, with the assistance of the Department of Justice and Womens Bureau, called A Review of Services to Battered Women in Yukon. The background to that study is as follows: In January 1983, Premier Hatfield of New Brunswick approached other ministers with the responsibility for the status of women to request a federal/provincial meeting to develop a coordinated approach to the issue of wife-assault. The Government of Yukon agreed to participate in this process, and representatives of the Yukon government were appointed to the working group that was established by the ministers attending the federal/provincial/territorial meeting in May 1983.
An interdepartmental committee of Yukon government was established to direct a review of the programs available in Yukon to assist battered women as well as to identify the gaps in service and to recommend ways in which the services could be improved. This report was prepared under the Interdepartmental Committee on Wife-Battering which consisted of representatives from each of the Yukon government Departments of Health and Human Resources, Education, Advanced Education and Manpower and Justice.
The Crown attorney for the Yukon represented the federal justice department on the committee, and the funding for the study was shared between the Yukon Departments of Justice and Health and Human Resources. Then, in 1985, the Yukon undertook a broader task force on family violence, as a whole, and the report of that task force was submitted on November 1, 1985. In fact one of the Members of the Legislative Assembly sitting today, the Member for Old Crow, was associated with that task force.
Some of the recommendations of that task force have been implemented and others have not; there were dozens and dozens made. In 1987, an information kit on wife assault, called Women Cant Be Beat, was prepared by the Yukon Public Legal Education Association. I think it is worth mentioning that the information kit was produced with the financial help and professional assistance of many agencies, and I would like to go through them to tell the Members how many agencies and groups are involved with family violence.
The groups that Yukon Public Legal Education thanked were: Mental Health Services, Health and Welfare Canada, the Womens Directorate (Government of Yukon), Department of Justice (Canada), Department of Health and Human Resources, Victoria Faulkners Womens Centre, Ad Hoc Committee on Family Violence; Yukon Womens Transition Home Society, Probation Services, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Yukon Status of Women Council, Yukon Compensation Board, courtworkers, Crime Prevention Committee, and the Yukon Law Foundation. So, Mr. Speaker, there are a lot of people, a lot of groups in the Yukon that have taken this problem seriously and are working to try to do something about it.
In 1988, the Association for the Prevention of Community and Family Violence was formed, which is a community-based, multi-disciplinary organization concerned with reducing violence within Yukon homes and communities. It was an amalgamation, an expansion of two ad hoc committees mentioned previously - the Ad Hoc Committee on Family Violence and the Ad Hoc Committee on the Treatment of Child Sexual Abuse - which enjoyed lengthy and productive histories dating back to 1982. The constitution of the Association for the Prevention of Community and Family Violence states in its objectives that it is to advocate the development of a coordinated response to community and family violence in the areas of investigation, assessment, treatment, education and training, and development of professionals and paraprofessionals.
I will not go through the list of members in that association, but I believe that there are at least three members sitting in this Legislative Assembly at present: myself, the Member for Whitehorse South Centre and the Member for Whitehorse Riverdale South. The list contains dozens of professionals, interested people who are very concerned.
Just recently the Yukon Advisory Council on Womens Issues has taken upon itself the responsibility for informing Yukoners about what their elected representatives have been doing, individually and as a government, toward solving these very serious and complex problems. We all know about the Black and Blue survey and the recent report cards that we had. This sort of thing will serve, along with questions from the Opposition critic and motions from both sides of the House, to focus the governments attention on family violence and prompt them and urge them to do something about it.
We, on this side of the House, made our position public, as a party, and I would summarize it by saying that we all believe in fundamental justice and fair treatment and that the community as a whole has an obligation to protect each other from violence. When family violence occurs, victims have a right to protection, and women who want to leave a violent situation have to be given assistance to do so. Secondly, we believe that the government obligation is to provide short-term and long-range goals. In our short-term goals, we would continue support of the transition homes and enhancement of funding as needs are identified by the communities.
We would also prefer to work with the community organizations and government departments to develop a more coordinated inter-agency approach to responding to family violence. Long-term goals would include continuing and enhancing educational and information programs for the community for women and for people affected by, and working with, family violence.
Thirdly, we feel that the family should be treated as a unit and not as separate individuals with separate problems. We do recognize, however, that in some cases the family unit must be broken up and, in such cases, we would support the individual and assist the persons to establish a new life free from violence. Treating only the victim or the abuser in isolation does not consider the effects on, and the needs of, the other members of the family.
Finally, we as a party want to make the point that there cannot be one approach for all Yukon communities. The unique characteristics and requirements of the community, and each situation, must be considered in responding to family violence.
Even more recently than that, the government has taken some valuable steps to address the problem of family violence. On June 6, the government introduced a new Safe Places Program for victims of family violence, to provide capital and operating funds to groups wishing to offer emergency shelter to abused women and their children.
Today, there was a ministerial statement made by the Minister of Health and Human Resources announcing that, on November 1, two new staff people were hired: the first position to develop treatment groups for children who have been sexually abused, and the second position to assist communities to develop safe networks, support groups and safe places.
We are making progress, and if we as legislators keep this topic before the Members of the Legislature, I think we will see substantial progress and statistics we can be proud of, rather than ashamed of.
Family violence is of great concern to me, both as an individual and as a Member of the Legislative Assembly. The cycle of abuse must be broken, and must be broken now. I hope the coming months will bring some concrete results and programs, because it is frustrating and disheartening when studies, reviews and reports are produced with great concern being expressed by all parties, but nothing concrete that we can look at with satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment.
Having said that, I hasten to add again that significant progress has been made over the past number of years by the many groups and agencies dealing with family violence in identifying and raising the profile of this serious problem.
To conclude my remarks, I would like to mention that, in travelling through the Yukon as part of the suicide task force, my eyes have been opened even further to the extent of the problem of family and sexual abuse. Our society is truly in a time of crisis and as a legislator I feel responsible for finding solutions and insisting that programs be put into place immediately to break the cycle of abuse.
