Tuesday, November 28, 1989 - 1:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. At this time, we will proceed with Prayers.
Speaker: We will proceed with the Order Paper.
Introduction of Visitors.
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS
Tribute to Chief Sam Johnson Sr.
Mr. Brewster: I wish to pay tribute today to Chief Sam Johnson Sr., who passed away Sunday, November 26. Sam was a well-known and respected elder who helped to get the Kluane Tribal Council going in Burwash. I have known Sam ever since I came to the Yukon, and we spent some time on the trail with pack horses fighting fire and hunting. He used to deal with me when I had the store in Burwash and he was always honest and straight- forward.
He is survived by his wife, Jessie, nine children, numerous grandchildren and three great grandchildren. He unfortunately did not live long enough to see land claims settled, but his work for his people will not be forgotten. Another great chief has passed away.
Speaker: Are there any Returns or Documents for tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I have for tabling a colour photocopy of the new Yukon licence plate.
Speaker: Reports of Committees.
Introduction of Bills.
Notices of Motion for the Production of Papers.
Notices of Motion.
Statements by Ministers.
Motor Vehicle Regulations Amendments, including new licence plate design
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Mr. Speaker, I rise today to announce the various changes that will be occurring in the motor vehicle section of the Department of Community and Transportation Services as a result of recently approved regulations under the Motor Vehicles Act.
Firstly, I am pleased to introduce the new motor vehicle licence plate design that will be phased in as the old series of plates is used up. The gold panner theme has been replaced with an attractive outdoors theme that is quite eye-catching and promotes the Yukon tourism slogan and the unique Yukon environment.
Just moments ago, I tabled a colour photocopy of the new plate. I would note for the Members that the reprint is a near identical reproduction except for the colour of the mountains, which should be a gold colour. I would say that our photocopy technology has a ways to go yet.
The new plate design will allow for three-numeral combinations to address the increasing population in Yukon as the old series is quickly reaching the end of its life span. This plate will be used at least until 1995, at which time the government may wish to consider proposing a new special centennial plate to commemorate the 1898 Klondike Gold Rush.
In addition, in future, only a single plate will be issued. This will complete the process initiated in April of this year whereby validation tabs are affixed to the rear plate only. This allows the placement of special plates such as that proposed by the Yukon Anniversaries Commission on the front of the vehicle. As well, the unlawful practice of splitting plates between two vehicles will be eliminated.
Fees for driver licences, permits and registrations have not changed since 1981. During this period our costs have increased substantially; inflation alone has accounted for a near 40 percent increase in costs.
On average, in provincial jurisdictions across Canada, transportation revenue from driver licences, vehicle registrations and permits accounts for an average of 32 percent of road maintenance funding. In the Yukon, the equivalent figure is 5.4 percent. This is not surprising when one considers that the Yukon has the longest per capita system of maintained roads in Canada. It is clearly not possible nor practical to meet this level of funding from drivers licences and vehicle registrations. As a result, we have patterned our new fees for drivers licences and private vehicle registrations on the comparable fee charged in other western jurisdictions. We have taken special steps to phase in fee increases for commercial vehicles during this period of economic deregulation that began under the federal governments Freedom to Move and the federal Motor Vehicle Transport Act. Nevertheless, these new fees reflect our desire to become more fiscally responsible by bringing revenues to a more realistic level with fees that are consistent with western jurisdictions.
This new fee structure for vehicle registration will be calculated on a monthly basis, and will complement the staggered licensing registration system that is being introduced now. I am pleased to say that the new system will come into effect on December 18.
As with any new system implementation, I expect that there may be some minor problems that arise during the initial phase of introduction. You may be assured, however, that we will be working very hard to resolve any problems that may arise when we start implementation.
The new system has been designed such that vehicle owners will be assigned a renewal month for registration. This will spread registrations throughout the year. This should reduce the time spent in lineups, particularly appreciated during cold winter months. A letter explaining the new process in greater detail will be sent to all vehicle owners with their renewal slip early in December.
Mr. Speaker, the changes I have described will provide Yukon people with a bright new licence plate that will contribute substantially to our tourism industry, and will complement our new vehicle registration system. In conclusion, I submit that the licensing initiative announced today brings us progressively onstream with the rest of Canada, and I am pleased to participate in seeing that happen.
Mr. Brewster: It is a sad day for the Yukon. The Minister has just announced the demise of the Yukons famous gold panner on our licence plate. We are witnessing the death of another Yukon tradition.
I find it somewhat ironic that in the same statement that the government stamps out our gold panner, they have the gall to propose a new centennial plate to commemorate the 1898 Klondike gold rush. What better symbol is there of the gold rush than the gold panner? The gold panner has come to represent the Yukons proud, rugged, independent spirit and now it is dead.
After yesterdays budget speech, I can understand why. This government is trying to socialize Yukoners so that there are no proud independent people left; there will be no private sector industry left. The mining industry that the gold panner has come to symbolize will no longer be Yukons number one industry.
Yukons number one industry will be government. Everyone will be dependent on government. Just the other day we heard the Member for Old Crow berate capitalism and the business spirit. The first victim of this socialist thinking is our gold panner.
The Minister is saying that he is making this change to promote Yukon tourism. The government has been using the slogan, Yukon: The Magic and the Mystery. It has been a tremendous success. Tourism in the Yukon has dropped consistently ever since it was adopted.
What amazes me the most is that the tourism Minister himself sits idly by and lets this happen. As the Member for Klondike one would think he, of all people, would speak out in defence of the gold panner. Perhaps, like the gold panner, his days are numbered too. I am sure his constituents will be proud of his silence here today.
The Yukon gold panner may be gone from our licence plate, but he is not gone from the hearts of true Yukoners. We will remember him.
In closing, I wonder just how many people in the Yukon they consulted before they did this. The Northwest Territorys polar bear is known all over Canada and elsewhere, and the gold panner is known everywhere. When people see the gold panner, they know it is from the Yukon. If this is the best we can do to promote tourism in the Yukon, we are in for an awful lot of trouble.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I thank the Member for his observations. However, I have little sympathy for his nostalgic reminiscences regarding the gold panner. I must point out to the Minister that the gold panner has not been eliminated from use. It may very well be that in celebrations relating to the Klondike gold rush following 1996, we could have the gold panner theme restored.
I should point out that the gold panner theme, while I agree it is an historic slogan of Yukon, does not truly represent the full history and the broad culture of our territory.
The theme that we introduced is a universal theme for the Yukon. It complements the tourism slogan, it represents our environment, it does have respect for the wilderness of the Yukon and it is extremely eclectic. Also, because only one plate will be issued, we could very well have a commemorative plate reflecting the gold panner on the opposite end of each vehicle. The fireweed is a well-known symbol of the Yukon and it should more appropriately be reflected on our licence plate. I repeat, it complements our activities in tourism, it more truly reflects our wilderness and our environment and more properly represents the broad, historic and cultural background that the Yukon carries so well.
Sport fishing licence fees
Hon. Mr. Webster: As hon. Members are aware, fees for sport fishing licences were raised last year to help finance this governments new management responsibilities for the freshwater fishery. Under this fee schedule, licence revenues have almost doubled to $220,515, but licence sales, especially to non-residents, have dropped. Now that the fishing season is, for the most part, over, my department and I have had an opportunity to review licence sales, and to consult with and receive comments from the Yukon Fish and Game Association, the Tourism Industry Association and a wide range of people involved in the sport fishing industry.
I am pleased to advise Members that the proposed fee schedule that I am announcing today addresses most of the concerns raised by last years schedule. It also has been reviewed and endorsed by the Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board.
The major changes to the fee schedule apply to non-resident fees and licence durations. A number of these fees have been reduced, and last years experimental three-day licence will be discontinued.
In 1990-91, one-day, six-day and seasonal licences will be offered to non-residents. The one-day licence will cost $5 for all non-residents.
The six-day licence will cost $15 for non-resident Canadians and $20 for other non-residents.
The seasonal licence fee will drop from $30 to $25 for non-resident Canadians, while other non-residents will pay $35 for the season.
Our adjustments to non-resident fishing licence fees have been made because it appears that many highway travelers are very casual anglers. With no one-day licence available last summer, and a relatively expensive three-day licence, it appears that some non-residents simply chose not to fish.
We made one additional change to non-resident fees. In the past, we have provided licences at no cost to all Canadian seniors. Few other Canadian jurisdictions have followed this practice. Yukon seniors fishing in British Columbia - or in any province other than Alberta - have to pay the regular non-resident fees.
We believe this is inequitable. Therefore, we are proposing to charge non-resident Canadian seniors the same licence fee as other Canadians.
Although there has been some expression of concern about the higher cost of a resident fishing licence, I believe that most Yukoners have accepted the $15 seasonal fee as fair and in line with what is charged to residents in neighboring jurisdictions. Consequently, the season fee for Yukon residents will remain at $15 for the 1990-91 fishing season.
Finally, I would like to advise the House that in forwarding these proposals to the federal fisheries Minister so that changes can be made to the fisheries regulations, I have asked that a special Alaskan resident seasonal licence be established, pursuant to the wishes of this Assembly.
Members may recall that a resolution to this effect received the unanimous support of this House last session. Consequently, I have asked the federal Minister to establish an Alaskan resident licence category with a fee of $15.
I am confident that the fishing fee schedule that I have outlined today will enable more people to enjoy fishing in the Yukon while allowing us to devote more resources to properly managing the Yukon freshwater fishery.
Mr. Lang: I would like to comment about the ministerial statement just given. On page 2, the Minister refers to the one-year licence. He then refers to last years experimental three-day licence being discontinued. For the record, we did debate this issue. It was raised by my colleague, the Member for Riverdale North. At that time, he asked the Minister to review the policy of doing away with the one-day fishing licence and consider going back to the one-day fishing licence for non-residents. At that time, Mr. Webster thanked the Member for his question and assured him that the matter had already been reviewed and he had come to the conclusion that all other jurisdictions have, that a one-day licence fee is not feasible. Other jurisdictions had looked at this one-day licence and found it not to be practical.
I am raising this because the issue was raised and dismissed out-of-hand at that time. When such constructive ideas were brought forward, the Members on the other side should have accepted them at that time; we are a year late. We are pleased to see the one-day licence. We do believe it is going to help our tourism industry. It does need help, as mentioned by the Member for Kluane.
We are very much in favour of the step taken by the government to put in a special Alaskan resident seasonal licence. The Member for Riverdale North brought this idea forward in a motion. The concern that I have is that the idea is that we would get the reciprocal type of agreement with Alaska. I want to encourage the Minister to see whether the Alaskans can bring this into effect for this forthcoming year for the benefit of Yukoners visiting Alaska. It is good for their jurisdiction as well as ours.
We are in favour of the revised schedule of fees. It is a shame that it took a year to get to the point where we have some consensus in this House. A lot of the ideas were generated during the initial debate.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I want to thank the Member opposite for his comments, particularly the comment referring to the one-day licence. When we had this debate in the spring, the Members opposite came forward with some suggestions to change the new fee structure for the next year. I did mention that the one-day fee was not practical. I was speaking in the context of administration. That is why this one-day licence is not available in any other jurisdiction. However, there are many other good reasons to institute a one-day licence, as the Member opposite has described. For that reason, the suggestion was not dismissed out-of-hand. It was obviously considered, because you see it now proposed in our new fishing fee schedule for next year.
With respect to encouraging Alaska to introduce this reciprocal agreement for next year, the indications from the Alaskan officials is that in all likelihood this will not be a simple matter for them. It will be difficult for them to institute that procedure in one year. I will bring it to their attention again. Now that I have informed the Yukon public of the proposed fee schedule, I will now relate this information to the officials in the Fish and Wildlife Branch in the State of Alaska to encourage them to implement the reciprocal agreement for next year.
Speaker: This then brings us to the Question Period.
Question re: Hazardous waste disposal
Mr. Phelps: I have some questions relating to the issue of hazardous waste, which is an area of concern for most Yukoners today. On November 3, the Minister of Community and Transportation Services announced the creation of a new waste management advisory committee, to be chaired by former Yukon Commissioner Ione Christensen, with a mandate to develop a new strategy for handling wastes and to recommend a site for their safe disposal.
Is this committee now operational? Has it held any meetings?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member is correct in his description of the creation of the advisory committee on waste management. There was an initial meeting at the time of the announcement of members who were able to make it to the meeting. A couple of representative bodies were unable to identify a person to attend the first meeting. I understand the second meeting is set for the end of this month, within a couple of days.
Mr. Phelps: Will the committee be consulting with the public and holding public meetings in Whitehorse and throughout the territory?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am pleased to answer the Member in the affirmative. That is one of the mandates of the advisory committee. They will be holding public sessions, both for soliciting input to appropriate measures for waste management, as well as providing an opportunity for education and dissemination of information. To conclude the answer to his question, yes, the committee will be holding meetings throughout the territory and Whitehorse.
Mr. Phelps: Can the Minister advise whether there is a target date with respect to the recommendations that will be delivered to the Minister by this committee?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The priority consideration given to the committee is for the identification of an appropriate setting for a hazardous or special waste facility. As the Member is aware, that matter has been a commitment of this government. We have been unable to achieve any consensus to date on a site such a facility. I have directed the committee to apply appropriate resources and effort to come up with a recommendation for a site such a facility by the summer of next year.
At the same time, to more completely answer his question, the issue of waste management and policy development will be an ongoing exercise throughout this initial priority attention. I expect the committee to be in place and providing the appropriate advice to my department and myself over the course of the next three years.
