Monday, December 4, 1989 - 1:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
We will proceed at this time with Prayers.
Tribute to Audrey McLaughlin: Leader of federal New Democratic Party
Hon. Ms. Joe: I rise on a point of privilege today. I rise on behalf of all the people of the Yukon who have voted for, and believed in, Audrey McLaughlin, the Yukons Member of Parliament.
I congratulate her on becoming the fourth Leader of the federal New Democratic Party. The NDP has made history with the election of the first woman leader of a national political party. The Yukon has shown, once again, that its elected representatives play a central role in leading and building this country.
Mr. Phelps: I would like to mention the telegram I sent to Audrey McLaughlin on Saturday night after her win. It reads: Congratulations on a well-run campaign and a good win. It is from me, as the Yukon Progressive Conservative Party Leader.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: On a sadder note, I would like to note for Members the death from cancer of the mother of our colleague, the Hon. Maurice Byblow, Member for Faro and Minister of Community and Transportation Services. I am sure all Members would join me in extending condolences to our colleague to mourn the passing of his parent.
Mr. Phelps: Also on a sad note, I would like to mention the passing away of John Devries father, Wilfred Devries. He passed away on December 1, in Jarvis, Ontario. Mr. Devries emigrated from Holland in the 1940s and raised seven children on his farm outside of Jarvis. He was 75 years old. I wish to extend our condolences to the Devries family at this time.
Speaker: Are there any Introduction of Visitors?
Are there any Returns or Documents for tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I have for tabling two items: one is the Public Accounts for 1989-90 and the second is a legislative return respecting education.
Speaker: Are there any Reports of Committees?
Are there any Petitions?
Introduction of Bills.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
Bill No. 102: Introduction and First Reading
Mr. Brewster: I move that Bill No. 102, entitled Act to Amend the Workers Compensation Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Member for Kluane that Bill No. 102, entitled Act to Amend the Workers Compensation Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Motion for introduction and first reading of Bill No. 102 agreed to
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I apologize for being late in the orderly routine but I wonder if I could, with your permission, table the Annual Report of the Government of Yukon for the years 1988-89 today.
Speaker: Notices of Motion for the Production of Papers.
NOTICES OF MOTION FOR THE PRODUCTION OF PAPERS
Mrs. Firth: I have a motion for the production of papers that reads
THAT an order of this Assembly be issued for copies of all contracts signed between the Government of Yukon and Barry Stuart for the years 1985 to 1989, inclusively.
Speaker: Notices of Motion.
NOTICES OF MOTION
Mr. Phelps: I move
THAT it is the opinion of this House that the Government of Yukon should consider amending the procedure for conferring the Home Owner Grant so that the grant would be deducted from the tax payable rather than paid out to the home owner after the tax has been paid.
THAT it is the opinion of this House that the Government of Yukon should consider the feasibility of providing a second television channel during the next fiscal year to those communities currently in receipt of one channel.
THAT it is the opinion of this House that there should be more public participation in land development plans in rural Yukon and that such participation should be at all stages of preparing the land development plans.
Mrs. Firth: I give notice of the following motion
THAT it is the opinion of this House that the Yukon Human Rights Commission draft policy, entitled Employment Related Medical Testing, be amended by deleting the sentence in the first paragraph of the introduction, which reads as follows:
For example, testing for drugs, alcohol or suspicion of AIDS and/or HIV virus before or after a person has been hired may be a violation under the Yukon Human Right Act on the basis of disability.
I give notice of the following motion
THAT it is the opinion of this House that the Human Rights Commissions spending authorities be subject to the Financial Administration Act, as are all other government departments or agencies which, according to the Financial Administration Act, includes any corporation, board, commission or committee established under any act.
Mr. Nordling: I give notice of the following motion:
THAT this House reprimand the Government of Yukon for its handling of the negotiations for the transfer of health services from the federal government.
Mr. Lang: I move
THAT it is the opinion of this House that the Government of Yukon be reprimanded for holding and storing PCB wastes in a heavily populated area contrary to a motion that was unanimously agreed to by this House.
Mr. Phillips: I give notice of the following motion:
THAT the Yukon Legislative Assembly is opposed to the goods and services tax as proposed by the Government of Canada.
Mr. Brewster: I give notice of motion
THAT this House urges the Government of Yukon to accept and approve Project 92 and show a more positive involvement in the 1992 Alaska Highway Anniversary.
I give notice
THAT this House urges the Federal Minister of Public Works to upgrade the section of the Alaska Highway between Haines Junction and Beaver Creek as the top priority in the Government of Canadas Alaska Highway budget allocation.
I give notice of motion
THAT this House reprimands the Government of the Yukon for replacing the gold panner with the fireweed and the words the Klondike with the tourism slogan the Magic and the Mystery on Yukon motor vehicle licence plates; and
THAT it is the opinion of this House that the gold panner and the words Home of the Klondike should be restored to their rightful places on the Yukon motor vehicle licences.
Air quality study in Whitehorse: radon gas exceeding recommended levels
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I rise today to inform this House of the preliminary results of an air quality study being undertaken in Whitehorse, and the actions we are taking to assist homeowners in preventing and alleviating indoor air pollution problems.
Today, we are becoming increasingly aware of the impact that energy use, particularly fossil fuels, has on the global environment. We also know that improving the energy efficiency of our homes is one of the most cost-effective ways of reducing the environmental impact of energy use. The Yukon government supports energy saving through the Saving Energy Action Loan (SEAL) program, which provides interest-free loans for improving the energy efficiency of residences and commercial buildings.
While energy saving is an important goal that can help in maintaining the health of our outdoor environment, it is essential that it be undertaken in a manner that does not compromise the quality of our indoor environment. This is of particular concern in the Yukon, since we spend a great part of our time indoors during the winter months.
For that reason, the Yukon energy and mines branch contracted earlier this year with the Yukon Home Builders Association (YHBA) to conduct a study of the indoor air quality in selected Whitehorse homes.
This interest in the quality of air we breathe is clearly shared by many Whitehorse residents. More than 200 homeowners came forward in response to advertisements asking for volunteers for the study. From these volunteers, 75 homes were selected throughout the Whitehorse area. Testing identified several potential air quality problems, the most serious of which is radon. Preliminary test results showed that a number of the homes tested exceeded the recommended levels for radon established by Health and Welfare Canada.
Radon is a colorless, odorless, potentially carcinogenic gas naturally occurring in most soils, which is produced by the breakdown of radioactive material. It typically enters buildings through cracks in the foundation or through exposed soil and rock in crawl spaces. This problem is certainly not unique to the Yukon. Indeed, radon is found worldwide.
Nonetheless, radon poses a potentially serious health risk to Yukon people. It is a risk that this government recognizes, and is already taking actions to address. I will now briefly outline those actions.
The people involved in the testing will be informed of the results.
Testing for radon will now be done as part of the SEAL programs energy audit process.
For those people who have already taken part in SEAL, information will be made available on how to have their homes or businesses tested for radon.
For those homeowners and business owners who discover high levels of radon, recommendations will be made on how to reduce radon levels.
Work to reduce radon levels is typically inexpensive, normally involving sealing to prevent radons entry, and ventilating properly to reduce its concentration. As it happens, these types of renovations are already available for funding under SEAL. In many instances, it seems, work to improve the energy efficiency of a building will also reduce the levels of radon.
This government is also committed to providing more information on radon to the public. I am pleased to inform this House that the Department of Economic Developments energy and mines branch will be undertaking a number of public education initiatives in the new year.
We will release the report, along with a summary, early in the new year.
We will also be sponsoring an evening seminar on radon for the general public, and a technical session in conjunction with the Yukon Home Builders Association, for builders and contractors.
Energy and Mines staff members will be available to answer technical questions on radon and can provide current information from other jurisdictions, such as Manitoba, where radon is also a concern.
We will also be gathering more information on air quality, both within Whitehorse and around the Yukon. Air quality testing is already being undertaken in schools and other public buildings. Further action will be taken across the Yukon under the guidance of an intergovernmental working group.
To conclude, I am pleased to say that we are taking immediate action to asses and improve the indoor air quality in Yukon homes and businesses.
Question re: Licence plates
Mr. Phelps: I have some questions about the new motor vehicle licence plates that were unveiled in this House last week, which are controversial to say the least. We are particularly upset by the removal of the gold panner from the licence plate, and my question to the Minister of Tourism is whether he, or anyone from this government, consulted with the Tourism Industry Association about this drastic change?
Hon. Mr. Webster: The answer is no.
Mr. Phelps: The licence plate is seen throughout North America and Europe from time to time. It is an important component of our publicity for tourism in the Yukon. Can the Minister tell us why he or his government did not consult with the tourism association about this change?
Hon. Mr. Webster: One of the reasons why we did not consult with the tourism industry on this matter is that when you start to consult with one organization, you have to consult with another and another and so on. We all know how difficult it is to come to a consensus on a new design for a licence plate or a new logo for an association, et cetera.
Mr. Phelps: Is this a new policy of the government? When there is likely to be a controversy, you do not consult with any associations or Yukoners before making a decision?
Hon. Mr. Webster: No, it is not.
Question re: Licence plates
Mr. Phelps: From where I sit, the change seems to be particularly insensitive to Dawson City, the heart of the Klondike. I am wondering if the Minister consulted with the Klondike Visitors Association about removing the gold panner from the licence plate?
Hon. Mr. Webster: Again, the answer is no. I should point out to the Member opposite that this change is to reflect the wilderness character of the Yukon and the new licence plate is consistent with the Yukon tourism strategy. I suggest that we try them out more openly to exhibit that wilderness aspect of the territory.
Mr. Phelps: I take it then that the Minister did not consult with the municipal council of Dawson City about removing the gold panner from the licence plate?
Hon. Mr. Webster: Again, the Member is correct.
Mr. Phelps: Does the Minister feel in his heart of hearts that the removal of the gold panner is an insult to the placer mining industry, to Skookum Jim, Tagish Charlie and Chief Henderson who discovered gold in the Klondike?
Hon. Mr. Webster: No, I do not consider it an insult.
Question re: Licence plates
Mr. Phillips: My question is for the Minister of Tourism and relates to the change to the Yukon licence plate. In four weeks, we are entering into the 1990s. It is the era of the gold rush in the Yukon. It is a significant event in Yukons history. This government is doing away with the gold panner and the Klondike theme. Why have we decided to remove two of the more significant items from our licence plate as we are entering the 100-year celebration of the gold rush era?
Hon. Mr. Webster: We are doing it for a number of reasons. One is to promote tourism through the promotion of the wilderness aspect of the territory. I would like to remind the Member that this is for a five-year cycle. Licence plates are good for five-year cycles. We have made a commitment for the next cycle, 1995 to the year 2000, during which time there will be centennial celebrations to commemorate the discovery of Klondike gold and the Klondike Gold Rush, to return to the gold panner theme. That was made clear in the ministerial statement. Unfortunately, the Members opposite refuse to acknowledge that. We have not completely abandoned the gold panner. We are temporarily replacing one symbol of the Yukon with another. It is a very attractive plate. It will draw a lot of attention to the Yukon. It will do much to improve tourism.
Mr. Phillips: In 1986, a report, entitled the U.S. Pleasure Travel Marketing Canadian Potential, said that U.S. visitors already believe that all of Canada is beautiful and possesses great outdoors. It also stated in that report that what Canada should attempt to do is to develop themes if they do not have themes in certain areas. We have a theme in the Yukon. In light of this information, why would they decide to remove the internationally-known gold panner and the Klondike theme from our license plate? That is our theme. We are entering into the 1990s, gold rush era, in four weeks.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I thought that I had carefully explained this. This is a five-year cycle we are entering. The last five years of this decade we will be in the Klondike centennial era, at which time the gold panner will return. The gold panner and home of the Klondike is only one theme. There are others. One that has caught on and has become very popular in the last few years is The Magic... The Mystery. We have more than one theme to accurately portray the Yukon and that we want to promote. We have more than one symbol. If the Member has great objections to our proposal to change the licence plate, I would suggest that he remember that we are only requiring one licence plate to appear on the rear of the vehicle. He has the ability to apply the gold panner plate on the front of his vehicle. We can then promote two different symbols of the territory and two different themes.
Mr. Phillips: I would question the legality of that. If you are driving in another province and you have one number on the front of your vehicle and one number on the back, I think you would be pulled over immediately. The government has decided to remove the slogan The Klondike and replace it with the slogan The Magic... The Mystery. The slogan itself leads us to ask what the mystery is. Did the Minister or any official in his government consult with the Klondike Visitors Association or the Tourism Industry Association with respect to changing this slogan? If they did not consult, why not?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I have already answered that: we did not consult. On the matter about the legality of putting a licence plate on the front of the vehicle when you are only required to have one on the rear: many people already purchase the gold panner licence plate of the Yukon with the four-zeros number on it as a souvenir. It is quite legal for that to be on the front of the vehicle. The whole argument about the legality of having a licence plate on the front of the vehicle is, like the Member opposite, out-to-lunch.
Question re: Vehicle licence fees
Mr. Lang: On the same subject, I would like to direct a couple of questions to the Minister of Finance, and they have to do with the fees that were announced in the ministerial statement. It was overshadowed with the magic and the mystery. Was the Minister of Finance aware of the 44 percent increase in motor vehicle licence fees prior to tabling his budget?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Yes, there is no magic or mystery about that. The fee increase that was announced in the budget speech and reflected in the main estimates was known to me, as I am sure the Member is well aware.
Mr. Lang: To pursue this a little further, it seems like we have a different position on different days. When the budget came down, the Minister of Finance took great pains to tell everybody in the Yukon that there was not going to be an increase in taxation. If he knew there was going to be a 44 percent increase in licence fees, why did he make the statement that there would be no increase in taxation?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Obviously for the Member, the issue is quite complex, and it is complex enough to be beyond his comprehension. The fee increase is exactly that; it is a charge for a service. Taxes are to extract revenue for general government purposes. That is the reason the distinction was made. The distinction was not only made in the budget speech, which indicated the existence of both the no-taxes phrase and the fee increase for licence plates, but revenue projections are also recognized in the revenue allotment in the main estimates book the Member received last week.
Mr. Lang: I am sure it was an oversight that the Minister did not highlight that in his budget speech. In view of the fact we are now on a five-year cycle with the new magic and the mystery, could the Minister bring forward to this House how much the design and cost of producing this new plate is going to cost the territory, in view of the fact that he and everyone else is going to have to undergo a 44 percent increase in rates?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Member is not listening to the answers. As I have just indicated, the notation about the licence plate fee increases that were announced in the budget were highlighted in the budget as something for Members to take note. There is no magic and there is no mystery about that.
As I indicated as Minister of Community and Transportation Services some time ago, the creation of new licence plates was something the territory did require, because the useful term of the licence plate we currently have was coming to an end. There were too few numerical combinations for the system to handle and, consequently, an entirely new design had to be created for a licence plate. As we have come to the end of that particular cycle, and are beginning another cycle, Members were given notice some years ago that a new licence plate would be required. In fact there were some design proposals put forward. I am sure Members will remember the black raven and the paddlewheeler as two items that were actually noted in the Whitehorse media.
Question re: Family violence, staff recruitment
Mr. Nordling: In a ministerial statement made on November 22, the Minister of Health and Human Resources announced his department had hired two new staff people to work exclusively on new programs in the area of family violence. On April 18, 1989, in budget debate, the same Minister announced that, and I quote, There are two new term positions for family violence programs.
Was the Ministers ministerial statement a re-announcement of those two positions, which were included in last years budget?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The ministerial statement, as I recall it, was the announcement of implementation of two new programs that would be delivered by the two staff people mentioned by the Member.
Mr. Nordling: I am not sure that I caught all of the Ministers mumbled answer. I would like to know if we have four full-time people in Health and Human Resources working exclusively on family violence.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am sure there are many more than four people working on family violence in the Department of Health and Human Resources. As to the adjective exclusively, I could not tell the Member exactly how many because there are people, for example, working in the child protection area, who would be dealing, in by far the largest part of their work, with the consequences of family violence. The ministerial statement, I repeat, was about two new program elements that we were putting into place effective November 1 - I believe that was the operating day. That was new information for the House, provided in a timely and appropriate way.
Mr. Nordling: Are the two new positions announced November 22 term positions or are they permanent positions?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Not having my budget book before me, this being Question Period and not the estimates debate...
Some Hon. Member: You made a ministerial statement about it.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Forgive me, Mr. Speaker, but it is not even permissible in the rules to ask questions about the nature of -
Mr. Speaker, the rules of Question Period - if Members across the way would care to read them - are about policy questions on urgent matters. If the Members want to ask questions that require me to check the estimate book, I will be happy to take notice and answer them either tomorrow or when we get into the estimates debate.
Mr. Nordling: Are they permanent or term positions?
Question re: Judge/land claims negotiator
Mrs. Firth: The government does have convenient memory lapses.
My question is for the Minister of Justice, and it is in regard to a statement she made in the Legislature on November 23, 1989, with respect to sabbatical leaves for judges and in particular to questions we were asking about the land claims negotiator. I will quote the Ministers comment; it was in regard to the regulations for judges sabbaticals. On page 569 of Hansard, November 23, 1989, the Minister said, and I quote, The regulations have already been approved and those are the regulations we will be dealing with as we do for all other sabbaticals in this government.
Could the Minister clarify and expand the answer she gave that day?
Hon. Ms. Joe: She has quoted something from Hansard that I had said, and I am not exactly sure what it is that she is trying to clarify. The regulations that I was talking about were the regulations for sabbaticals for judges, and that is all the regulations had provision for: sabbaticals for judges. There may have been some interpretation in the response that indicated that it could be for other employees, but the regulations themselves were for sabbaticals for judges.
Mrs. Firth: Obviously the Minister does not remember what she said; she has a bit of a problem remembering things. The comment said that the sabbatical that she made for judges was the same as for all other employees. Does the Minister agree that for all other public servants and teachers, a sabbatical is for educational purposes only?
Hon. Ms. Joe: In my response to the Member I was referring also to other benefits that could be provided for other government employees. I think that she may be trying to misinterpret the kind of things I said; she does things like that quite often. I was referring to other benefits that employees were provided under this government, whether they be teachers, judges, or other government employees. There are certain benefits that are allowed them.
Mrs. Firth: It is interesting, I do not have to come to the House to apologize for whatever it is the Minister said I did.
Does the Minister agree that for judges, a sabbatical can be for any purpose?
Hon. Ms. Joe: The sabbaticals that are provided for judges are provided on approval of the Chief Judge. It is expected that those judges will use that sabbatical for educational purposes.
Question re: Judge/land claims negotiator
Mrs. Firth: The Minister said in the House that the regulations that she was bringing forward for judges sabbaticals were the same as we do for all other sabbaticals in this government. She stood up in the House and said that very clearly. There is no misinterpretation or misrepresentation. That is what she said. The policy that she approved, the Judicial Sabbatical Regulations reads, in Clause 2(2), that ...a sabbatical leave under subsection 1 shall be for a continuous period of not more than 12 consecutive months, shall be scheduled by the Chief Judge and shall be for such educational or other purposes as the Chief Judge may approve.
Nowhere in the rules or regulations regarding sabbaticals for teachers or public servants does it say that it can be for other purposes. We are talking about paid leave for educational purposes only. Will the Minister agree that she was wrong in saying that this policy was the same as for all other public servants?
Hon. Ms. Joe: I have already stated in the previous question that the response that I gave was in regard to benefits that were allowed other employees. There is provision for sabbatical leave for judges, sabbatical leave for teachers and other benefits that are allowed employees of this government. They vary from many different things to a possible educational leave that could last as long as one year.
I know what she is trying to do. It is a game she plays all the time. She is trying to put words in my mouth that she has interpreted from things she has read in Hansard.
Mrs. Firth: These words came right out of the Ministers mouth. It is recorded in Hansard. I did not put them there. They came right out of her mouth, and the Hansard operators recorded it.
Now that we have determined that this is a special category of sabbaticals for judges, why are we treating these people in this privileged way and not as we do with all other public servants?
Hon. Ms. Joe: There are other privileges and benefits allowed employees of this government. If the Member wants, I can send her a list of all of those benefits that are allowed them. Many employees of this government have taken advantage of them. They may not be what the teachers are getting or what the judges are getting, but there are many benefits that the employees have bargained for and have gotten.
Mrs. Firth: I have the list. No other public servant is allowed to take a paid leave for anything other than educational purposes. Period. I would like to ask the Minister if she will re-examine this special policy and make it the same for all other government employees as she first said in the House: that it was the same for all other government employees. Will she re-examine it and make it the same?
