Thursday, December 14, 1989 - 1:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. At this time, we will proceed with Prayers.
Speaker: We will proceed with the Order Paper.
Introduction of Visitors.
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I would like to introduce to all Members of this House visitors in our gallery today: Tallulah Rose Lamerton-McCullough, and her grandfather Jim, visiting from Ottawa.
Tribute to Bette Cato
Mr. Phillips: I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to a colleague and a good friend of the Yukon. I have been informed that the Alaskan representative, Bette Cato, has announced that she will retire from the Alaskan Legislature on December 31 of this year. Bette, as we all know her, has been one of the strongest supporters of the Alaska/Yukon Legislative eschange.
Bette, along with representative Randy Phillips, became involved in the 1982 exchange and has been involved in every exchange since then. Bette Cato did not just attend the meetings. She was extremely enthusiastic and supportive of the exchange and went out of her way to promote the exchange to her fellow legislators.
She rose so far, as the chairperson of the Alaska Transportation Committee, to schedule meetings of her committee conveniently so that the Yukon delegation could take part, not just as observers, but to sit at the table and give testimony as members of the committee itself would do.
As representative Randy Phillips said to me, without Bettes support, the exchanges just would not have happened. Many of the Yukoners beside us have fond memories of Bette as well. Each year Bette passes through Whitehorse on her way to Juneau and leaves a trail of smiling Whitehorse merchants, as my wife can attest to.
I know that I speak for both sides when I say Bette will be sorely missed. I am sure all of us in the House wish her well on her future endeavours.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Bette Cato, a colleague and good friend who dedicated her efforts to bring a better understanding and friendship between the Yukon and Alaskan people.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I would like to join the remarks of the other sides colleague from Riverdale North in expressing our best wishes to our Democratic colleague from the House of Representatives from Alaska, Bette Cato, on the occasion of her retirement. As the Member has said, in her capacity as chair of the Transportation Committee of that House, she made us extraordinarily welcome, engaged us in very substantial dialogue about transportation issues in common, ones dealing with air transportation, highways, water links, the ways in which the ferry schedule in Alaska affected us. She was always interested in and supportive of the exchanges. I believe it can be said that she was not only a good representative of her people of Alaska, but she was also a good friend of the Yukon. We would like to wish her good luck and good health.
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Speaker: I have for tabling the Auditor Generals Report on Other Matters for the 1988-89 fiscal year.
Are there any further documents for tabling?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I have for tabling the annual report of the Yukon Lottery Commission, for 1988-89.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I have for tabling some legislative returns.
Hon. Ms. Joe: I have for tabling the regulations report.
Speaker: Reports of Committees.
Petition No. 1
Mr. Brewster: Today I rise to present 1,291 more names to save the gold panner. I have also been informed there are 600 signatures on the way down from Dawson City. The Chamber of Commerce and the Chamber of Mines provided 255, which were returned from this building to them, which will come in later.
Mr. Phillips: I rise today, as well, to table petitions to save the gold panner. The petitions I am tabling are extremely significant. Although there are only 54 names, these petitions come from Closeleigh Manor, Alexander Street, the Golden Age Society, the Strickland Street Residence, the Hanson Street Residence and Greenwood Place. These residents are the pioneers of the Yukon, and they are concerned about losing the gold panner.
Petition No. 2
Clerk: Members of the Assembly, I have had the honour to review a petition, being Petition No. 2 of the First Session of the 27th Legislative Assembly as presented by the hon. Member for Kluane on December 13, 1989.
Subject to the considerations raised in my report on Petition No. 1 of this session, I find that this petition meets the requirements as to form of the Standing Orders of the Yukon Legislative Assembly.
Speaker: Pursuant to Standing Order 66, Petition No. 2 is deemed to be read and received.
Speaker: Introduction of Bills.
Are there any notices of Motion for Production of Papers?
Are there any Notices of Motion?
Are there any Statements by Ministers?
This then brings us to the Question Period.
Question re: Formula Financing Agreement
Mr. Phelps: When we started the sitting on November 16, we on this side raised questions about the economic situation in the Yukon, and stated our concern about the economy and its future, particularly because the transfer payments are running out and a new Formula Financing Agreement has not been signed. Things look worse today, with many economists saying that North America is sliding into a recession, and the federal government is announcing new spending cutbacks. My first question for the Minister of Finance is whether he can tell us if agreement has been reached with the federal government with regard to a new Formula Financing Agreement?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: No agreement has been reached, nor has any position been communicated from the federal government to the Yukon government with respect to the position that we had last tabled with them.
Mr. Phelps: In view of the increasingly bleak outlook for the North American economy, and the new spending cutbacks by Ottawa, is there any way that the Minister can speed up these negotiations?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The only way that the Yukon could speed up the negotiations that I can think of is give in entirely to the position provided by the federal finance administration. We are not prepared to do that. The negotiations are continuing. We have communicated on a number of occasions to federal Ministers, both Mr. Cadieux and Mr. Wilson, indicating the necessity of coming to a conclusion on the matter. We have sent follow-up communications to them; we have been in daily touch with their offices. I would suspect that the federal Ministers will be in a position to give us their position soon.
Mr. Phelps: Does the Minister still feel that the $5 million cutback that was estimated in the transfer payment in the budget speech is still realistic?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I feel still that the position we took and announced on the $5 million cut was fair. Given the negotiations we were operating under it was realistic. It is fair because it matches the cuts on a proportional basis that the federal government has inflicted upon the provinces. Any more cuts to the Yukon would be completely unfair and we would object to them strenuously.
Question re: Formula Financing Agreement
Mr. Phelps: I am not clear what the Minister is saying. Is he saying the $5 million figure was arrived at because he thought it would be fair, or is he saying the federal government has taken that bottom line position with the Yukon?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It was my position, and the governments position, that the $5 million cut was not only fair, but we felt that, given the tenor of negotiations, it was realistic.
We indicated at that time that it was the best estimate we could provide in order to table the budget in the fall. We waited as long as we possibly could before we tabled the budget. It is the best estimate we can provide.
Mr. Phelps: Does the Minister intend to get directly involved in the negotiations with the Ministers in Ottawa?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I have already been in direct contact with Ministers on a couple of occasions and offered to speak to them on numerous occasions. As of last week they have not taken up my offer for further verbal communication but I am doing whatever I can to ensure that the negotiations are satisfactorily concluded.
Mr. Phelps: Is there any progress to report on negotiations on the economic development agreements?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: We have been given an indication from officials in the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs that there will be an EDA next year. We have negotiated with the administration all items, with the exception of the final amount. We understand that the federal department is anticipating a journey to Treasury Board to seek approvals and we await that process coming to a conclusion as well.
Question re: Day care
Mrs. Firth: My question is to the Minister of Health and Human Resources. The Minister is responsible for the day care capital development grant program. That program has a funding level of $300,000. In the annual report for 1988-89, an over expenditure of almost $33,000 was identified. That over expenditure was covered through a transfer of capital dollars from another program.
Is the Minister going to continue to operate this program in a deficit position with further over expenditures?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: That is a budget question. I do not have my budget information at hand for Question Period. As to the question about whether we intend to operate any program in a deficit position, the obvious answer is no. I believe the request that we have made of the Legislature in the budget for next year for this program will be sufficient to meet the requirements of this program. If it is not, we would have to come back to the House. I believe the funding we have requested will meet the needs in the territory for next year.
Mrs. Firth: The report indicates the over expenditure has already been covered and that there will be no request in the supplementary for it.
This is one of those programs I talked about where the Minister has to make some decisions and set some priorities, as well as cutting off the requests when he reaches the limit.
Will the Minister be doing a review of all the programs within his department with over expenditures, or has that already been done?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: We are doing that on the Health side. I am not sure we have enough experience in the new child care programs we have introduced yet to warrant a review. Most of them are still in the implementation stage. The early experience we have had has been reflected in next years mains.
Of course we will keep track of the situation. We have a very ambitious program to meet in terms of seeing child care services in as many communities as possible and, in the next few years, doubling the number of spaces. I have also said publicly that our ability to do that will be limited by the money available. There are further limits on the money available, because the matching funds we were promised from Mr. Epp, prior to the last election, have not been forthcoming.
Question re: Day care
Mrs. Firth: This issue is not the Hon. Jake Epps fault. This is exactly why I raised this issue. This government and this Minister have a very ambitious agenda when it comes to their child care programs. I believe the commitment made during the election campaign was that they would spend somewhere in the vicinity of $9 million in the next four years on child care. If the Minister is going to over spend by more than 10 percent on a small portion of that program, my concern and the concern of the taxpayers is: what is going to happen when they start implementing that ambitious agenda?
Since the Minister has said he is not going to be reviewing those programs, will he give a commitment to this House that he will review those programs and their operations and the over expenditure before he makes any further commitment of that $9 million?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I have said that we have an ambitious program. The Member opposite has recognized that. I believe she has previously indicated she is personally opposed to the kind of program we are introducing. It is a matter of record that we propose to spend $8.9 million on that program. That original assumption was based on a commitment from the federal government to provide 50 percent of those monies. That money has not been forthcoming.
Nonetheless, the child care needs of this territory are sufficient and great enough to warrant this government and this Cabinet to try to meet our original commitments, notwithstanding the failure of the federal government to come through with the money it promised before the last election. We are proceeding on the basis of our financial commitment not to spend more money than that, but to spend the money that we promised to spend.
Mrs. Firth: Is the Minister saying that the government has reduced its commitment and will spend, instead of $9 million, only $4.5 million? Is that what the program now states as the expenditure for day care?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: No. That is exactly what we have not said. What we have said is that we are committed to spending $8.9 million, and unlike the federal government, we are going to keep our promise. We believe that the needs for child care in the territory, not just this city, are such that they warrant an expenditure of $8.9 million in the next few years in order to provide twice as many spaces as now exist.
It is possible, because of the federal commitment, that the implementation plans we had for our new programs may take longer as the result of the delayed response from the federal government. We still intend to meet our objectives in this area.
Mrs. Firth: I believe we had this debate with the previous Minister of Health some time ago about the needs of the chronic disease program, and we have seen what has happened to that.