I am pleased to support this motion, and I will continue asking questions in this House and following up so the issue of family violence receives the attention it deserves and solutions are found.
Hon. Ms. Joe: I rise to speak on this motion but, first of all, I would like to congratulate the Member for Whitehorse South Centre for a very moving speech.
The issue of family violence is a very grave concern to the Members of this House, and it is our responsibility to ensure this government continues to work toward finding solutions to family violence.
The family violence prevention unit within the corrections and law enforcement branch of the Department of Justice continues to develop and deliver programs to support and assist offenders, victims and potential victims of family violence, and to increase community awareness of the problem in order to decrease the incidences and lessen the impact of such violence on the individual and the community.
It is not necessarily the goal of the family violence prevention unit to deliver programs if such programs are already being delivered adequately by other agencies. In such cases, the family violence prevention unit would act as a referral source. However, if a particular individual programs deemed necessary to prevention is not being delivered by an agency, it would be our mandate and responsibility to either assist other agencies in initiating such programs, or to deliver the programs ourselves.
The family violence prevention unit has a number of priorities which include immediate protection of victims, longer term protection of victims of family or interpersonal violence, education and community development to assist communities providing in-depth support and treatment, and intervention involving individuals who are potential victims or perpetrators of abuse. These priorities are used in determining the delivery of any particular programs that may be developed by either a concerned group or agency.
It is interesting to note that since the family violence prevention unit has been set up, we have received an indication that we are moving forward in the area of family violence. Some of our programs have seen an increase in both victims and perpetrators to learn to deal with their particular problem. An example of this is the Assaultive Husbands Intervention Program, which has increased steadily from 32 men interviewed in its first year of operation to 81 men interviewed in 1988-89. The number of voluntary clients has risen from virtually nil to 30 percent of the men interviewed.
Our sexual offenders treatment program for 1988-89 had a total of 23 sexual offenders assessed or involved in counselling. That we are dealing with these problems is an indication that we can have some effect on subsequent victim protection. The increasing number of women contacting the family violence prevention unit suggests our womens support group and related crisis counselling program is effective. The women involved have expressed satisfaction with the service provided to them.
The demand for services to rural communities is increasing and we have provided a number of programs for some of these communities. Workshops for individual and group support for victims in Dawson City and an anchor management group in Pelly Crossing are proving to be successful, and requests for expansion of the project as well as more communities being involved are presently being considered.
Information packages have been sent to probation officers in Watson Lake, Ross River and Mayo. It is important that consultations with communities to assess and prioritize future community needs take place to ensure the effectiveness of community programs.
Our government is also involved in a number of programs that provide follow-up services for many of our victims and perpetrators of family violence, as well as community outreach programs. We have numerous programs that are proposed to deal with specific family violence issues and we will continue to search for solutions.
This government has, through the Womens Directorate, developed the operation of a help line that is set up to provide assistance to victims of sexual assault and family violence. The establishment of information and support services to these victims by way of a telephone line to be operated by a community group has been a priority of the Womens Directorate. This help line will be operating out of the family violence prevention unit during the day. We are presently negotiating terms for the operation of a help line during the night hours at Kaushees Place. If the terms are acceptable to Kaushees board, work on the installation, hours of operation and training will be provided for establishing the line for operation during the critical hours of the night.
The Womens Directorate is also involved in coordinating the development of a territory-wide public awareness strategy on family violence. The strategy is intended to support public groups and organizations and to be part of the overall government strategy on family violence.
There is much to look forward to in the area of family violence. We need to look as well to new ideas and new developments to ensure that victims as well as the perpetrators of family violence can begin to live in an atmosphere of safety and well-being.
It was interesting to note that the Member for Porter Creek West had indicated in his response to the ministerial statement by the Minister of Health and Human Resources that not much had been done under my administration as Minister of Health and Human Resources. The Member has indicated a number of initiatives that have been developed by this government. There were a number of things that happened and that were developed. A number of programs were put in place as a result of the Task Force on Family Violence, and a lot of those initiatives will be presented here today by other Members.
There is a lot that has to be done. There are still a lot of problems out there and there will continue to be a lot of problems out there. This government, through the efforts of all the people and departments involved, will continue to improve on the programs that are already in existence. The government will certainly be looking through the ideas that are presented here today regarding how we can improve the services to this problem that does exist. I would agree with other speakers that we will have unanimous support on this motion before us today.
Mr. Phillips: I rise today to support the motion that has been put forward by the Member for Whitehorse South Centre. I know it is an issue that she is genuinely concerned with. Before I say much more, I would like to say to the Member that in her introduction she meant every single word that she said in that speech, and I know how she feels about the matter. I was very impressed with the speech and hope that other people will be too, and action can be addressed in the very near future.
I have to admit that I was shocked and surprised at the alarming statistics that we have been provided with by various groups with regard to this problem. Spousal and family violence in general is something that I personally have never been able to really understand. It is something that all of us cannot turn our backs on any longer. It appears by statistics that it crosses all walks of Yukon life.
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to listen to a local CBC program where two gentlemen who had been previously involved in family assault spoke out candidly on their problems. Although I condemned their previous activities I would like to commend the two gentlemen for speaking out on the issue.
Their stories and problems certainly made me more aware of the seriousness of the issue. I am certain that many other people in the Yukon that had the opportunity to listen to that program gleaned a great deal of information on how large the problem can be and what the problem actually is.
I treat this motion with the utmost seriousness. In the past few months I have had discussions with individuals in my riding who have been victims of family violence. The stories are shocking. They range from actual physical abuse to verbal abuse, and in some cases the verbal abuse can be just as damaging, and in some cases even more damaging than the physical abuse.
I was surprised that some of the people who have been victims I knew very well. I never suspected that they had ever been subjected to this kind of unacceptable behaviour.