Hon. Ms. Joe: I have already answered that question in a previous question period. There are regulations that have been approved for judges. I am not changing them at this point in time. There are other benefits provided for employees of the government. I have no intention of changing the regulations that have been approved for judges.
Question re: Judge/land claims negotiator
Mrs. Firth: We have determined we have a special category of sabbaticals for judges. The first person to benefit from this special policy is the land claims negotiator, who has not been on the bench for four years. He is getting a paid holiday for a year and then he can have another six months off without pay, if he wishes. That is not included for all other employees. That makes a grand total of five and one-half years off the bench, if he takes the full leave, that we have had to keep his job open for him, to bring in deputy judges, to pay an income of over half a million dollars. A paid holiday? A paid holiday for $56,000 for one year? Then another six months, if he wants; that is the grand total.
Why does this individual get such special privileges?
Hon. Ms. Joe: The Member is aware that negotiations and discussions have been going on for a number of years with regard to sabbaticals for judges. She knows that because she does her homework. It has been going on since long before I became a Minister, long before the previous Minister became a Minister. It is not something new; that we thought of in the last two months. Those discussions have been ongoing.
We provided for that sabbatical in the regulations. It is not something new, it is something that we agreed they would be entitled to. That is my answer.
Mrs. Firth: This person has not been on the bench for four years. We are not talking about a judge here, we are talking about a land claims negotiator. He has not been on the bench for four years. If it was not the intention of this government to give the land claims negotiator a paid holiday will the Minister go back to that individual and renegotiate the contract?
Hon. Ms. Joe: I was not party to the negotiations for his contract when he became the land claims negotiator.
Mrs. Firth: She has signed an agreement in June giving him a paid holiday for a year, and six months additional holiday without pay, if he wishes. That was the Ministers contribution to the agreement. If it was not the intention to give the land claims negotiator a paid holiday will she renegotiate the contract that she signed?
Hon. Ms. Joe: I have already answered the question. I do not know how many times I can say the same thing.
We did not negotiate with the chief land claims negotiator for a paid holiday. We did not do that. That is her interpretation of it. She has had the contract for a long time and knows it well. I am not going to change anything in the regulations, nor am I going to change the terms and conditions of that contract that I signed.
Question re: Judge/land claims negotiator
Mrs. Firth: I will try again. She has said she did not negotiate with the land claims negotiator for a holiday. She said in this House on November 23, 1989, on page 569 of Hansard, This sabbatical is for educational purposes, and that is what sabbaticals are for. That was in reference to the sabbatical that was going to be given to the land claims negotiator.
The land claims negotiator said on June 27, 1989, three days before he signed the contract with this government, that he was going to take a sabbatical and he said, and he was quoted, I want to relax a little first. I want to do some writing - finish the book on Johnny Johns ... basically catch up to myself.
Who do we believe? Do we believe the person who tells us that he is going to take a holiday, or do we believe the Minister who gives wrong answers in the House, who says it was for educational leave. She gives wrong answers, she gets confused, she has had to come to the House and apologize. She cannot remember what she signed. Who are we supposed to believe?
Any agreement can be renegotiated. On behalf of the Yukon taxpayers will the Minister, because she was confused, because she could not remember signing the agreement, make a commitment to go back and renegotiate that contract with that individual?
Hon. Ms. Joe: It is interesting to sit here and listen to a preamble that should be a part of a question when, in fact, it was a long speech.
I know they only believe what they want to believe. They read something in the paper, and they hear somebody say something else and, if you give them an answer, they do not listen to it anyway. The fact is that the regulations provide for a sabbatical for the judges: a year for educational purposes. I think the individual in question knows what that sabbatical does include. If she has read something else in the paper, then she has read something that she is putting together to cause a bit of a problem.
I believe that individual will take a sabbatical and that that individual will make sure the sabbatical is for educational purposes.
Mrs. Firth: I operate strictly on the basis of facts, and I have brought forward the facts. It is the Minister who has been forgetful and confused, not I.
I want to make a representation on behalf of the Yukon taxpayer. We want the Minister to go back and renegotiate that contract. At most, that individual should be given six months leave without pay...
Speaker: Order please. Would the Member please get to the supplementary question.
Mrs. Firth: Yes, I will, Mr. Speaker. ...leave without pay, and I am sure that individual will consider himself fortunate he still has a job.
Will the Minister give the public a commitment to go back to that individual and do that?
Hon. Ms. Joe: Once again, the Member is out of order by making a representation during Question Period, and she does it very often and very effectively.
I have agreed to the sabbatical. The land claims negotiator will be taking that sabbatical, and I do not intend to change that, as I am sure the Minister of Education would not change one for a teacher.
Mrs. Firth: When you work for this government, and you are a friend of this government, you write your own ticket. You write your own ticket. I will tell you, there are a lot of public servants out there who object to this inequity, and so does the taxpayer. This decision...
Speaker: Order please. Would the Member please get to the supplementary.
Mrs. Firth: Yes, I will. The responsibility for this decision lies on the shoulders of this Minister and on the shoulders of this government.
Hon. Ms. Joe: Once again, she has gotten up and made a speech. Prior to that, she got up and made a representation. If she is going to ask a question, I would respectfully request that she does ask a question.
Question re: Shooting of Bison bull
Mr. Brewster: My question really fits in with all the bull that is flying around today. This fall, the Department of Renewable Resources killed a bull buffalo because it was supposed to be leading a herd of buffalo. Although the department was told that bulls do not lead herds, that cows lead herds, they chose to execute this bull.
What was done to the meat of this executed bull?
Hon. Mr. Webster: The meat from that bull bison was destroyed. The type of tranquilizer that was used in the bull when it was removed from the Tok area in Alaska could pose some risk to humans if ingested.
Mr. Brewster: For his information, the drug used was a narcotic. It is M99. Maybe I should teach him a few lessons.
Will the Minister deny that the meat was left there for predators to have and is now in the food chain cycle of coyotes, fox, wolf and grizzly bear?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I am not aware if that was the case. I will find out and report back.
Mr. Brewster: I am a little dumbfounded when a Minister makes a statement like that. Why was the bull not donated to the game farm, which is violently crying for animals for a tourist attraction. Instead, it was shot and predators ate the meat which was condemned.
Hon. Mr. Webster: The bull was offered to the Yukon Game Farm, but it was not accepted.
Mr. Brewster: Would the Minister repeat that statement about the game farm refusing this animal?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I was informed that the bull was offered to the Yukon Game Farm before it was shot and that it was not accepted.
Question re: Hootalinqua North Plan
Mr. Phelps: I have some questions about the Hootalinqua North Plan. The Minister responsible for that plan is away. I do have some questions for the Minister of Renewable Resources arising from a letter sent to the Minister of Community and Transportation Services and copied to this Minister and myself. The Livestock and Agricultural Association asked the Minister for a working group to be appointed to undertake a review of the current draft plan that would have the power to change the current documents. Does the Minister support this request? If he does, will he communicate that to the Minister?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I support the suggestion made by the members of the Yukon Livestock and Agricultural Association. I understand that the suggestion will be followed up with some action.
Mr. Phelps: Is the Minister prepared to meet with the Livestock and Agricultural Association with regard to the numerous complaints they have about the draft plan and the way it is being handled?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I can only assume that the Minister responsible for that district plan would be more than happy to meet with the concerned citizens in the area.
Question re: Shooting of Bison bull
Mr. Brewster: Does the Minister understand the effects of the M99? How long will it remain in the other buffalo that are running at large?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I am not fully conversant with the long-term effects of the drug that was used to tranquilize the bulls. I do know that the meat was not retained or provided for use by humans because of its detrimental effects.
Mr. Brewster: Is it true that the department, when it cannot handle the number of buffalo it has now, is planning to bring in a large group of buffalo from Alberta?
Hon. Mr. Webster: That is the long-term goal of the department in its efforts to establish another free-ranging herd in the country.
Mr. Brewster: What does the Minister intend to do to control the ones that are now running out over the highway in an area where no livestock is allowed?
Hon. Mr. Webster: The department has no plans at this time to try to remove the bison from the side of the highway. We are making effort to notify the travelling public of the location and behaviour of the bison.
Question re: Shooting of Bison bull
Mr. Lang: I am sure that the buffalo are very happy to hear that, in view of the drastic steps the department took here a number of months ago with the lead bull. I am very concerned with the reply that the Minister gave to the Member for Kluane, respecting the use of the drug and not knowing the long-term effects of the drugs that have been used on these buffalo. Does neither the Minister nor the department know the long-term effects of this particular type of drug on buffalo?
Hon. Mr. Webster: Obviously members of the department know the long-term effects but speaking personally, from my own point of view, I do not, admittedly, know the long-term effects that such a drug would have on an animal of that size. I am sure that members in the department are quite familiar with this drug, its use and its effects.
Question re: Shooting of Bison bull
Mr. Brewster: I would like to ask the Minister one more question. He apparently does not know, and I have talked with other biologists and they are not sure - not biologists in his department because of course they would defend it. Are there any other animals running around in the Yukon that have had this narcotic M99 put in them?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I cannot be certain about that. I will have to bring that information back to the House.
Mr. Brewster: Thank you. This is kind of a hypothetical question, yet it is not. If someone poaches the other bull out there and ate that meat - and we have a lot of poaching going on - what would happen to that individual?
Hon. Mr. Webster: Well, fortunately, that would be one person whom we would not have to bring to trial for poaching. It is a hypothetical question; I will come back with an answer.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now lapsed. We will now proceed to Orders of the Day.
Bill No. 19 - adjourned debate
Clerk: Second reading, Bill No. 19, standing in the name of the Hon. Mr. McDonald, adjourned debate, Mrs. Firth.
Mrs. Firth: Well, Mr. Speaker, I guess you see something new every day in this Legislature now. The government returned to office for their second term and boy, I know the meaning of the phrase the honeymoon is over when I watch the performance of the Members in the front bench opposite today.
I rise to make comments on behalf of the constituents I represent, and of course on behalf of all Yukoners, again, in response to the combined operating and maintenance budget and the capital budget of the year 1990-91 that has been tabled by this government. Here we see a good attempt by the new Minister of Finance - a good attempt on his behalf - to give Yukoners a feeling that the government is really taking care of them and that everything that they are doing is in the best interests of the Yukon people. But when you look at the facts - and again I prefer to deal with facts and I do not like to put words into peoples mouths, particularly on the opposite side; I would not even think of doing that - you have to take a look at the figures in the budget itself and some of the so-called benefits to the Yukon public. When I examine budget documents, I am always very interested in the person-year component that is associated with that budget and the dollars that accompany that person-year component. When I looked at the person-year component for this new budget in the budget lockup, I questioned the person-year allotment, which was 1,766.8 person years. We were told at that time that some of the person years had been taken out of the Department of Education for Yukon College and were no longer listed in the budget.
So that was fine; we knew there were 148 person years that had not been accounted for. I took it one step further and examined the person-year complement for the budget O&M estimates for 1986-87. The person-year complement was 1,632.3, about 130 person years less than this budget of three or four years later. I looked up the allotment that had been attached to those two figures in dollars and cents. Not to make a very simple issue sound too complicated, for the year 1986-87 and the 1600-plus person years, there was an allotment of $73 million. That is the money to pay the salaries of those 1600-plus person years. Then I looked at the allotment of the money in the 1990-91 budget to pay for the 1700-plus person years - this budget indicated 130 more person years - and it was at $130,716,000.
That was a difference of $30 million for 130 person years. I would submit to the Minister of Finance that that is very magical and very mysterious. I hope that we are going to get an explanation of that particular issue. Even if you add in the extra 148 person years for the Yukon College, there are still about 270 or so employees, and salary dollars attached to that are $30 million.
I hope the Minister is going to be prepared to present us with some detailed person-year figures, as he did last session. He can consider this notice that we will be asking specific questions about person years and would he be so good as to present us with a documented sheet of where all the changes and re-allocations have been made.
We will also be wanting to know what the person-year complements of the corporations are. The housing corporation does not have a person-year complement in and neither does the liquor corporation or the development corporation. I am sure the Minister will be most cooperative in giving us those figures as well.
I would also like to give the Minister advance notice that I will be wanting to know what the dollar figure is that is going to be attached to the 148 person years that went to Yukon College. In the budget lockup, we were able to find that it was 148 person years and that the total grant to the Yukon College was going to be approximately $8.7 million dollars, but we could not get an answer as to what part of that $8.7 million was designated specifically to the person-year complement of Yukon College. I will be looking forward to the Minister bringing in answers to those specific questions.
It is interesting that this budget is predicting a $6.7 million surplus. It then states that that will cover the negotiations of wage increases and it is also supposed to provide a reserve for normal supplementaries. The supplementaries that we are going to be debating in this Legislature this afternoon and in the next couple of weeks, from last years budget, were $22.7 million. We also have negotiations with the unions to enter into, such as the teachers, the YGEU and managers raises, which I am sure there will be negotiations for. I would submit that $6.7 million is going to be nowhere near enough a surplus or a reserve to cover normal supplementaries or the wage increases that are going to be negotiated in the course of this next coming year.
I guess that is why we have predictions of a $17 million deficit. It would probably be safe to say the deficits may be even higher than that.
I want to take particular issue with some of the changes that have come about in this government. When I look through the budget book, I see a remarkable growth now in assistant deputy ministers. All of a sudden, the Executive Council Office has three assistant deputy ministers. Before, they did not even have one, until there was an announcement put in the paper when we were last sitting that the position was filled on a secondment basis. Now, the Executive Council Office is going to have three assistant deputy ministers, while the Economic Development office is going to have two assistant deputy ministers, plus a deputy minister. The Department of Education is going to have two assistant deputy ministers. The Department of Finance has two assistant deputy ministers. Government Services is going to have two assistant deputy ministers. Health and Human Resources is going to have two assistant deputy ministers. Justice is going to have an assistant deputy minister - it did not have one before - and Community and Transportation Services is going to have another assistant deputy minister.
We are talking about new positions that are, as in the last advertised ADM position, in the salary range of up to $76,000 or $77,000 a year for all these new positions. This is the government that is saying, we are doing this for you, we are going to give you better government because of this. I do not think the people out there who are paying the bills are going to feel reassured by the Minister of Finance that their life is going to be any easier when it comes to dealing with government because we now have 14 new assistant deputy ministers at $77,000 each.
We will be looking for some more justification from the Minister of Finance about when all these person years were approved and why the government feels its job has become so onerous and that it has so much to do we have to have all these managers and top level officials with these high wages in all these assistant deputy minister positions. That is on top of each one of those departments having its own deputy minister and a Minister to look after the department.
I think we will probably get some very interesting responses back when we hear from the Minister of Finance later on this afternoon in one of his impassioned speeches.
I listened very carefully to the Minister of Health and Human Resources when he got up and made his presentation and response to the budget speech. I listened to him and listened to the comments he made, took note of his five points. All the time, I got more and more angry, and I got more and more ill listening to the presentation he was making.
We all recognize that health care costs in the Yukon have just gone through the roof - through the sky, or whatever you want to say. Health care costs have become so overbearing that my opinion is that health care in the Yukon, with us being able to pay for health care costs, is in a crisis situation.
This is nothing new to the Minister of Health and Human Resources. He has been there for the last year.
This is not something that has just happened overnight. For the Minister to claim that this is something that has just come up and just developed in some sneaky way without them knowing anything about it is totally and absolutely nonsensical. This has not happened overnight.
I can remember standing up in this House five years ago, when this government first took office, when they first made the big decision to abolish medicare premiums, which no one had asked them to do - no one that we had seen in any public forum coming to the government and lobbying in an active way to abolish Medicare premiums. We raised all these issues. We talked about preventive medicine. We talked about the lost revenues from abolishing medicare premiums. We raised the points with the government about the crises in other areas of Canada and the world with health care costs and the rapidly escalating health care costs.
The government could not even present an argument about why they were doing it; they were just doing it. There was nothing the Opposition could say that would convince the government to even re-examine the position they took.
Over the past four or five years that has probably amounted to $15 million or $20 million that we would have been getting in revenues. At the time we were talking $2.9 million or $3 million. With the increase of population, that figure would have increased.
That was a political decision this government made. It had nothing to do with what demands the people of the Yukon were putting on the health system. It was a decision that this group of individuals made.
After that happened, they expanded the chronic disease list. That was another policy decision made by this government. We again raised concern and asked how thoroughly the government had examined that decision. We were told that the decision would cost the Yukon taxpayer about $176,000 more a year. In the last budget debate and the last annual report that the former Minister of Health tabled, the costs for the chronic disease list were well in excess of $600,000 a year. I am expecting they are closer to $1 million, if not over, because part of the upcoming supplementary estimates are to address the expansion of that chronic disease program. Again the Members opposite were given good, healthy, constructive suggestions from the side opposite, and they ignored them.
Three times, the Auditor General issued reports identifying cost over expenditures in the Department of Health and Human Resources. One item was illegal and two were legalized by bringing supplementary estimates into the Legislature.
The Opposition raised an issue in this Legislature about the control mechanism within the Department of Health and Human Resources under the former Minister. We asked for her resignation, because we were concerned about what was happening in that department. The Government Leader ignored us, and told us that she was the most caring and concerned Minister of Health. However, her costs were escalating; the department was growing; we were bringing these issues to the attention of the Minister and to the attention of the Government Leader and nothing was done. The Minister cannot stand here and say that this is something that has just happened.
Every year we debated the budget; the Opposition drew attention to the rising costs in Health and Human Resources. We debated the issue of a healthy economy. If the economy was healthy, why were health care costs still going up so much? Was the government examining this? We never received any answers, any concrete plan or priorities of decision making, or direction, or any philosophical approach within the Department of Health and Human Resources.
Every time we raised an issue with the department, the Opposition was criticized by both the media and government Members for raising issues for political reasons. We were raising them for reasons of concern. We now see what the concern is. The Health and Human Resources budget is $10 million more per year than it was four years ago. It is taking a huge increase in this budget. I believe the government is referring to it as a two percent increase. That is before they put in the two supplementary estimates - one supplementary for close to $1 million in 1988-89 supplementaries, and a $6.2 million supplementary estimate in the 1989-90 supplementaries, which really makes the overall increase more like 14 percent.
Not only have we increased it by $10 million over the past four years, we are going to increase it by another 14 percent this year.
I have to ask the Minister of Health where his priorities are. How does he make decisions within the department? I listen to his five points. Health care costs are rising rapidly and it is no different in the Yukon. We told him that five years ago before he abolished medicare premiums. Health budget forecasts are inadequate. The Auditor General told him that and we told him that three years ago. He never did anything about it.
They are taking steps to improve budgeting, so we are going to hear that there are steps being taken within the department to improve the budgeting process. I will be very interested in hearing what those steps are. As I understand it, we still cannot follow up on whether people who are living in the Yukon or living out of the Yukon are being covered by us when it comes to health care premiums. The government still has not got that under control. We have the Minister of Health standing up and saying that there will be efforts to control costs in the short term. We will be very interested in seeing what those efforts are. We raised this when it came time to debate the chronic disease list expansion. Those were costs in the short term that could have been controlled before they made a decision to go ahead and expand the list. Perhaps it may have been lower on their list of priorities, but I do not think they had any priorities.
The be-all and end-all that the Minister of Health has come up with, like he invented this idea, is preventive medicine. He is now going to take the Department of Health and Human Resources in the direction of preventive medicine. Now that our health care costs are more than $10 million more per year than they were four years ago when we first started talking preventive medicine and not that we are looking at a 14 percent increase in this years health budget, we are going to talk about preventive medicine. He is late. Preventive medicine costs money. It is going to cost money on top of what is in the budget now. This government should have been looking at preventive medicine four and five years ago.
Then we talk about the health care transfer, something that has been going on and on for five years, ever since the former Minister of Health wrote the letter to Jake Epp, the then Minister of Health and Welfare Canada, and told him that they were not interested in the health care transfer at this time. They flatly and completely expressed no interest in assuming responsibility. We could have been making all these decisions about our hospital, our personnel, the services we want to give to the public, the priorities, preventive medicine, et cetera. We could have been doing all that here. I know that there would have been cost effectiveness and saving attached if we had the responsibility to do it ourselves.
Now, the Minister of Health, who has been there for one year, comes in with this major problem, his department is out of control and the budget is out of control, or whatever it is that he is going to blame for this problem. I would like to know what he has done in the last year. Even under the former Minister, whose resignation we requested, the supplementary estimates were never near what this new Minister of Health has brought in: a supplementary for $6.2 million in the last year that he has been the Minister of Health and Human Resources. I really have to question the competence, the ability to make decisions, the ability to set priorities and the ability to lead Yukoners in any direction when it comes to the delivery of health services. I have to question the present Minister of Health and Human Resources. I am sure we will all have a lot more time to debate those specific issues when we come to that department in the overall budget debates.