Since the Minister has indicated to the House he is proceeding with that $9 million expenditure, will he give a commitment to the House, and the taxpayers, that he will do a full examination of the over expenditures in that area before he proceeds to spend any more money and we have another crisis on our hands like we have in the chronic care and disability program?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: We are not going to review a programs we are only just now putting into place. We will, of course, monitor their implementation as they go into place. I have said before and will say again that the commitment we have made is final. The $8.9 million is a ceiling. We do not have the financial capacity to do more. We believe we can do a great deal with that amount of money and we intend to do it. We do not intend to spend more money than we have in this field.
Question re: Day care
Mrs. Firth: I would like to follow up on some commitments the Minister has given this Legislature. Would the Minister be prepared to give us a commitment to give us the information we asked for on flow charts and organizational charts prior to us reconvening at the end of January?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Yes. In fact I had that information with me yesterday and the day before anticipating a request for it during the Health and Human Resources supplementaries. I take the Members point and will be quite happy to provide it this afternoon or tomorrow.
Mrs. Firth: I understand there have been contracts let to examine the financial position within the department. Would the Minister give us a commitment to give us any financial analysis or development of trends or any examination that has been done regarding the financial position of the Department of Health and Human Resources? Would he provide us with that information while we are on the break so we can examine it and debate it when we come back?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The short answer is no. I believe the only reports of that kind we have are internal audit documents. Since they inevitably deal with personnel as well as financial matters, they will not become public except as they find their way into the external auditors report, the Auditor Generals report.
Question re: Bison-related accident
Mr. Brewster: My question is to the Minister of Renewable Resources.
Due to statements made by a member of the department on buffalo and the fact that another buffalo-caused accident has happened, and the member of his staff said, only politicians are worried about buffalo on the highway; tourists enjoy them. I wonder what tourists there are in the winter?
People have been farming and have had grazing leases since the early 1930s. Is the government prepared to pay compensation to these people if their crops or fences are destroyed by these transplanted buffalo?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I am not aware of the second accident that has been caused by the bison. I do not know the nature of the accident, nor if it has created some damage to fences of farmers in the area. I will take that question under advisement.
Mr. Brewster: Due to fiscal restraint and problems with these buffalo, is the Minister accepting the advice of his department to fence another area to control these transplanted buffalo?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I have not received any advice from my department about erecting a fence to control these buffalo.
Mr. Brewster: It is too bad the Minister does not talk with his department or read the newspaper, because they say they are already into negotiations with the Champagne-Aishihik Band. Why is the Ministers department doing all the talking to the press, and not the Minister himself, who is responsible for this department?
Hon. Mr. Webster: As far as I am aware, the talking Renewable Resources staff is doing to the press deals with matters that have already become policy under this wood bison program.
Question re: Bison-related accident
Mr. Lang: I want to pursue another question with the Minister of Renewable Resources on the question of the bison. Can the Minister verify this? Is it true that, over the past year, the Department of Renewable Resources has had to provide feed for the bison because of the lack of grazing areas?
Hon. Mr. Webster: Is the Member referring to the animals that are in the corral area? I know that in the first year when they were being established that was the case, but I am not absolutely certain if that is the case for this particular season. I will check on that information for the Member and bring it back to the House.
Mr. Lang: The question has been put to me about the very serious problems that are being created for traffic, especially in the Haines Junction area. In view of the fact there are significant problems being created on the highway, can the Minister tell us why we are bringing in more bison?
Hon. Mr. Webster: The reason we are bringing in more of the wood bison is to bring the number of the wood bison up to a population of 200 so we can firmly establish the fourth free-ranging herd in this country and, therefore, take bison off the endangered-species list. It is our hope that the bison that will be introduced this winter will not gravitate toward the Alaska Highway, but rather stay in the Nisling River Valley area, where most of the present bison population is presently residing.
Mr. Lang: How can the Minister assure us that bison are going to stay in the Nisling River area as opposed to the present situation where we have some serious traffic considerations that have to be taken into account?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I can assure the Member opposite that I can give him no assurances these bison will move down that way. I recognize it is a problem and something that our department officials, along with the Yukon Fish and Game Association, are going to have to deal with.
Question re: Watson Lake high school
Mr. Devries: With respect to the on-again, off-again Watson Lake high school, some of the contractors who bid on the project were quite concerned about the Yukon-content specs for spruce shiplap siding. I understand one of the Yukon spruce specs was dropped regarding the dimension of lumber but, to the best of my knowledge, spruce shiplap is presently not manufactured in the Yukon, nor is anyone really interested in doing so. Is the Department of Government Services still proceeding with the demand to use spruce shiplap on the exterior of the Watson Lake high school?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am not familiar with the details of the Members question, but I do know that the contract specifications did call for the supply and use of local materials. To my knowledge, that has been accepted at the contracting level and ought to be honoured.
Mr. Devries: I realize that the Minister would like to see that portion honoured, but if spruce shiplap is not available locally, how can the contractors be expected to honour that?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: If there is a problem in the supply of the materials, I am sure that my officials are aware of it and will be dealing accordingly with the contractor. Local materials have been injected into the project. They have been discussed with the contractors involved, and I am assured that the specifications called for will be honoured.
Mr. Devries: Has the contract for the Watson Lake high school been awarded, and if so, to whom, and what was the final phase 1 bid?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I stand to be corrected, but I do not believe it has been awarded yet.
Question re: Watson Lake high school
Mr. Devries: To the best of my knowledge, the deadline for awarding this contract has passed. When does the Minister expect this contract to be awarded?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I will undertake to provide that information to the Member.
Mr. Devries: The last time I contacted the people in Government Services, they informed me that it had been returned to Management Board. Is the Minister aware of anything regarding this?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I will take the question as notice.
Mr. Devries: Is the project mainly administrated under the new building project management guidelines? I realize that they were not introduced when the project was started, but is the final phase of it going to be regulated by some of the Management Board building guidelines?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: As the Member is aware, the project management guidelines were introduced to the Public Accounts Committee, and I believe the Public Accounts Committee tabled a report on the subject yesterday. The Member is also aware that aspects of the project management guidelines are in practice already by the department. What remains is for the adoption of those guidelines to be finalized. Yes, the project will have project management guidelines, as introduced by the government, applied to the rest of the project.
Question re: Licence plates
Mr. Phillips: I have a question for the Minister responsible for the new licence plates. I should probably word that a different way, because no one may want to get up on that side. I have a question for the Minister of Community and Transportation Services regarding the new licence plates.
In light of the fact that over 2,500 names now have been signed to the petition and there are still hundreds of petitions out there that will be coming in prior to January 15, and that will likely be more of a response than the Minister will ever get from his expensive damage-control campaign, would the Minister seriously think about what he is doing, and would he reconsider the damage-control campaign and tell the people of the Yukon that he is going to retain the gold panner and The Klondike on the Yukon licence plate and not go to this silly new design he has attempted to impose on the people of the Yukon?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member does not have to go to that extent to endorse the governments recycling policy. The question was raised yesterday, and the day before, and my answer will be the same. I have the utmost of respect for petitions. I have included a questionnaire in a mail-out to motor vehicle owners; I am making those questionnaires available to members of the public at large. I am seeking the advice of Yukon people at large, and I will take all of those items into account, including the specific petitions mentioned by the Member.
Mr. Phillips: Rarely, in the history of the Yukon, have we seen as quick and rapid a response, with so many people signing a petition as we have in this particular case. Surely the Minister would think that would reflect the feelings of the people of the Yukon. I am sure he read the letter to the editor in the Whitehorse Star and the Yukon News last night. Would the Minister seriously sit down and reconsider the decision to go on an expensive campaign to try to sell Yukoners a licence plate they simply do not want?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member knows full well that there is a mixed body of opinion out there. I have received at least two calls this morning in support of the plate saying, Do not change it. That is two calls this morning alone.
The Members are insistent that the entire Yukon objects to the licence plate. I say that is not so. There is a mixed body of opinion out there, and I am going to review that body of opinion as I receive it, including the very honourable petitions that are being generated now. Incidentally, I should point out that the petition does not say anything about retention of The Klondike. The Members opposite are talking about the retention of The Klondike and the petitions do not speak to that, but they do speak to the gold panner. Perhaps the Member can shed some light on that anomaly.
Question re: Road conditions
Mr. Phelps: I have a question for the Minister of Community and Transportation Services with regard to the icy condition from time to time of the Alaska Highway and the Klondike Highway. I wrote to the Minister about this issue on October 26, 1989, and have not received a reply. Since that time, I received a petition signed by 46 concerned residents. I would like to table the originals and give a copy to the Minister as I ask my question.
Can the Minister tell me if it is his departments policy to maintain and sand the Alaska and Klondike highways when and as icy conditions occur, whether or not the conditions occur during a weekend or statutory holiday?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: As a matter of general policy the answer is yes.
Mr. Phelps: Does the Minister realize that a large number of people now live permanently at Marsh Lake and the highway from the Yukon River Bridge south has been particularly hazardous and needs special attention in winter months?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I appreciate the Members representation and take it seriously.
If the Member is suggesting that there is inadequate maintenance on the portion of road that he identifies, then I will undertake to ensure that adequate maintenance is taking place. As a matter of policy, highway crews are responsible for adequate maintenance of the highway. That includes during icy conditions. The Member is acutely aware of weather conditions in the Yukon and how rapidly they can change. The Member is acutely aware of how odd the weather pattern has been this year. Whether or not that is a factor in the suggestion that there is inadequate maintenance, I do not know, but I accept his representation and will undertake to ensure that there is adequate maintenance because that is the policy, that is the budget, and that is the responsibility of this government.
Mr. Phelps: There is also concern about the bus stop areas and one or two people mentioned that in the petition. Will the department give the sanding of school bus-stop areas along the highways top priority when icy conditions occur?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The answer to the Members question is yes. I can undertake to see that that is treated on a priority basis, and I am sure he will note an improvement if there is a deficiency, as he is suggesting.
Question re: Road conditions
Mr. Phelps: I appreciate the good work done by his department and I am sure things will improve.