I would like to talk briefly about the Black and Blue paper, which I believe has done a great deal to raise the awareness of not only us, as politicians, but the public in general. The program is a positive one and one that deserves support from this Legislature. I would like to caution the sponsoring organization in that it should remain as independent from government as possible. This is an issue that crosses all party lines, and one we should all try to keep politics out of.
Family violence is not an issue on its own. I believe it is tied directly, in many cases, to alcohol and drug abuse. As well, it is tied to unemployment, government dependency and the lack of self esteem that emanates from this dependency. Family violence is a result of these problems in most cases. It is not the main problem. The answer to family violence is not only safe places, but counselling for the victims of spousal or sexual abuse. These services are all after the fact. We simply have to spend more effort in treating the symptoms than running in all directions dealing with the results of the disease.
I was pleased today to hear the Minister of Health speaking in his ministerial statement of efforts in this area, but I am concerned that much of the statement again dealt with the problem after it had developed. As I said before, this is a little like closing the barn door after the horse has gone.
In closing, I would like to encourage the Yukon Advisory Council on the Status of Women to continue their good work and, in particular, congratulate Betty Irwin on her extremely dedicated hard work in this area. It is up to us in this House to take a lead role in providing backup for the necessary programs to deal with this very serious problem at its source.
Mr. Joe: I rise in support of this motion dealing with the issue of family violence. First, I want to say that I agree with the Member for Whitehorse South Centre when she says family violence is a problem that involves everyone. Alcohol workers, probation officers, social workers, nurses, doctors, police and clergy are all involved in helping to find ways to help the victims of family violence.
We must work at the community level helping individuals, holding meetings and workshops. Victims need someone to listen to them and abusers need help. Our chiefs, elders and community leaders can work with the professionals.
Social problems like this are everyones problem. It is not just here in the Yukon. Family violence is a sad part of life in outside communities too. I support this motion, because we must all accept our responsibility and work together to find a way to stop family violence in the Yukon.
Mr. Devries: I was deeply touched by speech made by the Member for Whitehorse South Centre, but I will not be speaking to this motion; however, I do support this motion.
Ms. Kassi: I will say at the outset that I support the motion presented by my colleague. I would like to thank the Member for Whitehorse South Centre for putting forth a very moving speech.
Violence and alcohol abuse have become the scourge of our society and family violence is probably the saddest manifestation of the misuse of power we have. Family violence takes place in what is supposed to be the safest of all places. Violence within the family is the learning ground for the other kinds of violence we see and experience in our communities. We learn by example and if our example is violent behavior, that is what we learn.
What we have to work toward now are ways in which we can break the pattern of violence. Violence is often linked to alcohol. Unless we receive support for prohibition and more resources for rehabilitation program development, we will always have abuse. In families when one parent is an abuser, everyone suffers. We need facilities in our communities so that we can help everyone involved in the abuse cycle.
In Old Crow, I am sad to say, we have tried to convince the RCMP to let us use the old barracks building, that sits empty most of the time, as a community centre. We need a place where the elders and young people can get together. We need a place where Members of our community can gather and where we can run programs to work on problems such as alcohol abuse and family violence. It is very difficult to build new facilities in Old Crow. When we knew the RCMP barracks would be vacated we all felt hopeful about the possibility that a federal peace-keeping force would be willing to lend us their building for a community-based effort, which would have built better communications between the RCMP and the community if accomplished. However, we were wrong. Our hopes were dashed. The caring we expected to find did not exist. The bureaucracy of the RCMP could not be cracked.
We need to set up a safe home in our community, a place where children and their mothers and our elders will feel welcome and secure. Plans are in place in my village to develop this safe home, and we are in the process of developing a proposal to look to the government for resources and support for such a facility.
In fact, we have also set up a social development strategy for our community, starting in 1985. Our lifeskills programs have proven very successful, and we plan to deliver more of these programs. We are developing tools to preserve our language and culture, and to deal with the problems of our society in traditional ways. We are listening to our elders and our children. We learn from our traditions as we plan for the future.
This government has already accomplished a lot in terms of policy and program development to help victims of abuse and rehabilitate the abusers themselves. We have done a lot, but there is much more to be done and worked on. No one expects the problem of family violence to disappear overnight, but we cannot rest until still more has been done.
Old Crow is a small community, even by Yukon standards, but there is nothing small about the spirit that moves us. We have been working together, and we will continue to work together to solve the problems that face us daily. I support this motion so we can continue to develop policies and programs that will have the teeth, to make a difference. My people will do the rest.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I am pleased to speak to this motion. I would like to thank the Member for Whitehorse South Centre for her excellent speech this afternoon.
Over the last several years, we have seen growing public awareness of the problem of family violence. Once a subject about which we only heard whispers, it is now recognized as a major social illness. We now know it is a problem that plagues many families and has no respect for socio-economic status, as victims can be children, or women, or elders. We know, too, that the perpetrators are not fiends or monsters; they can be neighbours or friends. They are people who have not learned how to manage their own fears or frustrations and consequently strike out at those closest to them when they are angry.
We all know that a proper definition of a problem is the first step to a solution. I believe that people in Yukon are taking steps toward a solution to this problem. The first step and the most painful one in this dilemma of family violence is recognizing that the immediacy and extent of the problem is well underway. The Yukon Advisory Council on Womens Issues that sponsored the Black and Blue paper deserves a great deal of credit for its courage in bringing to the public a message that many of us would rather not hear.
I am proud that my government has heard that message and has both recognized the dimension of the problem and has moved to initiate the programs that will help solve it.
The Minister of Health and Human Resources has introduced for our consideration the full range of government responses to family violence. I would like to take this opportunity to advise on the progress that has been made in the Klondike community of Dawson City.