We have a government that makes political and policy decisions and sometimes we are not quite sure where the priorities are. Maybe they have a problem with that as well. I can remember sitting in this Legislature listening to the Minister of Justice tell us that we were going to have a human rights commission in this territory that was going to be the greatest human rights commission and that it was going to cost us $70,000 per year.
Well, we now have a budget for the Human Rights Commission of some $290,000 this year, an increase that the government, again, is saying is a modest increase. I believe it is about an 18 percent increase, but they say nothing about the supplementary estimates that we are going to be debating later that have a supplementary line for the Department of Justice in excess of $1 million. That is about $900,000 or $1 million in supplementaries for the Department of Justice, $10,000 of which is a supplementary for the Human Rights Commission. It is very convenient for us to bring a supplementary estimate in to pay the cost overruns of the Human Rights Commission; that is the way this government operates. Our position was that they should find that within their budget and that was what we were all told in public. The executive director said it publicly, the chairperson of the Human Rights Commission told us in this Legislature that they were going to find the money within their budget. But then there is a $10,000 supplementary identified for the Human Rights Commission.
Not only do they give them an extra $10,000 for last years budget, that they had in a deficit position, but they billed a new increase to include that $10,000. So, they elevate the budget by 20 percent or more. For what?
I will be very interested to hear the justification of that budget increase when we have the chairperson of the Human Rights Commission come to the Legislature again this session and justify to Members of the Legislature its expenditures. I will be very interested to hear what they have to say and I also would like to put the government on notice that, in the event that we are not here in the Legislature on March 31, when the Human Rights Commissions annual report is due, are we going to have access to that report or are we going to have to wait until the Legislature is sitting again? It is information that we have requested in the past and have had to fight for in the past, to get it in a timely basis in order to be able to debate the budget of the Human Rights Commission.
My colleague has raised the same issue regarding the service contracts. In the event that we are not here and the government does not have the Legislature to table the document in, are we still going to be provided with that information at the end of March?
This government is getting a reputation for making decisions in isolation, for withholding certain bits of information from groups that they are meeting with, for example, the moratorium on the Tatshenshini. I understand the Minister met with organizations and just happened not to tell them that there was going to be representation made by this government to the federal government for that kind of moratorium. He has a convenient memory lapse, like the Minister of Justice, who is confused and cannot remember things.
The way this government has been making information available, my guess is that they will not be giving us that information until the House is sitting again. I suppose if we legislators and the media make enough fuss about it, we may be able to pressure them into giving it to us. By backing them into a corner we just may get that information out of them, but none of us will be holding our breath.
I get extremely concerned when the Minister of Education gets up and expounds at great length on how the morale in the Department of Education has somehow reached some new highs and that everybody there is happy, because he could not be more wrong than to stand up and say that in this Legislature. I heard him stand up, in the few times that we have been sitting, and say it no fewer than two or three times.
He just could not be more wrong. Not only is the morale low in his department, but the morale of the public service is very low in a lot of the other departments within this government.
The public servants are getting tired of being blamed for the incompetence, ineptitude, bad decisions and bad direction of the politicians sitting over there who are issuing those directives. I do not blame them. The Government Leader is the worst offender. He never hesitates to stand up and say that it is someone elses fault.
Clear direction cannot even be given to the public service by these people as to whether they should or should not speak to the media. If they speak to the media, they are told not to. If the media phone and want an answer, the Minister says to get one of the officials to speak to them. You cannot have it both ways. There has to be some policy. There is no policy: one day it is one thing and another day it is something else.
There have been firings in this government. The Minister can stand up and use every little shifty term such as transferred or relocated he wants to. There have been people here who have been fired. There are individuals in the capacity of a deputy minister who go around swearing at public servants, yelling at them and screaming their heads off in departments. You do not treat people like that. Civilized people do not act that way. I know it is happening because people call me and tell me it is happening, and I can hear it in the hallways myself.
The morale within this government is not at new high levels. There is a lack of direction from the politicians, a lack of policy direction, a lack of desire by the politicians to accept responsibility for the bad decisions they make and there is an eagerness on the part of the politicians to blame the public servants for the mistakes and bad decisions they make. That is just not the way it works. Sooner or later you are going to have rebellious attitudes, and I think the Ministers have already seen some evidence that that is happening. The longer the Minister talks about how great the morale is and the more he refuses to see what is before his eyes, the worse it is going to get. That will be something that these people have brought on themselves. It will not be something left over from anyone else. It will be an action that is directly attributable to the way this government and the people in this front bench respond to the public service.
I was interested to hear the comments of the Minister of Health and Human Resources when it came to Sweden. The Leader of the Official Opposition had raised some comments about Sweden and the Minister got up and expounded on how great Sweden was and how everybody had everything there and nobody wanted for anything and how it was the perfect world. From anything I have read on Sweden, or any documentaries I have seen on educational television channels, that is not what is happening there. It is not utopia. The people are not happy. There is a lack of motivation and private business is not thriving.
The Government Leader just conveniently neglected to mention the income tax rate in Sweden, which is about 50 to72 percent. I am taking information right out of the governments own documented books.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mrs. Firth: It is right out of your books. The Government Leader is smiling away. The income tax rate in Sweden is nowhere comparable to what it is here in Canada. I do not think Canadians want a utopia where their income tax rates are comparable to Swedens. It does not matter if it is two or five percent down from that now. If the Government Leader wants to go out and convince Yukoners that this is a good system and that we should have an income tax rate comparable with Swedens, he can do that and I wish him luck.
The Minister of Tourism and the Minister of Community and Transportation Services, in their wisdom of changing our licence plates and putting a moratorium on placer mining on the Tatshenshini River, in one week gave a very big message to the placer mining industry. Now, asking questions, we find there was no consultation, that the licence plates had to be changed anyways. I think you will find it hard to convince people out in the street that is a relevant argument. We find that The Magic... The Mystery is a big tourism slogan that is attracting people to the Yukon. In one week, these two Ministers and the Cabinet who, I am sure, made the decision - these two people did not make it by themselves - a whole group of them, the five of them, made the decision - just removed the gold panner and requested, unbeknownst to anyone in the mining community, a moratorium on placer mining.
I think that gives a very strong message to the mining community where this government sits when it comes to supporting that industry. The government can have all kinds of giveaway programs and grant programs. It is not going to compensate and buy people and make them happy and make them be quiet and compensate them, as this government thinks it will do. That is just not going to happen.
I am amazed, when I read the budget and see the growth in the management areas, all the assistant deputy ministers, the salaries they are going to be getting, and the direction this government is heading in creating this special class of privileged people.
Speaker: Order please. I would like to remind the Member she has three minutes to conclude.
Mrs. Firth: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I hope I will use every one of those three minutes.
I am sure that with the track record of this government it will not be very long before we see special friends in these special positions. That seems to be the way this government is heading.
There was representation made that there were competent women who could be put in some of these managerial positions. We have not seen that happen yet. I know there are competent women in this community who could take many of these positions I have talked about today, but I guess that does not seem to be the direction this government is going to move in.
You can make the figures look as fancy as you want. There are always going to be people who will find holes, and facts that do not add up, in the governments budget. These people are not doing Yukoners any favours, creating huge operating and maintenance budgets that are rising so rapidly every year, and then reducing capital budgets, the budgets that people actually make a living from. They are not doing Yukoners a big favour.
I have appreciated this opportunity to stand and express some points of view on behalf of my constituents, and I would like to reassure the government that when it comes to department-by-department debate, we will be having a very thorough analysis of exactly where all the money is going and, particularly, where or if this government has any priorities.
Ms. Kassi: I will do my best in making my presentation today. I lost my voice over the very exciting and successful weekend we had.
I would like to congratulate the Minister of Finance and his departmental officials for doing a commendable job in negotiating this particular budget in the face of extensive cuts in the federal funding. I believe the people of the Yukon will agree.
I have always been committed to the concept of independence of communities in terms of how they spend money, where they put projects, and who they hire. I also support the concept of communities and government working together. These ideas are not mutually exclusive. This budget shows just how closely linked one is to the other.
Once again, this government has stated its commitment to settling land claims. This budgets funding allocations for land claims ensure that base line information is available to all parties. The money for training boards and the wildlife trust fund are important for the aboriginal people of the Yukon. The increase in the fisheries budget and the wildlife enhancement fund, are important steps for the protection of traditional life styles.
The emphasis of this budget on social programs and the environment is significant in terms of the very survival of the Yukon Territory. The economy has not been abandoned. We cannot have sound economic development of any kind if we do not build, giving full consideration to the environment.
We heard just last week about the extent of family violence in the Yukon. There were no secrets revealed. There was nothing said that we all did not already know except that, perhaps, we were forced to face reality square in the face. We need to focus on family violence prevention programs and other programs like the building of a new and bigger detox centre that will help solve some of the problems of violence and chemical abuse in the communities.
In fact, the economy is stable. We must remain strongly committed to the principles of sustainable development. We must remain strong to the principle of consultation. This budget does just that. We consulted on the needs of Yukoners about child care, we listened, we responded and we are providing the financial support for the policies and programs necessary to meet these needs.
The $400,000 allocated to expand the Child Development Centres outreach program to rural communities makes accessible, affordable care a reality for more children throughout the territory.
There is $14.9 million earmarked for improvements to housing, a basic need for everyone, and one that is out of reach for too many without sound social housing policies.
In recognition of the need to balance the teaching and role model for aboriginal people in Yukon schools, the Native Teacher Training Program has an increased budget. Curriculum development will be another area of attention. There is another very positive move on the part of the government toward school-based management. School committees will have a greater involvement in what is done and what is not done in their schools, which means more local decision making.
Focussing on my community, for many years the people of Old Crow have asked for a clean-up of our community. Through the community development fund and by dedicated work by two people, Sybil Frei and Gladys Netro, they were able to develop a proposal for streetscaping. The local men and women and YTG foreman, Mr. Eddie Taylor, did a wonderful job of cleaning up the excess debris of old vehicles, cleaning up the lagoon, building drainage ditches by covering up the gravel and dirt throughout the village, and landscaping. All of this was under a very tight budget. This led to a tremendous change in the village. The community is much cleaner, and it has lifted our spirits in the community. We will be completing this project this summer.
The road to the mountain is almost to the traditional campfire place, a point of gathering where we share fresh meat, tea, share stories and a lot of laughter, where we go hunting on the mountain. Older people are going up there now. All of this leads to less expense all around and less dependence on oil and gas to travel up the river to hunt. Now everyone in the village is able to hunt on the mountain, pack their meat to the road and bring the meat home by vehicle. More people, in particular the very young and the very old, are enjoying going up there now.
We only have a few miles of construction to go. It is hoped that it will be completed this summer.
The past summer, fall and winter have not been good for my people, as far as the economy is concerned. Fur prices have dropped drastically, and our young people were beginning to leave our village to look for work. However, I am pleased to announce that more work will come beginning in the spring. We are assured that a new maintenance building for YTG will be constructed. We needed that building. The building we now have is very old, is falling apart, and is unsafe. I encourage the Minister of Community and Transportation Services to seriously look at contracting this building with the Vuntat Gwichin Tribal Council, as we did with the three-bay garage, and which proved to be very successful. Using local hire, as Old Crow has the best carpenters, this maintenance garage and the new college will build up the community and the economy.
The new college will come this spring. The people of Old Crow will be happy to assist in designing this building. We have our own ideas about its development to encourage people to use the facilities and respect it as a house of learning. I can assure this government it will be well respected and used.
In the social area, we now have two trained lifeskills coaches, Alice Frost and Florence Netro. The tribal council is now seeking resources to hold another lifeskills seminar. These programs have proved very successful in the positive development of the community.
In the area of family violence, we have recently received some funding from Health and Human Resources for someone outside to come in and develop a proposal to assist us in developing a safe house for victims of abuse. We are seeking funds to renovate a building and for two people to run this facility. We will hold workshops in the areas of holistic approach and personal family and community development. We look for the support of Health and Human Resources with this development.
I am also pleased to hear the tribal justice initiatives will continue. I am happy to hear the Minister mentioned that these are one of her priorized areas of program development in the Yukon Territory. The aboriginal community will be pleased to hear that $1 million has been allocated for training of aboriginal people. We will need the training resources amongst our people for preparation of the implementation of First Nations self-government at the community level. We will be looking for training for our administrators in all levels: tribal justice, social development, environmental development, business development, mechanics, pilots, our own nurses, teachers and tourism. Old Crow will be certain to take advantage of this opportunity.
We have quite a few students attending the local college here in Whitehorse, as well as the high school. The students are much more determined to achieve their goals and objectives. I would like to say how pleased I am to see this, that the more educated people we have within our nation, the stronger we will become to face whatever our future will bring.
As I had stated earlier, the native teacher program has been a major positive move. This gives us the opportunity to have our own aboriginal teachers in our own schools. It is hoped that changes in the Education Act will implement many of our concerns about the education system. More power will be given to the local school committees, with guaranteed representation by aboriginal people. This shows great cooperation between this government and the indigenous community. We are grateful for that.
Recently, there were funds allocated to the local inmates society for construction of an after-care facility for themselves. As well, we are aware that the Whitehorse Correctional Centre is full of aboriginal people. Some are there for small and petty crimes continuously. Some are there for more serious crimes. However, most of these crimes are alcohol-related. These individuals realize their needs and require a place to go to build support amongst themselves and to use cultural means of healing. This move will show their determination to get out of the vicious cycle that they are in. I am pleased that they have the support of this government in the first phase of designing that facility. It is my hope that, upon the opening of this facility, we will still be by their side to assist them with the programs they will need to develop other alternatives for a better life.
The Yukon Conservation Strategy is in its development. We look forward to its implementation. I believe it will come out in the beginning of January. I stress that we make sure we have full and equal participation by the Yukons First Nations in its development and implementation process, that people realize its importance and that it will tie into the world conservation strategy.
The Trappers Enhancement Program will continue. This is a program where trappers needing skidoos, toboggans, or whatever they require to trap, buy them first and then are reimbursed later. However, recently the trappers association has requested that this policy be changed. I strongly urge that we look seriously at changing this policy to accommodate better trapping, as in most cases, trapping remains the only source of income for many in the Yukon and the furs sold contribute a lot to the economy and social environment.
My people have been paying special attention to the developments around the Northern Accord agreement. I commend this governments firm stand on no developments on the North Slope. The government recognizes the Gwichin as being the indigenous people of the area and that it is our traditional homeland; therefore, I encourage us to look at a firm agreement on those positions shared by many and that the interests and concerns of the Gwichin be involved in achieving this agreement, collectively. We must assert our sovereignty over the northern Yukon.
In closing, on behalf of the Vuntat Gwichin, I thank this government for its attention in our village to the areas I mentioned and I trust that we can look forward to an even brighter future. Mahsi-cho.
Hon. Ms. Joe: In speaking to the 1990-91 main estimates tabled, I would like to bring to the attention of the Members of the House the fiscal responsibility shown by this government. This is evidenced in the fact that there are no tax increases for the people of the Yukon and, secondly, that this is a balanced budget. This budget reflects the concerns of the people of the Yukon toward the environment. It reflects the concerns of the people of the Yukon toward more social programs that address the social problems of our communities, and, lastly, it shows a clear commitment to fiscal restraint. This is all rolled into response to maintaining our economy.
There are a number of areas in this budget that I would like to address. One of them is the governments commitment to land claims negotiations. This government has responded to the needs of the Yukon First Nations, as well as to all residents of the Yukon in providing for the needs of all concerned. We all want to see a land claims settlement finalized and ratified and this budget is showing a progressive and proactive response to the needs of the communities and even the federal government.
It is encouraging to me to see the efforts of this government in providing more services and diverting more resources to the communities than ever before. We all need to listen to the issues and concerns of our local governments, and I assure this House that this government supports that process.
Since my constituency is located in Whitehorse, the residents of my constituency will be reassured by the substantial increase in their block funding. This increase will certainly serve to assist the city in further developing some of our own objectives. This is just another indicator that we, as a government, are responding to our local government and community concerns.
My constituents will be very pleased to see the creation of a Capital City Commission and to see that this government will also provide the necessary resources to further develop the ideas of the residents of the City of Whitehorse.
This budget reflects this governments commitment to building the economy and well-being of the communities, and it shows. It is interesting to note that nearly 60 percent of the total O&M budget is being distributed outside of Whitehorse and 66 percent of the total capital budget is being distributed in the communities. It is interesting that while the Opposition has been concerned about this governments mismanagement of its finances and criticize our focus on social programs, this government has been able to strengthen the communities by not only encouraging local development, but also by providing the resources for the developmental requirements. This development of the communities is not only just in an economic sense, but more importantly at this time, in a social sense as well. The communities have been gravely concerned about their social problems and this government has responded in a responsible manner. This budget is providing an emphasis on solving some of our serious social problems, to improve the health and well-being in our communities.
The continuation of the community development fund will most certainly provide much needed resources for the communities to realize some of their initiatives and planned projects. The continuation of the funds that are available for day care will also be of great benefit to the communities.
This government made a commitment to quality day care, and not just for Whitehorse but for all the residents of the Yukon. This budget has reflected those commitments and there will be funds available of some $400,000 to ensure that the care of our children is a priority with this government.
While we have responded to the many concerns that rural communities expressed in the area of child care, we also need to respond to the desperate pleas in the communities for solutions to the problem of alcohol abuse. This government has budgeted $200,000 for a new detoxification facility to respond to these pleas. This may not solve our alcohol problems, but it will be a step toward realizing that we need to provide all the assistance we can to this very serious problem.
I am also greatly encouraged that, while we have certainly decreased our capital expenditures in response to the more pressing needs of our communities, we still have a very busy scheduled construction year ahead of us, particularly here in Whitehorse. There are a number of projects from outside our government that will provide many needed jobs and services. The construction of the new federal building and the construction of an additional floor on the Royal Bank Building are good indicators that we can look forward to a very productive year.
The construction of the arts centre and the archives at the Yukon College will also provide for activity that will increase economic activity within this community. Therefore, while it may seem that our budget has focused away from heavy capital expenditures, it is evident the Yukon has begun to carry itself economically, and continues to grow in a healthy and productive manner.
As the Minister responsible for the Department of Justice, I would like to reiterate that the mandate of this department is to ensure that citizens of the Yukon can exercise their legal rights and responsibilities in order to assist in the economic and social development of the Yukon and to protect societys values.
The current trend in the delivery of Yukon Justice services has been to place an emphasis on providing better services to the communities, victims of crime and crime prevention, as well as tribal justice. This shift in emphasis is reflective of this governments focus toward social programs.
The department has attempted, through a budget that has remained relatively constant over the last fiscal year, to provide services to the public and to the communities that will allow the justice system to be more accessible and responsive to the needs of the public, while providing for only a five percent general economic increase.
Many of the departments operations are controlled by the statutory programs that are required to be delivered. For example, extra services have been required for the reciprocal enforcement of maintenance orders. Requirements for devolution programs has required many additional resources, as well as the overall increases in the cost policing, together with an increase of our percentage share of those costs, have placed additional financial demands on the department.
Flexibility and creativity to carry out the departments mandate has been required during this period of restraint on human and financial resources. However, consideration and concern for the needs of each Yukon resident involved in the justice system will continue to be the priority for the Department of Justice and our budget reflects these considerations.
The Department of Justice has some additions to its person years, which are primarily due to the devolution of the mine safety program, the establishment of a bilingual legislative drafting unit, and the addition of a psychiatric nurse at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre. Both the mine safety program and the French language program are fully recoverable from the federal government. It is the intent of the department to continue to provide the highest quality public service at the least possible cost. This is reflected by the marginal increase in the departments budget.
The prime focus for the Public Service Commissions activities for this coming year is human resource planning. This activity will focus on a strategic approach to meeting the governments overall human resource objectives. Some preliminary work in human resource planning has been done in past years, and it is recognized that the time has come to make a concerted effort to respond positively and decisively to the demands of local hire, affirmative action, turnover, career planning and staff development.
New initiatives in the training and development area will also contribute to the achievement of the human resource planning objectives. The training of employees to acquire new skills that will enhance their performance ability, as well as career development, will be a priority for the Public Service Commission. During this past year, there have been 1,167 employees trained in a number of areas. It is hoped we will surpass this number substantially in the coming years. We will be introducing new courses to assist clerical and secretarial staff in developing administrative skills and knowledge to help them progress to more senior administrative positions.
A training program will also be developed for some senior managers based on input to be obtained through a survey of managers. These two initiatives are being added to the existing training program.