Question re: Agricultural policy
Mr. Lang: I have a question for the Minister of Renewable Resources. Last spring the Minister promised that the agricultural policy would be ready by this fall. Two weeks ago, I asked the Minister if the agricultural policy was to be tabled. The Minister said it would be tabled prior to Christmas. Can the Minister tell us why he has not tabled the agricultural policy, since this is the last day of the sitting for this year?
Hon. Mr. Webster: Simply put, the agricultural policy, although it has been developed, has not been before Cabinet for approval, and that is why it cannot be tabled before Christmas.
Mr. Lang: Is that the only reason that the policy has not been tabled in the House? The only delay is due to it not having gone to Cabinet yet? It is not being reviewed by any other body?
Hon. Mr. Webster: That is correct.
Mr. Lang: When will the policy be ready for tabling?
Hon. Mr. Webster: Well, having already made one commitment to table it before Christmas, and that date has gone by, I am rather hesitant to set a concrete date by which time we would table the agricultural policy. I am hopeful that it would be early in the new year.
Question re: Bison/use of M99
Mr. Brewster: I want them to realize that I am not at all satisfied with the answers I am getting about these buffalo, particularly when a biologist in his own department states that I am half right - well at least this government admitted I am at least half right. Does the Minister and the department feel comfortable using this drug M99, and is it safe?
Hon. Mr. Webster: The reply in the legislative return clearly indicates that we are comfortable using M99 as a drug, and we feel that it is safe.
Mr. Brewster: I would just like to get it all on the record. If this drug is so safe and you used it on 30 grizzly bears, 50 moose and 60 caribou, and then you stopped, why did you stop if it is safe?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I do not know the answer to that question, but I will add that piece of information to the legislative return that has already been tabled. I should point out that in that legislative return, I did indicate very strongly that this drug is used in many, many jurisdictions on this continent and is widely perceived to be safe.
Mr. Brewster: Well, like a true politician, he just points out the things in his favour. He does not point out the other things that statement said. What does the company that manufactures this drug say will be the long-term effects on animals or on people who eat the meat of the drugged animals? Has any test ever been made to see what would happen?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I will have to bring that information back to the House in the form of another legislative return.
Question re: Forestry transfer
Mr. Devries: During the budget debate yesterday, I heard a casual comment regarding office space for the long-anticipated forestry transfer. With Watson Lake being the spruce capital of the Yukon, I am very proud of this valuable natural resource, presently the backbone of our economy. Do I have the Minister of Renewable Resources assurance that he will station the majority of offices and personnel for this resource in Watson Lake, once the transfer has taken place?
Hon. Mr. Webster: That decision will not be just mine to make, and I am pretty certain the Member opposite realizes that. I will give my assurance that I will be putting forth that suggestion for consideration.
Mr. Devries: In the spirit of decentralization, which this government has said it is committed to, I do not feel it is too early or out of place to get the Ministers assurance that Watson Lake will be the headquarters for forestry research and development. Will the Minister give us this assurance?
Hon. Mr. Webster: Again, I give my assurance that the matter will be considered.
Mr. Devries: If they do decide to go ahead with that licence plate, I would appreciate seeing a tree on it.
Hon. Mr. Webster: That is just another example we have had here of the many different variations for the design of the new licence plate. I want to thank the Member opposite for his suggestion that perhaps the fireweed should be replaced by a tree.
Question re: Museums policy
Mr. Phillips: I am sure if the Member for Dawson was listening today when the petitions were tabled, and the Member for Kluane told him there were 600 signatures from Dawson wanting the gold panner retained on the plate, he would not be quite so cocky.
With respect to the new policy on museums the Minister for Tourism announced in the House last Monday, two days ago the Yukon Historical Museums Association said they are happy that we finally have a new policy after four years, but the policy announced by the Minister does more harm than good. It appears by this policy announcement the government is getting into the public museum business by providing Yukon archaeological displays and full public tours in the new Yukon Historic Resources Centre. Local community museums feel they will suffer as a result of this move.
Will the Minister reconsider this move to establish a government public museum to display Yukon artifacts?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I want to thank the Member for his question. It gives me an opportunity to set the record straight on this matter. The need for a Yukon Historic Resources Centre, as planned for the future, came as a result of a great deal of public consultation on the need for this facility. It will in no way be a government-funded public museum, as put by the Member opposite. It will contain some educational roles and responsibilities, but in no way is it perceived that it will be the seeds of a territorial museum. We will have on display in a very simple fashion, not in the form of an exhibit, a few artifacts that are in the process of being restored. They will be sitting on open shelves to indicate to visitors and Yukoners the process of what an artifact goes through in being restored. We hope that will create some interest in the public about the value of our artifacts and the heritage of the territory.
Mr. Phillips: The Minister knows that is a lame excuse. Once he starts displaying Yukon artifacts and opens it to the public, he is in the museum business. That is what it is all about.
In the Ministers consultations prior to this announcement, why did he not tell the museums association he was going to do this? It was their understanding that this facility would just be used to restore artifacts and prepare them for the community museums, but not have a public display of any artifacts.
Hon. Mr. Webster: The half a dozen to a dozen artifacts at the most on display on shelves in the process of being restored can hardly be defined as being a museum. The purpose of the Yukon Historic Resources Centre is to have skilled people there, certainly to restore the artifacts, with the intended purpose of eventually returning them to the area where they were found or donated.
Mr. Phillips: We all know that it will not be half a dozen artifacts. It will eventually be a full-blown museum. That is the way government does things. Will the Minister agree that by developing this new museum it will compete with funds with the local community museums and that the little guys will suffer as a result of this move? Will the Minister take steps to cancel the planned Yukon government public-museum concept of the new Yukon Historical Resources Centre?
Hon. Mr. Webster: It is very unfortunate the Member opposite is not hearing. I repeat again that this is not a full blown museum proposal here.
The Member opposite says I did not make that clear at the meeting. I want to make it clear right now, as I am trying to do. Again this Member is not listening. Unfortunately, members of the Yukon Historical Museum Association were not listening either. It is not a full-blown museum. It is at most a dozen artifacts on display. The Member refuses to accept that.
Speaker: Time for Question Period has now lapsed. We will proceed to Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Hon. Mr. McDonald: When the Members settle down I would like to move that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that 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 now call Committee of the Whole to order and declare a recess.
Chair: I will call the Committee to order. We will continue with Education on page 29, Public Schools
Bill No. 13 - Second Appropriation Act, 1989-90 - continued
Education - continued
On Public Schools - continued
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Perhaps I will begin by following up on a number of questions that we have been able to research for today. With respect to the advertising for the college president, the advertisement in the newspapers for the college president was approved by the board. The internal employment opportunity notice, which stated that an eligibility list may be established for future competitions, was a standard format used by the Public Service Commission and did not reflect any expectations that the tenure of the college president would be anything other than long-term.
With respect to Mr. Ogden, I have been able to ascertain that he is living in Whitehorse currently but he is not using the facilities of the Yukon College in any way.
I have a number of things to pass out: the list of contracts was one item; the list of Education personnel changes is another item; staffing employment is another item; student/teacher ratio is another one, to compare ourselves with other jurisdictions.
With respect to essential costs, we are still trying to ascertain the overall severance costs of persons who have left the government, but I cannot provide that information today.
With respect to the service contracts that were cited yesterday as being of interest to the Members, Northern Research Group is Lindsay Staples; Lionel Orlikow is Lionel Orlikow; and W.M.C. Research is Working Margins Corporation of Regina.
The annual cost of the wilderness programs is 485,000. That includes the cost of personnel.
Mr. Lang: Could the Minister tell us who the Working Margins Council - I did not get the full name - is? Maybe he could give the background of the individual involved.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: One of the individuals involved is a person by the name of Doug McArthur. That is the Working Margins Corporation. He was with the University of Regina when he was contracted. The term of the contract is from June 15 to September 30.
Mr. Lang also asked for the length of the contract for Lionel Orlikow, and that was from March 20 to September 30.
Mr. Lang: Do those contracts include the cost of flying these individuals in and out of the territory and other company costs? If not, how much was paid above the contract costs? Who paid them?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: My understanding is that meals, per diem and travel costs are to be charged against the contract.
Mr. Devries: Are they using the CARE program for child sex education and abuse education in the schools?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am drowning in paper here.
Yes. The program is used to varying extents. It is offered at the primary level in Pelly Crossing, Dawson, Carmacks, Whitehorse Elementary, Takhini Elementary, Selkirk Street Elementary, Watson Lake Elementary, Grey Mountain Primary and Christ the King Elementary schools.
Mr. Devries: It seems there have been a few newspaper articles regarding this problem about children overreacting. It seems almost as though a parent cannot wash a kid without getting into problems. I understand the program is being looked at and perfected to make it more acceptable to a majority of people. Is the Yukon following the redrafting of this program?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I, too, read the newspaper articles and a celebrated case or two about the potential for children to misinterpret and overreact to what are commonly considered to be every day interaction between parent and child. It has caused some concern both in the Yukon and British Columbia. We share that concern and are interested in ensuring that the program is used in such a way that that interpretation is not possible, if possible. We are concerned that there not be cases where children might misinterpret the information they are receiving and cause anxiety to parents.
Mr. Devries: When this course is introduced, are the teachers properly trained on how to present this course to the students?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The policy is that they be properly inserviced with respect to the delivery of this program and other family-life programs that we have at other levels of the school system. It is fairly important that people are properly trained to understand all the issues surrounding sexual abuse and sex education. It is not common practice that any teacher, without any sort of inservicing, is encouraged to teach these programs. It is usually done by people who have had specialty training.
Mr. Devries: Are the public school libraries included under Public Schools?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Yes, as I indicated last night, library book purchases for $80,000 have been moved from library branch to the public schools branch.
Mr. Devries: I have had several concerns expressed from rural schools that do not feel that the libraries have the proper amount of person years, and they do not feel they are being utilized properly. In the 1988-89 handbook under libraries, it seems to indicate that it is probably one of the more important components of a school. Does the Minister anticipate any improvements on the person years regarding the rural schools?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am very aware of the concern that is probably most vocally expressed by the vice-principal of Watson Lake school, certainly on the use of library services. They are a very important component of the school system. In the face of competing demands for resources, the departments response is to try to increase library activies throughout the school system incrementally, or gradually, over the years. In this year, there is no dramatic plan to increase library expenditures far beyond those in other important areas of the school system.