Question re: Hazardous waste disposal
Mr. Phelps: I am glad the Minister raised the issue of a storage site for hazardous waste. I understand the government has been constructing a hazardous waste storage shed in the City of Whitehorse at 113 Industrial Road. I have a contract here that would indicate work began on this storage facility in Whitehorse in August or September of this year.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I hope I am not responding to the Members question out of context from my knowledge of the hazardous waste facility. As I indicated in previous debate in the House during this session, the Department of Government Services has undertaken a program to remove the ballast from fluorescent light fixtures and intends to have these ballasts removed through a program over the next couple of years. The ballast contains minute quantities of polychlorinated biphenyls, and a facility has been established in the compound of Government Services in the industrial area.
I should point out to the Member that the storage capacity, or ability, of that facility is fully under regulated federal guidelines and is being constructed and maintained under those strict rules.
Mr. Phelps: I am concerned. Why did the Minister decide to embark upon this construction project before the committee was created and heard from, or before there was any public consultation? Why did this take place at this unfortunate time just a month or two before the committee was created?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: To allay any concern the Member may have, I should point out that this is an interim and temporary storage, fully constructed under existing guidelines for safe storage of what in this case amounts to very minute quantities contained within ballasts that are not broken open. They are contained within 45 gallon drums, and properly within further storage beyond that.
Mr. Phelps: I am not very impressed with this minute quantity stuff we are getting from the Minister. Why was this storage shed constructed right downtown, in the middle of the city, when the Whitehorse Board of Health recommended to the city last February that any hazardous waste storage site be constructed outside the city limits? Why did they do this in contravention of the wishes of the Whitehorse City Board of Health?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: One of the directives given to the waste management advisory committee was that a site for the facility be clearly outside any municipality or community. That is a direction of this government for the site. It certainly will not take place in the Members communities nor the City of Whitehorse, nor within the municipal boundaries of such communities. It just comes to mind that I believe it was the Leader of the Official Opposition who recommended last spring that we use the empty pit at Faro for waste storage.
To answer his question more precisely, I have to repeat to the Member that as he walks through this building he is walking under those very ballasts that are in the light fixtures. We are removing those. We are not breaking them open, and containing them fully within the standards and guidelines set out under federal regulation, and placing them in temporary storage. I expect by next summer or fall, when my committee comes forward with recommendations and we make a decision, they will be quickly removed. They are completely in safe storage and under strict guidelines.
Question re: Hazardous waste disposal
Mr. Phelps: The Minister cannot have it both ways. Either they are hazardous materials that are required to be stored in special circumstances, or they are not. Last March 15, the House unanimously passed a motion THAT it is the opinion of this House that the Government of Yukon should take the lead role in locating and collecting all PCBs and hazardous chemical wastes in Yukon and relocating them away from heavily populated areas.
Why did he ignore this motion and proceed to build a temporary - or permanent, it does not really matter - hazardous waste storage facility right in the middle of the City of Whitehorse? Why did he do that?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am not sure precisely what the Member expects this government to do beyond the very aggressive initiative that it has undertaken. We have undertaken to establish not only a committee, but we have had people in the employ of the department doing precisely what the Member quoted in the motion. We are currently establishing an inventory of existing special wastes. We have established a group with whom to consult. We are taking active steps to safely store known quantities of special wastes. We have taken a number of steps and I fail to understand precisely what the Member is seeking to achieve from his insistence that I must be doing something more.
Mr. Phelps: First of all, we would very much enjoy it if the Minister would attempt to answer the question posed. We have a situation where there is a PCB storage site at the NCPC facilities here - the Yukon Energy facilities at the dam, right in downtown Whitehorse - and another PCB storage site has been built at 113 Industrial Road, downtown Whitehorse. Why are these steps being taken and reinforced when the Minister and his colleagues supported the motion that such hazardous waste should be stored outside of heavily populated areas?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I have to try to reassure the Member that no extraordinary steps are being taken to contravene any direction, either of the will of this House or standard government policy. The storage site in the Marwell area was required to contain existing minute quantities of PCBs being taken out of fluorescent light fixtures throughout government buildings, a program that began some time ago. The storage facility is entirely within the standards and regulations set out under the federal environmental protection act. It affords a secure facility. It provides for constant surveillance and the necessary, adequate precautions that are required. It is a temporary facility. What the motion called for is for a permanent site and this government has taken that step. The direction provided to the advisory committee, with the expertise made available to it, is to come up with a location outside a community, outside a municipality, for permanent storage. I suspect that even permanent in that sense is perhaps an exaggeration because the eventual intention is to remove all special waste from the territory to destruction in available facilities elsewhere in the country.
Mr. Phelps: We know that the Minister has built this storage facility and we know that he has taken great pains to build it in keeping with the regulations imposed by the federal authorities, but that is not the question. The question is why, after this motion was passed unanimously, after the public outrage at the possibility of a chemical manufacturing site in downtown Whitehorse, did the Minister allow this facility to be built right in the middle of downtown Whitehorse. Why could it not have been built outside of the city limits and away from heavily-populated areas? That is the question.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The short answer to the Members question is that it is not in a downtown, heavily-populated area. It is in the industrial area; it is not as he describes. I guess I have to put back to the Member the most obvious question: what is he directing this government to do? To maintain the existing situation where we have got these minute quantities in fluorescent light bulbs that he prefers to walk under on a daily basis, or to take the steps that we have taken, which is to remove that potential hazard and contain it safely, making it healthier and safer for everybody who works in these buildings. I am sorry, Mr. Speaker, but I fail to understand how the status quo is to be changed.
Question re: Hazardous waste disposal
Mr. Phelps: Well, I hope that the hon. Member is being deliberately obtuse. I would hate to think that he does not understand the question because then I would grave difficulty in passing any part of the budget for his departments. The issue is that these PCBs are being stored in a new facility in the middle of the City of Whitehorse. If there is a fire, it is the fumes of the PCBs that are dangerous; under any wind conditions the fumes are going to be scattered over some residential, heavily-populated areas within the City of Whitehorse. Why has this government, and this Minister in particular, decided to build a storage facility that contains dangerous, hazardous wastes in the middle of the City of Whitehorse? Why?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am disappointed in the Member. He is fear-mongering at this instance, and I resent that. I have described repeatedly to the Member precisely the status quo, intelligent approach to a problem that we have taken. It is the Member and his colleagues who fear-mongered in the past and prevented the creation of a facility when it could have been safely stored outside the perimeters of the city. It could have been stored properly, according to standards. The Member here is attempting to do this again. He is suggesting that there is some type of hazard being created by this temporary, interim storage of minute quantities of PCBs from light ballasts.
I fail to understand what the Member is trying to achieve. If he is telling me that it is safer for him to walk through this building with those ballasts overhead, then he should stand up and tell me that. I challenge him to say that it is safer for him to walk through this building with these ballasts overhead, with the potential of leakage, instead of in safe storage with proper standards being maintained for those minute quantities of PCBs. I want the Member to tell me if he feels it is safer to leave them hanging in the building.
Mr. Phelps: That is the most obvious fear-mongering I have heard since I came to this House.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible...)
Mr. Phelps: Is the Government Leader asking the questions? Do you want to change the rules of the House?
I am just trying to get an answer from the Minister to the question. Why did he locate this storage facility, which cost a lot of money, in the middle of Whitehorse? Why did he do that? Why was it located where it has been located just months before the committee was formed?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Unlike the Member opposite, I will try to be reasonable. The facility was situated to provide a safe storage in the industrial area in Whitehorse.
Question re: Hazardous waste dosposal
Mr. Lang: We had a debate in this House on March 15, 1989, on a motion that reads as follows: THAT it is the opinion of this House that the Government of Yukon should take the lead role in locating and collecting all PCBs and hazardous chemical wastes in Yukon and relocating them away from heavily populated areas.
This is not the first motion that has been passed in this House in the last year that the government has stood up on one given day and supported and then six months to a year later, we find out that the government is taking a totally different position than what they had publicly stated in a previous forum. I think of Kluane National Park, the anti-litter motion raised yesterday and the Whitehorse sewage lagoon.
I have a question for the Minister. In view of the fact that this building that the Leader of the Official Opposition referred to has just been built, why did the Minister go against a motion in this House that he and his colleague voted for?
Point of Order
Hon. Mr. Webster: Point of order, Mr. Speaker.
Speaker: Point of order to the Minister of Renewable Resources.
Hon. Mr. Webster: Thank you for the opportunity to correct the record. In putting forth the preamble to his question, the Member opposite said we have ignored a motion that was passed in this House in April dealing with anti-littering.
I want to inform the Member that he is entirely incorrect about that. We have followed the intent of that motion. I would ask him to review it again. Obviously the Member does not believe me. I will read to him the motion, as it was amended. It says THAT this House urge the Government of Yukon, in conjunction with municipalities . . .
Speaker: Order. I find there is no point of order. It is just a conflict between two Members.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: On the same point of order, several times in this session, we have noticed an emerging pattern of the Members opposite to make allegations that are not true, including that we violated a motion. The motion passed, as described by the Members today and yesterday, is not an accurate description of the motion, a motion that talked about us involving a whole series of groups - municipalities, Indian bands, businesses, groups and individuals - to achieve a group of objectives that could include a number of options ...
Speaker: Order. Would the Member please take his seat while I make a decision on it, and please keep your tempers. We all have tempers.
The hon. Premier has something to say here.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The point was the question about misleading the House. The other day the Member for Riverdale South got up and accused a Member of misleading the House, and suggested an extreme penalty for it. The fact of the matter is anybody who knows the Member knows she was not deliberately misleading the House. When Members assert that a motion passed this House, and they make assertions about the motion that are at variance with the text of that motion, we have serious problems with that.
It is quite proper for my colleague to attempt to put on the record what was actually said and actually approved by the House, as opposed to the version of the motion described by the Member. That is to completely pervert the purpose of this House and the will of this House.
Mr. Phillips: Point of order.
Speaker: Point of order to the Member for Whitehorse Riverdale North.
Mr. Phillips: Quite clearly, the Member is just enunciating what the Member before has said, and you already ruled that Member out of order. The hon. Premier is out of order, as well. There is no point of order.
Speaker: Order please. I would like to point out that there is no point of order. I would like to take this under advisement, and I will come back with a decision when this House reconvenes on December 4.
Mr. Lang: We should not be surprised. We have been in this session for a week and one-half and have witnessed the government filibustering for half of it.
Last March we passed the motion: THAT it is the opinion of this House that the Government of Yukon should take the lead role in locating and collecting all PCBs and hazardous chemical waste in the Yukon and relocating them away from heavily populated areas.
Why did the Minister ignore this motion that he voted for and proceed with the construction of a building for the purposes of a PCB storage shed? That is what is referred to in the order: a PCB storage shed.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member need not have repeated his question. I heard it the first time.
The Member is totally incorrect to suggest that this government has not been following to a T the letter of the motion. The Member recalls that approximately a year ago this government took a commitment and an initiative to address the issue of government-generated PCBs.
During the course of last winter, and principally through the election, that mandate expanded to encompass a responsibility by government to address the entire identification, collection and storage of PCBs. That was essentially the intent of the motion: to identify this changing mandate of the government.
The government undertook to take a lead role, as the motion indicates that the government ought to take a lead role; it has taken a lead role in the locating and collection of all PCBs and hazardous chemical waste in the Yukon.
That lead role has been demonstrated by the inventory that we are identifying.
Speaker: Order please. Would the Member please conclude his answer.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Yes, Mr. Speaker. I want to tell the Member quite bluntly that the will of the motion has not been contravened. We have followed it to the letter by taking a lead role. The interim and temporary storage in the Marwell area is fully under regulated guidelines and is addressing the lead role of identifying and locating PCBs. They will be relocated to a facility outside the communities when that is established.
Question re: Hazardous waste disposal
Mr. Phelps: I understand what the problem is. The Minister obviously has a typo in the motion that he is referring to. The motion speaks to the government taking a lead role in locating and collecting all PCBs and hazardous chemical wastes in the Yukon. The correct text is and relocating them away from heavily populated areas. I suspect that the Minister has a copy of this motion that says relocating them in the middle of heavily populated areas. I want to assure the Minister that if that is the case he has the wrong motion.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The interim and temporary storage for the PCB ballast containment is fully in line with the spirit of the motion. They will be relocated to a facility once the waste management committee has advised us of a suitable site outside a community. I repeat to the Member that the interim storage is fully in accordance with the interim order respecting the storage of wastes containing PCBs, and that is pursuant to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. The storage is located in a fenced storage area in the Marwell area. It is restricted to building maintenance people only. The interim storage site will only be utilized until a permanent site has been developed. That will be coming along. We have taken the lead role in establishing that. It has been inspected, and is approved by inspectors from the federal governments environmental protection services, and as I indicated to the Member, it is fully in accordance with required guidelines. It is safe, secure, temporary and it is in a compound.
Speaker: Will the Member please conclude his answer?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I have concluded my answer, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Phelps: He has not answered the question. Why did he locate this facility right in the centre of the City of Whitehorse?
I would like to ask the Minister another question, since he refused to answer the one that has been posed numerous times this afternoon. Is it true that this storage shed cost in excess of $100,000?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I cannot quote for the Member of the costs at this time but I can certainly provide that detail to him later.