As some of you may recall from last year, the Dawson shelter saw an increase in its operations and maintenance budget to $35,000. In the budget passed this spring following the election, that grew to $55,000. This means that the shelter is now able to employ the equivalent of one and a half paid staff.
Coming from the Department of Justice to the Dawson shelter is support for victim support groups. On August 11 of this year, the Safe Place Program review board approved a Capital Enhancement Grant of $10,400 to the Dawson shelter. As a result, the security and home-like atmosphere of the shelter has been improved through the purchase and replacement of furnishings, bedding and other equipment.
The Dawson shelter cannot provide long-term accommodation for victims of violence, so I am pleased to report that the Dawson City Housing Association has adopted a policy of providing housing to victims of family violence on a preferred basis.
Of course, none of what I have outlined would occur if it were not for the fact that there are dozens of volunteers in Dawson City who devote a great deal of time and effort to eradicating family violence. For this commitment and dedication, we are most appreciative.
I should mention in that regard the efforts which Dawsonites are making to form a Block Parent chapter. I am pleased to see that organization establishing itself in Dawson, and I offer my encouragement to those involved.
In closing I would like to say that family violence has scarred too many lives. Let us keep our eyes fixed on the problem, our hearts with the victims, our hands in the fight to see family violence eliminated.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I enter the debate to share my concern on a very serious issue. I also want to say that I, too, was particularly moved by the presentation by the Member for Whitehorse South Centre. As was so articulately described by the Member, family violence is something that is a symptom of deep-rooted problems faced by our society today.
In the north many people are subject to a lot of stress and many problems that often lead to unfortunate and sad consequences. In my familiarity with rural Yukon I recognize that many families who make their living from resource industries, and who relocate from place to place to find jobs, find it very hard to find yet another community in which to find their feet and fit into a social scene. Shift work disrupts family routines. It can affect family relationships. At the same time, there are many who enjoy no productive work or means to make a living. Life in a small town for some at times is, indeed, very difficult.
Unfortunately, all of these things sometime result in family members lashing out at those they know best. Those they know best are often those closest to them: their families. As pointed out by Members, and particularly the Member for Whitehorse South Centre, the victims are invariably women and children, many of whom have historically very little opportunity to improve their situation.
Sadly, also, there has historically been little opportunity for those who commit violence against family members to seek help, and particularly so in the rural communities.
However, there have been many positive developments and Members have outlined in some detail the support services that are provided. Again, in rural Yukon, these support services do not always exist. That makes the situation more difficult and calls upon us even more to address the problem.
I am pleased that in my constituency, the community of Faro, a number of positive initiatives have been undertaken. A recent example in Faro, where residents have worked together to help each other and themselves, is the creation of a group called REACH. REACH is a group of volunteers. In their own description, it stands for resources, education, assistance, community and help. As a volunteer group, they have set up a support system to help one another in the community. They provide for social functions, for friendships for men, woman and children. The intent is essentially to improve the social climate of the community through the use of skills available within the community.
Other positive initiatives in the community include the revival of an annual community festivity. One of those is the Fireweed Festival in the fall and another one is the Ice Worm Squirm in the middle of winter. At the same time they have recreated a youth camp and have established probably what is known in the Yukon as one of the best child care facilities that we have.
These community initiatives are complemented by government action: a full-time social worker has now been hired for the community; at the same time, family services has signed a contract with government to provide counselling for individuals and families; staffing at Yukon College has increased - in short, Faro residents are provided with more opportunity to use their non-working hours more productively.
As an MLA for the area, I maintain a staff constituency office to which residents can turn for assistance at any time.
Violence in the family is indeed a serious problem. However, I believe it can be addressed through the complementary efforts of individuals in a community, and by government as well. It will take many more steps, more actions and more development of policies and programs to heal the wounds that are inflicted by violence, and above all to try to prevent further occurrence.
I stand with all Members in the House who support this motion.
Mr. Lang: At the outset, I also want to congratulate the opening remarks of the Member for Whitehorse South Centre. I realize how deeply she feels about the issue and appreciate the work that she did, not only as a Member, but prior to becoming a Member in this House in years past, and her assistance to individuals in need when called upon.
I want to make one comment, and I want to take exception to a comment that was made in her opening remarks. When she began her statements, she said that most men abuse, and I do not believe that to be the case. Toward the end, she did clarify the situation. I believe her words were something to the effect that a small number of men actually abuse. For the record, I realize that there is abuse out there, but I do not accept the principle that most men abuse, because I do not believe that to be true. The statistics in Yukon, compared to the national scene, have to draw attention to the issue here in Yukon. Government does have some responsibilities.
As a Member of this House, I am pleased to have played a part in years past, when this was not an issue up for such open debate, with the founding of the transition home. I was the Minister of Housing at that time, and I worked with the Government of Canada to get the necessary accommodations to provide for the organization that runs that particular facility.
One point I want to raise that I think no one has touched on is the question of the deterrent. We realize there is a problem in the community; I think it crosses party lines, as the Member for Whitehorse Riverdale North indicated in supporting the motion. The point I want to make is that if we in the general public, and as representatives of the general public, see it as such unacceptable behaviour - which it is - then I think the Parliament of Canada has a responsibility to look at the severity of the penalties. When one is accused of such crimes and goes through the court system and is convicted of such abuses as the Member for Whitehorse South Centre outlined, I really believe that, in order to have less of this conduct happening in our society, part of the problem is going to be arrested by looking at the severity of the penalties that would be administered if one engages in such abuses.
I say that as a general statement because all I have heard today, thus far, is the government is going to do more; the government is going to add more to the civil services, more programs to arrest this problem. Well, strictly adding more programs is not going to totally solve the problem. There is also the responsibility the individual has if he or she engages in such an activity. If it is proven beyond a doubt, then I believe the court system, through the direction given in legislation, has a responsibility to bring forward severe penalties for such unacceptable - and I underline unacceptable - conduct in todays society, or yesterdays society, or tomorrows society.