I have taken the points made by those people who would like full-time librarians in schools, and have indicated that over time we would like more attention paid to the ongoing maintenance of the libraries in whatever way is deemed realistic for a particular school. I would not anticipate any dramatic increases in the next year, but I think the Member will note that there is a gradual, or incremental increase in activity there.
Mr. Devries: I have had more opportunity to page through the education act, and I am slightly amused by the names of the partners on the front. The last time I was partners with the Minister, we shared a spot on the front page of a human rights document.
Does the Minister anticipate giving rural schools more secretarial support?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The partners theme for the education act came after a great deal of thought about the most significant single theme of the act. The slogan Partnership in Something-or-other is a slogan widely in use all across the country for all kinds of things, partnerships in transportation partnership in communications. I was concerned the slogan may be over used, but nevertheless it does capture what the act is all about. It is a sharing of decision-making authority. It is a real partnership between parents and students with the Department of Education. That theme is probably the most popular among the widest arrangement of interest groups in the territory.
The partnership theme was a good theme that ought to be expressed on the front cover, because it captured a lot of what the education act had to say.
With respect to school secretaries, the answer is the same as it was for libraries. Given competing resources, we do not have the capability of dramatically increasing the number of secretaries in schools or immediately moving from a school with a half-time to a full-time secretary overnight. What we have been doing, and the budgets bear this out and we have discussed this before in the Legislature, is incrementally increasing the secretarial time allotted to the system. Every year, the situation gets better for the school system. It has to compete with a whole series of other priorities. As much as I would like to be able to provide full-time secretarial service in all schools at all times, it is not an affordable proposition at this time, but it is something we can incrementally move toward, and have been for at least the last 10 years.
Mr. Devries: I did not really see anything in the education act referring to where the government would be encouraging more of the rural students to stay in their communities to take their education, which tends to be a problem in Watson Lake. The candidate for the NDP, whom I ran against in the election, chose to send her own kid out and it makes me wonder what her feelings are regarding the school system the party she was running for runs.
Personally, I feel my children have been quite successful in the system and I am quite proud of them. Is the government going to be doing anything to try to encourage more of the rural students to stay in the rural communities so the high schools have a better chance of offering a wider range of subjects?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am not sure of the reasons why many parents choose not to send their students to the local schools, even where there is a full range of grades. In the past, I do know there have been notable examples where the government has gone to great lengths to ensure that the grade ranges have expanded in particular schools at the demand of parents, only to find that the parents continue to send their children to other institutions. It is a source of continued frustration for ministers of education, because it has been more than just my experience that that has been the case.
There was a celebrated case in Teslin before 1985 where the demand for more grades was established by the local community. Unfortunately, the children failed to show up on September 1. This was after a great deal of resources had been put expended to ensure the option to stay in the community was there.
In terms of encouraging children to use the community, a variety of factors have to be employed to ensure that takes place. Firstly, a range of grades and a range of options should be available for students in order for them to feel comfortable that what they graduate with compares well with their urban counterparts, whether it be Whitehorse or Vancouver. That is the first stage.
It is always difficult, as I am sure the Member can appreciate, to find qualified personnel who are prepared to live in a small community, and who have a variety of levels of expertise, in order to accommodate the full range of opportunities the community wishes. It is not uncommon for the Department of Education to look for a physics teacher who has some chemistry and who can also turn his or her hand to geography and help with the gym class, as well as a little industrial education on the side.
It is quite common, for the rural schools, for the responsibilities to double, triple, quadruple up on one person. That kind of recruitment is very difficult indeed, and it is also difficult to ensure that these people are retained. Quite often that is the reason why people leave or that teachers move on to other jurisdictions, to other communities, to other schools. They do not stick around, and consequently the faith or the warmth that the community feels toward the school can be somewhat eroded by those kinds of events. When that takes place, of course, quite often parents make the decision to move their children elsewhere, rather than live with the uncertainty of whether or not teachers are going to be showing up the next year. Quite commonly, where the teachers do stay in the school for a particular length of time, for a number of years, the community feels better about the school and consequently children are encouraged to attend. So part of the response has to be encourage rural teachers to stay in rural communities.
Another element involved in the equation is distance education, to provide other options for students through less expensive means and through means other than simply a classroom and a teacher. It is common to expect a measure of expertise in certain areas if they want to get into specialty training at universities or colleges, especially in the engineering field. So there is an attempt to try, through distance education techniques, including telecommunications, to move more into that field. That is one of the reasons why the Yukon system has invested so much in technological advance, through the use of computers, so that child-based learning can take place with a wide variety of the software that is available.
I realize I have only scratched the surface with respect to trying to encourage rural students to attend rural schools, but it is a multi-faceted issue and requires a variety of responses in order to see more assured success. I will not guarantee that if all of those items that I mentioned were satisfactorily resolved, that students would stay in schools, but I am certain that the record would be better.
Mr. Lang: Is this the area for the busing as well?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: No, it is not. We just passed it, but the Member may ask questions about busing if he likes.
Mr. Lang: I just thought I would pursue the question of busing in view of the obvious opposition that was mounting. The Minister then chose wisely to continue to provide the service with respect to the situation confronting him. There is a quite a number of parents whose children have to go to day care after school. I have been told by a number of people that quite a number of these buses are overloaded. Is the Minister getting these reports as well?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I have certainly heard those comments by others, and I have had the department check on the issue of overcrowding of buses. It is true that the buses do pick up to the maximum allowed under their seating capacity rating. The bus drivers are not permitted to pick up more students than the bus is rated for so if it is a 72-passenger bus, no more than 72 passengers are allowed on the bus. I am told by the busing contractor that they adhere religiously to that directive. What is causing some concern, as I am sure the Member is aware, is the day care situation in Whitehorse. Because some parents drive their children to day care on their way to work and pick them up at the day care, there is an expectation that these children will be bused from the school to the day care and back and forth. There is concern that because the buses are overcrowded there will have to be double tripping.
There are three bus routes that I am aware of that exercise the double tripping. They will come in from the Takhini Hot Springs Road to pick up children at the Church of the Nazarene Day Care, and because the number of children has increased from approximately six to 12, to 30 to 40 students they will fill the bus, so the bus does not pick up its normal route into to Porter Creek Jr. High and Jack Hulland School. It drives directly to the school to drop students off and returns to pick the other students up.
I have discovered that even though the number of buses has increased dramatically in the Whitehorse area and the student population has increased by only 10 percent, the student ridership has increased by 100 percent since 1985-86. There are a number of reasons for that.
First, the busing for specialty programming, like French immersion, has increased. In recent months there has been an increase in the pick-up of day care students. They have been driven by their parents from within the walking limit to a school to a place outside the walking limit, and consequently then be eligible for busing if they do get picked up at day care. That has increased bus users.
I am asking the busing committee and the school committee to review the situation as it has transpired over the last little while to identify with more certainty why the increase in ridership has occurred, and what options they can suggest to resolve the situation so we can avoid the double tripping.
Those who are entitled to busing are bused to school and home. Because of the double tripping on these three routes, some of them do not get to school or home at the time they would like.
I am interested in resolving the situation. I would like to continue to accommodate the parents of day care students. I have asked the department to determine whether or not other day cares in Whitehorse would be eligible because so far only those day cares that have made a point of applying have been given acceptance where there is space on a bus. It has been very informally done and informally approved. In the end, we should have a clear understanding of what the total, overall, global picture is for Whitehorse on that issue before we make any final decisions.
Mr. Lang: I had the opportunity to attend the school committee meeting in my riding. There was a major concern about the policy being met. The major complaints came from a number of people who said children were sitting in the aisle of the buses. Is the Minister assuring me that this is not occurring and that we are not overloading the buses? That is of significant concern to anyone if it is occurring.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The bus drivers know the rules and I have asked the department to ensure the rules are adhered to religiously. The bus drivers count the students as they enter the bus. The bus driver is not permitted to allow more students on the bus than it is rated for. What may happen on occasion is that when the bus starts moving kids start doing what kids do - jostling each other and doing things other kids do not like. It is up to the bus driver to maintain control.
If there is any roughhousing going on, we ask the bus driver to stop the bus and ensure order is restored. They do their best to do that, and I do not believe there are any major problems in that area. However, the bus drivers do know they are not allowed to permit more students on the bus than the bus is rated for. When the maximum allowed enters the bus, the bus drives directly to the school and drops the students off, after which the bus driver comes back to pick up any students who are remaining. The busing committee tries to anticipate the number of students so it can set the bus schedules so that students do not have to wait on the curbside in the case of double tripping. They plan for the double tripping when they can foresee it.
Mr. Lang: I was wondering about the process. Is there anyone within the Department of Community and Transportation Services who does spot checks to make sure what is being done is being done and to conform to the policy? I have no problem with the policy. I want to add that I do believe in our case we are very fortunate to have Diversified Transport. They provide an excellent service. Is there anyone who does a spot check now and again to ensure the situation I described is not occurring?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The manager of transportation services in the department, who is the person who oversees the busing contract on behalf of the department, does spot checks to ensure that the specifications of the contract are met and that rules, such as the ones we have mentioned this afternoon, are met.
We are taking a special interest in some of the concerns that have been expressed by parents recently, and we will do what we can to ensure that what the contractor says is happening is, in fact, happening to our satisfaction.
Mr. Lang: About the decision that was taken in respect to continuing with the service that has been provided since September, the Minister indicated it could be met within the existing resources and bus fleet. What is going to take place? Is there going to be a major restructuring in the busing calendar? At the same time, will we be able to eliminate some of this double tripping he referred to earlier?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Unfortunately, we are not going to be able to meet the request to add new buses. In the current budget, as I have indicated, we have increased the busing budget in Whitehorse by $156,000. That is as much as we can stand at the present time.