Question re: Hazardous waste disposal
Mr. Lang: I just want to follow up on this. In 1989-90, in last years budget, we voted $100,000. In the supplementary that we have before us we have an additional $78,000 that the Minister is asking us to vote on, with respect to the hazardous waste line item. Can the Minister tell us how that is set up regarding money for the building versus other costs? It is a lot of money.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I have to tell the Member that I do not have all of my budget detail here but the amount that was budgeted was only used in part, because there was no major expenditure for the intended facility that was identified a year ago. I cannot tell him this moment the amount that we have used at this moment. I do not have my budget detail here, but it would have addressed the inventory assessment that we are doing. It will pay in part for the period of time that the committee will be doing some work. It will be used only in portion, because the capital component of it cannot be, of course.
Mr. Lang: I do not understand this. We have $178,000 for the 1989-90 forecast, under hazardous waste, storage. It is under his budget. It has been a high priority; the Minister said that how many times in press releases? Surely the Minister should have some knowledge of how the monies are being expended. Is the Minister saying that the figure in the budget is totally inaccurate, and that we did not spend any of it?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I think the Member realizes that an appropriate storage facility to contain the quantity and multitude of special wastes that eventually would be stored would cost a considerable amount. I think he realizes that the $100,000 will not build a facility and he must recognize that that money was put in place a year ago to do some planning.
Mr. Lang: I find this very troubling. We voted $100,000 last March. The Minister has come forward with a budget asking for an additional $78,000 for this year, so the total amount spent is $178,000. Is the Minister telling us that he does not know where that money was spent?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am telling Member, with respect, that I do not have the budget detail with me. I would be more than happy to provide him with the detail of both this years expenditure and next years anticipated expenditure during appropriate budget debate. I do not have those details with me.
Question re: Hazardous waste disposal
Mr. Phillips: I believe what we have heard here today is the Minister playing with the lives of the people of the Yukon.
The intent of that motion was that no storage facility, whether interim or permanent, be built around populated areas in the Yukon Territory. That was the intent of the motion.
I will ask the Minister, then, now that he says that this is perfectly safe and meets federal standards, if he now has changed his position and feels it is acceptable to store PCBs or other dangerous chemicals in the City of Whitehorse.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I repeat rationally and patiently for the Member that the spirit of the motion has been followed to a T. This government has taken a lead role in the collection and identification of PCBs. It will be moving those to an area outside populated areas, communities and municipalities once the full details of those options are known.
I think the Member recognizes that we have a current status quo situation. We have PCBs around us. They have to be dealt with. What better way to deal with them than to put them into a secure, safe compound, which is what is being done. Would the Member prefer I put the ballasts in his office? Is that what he is suggesting? I am putting them in a safe, secure place. I fail to see what the Members are suggesting I ought to have done. Give me an answer about what I should have done.
Mr. Phillips: I am not the Minister responsible, but I would not have stored PCBs within the city limits of Whitehorse. That was the intent of the motion and of every Member in the House who spoke. The Minister is being silly in his answer. Is it now the policy of this government to store dangerous chemicals and PCBs within the City of Whitehorse? Yes or no is all we need.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member knows, as I have explained to him repeatedly. This government has taken a lead role in dealing with the special waste problem in the territory. We have PCBs all around us. Where they are not in secure storage, I am compelled to take steps to protect public safety. I have done that. The Member may think this is a silly approach. I submit to him that it is a responsible approach. Their fear-mongering attitude is a silly approach.
Question re: Managerial employees of YTG
Mrs. Firth: I have a question that I would like to read into the record. It is a written question addressed to the Minister of the Public Service Commission.
How many employees at the managerial level, by department, have been hired by the Government of Yukon since 1985? Of that number, how many employees were already residents of the Yukon at the time of hire? Of the number of employees who were not Yukon residents at the time of hire, what respective jurisdictions in Canada did they come from? Of the number of managerial employees hired since 1985, how many were male and how many were female? How many of the employees were male and how many were female at each respective managerial level?
Question re: Extended care facility, Whitehorse
Mr. Nordling: Perhaps we can get some specific answers from the Minister of Health and Human Resources.
This governments handling of the extended care facility issue has been disgraceful and an insult to Yukoners. It is time for specific answers. Has the Minister if the design work on this new extended care facility has been completed?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: May I say that the Members preamble is entirely wrong-headed and misinformed. The decisions that we have had to make with respect to the construction, operation and design of an extended care facility have been done in the light of the emerging financial realities in terms of our relationship with Ottawa. The preparation of the design work for the extended care facility has been done. In the budget the Member will note that we have retained a health planner who has been charged with work in this area. We will be, in the next few months, completing the design. Next year, according to the budget announced yesterday, we will begin construction of such a facility.
Mr. Nordling: In the supplementary that the Minister tabled the other day, we allocated $648,000 for the design work. I see we are turning back $400,000. Did we get the design work completed for $248,000?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: No, we did not proceed with the design work until the situation regarding formula financing was sufficiently clarified so that we could make the financial commitment, both capital and O&M, that such a facility would require. I was not prepared to commission capital work of this size some months ago when some of our worst fears about the impact of formula financing seemed about to be confirmed. The situation has improved immeasurably, even though we do not have a final agreement. We were able to make the decisions we have made in the context of realistic expectations of our financial arrangements with Ottawa.
Mr. Nordling: Have we hired architects to do the drawings for the extended care facility? Has the Minister prepared a flow chart with time lines for the completion of this facility? If so, could he provide a copy to me?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: No, we have not commissioned an architect. I have requested a flow chart from the department, and I will have it ready by the time we deal with the health estimates in the mains.
Question re: Forestry transfer
Mr. Devries: I have a question for the Minister of Renewable Resources. In view of the fact that the government is now drifting its priorities away from economic development and resource matters to social development, can the Minister advise the House if the transfer of forestry to the Government of Yukon is still proceeding? The Minister mentioned this last April. What date has been agreed to for the transfer of this resource? Is it still a priority of the government?
Hon. Mr. Webster: The transfer of the forestry resources will depend upon the deal we strike with the federal government regarding a Formula Financing Agreement and the conditions under which the federal government will transfer that responsibility. Clearly, we are in a position that we will not assume that responsibility without adequate funds to properly manage the resource.
Mr. Devries: Can the Minister advise the House what policies and program guidelines his department has developed and has in place, prior to assuming territorial control of this valuable resource?
Hon. Mr. Webster: We are about to release two position papers on the forestry resource for consideration by Yukoners and request their input on how best to manage this resource. From that, we will develop some policies and from those policies we will develop legislation and accompanying regulations.
Mr. Devries: Has the Minister consulted with the Government of the Northwest Territories to find out how they went about their forestry transfer?
Hon. Mr. Webster: Yes, there have been ongoing discussions with the Government of the Northwest Territories about its transfer of the forestry resource. That is not fully concluded. It has successfully transferred the fire suppression aspect of that total management policy. We have consulted with them a great deal on that matter.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now lapsed. We will now proceed with the Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Speaker: Government Bills.
Bill No. 19: Second Reading - adjourned debate
Clerk: Second Reading, Bill No. 19, standing in the name of the hon. Mr. McDonald; adjourned debate, Mr. Phelps.
Mr. Phelps: I have a few things to say about the motion before the House and the budget itself. I would like to begin by acknowledging some of the positive aspects of the budget. We often have to search long and hard to be able to take this approach at the outset of a speech such as this, but I want the side opposite to know that I spent many hours combing through the budget and reading materials in order that I would be able to shed at least some positive light on some of the budget detail.
I am very pleased, as are all Members on this side and many Yukon seniors, and the families of many Yukon seniors, to see that the government is finally getting serious about the new extended care facility, a facility that is long overdue and has had numerous false starts at the budgetary end of the process, but which now seems to at least be moving ahead and becoming a reality.
That is a facility that is sorely needed, and it is a facility about which each of us has had representations made by senior citizens and their families. The need is there, and I hope this will go a long way to alleviating the hardship of some of our senior citizens.
I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge as welcome news the item in the budget of $1.4 million for a new South Alaska Highway school for the residents of Marsh Lake, Carcross Road, Carcross Corner, Golden Horn, Annie Lake Road and their families. They are looking forward to this school, because it will advance the quality of life of those families and their kids. I want to acknowledge the effort and sincerity of the effort on the part of citizens and residents from all parties who worked to make this initiative a reality. I would like to thank the Minister for supporting the motion I introduced last fall in this House with regard to that school and, despite some controversial statements he made last spring, for sitting down with his department officials and ensuring something was done. This project is now going to be underway.
I want to acknowledge what seems to be a rather belated start on the part of this government to show some commitment to protect the environment. There certainly are some monies identified in the budget: not much. It is a slow start, but it is always encouraging to see dollars placed on the table rather than words, so I am very hopeful that some real practical steps will be taken to protect the environment in which we find ourselves today.
Finally, I ought to acknowledge that the government has shown some concern about our shaky financial situation. The government has shown some restraint in this budget. That is something that I feel ought to be acknowledged, although it is somewhat misguided and a little too late and too little.
With that comment I will go into my major concerns with this budget. What we have is a loud and clear signal that the restraint exercise by the government is going to impact almost solely on the capital side.
Capital spending will be reduced to $94 million from almost $117 for the current year. The O&M increase remains significant. When talking about percentages one ought to remember how misleading figures can be when they are used by politicians for political purposes. The O&M budget has gone up significantly and ought to be compared with the estimate for last years budget.
Last year the estimates for 1989-90 were a total of $225 million. Estimates this year are set at $248 million. That is an increase of $23 million or very close to nine per cent on that part of the budget.
What is happening is that the capital side of the budget is being diminished, partly because of constraints that are being imposed because signals from the federal government that they are not going to be showing quite as large an estimate of transfer payments. The shrinking of the capital side has an impact on the private side in the Yukon. It impacts right away on the construction industry. They will be the ones that suffer the consequences of fewer dollars being spent on construction. The workers will be the ones that get hit.
At the same time, government grows bigger and bigger as the O&M grows by nine per cent. I have often stated this concern when speaking about budgets and the direction that this government is taking us in. The private sector is getting smaller and smaller in comparison to the government sector.
We have some bad news on the private sector side regarding the economy. We have had first the closure of the mine at Elsa. We have had tourism go down. The mining industry has told us that mining exploration is down by some $30 million in the territory. Of course the forestry industry is an industry about which I do not have to say too many words because I am sure we have expressed our concern adequately already in this Legislature.
We know that Watson Lake, as a community, is experiencing some difficulty and that there is a great deal of concern about the future. We are rapidly moving into a situation where, for all practical purposes, our economy is dependent upon government and government spending. It is rather ironic that the last frontier, a place where self-sufficiency was the byword, where people came to build their dreams, is now perhaps the part of Canada most dependent on government programs and government spending.
That leads us to the corollary that we have got to place a greater concern on the transfer payments that we, in turn, receive from the federal government. If this is a welfare state, for the most part, if this is to be a territory that is dependent on government, that has turned away from the market and away from the initiative of individuals, then all the more critical becomes the issue of largess, government to government, from the national capitol. As I have pointed out in other arenas, one of the hallmarks of this budget is the aura of uncertainty that surrounds it, particularly the uncertainty experienced now and over the past number of months regarding the issue of transfer payments from the federal government. As we pointed out in Question Period, the Economic Development Agreements have been running out and are not replaced. We do know that the government in Ottawa is going to be paying a much smaller share with regard to these agreements once they are negotiated - at least that seems to be stated policy - and put into practise in other regions of Canada. We do know that Economic Development Agreements, such as the one on tourism, is unlikely to be continued into the future.
The Formula Financing Agreement, which is the real financial underpinning of this government, is still up in the air and has not been concluded. The government, in its budget forecast and in the speech from the Minister, certainly took the position that what the government expects in the next fiscal year is a cut of $5 million from what would have been the transfer payment, had the previous agreement not terminated at the end of this fiscal year. I hope that is the worst-case scenario of the cut, but I have heard rumours that there will be progressive cutbacks as the agreement continues, so that each year there will be successive cutbacks from what would have been the experience under the formula in the agreement first struck back in 1985.
I do not want to dwell on the hypothetical, but if that is the case, if that money is clawed back, then what we face is a situation where the capital side of the budget will be that part of the budget that is impacted, and the government will continue to grow and grow and grow. Once again, businesses and individuals will become more dependent upon government spending and government programs.
One concern that I have when I review the budget has to do with the issue of the quality of information provided. It concerns me, for example, when I look back in time at previous budgets. Back in 1984-85, for example, a Crown corporation such as Yukon Housing provided, in the text of the budget, Members with relevant information such as the person years in that corporation, such as the number of units and types of units owned and operated and being built by the corporation in each of the Yukon communities.
That kind of information is not contained in this budget, and I think that is something that ought to be raised in a debate of this sort.
I note that Yukon College is now being operated under a straight grant whereby monies are paid over to the Yukon College management structure. Again, I just hope that we can get some information, whether it is on information pages as has become the standard practice for many of the departments, on such things as person years and employees of the college and a fairly clear breakdown of how the money is intended to be allocated because it is taxpayer money. This is despite the fact, and I have no quarrel with the proposition, that there ought to be a fair degree of independence exercised by the people who will be operating and managing the college board of governors.