It is important that we do not forget what governments role is, nor what private organizations roles are but, just as importantly, the responsibility of the individual. Thus far, I do not think anybody has spoken to that responsibility, and I think some thought has to be given to that in dealing with this very crucial issue.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The description of violence in many homes in private, among family members, is uniformly desperate, frustrating and painful. The explanation that the Member for Whitehorse South Centre provided of the situation in our community today must draw the Members attention to one of the more social ills that we face. As so many speakers this afternoon have mentioned, the situation of family violence is not confined to a particular age group or socio-economic group. Young or old, rich or poor, you can be a victim of family violence. There are victims in all age groups. For the most part, they are women and children. It happens everywhere in our community and everywhere in the territory. The factors associated with violence are low self esteem, a family that does not work, poverty, in many cases, and negative role models. Quite often alcohol and drug abuse is involved. These are not the causes, but they are factors associated with the incidents of family violence.
The answer is not only to provide counselling for those who have been battered, and to provide support services for victims. We must also enhance understanding in our community as to the causes of family violence, which is a serious problem. Much of our answer begins with education, not only through the formal education system, but with individuals talking to each other, MLAs talking to constituents, friends talking to each other and the Legislature talking as a unit to the territory. The formal education system plays the role of providing an awareness function as well as providing programs to help people deal with the incidents of family violence. There is increased emphasis on life skills programming at Yukon College, which allows people to develop greater self esteem. If you are battered, you will not live with it for long. It is not your fault. There is a problem that is not of your making. The college has also been dealing with anger management courses at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre. Many people who are the batterers end up in jail. They need help. Quite often, they have the problem of low self esteem. They are in jail, yet they are going to get out. If they are not helped before they leave, they may be batterers again.
The college has helped with child abuse workshops that are a major component of the nursing assistants program. They have also participated in the useful exercise of helping to plan and organize conferences on family violence. These are useful get togethers of players in our community.
It starts even earlier than that because so much of what happens when people are going to adult education institutions begins too late. It begins with an understanding when you are yet a child of what family violence is and what it means. If you are a witness or a victim, quite often you are a child. It is best at that time to deal with the situation. Consequently, the schools branch of the Department of Education has been for some time providing family life education in both elementary and secondary schools and participating, as I mentioned yesterday, in inservicing for teachers and counselors to better understand the problems the children who attend school face.
They are also helping, as a department, to remove the sexual stereotyping in curriculum materials in the school system, encouraging people to have a better understanding of power relationship in our society.
We mentioned only yesterday that the issue of suicide is a major concern and we mentioned that it was often associated with substance abuse, or, alcohol and drug abuse. It is also associated quite often with family violence and situations at home that are violent, and consequently suicide is one of the most tragic conclusions to those violent situations.
In the Mayo area, the situation is probably as difficult as it is in any community in the territory. I was aware some seven or eight years ago of the existence of a workshop in Elsa dealing with family violence. By that time, I had lived in Elsa for about seven or eight years and I had never known of any single incidence of family violence, or what I recognized as family violence, in the time I had lived in that community. The workshop was put on, sponsored by the RCMP and Health and Human Resource workers, to counsel women who were abused in the community. It was a confidential workshop, but the only thing that struck me was the fact that I have learned that 25 women showed up to that workshop. Anybody who knows anything about small community meetings will know that 25 people showing up to anything is considered to be an event. Finding out that there were 25 women willing to go public about having been battered in their homes in a small mining community was, for me, shocking, as I had never known there to be any problem, or what I considered to be a problem in that community, the whole time that I had lived there. I had never known of incidents where men had beaten their wives. I had never known of incidents where men had beaten children or abused them in a severe psychological way. Yet it was happening the whole time in a very small, close-knit environment, all done very privately.
The problem in the community of Mayo is every bit as severe. The Mayo Indian Band has taken great steps to provide for safe homes with the support of the government and resources to deal with situations where family violence has occurred, both in terms of establishing local groups to deal with situations as they occur and also to help individuals who have been battered to get to a safe place and reconstruct their lives.
Mayo has had some fairly noteworthy experiences in the last few years with respect to sexual abuse. They are noteworthy in the sense that they have hit the Whitehorse media. That has been a very wrenching experience for that community as it has had to come to terms with the reality of that themselves and also deal with the notoriety that it brings.
They have not let things lie. They have taken the situation and have provided for some very thorough responses through the networking they do throughout the community. It is not an Indian band initiative, it is not a village initiative, it is everybodys initiative.
I believe they understand many of the underlying causes and they do not have any magic solutions either. They understand that it requires a community response, not only in terms of understanding, but in terms of the redress and help required. I salute them for the initiative they have shown as a community in dealing with the problem they have themselves come to identify as being one of the most serious. It is a painful journey they have travelled.
I would like to support the motion wholeheartedly and continue to pledge my own personal support to the initiatives the government has taken, and the initiatives my community has taken in dealing with the problem of family violence.
Mr. Phelps: I am pleased to rise and speak in support of this motion. Like the MLAs who have spoken before me, I thank the MLA for Whitehorse South Centre for bringing this motion forward and for her speech, which was very moving, and in which she covered all the bases. It is almost intimidating to follow as comprehensive a speech as that.
As we all know, family violence is a problem that does tend to be hidden in most cases. It is one about which most people in communities, even small ones, are normally unaware. The story told by the Member for Mayo pointed that out very clearly and graphically. I am surprised, concerned and distressed when we do hear of acts of violence that have been continuing and of which we are blissfully unaware.
The problems seem to be hidden partly because of the nature of family and the embarrassment of the entire extended family when such problems exist within the family, partly because of pre-conceived attitudes. Victims feel embarrassed and feel that most people do not care, partly because many victims, as has been eloquently said, tend to blame themselves to some degree for the problems, and partly because victims fear retribution, and have in most instances been threatened by the aggressor.