As I indicated before, I am trying to determine why the ridership in Whitehorse has increased so dramatically beyond what one would consider to be normal. In 1985, we had 11 buses and three kindergarten buses in Whitehorse and now we have 19 buses and four kindergarten buses, yet the student population in Whitehorse has only increased by 10 percent. That is a problem. Obviously, we are picking up more students and in different configurations than we have in the past. I am satisfied the busing committee has worked through every endless variation to try to improve the busing service for the people in Whitehorse. I have asked them to again consider the issue with respect to this matter and ensure the day care students are picked up and taken to school and back to the after-care facility. I should not call them day care students; they are the before and after school care students.
It may be that some other innovative options are desirable and one of them has been that we have indicated to every school committee that the school will make itself available for before- and after-care services if the local school committee would be prepared to volunteer time to provide the supervision - or if the school committee parents are prepared to volunteer time for supervision. There is at least one, I think at Whitehorse Elementary School, that has grown up as a result of that policy.
The status is that if the local school committee parents group can guarantee that supervision is provided, then parents can drop their children off at school early and can pick up their children from school late or long after school hours. We have not asked teachers to provide that service, but we have asked that volunteer services be provided if there is a society that would like to do that.
That may help alleviate the situation somewhat with respect to the busing schedules and if there is more of a pick-up on that kind of offer, but as yet, as I indicated, I only know of one before- and after-care service that is provided - in Whitehorse Elementary. I do not know of another. I know of some groups that are trying to get started. That would certainly help alleviate some of the situation, I am sure. This policy is, of course, applied territory-wide.
Mr. Lang: The difficulty you get into, respecting after-school care for children, is the fact that the parents are working. That is one of the reasons, of course, that students are having to go some place for that one hour or hour and one-half remaining in the day prior to the parents leaving work. My question is this: if the parents decide they wanted to pay someone to come in and watch the kids for that hour and a half, is that fine as well?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Absolutely. If a group wants to get together and pay, as they do for the day care society services, then housing in the school is perfectly acceptable and we would encourage that to happen.
Mr. Lang: I have an area of concern in my riding and it is a question of the busing route. I did write a letter some time ago and I was told that it really was not possible. One area was the question of a bus on Clyde Wann and Hickory. I do not know if the Minister recalls this but I did have some correspondence with him on the matter. I just wanted to bring it to his attention, although I do not expect an answer today.
I had asked two things: first, that the bus, as opposed to going down Hickory, would go over onto Evergreen and that way the children would not have to cross the busy thoroughfare on Hickory Street. I was told at that time that it could not happen and then, as it happened, this year, for one reason or another, it did, which I was very pleased to see. I should alert the Minister that there is quite a number of parents who are becoming more and more concerned about the traffic on Clyde Wann Road. They are looking to see whether or not the bus could do a loop into Basswood and Cedar, so that the kids could be picked up off the busy thoroughfare, because the traffic is considerable along that road. It is a collector road for Mountain View Drive. I am just wondering if the Minister would take that under advisement and have his people look at it and get back to me because I think it is a serious situation and I just want to alert him that there quite a number of parents who have called me and are in the process of getting together to either get a petition up or write letters or various other things. We could save ourselves a lot of trouble by seeing if it could be done because I do not think it is that major a difference in the bus route.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: As a matter of general policy, the requests of parents, individuals and the Member himself are taken very seriously and all accommodation is made wherever possible. The busing committee, that has representatives from all Whitehorse school committees, volunteers endless hours trying to accommodate bus routes and still have reasonable beginning and ending times for children and parents who live at the outer extremities of the route.
I will ask the department and the busing committee to see if that can be accommodated. I know that Wann Road is busy, and it is of some concern that children have to cross that particular street in order to get to a bus stop. I will transmit the concern to the committee, obtain their advice, and transmit it to the Member later.
Mr. Devries: The Department of Education puts on camps during the summer. Which budget does that come out of?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: One camp that comes to mind is computer camp. That comes out of Advanced Education. It is run every summer and takes computer whiz kids from F.H. Collins to help instruct students in the operation of computers. It is a very successful course.
The camp began about six years ago and children from ages nine through 16 are eligible. The budget is roughly in the $37,000 to $38,000 range.
Mr. Devries: I was referring to the Canadian Parents for French Camp, which I believe was a new one last year. Does that come out of the budget for public schools? Is that returned through the French language program with the federal government?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There is a camp for French students under the public schools program. It is recoverable under the bi-lateral agreement.
Mr. Devries: I understand the department contributed something toward the Dawson City school reunion last year. Which budget did that come out of?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The government offered funding for the school opening ceremonies in the neighbourhood of about $2,000. Unfortunately, the school reunion could not be accommodated at the same time as the opening, so the reunion ran under its own steam. It did take place in the school.
Mr. Lang: There were no monies made available by the Government of the Yukon for the reunion then?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I will have to double check. I am not sure whether any funds came out of the discretionary budget of the Dawson school. To my knowledge, no funds came out of the departments budget.
Public Schools in the amount of $518,000 agreed to
On Advanced Education
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There are a number of reasons for the reduction. I will go through them. Firstly, the in-house apprenticeship program is being reduced from 24 apprentices to 12 apprentices in 1990-91, which accounts for a $186,000 reduction. As Members will remember, a land claims researcher position was budgeted for this branch, but the position was not filled as the duties were assumed by the deputy minister and assistant deputy ministers of both Advanced Education and Public Schools, and that is a reduction of $44,000. The assistant deputy minister position was vacant for approximately six months, for a reduction of $44,000. The student financial assistance grant requirements were over estimated in the budget. There were fewer applicants than we had anticipated, so there is a reduction of $98,000. There was rent in the budget for the career services centre in Closeleigh Manor, but that is to be paid by Government Services, which pays the rent, so $41,000 is not required here. That agreement came about this past year.
There was a surplus carried forward by the federal government in the Canada/Yukon Small Business Program, which accounts for $21,000 not spent. The college budgeted $50,000 for cross-cultural programming, and it will be assuming the responsibility for cross-cultural programming on a reduced scale. The Apprenticeship Incentive Marketing program, the AIM program, had a good takeup this year, so we are proposing to spend an extra $30,000. There have been various short-term vacancies and a reduction in travel due to workload demands in Whitehorse, which accounts for the balance.
Mr. Devries: I am happy to hear this is the area where the apprenticeship program comes in. Perhaps the Minister of Justice, who is in charge of safety, should listen to this, too. At Yukon Pacific Forest Products, there is an apprentice electrician who has been working there for several years, but the last few months he has been working there unsupervised, which is - as I have also been an apprentice in the past - highly irregular. It is not only bad when they are unsupervised, but when they do not even have a qualified electrician on staff it is considered very dangerous. Along with the articles we saw in the newspapers a few days ago, perhaps it is something that should be brought to someones attention.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I will draw it to someones attention. Every apprenticeship agreement dictates that every apprentice will have at least one journeyman as a supervisor with him at all times; not with them side-by-side, but supervising on a regular basis, like every day. It is contrary to an apprenticeship agreement if the person is not being supervised by a journeyman. Consequently, it is inappropriate to count those hours toward the apprenticeship, and it would be misleading to the apprentice to indicate that that apprentice time is being counted, because that would not be the case.
I will ask the department to check into the matter and ensure that either the apprenticeship agreement is fulfilled, as one would expect, or that the apprentice be told that the time he is putting in without supervision is, unfortunately, time not counted.
Mr. Lang: I wrote a letter to the Minister some time ago because it had been brought to my attention that a report had been done on apprenticeship. Can the Minister tell me if the report is now available to the public, who wrote the report, and at the request of whom?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The report on apprenticeship is complete. I consider it to be a confidential document at this stage. I have had discussions about that document in Cabinet. The report was done by persons by the names of Orvil Ruthick and Clair Brown.
Mr. Lang: Was this report commissioned in concert with an agreement with the apprenticeship board, or without the knowledge of the apprenticeship board? How did this come about? Perhaps the Minister could clarify that.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The report came about as a result of discussions between the advanced education branch and Yukon College. It was meant to give a clearer picture for Cabinet about services being provided by the branch and the college. That was accomplished. A large number of people were interviewed. It was not done with the approval of the apprenticeship advisory board. That board was struck to advise the Minister. The mandate was certainly broader than that of the apprenticeship advisory board because it did take into consideration issues with respect to apprenticeship training at Yukon College.
Mr. Lang: Did the apprenticeship training board get the opportunity to review that document and to give advice to the Minister prior to recommendations going to Cabinet on this matter?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I have not released the report publicly and do not intend to at this point. Some of the issues that have come out of the report will be discussed with the apprenticeship advisory board.
Mr. Lang: How much did this report cost?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: $46,000.
Mr. Lang: Can the Minister tell us who the consultants are? He has given us names, but where are they from and what is their background?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I will have to take notice because I do not know them personally.
Mr. Lang: Was a report on apprenticeship done in the past year by the apprenticeship board?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I do not believe so at this point. I know that the Apprentice Advisory Board had been discussing the issue of mandatory apprenticeships in the Yukon and had discussed that matter further with the Trade Advisory Committee. I am not aware of whether they have issued any documents or not. I am certainly aware of the discussions, but not much of the detail.
Mr. Lang: Could the Minister tell us why that document is not going to be made public?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I would regard the document as being of a sensitive nature. The document is for Cabinets consideration at the present time.
Mr. Lang: What is so sensitive about doing a report on the future of apprenticeship in the Yukon? I do not understand why such information would not be made public. I could understand if the Minister wanted another month or so for Cabinet discussion, or whatever, or to decide what to do. I accept that, but I cannot accept the principle that the report will not be made public, because it would seem to me that the trades people have a right to see what the government is planning on their behalf, and why. When the government makes decisions, you see what the decisions are, but many times, you do not see the reasons for the decisions and the background work to get to those decisions.
I would want to make representation to the Minister asking him that that report be made public. I am not asking for it today, but if a decision has to be made in the next month, that is fine, but I am asking that it be made available to Members of the House and members of the public.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I hear the Member. I have given the Member my indication with respect to the report at this time. I would be foolish to say that things are going to be confidential for all time, but at this point the document is under active consideration by Cabinet.