I alluded to concerns about the way in which figures are used by politicians in defense of a budget. No doubt the same kind of criticism will be applied to those who are in Opposition, criticizing aspects of the budget. One example that stood out in my mind yesterday, during the speech by the Minister, was the proposition on page 17, I believe, of the budget address and I quote; The importance of our economic development operations and programs are far from being ignored, however. Todays budget includes approximately $103 million for these purposes. How the subjective decision is made as to what is economic and what is not and how the Members arrived at these neat little pie-graphs is an area of some concern to me.
I looked at the budget and could only find a little over $14 million on the O&M and the capital side combined for the Department of Economic Development: Mines and Small Business. There is quite a cut in that department. Someone must have a very wild imagination indeed to expand this figure to $103 million. Perhaps it is a typo. Maybe someone slipped a zero between the one and the three; I am not sure, but statements such as that do tend to make many people a wee bit skeptical about many of the other figures contained in the speech.
One figure that is of concern is the unemployment rate. I will not address the validity, but assuming it is somewhat accurate, it is being quoted as 12 percent in the Yukon. I am concerned that there is such a lack of economic base in most of the rural communities. It is something that I know is a concern to all Members in this House. I really do not feel that we are making much progress in bringing industry or meaningful jobs to most of the small rural communities.
I am concerned about the extremely high unemployment rate in the small towns such as Carcross, where I live, and other similar towns in the Yukon. I think all of us are concerned about that. We are concerned about the social problems that exist. There is at least a partial cause and effect relationship between the lack of meaningful employment and the lack of job opportunities and the terrible societal problems experienced in the small towns.
Again, I wish that this government was placing more emphasis on attacking this problem and not simply sitting back and saying that the economic side has been looked at and it is time to move on to social programs. Social programs have their place. The root of the problem in so many cases, is the lack of feeling of individual self-worth, lack of accomplishment or lack of opportunity to get ahead and control ones own destiny. I think this is one of the underlying problems we have as a society in rural Yukon.
One partial answer is that of decentralizing government and establishing more of the bureaucracy in the rural communities. I do not want to harp on this issue, but little has been done in the past four and one-half years, despite the priority given and lip service paid to that objective by this government in years past.
I should briefly note our concern about the increase in the health care costs in the territory. We see the large increases over the past year or so: an increase of some 14 percent. Last year, I believe it went up by $6 million or $7 million. This is an area of concern. I know it is becoming a priority of the side opposite. I know it is a difficult problem. I note, with some interest, the speeches made by the Minister responsible, and I do hope that steps are taken to try to bring this under control.
The very poor financial forecasting of budgetary matters is of considerable concern to us. In large part, it is tied into the problem the government has had in spending the money on the capital side. We have had a lot of lapses. There was a lapse of $400,000 for the extend care facility last year. We have lapses that impact upon my riding. I have expressed my dismay in correspondence to the Minister of Community and Transportation Services about the fact that the community well for Tagish was not built this year, although it was promised. That is a lapse.
I want to talk a bit about Carcross. It seems that spending on the capital side there has come to a dead halt. The water and sewer system was budgeted in the current year at $600,000, yet we have not started building a facility. I understand that the water intake portion will go ahead in the spring from next years budget. Water and sewer from the pumphouse is an even greater concern. Numerous meetings were held to find a suitable location for sewage treatment in the nature of a lagoon. That has come to a dead halt. The reason we are given is land claims. The reason we are given is that the band will not make a decision. That is the reason we are given by the officials of the government.
We were promised that country residential lots would be completed and on the market last July. Those lots were in an area about a mile or so north of the town of Carcross. That has gone by the way. The reason that we are given is that it is land claims fault. Apparently, they cannot get a decision from the band.
We spent all kinds of money trying to determine where the garbage dump should be relocated. That has come to a stop, despite a lot of money being spent on research, with the same excuse again. I do not accept the excuse, and I do not accept government blaming the Indian band. It is not fair.
The First Nations have an official position, and that is that they are generally against alienating lands until a settlement is reached. The bands cannot be expected to come out and endorse alienations. They cannot be expected to do the dirty work for the government, and they should not be blamed if they do not wish to take action.
Government has, and is elected with, the responsibility to govern. They are involved in the land claims process to protect third party interests. They are given these responsibilities by all who vote: the responsibility to protect the community expansion needs for all the communities in the Yukon. They have the responsibility to identify expansion needs and protect them.
In the case of Carcross, there are only one or two possible places for a sewage treatment facility, considering the physical constraints. In a place such as Carcross, there are only one or two possible places to situate a garbage dump for the use of the entire community. In a place like Carcross it is blatantly obvious where the expansion need for residential lots is going to be. Yet, this government will not take the responsibility for identifying those needs, as is a requirement of the land claims process. That is necessary in order to protect the future expansion needs of each of the communities. That is a principle that was agreed to by all parties in the negotiations many years ago, and that is a principle that still has the endorsement of the parties, albeit the somewhat hollow endorsement of this government.
The lack of courage, the lack of making decisions through thorough consultation, is one thing that is tending to divide communities in the territory. We are seeing that division on the increase, and it is something all of us must be concerned about. I would issue a challenge to this government to move in a different direction, to take steps to heal the wounds and to take steps that will unify the peoples in the small communities where the social balance is so fragile. I say these words sincerely, not for political purposes, but because it is something that has to be said.
I want to end on the note that I am pleased more resources are being moved into the issue of resolving land claims. The budget reflects this as a priority of the government, which is something we support.
Little is said publicly about the progress being made in the area of land claims, but I know there is hope on all sides of this House, as well as in the hearts of all Yukoners.
It needs to be resolved, it needs to be resolved fairly and needs to be resolved soon.
With those words I once again want to say that it is not all bad. In the words of a rather famous person many years ago: prohibition is better than no booze at all.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I want to begin my comments today by responding to an observation made by the venerable Member for Kluane, in what was obviously the real beginning of the budget debate today, when he indicated that the purpose of this government and this budget was to socialize the people of the Yukon - something, I gather, that is designed to strike fear into the hearts of every Main Street merchant in the territory. Those of us who came of age in the 1960s have a different understanding of the meaning of the word socialize. In many cases it is regarded as a thoroughly positive process.
When he made the remark I was reminded of a story I heard once that is supposed to be a true story about Tommy Douglas, when he was the Premier of Saskatchewan. He was holding a public meeting in one of the rural communities in that province and he was approached at the end of the public meeting by a rather tired-looking widow who had a pair of ragged, hungry-looking children tugging at her skirt. This woman approached the Premier and said, Mr. Douglas, is it true what they say you are going to do? Is it true you are going to socialize all the children? Mr. Douglas said, No, no, that is quite false. We have no intention of doing that whatsoever. The widow looked at him and said, Pity. I knew it was too good to be true.
It is a reminder that ones perspective on situations can be radically different and the perspective of the facts can be radically different. When we get into debate about this budget I think that is a pertinent observation.
Sometimes in this House we notice there is a lot of sound and fury, and even a lot of windy rhetoric on the radio and in the newspapers the day the budget is announced. It gets somewhat moderated in the coming days in the Legislature, but a lot of the rhetoric and comment is far removed from reality. Our Opposition colleagues often seem to be strangers to some of the facts that are before us in documents presented in the House. They may, if I may be forgiven for saying so, seem to be part of the magic and the mystery of the Yukon, so strange and exotic is their perspective on the numbers that we see in the budget and the statistics, that are a matter of public record.
Of course, none of us mind debating the meaning of the facts, but it is always troubling and we had some evidence of that in Question Period today when our colleagues on the other side of the House seem to reflect what we regard as a perverted view of the facts.
It has been said by our colleague, the Leader of the Official Opposition, that there are certain things happening as a result of this budget, which I do not think are the case. I heard that the Leader of the Official Opposition had publicly said that money is being cut and that it should not be cut from programs like SEAL and the business development fund. The money that is being allocated to a program like SEAL is based on the actual expenditures in the last few years. It is not being cut at all. The Business Development Fund is higher in this budget than it was in the Main Estimates last year.
The suggestion that this government has done, or is doing, nothing about economic development is quite preposterous. I want to return to that charge later.
It is of course a matter of fact that we are spending, and have done throughout our term in office, far more than the previous government on economic development. An even more pertinent fact is that even though we have more money available to us than the previous government, as a proportion of our total expenditure we are spending more on economic development than did the previous government.
There was very little in the way of programs for economic development in the previous government. The previous government seemed to operate on the belief that there was very little the territorial government could or should do to turn around the terrible economic situation we found when we came into office.
This budget does reflect a tightening financial situation, and the government is indicating appropriate restraint where it counts. The government has and is continuing to be involved in the economy where it matters.
I found it fascinating that Members of the Conservative opposition are perfectly consistent in their inconsistency. On the one hand, they argue the government should not be involved in the economy and, yet, we have numerous individual requests, which I am sure we will have again this session, for the government to get involved. The charge is made that we should be less active in general, but more active in particular.
Even the Leader of the Official Opposition, in his reasonable address of a moment ago, indicated a number of times we should be going both ways: we should be going this way and that, we should be going up and down, we should be going right and left, we should be moving in all directions at once. I suspect whatever direction we chose to move at whatever particular moment, we would be criticized, consistent with the historic role of the opposition, as defined by that last great thinker in the Conservative movement, Edmund Burke, who argued that their duty is to oppose whatever we do.
It is said by the Leader of the Official Opposition that too much money is spent on social programs. It is said we are building a welfare state. Notwithstanding the fact that we are spending less in percentage terms of our total budget on the social envelope than did the previous administration, this is a charge that is made with all seriousness.
Under the envelope system, which was set up by the previous government and continued by this one, expenditures such as that - the extended care or the South Highway school - are all part of that social envelope. The Leader of the Official Opposition has just spoken in favour of both of them. I am left wondering exactly what it is we are doing in the social policy area that he wants us to cut, and I will come back to that.
I heard in the news that the Leader of the Official Opposition is arguing - I am not sure if it is that we should become more like Sweden, or that we want to become more like Sweden and that is a bad idea - that we want to be a welfare state without an economy.
I doubt very much if the Swedish model would be transportable, in its pure form, to the Yukon Territory. I doubt if it is transportable in its complete form to anywhere in Canada. It is an interesting country to attack as a model, or to suggest as an inappropriate model. It is true, it has had social democratic government for most of this century. It is, arguably, the most successful country in the world in that it has not only achieved an economic performance the envy of most, but has the most successful welfare state in the world, in that nobody is hungry, nobody who wants work is without work and nobody who has real needs has those needs unmet. The quality of standards they realize in their health care and education systems are highly admirable.
But even more important in terms of the comments made by the Leader of the Official Opposition, it is interesting that this tiny country of eight million people has an unemployment rate of less than two percent, and it is a world leader in forestry, telecommunications, electrical industry, automotives and machinery. This is not a claim that could seriously be made by a jurisdiction of a similar size, such as Ontario or Quebec.
In the Fortune 500 list, there are at least 20 Swedish multinational companies. These are not public-sector companies, they are private-sector companies. This is a country with an extremely successful private sector. Their private sector, as we discussed the other day, works very well with the public sector. I suggest that it is that cooperation that is part of the Swedish success rather than the wasted energy that goes into the phony war between the private and public sector in this country in which so much energy is dissipated. I may want to return to this point.
It is a matter of fact, if you compare the 1984-85 budgets - the last one of the previous Conservative administration - and the budget before us, there is a larger percentage of the budget spent on economic development in this year of this NDP administration than was spent in the last year of the Conservative administration.
It is also true that the economic development envelope includes far more, of course, than the Department of Economic Development budget. The Leader of the Official Opposition must have misspoke himself because that was the situation when he was in government and it is still the case today. Obviously the work of the Department of Highways, much of the work of the Government Services, many of the contracts issued and much of many of the activities of a large number of departments are part of the economic development envelope and contribute to the economy of the Yukon Territory, and represent very substantial investments in the economy of the Yukon Territory. They range from the public works, which are run by Department of Government Services, down to very small but very successful programs such as the program of rural banking run by the Department of Finance. Those are all part of the economic development envelope.
It is interesting that the Leader of the Official Opposition spoke about the unemployment rate. The unemployment rate is admittedly still too high, but seeing the annualized rate of unemployment drop at a rate of one percent per year is real, substantial progress of which we should be proud. Of course we should be concerned that the annualized rate projected in this budget is still 12 percent. We should be concerned, as the Minister of Finance said yesterday, that too many communities are still not sharing in the general prosperity of the territory. Initiatives like the community development fund, the business development fund and other initiatives of this government in the economic, educational and training area are all designed to turn that situation around.
We concede that we have a long way to go, but the hundreds of jobs that have been created in the last four years are nothing to sneer at. They are very substantial and, as the Minister of Finance said yesterday in his budget speech, it is a fact that we have had the fastest growing economy in the country.
Now, it is of course true that our economy is extremely narrowly based. It is a regional economy and we are vulnerable to certain outside forces. We are vulnerable to changes in federal fiscal policy. We all know that, but within those realities, we have changed things very substantially.
The Member talked about the private sector getting smaller and smaller. That is humbug. That is entirely contrary to the facts. It is a fact that twice as many jobs have been created in the private sector as in the public sector during our time in office. I defy the Leader of the Official Opposition to show us hard evidence in the published statistical reports of the Government of Yukon that the public sector, relative to the private sector in this territory, has grown in the years that we have been in office.