The Positive Employment Program has three staff positions and nine training positions, all term, and a native training corps designed to encourage and facilitate the training of native people. They have had a number of people successfully complete the training who are currently employed by this government.
Plans for the introduction of the first stage of the Career Development Program for people with disabilities have been completed. This is a pilot program that will provide supportive training for people with disabilities.
The 1990-91 budget reflects an increase of four percent to the O&M estimates for the Womens Directorate. The continuation of family violence second year initiatives will take up the major part of the directorate program development public information budget. As in the past, the directorate will continue its commitment to do outreach work through the Help line. These programs are in response to the many requests for help from the communities regarding the issue of family violence.
Resources are also committed to coordinating national speakers on womens issues. In the past, the directorate has brought in such speakers as Nicole Morgan, Dr. Margrit Eichler and Monica Townsend, and all have contributed positively to an increased awareness by the government and the general public about womens issues.
The Womens Directorate continued to sponsor all their regular programs as well as taking on new ideas with their very small budget. I personally feel that this particular branch of our government should be applauded for the amount of work they accomplish with their very small budget.
The efforts of this government to put forward a realistic budget that provides for the restraints that we need in order to bring forward a balanced budget are shown in the capital and operations and maintenance budget for 1990-91. This is a good budget, and in this age of spiralling deficits, it should be inspiring to the citizens of the Yukon to know that their finances are managed in such a responsible manner.
We have a budget that will undoubtedly contribute to the quality of life in the Yukon and will also establish priorities for the Yukon that are supportive of wishes of the communities and which I am sure all Members of this House will wish to support.
In a speech by the Member for Riverdale South, she indicated to this House that the former Minister of Justice had refused to agree to a transfer. I would like to let this House know that, if at that time there had been an agreement to transfer health services, there would have been many implications. I hasten to say that, if that had occurred, there would be much more criticism than she has reflected in this House today. There were many problems that could have become a part of a transfer at that time. The Member knows what those problems might have been. I think the manner in which the health transfer is proceeding is very responsible. When that is done, I am sure that people involved will support the move as it is made at that time.
The Member also indicated to this House that there were many programs implemented during my time as the Minister of Health and Human Resources. Citizens of the Yukon have told me they were pleased to see many of these programs; many people benefited from them. I was very pleased that during my time as the Minister responsible that I was able to help. The health care of Yukoners is very important to me and is a priority of this government.
I remember sitting on the opposite side of the House when the very same Member, the Member for Riverdale South, stood in this House and talked about an increase in their travel expenses. That included the purchase of wine, combs and aspirin. Tell me - what is more important to the people of the Yukon? The well-being and health of Yukoners or wine, combs and aspirin for travel?
She also indicated there is a morale problem within this government and that all the government employees are displeased with what is happening. She has indicated in this House that many employees have come to her and told her stories about screaming, hollering and shouting - displeasure with Ministers and other Members of this government. I could tell you the horror stories that were told to us when we were the Opposition. There will always be a problem. People will not always be happy with what is happening, but this government has attempted to improve many things that were happening under the former Tory government.
She has also talked about the problem of the Human Rights Commission. It has always been a well-known fact in the Yukon that the Members on the other side of the House have been opposed to human rights. It was very, very noticeable when they were part of a petition that was circulated in the Yukon that opposed many things to be included in the Human Rights Act. The things being told across Canada about the opposition to this act were quite scary to other Canadians. She mentioned that $70,000 was a commitment that the former Minister of Justice made to the Human Rights Commission. He might have done that, but if you are going to do a program well you have to spend money on it. We all know they are opposed to human rights in the Yukon. It is a well-known fact that the Tory Opposition is opposed to human rights. They do not have to repeat it in this House.
There has been an increase in the Human Rights Commission budget. I do not think that the money that has been allocated to them is enough. I commend the Minister of Finance for this budget that has been tabled in this House. It is a good budget, it is a balanced budget, and it is a budget we can be proud of.
Mr. Phillips: I would like to comment on what I believe to be some of the few positive initiatives in the budget before us.
I am extremely pleased to see the allocation of funds for the building of an extended care facility. This is long overdue. We should have already had the facility. If the government had been doing its job we would have had the facility open today.
In the past few years the excellent staff at Macaulay Lodge have bent over backwards in providing care for seniors at the lodge. The current facilities at Macaulay Lodge do not provide for the type of care that is needed. I have watched the lodges function rapidly change over the past several years from a place where the majority of seniors who lived there needed just a small amount of care to a place that today is full of seniors who should be in a properly-equipped, extended-care facility. I know the Premier has made only a few trips to Macaulay Lodge and has not been there recently. I suggest he go to see what the lodge has turned into, and see the seniors who are suffering a great deal because they do not have a proper facility. The government has really dragged its feet on this one, and it has been at the expense of many of the seniors in this territory. Because of this problem, we have had to deny access to many other seniors.
The government hired a part-time home care worker. I encouraged them several times to make it a full time job because that occupational therapist would have been someone who could have helped some of these seniors who cannot get into Macaulay because it is full, and helped them to stay in their home a little longer. I hope the government has seen the light of day and will consider increasing this position to a full time position. It is the type of preventive medicine that can be done to keep people in their homes, with a sense of self worth and dignity.
It is going to take time to construct this new facility. I look forward to it going ahead this year and not just being announced three or four more times. I am pleased that the Premier announced they will provide funds to improve equipment and the quality of service at Macaulay Lodge. That is a good move in the interim. I would encourage him in the strongest terms to get on with the job that the former Minister should have done four years ago and get this badly-needed facility built.
Another area I am encouraged about is the moves made by the government to develop a mini department of the environment. I can only hope that the government will now do a little more than just talk about environmental issues.
I mention a couple of areas I feel the government has made some progress in. As I explained I am not totally satisfied with their efforts. They talked at great length about environmental issues and actions. What has happened is that they have actually taken some action that has been contrary to what they said in the House. We passed a motion about establishing storage for PCBs away from populated areas, and the government twisted the words of the motion around and secretly built a storage shed for PCBs in the Marwell Area of Whitehorse, right in the riding of one of their Members. That is shameful and contrary to the wishes of the Association of Yukon Communities, contrary to the wishes of the City of Whitehorse, and contrary to the wishes of every Member of this Legislature who stood, spoke and voted for that motion, that PCBs and dangerous chemicals not be stored in populated areas.
It is a devious way to carry on government. You are not just talking about something that the government is doing that will not affect a lot of people. This could have a drastic effect on a lot of people. That is way the motion was brought before this Legislature. That is why we felt a need to debate that motion. The government has a terrible habit of voting on and passing motions in this Legislature and then just turning around and doing what they want. I think that is unfortunate.
I would like to talk about the budget in general and the dangerous trend that we appear to be on. Over the past four years or so, the Government of the Yukon has benefited greatly from Ottawas generosity. Have we spent this windfall effectively? Have we got value for our dollar? The answer is no. In fact, in some cases, we have thrown good money after bad. All Members would agree that we did not get value for our money in the $8 million to $10 million spent on Hyland Forest Products. It could have been done better. I defy the Government Leader to tell Yukoners that that was money well spent. He could have put four times as many people to work throughout the territory, if he had managed that operation sensibly in the first place. I think the Government Leader knows that.
We have a strong concern when the O&M budget rises from $148 million in 1984-85 to $248 million today. That is $100 million; $100 million dollars in four to five years. At the same time, the population of the Yukon has risen by three or four thousand people, to a population of around 30,000 people in the territory. Two hundred and forty-eight million dollars is an awful lot of money for 30,000 people. That is just the O&M side of the budget.
The Government Leader keeps telling us that the Yukon has the fastest growing economy in Canada, yet our unemployment rate is five percent higher than the national average. It now sits at around 12 percent. Those figures are shameful. Every year the Government Leader has told us, as Yukoners, that the unemployment is a major issue that his government wants to tackle. We consistently come in higher than any other province in Canada. He is only paying lip service to it. How can the Government Leader say that we have the strongest and best economy in Canada and then tell Yukoners that we also have the highest unemployment? It does not make sense. There is a good reason why our unemployment rate has not come down, at least to the national average. It is because the government is more concerned with the creation of short-term jobs, rather than putting into place the infrastructure that will provide for long-term employment. This is certainly not the time to switch from an economic agenda to a social one. That will only put more people on the unemployment lines in the future.
I would like to look at what is left of this NDP governments economic agenda. I had an opportunity in October to attend a conference at Yukon College as part of the Yukon 2000 process. The conference was called The Environment and The Economy. It leaned heavily on the environmental side. I must admit that the concern over the environment is a high priority with the average Canadian, but, just because of this, we cannot and should not ignore the economic side. If we do, we do so at our own peril. One just has to think back to 1984 and 1985 and remember how tough in can be in Yukon when we have very little economic activity. We can have economic development and it can be environmentally compatible. I am convinced of that. It appears that economic development has slipped down and possibly even off the list of priorities with this NDP government. I listened closely at that conference to the speech made by the Minister of Economic Development when he told the 70 or so delegates about the Yukons economic state and its possible future. I was disappointed, to say the least. Afterwards, I spoke with many of the delegates who told me that they expected a much clearer snapshot of where we were economically and what we could expect in the future.
Currently, we have three or four potential mines that are seriously looking at starting production. The Minister elected to tell us that the short-term future did not look good for the mining community. One could sum up the Ministers remarks as a poor and slim overview of the Yukons economic position.
I can only hope that the lack of interest the Minister displayed at that meeting does not reflect the priority he puts on his portfolio.
The next speaker at the conference was the Minister of the Renewable Resources. He discussed the Yukon conservation strategy. The Minister, as well, did not tell the delegates anything new. It was just another re-announcement of something we have already been doing for quite some time.
Announcing initiatives five or six times before they do anything about them seems to be a trend with all Ministers across the floor. I am pleased now to see a little movement resulting from the conservation strategy with the research the Yukon Conservation Society is doing in initiating the first steps in a recycling program. I would like to see a larger commitment from this government in this area. I know this is going to cost money, and recycling is not economically feasible in the Yukon right now with our small population, but I believe we can do more. It will cause some short-term pain, but I am convinced it will provide some very long-term gain.
The government, through the Yukon Conservation Society, has initiated a small return on aluminum cans. I believe currently the government is offering one cent per can. That, in my view, is not enough incentive to get the cans picked up. If you walk around this building in the spring time, as many of the Members have, you will find a lot of the trash along the river is aluminum cans. We have to look at the seriousness of the problem. It was like the stickers we used to put on our bottles. We felt it was necessary to clean up the environment, so we put a 25 cent sticker on the bottles we sold at the liquor store and, at the same time, ignored all the other bottles that did not have stickers and were lying out there. I think that if we feel that we are really serious about cleaning up the environment, we should show how serious we are by making this type of incentive worthwhile for small groups to take advantage of and get out there and pick up all the aluminum cans that are littered around.
I would like to go back for a moment to the conference. There are a couple of observations I would like to make about the participants at the conference. It was obvious to me that the conference was to deal with the economy and the environment. There was a glaring shortage of resource users at that conference. I do not believe there was anyone from the forest sector, other than government employees. No one I could find at that conference represented the agricultural sector. Only one representative from the mining sector was there. No one was there from the placer mining sector. There was only a hard rock miner who was, I believe, an individual involved in the committee the government struck.
I was involved personally in the mining workshop that took place at the conference, and it was obvious that eight out of 10 individuals were not involved in, and had very little knowledge of, the mining industry. There were two individuals involved in the mining seminar. One of them was a consultant in the mining industry and the other was a gentleman who was the president, I believe, of the Keno Hill Community Club. That mine, of course, is no longer operational. I had a very clear feeling from the two gentleman involved in the mining industry that they felt they were under attack at that mining workshop.
In the forestry workshop, there was no one representing the industry. It is beyond me how a group could discuss this sector and come up with some conclusions without input from the resource users.
Another area I thought should have been discussed at that conference - it was only briefly mentioned in the mining sector but not mentioned in the final analysis of the conference - is power availability in the territory. We are talking about the economic development of the future. I think everyone knows in this House that we are almost, right now, at the hydro power producing capacity at the Whitehorse dam and the Otter Falls project. Sometime in the very near future, we are going to have to seriously look at other hydro potentials in the territory. The government should be allocating funds in this budget for that very area. It is not something we can just start to look at as soon as these new mines announce they want to go onstream. It is something we have to start to get into place now as it takes four to seven years to develop a hydro project in the territory, if that is the route we want to go.
There are environmental hearings and impact hearings you have to go through to make sure that the project is feasible and environmentally safe. The government should be taking steps now to look at this area. It has not done that. The idea of the conference was a good one but more effort should be made to involve the resource community and not just government departments. The conservation strategy component will simply not work unless the government tries to make stronger efforts to involve the mining community.
Before I leave the subject of the conference I would like mention briefly my concerns over the new Yukon Council on the Economy and the Environment. I believe the government has made two errors in striking this board. First of all, it has politicized the committee by appointing the former executive assistant and NDP campaign manager as the chair of the board. Mr. Staples does have some experience in the conservation field but he spoke out strongly several times against any kind of development. How strong will Mr. Staples recommendations be when he is presenting them to his colleague - and former boss - Mr. Penikett? Political patronage is alive and well in the Yukon.
The second problem I see with the new council is the lack of representation from the agricultural community. They were left out of the previous economic council but I find it even harder to believe that they are not represented on the Yukon Council of the Economy and the Environment. I would like to ask the Minister of Renewable Resources if he could think of another area, another sector, that will have as much of an effect on the environment as our agriculture will? I would hope that this government would reconsider and appoint a member of the agricultural community to that committee.
As you can see, I did not leave the conference totally impressed, or even impressed a little. I hope that this governments announced shift from the economy, as a priority, is not as it appeared at the conference.
I would like to spend a few moments and discuss initiatives that are taking place in the area of tourism. I am pleased to see that more funding will be available for the marketing of tourism in 1990. I have always believed that this is an area that has never received the attention that it should get. On the other hand, I see some shortcomings in the direction that this government is leading tourism. Tourism has been described as one of the fastest growing businesses in the world, and a business with one of the highest potentials in the world. People all over the world are finding that they have more and more leisure time and they are using that time to travel and see other areas of the country. It is an extremely competitive business. Yukon has to act now or we are going to be left behind.
Marketing, of course, is a very important part of developing a healthy tourism industry. The other side of the coin is that you have to have something to market. This is an area in which I believe we are falling down, at a time when we are entering into the 1990s, the era of the gold rush. In the area in which we are best known all over the world, internationally, for our history, the Klondike gold rush, this government has decided that it is time to switch gears and change to a colorful southern licence plate, with no consultation with the tourism industry, I might add. This government has seen fit to give us a new, expensive, five-colour licence plate and then has the nerve to increase our fees for that licence plate by 44 percent, to pay for this great dream.
Just in this House today, the Minister of Tourism told us that the Minister of Highways is going to re-introduce the gold panner licence plate in five years time. Are we going to get another 44 percent increase in our licence fees at that time, to reflect the costs of producing another new licence plate for the territory? I would suggest to the Minister that we are now entering the era of the 1990s, reflecting the period in time that the Yukon is best known for, and that we should not be changing horses at this particular time. This is the time when we should emphasizing the Yukon and the Klondike.
The report that I mentioned earlier today in Question Period, and I will make it available to the Minister of Tourism, if he has not had an opportunity to read it, makes the point that most Americans know that Canada has wide expanses and beautiful outdoors; they know that we have that. What the report says - and this is a report commissioned by the Canadian government, talking about American tourists coming to Canada - is that American tourists want to come and see something other than what they expect to see. They want to come to an attraction. They want to come to see a part of history. We want to come to see the Klondike, the gold rush. That is what people come here to look at, and I see this government, all of a sudden, changing it focus. I would suggest to the government that if it plans to change its focus, that it is possibly 10 years too early, that what we should be doing now is focusing on the gold rush, with some emphasis on the beauty and the majesty of the country, but we should be focusing on the gold rush for the next 10 years, and then after the year 2000 we can start looking at other ways to market the territory.
The fact of the matter is that if you extensively market the gold rush over the next ten years, you are going to create a lot of interest in the gold rush and in the Yukon. People are going to come here. Then you will have the latitude to expand to other areas. Do not switch horses when we are reaching a point when we should be heralding our history and telling the people in the world what we are all about and why we are here. We should not be running in the other direction, like this government seems to be doing.
I know where they get the magic and the mystery. The mystery is where this ridiculous idea of changing the plate came from, and the magic is the 44 percent increase that Yukoners will face when they go to pay for their new licence plate.
There are a couple of other initiatives that the government has taken with respect to tourism that I would like to comment on briefly. The Minister of Tourism tabled a report in this session on Kluane Lake long after the Government of Canada announced what it was going to do in the area. This government first took the stand that some public access should be allowed for Kluane by voting for a motion that we had in this House. Then, through the summer months, the Minister had a change of heart. Now, there is no access to Kluane, no public access. Somewhere in a back room, they struck a deal to remove part of Kathleen Lake from Kluane National Park, not for a wilderness area, but to build a resort hotel. I know that the Minister spoke of his fear of hotels being built in the park, and not wanting hotels built there. Yet, at the land claims table they negotiated away a jewel - the jewel being Kathleen Lake. They took it out of the park knowing full well that the proposal for that area was to build a resort hotel. This is inconsistent what was said about access into Kluane.
I do not understand why the government took that position. You cannot have it both ways. If the government was concerned about protecting the integrity of Kluane, then it should have stuck by its guns and protected the integrity of Kluane. It did not do that. There is one rule for one and another rule for another. That is unfortunate and unfair.
I would like to talk about the waterfront development. I have been a little disappointed because the waterfront development is an area where the Government of Yukon is directly involved. It sits on a three-member board dealing with what is going to happen with the Whitehorse waterfront. The government has had the opportunity over the past several years, through the Yukon 2000 process and through the 20/20 report, to see what Yukoners want and to listen to the views of Yukoners to see what they need in that area. They seem to have taken the Kluane Park approach again, where there is no comment from the government. They have been silent. I was surprised because two Members from across the floor whose ridings the waterfront development is in - the Members for Whitehorse South Centre and Whitehorse North Centre - have been just as silent as the government on what takes place at that waterfront. Both of those Members ran on the campaign that waterfront development would take place and that they would be involved in it.
There has been a public meeting. There has been a opportunity to make presentations. There was a Chamber of Commerce meeting a month ago to discuss the waterfront development. Neither one of the two Members who ran with it as a campaign promise showed up nor made a presentation at any of those meetings. Not one of them. It makes you wonder if they were just telling the people of Whitehorse North Centre and Whitehorse South Centre what they thought or were they serious about waterfront development?
I am serious about waterfront development and we on this side are serious about it. We realize that Whitehorse and the Yukon must have more attractions to get tourists to come to the Yukon and stay here and have something to see while they are here. The board issued views, and one of the members of the board was a government representative, stating that what the government wanted to see was a park from the government building up to the White Pass depot. I should not say the White Pass depot, because the government representative concurred with the other Members of the board and said that the White Pass depot should not be there any more. They concurred that there should be a park up to where the White Pass depot used to be.
I would like to ask the government where their imagination is. Do they not realize the potential of that waterfront development, and what we could do in the Yukon? On one hand, they are doing away with the licence plates, the gold panner, the theme Klondike and, on the other hand, they are part of a group that proposes a waterfront development that looks like the waterfront in Nanaimo, Vancouver or some other city in Canada. When a consultant was asked, where is the heritage value in your proposal, he said, We have a little promenade here that walks all along the front. We will cut a little section of it out, and we could look down on the old pilings that are there. When we look down on the old pilings, we could put a little sign up that says, these are the old pilings the dock used to sit on, that the riverboats used to pull up to... Now these old pilings are now just sawed off chunks of wood, ...and this would be our heritage value of the waterfront. The Government of the Yukon agreed with that proposal. They said, No, we are going to go one further. We are going to put up a bust on that dock of Sam McGee, maybe even two of them. That will represent the heritage and history of the waterfront in the Yukon.
Whitehorse would not be here without that waterfront. Whitehorse would not be here without the riverboats that pulled into those docks. Whitehorse would not be here if the train did not stop down here in front of the depot. The government was silent on all that. It is time they stood up and took a position. They have heard what the people of the Yukon have said about that development. They want some historical value incorporated into the development. They should tell the people of the Yukon that they will do their best to make sure the White Pass Depot does not move; they will do their best to ensure the railroad tracks stay downtown and that, possibly one day in the future, we may have a small shuttle train, like they have in Skagway, to run us back and forth. Those are attractions. People stop at the S.S. Klondike because it is significant. They will not stop at the Whitehorse waterfront development if they go by there and all they see is a waterfront development that looks like the one in their own home town.