I agree with the Member that anything the government does with respect to apprenticeship in the territory should be fully discussed with the Apprentice Advisory Board first, and with the Trade Advisory Committee as well. I can assure the Member that nothing will be done with respect to the details of the program until such time that there has been proper consultation with the boards we have set up. We have a good working relationship with them currently.
Mr. Lang: The Minister still has not answered my question. I asked him specifically if that document can be made available to us in a month or two once Cabinet is finished considering it.
When was the report completed and handed into the Minister?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I will take the question regarding when it was completed as notice. I answered the question about releasing the report the best that I could. I cannot say, with any certainty, that the report will be released in a month or two. I have indicated to him that it is an active Cabinet document at the present time. At this time I am not prepared to make the report public. That may well happen in the future, but at the present time, the report is being considered by Cabinet and I am not at liberty to release it.
Mr. Lang: I want to ask a question of process here. You do have an Apprentice Advisory Board appointed by yourself to advise you, and, indirectly, Cabinet, with respect to major and significant changes in apprenticeship. Why was the report not discussed with the Apprentice Advisory Board, even on a confidential basis, in order to ensure that the Cabinet was getting the full knowledge and recommendations from the board as the board was set up to do?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: As I indicated at the beginning, the Apprentice Advisory Board is charged with providing advice to the government, and the Department of Education in particular, with respect to apprenticeship issues in the public. It is an apprenticeship policy and the apprenticeship system as it affects businesses, employers and employees of the public. That is basically the mandate of the Apprentice Advisory Board.
What the report primarily dealt with was the organization within the department and the relationship between the department and the college, and it provided an analysis of the capabilities of departmental members to carry out their mandate.
Mr. Lang: I still do not understand. If it was a report on the future of apprenticeship, and also the various programs set up at the college, which incidentally the board can have something to say about, why was the board not consulted? They could have been given a draft copy of the report so the Minister could have a full working knowledge of how the board felt if there were going to be major changes.
I understand those consultations having to be confidential, but I do not understand why that was not done.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I have not indicated to anyone, nor am I even privately considering major changes to the apprenticeship program. The report deals with the department very candidly, and the capabilities of the department to carry out its public mandate. It also deals with the relationship with the college. These are internal government matters. If there is any change with respect to policy on apprenticeships in the territory, I would deal with that matter with the Apprentice Advisory Board as we have always done. Even on a confidential basis, I think it would be inappropriate to broach those subjects with the Apprentice Advisory Board.
Any policy issues on apprenticeship that may emanate from this report, and I do not detect any significant ones at this point, would first and foremost be run past the Apprenticeship Advisory Board and the Trades Advisory Committee long before anything was to happen in terms of changes to policy.
Mr. Lang: The Minister did announce a fairly significant change in policy from 24 apprentices down to 12. That is cut by 50 percent. Were the Apprentice Advisory Board or Trade Advisory Board consulted on such a decision?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There was no change in policy at all. There is a change in programming, but not a change in policy. The programs are well known to the Apprentice Advisory Board, both the AIM program and the in-house apprenticeship program. The in-house apprenticeship program was devised in order to address a need for apprenticeships when the private sector was not doing the job in the early 1980s. It is a program whereby the government fully pays the wages and training costs of apprentices who will work inside the government as surplus to government needs. It is an expensive way of achieving the public objective of encouraging apprenticeships to take place.
What has happened since then is the number of active apprenticeships have risen by 25 percent from 150 to 207 since 1985-86. The thrust is to put more resources into encouraging the private sector to take on apprenticeships rather than the government doing it.
The policies behind both programs are well known to the Apprentice Advisory Board. We did not discuss our budgets with them, but we have never done that.
If there was any change in policy, or thought to change policy, the Apprentice Advisory Board would be the first to give it consideration.
Mr. Lang: It seems to me that if a person is cutting the program by 50 percent, and it is obviously being cut, I would submit there should have been some discussion prior to doing to it with those people who can give some advice to the government on what they feel the implications are. Secondly, they should get a feeling from them of whether they feel it is the right thing to do. Is the Minister telling me that the government has made the decision to cut the program by 50 percent and is going to tell the apprenticeship program that that is the way it is going to be, whether they like it or not?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Apprentice Advisory Board is a board mandated to advise the government on matters of policy with respect to apprenticeship. It is not a mini-government with respect to apprenticeship. It is a body of employers and employees appointed by the Minister to advise him with respect to apprenticeship policy. There have been no changes with respect to apprenticeship policy at all. There have been program reallocations to encourage the private sector on one hand. The incentives to encourage the private sector to take on apprentices have increased. On the other hand, the actual expenditures to subsidize apprenticeships within government have decreased. That is not a change of policy, in my view. On any changes of policy, I would seek the advice of the Apprentice Advisory Board, which is there to advise the Minister. I do not feel it is necessarily appropriate that our budget allocations need the approval of the Apprentice Advisory Board, which is a board that is struck to advise the Minister.
Mr. Lang: I am not asking for the advisory board to approve the budget, but I would have thought the Minister would have had the courtesy to sit down with the board they are referring to, if they were going to make such a substantial change in direction, and say, We are going to make some significant changes, this is why, and what are your thoughts on it?
The Minister did not set up the board. The board was set up a long time before he arrived. It was set up for the purpose of advising the government. Is the Apprentice Advisory Board agreeable to such a cut? Has he discussed it with them, since he obviously made the decision some time ago, since it was contained in the budget?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Firstly, there has not been a change in policy. Secondly, like the situation with respect to the Education Council, which is a similar situation, the government does not currently discuss its education budgets with the Education Council before making it public.
That is not a principle that was practised by my predecessors. To my knowledge, with respect to the Apprentice Advisory Board, it was not a practice of my predecessors to discuss budget allocations with that board.
It is not whether it is a matter of courtesy or not. To me, that is irrelevant. The issue is whether or not there were any requests for changes of policy or any discussion about changes in policy, and there were not. There were no changes in program guidelines, there were no changes in policy. There were changes in budget allocations because of the obvious desire to encourage the private sector to do what the government wants to encourage, which is to encourage a number of apprenticeships to be taken up by the private sector.
One of the main reasons for the in-house apprenticeship program in the first place was to pick up the slack as a result of a downturn in the economy, to encourage the apprenticeships to continue. It makes a world of sense that, when the private sector starts to pick up the speed, the government should encourage the private sector to do the same job at much less cost to the public.
Mr. Lang: He has not answered my question. In view of the fact that a decision was obviously taken some time ago, is the Apprentice Advisory Board aware that this decision has been taken? I would assume that they would have been advised at some time.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am certain the Apprentice Advisory Board is aware at this time.
Mr. Lang: Are they in agreement with the obvious major shift the Minister is taking in this very important area on trades people?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I would have to check to see if the board would be in favour of this or not. Certainly, we have made a decision on what we regard to be in the best interest of the public. If the Member disagrees with the approach being taken, then that is fair game.
Mr. Lang: I do have some problems with it. I believe that YTG basically sets the example for the private sector in many ways on how apprenticeship programs should be run. I believe the government has done an excellent job through the years. It is too bad there is a significant cut. These are 12 positions that could go to 12 very capable young Yukoners who may well want to get a trade.
The thing about the government providing apprenticeship training is that they provide 12-month employment. Subsequently, if an individual goes through the program with the government they are guaranteed that within the two, three or four year requirement, if they meet their obligations they will get it as soon as possible. One of the problems with some of the private companies is that many are seasonal, and subsequently it takes longer to get accreditation because you have to get the hours in. It is to some disadvantage at times to the applicant.
I want to go on record informing the Minister that I feel he should re-examine this area. I do not think this is the time to be making major cuts. If the Minister is scrambling for dollars, I am sure this side is more than prepared to examine the budget in a friendly and open manner and give our advice. If the real thought of the side opposite is to keep track of taxpayers dollars, there is no doubt we could find whatever amount of money the Minister needed at any given time.
I want to point out to the Minister that I want to see the full background of the individuals who did the overall, $46,000 review. It is important that the people of the Yukon know where these people are from and what their backgrounds are.
Who commissioned the study? Was it the Minister himself or top management within the department? There have been a lot of changes in the department the last little while. Is the Minister giving direction that an overall evaluation be done, or who?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: To answer the last question first, and to respond to the other points later, the department commissioned a study. I do not personally remember signing any contracts with respect to this matter, but I did take a very direct interest in the issues of the apprenticeship program and the relationship with the college. I have asked that a review be done.
With respect to the issue itself, I am a student of the history of programs that have been established by my predecessors. I do work to determine whether or not the programs still meet the original objectives of my predecessors. I do look to determine whether or not the program is accomplishing new objectives.
In the particular case of the in-house apprenticeship program, I am a fan of apprenticeships. I do like to see that apprenticeships are encouraged. The issue is really whether the private sector can achieve the same objective at less cost to the taxpayer. I would say outright that the government has not abandoned apprenticeships as an employer, as the budget can attest.
As well, the government does have what I would consider a good apprenticeship program and a good apprenticeship branch, and has developed a good working relationship with the private sector in this territory. The budget allocation has increased for the Apprenticeship Incentive Marketing program, which does encourage private sector to meet the objective of encouraging apprenticeships to be established.
What has happened, as I indicated before, is that the number of apprentices being sponsored by the private sector is increasing, partly as a result of direct support by the government through the AIM program and partly because the economy is recovering and is taking on these responsibilities once again, as they should.
The question, ultimately for me, has always been whether or not the basic public objective has been met, or is being met, and how to meet that public objective at a minimum cost to the taxpayer, and that is the reason why the decision has been made. The situation is reviewed every year, at other times as well as budget times.
I will be keeping an eye on the governments role as employer of apprentices, and also on the uptake of apprentices in the private sector. The ultimate objective the public would like to see is to ensure that there is an active apprenticeship system in the territory, and they would like to see the apprenticeship picked up by the private sector. If they can accomplish the objective at less cost to the taxpayer, I am encouraged by that and will encourage that trend to continue.
Mrs. Firth: There was a strategic plan done for the Yukon College. Can the Minister tell us who did that and how much it cost?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Nicols Applied Management is the contractor doing the strategic plan for the college. I cannot tell her how much has been paid at this point, but I will secure the information.