I do not think he can make that case. He says that he is worried about our self-sufficiency. The whole purpose of the Yukon 2000, the Yukon Economic Strategy and the notion of sustainable development is to make us more self-sufficient - not to make us more dependent, but more self-sufficient: to diversify our economy, to strengthen our economy and to build on the human and natural resources of this territory. That is what we are doing. The Leader of the Official Opposition makes the charge that we are becoming more dependent. That is just not so. If he will address himself to the excellent illustration on page 44 of the Minister of Finances excellent speech, he will see that the federal transfer payment, as a percentage of our budgetary income, has been going down steadily, from 62 percent to 57 percent. That is real progress toward making this territory more self-sufficient. It is not magic. It is not smoke and mirrors. It is not illusion. It is real progress. It is not overnight success, but it is moving in the right direction. I believe it is the direction that most people want to go.
Once again, the Leader of the Official Opposition left us with the impression that he is simultaneously for and against the Formula Financing Agreement. I regret that he seems to be for the formula financing arrangement when there happens to be a Conservative administration governing the Yukon, but he is opposed when someone else is. Of course, these arrangements are not made between parties. These arrangements are made between governments. They are a contract between the people of Canada and the people of the Yukon. It is a good arrangement regardless of who happens to be in office in the territory or in office in the capitol of our nation, in Ottawa.
The Leader of the Official Opposition said that social programs have their place. Please forgive me if I think there is a certain kind of dictatorian tone to that statement in the sense that social programs have their place and they should know their place. He might have added parenthetically out-of-sight, out-of-mind. I am curious about the Leader of the Official Oppositions perspective on social programs. Expenditures in the social envelope represent an investment by the government of this territory in the development of our communities and in the development of our peoples. They are an investment in the best sense of the word, whether we are talking about our capital program, the college system, the school system, our roads, prevention initiatives, counselling, family support or child care. These are all substantial investments. The social envelope includes salaries for teachers, money for libraries, school busing, physiotherapists, mental health counselors, training, apprenticeship programs, support for seniors, health programs, family counsellors, and some expenditures for land claims. The Leader of the Official Opposition and others of his colleagues say we are spending too much. I want to know which of these programs they propose to cut.
Every year the charge has been made that we are spending too much. I want to know which programs we should cut. When we introduced home care, the Leader of the Official Opposition supported that. I gather they are going to support us in the extended health care field. I have not heard anybody from the other side propose we cut money for school psychologists.
We want to know, if they are seriously proposing that the social programs envelope in this budget be reduced, exactly where it is they propose to make the cuts.
The Member for Porter Creek East has proposed that we make cuts in the Executive Council Office. I wonder if he is talking about land claims. Knowing his history, perhaps he is.
Is he proposing that we cut the languages program? Is he proposing cuts in the stats program? Public affairs program? I will look forward to hearing from the Member.
While we are talking about social policy, I want to enter the budget debate as Minister of Health and Human Resources. Among the most important items in the budget before us, as the Leader of the Official Opposition noted in both the supplementaries and mains, are the Department of Health and Human Resources commitments to the good health of our citizens. In the next few minutes I want to make five points.
First, I want to make the point that everywhere in Canada health care costs are rising rapidly and the Yukon is no exception. In fact the rate of increase in the Yukon is consistent with the rate of increases everywhere else.
The second point I want to make is, because costs are hard to predict and harder to control, health budget forecasts have been inadequate.
The third point I want to make is our department has taken steps to improve budgeting.
The fourth point is that our officials are examining ways to better control costs in the short run.
The fifth and most important one is that, in the long run, only a substantial investment in health promotion and disease prevention will cut the crippling costs of the current system of curative health care, not only in Yukon, but in Canada as a whole.
Health care costs across Canada and, indeed, the world have been rising at a dramatic, and even a staggering, rate. People are demanding quality health care. Medicare - I might mention a thanks to Tommy Douglas and the party I am proud to be a member of - guarantees access to one of the best health systems in the world. It must be said that it is an expensive system and it is getting more so.
This picture of rising health costs has been mirrored here in the Yukon as it exists in Canada. Yukon people are demanding, have received, and will continue to receive quality health care. That is a commitment by this government as it was by our predecessors.
The fact is that the cost of health care in the Yukon is rising at a rate that continues to outstrip the rate of inflation, and at a rate far greater than the overall growth in our budget. We will be spending more of our total budget on health than we ever have before. Improving and sustaining the health of Yukoners requires a broad range of services that have a positive and recognizable impact on all facets of an individuals life.
Canada has an aging population, increasing costs of new medical technology and of operating health care facilities, and a shortage of nurses and other medical professionals. These factors are straining the nations ability to meet needs and fund the health system.
We, in the Yukon, have similar difficulties. Over the past few years, we have also underestimated the increasing costs of the health needs of Yukoners.
But it is important to keep in mind that the fact that costs were underestimated is secondary to the fact that Yukoners have received the health care they need.
The extra funds requested for last years and this years supplementaries are funds that were spent on legitimate programs and the legitimate needs of Yukoners.
We did not have a choice of whether or not to make these expenditures; they were necessary. The reality is that, like the provinces, we do not control most costs. A person goes to a doctor, the doctor sends us a bill. The doctor asks the patient to come back, we get two bills. It is no exaggeration to say that doctors and patients have more control over costs than does the government.
In the past, we have been mostly a bill payer. The main difficulty in determining the health budget over previous years has been accurate forecasting, and there are a number of factors that have contributed to making forecasting difficult. There has been a dramatic increase in out-of-territory per diem hospital rates, physician billings and airfares over the past few years. The department has no control over the timing or the amount of these increases. It takes five to 10 years to develop accurate historical trends. Statistical information could not be properly tracked prior to 1987 because of lack of resources and computers.
Increasing reliance on new diagnostic technology, such as CAT scans and fibre optic scoping equipment has meant increased out-patient referrals to out-of-territory hospitals offering these services. There is also a rising complexity in the work performed because of this technological change.
Changing demographics have resulted in a higher average age of the Yukon population. Although our population remains younger than the national average, it is much more comparable to the population of southern Canada now than it was 10 years ago. As the average age continues to rise, health care costs will continue to be pushed up toward national norms.
These are the facts. There are certain kinds of questions that must be asked when we are forecasting the costs. Among them are: will the number of patients referred outside for CAT scans be the same, or more, or less than last year?
If out-of-territory hospital per diem rates have risen equal to the rate of inflation for the last three years, will that trend continue, or will rates be twice as high as inflation this particular year?
Recent information shared by other western Canadian jurisdictions shows that difficulty in projecting costs is a common problem. The Northwest Territories has already spent its 1989-90 budget on hospital costs and medical travel. British Columbia incurred a very large over expenditure in medicare costs in 1988-89. Alberta is currently asking for a supplementary budget of $46 million for 1988-89 for medical claims alone.
High health costs in many of the circumpolar countries indicate we have problems in common with all of them, with Alaska and the Northwest Territories, as well as the other circumpolar nations. We have a relatively young population with a high rate of trauma and accident injuries and occupational injuries. We have excessive substance abuse. We have too much poverty and illiteracy.
This is important because, in Canada, as is common with most of the western world, ones health status is directly related to ones socio-economic status. The more poor you are, the more likely you are to be sick.
We have a high rate of violent deaths - car accidents and suicides - and we have a high incidence of family violence.
These are contributing factors to the pattern of health care costs and health care spending in the territory. I can honestly say that rising health care costs have made precise budgeting impossible, just as they have in every other jurisdiction. We have had to adjust our budgets over the past several years, using supplementaries to catch up at year-end.
This budgetary adjustment has occurred to ensure Yukon residents receive the quality care they need.
In addition to the difficulty of forecasting, there have been some problems in accounting procedures, which we talked about earlier this year. To improve the situation, the department will review its accounting practices to ensure no further deficits can be attributed to accounting methods and practices. As health services is the most vulnerable branch, it will be the first to be reviewed, and I would indicate to colleagues opposite that I expect this review completed by the next summer.
Today I am pleased to say that we are changing our approach to budgeting. The main estimates before us are designed to improve the fit between our estimates and the ultimate cost of ensuring quality health care to the people of the territory. In support of this adjustment, we are improving our forecasting methods and developing accounting models that will signal any dangerous changes in the patterns of billings. The accounting procedures are only a small part of the picture.
After very careful analysis done over the last several months, we have concluded that the base funding for health needs has been significantly under estimated, and the funds we have set aside for health have not been enough to meet the real health costs that exist in the Yukon. The extra funds that are being requested in the supplementaries and in our 1990-91 budget reflect more accurate budgeting to meet these increased health costs.
In addition, we are currently examining a range of measures that could be implemented to control costs, but not at the expense of the quality of health care in the territory. I will be announcing, later in this session, the results of our work to control costs, but we can assure every Yukon resident that our fundamental commitment to quality health care will not be sacrificed at the hands of the accountants.
These are only short-term solutions to rising health costs. We are also developing a long-term solution. As I indicated earlier, it will focus on investing in disease prevention and health promotion as the foundation for good health. Good health, ultimately, is what cost-control is based on.
Many governments are reluctant to plan too far into the future. There is a good political reason because political lives often do not last long enough to see the results of long-term planning. Many governments are hesitant to make investments, the payoff from which may be a long way down the line, perhaps even as far as a generation away. It will be necessary now to make investments in health promotion and disease prevention in order to make the problem of health care costs a generation from now a far less serious problem. If we fail to do this we will have a crippling situation to pass on to our children.
I am pleased to reassure all MLAs that this government is prepared to make these investments. We are beginning to shift the emphasis of our health care system from simply trying to cure problems to investing in health promotion and disease prevention. This will be an investment in preventing problems.
As I have recently announced, a process of public consultation is beginning that will establish the principles for a new Yukon health act. It is our belief that a health care system must integrate services, treat the whole person, and foster healthy communities, rather than simply focus on disease.
To achieve a healthy Yukon, many aspects of our health care system must be examined. We must look at public policies on poverty, housing, education, justice, mental health, public health, recreation, environment, substance abuse and child welfare. Just as it is impossible to describe completely what we are doing in economic development by looking at the budget of the Department of Economic Development, so too is it impossible to describe the health policies of the government simply by looking at what will be happening within the Department of Health and Human Resources.
Escalating health care costs in every region of the country are putting pressure on the nations health care system and causing governments to turn from a curative, to a preventive approach. As we have said before, the Yukon must do the same.
I stress that we cannot be perfectly confident that our budget projections for the coming year will meet Yukoners needs. We are making every effort to achieve more accurate projections, but it would be ludicrous to say that if, for instance, near the end of the year we discovered more funds were needed, we would just cut people off and refuse medical travel or out-of-territory care.
To all Yukon residents, let me be clear about one thing: the peoples needs will be met.
We are committed to achieving a healthier Yukon. Like other jurisdictions across Canada, we will examine our health care system with an emphasis on a preventive, rather than curative approach.
Health and human resource programs are, and must be, part of an integrated government approach. Everything from improving the quality of water and sewage services, counselling, child care, education, traditional healing practices and preserving a clean and healthy environment are essential if we are to meet the challenge of providing the best possible health care for Yukoners.
We shall, of course, maintain a high standard of curative care. The extended care and the detox investments in this budget are evidence of that. But we must not let rising costs rob us of the chance to change direction.
In conclusion, although it may be several years before we see the financial payoff of reduced costs, disease prevention will eventually bring us healthier communities in the territory. I believe healthier communities is something to which we would all subscribe.
Mr. Lang: I would like to begin by speaking further about the health situation as we see it in the Yukon and perhaps make some observations regarding the comments the Member has made. I felt that some good news in the budget that has not been highlighted was the fact that tobacco tax revenues are going to go down this coming year. This speaks well of some actions by this government and the federal government. I notice that it was touched on once by the Minister of Finance. I would have thought the Minister of Health would have expanded further on that and perhaps, express the point of view that this type of information, I would like to think, would get some press and some play as far as the territory is concerned, as opposed to being buried in a speech and never spoken of again.
That is what you call preventive health care. We are accomplishing something in that area, in part because of the expense of smoking nowadays. I gather it is close to $5.00 per package. I do not know how many people can afford that on a daily basis. I imagine it would get quite expensive if one were to pursue it in an avid manner.
Nobody in this House is opposed to health care or the availability of health care. I do not think any Member in this House should stand up and try to sound like they are the end all and be all in respect to championing health for our citizens.
The area of concern that I have in the budgeting in this area is with the extended care facility. We have budgeted money for the facility since 1985. With the government presenting a budget, it has always been our position that we take them seriously and they intend to move on projects that they have brought forward to this House for consideration once passed. We have gone nowhere with the extended care facility in five years except for a conceptual model. As well, according to a response to a question asked by the Member for Whitehorse Porter Creek West, we have a health planner hired. We budgeted $648,000 this past year for that facility. Now we are told that we do not even have architectural plans completed for this facility, yet, we are budgeting for the facility for this forthcoming year. I will be surprised if it is built this year.
Government is a question of priorities. I raise the issue of the extended care facility because I have a very touchy situation in my riding. A family is in a situation where a woman is basically an invalid. She needs a facility such as an extended care facility for care and the medical attention that she needs. Presently, society is providing inadequate - and I stress inadequate - care for her. I know there are others as well; it is tragic. There is one program that does assist and I want to give it some accolades, and that is the homemakers program. I know that the people who work in that program are dedicated. They are working with very trying situations at times, but that is not the answer to the extended care facility.
The homemaker program can only do so much. We are going to be watching very carefully and closely what is going to be done with this facility. It is a facility for all Yukoners, not just Whitehorse residents. When people need that kind of facility it has to be made available. It is a tragedy that we are here for the fifth or sixth time announcing the launch of this program. We have been assured for the past five years that it is going ahead. We do not even have the plans drawn up so we can go to contract in the beginning of the year.