Government has to get off its backside and take a position on this development. At the meeting I attended a couple of weeks ago, we heard that not much has happened. The government is a member of that committee, and the government should encourage that waterfront committee to incorporate the views expressed by the people who made representations to that committee. I think the government has an obligation to do that, and it should not wait two years to do it. The year 1992 is fast approaching; 1996 and 1998 are fast approaching. If we are going to have something in place for people to see and things for people to do, we have to move now. We cannot treat it like the extended care facility and take five, six or seven years to do anything.
At the convention I attended this weekend, I had an opportunity to talk to some of the representatives who were in from Kluane. At that meeting, a motion was passed that dealt with the condition of the Alaska Highway. The Alaska Highway between Haines Junction and Beaver Creek is in deplorable condition. Something has to be done. Again, it is getting so bad that one of the main tour companies - I believe it was Princess Tours - has announced that, next year, it is not going to run its buses into that area. Kluane is already an area that is hurting dramatically. Next year, Princess Tours is not going to run its buses in there. Do you know why? There are two reasons. Number one is the road condition, and number two is the Kluane National Park access. Do you know what they said? They said there was nothing to see. They just drove along the road. Now they are going to put them on a ferry, and they are going to take these same people, put them on a ferry, and take them across to Anchorage. They are going to miss us completely. Thousands of tourists are going to miss us completely, and that is not the first group that is considering making that kind of move.
The side opposite, and especially the Minister of Tourism, had better wake up. Klondike is not the only area of the territory that has tourism potential.
The year 1992 is the celebration of the Alaska Highway Bicentennial. There was also a concern that the Government of Yukon is dragging its feet on the celebrations. I have had discussions with Mr. Pond and feel we have an excellent individual coordinating those activities. There has to be a strong commitment from this government and a will to negotiate with the federal government the appropriate funding for 1992. The Alaskans are putting some things in place now and we have to match them. Again, I stress there is a lot to be done before 1992. We can bring all the people of the world up the Alaska Highway in 1992 but if they wreck their vehicles getting here, it will do a lot more damage than good. This House must stress, again, to Ottawa that a priority must be given to the Alaska Highway, in particular the section near Beaver Creek, and secondly the northern B.C. section that is in poor shape.
There are a few sections in need of upgrading between Watson Lake and Whitehorse as well. The Government of Canada has to realize that the Alaska Highway is a continuation of the Trans Canada Highway. It is the highway that links northern Canada with southern Canada. It was an international road of great significance during the latter war years. A commitment should be made now by Ottawa. We should be standing up and shouting as loud as we can to ensure that Ottawa comes through with the necessary funds to upgrade that road. I will support the Minister in any efforts he makes in that regard.
I would like to make a couple of comments on some initiatives that the government has taken recently. One of them is the change in the fishing licence structure for non-residents. I was pleased to see the Minister, although very reluctantly, admit that he had made a mistake last year. He stood in the House and adamantly declared that it was the only way and that we did not know what we were talking about, and that this was the only way to do it. One-day licences were a thing of the past and a three-day licence was the only way to go. He then stood up and said that the trial period for the three-day licence did not work out. It was hard to control myself when the Minister expressed those feelings. The Minister could have been much more honest with the Yukon public if he had stood up and said, You know what you guys, you are right. The one-day licence is the route to go. The fishing stores told me when the non-residents found out the price of our licences they just said, Lets go to Alaska; we will not bother fishing here.
When the Minister refused to listen to this side he cost us a few tourism dollars because these people continued on through. I hope he listens to the ideas from this side in the future and treats them in the manner they are given. That one was given in all seriousness. He is not the only one with good ideas.
I would like to commend the government on the Alaska fishing licence agreement. That was a motion we put forth in this House. I am a little concerned that nothing will be done on the Alaskan side until sometime in the first part of next year. I encourage the Minister to pursue this as soon as possible and send a message to the Alaskan Minister of Fisheries.
Speaker: I would remind the Member that he has three minutes to conclude.
Mr. Phillips: I have broken all my records. I did not realize I was that long winded.
I am pleased about the Capital City Commission. I am displeased with this government that prides itself on consultation. The Tatshenshini placer mining freeze was a good example that my colleague from Riverdale South gave. What happened there was absolutely deplorable. It sent a terrible message to the min-ing industry. The question was not the river, but in the manner the government did it. Less than a month before, the Minister of Renewable Resources had talked to the placer miners and told them there was nothing happening. Less than 24 hours before, the Minister of Mines talked to the Chamber of Mines and told them nothing was happening. Who are we kidding? The Minister of Mines cannot stand up in this House today and tell us that he did not know the other Minister was going to announce that freeze. They asked the placer miners and the mining community to consult with them and work with them to try and get a working relationship and then stabbed them in the back with a move like that. It is a terrible way to carry out business.
I have just a couple of comments about that move by the Minister of Renewable Resources. I was extremely concerned about the statements made by the Member for Old Crow when she spoke about how terrible capitalism is. I think they were sending a strong message to people who may try to invest in the future of the Yukon that maybe they should stay away. I think that is a dangerous precedent to set. I understand what the Member for Old Crow is trying to say. She wants to protect the caribou habitat, but those types of strong statements do nothing for the development of the Yukon in the future. I think some development can take place and be environmentally sound as well. I think the no-development party across the floor should listen well to that.
I am concerned about the direction this government is going with the O&M budget soaring to levels we have never seen before in this territory, and the capital budgets are decreasing. I will be making further comments as we debate the budget when we get into committee.
Speaker: The hon. Member will close debate if he now speaks. Does any other Member wish to be heard?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I have only a few brief remarks to make, as I had already produced what I thought was a first-class budget speech, crafted by some of the best minds in the government.
The budget speech itself did outline the basic parameters of government spending in the coming year and was, on the whole, well received by the Yukon public with the exception of seven people who are sitting across the floor from me in this House. I think I owe it to Members to provide a few remarks in response to some of the things they have been saying over the course of the last few sitting days. I have found that their speeches were almost wholly negative, and I will be consequently be waiting for a negative reaction to the budget vote and their rejection of this particular budget, which of course is a newsworthy item for the public.
I will make a few remarks firstly about the mixed-up kind of guy from Riverdale North who had, I think, one point which I found valuable and worthy of accepting on face value, and that was the point about the Yukon Economic Strategy Conference and the need for more resource users participating in conferences of this nature in the future. I will not agree with everything the Member said about the conference, because I have a lot to say about this particular item, and we have a motion on the Order Paper we intend to proceed with in the not too distant future respecting the Yukon Council on the Economy and the Environment.
I will only say that the discussions at that conference I found by the reactions of the participants to be almost wholly positive. I believe too, to take the Members point, that resource users should have more representation in the discussions and, to what extent I can influence things in the future, I will try to encourage perhaps a greater representation on behalf of the mining industry in particular.
I have some fairly clear things to say about other resource users. I will reserve those for the motion debate, as well as the issue of power availability. I do not mean to sound critical towards the Member for Riverdale North; I mean this in the kindest possible way, but simply because the Member did not hear any discussion about power availability personally does not mean that the discussion did not take place. I was involved in a discussion on that very point. It is mildly arrogant to assume that, because it did not reach the Members ears, it did not happen.
The Member also made reference to the budget being too much on the O&M side. I will be interested in hearing in committee exactly where the Members wish to see the cuts made. He did indicate a concern about the unemployment rate and that it was 12 percent and that it was shameful. It is certainly every bit as shameful as the 17 percent unemployment rate the Conservative government had in 1985, and they did not do much about that at all. The record from 1982-85, I see as being absolutely shameful. It was a record where the Ministers can take credit for United Keno Hill Mines, which they were very busy ignoring for many years. It was also the government of those days that allocated a lesser percentage for economic spending than this government does.
That record is shameful. The Member for Riverdale North throws up his hands and pleads ignorance because he was not present. He has colleagues sitting only a couple of feet from him who should take direct responsibility for that very specific record with respect to the economy.
Deputy Speaker: Order. Would you please let the Minister finish.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Thank you very much, Madam Speaker. I appreciate your bringing the dogs to heel on the other side of the floor.
The Member provided us with a minor critique with respect to the governments record on the environment and, at the same time, suggested we should not be ignoring the environment in favour of the economy. It hearkens back to the days when the PCs were in government. I hate to trot out the Conservative government record in respect to the environment, but it was one of the most pathetic ventures in policy making and political indecision that I have ever encountered in my life in politics.
We have to understand exactly who is speaking. As the critique was made on a number of occasions on the personal credibility of individuals on this side of the House, we ought to draw to Members attention that the Member who spoke with respect to these matters was a Member who asserted the Belvedere Hotel in Watson Lake closed as a result of Watson Lake Forest Products. Nobody picked that up, but it was not only obviously untrue, but it was an assertion that was quite aggressively made in this Legislature with no foundation whatsoever. I would not want to accuse the Member of lying, as that would be unparliamentary, but I want to indicate to the Member that when statements are made that are clearly untrue, then credibility declines by a certain percentage.
This is also the Member who suggested that our response to the Northern Accord negotiations and Esso Isserk negotiations amounted to a desire to change the Canadian Constitution. It was a ridiculous statement. Nobody again picked that up, because there is nothing hanging on what the Members opposite say. They are not responsible. They are not in any position of authority. It does not matter what they say. They can make any assertion they like. Irrespective of whether or not it is true, they get away with it. The Member for Porter Creek East is the most flagrant offender of having failed to do his homework that I have encountered in the Legislature, even more so than the Member for Riverdale North.
The Member for Porter Creek East was the person who constantly, last year, brought in assertions about the Yukon Housing Corporation, and then did not back them up. It was all based on a phone call from a pal. He brought issues before the Legislature that were not even true. Yet, when they were proved to be untrue, there was not one apology, just complete silence.
We will continue on to the Member for Riverdale Norths record here for a moment. This is the person who stood up in this House last spring and demanded the Government of Yukon sign an Economic Development Agreement with 50-50 cost sharing, because that is the way it should be in this country if we had any sense of good negotiating practice. That was ridiculous. We had already started with 70-30, why should we move to 50-50? Give me a break.
Let me just move on to the other Opposition Member who spoke this afternoon, because I think it is important to bring this forward. This is a Member whose tactics consistently attempt at death by a thousand arrows, and who has brought forward some critiques of the government budget, which I found characteristically fascinating. They were not policy critiques, as they should be in second reading debate, but more of a shallow critique about person year counts than dollar amounts.
It is important that we should burst the Members bubble when it comes to her self-appointed claim to be the homework specialist in the Legislature. The Member started off her barn-burner speech by indicating the governments personnel allotment increased substantially over the past few years, and this could not be accounted for by a simple increase in person years. She suggested that, somehow, there was a major deception going on by the government to hide personnel dollars and to do something devious in the accounting of its funding and personnel.
The only consideration the Member decided to leave out of that particular equation was wage increases. They happen every year. We have been voting them every year. If the Member wants to have a complete accounting of the person year count and the personnel allotments in the budget, I am more than prepared to do that. I would like to indicate to the Member there is no attempt whatsoever to provide anything other than the complete and total picture of the government. If the Member is going to be drawing comparisons like this and bringing them forward, then the Member is going to have to understand that a little more homework - probably the one personal characteristic she values the most, because she is always bragging about it - should be done.
With respect to the supplementaries, a subject I am sure we will get to this evening, the Member expressed a concern that the $6.7 million allotted for supplementaries would not be sufficient to meet the supplementary requirements, as required for the current year. There are a number of things she will have to bear in the mind. The first is that there is a revote requirement of better than $12 million. Secondly, and something that has happened historically in this Legislature, there is a health care cost increase of approximately $6 million.
I do believe, and I am prepared to provide more detail to the Member if requested, that the anticipated surplus at this point will result in a balanced budget by year end.
The Member expressed concerns about the need for two ADMs in the Department of Education. I can defend the existence of the ADMs, but I cannot defend why the ADM positions were created because it happened prior to 1985.
The ADMs in the Department of Finance are not new creations either. They have been around for some time. I am certainly prepared to defend the existence of those ADMs.
It is important to point out that this is an indication of poor homework. The Member comes across as if the government is adding lots and lots of middle-level management in the bureaucracy and tries to make the case based on the increase of ADMs. The facts, as she calls them, that she operates on are wrong. I am sure she will correct the record and apologize at the first opportunity she has.
The Member mentioned that the medicare premiums were somehow a direct function of the rising cost of health care, and even made the interesting statement that, If we have a healthy economy, why are health care costs rising? That does not make any sense. I am hoping that point will be clarified during general debate. There is a leap in logic as to the relationship between the reduction of an unfair method of revenue collection in medicare and the issue of rising health care costs. Rising health care costs are something experienced in every jurisdiction across this country.
The Member also made the bald statement that if the Yukon government had had responsibility for health care services, we would not be experiencing this dramatic rise in health care costs. I want the Member to be able to defend that statement, because if she makes these kinds of assertions - especially because she sets herself very much higher standards than the other Members on the opposite side in that she does her homework - she will have to come forward with an explanation. That truly is a crock.
There are a number of other assertions that are in danger of eating up the available time that I have: the government has no policy, no direction. There has been the assertion that the government has no policy with respect to economic matters, yet the government has a Yukon economic strategy and a fully staffed department; it is spending a greater percentage of funding on economic development than the Conservative government did. They had something like 14 out of 24 vacancies, no policy direction, the programs were thin soup when it came to support for economic matters - I do not know where these guys get off. Criticism like that is simply not substantiated. They do it with gusto and I give them a lot of credit for that. The Member for Riverdale North is quite capable of shouting out the criticism. I am always entertained by the Member for Kluane, partly because I like him and partly because he has an interesting cranky style.
The bottom line has to be that the homework has to be done before assertions are made. I would caution Members to be a little more cautious in their critiques because there are numerous examples where the homework has not been done that I will be providing more detail about in the future. The assertions have been made; they have been dropped from the public record; they hope nobody in the media picks them up. To date, they have been correct; nobody has.
Nothing the Opposition has said has caused me to want to change my opinion about this budget. I am still pleased to speak in favour of the budget. It is a combined budget; it allows one to see the entire financial picture of the Yukon government for the coming year. It demonstrates responsible fiscal management in that it will be balanced by the end of the year when wage increases and other supplementaries are taken into the equation. It shows no tax increases. I believe it is an honest budget. I believe there is a better balance now between expenditures and the emphasis on the economic and social and environmental expenditures. In the end, it does represent less dependence upon the federal government. That is a good indices upon which we should base our interpretation of government activity.
There is no question that the budget remains under restraint. We are faced with cuts in the anticipated federal grant. Health care costs are rising, as they are in other jurisdictions. We have had to absorb some new costs in areas like land claims, which the government fully supports and to which a high priority is given. It is not too little too late in fiscal restraint, as stated by the Member for Hootalinqua. The government has, every year, with the exception of one, ended with a surplus shown in the budget at year-end. One year there was a $29 million grant to the Yukon Development Corporation. It is a fiscally responsible budget. It is a continuation of a long line of fiscally responsible budgets.
The economic picture has been good. The economy will slow a bit in the coming year but is projected to perform better than the national average in terms of the fundamental determining factors such as growth in economy, the employment rate and inflation. Our concern for the unemployment rate has been indicated. We have indicated our concern for other sectors of the economy that have not met our expectations. Nevertheless, we project that the economy will do quite well, despite what the Members opposite have said. The government support for some of the bigger industries in our territory is a record that stands for itself.
The major programs that support the mining industry in this territory were unknown to the Conservatives. The level of expenditures in tourism marketing were unknown to the Conservatives. The government has stood behind those expenditures in the face of considerable heat from the Opposition.
The logic behind the criticism leveled last week is dizzying in its complexity and its inconsistency. It is absolutely mired in arguments of convenience. I checked the Blues this morning, and I have reviewed every argument on both sides of every issue. The government was the butt of all the criticism. The Opposition wanted us to spend more money and less money. They did not want us to have more money but if we did, we should not spend it. We had either gone too far or we had come too soon or too late, or we had gone too left or too right. In the end, I was looking for the theme in the Conservative criticism, and I could not find a one. On one hand, the Conservatives are concerned that economic expenditures are down, and this hurts the private sector. I thought the Conservatives were concerned about government participation in the economy. They made a big point of saying that. Now they are concerned that our expenditures are down on the economic side. From the Conservative perspective, we are interfering too much, and we are not interfering enough.
The economic expenditures by the envelope system, that they appear not to like but which they developed themselves, shows the expenditures for the economy to be stable, with the exception of the Explorations Incentives Program. This program has proven to be somewhat of a disappointment in its original intent. Let us be clear. They showed support for, or concerns about, the following programs: Saving Energy Action Loan fund, the Prospectors Assistance, Exploration Incentives Program, the Business Development Fund and Resource Transportation Access Program. When one adds all those programs together and subtracts the revotes from the forecasts of 1989-1990, one will see that the 1990-1991 main estimates have roughly $350,000 more money dedicated to economic programs.
The envelope system the Member for Hootalinqua was so concerned about, the one his colleagues created, has been consistently used in every year we have been in office from the time it was originally created, which was before we entered office. The point of this indices is to demonstrate how much we spend by envelope by this government. The fact is that we spend more as a percentage of our expenditures on the economy - and this has nothing to do with total dollars or the federal grant - than did the Conservatives when they were in power. That is very illustrative of the fact that the Opposition has been inconsistent, and that is putting it politely, in its critique of government activity.
At the same time, and I will speak briefly as the Minister for Economic Development, the Department of Economic Development is well-staffed. There are a couple of vacancies, and I can defend those if Members are particularly concerned about it, but it sure does not come close to the 15 to 24 vacancies of 1984-85. It does not come close at all. And the economic direction the Conservatives provided, and the Member for Porter Creek East knows this in particular as he was the Minister in those days, to the department, as the Public Accounts Committee has discovered, was not exactly inspired. In fact, there was very little direction, not only in terms of the overall government direction but also in terms of specific direction with respect to policy. I think the Member has some explaining to do.
Again, the Members opposite are concerned about the economic expenditures being down and they refer to the capital budget in particular as hurting the private sector. At the same time, if we had maintained the capital budget or increased the capital budget, the Members opposite would be ranting and raving about how these capital expenditures drive up O&M expenditures and how irresponsible it is to be spending the money on capital when you know there would be long-term O&M expenditures associated with that capital. Do the Members care about that inconsistency? Has it ever been brought to their attention? Do they have yes people in the opposition caucus offices who say yes, that sounds like a good criticism. It does not matter whether it is inconsistent or not, these guys must be right.
Chambers of Commerce in the past have criticized the government for large capital budgets that overheat the economy. And do you know what? The Members opposite agreed with them. So we reduce the capital budget and we get criticized for that too. We get criticized for increasing it and we get criticized for decreasing it. How can the Member for Hootalinqua live with himself and make the same critique from both sides of his mouth, using all arguments on a particular issue at the same time in the same speech?
The Member for Riverdale North and the Member for Porter Creek East were the ones who were criticizing the government for not taking full advantage of the funds, but they did not want us to spend the funds in the first place. They were making this most incredible argument, which I was hoping would never get to the federal finance minister, that they had negotiated this funding in order to improve the infrastructure of this territory and that we should be saving this for a rainy day because we had not had a rainy day yet. So they wanted me, as the Minister of Finance or as the ex-Minister of Finance, to trot off to Ottawa and say: Mr. Wilson, we need some more money so that we can put it in the bank in the Yukon to save for a rainy day. We would like you to borrow that money, if you do not mind, and increase the deficit of the Canadian government. And about all those arguments we used in the beginning to justify this formula, we would like you to ignore all those because the comments we made about improving the infrastructure were basically hogwash back when we made them and took credit for them. Now the Members are saying to us that if we had money in the bank, we could have used it for a rainy day in case things get tough. We could have had all this money waiting for us, collecting interest at the expense of the federal government and if we spend it, you will criticize us for overheating the economy or for interfering too much or whatever works for the Question Period of that particular day.
It is the argument of convenience. It is dishonest. That is the thing that really gnaws at me. It is just plain dishonest. The Members seem to think as well that the public is becoming far too dependent on government expenditures. They are saying Yukoners are becoming the most dependent people in the country. They just complained about the size of government expenditures, just before that. They are saying there is not enough injection of public dollars into the economy, even though the public dollars have increased from last year, overall. They are still saying there is not enough money being injected into the economy. At the same time, they say that the public is becoming too dependent upon public expenditures into the economy.