At the outset I would like to acknowledge and say that we all owe a debt of gratitude to all of those who worked and struggled to make the majority of the public aware of the problems, aware of its magnitude and of the nature and extent of the damages being done daily to individuals, families and society.
Educating the public is the important first step. I think that groups such as the Association for Prevention of Community and Family Violence should be thanked for making their time available and for making resource materials available to the public. I received one of their more recent letters telling me that there are videos and books that can be borrowed free of charge from the Whitehorse Public Library. The videos include Child Sexual Abuse: The Untold Secret, Finding Out Incest and Family Sexual Abuse: Frequent Silence. As well, this letter mentions two books, Growing With Pain and Why Me?. This kind of service is important and is something about which we are becoming increasingly aware.
I support the work that has been done by the Yukon Advisory Council on Womens Issues in successfully making the issue of violence against women and children, family violence and sexual assault a high priority on the political agenda of all parties in this territory.
Last February I wrote to the council on behalf of the Conservative Party setting out our basic approach to this problem, and the policy was stated clearly by the critic for our party earlier this afternoon.
I was pleased to hear the ministerial statement today. It provides us with evidence the government is taking the problem seriously and, indeed, has been. More importantly, the government is taking practical steps to assist in dealing with these problems. I think the plural is more appropriate.
I agree with the Minister when he said family violence is a community issue, and all Yukoners have a role to play if we are to reduce violence against women and children. I am pleased the government is working with individuals and communities to address this problem. I agree that working together, we can made a difference. I hasten to add that government and all of us can, and must, do more, and this imperative is inherent in the wording of the motion.
I am very pleased to support the motion.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I would like to enter this debate as the Minister of Health and Human Resources, but I, too, want to join in the compliments to our colleague from Whitehorse South Centre. It was a powerful and profound speech with which she began this debate. It was heartfelt and informative and very persuasive.
I guess we have all agreed here today that the problem of family violence is a very serious one in the territory, that it is a problem that exists throughout the territory, as it exists throughout our country and, perhaps, even in the western world, probably in the world as a whole. Most of us who have taken any trouble to inquire on this issue know people who have been affected personally by abuse - as victims, as offenders and, as my colleague, the Member for Mayo said, as friends and neighbours.
We know the effects of family violence are long term. We know that in theory, but it is a truly awful experience to listen to some personal revelations, some of the descriptions of anguish and suffering that are now being aired by people who suffered sexual abuse or family violence sometimes as much as a generation or more ago. We know there are very many children and women out in our community who have been abused, or were abused, for many years before receiving any help.
The Member for Whitehorse South Centre talked about what an explosive effect even the making of a complaint, the laying of a charge, can have on an extended family. I know personally that this is the case. I know people in this territory who have not felt comfortable with making a charge, or laying a complaint, or even dealing with their own pain about such an issue until they were many thousands of miles, many years removed, from the site of the offence, their birth place or their home town in this territory.
I do not propose to describe in any detail any of those personal tragedies or to convey the suffering and pain that continues through the whole life of a victim. The offenders themselves were often victims. The cycle, as my colleague from Whitehorse South Centre said, continues through the generations. There are social workers who are seeing some third and fourth generation cases in some families.
It has been an invisible problem for many years. Not too many years ago, the Member of Parliament for Vancouver East raised the question of spousal assault and provoked laughter in the House of Commons. That would be unlikely to happen nowadays. It is no longer an invisible problem. Many of us come from cultures and backgrounds where, culturally, it was the norm that violence within the home was a personal and private manner and treated as none of the business of society. That has changed forever and for the better. Over the last five years, more and more people have become aware of the existence and scope of the problem. We are aware that family violence is not an individual problem. It is an issue that concerns the whole community, as the Leader of the Opposition just said. It is also important to affirm decisively and firmly that family violence can be stopped. It is not a law of nature. It can be stopped if individuals, resources workers, federal and territorial governments and the local communities work together.
The Department of Health and Human Resources has taken steps to provide support to victims, families and communities. We made an announcement today of some recent initiatives. We are providing treatment groups for sexually abused children and their non-offending family members. We are also providing direct assistance to communities wishing to establish safety networks and support groups for battered women. Along with these new programs, we are continuing to offer a number of other new initiatives.
The Safe Places Program, which was announced last June and was referred to by a couple of Members, is one very important element. This program provides funding to community groups wishing to set up a safe place for battered women and their children. To date, we have approved five proposal development grants to communities wishing to start up a safe place or a safe network. The Dawson shelter received a grant for new household furnishings and improved building security. The community response to the Safe Places Program has been positive. Our staff will be working closely with the communities to ensure that the safe places successfully meet the needs identified by people living in that community.
We have also expanded the Family Support Worker Program so that more in-home support services may be offered to families at risk of child abuse. This program is focussed on preventing child neglect and abuse.
Our social workers have finished two phases of a three-phase training program on the identification and investigation of child abuse. This is very important. Social workers have told me about difficulties and problems in families or troubled children. Sources of the problems are difficult to identify. We now know that it is possible to identify clear signs and signals of something profound being wrong and to spot evidence of child abuse and child sexual abuse and sometimes arrest the problem or intervene early enough to prevent serious damage.
This ongoing training is important to the work that our front-line staff provides in child protection for families, obviously. I also want Members in this House to know that Health and Human Resources is also spearheading a project to develop an inter-agency protocol on child abuse. The department, along with the RCMP, the Crown attorney, the Medical Association, are preparing guidelines for inter-agency cooperation in the investigation of child abuse. This project began in the spring of this year. We believe that the protocol will likely be ready for signing early in 1990.