There are programs in this budget that are going to be of value in years to come. Nobody will argue the need for a school or for upgrading the sewage lagoons. It is not the most romantic item to discuss but could well be the most expensive. We had better become fairly conversant with issues of this kind. We are going to be faced with issues of this kind over the next number of years.
I want to express my disappointment that there is no provision for the sewage lagoon in the City of Whitehorse. That has been a matter of debate in Question Period and in motions. There is a study going on. There is not even a request for a line item for what is probably the largest environmentally-damaging situation today: the sewage situation in Whitehorse. Yet we have budgeted nothing for it. The government has not even asked for $1.00 as a line item just in case they have to enter into an agreement with the City of Whitehorse.
Does that say to you and to the general public that this is a high priority? One can draw only one conclusion: no, it is not.
There are Members on that side of the House representing constituencies within the community of Whitehorse. The sad thing is that it is being looked at as a City of Whitehorse problem. It is not just a City of Whitehorse problem. It is a Yukon problem. Ask those people living on Lake Laberge. It is a much greater problem than the taxpayers of Whitehorse can afford.
I want to put the government on notice that we will be watching this issue very carefully. We will be pressing the government to reach an agreement with the City of Whitehorse when that time comes, and to meet its obligations and not to shirk them because we have capital block funding in place. If that is the argument then it flies for all the other communities as well. It is not fair that for those large, large capital items - whether it be Mayo, Whitehorse or Watson Lake - because of the size of them, the taxpayer will be faced with an unbearable tax burden if the standards that are in part developed between YTG and the federal government are to be met.
The other interesting point is the PCB storage facility that the government secretly put in place in the Marwell area.
The Minister is supposed to be conversant with this issue and is supposed to be up on top of it. He is the one who had a press conference three weeks prior to coming into the House to say how they were on top of hazardous waste, the steps they were taking to improve it, what the process was going to be and how things were going. It was funny at that press conference, because he never discussed or raised the question that there was going to a temporary PCB storage facility in the Marwell area. I wonder why?
As far as the budget is concerned, this past year we voted $100,000. The Minister is coming back into this House asking for an additional $78,000 for the balance of this year. It is such a high priority, and is one the government is going to put in the forefront of their political agenda, that we are going to be asked to vote $1.00 for the 1990-91 year.
I have to admit that it has to be a higher priority than the Whitehorse sewage lagoon. Nobody is going to argue that. A dollar is better than nothing, but one has to question the political agenda of the side opposite.
In his opening remarks, the Minister of Health indicated that all the side opposite did was oppose. I think the previous speaker has to be corrected. It was this side of the House that put a motion forward to support more access to the Kluane National Park. It was that side that voted for it and, six months later, came out opposed to it as a government. Then they question why we stand up and question the motives of the government.
The Minister of Renewable Resources took umbrage with the fact I raised the question of what he had done with the anti-litter motion that was brought forward by the Member for Whitehorse Riverdale North last spring and passed by this House. The Minister could not even remember that he had amended the motion. Then, they wonder why this side questions the motives of the government. I know that that day it was politically astute to vote for that motion, just like I remember the day we talked about the Whitehorse sewage lagoon. It was politically astute to vote for that motion that day. Halfway through the summer, I find out there is correspondence going back and forth, and we have gone back to the old Minister of Community and Transportation Services position. Then they wonder why this side of the House questions their motives.
At the same time, the Government Leader has the audacity to say, You people never bring anything forward. I just brought forward three substantial motions of great importance to the Yukon. They were positive motions that the government voted for. Then they turned around, because I guess their political agenda or political people in the backroom did not concur with it, and changed their positions.
I want to move back to the question of health care and the statement that was made by the Minister of Health that he is in agreement that the fundamental quality of health care will not suffer in the Yukon. I am here to say that it has, because of the fact that we have missed the window of opportunity regarding the transfer that would be in the best interests of the territory. The territory to the east of us, with whom we have always prided ourselves as being on at least an equal basis, if not ahead, constitutionally, economically and socially, has surpassed us in the area of health care. Nobody can tell me they have not. I am told they have the most modern health facility in northern Canada: $54 million worth. Now the side opposite has gone into preventive medicine, which I gather means you buy a pair of running shoes and some jogging pants and, all of a sudden, get out and do some wind sprints; I wonder if they have been over to out patients lately.
I had the misfortune of being in out patients, and I had the opportunity of sitting there for at least an hour, and had a look at that building. I am here to tell you, that building is getting past its day. Meanwhile, we are told we cannot have a health transfer because of the Indian land claims, or the other reason that was put forward was because of the employees. That does not add up at all when the Northwest Territories, which has two pending land claims, has a $54 million, brand new facility.
I am not saying we necessarily need a $54 million facility, but I am saying we could use a new facility.
What action has that side opposite taken? The Minister of Health has all of a sudden taken up athletics and is talking about preventive health. What happened to the yard stick? You get to go into a hospital that is falling down. He should go and talk to some of the staff and get their thoughts on the facility.
The Minister has the temerity to stand in this House and tell us he believes in the fundamental quality of health care in the Yukon and that is why he has not gone for the transfer of health services. We know it was offered two to three years ago. It was because of the incompetence and ineptness across the floor that we have not received that transfer.
We in the Legislature, and the majority party, decide how our money is to be distributed. It would be my recommendation that rather than give out grants - which are now called forgivable loans, which are effectively grants - and a plethora of other allocations the government has, we should develop a system of incentives for individuals, organizations or businesses if government assistance is needed.
Why I say that is that I happen to be involved in an organization that is providing a community service for some athletes. It is a volunteer organization and everybody involved has jobs and families. This is something they have taken on because nobody else will. One of their jobs is to raise money to help offset the cost of the clubs. The sad thing is the philosophy we are all falling into. The first place we look is government. It is the first topic that comes up for the purposes of funding.
It flows back to what the Leader of the Official Opposition said about our ability to go out and raise money. The first area people think of for money is government. Is that healthy? Is that a healthy way to raise our children? If you need money or you want to go to work the first place to go is the government. Look at the business community. How many businesses go to the government for money? It is surprising. It is becoming a norm.
I have constituents who talk about going into business. The first thing they ask is how they can get some money from the government - and the side opposite says we are not becoming dependent upon government.
More importantly, it comes down to our young people and what we are doing with our young people in making them so dependent upon government. The size of the government has increased more than 25 per cent since 1984, and that does not count the indirect employment through the grants systems.
I want to recite a story to you. It is a sad story, and I do not know if we can ever reverse it. It has to do with a person of native ancestry who was telling me a story of how at one time, when their sons or their daughters were getting married, if a new cabin or house was needed, everyone in the family got together, went out and obtained the necessary materials and put a house up. It was a joyous moment in the community. It was a time of levity and at the same time hard work, but it was basically a family endeavor to say that there is another member of the family and hopefully there will be grandchildren, and there are going to be more people in the community so another home is needed, which will primarily be built by the young couple who were going to live in it.
Ten years later, what is the attitude? First of all, this native elder tells me, is that the young man goes to band council and tells them that he needs a house as he is getting married. The band council does their job administratively. They go and get the money to build the house. Then the groom-to-be gets paid to build his own house, at $16 to $18 per hour.
The sad point to the story, the native elder said to me, is that he does not own the house. It is not his house. It is the Indian bands house. It is not like it was in the old days when you went out and made a contribution and when it was finished, it was yours and part of you.
I thought it was quite a revealing story by someone for whom I have very much respect. He has worked very hard all his life. After two generations of this, as he said, how can one turn it back? When you have been raised under the impression that if you need something, you go to the government and the government will help you. Do you know what the final outcome of that is? It all looks good. You may have a new colour television or a new wood stove, but somebody else owns you. When somebody else owns you, there is no pride or dignity. I think that is a sad aspect, especially in the area of housing.
I know that there is a need for housing out there, but surely we could be putting these programs in place in such a manner so that the individual or the couple could be eligible for it with a certain down payment and they go and build it themselves or purchase it themselves as opposed to propagating, especially in our smaller communities, the only alternative they have today, which is social housing.
Surely we should be trying to encourage these people who are supposedly going to be building our communities to own their own home. When you own your own home is when you have a real stake, because that is when you have to decide whether or not you want to increase taxes because you are the one who pays them.
There is an area in which I think I have to agree with the Minister of Health and Human Resources, and that is in regard to the ongoing costs. My concern about the budget that is before us, as I have expressed previously, is that we are getting more and more locked into O&M costs. As the Leader of the Official Opposition indicated, there is a nine percent increase. That is not going to account for whatever other dollars are going to have to be made available over the course of this year if, for example, we go ahead with the hazardous waste facility. That is just one thing. What about collective agreements? Those are substantial costs.
We are going to be looking at more of an increase for this forthcoming year when it is finished this time next year than what we are discussing now. We are going to be locked into these programs but, at the same time, the government has made the decision to go into fewer capital projects. I do not think it is going to have that significant an effect on our contracting in the small business community this coming year.
As time goes on, and as we get these facilities, we are going to become more and more locked into O&M costs. Subsequently, there will be a decline on our capital side. Common sense tells you that. That means fewer projects. And, of course, the final outcome is going to be that the social and economic costs are going to be borne by small business and the business community, who, in part, depend on the capital expenditures of this government, indirectly or in part, because it is so intertwined with our economy.
You see very little thought being given to areas in the budget that would create further wealth. There is some money being spent on economic development; I am not going to argue that. If you review the overall budget, you will find few dollars that you can identify that are actually going to bring money back to the government coffers, as opposed to projects that are just going to create debt and incur further costs. This is the concern I have.
There has been no discussion about energy in this budget before us - one of the very basic facets of diversifying and encouraging your economy. In this modern day of technology, you have to have the ability to provide energy at a reasonable cost in order to be competitive. It has not been mentioned. How can we talk about diversifying the economy and not talk about what we are going to do in the area of energy? All of our hydro facilities are being used to their maximum. In some cases, we are on diesel, because we do not have enough energy being generated through our hydro. I feel strongly that the government should be laying out for us and the public what the plans are in that area.
Small business is facing substantial increases every year. I am going to confine my remarks primarily to downtown Whitehorse. I notice that the government does not want to talk about the location of all the government departments. It is common knowledge that they are spread throughout the town. There is not enough government space for the government programs being provided. The effect has been that the square footage costs have gone up due to supply and demand. More importantly, there is very little space for the small business community to rent. I am talking primarily of the service industry. If you are in a small business, such as a shop, or you want to get into a small business, it is darn near impossible to get the necessary facilities. In good part, it is because of all the government departments that are renting throughout town. I just raise that as an area of concern. Space just is not available for the purpose of going into business.
Another area I want to bring to the attention of the side opposite is the question of the morale of the public service. I have a number of civil servants living in my riding, and I talk to a lot of people on any given day. I am told that the morale within the civil service is probably the worst it has ever been. Sometimes, in any work environment, it is sometimes good and sometimes bad, depending on who your boss is. I have been told by a number of people who normally do not comment one way or the other, and are not political, that they are very concerned about the workplace. When you see the changes in some of these departments, such as the Department of Education where 24 or 26 positions have turned over in less than six or eight months, you have to start questioning what is wrong and what is going on in the workplace.
I am told this is becoming more and more of a feeling that the public service itself is becoming politicized. I am told people are becoming very fearful of their jobs, to the point where they do not dare say anything, because it may not be the policy of the government, and this is internally within the government. I am not talking about people going out and speaking in a public forum.
I raise that as a fairly significant concern, and it is one we should all share. If that attitude is being promulgated throughout the civil service, it means that, first of all, the public is not being well served; secondly, that it is not in the long term best interest of the government; and, thirdly, it is a very difficult situation, if it is an unhealthy place to work. I want to express my concern with respect to the turnover of staff in some areas of the government. It is becoming more apparent that it is an area I would think the government should be addressing.
I am becoming concerned, especially when people talk about it being politicized. If that is the case, then it is a violation of the Public Service Commission Act, and that is a violation of the law because that is not supposed to happen. That is why that legislation was passed in this House and agreed to by all parties in this House. It is an area we are going to be watching very closely in the time to come.
As I started saying in my comments, there are quite a number of projects in here that I think are valid. I am going to be looking forward in debate to what the projected operation and maintenance costs of some of these projects are going to be, who is going to pay for them and where the money is going to be provided from. I direct that primarily to the Minister of Community and Transportation Services, because we are discussing some pretty significant projects in some of the areas of waste removal, as well as the area of education, where we are going ahead with a number of school facilities. It will be interesting to see what the costs are going to be on the O&M side, what plans they have, and I hope the Ministers are prepared to speak to them.
Similarly, I hope the Minister of Health and Human Resources, who is probably out jogging about now, brings forward the operation and maintenance costs of the extended care facility that I know we will be taking on. The government has a responsibility to plan things down the road. They should have a program. We should not have any hidden surprises two or three years down the road, as far as the financing of the government is concerned.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I am pleased to have this opportunity to speak to the combined budgets for this next fiscal year. This is the third consecutive year for a balanced budget. The total reduction in expenditures, compared with last years forecast, is 2.7 percent. Capital projects are estimated at $94 million, compared with a forecasted total of $116.6 million last year. The operation and maintenance, estimated at $248 million, is about a five or six percent increase over last year.