This is an incredible inconsistency. I make this point in the nicest possible way but, first of all, it ignores the fundamental fact that I think Canadians and the federal government are beginning to understand more and more. We have a relatively small population and a very large territory to cover. We have hundreds of miles of roads to maintain between small communities. We have expensive infrastructure costs, so I make no apology for the per capita expenditures in the territory for the infrastructure the government provides.
They have criticized it and, fair enough, we agree to differ.
I will not dwell on it, because I think it is downright embarrassing for the Member who made it, that the one answer to the economic woes of rural communities was that we should just be plunking government bureaucracy into rural communities as an answer to their economic problems. I am not saying I disagree that decentralization of government should be exercised, but for a party that critiques the sheer downright existence of the public service, to say that that is an answer for the economic troubles of rural communities is just pathetic.
The Members are concerned about the size of the transfer payment and the ability of the government to meet public spending expectations. Yet, they have been preaching that the expenditures are too high and that they should come down anyway. This is something that I do not think anybody has really picked up on but, all the time we were leading up to the formula negotiations, Members across the floor were saying, in effect, that the money the Yukon territorial government had to spend was unreasonable, that it was too much. At the same time, they were taking credit for negotiating a formula financing agreement. It was still too high and should come down. I was beginning to think the Members opposite were hoping the federal government was going to cut the expenditures of the Yukon government for raw, narrow, small-minded political reasons alone. I was thinking that.
The more I hear from the Members opposite, the more I believe that is true. These Members, who claim to be speaking on behalf of Yukoners, and claim to be speaking in the best interests of Yukoners, are also hoping the formula grant from the federal government to the Yukon government should be cut, despite the fact that it is not justified.
The old refrain of the Members opposite is that the government is getting bigger, and there is nothing controlling it now, that we just have to give up. I would like to get a few facts on the record that ought to be employed here. Government employment, as a percentage of the economy, is down since 1985. Is that not an interesting statistic? The Members opposite never give specifics. They are not going to criticize a social expenditure like extended health care, or the couple of million dollars that will be required to support it. Will they criticize the South Highway school.
Perhaps the half million dollars will be required to support that. These are social expenditures. There is a big government out of control out there and they want to add another $6 million, and then a couple of million dollars a year for O&M. On one hand, they are concerned about O&M, on another hand, they are concerned about capital, on the third hand - and they have lots of hands - they are concerned about the level of public expenditure and the dependency of Yukoners.
At the same time, they are concerned about the increase of social spending, but are in support of extended health care, which is probably the largest project we are engaged in. They are in favour of a South Highway school but have they said anything about teachers, or counselors? They will probably be advocating more mental health counselors next.
Have they argued senior support? They did not argue land claims. That may be convenient at this particular time. Did they argue about school bussing? Privately some of them come forward demanding more school buses. I happen to agree with them that their desire for bussing, libraries, or you name it, is legitimate, yet they still criticize the level of social spending. How ridiculous and unfair can you be? Do they criticize the special education policy? Do they criticize the number of building inspectors? No.
They criticize health care. The Member for Riverdale North has some rather eccentric views about that and I am sure we will hear more of that. What are they criticizing in the O&M budget on the social side? Put the facts on the table. If they are concerned about government social expenditures, or economic expenditures, or anything, I am interested in knowing exactly what they are. We will have further opportunity in Committee debate to pursue this further.
Speaker: Order please, I would like to remind the Member that he has three minutes in which to conclude his remarks.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
What is good about this budget is that we are living within our means, the funding targets an essential infrastructure, it balances better, our expenditures in the social, environmental and economic areas balances better, the economic programs are in large part intact, the significant land claims funding is a new addition to our budget, we are creating school space in areas where it most required, highways continue to be well funded, block funding has increased in this budget where other expenditures on the capital side were reduced. It is a vote of confidence and faith in our communities. I do not think anybody can doubt that.
The Member for Hootalinqua said he had to have a good, long look to find good things in this budget. The Member needs glasses. To be perfectly blunt, I find a great deal that is supportive in this budget and the criticisms from the Members opposite have been shallow and unconvincing. The criticism has not been well researched and, consequently, I cannot, in all conscience, agree that this budget is not a good one.
Consequently, I will have to vote for it.
Speaker: Division has been called. Mr. Clerk, would you kindly poll the House.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Agree.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Webster: Agree.
Hon. Ms. Joe: Agree.
Mr. Joe: Agree.
Ms. Kassi: Agree.
Ms. Hayden: Agree.
Mr. Phelps: Disagree.
Mr. Brewster: Disagree.
Mr. Phillips: Disagree.
Mr. Lang: Disagree.
Mrs. Firth: Disagree.
Mr. Nordling: Disagree.
Clerk: Mr. Speaker, the results are 7 yea, 6 nay.
Speaker: I declare the yeas have it.
Motion for second reading of Bill No. 19 agreed to
Bill No. 7: Second Reading
Clerk: Second reading, Bill No. 7, standing in the name of the hon. Mr. McDonald.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that Bill No. 7, entitled Fourth Appropriation Act, 1988-89, be now read a second time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Minister of Finance that Bill No. 7, entitled Fourth Appropriation Act, 1988-89, be now read a second time.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The purpose of the appropriation bills, as all Members are aware, is to vote funds required for the 1988-89 fiscal year that are in excess of the previously voted appropriations. The additional request is for $971,000 for operation and maintenance purposes in the Department of Health and Human Resources. While this vote was over spent, with the result that there is a need for the supplementary, I would point out to Members that when under expenditures are taken into account, the government under spent its vote appropriations by over $29 million in 1988-89. This is not counting the loan capital and the principal appropriations that were under spent by a further $686,000.
The $29 million figure I have just mentioned is somewhat exaggerated because of the methods used in the public accounts to record land development expenditures in the Department of Community and Transportation Services and loan expenditures in the Department of Economic Development: Mines and Small Business.
Since these expenditures are not a charge against our surplus, they are not netted out total expenditures in public accounts. A result of this is to understate expenditures for voted appropriations. In this regard, I refer Members to the deducted figures under the actual expenditure column for these departments on pages 63 and 64 of the 1988-89 Public Accounts.
When the adjustment is made for this under statement, the true net under expenditure by the government for the year in question is slightly over $23 million, excluding loan capital and principal. The Minister will be speaking to the over expenditure in Health and Human Resources during committee debate, so I will limit myself to a few general comments. Members will be aware of the escalating cost of health care that is occurring in Canada. There are numerous reasons for this phenomena, among which aging populations and increasingly sophisticated technological advances have been made in the medical area, and these are but several.
We are not insulated from this trend and find our costs in this regard rising at a far greater rate than can be explained simply by inflation and population increases. Members will appreciate the difficulty in predicting the demand-driven costs that we are required to fund. Despite a supplementary request for these purposes tabled during our last sitting, we found that even more was required and, hence, the bill before you. This funding could not be picked up through the commitment control system, as the charges came in after year-end.
The voted sums for 1988-89 contain no provision for contingencies, a practice not uncommon elsewhere in Canada and one that was previously used in the Yukon. Were we to have included contingencies in our votes, we may well have avoided the need for this appropriation. I believe, however, that all Members of the House would agree that contingency votes are nothing more than slush funds that can be used to avoid legislative accountability and are, therefore, best avoided.
There is one other matter related to the supplementary public accounts that I would like to ask Members to take note of. In note 15, on page 29 of the public accounts, Members will notice that the Yukon Housing Corporation is shown as having over spent its vote by $124,000. This item relates to the 1987-88 year, where the corporations audit was completed at too late a date to be incorporated into the governments accounts where estimates of the corporations deficit had to be used. However, the actual figures were known when the final supplementary for 1987-88 was prepared, and the correct over expenditure was used in that supplementary. Therefore, the $124,000 shown in note 15 in this years public accounts was voted by the House in the appropriation bill accompanying the 1987-88 Supplementary No. 3, which we debated during the spring session. However, the item does have to appear in the public accounts for the year 1988-89, because it was not reported in the 1987-88 public accounts. The Minister of Health and Human Resources would be prepared to debate the supplementary in committee.
Mr. Phelps: I will be brief. The primary concern on this side of the House is the inaccuracy of the forecasting of government when it is coming forward with its budgets and with its estimates and forecasts. The forecasts we were given last spring, very close to the fiscal year-end, had gone from a surplus of approximately $5 million to a huge deficit in the $19 million range. Now, we have gone back to an actual surplus of $5,325,000. I could not let this speech go by without commenting on the wild fluctuations and to state that I hope, by this March, the government will have a better handle on what to expect by the end of March than it did the year last March.
There have been concerns raised about Health and Human Resources. I am sure my colleague, the Member for Porter Creek West, will have something to say about that.
Mr. Nordling: I will save most of my questions for Committee of the Whole debate. I would like to make one comment with respect to the Ministers use of the term slush fund. Was he accusing anyone of anything by using that term? This term was used before, and the Minister of Health and Human Resources talked about the great implications of those words and misappropriation of funds. Is that what the Minister of Finance is doing in saying that, in having a contingency expense line, there was misappropriation of funds in the past?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The Member for Porter Creek West must have completely misheard my colleague, the Minister of Finance. The Minister was simply making the point that has been made before in this House, that the only way in some areas to ensure that you do not over spend is to have contingency funds. In the past, when departments have had contingency funds, it has led to comments in this Legislature, and probably others, about the accuracy and the efficacy of that budgeting. The term slush fund has occasionally been used. Nothing the Minister said indicated any accusation. He was reflecting on comments made in the past about the use of contingency funds.
As I pointed out earlier in my comment on the budget, rising health care costs are a fact of life across the country. Factors contributing to the rising costs are an aging population, escalating costs of new medical technology and operating health care facilities, increased costs of pharmaceutical supplies and a shortage of nurses and other medical professionals.
We might also want to note, given the comments made earlier today, that an improving economy has meant that the population of the territory has increased quite substantially. I think it has increased at a rate of something like five percent a year and that has also contributed to cost increases, and the operating costs of the government overall in program expenditures have been close to the rate of inflation. They have not taken into account every year the full impact of the increases in population.
As I have said, the Yukon is experiencing the same kind of problems other jurisdictions are experiencing. Like other jurisdictions, the health care costs in the Yukon are rising at a higher rate than the rate of inflation and a higher rate than the overall growth in our budget. For example, out-of-territory hospital per diem rates, physician billings and air fares have increased dramatically over the last few years. Those are costs over which we have no control. It is also the case that new diagnostic technology has meant increased out-patient referrals to out-of-territory hospitals that have the new equipment. These too are costs beyond our control.
It is true, as the Leader of the Official Opposition has noted in this debate, that we have underestimated the increasing health needs of Yukoners because of these factors and because of the difficulties in forecasting. As I have said earlier, it has also been the case that we have not had the resources, particularly the computer technology, before 1987, to make tracking of historical trends possible. In the health field we are told it takes at least five years and sometimes up to 10 before health cost trends can be put into their proper context. I want to assure all Members, and particularly the Leader of the Official Opposition who raised the point in debate today, that the fact that we underestimated health care costs did not mean that Yukoners suffered. As we have said before, when the people of the Yukon demand certain kinds of health care services, they have received them. It is our commitment that they shall continue to receive the health services they require no matter what financial difficulties face us.
Last spring, the House approved a supplementary budget in the amount of $2.47 million for health services. It is a source of regret to me that this increase was not enough to meet the actual costs of health needs of Yukon families. I have said before that we do not have as much control as would be ideal over most of these costs and I have previously outlined the factors that influence the costs and the difficulties in forecasting them. As the Minister of Finance said, in this supplementary we are asking for a total of $971,000 to cover expenditures in health care for Yukon people last year. Actual over expenditures in health care costs for this period were $1,821,000. These over expenditures were offset to under expenditures in other areas of the same department.
Due to the comment made by the Leader of the Official Opposition, I want to point out to him that the problem of forecasting is not new and in our review of the forecasting situation and the budgeting problem, we have been able to track the situation back quite a few years. I think the largest single adjustment that had to be made to the budget in my life in this House was in the 1982-83 year where the expenditures were over by $7.4 million. They were over by almost $1 million in, I think, the 1979-80 year. They were over again, as we all know, in 1986-87. The trend about which I have spoken earlier became more and more apparent and alarming in the last couple of years, and we have had to have supplementaries for those years, as we have in many years before, in order to adjust for it.
The adjustment that is proposed in the supplementary that we will be dealing with next and in the mains before the House this year will hopefully give us a number which represents more accurately the actual expenditures, but I do hope that all Members will understand, as I have said before, that we do our best to do accurate forecasting, but because of the nature of the way in which the hospital insurance system works, I doubt if it will ever be possible to be perfectly accurate in our budgeting in this area, for the very simple reason that the costs are an aggregate of hundreds and hundreds of health care decisions made by patients and doctors.
We have a statutory obligation to meet the cost of those decisions. I doubt if there is a Member in this House who would like to make an argument for a situation where the government, or any other body, was so much in control of the costs that they were able to deny to any resident the kind of health services that are required. That is the reason for the supplementary before us today. I submit it is not a case of poor management, it is simply a case of the government meeting its statutory obligation to pay for the health care needs of the people of the Yukon Territory.
Motion for second reading of Bill No. 7 agreed to
Bill No. 13: Second Reading
Clerk: Second reading, Bill No. 13, standing in the name of the Hon. Mr. McDonald.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that Bill No. 13, entitled Second Appropriation Act 1989-90, be now read a second time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Finance that Bill No. 13, entitled Second Appropriation Act 1989-90, be now read a second time.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The purpose of this bill is to vote additional monies for the 1989-90 fiscal year. $21,432,000 in net supplementary funding is being requested in the bill before you. This net total is made up of some $23,772,000 in additional authority being sought for some departments, less $2,340,000 in previously voted funds that are now not required by other departments.
While additional funds of $21.4 million are required, the impact of the supplementary upon our projected deficit for the year is only approximately $18 million. Essentially, this has occurred because some of the new expenditures are offset by accompanying recoveries.
We will be speaking to the specifics of the supplementary in some detail during Committee of the Whole. I will take a few moments to point out some of the major items contained in the bill.
The net revenue inflow of the government has increased by $3.5 million. This is made up of an increase of $1,157,000 in our locally-raised revenues, a small drop in our established programs, financing entitlement, a rise in recoveries, and a relatively small increase of $769,000 in our transfer payment from Canada.
The transfer payment calculation takes account of a number of changes in our revenues and recoveries and changes in projected Canadian/provincial local expenditures. The increase in locally raised revenues is principally due to increased income tax revenues and liquor corporation taxes and income. The higher than anticipated income tax receipts are welcome news as they reflect the general health of our economy.
The federal transfer payment has increased largely because of favourable updates by the provincial/local escalator component of the formula financing calculation, while current estimates of our EPF entitlements from the federal government show a slight decline in that revenue source.
It should be noted, as I know Members are aware, that this reduction in EPF relates solely to the updates of information and is not the result of the three per cent cut in the EPF escalator the federal government has imposed upon the provinces. The fail-safe clauses of the formula financing agreement have protected us from these provincial reductions.
The change in recoveries is composed of numerous ups and downs in a variety of departments and is best discussed in Committee of the Whole debate with those departments.
One of the largest changes is simply the reduction in our recovery under loan capital that reflected an equivalent reduction in the associated expenditure for loans to municipalities, which will not be needing as much as had originally been voted in the 1989-90 main estimates.
We are projecting increased O&M expenditures of approximately $9.9 million. The Executive Council Office will require an additional $486,000. The bulk of these funds are to cover increased costs associated with land claims negotiations and the French and Aboriginal Languages Program where the additional cost is fully recoverable from the federal government.
The Department of Community and Transportation Services is requesting $913,000. These monies are required for a variety of purposes, among which are additional home owner grants and Whitehorse transit costs to provide for sending Team Yukon to the Arctic Winter Games in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories.
At the same time, O&M recoveries have increased by almost $200,000. The largest O&M supplement required for the current year is in the Department of Health and Human Resources, where an additional $6.2 million is needed, principally for the health services program. Members are aware of the rising cost of health care, a phenomena being experienced by every government in Canada.
Members will also recall a supplementary we passed at the spring sitting, which also referred to this. Unfortunately, the supplementary came too late for inclusion in the 1989-90 main estimates and, consequently, the base of the Department of Health and Human Resources was not able to be adjusted for the new information we received regarding our health care costs. One million dollars of the apparent increase requirement is merely the result of a change in accounting policy for reciprocal billing agreements and is accompanied by a new recovery of a similar amount. The Minister of Health and Human Resources will be speaking to these matters during Committee of the Whole.
The Department of Justice will require a supplementary in the amount of $955,000. The funds are largely required for legal services associated with Meech Lake and a number of other issues of importance to the territory, for the transfer of the mine safety program from the federal government and policing costs associated with our RCMP contract.
The Yukon Housing Corporation has made provision for an additional $586,000 to cover annual depreciation, a non-cash item that must be recorded on its books at year-end. Capital spending for the year will be approximately $12.9 million higher than the sum voted in the main estimates. While there are a number of explanations for this increased requirement, in general terms it can be explained largely by the revote of expenditures voted in 1988-89 but which, for a number of reasons, were not incurred in that year and, therefore, lapsed at year-end.
Revote items contained in these estimates total approximately $12.5 million; therefore, new capital money being requested that has not previously been seen by Members actually totals only about $400,000 on a net basis. At the same time, capital recoveries have increased by more than $1.4 million. All capital votes, save the Department of Tourism, which shows no change, and the Yukon Housing Corporation, which shows a reduction in excess of $1 million, require additional funds. Most of these, as I have mentioned, are for revote purposes.
As Members will know, I have only mentioned the more significant sums contained in the supplementary, and there are a number of smaller amounts required by some departments that we can discuss in Committee of the Whole. I am sure Members have a number of questions about the particular line items, and we can discuss those in detail in committee.
Mr. Phelps: I will be very brief, because our concerns are very similar to our concerns expressed about the previous bill as well as long before that.
The problem of forecasting and the necessity to lapse and then revote is something of concern to us on this side.
In this budget of course the increase in the Department of Health is significant, and I am sure we will be dealing with that to some degree when we get into Committee of the Whole. Those are the comments I have of a general nature at this time.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I just would like to make one point in response to a point made by the Leader of the Official Oppositions very important one.
I think he would be pleased to know that, if he takes a look at the trend line over the last number of years, the lapses, as a percentage of the total budget of the territory, have been shrinking. That is a positive and reassuring development that I am sure will give him some comfort. For reasons I am sure we will get into in committee, we can perhaps discuss the impossibility of achieving expenditures that perfectly match the budget. However, I did want to make the point about the long-term trend, which I think is healthy.
Motion for the second reading of Bill No. 13 agreed to
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair and the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Government House Leader that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
Speaker leaves the Chair
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order.
We will recess until 7:30 p.m.
Chair: I will now call the Committee of the Whole to order.
We will begin with Bill No. 7, Fourth Appropriation Act, 1988-89.
Bill No. 7: Fourth Appropriation Act, 1988-89
Chair: Is there general debate?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Just to get things rolling, once again, this bill requests an additional spending authority of $971,000 for the fiscal year 1988-89.
This authority is required despite the fact that the final accounts for that year show the government under spent just over $23 million. One appropriation was over spent in 1988-89, as Members know. We do vote monies by individual appropriation rather than by net total expenditures, so the Minister of Health and Human Resources will be speaking to the specifics of the additional funding approval required by his department.
Mr. Nordling: I have just a couple of comments on general debate. I think that the Minister of Health and Human Resources and the Minister of Finance are somewhat confused in that their reasons for not being able to budget accurately for health services are because of an aging population and a few other excuses. I have nothing against the aging population, but there is a difference between over spending in a department and budgeting. Both the former Minister of Health and Human Resources and the Minister of Finance have talked about the rising costs. Obviously, if we know that the costs are rising, we should be able to budget for that. We know that the population is getting a little bit older. I do not want to hear the excuse anymore that we are missing out in our ability to budget because we cannot forecast increases we know are coming. We know health care costs are rising. We have been told they are rising all across Canada, and the problem is not unique to the territory. We are getting reviews and getting a handle on it. If we are doing all that, then why can we not be more accurate in our budget forecasts? By that I mean increasing the budgets to meet the increased costs. That is all I have to say in general debate.
The other comment I would like to make is that when we do get into the line items, I am surprised that the $971,000 that is being asked for is under one line called operation and maintenance expenditures instead of being broken down as it normally is or divided up into, for example, extra for health services or social services or community and family services. What we have is one line. I know the Minister is going to stand up and rattle off all the six or seven different figures that make up this $971,000, and he will rattle off a couple more figures that mitigate the total. It makes it very difficult to debate. If we take this to the extreme, what we could have is one line item for the whole budget. For example, they could say, $342,500 is it. Now ask questions about it. We are getting less information than we were before. I do not know why this is, but it makes it a lot more difficult.