Mrs. Firth: Can the Minister provide us with the contract and then we can see what the terms and conditions are? I did not quite get the name of who was doing it, but I will if we get the contract. Can we have a copy of the finished product if it is finished?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Member wants a copy of the contract and the finished product. She can have the contract right away. There is no finished product yet, but when it is finished, I think it would be appropriate to make it public.
Mrs. Firth: What was the purpose? What was the government looking for?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Basically the purpose of developing the strategic plan is to help establish a direction for the college, post conversion - to establish the intricacies of the relationship between the department and the college, before, during and after final conversion.
Mr. Lang: Was the study commissioned by the board of governors or the by the Department of Education?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The contract was with the Department of Education. The terms of reference and discussion about what Nicols Applied Management would do was discussed with the board.
Mr. Lang: Was that after or before they were hired?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I believe it was before these particular people were hired.
Mr. Lang: When is this report to be completed?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am not sure. I believe in January or February. I do not know exactly when, but it will certainly be very early in the new year.
Mr. Lang: Is the contract going to be for one payment for the study, or is it on a per-diem basis?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: One payment.
Mr. Lang: I have a question on the announced British Columbia plans for a northern university. It would seem to me that it is going to affect us. One of the selling points was that with a larger college and larger buildings we could possibly attract northern students. With the announcement of British Columbia to go ahead with a college in the Prince George area, can the Minister tell us what ramifications he sees that having in the long term with respect to the plans for the college here?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I have heard about the plans for a new university in Prince George for some time. The definition of a northern university being in Prince George is like Ontario saying there is a northern university in Thunder Bay. It is north for the province, but it is not north in the classic sense of being smack-dab in the middle of northern jurisdictions.
Nevertheless, it is closer to Whitehorse than other universities in British Columbia. Consequently, if it develops good academic credentials and a reputation, it will compete for students who wish to go outside the Yukon. A lot depends on the schools they want to concentrate on, and what sort of programming they want to demonstrate as being their priorities. At this point, it is only Mr. Strachans dream. I do not know more about the university than what the Member has heard. Mr. Strachan did not discuss it with me at any time, nor has any minister in B.C. discussed it with me or anyone else I know of.
I believe the program we are initiating at the college is the first of its kind in northern Canada. It is developing a reputation on its own right now, steadily but surely, that will carry it well into the future, irrespective of any competition it might receive either from a university in Prince George or Arctic College ultimately one day getting into indigenous university programming.
We have made the decision quite early on that we will focus our efforts on certain concentrations so we can develop expertise locally that will match expertise in any university within the Association of Canadian Universities for Northern Studies. Those concentrations are the native studies, the northern justice, northern science program and, finally, the northern outdoor environmental studies program. The latter has not yet been developed, but is scheduled to be.
We feel those are of particular significance to the Canadian north and the Canadian/Alaskan north. We have had discussions with the University of Alaska with respect to our programs. They think we have picked a niche that will stand us in good stead well into the future and will allow us to withstand some competition.
I think competition in the university community is a good thing, and I think with some time and some steady development work at the college, we will have a program that will be second to none anywhere and of which every Yukoner will be proud. It does require maintaining good contacts with other universities, not only in the association in Canada but, also, in the State of Alaska, which have done a lot of pioneering work and are quite accomplished in certain fields. We will maintain those ties.
Right now, I do not think this is just bravado on my part. I think any university developed in Prince George will have a minimal effect on what we are doing at Yukon College. By the time they get running, we will have an incredible program for Yukon students that they will want to take as a first choice if they want to engage in those particular fields, but it will also be a program that will compete well with existing universities that Yukon students traditionally go to. Those are: University of Alberta, Edmonton or Calgary; University of British Columbia; University of Victoria and Simon Fraser University. Those are the universities Yukon students choose as first choice.
Ultimately students will take more programming in the Yukon, or at least part, because the northern studies programming counts for the first two years toward a standard university program. Those courses are credited with other universities, particularly UBC.
I have given it some thought since the announcement was made. Yukon College will be very competitive and an institution to be reckoned with. I would put the question to the people in Prince George as to what they think the effect of an active Yukon College with a good university program will have on the aspirations of Prince George students. In the coming years the Yukon College and its programs will ultimately be a force to be reckoned with in the university community when it comes to studying in the north.
Mr. Lang: I definitely hope the Minister is right.
What has gone on in career services for the past year, and what plans does the Minister have in that area?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: As the Member may know, we have a career services centre at Closeleigh Manor. It is a program that coordinates a lot of career services counselling that the government used to do for the public school system, but it also enhances the services being provided throughout the whole system. It works in concert with the counselling services provided by the Yukon College, and fits a niche that I know currently does not exist in the territory. It has an outreach program to rural communities that is just getting off the ground and will be able to help school counsellors provide services to high school students throughout the territory in the future, in terms of materials and human support.
There are also some very innovative things that the career services centre has engaged in with respect to gaining access to career opportunities in the country. They have a system that can determine what course and education offerings there are almost anywhere in western Canada at any particular time, almost at the touch of a button.
The process itself is to encourage people to come and talk about career planning and future occupations they might take advantage of almost on a walk-in basis. It used to be thought that Canada Employment and Immigration Commission provided this service, but it does not. They provide more of a job-hunting service and this is a career planning service. It is a much more human service than the job-clearing houses provide, and it is meant to be so. It has a fairly active clientele so far.
In terms of future effort, I would think that one of the major occupations of that branch would be to improve its services to rural communities. Obviously it is a service they can provide only intermittently. The goal is to help counsellors in the schools to use the materials, provide the materials and act as an outreach for the centre itself.
Basically that is where it is and that is where I think it is going.
Mr. Devries: The Minister was talking about the career services and I know in Watson Lake the community outreach, which is operated through Canada Manpower, were also offering some career services. Again, we come to the question I asked last year, where these workers seem to be on a three-year contract basis and do not get many benefits. Possibly with the change in the structure of UIC and other things, is there any possibility that the outreach service, along with some other tranfers could be transferred, and all fit into this package of career counselling? They all seem to be inter-related: job hunting, for a career you need to get a job, et cetera.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I think it would be a good idea, ultimately, to coordinate all services that are provided that even touch on the area of career services. I would think it highly unlikely that Canada Unemployment would consider devolving that to the Yukon, because they would not devolve it to provincial jurisdictions, where they do have the outreach workers. We have, I must say, fought a losing battle to try to keep many of these people in some communities. We lost the battle in Mayo, for example. We believe they do provide a valuable service in terms of doing a whole variety of things. They do everything from help unemployed people fill out unemployment insurance forms to basically doing battle with other administrative elements who process unemployment insurance. They will also act as a clearing house for local employers who want to seek candidates for jobs. It is kind of a hiring hall, in some respects, in an informal way.
I think that the service they provide is a good service and we would hate to see it evaporate entirely from communities. As I say, I think it is important that our career services service does communicate well with the outreach people in the communities, and I believe that they do touch base, as they do touch base locally in Whitehorse as well, with the Canada Employment office, on a regular basis. I do not see the federal government transferring that funding to us, unfortunately; I cannot see them doing that.
Certainly, with respect to Watson Lake, I know that the career services people have been to Watson Lake. I have not had a post-briefing on what they have been doing down there, but I know that the career services people feel quite up about the response that they got and realize that follow-up is essential. Right now they are devising ways to ensure that the follow-up is regular and that anybody who comes in looking for help and assistance, with respect to materials or just to talk, can get that help through the career services centre or through whatever outreach service they manage with local school counsellors in the town.
Mr. Lang: I want to pass on to the Minister that a number of people have had the opportunity to use this career service that is available to the communities. I have talked to a number of people who are actually from outside of Whitehorse and they were very pleased with the information that was provided to them. They found it very helpful. I think it is, in this day and age, when people are changing vocations on a fairly regular basis, that this kind of service is essential, to give everybody an opportunity to look at all the options that are available to us, because there are such a multitude of options available now, as opposed to even 10 years ago, or 20 years ago. It would seem to me that encouraging it to work in conjunction with other agencies, such as my colleague from Watson Lake referred to in Watson Lake, and the other communities such as Haines Junction and Dawson, and the other ones throughout the territory, would be of great benefit to people to let them know that this service is available if called upon, especially when you get situations such as the misfortune that has fallen on Elsa, where people were put in a very difficult situation when the mine closed down and all of a sudden they had to look, not only for another job, but for another vocation.
This type of program within the YTG is very beneficial. I want to compliment the Minister. The direction he has talked about is probably the proper one to take, now that it has been established.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am glad to receive the Members support. It was a good idea in its concept and, in the practice, it has come through fairly well. There are some improvements. There will always be a situation where programs can improve. It is first, test the fire. The emergency response to Elsa was very much appreciated by the employees there, and it will make us better able to respond to emergency situations should they unfortunately occur in the future. I will pass on the Members comments to the departmental people. I am sure they will be glad of the support.
Chair: We will now have a brief recess.
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order.
We will continue with debate on Advanced Education.
Advanced Education in the amount of an under expenditure of $542,000 agreed to
On Libraries and Archives
Hon. Mr. McDonald: As I indicated to Members, the school book purchases were transferred from libraries and archives branch to public schools branch, and that was an $80,000 figure. There is one other under expenditure, and that is the reduction in grants to libraries due to decreases in operating hours. That is primarily the Elsa shutdown.
With respect to the over expenditures, $16,000 was to move a seconded employee from Ottawa back to Ottawa; $15,000 was the recruitment and relocation cost of the new archives librarian; $8,000 for increased maintenance grants to Teslin and Ross River community libraries. There is the conversion of three auxiliaries to permanent and the associated cost increase is $5,900. Shift premiums were not budgeted for, and they were $4,000. That shows the $45,000 under expenditure.
Mr. Devries: As the Minister may recall, several weeks ago I brought up the subject of the Teslin library. Where is it going to be located a year or so down the road?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am not sure of the exact position at this point, but I believe the library would be located in the old community hall, if all goes well.
Mr. Devries: As the Minister may be aware, Yukon College has moved from the little building beside the band hall to the community hall, and from what I have been told by the people in Teslin and the college committee, that is where they would like to make their permanent home. Further, they go on to point out to me they feel this would be a saving in the neighbourhood of $200,000 to $300,000 over the next 15 years.