There are a number of reasons that account for this decrease in spending, particularly on the capital side. It reflects the present reality of the financial position we have been put in by the federal government with the transfer payments. Also, it is an acknowledgement of the efforts that have been made by the private sector. There is a great deal of work that has begun in the last two years by the private sector that has taken some of the pressure off the governments to bring onstream some capital projects. I am speaking about the Royal Bank project, which is currently underway, hotel expansions, improvements and, in general, a lot of small businesses throughout the territory.
In a recent article that appeared in the Klondike Sun it was noted by the city manager that this year alone 67 building permits have been issued in the community of Dawson City. This is a reflection of how well our economy is doing thanks to the efforts of the private sector, and not so much dependent upon the capital dollars provided by the Government of Yukon and the federal government.
I know this will please the Chamber of Commerce who accuse the government, with its large capital budgets, of over-heating the economy. It will certainly please the Opposition who accuse us of being a spend, spend, spend government coming in with large capital budgets over the past few years.
Having said that, there are some major projects underway in the communities thanks to an increase in capital block funding, thanks to maintaining the same level of funding for the Community Block Funding Program. In Whitehorse we have the arts centre that will be tendered soon for approximately $7 million, the new student residence at almost $2 million, the Granger School, the south highway school that has already been mentioned today, and the archives.
With that in mind, and with the replacement of the federal building on Main Street, I do not think the concern raised by the Leader of the Official Opposition about this hurting the construction industry is a real one. There will be a lot of construction work in the territory over the next two years on projects I have already noted.
That leads me to comments made by the Official Opposition with respect to the government getting too involved in the economy. We have obviously decreased our capital budget so, in that respect, we are letting the private sector bring forth their projects that are needed in this community at this time.
It was also mentioned that money is being cut in certain areas where it should not be cut. The business development fund was mentioned, although it is at the same level as last year. There will be $4 million in the community development fund. We have increased the budget for the Resource Transportation Access Program. There are a number of areas where, if the level of funding has not been maintained, it has been increased.
I would like to address some of the concerns raised by the Member for Porter Creek East. Specifically, I will address his comments on grants. He is concerned about the direction this government has been going over the last three years and the prominent role that grants have played in our economy. In a general sense, I am opposed to the giving out of grants. Very infrequently does the total amount of the grant equal the total amount of the expenditure on the project. Usually a system of incentives is already in place. For example this year we are again providing grant monies equalling $.5 million for mining exploration. That will be a small contribution to the total amount of exploration done by the min-ing community.
In Renewable Resources, a conservation fund has been started. A matching fund system is being used as incentive there. We have provided $20,000 to the Yukon Conservation Society for a recycling program; they are also putting up that amount of money.
In Tourism, the Yukon Anniversaries Commission has requested a large amount of funding from this government to operate next year. We are providing half of that requested amount, and it is shown in the budget. Certainly the onus is on societies and groups to raise a portion of their expenses from other governments, not just this one, Chambers of Commerce, private business and fund-raising incentives. The Yukon Anniversaries Commission is now heavily involved in promotional items that I am sure will provide them with a financial return.
The picture the Member portrays about the role of grants and the prominence they play in our economic society is a bit overdone, a bit melodramatic.
Another concern he raised is that he did not see many items in the budget that would realize economic return. I have just mentioned one, the grants for exploration purposes. The Prospectors Assistance Program is continuing with increased funding. I mentioned also the Resource Transportion Access Program. We are putting in a substantial amount of money this year and increasing our budget for highway improvements, particularly along the South Klondike Highway and the Campbell Highway between Faro and Carmacks, which will help the Curragh run.
In Renewable Resources the Economic Development Agreement has provided life to a lot of projects and attempted to diversify our economy. Most of them have been successful.
Tourism has substantially increased its marketing budget, and we are beginning to see some good returns on that. We have a lot of faith in the Yukon Anniversaries Commission, which will realize economic benefit for the territory.
Turning to social spending, the Opposition often claims that too much money is being spent on social programs. Bureaucracy is too large and we are becoming a welfare state. I want to remind the Opposition that they are the ones who demanded, and rightly so, an extended care facility, and the south highway school, which the Leader of the Official Opposition has raised today. He is pleased to see that the project is going forward.
I want to remind the Members opposite that their demands for social programs, for example the school at the Carcross Cutoff, will require teachers. They put in a demand for professionals in health services. Again that will fulfill the commitment of this government and please the Leader of the Official Opposition who has called for extended care -as will the same people who will address the problem that was raised by the Member for Porter Creek East with respect to his invalid constituent.
These are programs for people. They are needed; they are not only demanded by the Opposition but by most people in the territory. There is just no place to cut back, so I think that their arguments about the growth of the O&M expenditures and the growth of bureaucracy, are unfounded.
Moving to operation and maintenance expenditures in general, as I mentioned, there is modest increase of about six percent. This, however, does also involve an increase in the civil service; I will be the first to admit that. Some of my departments are increasing the size of their staff but I think we should take a look at that. Staff increases are a result of devolution. Recently, the freshwater fishery responsibility came to the Government of Yukon and four new positions were created. Due to the concern we have about the environment, we have established an environmental unit within the department. That has caused an increase in three new person years. Not surprisingly, the Opposition has been in favour of these two moves. Unfortunately, for some strange reason, they are not in favour of the accompanying person year requirements.
I just want to take a few minutes to go over my two departments of Renewable Resources and Tourism to indicate where some major expenditures were made this year and why I think they are necessary. In the Department of Renewable Resources, there is an environmental protection addition, something I have already mentioned. We are increasing expenditures this year by $192,000 and I am pleased to hear that the Leader of the Official Opposition approves of this planned expenditure. As I have already mentioned, this involves an increase of three person years.
Environmental protection education is a new expenditure of $30,000 this year. This individual, an auxiliary person year, will undertake a variety of education projects, something the Member for Riverdale North was asking for yesterday.
In the area of parks, resources and regional planning, we have a planned increase of 41 percent in expenditures for land use planning to prove the best use we can from land, to plan for wise management and to reduce future conflicts. The one in the Kluane area is expected to report some time this year; in the very near future we will be announcing a new region for the land use planning exercise.
With respect to fish and wildlife, again we show a small increase to reflect the concerns about better enforcement through the territory. I am pleased to announce that we will be initiating the deputy conservation officer program, something I made a commitment to do this spring, in an effort to improve enforcement, but also to create a greater awareness among Yukoners of the value of our wildlife and fish resources. In fisheries management we have another increase - a substantial one - and this reflects, too, our concern about the need to have some firm idea as to the health of the resource out there so that we can allocate the management of that resource accordingly.
In the area of agriculture, we are improving program services; again, an increase. In demonstration research there is a large increase of over one-third of the budget to look at a variety of techniques to demonstrate their ability to be productive here in the territory, so that we can increase our capacity to meet our own needs for food.
In the Department of Tourism, Destination Yukon, which was a promise made during the election by this government, is coming onstream and doing well in our planning. We have set aside $295,000 for that purpose and again we expect that figure will be matched by the private sector, pooling that money together to come up with new marketing techniques to attract people to the territory who want to come to the Yukon as their holiday destination. Regarding marketing programs, I have just mentioned that we substantially increased that budget by 40 percent - the Alaskan Tourism Marketing Council and Tourism North, the joint venture with Alaska and British Columbia, and again I mentioned the Yukon Anniversaries Commission: $255,000. I should mention, in conjunction with that, the community development fund, a fund with $4 million in it. There will be money available for the communities to hire individuals to coordinate special events to be held in their own communities for the purpose of celebrating or commemorating those special events.
The big subject, of course, in tourism, is the economic development agreements. I know that the Leader of the Official Opposition mentioned today that he does not hold out much hope for a new agreement. I am not that pessimistic. I cannot say at this time for certain if there will be an interim agreement for the next fiscal year, but following that I have been assured by the federal Minister that we will be entering into a new tourism development agreement.
This is the fourth major budget of this government in as many years. I think that, on the whole, despite the criticism of the Members opposite, the Yukon is doing fairly well. Certainly there are some trouble spots, for example, the United Keno Hill Mine shutdown, and it shows no sign of re-opening. But I think in a general sense, the Yukon is doing well. This has been reflected by increased retail sales, increased housing starts, increased building permits, an increased number of businesses and jobs that have been created and it has been described as one of the fastest growing economies of any jurisdiction in the country. Not surprisingly, our population has been increasing.
I think that this budget is a good one and that it continues in the same vein in that besides being a balanced budget in every sense of the word, it fulfills our election promises. It has maintained the economy and tried to improve on it and at the same time has tried to put new emphasis on social and environmental programs.
We are making a substantial commitment to settling the land claims: $1.7 million is for presentation work, $1 million for training, $500,000 for resource management structures and $250,000 to the wildlife enhancement trust.
I think, as well, it is a budget that reflects less dependence on the federal government. Right now, the federal grant represents about 57.6 percent of the Yukon governments budgetary revenues. This is down by a couple of percentage points since last year.
I should also mention that again, for the fourth year in a row, there are no planned increases in taxes. There are no increases in personal income taxes, corporate business taxes, liquor taxes, fuel taxes or tobacco taxes. I concur with the Member for Porter Creek East that I am pleased that revenues from tobacco taxes will be decreasing this year. It is a good sign of the times.
They say that with no planned increases in taxes it can only mean one thing and that is that it is an election year - that was for the benefit of the press, which unfortunately is not here.
I like this budget for all the reasons I have cited. I think it will ensure the continued growth and prosperity of the territory.
Mr. Brewster: To start off, I am flattered that the Government Leader has said that I have made a statement here that has terrified all the business people. I did not realize I have so much power. The Government Leader may think he has, but I am a very humble person. I realize most business people are not very frightened of me and if they do not like what I say they usually tell me about it. However, I am rather flattered that the Members opposite have that feeling about me. Maybe, when I get through with this speech, they will have listened to what I have said instead of ignoring it.
I am very unhappy for the Kluane area because tourism once again does not seem to be going anywhere. Regardless of what the tourism branch says, tourism is down in the Yukon. When a deputy minister is publicly fighting in the paper with business people, trying to justify his position, it kind of shows that there is something seriously wrong.
I would like to point out a few things. Did the department take into consideration the fact that a large number of Americans crossing the border this year were going to Valdez to work? They were workers and a lot of them were broke. The lodges up and down the road had to help them out by giving them a tire or cigarettes or something, or give them enough gas to get there. I cannot get an exact count on it, but it is up into the thousands of dollars.
Did the department ever take into consideration the people who drive up from Skagway, or Americans across the border who come up here to see a show and go back? They are not really tourists, and there is more and more of this going on all the time. The people who come in from Haines, Alaska, into Haines Junction are American tourists across the border, but they are not really tourists. The hockey teams that come from Juneau call the arena in Haines Junction their home arena. They are sometimes there for a week with their wives. This is 20 or 30 people at a time. They are not tourists. They are our own friends in our own country, yet they are counted in your figures, because there is nowhere where those figures show where that is taken out.
The Kluane National Park figures are down. It is really funny. Everybody is down but the Department of Tourism here. In 1988, the figures were 78,314. That is between two visiting places. In 1989, up to the end of September, they were down to 70,109. There is a duplication here, and they tell me it is about 20 percent of those who stopped at both places. Therefore, if you knock off 20 percent, the statistics are not overwhelming for a country that is trying to live on tourism.
When I see an official of Tourism at a hearing of the National Parks, when they announced there would be no roads, throwing his arms around the wilderness people and, on the other side are the three people who own the three big tour companies that have kept the Yukon going for years, I tell you, somebody better shake up the tourism branch and shake it up fast, because we are in trouble, and I do not mean maybe.
The Minister says the Tatshenshini should be closed for wilderness travel, although these wilderness people have the national parks with a much better river, the Alsek, which they do not use because they cannot handle it. The Minister of Tourism made the following statement. The Tatshenshini economic value as a recreational river is well established. It is valued at between $4 million and $5 million annually by one recent study.
It is really funny that that study was made by Craggy Windy, not by this government, and they projected the figures. I have the rest of the study. They did not tell you everything that was in it. In fact, if that statement was true, that there is $4 million to $5 million in direct and indirect revenue generated by trips on this river, we would not have a wilderness experience any longer. If these figures were really true, what we would have is a water slide, the same as in Disneyland, where there would be 20,000 or 30,000 people a year.
When they make statements, they better look at what is going on in these things. They are playing around with figures on the computer. I was once told by a person who knew about computers, and I do not, that you can take any computer and, if you are thinking one way, that computer will bring out figures the other way.
Just before I leave the Craggy Windy subject, I was just called out a few minutes ago because Craggy Windy announced they are putting $10 million more into Craggy Windy, no thanks to the attitude of this government. All this business comes directly back to this town, much more even than Haines Junction, but Haines Junction is quite happy to get a little bit of it.
I have gone out of my way and went to Banff to pick up Canadian Park Services statistics. They are very interesting. The visitor count of Banff is 3.4 million. People keep saying there are too many people who go to Banff. Nobody tells you the truth on that one, either. That was point 13. Point 14 is that of park visitors, through traffic - because of the Trans Canada Highway - 50 percent do not even stop in Banff. That brings us down to 1.7 million. When they tell you they are too crowded, they grab the big number, 3.4 million, but it is not a true figure.
Under the total use of back country trails, and this is the 40 Mile Creek, the Elk Summit, Cascade, Red Earth Creek, Paradise Valley, Briant Creek and Mosquito Creek, all of which, incidentally, I have been on as a boy - all of them. The best they could do on wilderness travel is 17,846 people.