Just to put the comment on the record, perhaps this government has secrets. It seems that this is what we are up against: everything is a secret until we ask about it, so perhaps what the $971,000 is made up of is a secret until we ask about it.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: That was a brilliantly witty observation, and I am sure we are all entertained by it. Let me just deal with the other comment by the Member, which was his confusion about the difference between costs and forecasting. Let me say first that one of the factors we refer to in terms of rising health care costs here and everywhere else in the country was an aging population. A second problem we referred to was the difficulty of forecasting. We did not, at any point in the debate, say the difficulty in forecasting came from an aging population. Forgive me, Madam Chair, we did not. They are two entirely separate problems. The problem of forecasting has to do with the difficulty of establishing trend lines on health care costs, and that arises from a number of problems that I described previously. Sometimes we do not get the bills. We have not been having the bills from hospitals for some years afterwards. I explained earlier, as I have on other occasions, that adequate trend lines sometimes require an examination of a five- or 10-year trend to really establish them. If the Members wish to get into the problem of trends in great detail, I am happy to do that, because the trend lines for every jurisdiction in the country, in the short term, vary quite dramatically, but in the long run, they are quite consistent. Tracking the percentage change in health spending for the last 10 years indicates that even though health care costs rose here quite dramatically, it is interesting that it was, even on that 10-year time frame, lower than in other jurisdictions until the 1987-88 fiscal year. It did increase then. That contributes to the difficulty of forecasting.
The problem of forecasting is compounded by the difficulty of establishing clear trend lines. But just to emphasize the point, we did not attribute the difficulty of forecasting to the fact that we have more elderly people in the population; that would be absurd.
The Member says that they have less and less information. This is something that actually gets public servants in the territory quite upset, because they can obviously, very quickly, every time they hear a remark like that in the House, point to the amount of information that is being provided now, as compared with previous years and that is, of course, much greater than before.
I will be happy, in dealing with the $971,000 item here, to go through it in considerable detail, and I can do that early in the debate, or wait until we get to the departmental line, which is what I suspect you would prefer me to do. Either way, Madam Chair, I am in your hands on that score. In broad terms, though, let me explain to Members in the House, as I did earlier, that there is a very substantial expenditure over the budget of $1,821,000, and that is offset by the under expenditures in other areas. I can detail those as we go through this, as well, when we get to the line.
Mr. Nordling: Yes, that is just my point, and I am glad the Minister made it for me. We are going to get 15 or 20 numbers, and we will have to deal with them now when, if he has them, they could have been put into the budget book for us. What we are dealing with is Supplementary No. 2. Supplementary No. 1 was for over $3 million, and now we have to decide where these things are not being budgeted accurately and where we are under spending. It is very difficult to do when we do not have figures in front of us.
If the Minister does have a breakdown of the figures in writing on a piece of paper, perhaps he could send it over to this side for us to look at. It would make it much easier to follow than to try and write them down as he stands up and reads them out.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: As you indicated to me a moment ago, when we get to this department, I will read the information into the record, because I only have one copy here, and it is not on a single page and, at that point, we will establish to what degree of detail the Member on the other side of the House wishes to have the information. There are several layers of detail we can get into. I will be happy to provide him with the information in answer to his questions as expeditiously as I can, in as great a detail as he wishes.
Chair: Is there further general debate?
Mrs. Firth: I would like to ask a question. In his general debate on this specific supplementary estimate, the Minister of Finance may have explained earlier about the Yukon Housing Corporation in the report on any other matter, or the report to the Legislative Assembly of the Yukon Territory from the Auditor General for the year ended March 31, 1989. There is a $124,000 over expenditure for the Yukon Housing Corporation, as well. Could the Minister explain to us why that is not included in this supplementary estimate?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Yukon Housing Corporations audit for 1987-88 was completed too late to incorporate it into the corporations final actual figures in the public accounts for last year. The publication date was late. What happened was the funds were picked up by Supplementary No. 1 last spring and were voted at that time for the previous year. So the short answer is that the final audit was not completed in time for incorporation into the 1987-88 public accounts; it was picked up in the spring of 1989 in the supplementary and, because we had voted it already, we were not required to vote it in this supplementary.
Mrs. Firth: I do not recall that debate. Did the Minister bring it to our attention? It would have been before having this report from the Auditor General. Could he tell us exactly what it was for and whether or not it was brought to our attention when we did the debate on Supplementary No. 1 in 1989?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I can pinpoint the debate and remind the Member of the explanation from the Minister responsible for the Housing Corporation, which the Members believe was convoluted. The Member may remember the description of the depreciation figure in the budget. I remember the discussion quite well because it seemed to be unfathomable to some Members of the House. Nevertheless the Minister for the Housing Corporation did provide such a discussion then.
Chair: We will proceed with line-by-line?
Health and Human Resources
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I misspoke myself earlier today when I said the over expenditure was $1,821,000. I would like to correct that figure in a moment.
For the benefit of Members, and particularly my critic, I would like to go through the numbers on a branch by branch basis. Then, if he wishes to have greater detail following that he can indicate where he would like greater detail and I can take it from there.
I should explain that the over expenditures on the health program alone were as follows: the total expenditures were $2,070,000. The under expenditures in this branch were $249,000, leaving a net total variance on the health branch of $1,821,000. I will indicate broadly what the background for those are and he can decide what further detail he wants.
The over expenditures were made up of two broad areas. The first was a 17 per cent volume increase in physicians services, over expenditures in medical travel, chronic diseases and the pharmacare program, which amounted to an over expenditure of $1,316,000.
In addition to that we had an increase in a number of items, the most significant of which was out-of-Yukon patients services where we had a 20 per cent volume increase and more than a 12 per cent increase by the average per diem rate charged by the out-of-territory hospitals. Those are rates over which we have no control. Those two added up to $754,000. As the Member will see, the $1,316,000 and the $754,000 add up to the over expenditures of $2,070,000 that I indicated earlier.
That was offset by under expenditures in the personnel area coming from vacancies and positions and an AIDS campaign that was delayed and a community mental health planning project which was postponed, and is underway for this fiscal year.
I will now move on to the Juvenile Justice Program and explain the offsets there. We had a total over expenditure of $78,000. The components of that expenditure were $54,000 on the personnel side, where we required auxiliaries for facility services. The Member would be aware of group homes and other facilities we operate under the Young Offenders Program.
We had an increase in the number of days in care in the British Columbia secure facility that we have been using due to the delay in the completion of the young offenders facility here. This resulted in an expenditure of $42,000 over and above what we expected. There was a reduction in the transfer payment that came to an under expenditure of $18,000; that reconciled itself to a $78,000 over expenditure in the Juvenile Justice Program.
In Policy, Planning and Administration, we had under expenditures in personnel and in internal training. These reductions amounted to $97,000 as a result of the vacancies. There was also a reduction in development courses provided by Yukon College that did not happen under the transfer payment line. This was a reduction of $89,000. This netted an under expenditure of $186,000.
We also have a significant under expenditure in Community and Family Services. We had an over expenditure in the personnel area of $10,000. We had an under expenditure of $191,000 arising out of our contract with the Yukon Family Services Association and vacancies in the Family Support Program. There were reductions in the contract for the production of a manual for the department due to delays. The child care consultation was under budget. Advertising and other contracts were under spent. This totalled $191,000. We had a lower case load than expected in Regional Services, which resulted in an under expenditure of $45,000. This added up to an under expenditure of $226,000 in that branch.
To continue with the social services branch, we had a total under expenditure of $604,000. That was made up of the following: we had an over expenditure on the personnel line in the social services area, because we had to use more casual positions in the detox operation because of the client demand there. We had term positions required for case control positions. The homemakers were set up as auxiliary employees under this year, and we needed some term positions for vocational rehabilitation. That added up to an over expenditure, as I said, of $166,000.
We had under expenditures in the other line, which involved reduced activity or activity below what was budgeted in the Ministerial Advisory Committee, and I guess the delay of the Woodlands client transfer planning was slower than expected. In fact I remember debating this with the Member for Porter Creek East in the estimates in the spring. You will remember that the Woodlands program was coming to us; that did not happen as quickly as we anticipated, and there was an under expenditure in the area of the homemakers program. That added up to a total under expenditures on that side of $441,000.
Due to the fact that we required less money in the financial assistance programs of the social services area, we had an under expenditure of $329,000. If you net the over expenditures in personnel, the under expenditures in the service side and the transfer payment side, the total under expenditures in social services is $604,000.
Reconciling the under expenditures in the social services, community and family services, policy planning and administration branch, with the small over expenditure of the Juvenile Justice Program and the very significant over expenditure in the health care program, comes to, I hope, $971,000.
Mr. Nordling: My point is made for me again. I would like to make it clear that I was not blaming the civil servants for the lack of information in the supplementary estimate. I know they have done their work and have all the figures. I was blaming the Minister for not instructing that a little more of the information be put in so we do not have to go through this long, drawn-out process we have entered into. The Minister can instruct the civil service what to put in the budget.
The thing that I was not clear about when we talked about the health branch was that there was over expenditure - the Minister talked about the 17 percent volume in doctors billings, the chronic disease list, the pharmacare and the out-of-Yukon services being up - and then he mentioned they were offset by personnel that was under expended, delay in the AIDS awareness program and community health delays, but I did not get any figures for how much those things were under. I wonder if the Minister has those before I go on to ask about Juvenile Justice and the other departments?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I apologize for that. That was an under expenditure in that group of things of $31,000. I will elaborate. In the personnel line, we had $218,000 under expenditure; $31,000 in those other programs under expenditure; adding up to a total under expenditure of $249,000. So, the net over expenditure in the health branch was $1,821,000.
Mr. Nordling: Was the Minister saying personnel was under spent $218,000? If so, is there more detail on what personnel we would have had, or should have had, for that amount?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Those were vacancies in positions. If the Member would like a list of positions that were vacant for what periods, that can be obtained.
Mr. Nordling: Yes, I would like a list of those vacant positions. I do not have to have it tonight, but I would like it sometime soon.
Again, I think I have the figures for Juvenile Justice, and they speak for themselves. On Policy, Planning and Administration, again we were under in personnel and training. I would appreciate it if the Minister could get me a breakdown of what personnel we were missing there that resulted in that $97,000. The Minister may have to correct me, but we were also under in the college development course for $89,000. Does he have any more information on what that was and if it has been done since?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I believe I gave the Member a figure of $97,000 for the result of the vacancy and training that did not take place as a result of the vacancy. The other significant item there was $89,000. As the Member may recall, there was quite a bit of publicity about a social service workers training course at the college. By the time the contribution agreement was negotiated with the college, the course did not start as early as we had hoped. I think it was only offered in the final third of the year. One of the three courses that were offered actually happened this year, so there was $89,000 lapsed in this budget year.
Mr. Nordling: Could the Minister give me more detail on the $97,000? What person were we missing that resulted in that? Is it one position, or two, or was it the training costs as well as the wage?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I believe it was the director of policy and planning and some of the work he was involved in. He went to another branch. When I get the personnel breakdown, which I indicated earlier I would get from the health branch, I can also provide the information on that to the Member.
Mr. Nordling: I would appreciate that. On Community and Family Services, the Minister indicated we under expended $191,000 as a result of the contract with the Family Services Association. Does he have more detail with respect to that? It seems like quite a bit. I would like to know what was not done that we hoped to do.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I hope I did not confuse the Member in my answer. The money there is not the result entirely for the Family Services agreement. One element of it was that we had less expenditure due to that secondment, as the Member may know. A fairly prominent member of the Department of Health and Human Resources was seconded to Yukon Family Services. The secondment arrangements did not cost as much as originally budgeted, and that involved an under expenditure here of $16,000 specifically for that amount.
As well, there were vacancies in the family support program, which led to an under expenditure of $20,000. Then, there were some placement issues where we were having to place severely disturbed teenagers. We had some clients who were due to go to B.C. who did not end up staying in British Columbian institutions, for which we had anticipated an expenditure. As I mentioned, the contract for the departmental manual was delayed, and the child care consultation was under budget.
All those items led to an under expenditure of $126,000.
The final item in the list was advertising and other contracts under spent to the tune of $20,000, leading to a total under expenditure in the other line of the Community & Family Services Program of $191,000.
Mr. Nordling: The only figures I have are $16,000 for the secondment, $20,000 for family support, and $20,000 for advertising. That is $56,000. Does the Minister have the numbers or the amounts we did not spend for the teenagers to be placed in B.C., the manual and the child care consultants?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: It was $126,000: $16,000 reduced expenditure on the secondment to Family Services, $20,000 in vacancies in the family support program, $126,000 for a series of items including the teen placements, the contract for the manual and the child care consultation, and the advertising and other contracts under spent for $20,000. That is a total of $191,000 under spent on that line.
Mr. Nordling: Does the Minister have the $126,000 broken down?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The information I have indicates the three largest items I indicated to him. A more detailed breakdown I do not have and would have to provide it if the Member wishes. The one thing I am hesitant on is teen placements. I hope the Member will understand that out of a respect for privacy I can only provide a certain amount of information on those matters. I do not want to indicate the identity of clients, but I can give an aggregate number in that area. Maybe we can temper that.
Mr. Nordling: Confidentiality is no problem if we just can have the dollar amount that goes with that line.
There was an under expenditure of $441,000 in Social Services. The Minister gave a few of the reasons, such as the Ministerial Advisory Committee, delay of the Woodlands transfer and savings under the homemakers program. Does the Minister have a more detailed breakdown of those savings?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The two most significant items in the list of the $441,000 were in the Home Care Program, 1988-89, that under spent by $222,000, and the Woodlands client transfer planning, which the Member will recall debating in the spring, was under spent by $162,000. There was some $16,000 under travel, which was frozen at a point in this period. The Ministerial Advisory Committee activity was under spent by $38,000, and there was $3,000 under spent in supplies and communications than we had anticipated.
Mr. Nordling: I will wait for the breakdown that the Minister offered to provide.
The next item was $329,000 that was not spent on financial assistance. Can the Minister advise why we missed by so much in that category?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: We had fewer people applying for social assistance. This is an opportunity I would hope to get into in the main estimates since there was some comment last year about why the number of clients was climbing when the economy was improving. A look at the numbers seem to indicate that the profile of clients is changing. The typical client on social assistance is only spending three-and-a-fraction months on social assistance. In other words, it is transitional assistance and we regard that as an encouraging development.
There are other indices that I will discuss in the main estimates where the pattern of expenditure is going up. For example, as a result of the number of identified cases of child sexual abuse and kids coming into care, demands are being produced on the department, thereby leading to expenditures that we will see above those budgeted for in this current year.
Mr. Lang: I would like to scrutinize the under expenditure of $220,000 in the homemakers program that was referred to earlier. What was the total amount spent on that particular program in that year?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I have to do the arithmetic to give the Member the exact figure. In this year, which is at an early stage of development, $260,000 remains to be spent in the program. I can give the Member the precise number, but it involves doing the arithmetic between the $483,575, which was budgeted there, and what was actually spent. The under expenditure was a little less than half. The program did not get into its full swing as soon as we had hoped, which often happens with relatively new programs.
Mr. Lang: I am just going on memory here, but I believe that program started in 1987. From all reports that I have received from people who have benefited from the assistance provided, this is an excellent program. In fact, if anything, what alarms me here is that they are cutting back on this program to offset costs in others when, in some cases, because of the so-called budget constraints, some families are maybe getting two, three, four hours a day, when perhaps it should getting even more. I would like to know why we had such an under expenditure, because the program had already been established. It was not the case of a new program just getting started.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am almost certain that was not the case. There was, believe me, no instruction to cut back on this program. I am sure the Member for Porter Creek East will recall, this spring, very extensive discussions I had with his colleague from Riverdale North about the difficulties we had recruiting certain kinds of staff for the program, a staff that would make it possible for us to deliver: an occupational therapist, physiotherapist, and some of those kinds of professional skills. I will check this, but I am pretty sure that, during the period that we talking about, we had a number of vacancies that we could not fill and neither could we contract for them; nor could we hire for them, in order to be able to deliver the program as we had hoped to be able to do. I will check the specific facts on that score. I think that the positions that we now have in the program are basically staffed and we are able to meet many of the demands. As the Member says, this is an excellent program and I am sure we will have, in coming years, increasing demands on it.
Mr. Nordling: I would like to go back to the social services program, the financial assistance. The under expenditure was $329,000. The Minister said that fewer people applied and this was an encouraging sign. I would like to know if the Minister will provide me with some evidence of that because I am a little suspicious. In Supplementary No. 1 we allocated an extra $363,000 to the social services program, so I would like to see evidence that fewer people are applying for social assistance, or did in the year ending 1989.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am sure it is my fault, but the Member misunderstood me completely. I did not say that fewer people were applying. The pattern that is changing is that people on social assistance are staying on social assistance for a shorter period; that is the improvement. I think what we are seeing is that many of the people on social assistance are single parents, but they may be people who are moving, when their unemployment insurance runs out, to being on social assistance for a short period before they find themselves back in the job market. If, in fact, the social assistance is increasingly becoming a transitional support mechanism, I would think that that would be a healthy trend. Because the trends here are worth some comment and some analysis, when we come to the mains, I would like to provide some more of this kind of information and describe to the Member, not only what I would regard as a healthy trend such as this, but also some of the trends that are not so healthy, and which cause us some concern, such as the ones I indicated in terms of older children coming into care and child sexual abuse and some of those phenomena that are causing us some concern.
Mr. Nordling: I look forward to receiving that. Maybe we could get it a day or two before we debate Health and Human Resources in the mains. If I could have a look at it, it may cut down the questions and the time.
I have one more question on Community and Family Services. There was an under expenditure of $45,000 given on regional services. What regional services were not provided that resulted in that under expenditure?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: It is simply a question of lower caseload. Fewer cases came to our attention than were expected and budgeted.
In reference to the Members comment regarding the $360,000 in the supplementary, that sum was for vocational rehabilitation activity, not for social assistance. We will have an opportunity to discuss that when we get to it.
Mr. Nordling: I do not have any more questions on this line item. It is frustrating to go through all these numbers. There may be some area that merits questioning that I have missed. I will not know that until I have read the Blues and gone through the main estimates. I may find that I should have asked about that $78,000 in Juvenile Justice because it is something that should not have happened. In that sense, I feel frustrated with the discussion of the amount.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: In terms of the statistical information that is relevant to debating the questions that arise from the main estimates, I will make an earnest endeavour to get that information to him as soon as possible. I am happy, whatever the alphabetical sequence of the departmental estimates in the book, to give him sufficient time from the time I provide him that information until the time we actually discuss them.
If the Member is expressing some serious concern about the juvenile justice program, we can review the numbers again. In personnel we did have an over expenditure because we needed auxiliaries in the facilities. We have open custody and, now, secure custody facilities. I can be precise about the fact that we needed extra auxiliary help. We had a ruling under occupational health and safety grounds that we did not have adequate staff on the night shift. There was a case in Ontario of a serious assault, perhaps even a murder, of a juvenile justice worker in a group home. As a result of that, there was a ruling in that jurisdiction that the persons on duty on the midnight shift could not be left alone in charge of young offenders. There had to be two persons per shift. As a result of that, we had to increase the staffing. We did it by way of auxiliaries rather than permanent positions. That led to an increase in personnel expenditure of $54,000.00.
In the other area, because our secure custody facility was not competed on schedule because the contractors took longer than we had hoped, we had some young offenders in facilities in British Columbia that cost us an extra $42,000.
In the transfer payment area we had an under expenditure of $18,000. That netted out to $78,000.
There is not a lot more I can tell the Member about those numbers. This is the information that describes it.
Mr. Nordling: I was just using Juvenile Justice as an example, because I had not asked any questions about it. As I said, the numbers speak for themselves. It was just to illustrate a feeling of a little discomfort.
In speaking of Juvenile Justice, perhaps we will have to have a few more auxiliaries. I do not know the details of the escape today, but obviously something slipped up somewhere and one of our young offenders got away. I do not even know if it was our secure custody facility or from the courthouse, but somehow he did escape. Thankfully, the news reports have told us he is not deemed to be dangerous.
With the Ministers undertaking to provide more information on some of these amounts when we get to the mains, I am prepared to clear this item.
Mr. Lang: I want to raise my other question. Perhaps he mentioned it earlier and I missed it, but I would like to ask about the chronic care list. Is there an over expenditure in that area and, if so, how much?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Yes, there was a very significant over expenditure in that area of $446,000. As a result of that over expenditure, I am now reviewing the program with officials in the department and re-examining some suggestions made by one Member opposite and others in the health profession about this program. I hope this winter to make some decisions on that and to be able to announce them in the House.