Is there any way the Minister could possibly reconsider the move into the band hall and listen to the suggestions made by the Teslin campus committee to move into the community hall?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There are different views, obviously, in Teslin, with respect to that matter. As I have indicated before, a couple of years ago, the proposal for a band administration complex was developed by the Teslin Indian Band and a commitment was sought to move the community campus into the administration building. The community campus committee of that time thought that it was a good idea and it was on that basis that we basically made a commitment that we would consider the rental of that space. The community campus committee subsequently changed its mind with respect to the rental of band premises, and they cited concerns to me about having the band as a landlord. Nevertheless, the government had made a commitment with respect to the band administration complex, and we are committed to living up to that commitment.
The necessary space was secured, more space than they currently have in the band administration complex and everything was going along well until the community campus committee reversed its position.
The situation in Teslin, as I see it now, based on representations that have been made, both by the band and a large number of residents whom I have spoken to, and by the MLA for the area, suggest that the commitment should be honoured with respect to the band complex. Consequently, costs will be incurred in future years associated with the rental of that space. It is not a good argument, I believe, for anyone to suggest that we are going to get any premises in Teslin for nothing. The library space, should the library or day care move into the old community hall, will not cost nothing. The rental may be a dollar, but the space will not cost nothing to reside in, so the argument that, because the rental of space in the band complex for government purposes will generally be $30,000 a year or 10 years for $300,000, seems to suggest that the use of the community hall will cost nothing.
I do not recall the village council promising to pay for the O&M of the community; in fact, they did not. So certainly if the day care moves into the old community hall and if the library moves into the old community hall, there be a O&M cost associated with that move. It also necessitates a measure of renovation, and I am aware that the community had made application for funding to renovate the community hall for the purposes of either a community campus, at one point, sponsored by the community campus committee, or the library, sponsored by the library board. There are funds available on the capital side of the budget, to provide for renovation. I will have to check it for when we get to the capital. We did anticipate that the library would move out of the school in Teslin. So there will be that funding dedicated to whatever space is available; that will be government funding, I know.
Nevertheless, as I have indicated in the past, we have committed ourselves to supporting this community project. Judging from the reaction I received from a number of people in Teslin and organizations, the commitment to live up to that commitment is the best choice. Consequently, that is the route we would prefer to go.
Mr. Devries: The Minister must have been talking to different people than I talked to. Just to set the record straight, my understanding is rent for 15 years on the band office is going to be a few thousand dollars under $400,000. The renovations that would have to be done to the community centre, which are also going to have to be done to make it into a day care centre, is approximately $71,000. If we just took a rough figure of another $50,000 over the next 15 years to maintain and heat the building, we are still $250,000 below what it is going to cost to move into the band office.
Now that the library is being moved into the community centre, which is its permanent home, and since the ideal spot to have a community college campus is right beside the library, the ideal spot would be in this community hall. Since the government has obligated itself to lease this square footage in the band office, possibly the day care could be moved there, and the library and community campus could be together in the community centre.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am not familiar with the day care program, which the Minister of Health and Human Resources is responsible for. No matter where, they would provide free space for a day care operated by a society. In any case, the costs associated with the community centre, no matter whose debt it is, would involve the heat and light the Member mentioned, plus janitorial services. This does not come free.
As I have indicated before, this is more than simply an issue of determining whether or not it would be nice to have the community campus in the community hall versus the band administration building. The issue is whether or not there was a commitment made to support the band administration building with a community campus. Based on the consultations we had with the community campus committee when the commitment was originally made, the decision was to use the band complex.
It is my understanding, from discussions I have had with people on both sides of the equation, that the community campus committee was concerned about having the band as a landlord and concerned they were not a good landlord. They felt that, in retrospect, after the commitment had been made by the government, they did not want to use any facilities provided by the band.
Nevertheless, the government had made commitments to support the building with a promise to use space for the community campus in order to achieve the objective of having community campus space. There was no discussion, at that time, about use for the old community hall. That came about very recently when the village council decided it did not have a use for the community hall.
The commitments had been made some time ago, and it is our position that we must live up to the commitments we make. Whether we like it, or whether the community campus committee desires to change its mind is less important than the desire to fulfill a commitment.
Nevertheless, the commitment to use the space for the campus is a sound one, because there will be more than adequate space to house a community campus facility. It will be one of the best-housed community campuses in the territory, as a result. It will allow the community hall to be used at lower rental costs by the day care association, which is a non-profit society and does not have access to the kind of government funds that library space and the community campus space have access to.
So I would think, from a general overall perspective, that this does make sense, that it does allow the government to continue to fulfill the commitments that the government made. It does allow the general objective that many people in Teslin have, with respect to that community, to be fulfilled.
Mr. Devries: It would make more sense to me, then, if possibly the library was also in the band hall, but just as an item on behalf of this side, perhaps - I realize the Minister is not the one paying the rent on the building - perhaps the Minister could table the document that shows how many square feet of this building the government is obligated to lease, and possibly the terms of the contract.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I will get the information from Government Services and I will send it to the Member.
Libraries and Archives in the amount of an under expenditure of $45,000 agreed to
On Policy, Planning and Evaluation
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The costs associated here are broken out as $29,000 for the communications coordinator for the department, and the balance of the cost relating to the education act review was $57,000, primarily resulting from the costs of the public consultations.
Mr. Devries: I have a question here about the education act, based on a concern that has been raised with me. It is concerning section 3, regarding preschool education programs. I will just read the first paragraph: The Minister in authority may establish and maintain education programs for children who have not obtained school age or who have not entered school.
From there on it seems to leave it quite wide open. My question would be: would an education authority possibly have the option of having a room where you could give one-year-old babies walking lessons and talking lessons, and another room where they would get potty training? Will there be be a limit in there somewhere as to at what age children must be to use the school?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: With respect to the general mandate of the act, the school authorities will be able to operate within the terms of reference of the act, as school boards do, generally, and their clientele will be the clientele associated with the act. If the Member is concerned about school authorities making decisions about preschool or before-school care, that is something that I think would be a decision that they would have to make, Secondly, I am sure that they would be obligated under the act to have a mandate that would deal only with the clients of the act - people who are named in the act - as the people who are being serviced under the act. They would not, for example, be able to make expenditures - and certainly the regulations would stipulate this - to support, say, a tourism project in a community, because they have a few bucks running around, or something outside their mandate. Their mandate would the education of the students and the students for whom they would provide that would be delineated in the act and regulations. Now, whether or not we move to day care in the schools and whether or not the school authorities will be a responsible agent is a decision that has not yet been made, I guess - a policy decision either by this government or by any authority, obviously.
I am presuming, from the intent of the Members question, he is concerned about the potential for preschool or day care in the schools and does not personally subscribe to that particular activity in schools, if I am not mistaken. The Member will be happy to know there are school committees who share his view that day care should not be part of the schools and have taken that position quite vociferously. There are a couple of school committees in the territory that have taken a different view and have allowed things to happen in the community that make sense to them. Some schools have allowed a day care to take place in an empty classroom, even though they do not personally run it, because they say it is their community, and why not? It is heated, it is empty, it does not disturb the school program, so why not let it happen? Why get upset about that?
In the main, most school committees are faced with tight school space. Most school committees feel day care should be outside the school, and I would think that the Member is on the majority side of that particular issue with respect to schools.
Mr. Devries: I think the preschool program in the elementary school in Watson Lake has worked very well. The concerns I have heard is they feel there should be a limitation on exactly what does go on there and, somewhere along the line, there should be a line drawn between what is day care and what is baby care, if you could draw a line in there someplace.
As far as the teen program here in Whitehorse, I am in favour of the initiative the government has taken. I myself have a teen who is in the same situation, so I can relate to that.
I guess I do not have any further questions on this item.
Mrs. Firth: I thought I had a question, but maybe I do not have one. I will just take my chair.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It would be an excellent idea, on behalf of all the MLAs, to provide a small Christmas present to the Hansard reporters, a small but significant one, and that is to give them some time, namely 15 minutes, to not take joy in recording our words of wisdom in the very interesting debate that has taken place here this afternoon.
On behalf of all MLAs, I wish Hansard reporters a Merry Christmas and move that you report progress on Bill No. 13.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that Mr. 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 the report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole?
Ms. Kassi: The Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 13, entitled Second Appropriation Act, 1989-90, and directed me to report progress on same.
At this point, I would also like to take this opportunity to wish each and every Member of this House, the pages, the Clerks, and the staff of Hansard a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Let the record show that every Member clapped their desks. We wish everyone a Merry Christmas and, if anyone in the media is listening, we wish them a Merry Christmas as well.
Speaker: You have heard the report of the Chair of Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move 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: Before I adjourn the House, I would also like to wish each and every one of you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. This is for everyone here, all the people who work here, the Clerks and the people from Hansard and, also, the news reporters. Have a happy holiday.
This House now stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. Monday, January 22, 1990.
The House adjourned at 5:15 p.m.
The following Sessional Papers were tabled December 14, 1989:
Auditor General of Canada Report on Other Matters to the Yukon Legislative Assembly for the year ended March 31, 1989 (Speaker - Johnston)
Yukon Lottery Commission Annual Report, 1988-89 (Byblow)
Report on Regulations for the period January 9, 1989 to October 23, 1989 (M. Joe)
The following Legislative Returns were tabled December 14, 1989:
Agreement to purchase Hyland Forest Products (Penikett)
New mill at Watson Lake (Penikett)
Agreement between Yukon Development Corporation and Shieldings (Penikett)
Whether full $2 million has been paid by Shieldings, and whether original agreement has been amended (Penikett)
Amount paid by Yukon Pacific to Yukon Development Corporation to date (Penikett)
Why Watson Lake businessmen have not been paid (Penikett)
Breakdown of cost of trip to Scandinavia (Penikett)
Dividends from Yukon Energy Corporation to Yukon Development Corporation (Penikett)
The following Filed Document was tabled December 13, 1989:
7. Petition re condition of Alaska Highway between Jakes Corner and Whitehorse (Phelps)