The foot trails, where people go out and travel for half a day, or a couple of hours - Johnson Canyon, Lake Agnes, Marine Lake Shore and Sunshine - were 206,634. In other words, these people like to go out for two hours, but they want to come back to that hotel, have a beer that night and have a shower.
The country sites, the RVs and that, were 152,444. When you add all that up, it does not even come to half of the 1.7 million who are staying in the motels and such things as this.
Compare this with our 435,000 who go across the border, and see how many wilderness people we have out of that. Just prorate it and see what happens.
Another false thing that has been going on in the Banff area is overcrowding. Three percent of Banff is commercialized. The rest is still considered wilderness. These are not my figures; they are the National Parks figures. I was there this year and I made a trip back there this fall. Very little has changed since I was a boy, and that is quite a few years back, except that they now have fences up to keep the animals from coming on the highway because they like to eat the salt they put on the highway. Where they do not have fences you can see sheep and everything else walking on the road. They all survive.
Very plainly, Banff has a lot of back trails. There are not that many wilderness people. Most of them like to come home at night.
In my area, we have two families from Switzerland. They bring in people from Germany who consider themselves wilderness travelling people. They go out, but they want to be back in at night. They might go for one night, but they want to be in the lodge the next night. This is what they consider wilderness travel. There are two types of wilderness travel. People should be looking at this before they start jumping around and changing the whole situation in the Yukon.
There is room for the wilderness, the same as in Banff. It and mining have to work together. If we continue this attitude of insulting the miners, they are going to leave and we are going to have problems.
I am amazed and disappointed because we put Motion No. 25 on the floor and it was voted for unanimously in this House. I am not going to read these letters because the Speaker would probably call me out of order. I will read you what the motion said: THAT it is the opinion of this House that the Government of Yukon should urge Parks Canada to improve road access into Kluane National Park in order to enable more tourists to see the sights and to prolong their stay in the Yukon.
We have a letter sent to Mayor Sue Burton by the Hon. Margaret Joe. We have one sent by the Assistant Deputy Minister of Community and Transportation Services. We have one by the Hon. Piers McDonald. We have one by the Hon. Roger Kimmerly and we have one by the Hon. Dave Porter. Every one of them supported this motion for access into Kluane National Park. To go beyond that, we have one from our present Member of Parliament in Ottawa, Audrey McLaughlin, supporting this and thinking that something should be done. I would like to table those. They are very interesting.
What happened is that the new Minister changed horses in midstream. What is the sense of us putting a motion forward in this House? Everyone votes on it and sends letters out agreeing to it. Then, all of a sudden a new Minister comes in and everything changes. There is no doubt in my mind that if this government had helped me one little bit, we would have that road access. The bureaucrats knew that they had us divided and that this government was going to run and hide. They would not vote against it in here, because the press might have seen them. They sneak around the back and do it. The Hon. Dave Porter, who was one of the most honourable of the Ministers, made it plain that he was going to help and that there was going to be a briefing. There was no briefing. They came later and then they turned around. You cannot lose that way. You see what the report is and then you put your brief in. There is no way you are going to lose that way.
I am also very concerned about the Alaska Highway. There is $10 million budgeted for the Alaska Highway. The Minister of Finance now stands up and says we do not know how much money we are getting from Ottawa. Have we got $10 million to repair that road? All that is is a repair job, patching up the holes again, as we did last year and the year before.
We only have a few months until the 31st of March. Are we going to have $10 million to do it? It is time something was done about the Alaska Highway. I have been yelling this for eight years and for eight years nobody listened to me. We are getting closer to the centennial. We are going to blow money on the centennial but we are not going to have any road.
I will just read one more line on the Alaska Highway. I have probably said enough. I see the Minister of Finance writing. The Government Leader will undoubtedly attack me as well as the Minister of Finance.
This was in the Fort St. John paper and Peace River Block News: Auditor General Ken Dye says the Alaska Highway is a mess. Once more, says Dye, the lack of long-term plans and funds are delaying divestiture of the Northwest High System from the federal Public Works Department to the Yukon and B.C. Governments.
In his annual report, released earlier this week, Dye stated that the transfer of the Northwest Highway System to the territory and British Columbia is unlikely without major financial concession by the federal government.
The lack of long-term strategic plans for capital roads for the Northwest Highway System has made it difficult to determine the annual funding levels that are and will be required until the investitures can be negotiated. It also made it difficult to properly maintain and construct the highway and roads at acceptable safety levels and design standards, the report says.
The transfer of the highway system was directed by the federal Treasury Board in 1973, Dye noted when contacted at his Ottawa home by telephone.
And here we are in 1989 and the feds still own it, he said.
Dye was concerned that there was now a big stand-off between Ottawa and the territorial and B.C. governments, and this has prevented the quick divestiture of the road system.
So, we have the territory saying, well take it if you upgrade and pave it, and the feds are saying, weve been taking care of it for years.
It was sometimes vague, but it was taking care of it.
Commenting only that it would take big bucks to upgrade the roadway, Dye refused to comment on how the stand-off should be resolved.
Its a political thing of trade-offs and its not in the realm of auditors. I think really the answer is a political solution.
We are just pointing out that the implementation (of the Treasury Boards 1973 directive) is not working and we should get on with it. Weve been horsing around with this for 16 years... we won the Second World War in just five.
The cost of capital improvements to the highway are covered by Ottawa.
The Yukon and B.C. governments are reimbursed by Ottawa for maintaining their sections of the highway.
I can only conclude by saying that I think, as Mr. Dye said, that it is about time that we get on with this thing and quit fooling around and get political - get down there and get this thing straightened around. Lets get some tourism back into the Kluane area.
Ms. Hayden: I am pleased to be associated with this budget: one that emphasizes the importance of social and environmental programs for this territory. This budget shows that we can live within our means without abandoning our social responsibilities and commitments.
Like many of my constituents who live on fixed incomes - or perhaps more accurately, diminishing incomes- in relation to escalating costs, we are showing restraint. We are proving that we can fulfill our commitments for social and environmental action to the benefit of our constituents. We are living within our means.
There are many child care centres and family day homes in my riding as there are in many other Whitehorse ridings. This government has said it is committed to quality, affordable, comprehensive child care in spite of the broken promises of funding for expanded child care services on the part of the federal Progressive Conservatives. This government has had the courage to face up to the need and has had the fairness to fund what the people of the Yukon have so clearly said is important to them. We have not abandoned the economy.
In fact, I want to thank the Minister of Finance for his honest, fair and balanced approach to budgeting - the budgeting priorities in a time when we are facing serious cuts in transfer payments. It is because this government has managed well that we are able to enhance services now when others might be tempted to hide behind the federal Ministers coattails and cut rather than improve the programs that are the foundation of our Yukon society.
We cannot, I submit, and should not have economic development without considering the environment. We cannot have positive economic development without a healthy and equitable work force. We are committed to the concept of equality of opportunity for women and men. Affordable, comprehensive, accessible child care is fundamental to that goal.
I was personally involved with the public consultation process through the green paper on child care. It is always rewarding to see a project become a reality. The commitment of $400,000 for child care services means that many of the opinions and hopes of members of the public who contributed to the consultation process will be turned into reality. I know this is welcome news to many of my constituents: those who run child care programs and those parents and children who use them.
Sound environmental planning will mean a healthier happier life for all Yukoners. In my own constituency, the struggle for park land is paramount. We cannot build cities and not provide for outdoor recreation, for room to breathe something other than the exhaust from automobiles.
I want to congratulate the many people in my constituency who have taken the issue of recycling to heart and have worked in the development of an aluminum can recycling project.
Many others in Whitehorse South Centre turned up to pick up litter at the Jim Light Arena site. Others consistently gather litter along the escarpment and along the river bank. It is this kind of community commitment that has taken hold everywhere in our territory.
Recreational space and recreational programming is, among other things, important to happy, non-violent family life. This government has spoken to the issue of family violence many times. Within the past week we have spoken strongly about the government action toward family violence prevention. This budget shows that we have taken social steps toward providing the financial support necessary to follow through on this commitment.
The added funding for the planning of a new detoxification centre for alcohol and drug abusers is welcome news. We must never under estimate the role alcohol plays in violent behaviour. I am also reminded that this last great bastion of individualism is also known by social workers in the lower mainland as the last stop on the alcoholic circuit, before people end up on Skid Road. I believe that the detoxification centre for our territory is very important.
The budget also shows that capital spending in Whitehorse is alive and healthy: the archives building is being completed; there is money for a new arts centre; schools are being built and the private sector is active downtown in the development of the Royal Bank building. The federal government, of course, is putting up the new federal building development.
The social programs that we are defining today will go a long way to make up for shortfalls in the past. A revitalized Yukon Housing Corporation has an increased budget for social housing, and make no mistake, social housing is very important to the people who live in my constituency. Joint venture projects and the Yukon Housing Corporations owner-improved housing program is one of the projects to be commended. The joint venture program at Yukon Housing Corporation is healthy for the private sector and is a positive development for government and industry to work together, for the betterment of community life.
Our commitment for human resource development is also important in leading the way in employee training, promoting women in management and affirmative action programs. The goal that we hope to reach is a sharing of power amongst individuals, genders and races. We hope to set the example of how this sharing can happen and how everyone can benefit.
My constituents will also be pleased to hear that $50,000 has been allocated toward the creation of a Capital City Commission. Whitehorse no doubt will be enhanced, beautified and perhaps even have a park or two in its downtown area. Certainly, it will be more widely promoted as the capital of the territory. Even more tourists, conventions and other events will be drawn here and the economic spinoff is quite promising.
In spite of the criticism that there is too much emphasis on operations and maintenance in this budget, I want to stress that operation and maintenance means services to people. Operation and maintenance supports the services that allow the elderly people in our communities to stay in their own homes, services like home care, snow removal and other programs. Operation and maintenance provides for teacher training. It provides for the services so that families can stay together and work through their problems together.
It provides for a broad range of social programs.
In short, O&M is for people. It is not just buildings and maintenance. Let us not be fooled into believing that the emphasis has been wrongly placed. It is quite the contrary. The emphasis is exactly where it should be. It is on the people of the Yukon. All of the people of the Yukon.
Many of my constituents have asked me about the extended care facility. Over $3 million is nothing to sneeze at. These funds will be put toward the construction of a new extended care facility and improvements to Macaulay Lodge. Older Yukoners and their families are pleased with this commitment.
The Yukon is a good place to live because of the caring and commitment to social programs of this government. The Yukon is a healthy place to live because of this governments approach toward the environment.
It is the social and environmental programs of this government that make it possible for people to live where their hearts are, here in the Yukon. I am proud to say we can manage all this and a sound economy as well.
Mr. Joe: I want to congratulate the Minister of Finance for putting together a budget that works for the people of the Yukon.
We are facing large reductions in our funding from the federal government and still the Minister has developed a sound budget. This is a good government.
I am pleased that assistance to trappers will continue. Trapping is a way of life for many people in the Yukon. It is a way of life we must support. The Trap Exchange Program is one way to do this.
I am also pleased that there will be work done on the Robert Campbell Highway. My constituents, the people of Carmacks, know that the money set aside in the budget for this work will be well spent. Many people use this highway and repairs are badly needed. Tourists will find the road better for travelling too.
For many years, I have said that it is important for the people in the Yukon and the government to work together. It is important for bands and town councils to work together.
It is important for the Government of Yukon to listen to what communities need. This budget shows that this government has listened well. We have said social programs are important. We have said the environment is worth protecting. This budget provides the money to live up to our promises.
My riding will be pleased there is funding in this budget for the installation of guardrails along the Yukon crossing section of the Klondike Highway. This construction will take place in the 1990 construction season. The people in my riding and others who travel this section of the road know the guardrails will make the road much safer.
The $250,000 that has been committed to the wildlife trust fund in the land claims money is another indication of the importance this government has placed on settling the land claim in the best interests of all the people in the Yukon.
It is only by working together - government, people and First Nations - that we will be able to finally resolve this important issue.
The economy of the Yukon is steady. The future of the Yukon is bright because of the fair and honest approach being taken by this government.
My constituents in Carmacks can look forward to highway construction, homestead land development and an increase in block funding. Street lighting will be improved in the Indian village, and there will also be road improvements.
Also, people in Pelly Crossing are looking forward to better street lighting in the coming fiscal year. The fire alarm system will be improved, and there will be street upgrading projects.
The community development will continue to be an important source of financial support for many of the people in my riding.
This program, developed by this government, is another example of how the government and the communities can work together.
Most of the bands in the Yukon have been able to complete projects because of the community development fund. It has been used by CYI and it has been a source of the capital for the Yukon Indian Womens Association. Many communities in Yukon have been able to make improvements because of the community development fund.
To end, I feel this budget is one that will serve the people in my riding well. Social programs and the environment are important to the economic health of our territory.
Mrs. Firth: I move debate be now adjourned.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Member for Whitehorse Riverdale South that debate be now adjourned.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move the House 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. Monday, December 4, 1989.
The House adjourned at 5:16 p.m.
The following Sessional Paper was tabled November 28, 1989:
Motor Vehicle Licence Plate Design (Byblow)
The following Filed Document was tabled November 28, 1989:
Letters to Sue Burton, Mayor of Haines Junction, regarding improved road access into Kluane National Park (Brewster)