Mrs. Firth: What is the total cost of that program now?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I assume the Member means in the year that is under review. If the Member gives me a moment, I will have an answer to that question.
The number I have for the year we are discussing is $866,000.
Mr. Lang: Just to pursue this a little further, is it true that a number of members of the public service, who are presently covered through an insurance of some kind, are now going under the chronic disease list as opposed to the insurance because they do not have to pay the 20 percent that is required, or whatever the cost sharing is?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The problem the Member is referring to is one where, under this program, we have become the insurer of first resort instead of the insurer of last resort, and it is in exactly that area that I am considering recommending changes.
Mr. Lang: I just want to pursue this a little further. It is a startling figure to come up in this House. I think that program started in 1986-87, if I remember correctly. At that time, we were told the program was going to cost in the neighbourhood of $150,000 to $170,000. Now, we are staring at a bill of just under $900,000. That is in the year completed in 1988-89. It does not count this past year we are presently in. I want to register my serious concern that we have allowed this to go on as long as it has without taking some corrective action. Concern about how the program was set up has been raised on numerous occasions by this side of the House, without any guidelines or criteria, leaving it open to significant abuse. I believe the recommendations the Minister refers to are recommendations that were put in about a year ago, if my memory serves me. I feel that what has happened here is irresponsible. I would hope he would find time in his busy schedule in the next couple of weeks to make some decisions on this very important matter. As every week goes by, we are obviously talking thousands of dollars. We are not talking a few dollars every week.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am sorry the Member feels the need to be smarmy about it. I am dealing with this very seriously. It is a serious health care expenditure issue. I am looking at it and I indicated earlier that I hope to be making announcements in this session. I do not promise to do it in this sitting because in the number of days we have before Christmas I do not think we are going to reach final conclusions on it.
The problems of becoming an insurer of last resort as opposed to an insurer of first resort is a very important policy issue for me. Let me say to Members, though, that I know from having talked to families all over the territory that this is an extraordinarily popular program for very good reason. There are a lot of people who have had, prior to the introduction to this program, quite crippling bills for drugs. I know families with several members with chronic diseases who have had a very difficult time of it.
I get the Members point that if there are wealthy people with other insurance systems available to them, there is no reason why we should be incurring costs in that area. We will be looking at that and examining the entire program.
I should also tell Members that I am taking a look at what is happening in other jurisdictions. I am pretty sure I do not want to go the route that some other jurisdictions have gone where, having introduced, initially, fairly generous programs in this area to meet real human needs, they then found they grew so quickly they then had to introduce radical surgery, which dealt with the problem of cost but not the problem of need. I know the solutions Saskatchewan brought in to deal with their pharmacare program, for example, produced a savings of $55 million for their province - a very substantial sum of money - but obviously when you make such a program public, it has an impact on the people.
I hope the Member will understand that even though this is a serious financial issue, it is also a substantial health care issue. I will be making some decisions expeditiously but I want to look at not only what our options are here, but also what the experiences are in the other provinces; I am doing that now.
Mr. Lang: I just want to say that this side was never opposed to the principle of the program. We have always said that in order to have the program and keep it within some realistic figure, there had to be some guidelines and some criteria established. I feel it is too bad that it has gone on as long as it has.
I feel we all have a responsibility here. I do not think the Minister should stand here and imply that he feels more for his fellow man than any other Member in the House. That is not the case. I just want to say that there is some responsibility from us from a government point of view and from the Legislature that guidelines be put in place so that those who need the help can be helped. It should not be a situation in which, although the Minister has not come out and said it, we are seeing some advantage being taken of this when some individuals could benefit from other insurance claims.
Mrs. Firth: I would like to ask the Minister some questions about what direction he wants to go with this program, particularly in light of the comments he just made about radical surgery not being the way to deal with the problem. I would like to ask the Minister exactly what he is going to look at. Is he going to look at the participants paying a certain portion of their bill, like they do in other provinces? Is he going to look at perhaps reducing some of the eligibility diseases that were added to the list? Although he may not have the policy ready for this session, I would like to get some idea of what kind of change he is talking about.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I will be looking at what every other jurisdiction in this country has done. That includes some of the other jurisdictions that have gone to user fees. Some have got into discussions of paring the lists of eligible diseases or eligible drugs on their programs. That is among the range of options.
In Saskatchewan they have set up a centralized computer operation where for every prescription there is a triplicate form. One copy of the form is registered with the College of Physicians and Surgeons, or some central body like that. Through this control mechanism they have tried to deal with the problem of over prescribing or citizens seeing several doctors and perhaps many pharmacists to receive excessive amounts of medication. I do not know if that problem is a problem here. I will be looking at what other jurisdictions have done. Some may not be options to us, others may be. One dimension that I am sure we are going to be looking at is one addressed a few minutes ago, the possibility of us becoming the insurer of last resort rather than the insurer of first resort.
Mrs. Firth: It makes me ill to think this has happened. Now the government is in a position where it has to say no to somebody. You cannot solve this problem and reduce this figure of almost $1 million without saying no to somebody.
The whole thing could have been avoided if some care, attention and commitment had been put into the exercise when the program was first established. I hold the previous Minister responsible for this. She brought this program into the House in the form of a ministerial statement. We raised concerns at that time and it has been allowed to go on for four years. I used to be on the chronic disease list. When we had to reregister I did not because I felt so sick about the direction the government was taking. I raised those concerns here in the House.
Those people who have been benefiting for three or four years are going to have to be told no, they are no longer going to benefit. The government has a big problem on its hands because it involves a lot of people. It is directly the fault of this government they are in this position, and they have done that to those people.
Mr. Lang: Since the deputy minister is there I would like to know what we are budgeting for this coming year for this program. It is not clearly broken out in the budget.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am sorry. I do not have my breakdown of what we have budgeted for the coming year. I will have to come back with that answer. I just do not have it in the papers I have here with me.
Mr. Lang: I do not understand it. Glancing through the Health and Human Resources budget I would have thought it would be broken out as a separate program. You have the statistics but you do not have the actual dollars for the specific program. It is very difficult for us to debate a program when we do not know what the amount is going to be. It is going to be a long session to try to sort this out.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I said I would come back with the information. I just do not have that particular paper here, and I will do it expeditiously.
Health and Human Resources in the amount of $971,000 agreed to
Chair: We will now have a recess.
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order. We will continue with Bill No. 7, Schedule A.
On Schedule A
Chair: Are there any questions on Schedule A?
Schedule A agreed to
On Schedule B
Schedule B agreed to
On Clause 1
Clause 1 agreed to
On Clause 2
Clause 2 agreed to
Title agreed to
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move you report Bill No. 7, Fourth Appropriation Act, 1988-89 out of Committee without amendment.
Motion agreed to
Bill No. 13 - Second Appropriation Act, 1989-90
Chair: Is there any general debate?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: To get things started, I will remind Members of a few remarks made during second reading a couple of hours ago. This bill requests $21,432,000 in net additional spending authority for the 1989-90 fiscal year. While $221,400,000 additional funds are required on that basis, we are actually requesting $23,772,000 in the vote authority. This results from the fact that some departments require less money than was originally voted in the main estimates. However, Members are well aware that we do not vote such under expenditures, and this makes the apparent requirement higher than the net sums actually needed.
Revotes account for roughly $12.5 million of the new money required; therefore, of the $12.9 million in additional capital authority being requested here, approximately 97 percent or so of it, on a net basis, consists of the revote items voted in 1988-89 but unspent in that year.
The volume of these year-end lapses for uncompleted capital projects has been a matter of concern to the government and to some Members of the Legislature in the past. I expect the reduced capital budget for this coming year will inadvertently go some way to solve this problem, and the estimates should more closely match our ability to implement capital projects.
Of is the $9.9 million more required for O&M purposes, $6.2 million is for the Department of Health and Human Resources. Of these funds, $4.6 million relate to the escalating costs of health care, a matter that was just discussed this evening. A change in accounting methodology accounts for $1 million, whereby expenditures for a reciprocal billing will no longer be accounted for on a net basis. In other words, we are showing an additional expenditure of $1 million and a recovery of $1 million.
Most of the remaining funds requested for the department are for health transfer planning and are fully recoverable from the federal government.
Several other departments need supplementary monies for a variety of purposes that will be spoken to in detail during the clause-by-clause debate.
The requirement for loan capital money is being reduced by $1.3 million because the funds are not needed or requested by municipalities. This does not affect our surplus, since it has an accompanying recovery of a similar sum.
As Members will be aware, just for the sake of consistency, the supplementary contains no reserve or contingency votes.
Mr. Phelps: The first issue I would like to get into is to get some idea of when these estimates were prepared. When were these put together? My concern is that last March we were given Supplementary No. 1 by this same government. It forecast a deficit of $19,629,000 and, of course, we just dealt with the real facts and over $12 million was not spent on the capital side, we were told. Yet, we were debating these things almost at year-end. I would like to get some kind of a picture as to when these were prepared and how long it takes them to get into the House.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: This is a reflection of the accounting for the end of period 5, the fifth month in the fiscal year, and reflects all the departments best estimates of the capital required to undertake operations and to complete projects. Some of the capital projects may well lapse into another year if they are not undertaken at this point, but the funding will, of course, in that respect be revoted in the coming year in order to undertake the capital project during the summer of 1990.
Mr. Phelps: So what we are saying is at the end of August this would be a snapshot of the governments position, and we are debating this, of course, in December. Is that correct? I know the last part is correct.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Yes, I indicated to the Members that it was the end of the fifth month of the fiscal year. The figures that are incorporated here are, as I indicated, the best estimates of the departments for their total spending in the given year.
We, as usual, table our supplementaries and our main estimates together and, as I have indicated in the House on a number of occasions, we have held off the tabling of our main estimates for the following year of 1990-91 in order to try to get a clearer view of the formula grant. Should there have been anything significant that we could identify between the end of period 5, without a formal call to departments, and the time when we finally sent the budget to the printers, we would have tried to incorporate it to the best of our knowledge.
Mr. Phelps: When does each department fess up that they are not going to spend money on capital projects? For example, we knew by August that Community and Transportation Services would not be spending the $600,000 in the current budget on a pumping facility for Carcross. We knew in August that they would not be spending money on a community well for Tagish. I believe that was over $100,000. We will not be spending the money for the homestead lots at Carcross, which were supposed to come up in July. At what time do the departments advise that they will be lapsing items so that they can be taken into account in the supplementaries?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The departments try to make a best guess with respect to the capital projects they are going to undertake. They know that we do not vote multi-year capital projects in this Legislature, so even if the funding is not required, the expectation is that the funding will lapse, and the project will be undertaken either when the consultation is complete or when the total funding required is available to them. If they are absolutely certain by the end of August that there is no chance whatsoever that the project can be undertaken, then they are encouraged to indicate that the funds will have to lapse, irrespective of whether or not they want to revote them. Many departments hold out the hope that they can still undertake certain works in that year and maintain the funding in their budget. If they do not undertake the project, the funding has to lapse.
Mr. Phelps: Is there something in set policy that requires the departments to say if they are not likely to proceed with certain capital projects? It seems to me that human nature would be to try to leave as much money in the department as possible until it is absolutely certain that it will not be spent for some other purpose. I ask this because it is human nature not to give up a bunch of money until you absolutely have to. We had this see-saw or up-and-down effect last year. In March, we were discussing Supplementary No. 1 with year-end just a few days away, and the forecasted deficit was almost $20 million. That was a message loud and clear to the private sector or anyone else who was interested in the financial state of this government, when people ought to have known that there was going to be a surplus, or at least a much smaller deficit than we were debating near year-end. My concern is that there are incentives built into the system for people not to be entirely forthright about money that might lapse, because it gives the department extra flexibility. There is built into the system, because of the lapse of time between the estimates being prepared and the debate taking place, a situation of expectations in the financial community and among the public that, for not very valid reasons, is misleading. The change from a deficit of $20 million that was anticipated in March to a surplus of $5 million plus, which actually was the fact a couple of days later, seems to me inexcusable.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I can assure the Member that it certainly is not my preference to show a deficit at any time during the year when we all know full well that the government will likely show a surplus, as it has consistently every year but one since this government has come into power. It is not a desirable thing to project a deficit largely based on revotes from the previous year, where we are taking the same funds every year and rolling them over, projecting a deficit in mid-year only to have further capital votes revoted bringing us into a surplus situation.
There is no incentive for departments not to lapse funds in period 5 in a given year because the revote can still occur for that department at year-end if the capital project is not undertaken. We are speaking primarily of capital projects. If a department maintains capital funds in the budget and does not undertake the project then it is not going to save them if they overrun their O&M vote. The O&M vote will still be over run.
If they spend their money on something other than a project that has been identified in the Legislature then it is not a project eligible for a revote. Consequently, the funding is lost, but there is still the expectation by the Legislature and by the government that they will continue the project, unless they receive direction to do otherwise.
In any case, I can understand the Members concerns. There is no intention to mislead anybody, but to account for the fact that because we do not have multi-year votes for capital projects, as does the federal government, we have to vote these projects on a year-by-year basis. If a situation does occur where the consultation on a particular capital project has not taken place then the project has to lapse, despite the governments intention with respect to that capital project. I can think of good examples in Education alone. As unfortunate as it is, the public will not be rushed in terms of accepting the detail of these capital works.
I understand the Members concern much more acutely than he does, given that it is the government that is tagged with the responsibility for showing a deficit when the Legislature knows what the situation is with revotes.
Mr. Phelps: I certainly accept that it is not something done willfully at the political level. There has to be a concern on the part of the public when the figures appear so misleading. It is particularly evident when we are debating something a few days from year-end and it is out by that much, as it was last March.
Perhaps it might be prudent to have somebody take a look at each of the departments to see whether or not more could have been done to give the government a truer picture when the estimates were prepared for Supplementary No. 1, which was tabled in March of last year. I think the administration level has to be taken to task for not being forthcoming about the very obvious fact that certain projects are not going to be completed, or even started, during the year in question.
Just to give an example again, you know that the water intake facility in Carcross is not going ahead until next spring, presumably after March, almost assuredly so. If I were the Minister responsible for the department I would like to know if that was deducted from the needs for the department in preparing for Supplementary No. 1 at the end of August in this year. It seems to me that people ought to be brought, gently at least, to task if they are not forthcoming so the government, and in turn the public, have a much truer picture of where we stand at any given point in the year.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: As I have indicated, in not an offhand way but kind of a roundabout way, I think the Members point is well-taken in the sense that the situation should be more clearly stated, as accurately as possible when the supplementary call comes forward because the understanding is, quite clearly, that supplementary votes, the supplementary picture, should include over and under expenditures, particularly under expenditures, and should be as accurate as possible.
The only explanation on a general basis that I could give the Member, without dealing with it on a specific project-by-project basis, is that it appears that some departments cling to the belief, even at the end of August, or even at the beginning of August, or the middle of August, when they are often actually starting to work up their response to the Department of Finance, and into September, when they are actually punching the numbers - a somewhat vain belief sometimes - that they can, in fact, complete the project - a land development project, a road project, or whatever - and it is clear that if they identify this as a capital item that needs to be continued, then this is classified as a revote item because the Legislature has already approved it. The only time when that would not occur would be if the government made a conscious decision to recommend to the Legislature that a particular capital project did not go through after all. There are a number of examples of that but, in the main, they should be projecting exactly what they think they are going to be spending on the capital side.
Mr. Phelps: The next area that I want to touch on briefly here has to do with the issue of telling us about person years in some of these supplementaries. For example, this time around, with Health and Human Resources, we have a rather huge expenditure but nothing that really tells us about what, if any, is asked for in terms of additional person years for the year. I might add that we do not seem to get any information about person years in the Yukon Housing Corporation and I want to make the point right now that I think that is really intolerable.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: With respect to the general issue of person year reconciliation, there will be a summary document provided to Members shortly, with respect to that matter. With respect to showing the person year information for Crown corporations and for the Yukon College, which is different, as Members know, regarding the Financial Administration Act, from the special corporations. The Ministers responsible, I am sure, if Members wish to put them on notice on certain matters will secure information required or requested from the boards of the respective corporations. The situation is intended to be different with respect to main estimates and the way the Legislature treats those main estimates, with respect to the corporations. However, if Members wish any information about those corporations, they need only ask.
Mr. Phelps: I am sure I am on the record now. I would like to know the person years from the O&M side and the capital side for Yukon Housing for the past number of years and what is anticipated for the coming year.
Mr. Lang: I just want to follow up a little bit on what the Leader of the Official Opposition asked. I am concerned about dealing with the supplementaries after only five months of activity. First of all, I would have thought the call would have gone out perhaps a month prior to sitting, to try to be as accurate as possible. I guess that is my first question. Why did the call not go out? If they knew we were going to be sitting in November, why did the call not go out at the beginning of October, so that we had a more accurate picture of where we stood financially?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The reason was largely because part of the finances issued call for the production of operations and maintenance and capital main estimates, and to ask the departments to do the main estimates for both capital and operation and maintenance and the estimates for the supplementaries, all in the space of about one month, would be asking the impossible of those departments. We consequently did not do that but tried to do it in an appropriate order so that the forecasts for this year could be determined first, and then that forecast figure could be incorporated into the main estimates book, so that Members could draw a comparison between the forecasts and the main estimate figures.
Mr. Lang: That goes back to the principle of discussing capital and the operation and maintenance budgets at the same time, which we have objected to strenuously in the new format brought forward by the government. I am not going to get into that now.
This side is becoming very frustrated with what seems to be misleading figures given to us every time we stand up in this House to question figures. Six months down the road, we find out we are out by a couple of million dollars for a program being projected, like the one we discussed earlier, the chronic disease list. It started out at $150,000 to $170,000, and now we are almost up to $900,000 in less than three years. It makes one wonder if we are going through the exercise here just because we have to, and, ho-hum, who cares? I am becoming very cynical about the figures we are receiving.
As the Leader of the Official Opposition has indicated, we are talking about almost $20 million difference between two figures that were set up within a six-month period; what assurances can the Minister give us on how accurate these figures are? Are we going to see a major deviation, once again, of $15 million or $20 million, to the point of discussing an almost totally new budget, as opposed to the one we have in front of us?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Member obviously has a short memory. In all the time I have been in this Legislature, the Legislature has debated revotes. In all the time I have been in this Legislature, there have always been capital lapses, and those capital lapses have been considered by the Legislature in the supplementary and are considered for approval.
These revotes are fully disclosed. All information with respect to all the projects and the funding required is fully disclosed in the main estimates and in the supplementary. There is no desire to be misleading about the figures themselves. I have already indicated to the Member for Hootalinqua that the point taken with respect to whether or not the capital project will lapse at the time the supplementary is devised is a good point. Nevertheless, it is a judgment call on a project-by-project basis, and that judgment call is primarily the call of the technicians in the department who are charged with the responsibility of carrying out the capital works.
With respect to the figures in the budget and the overall point the Member is making, in my view, the information is accurate. There may be certain votes that have shown a dramatic increase in the last few years for a variety of reasons. It may be an increased uptake on a particular program; the terms of reference of the program may have been expanded, which may result in increased costs, which is something for the responsible Minister to explain and to defend if the request for expenditures is coming through the supplementary system or the main estimates system.
But the numbers that are coming through, in my view at least, are an accurate projection of what the line departments are indicating are required in order to meet their requirements for their O&M programs or the capital works. The function of how accurate, in the end, a capital vote is or how accurate the supplementary is, is sometimes a function of when the call is put out for the supplementary. Sometimes it is also a function of how accurate the commitment control system is for determining those expenditures. I would ask for specifics if there is a particular concern but there is no desire whatsoever to provide misleading figures or put any Members under any stress with respect to these budgets.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move you report progress on Bill No. 13.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Chair: It has been moved that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Motion agreed to
Speaker resumes the Chair
Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
May the House have a report from the Chair of the Committee of the Whole?
Chair: Mr. Speaker, Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 7, Fourth Appropriation Act, 1988-89 and directs me to report the same without amendment.
Further, Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 13, Second Appropriation Act, 1989-90 and directs me to report progress on same.
Speaker: You have heard the report from the Chair of the Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Government House Leader that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: This House now stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. tomorrow.
The House adjourned at 9:27 p.m.
The following Sessional Papers were tabled December 4, 1989:
Public Accounts of the Yukon Territory for the year ended March 31, 1989 (McDonald)
Government of the Yukon Annual Report, 1988-89 (Penikett)
The following Legislative Return was tabled December 4, 1989:
Public Schools anti-litter and environmental programs (McDonald)