As I am sure all Members will know, the department is addressing very clearly some of the needs of families and victims. These programs are based on the governments principles of social action, as stated in the last two Speeches from the Throne. We are respecting cultural sensitivity; we are trying to achieve a partnership with communities; we are orienting ourselves toward preventive approaches; we are trying to make our services more client based, and the delivery more integrated. These dimensions are integral to the substance of our approach and have been adopted by our government in our last term and continued in this term. The motion before us indicates that the need for a range of services, from prevention and education to treatment for offenders, to support services for victims and their families.
Coordination is the key, because there are very many different agencies and groups and individuals involved in delivering programs and services in this area. The Department of Health and Human Resources is working with professionals, First Nations, interest groups, the Council for Yukon Indians, individuals and communities to ensure that our programs and policies address the needs identified by people in our communities.
It is not an accident that programs like the Safe Places Program are designed to allow for various options. We are not assuming that what works in Whitehorse will necessarily work in Teslin or Faro. We are relying very much on the communities to identify their needs and to tell us what is culturally appropriate for the people living there.
We will continue to develop or policies and programs based on this philosophy. We know that Yukon people expect this and this is how we shall respond. We are committed to supporting and assisting Yukon families to live strong, healthy, violence-free lives. We do recognize and very much appreciate the activities of the group producing the Black and Blue paper. We recognize that this issue is before us today and before our nation and society today largely as the result of the efforts of the womens movement. It is the womens movement that has articulated this concern and the womens movement that has made it an important part of the political agenda.
I want to say that while the consciousness of everybody has been raised on this question, part of that consciousness is a realization that we still have a long, long way to go. We all carry with us a lot of history and a lot of that history is not very admirable in terms of the relations between the sexes, or even between the generations, but a lot has been done. Just to reiterate, I think the Safe Places Program is well under way; the counselling support services to victims and families is a very important area where we have made improvements; we have taken a number of initiatives concerning child abuse and elder abuse identification; we have taken initiatives in offenders services, public awareness and outreach, policy development and coordination, in child care, education and community development - all of these help play a constructive role in dealing with this problem.
I could go into great detail about some of the initiatives taken, not only by my department but by other departments in this government, but I do not think that would be useful at this time of the debate; but I would say to those Members who are interested in being briefed on some of the details of some of the initiatives that I would be happy to arrange that, should they request it.
I said we have a long way to go. I said we have done quite a bit, though, of which I think we should take some note.
In closing, I want to also say that we must recognize that some of these questions are very difficult issues. There are some quite challenging policy debates before the Cabinet of this government and before the Legislature. Members who have worked in this field, particularly my colleagues the Member for Old Crow and the Member for Whitehorse South Centre, know there are different cultural perspectives on this question. They will know also that not all professionals agree on the approaches and there is substantial debate among professionals as to the appropriate ways in which we should be responding to some of these problems.
Even though we cannot put a precise figure on it, it is true there is an appalling cost to society because of this problem. If you just think of a single incident in a small community, it is not hard to imagine the snowballing of costs that arise from an incident of family violence. The victims may escape the family home and seek sanctuary, to which we will properly provide financial support. The offender may be prosecuted and find themself in the hands of the justice system, and there are costs involved with the police, prosecutors, judges, probation officers and others. It is quite often the case that the victim may have dependents who will have needs such as education, housing, food and clothing, for which we will often become responsible.
For this reason, the preventative approaches, the development of communities and the support for families is absolutely essential. In the same way as we now have a good system of economic accounts, it is also necessary for us to develop better social accounting so we can get a true perspective on the dimension and shape of this kind of social ill. Only when we do that will we be able to feel confident that we are allocating the appropriate kind of resources to invest in solutions to the problem.
Many of these issues, as I think my colleague the Member for Whitehorse South Centre said, are related to questions of equality. I suspect family violence is in some ways a remnant of the day when men had all power over women. The violence of parents against children is an expression of an archaic kind of power that parents once had over children, and I think violence against elders is a reflection of their economic weakness in certain situations.
We are talking about property relations. We are talking about power relations. We are talking about power over others, and I think if there has been an accurate description of the terrible situation that has been described in Newfoundland recently involving young men in an orphanage there, we are talking about a situation of abuse of power.
In the end, what the womens movement has been telling us is that not until we change those power relations and have a society based on genuine equality, between sexes as well as inter-generational equity, will we have the kind of inspired notion of justice and the kind of awareness and sensitivity that will make family violence a thing of the past.
I submit that in the policies of sustainable economic development, in terms of improvements in social services, and in terms of preventative health, we are taking a number of steps that will contribute to improvements in the situation. I would join Members in supporting this motion, because I think all of us who have any knowledge of this question also have to recognize that we have a long way to go yet.
Mrs. Firth: I rise today to respond to this motion regarding family violence and the impact it is having on Yukon society. When I read the motion, there were two things in the motion that raised issue with me immediately from conversations I had been having with women, social and health workers, and in general with the constituents I represent.
In the first line of the motion it says, THAT it is the opinion of this House that violence within the family is a major problem throughout Yukon. It is amazing how many people do not believe that phrase. Not any category of persons like men or women, or any age category: just in general. That is one of the first problems that has to be identified as one of the symptoms of family violence. The community fails to recognize or believe that it is a major problem within the community. I speak of the Yukon as our own community.
I have a couple of other ideas of what I feel contribute to family violence, but I first want to clear up the other statement in the motion itself.
In the last line of the motion, it talks about what the policy and programs are going to address, and that they be addressed in a culturally appropriate manner, and who will be assisted with these programs and policies. After prevention of all forms of violence is the comment treatment for abusers and victim support services.
It was very interesting to hear commentary from people about that concept and about what their version of treatment for abusers should be. Granted, it was given in a general context by women who had their own version of what justice was for child abuse, wife battering and sexual abuse. There are some women who have very definite opinions about this, although they know they may not be constructive, positive opinions, nor the right opinion; nevertheless, they have opinions about what treatment for abusers should be. They are not nice opinions. They are not very nice at all. I see the Member for Whitehorse South Centre nodding her head, so she has obviously heard the same thing.
To get on with the debate about family violence itself, one symptom of the cause is the fact that the community fails to recognize that it is a major problem. Another symptom is family disintegration. We are all aware of what has happened to the family unit over the last 20 years. The role playing, role models and education system is teaching children different attitudes and ideas about the family. It was interesting to hear some of the comments made by the Minister of Education on stereotyping, and the Minister of Health on equality between men and women. So, family disintegration is another symptom, as well as alcoholism.
From what people tell me, alcoholism seems to be one of the major contributors to family violence. There is a desperate need in the community to solve the problem. There is a hopelessness amongst some people about how the problem can be solved. They say if anyone can come up with an answer of how to solve this problem, they are prepared to listen and prepared to try. It is a desperation when it comes to the problems that alcoholism and alcohol create within a community, a society and the Yukon in general.
The government has supported some initiatives. I think the track record supporting women in violence has been good with this government; the support of the transition homes program that my colleague from Porter Creek East indicated he had part in establishing; the safe homes has been a positive initiative.
There is a desire in CYI with the Indian population to do more about alcoholism and drinking, particularly within the Indian community, and there are some requests and interest in having Indian treatment centers for alcoholism. I am sure that is something the government will be looking at when the Minister examines his portfolio.
I have made representation for a couple of years about a fetal-alcohol syndrome coordinator. As of yet, we have seen no movement within the department to address that issue. I continue to make that representation and would encourage the government to examine it. We lead the country in fetal-alcohol syndrome on a per capita basis. It is a problem we should be addressing.
The Indian Womens Association has recently made some announcements about a new program that it is going to be establishing. I find this initiative of particular interest and will be watching closely to see how successful it is. From what I understand, the concept of the Yukon Indian Womens Association infrastructure policy is to try to restore family stability from within the family and to try to teach people what family roles used to be like. It is a concept that may seem regressive to some Members who have spoken today about equality and changing the stereotype roles within families of mother and father. Evidently, this initiative has been used in Ontario. The Member for Old Crow or the Member for Whitehorse North Centre may be familiar with it, or the Member for Whitehorse North Centre. There are some cultural philosophies attached to what the Indian women want to do. It is along the same lines as the concept of the healing wheel, where you have to heal from within. The Member from Whitehorse South Centre is nodding that she has some familiarity with this process. This is a constructive avenue to pursue. In doing this we must recognize that it is going to go back to defining the womans job in a family and defining the mans job in a family. In that definition they go back to the concept that the woman or the mother is the mainstay of the family and is the strength of the family and keeps the family together, and that it is the father who is the bread winner. This may not sound progressive to some of the Members who have talked today about redefining those stereotype roles, but it is something that should be examined.
It was interesting to watch the Journal last night and see the interviews of the young people in Russia who are in university, mostly in the arts community. Of particular interest was one young women who was married for the first time. She was 20 years old. She was asked about her relationship with her husband in an equality sense. The opening commentary was about Russia where men and women are completely equal. It was interesting to hear her comments. She was a young educated women. She said that her husband was more intelligent than she was. He was more creative than she was. He was better looking that she was. He was better educated that she was. She liked that situation. She had been raised by her father to believe that if there was going to be any strength in her family and if she was to be happy in her family structure, she had to adopt that philosophy. She believed it. You could see it on her face.
It would be interesting to see what some of the attitudes of young people here in Canada are when it comes to the roles of men and women in society and whether they consider themselves equal or not. The young men who are going to university have an obvious, different attitude toward women than those of my older colleagues in the Legislature. Members from the other side are not without certain upbringings that have established some kinds of ideas in their attitudes.
It will be interesting to see how that particular issue would be responded to by our young people today.
I am also interested in the issue of suicide. Violence toward oneself, of course, is a form of family violence. Our party has definitely recognized that was an issue that had to be addressed. We will be looking forward to tabling our comments and recommendations we have later on from the Task Force on Suicide that travelled around the territory.
With respect to the problem of alcoholism, I know there is the Northern Native Alcohol and Drug Abuse Program that is supported by the federal government. I do not know if the territorial government is participating in that program just now or not. To me, this is an example of what happens when governments are over enthusiastic to give financial support to programs. They give money, but that is all. I think more than just money has to be given. Along with the financial resources, you also have to ask people if there is more you can give them, if there are things you can teach them to help them to be able to carry out their jobs. You cannot just say, here is the money, go do it. That is something this government has to look at. They have a habit of creating programs and giving money. The government has to identify that they have to put the proper support structures in place, as well.
I have about three minutes to conclude, so we have two minutes to tidy up the rest of the business of the House so we can adjourn for the day.
I have some other ideas, but I can share those with the Member for Whitehorse South Centre at some convenient time.
I want to give the Minister of Health and Human Resources some advice in the onerous task that he has ahead of him. I know that the individual who is going to make changes within the Department of Health and Human Resources, the government, is going to have to be one who can determine priorities, can make decisions, and that can follow through on those decisions. As has been said here a couple of times today, there are a broad, varying group of people involved and therefore a broad, varying group of opinions. If the Minister of Health and Human Resources wants to be loved and wants everybody to like him, he should not be sitting in that job, because it is going to call for some tough decisions. There are going to be people who are not happy with the decisions and with the priorities that have to be made, but they have to be made.
I, at any time, am prepared to offer suggestions, as I have in the past, and hope that the government would take those suggestions in a constructive way and maybe, after two or three or four years, would even act on a couple of them. I would like to thank the Member for Whitehorse South Centre for bringing the motion forward and giving us all an opportunity to respond to it. I am sure the synopsis will be published in the next Black and Blue Paper report card by the Womens Advisory Council. We have all had an opportunity to respond and therefore we should get a satisfactory report card.
Thank you very much.
Motion No. 46 agreed to
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 5:28 p.m.