Monday, January 22, 1990 - 1:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. We will proceed with Prayers.
Speaker: We will proceed with the Order Paper.
Introduction of Visitors.
90th Birthday Tribute to G.I. Cameron
Mr. Phillips: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to say a few words today about a guest in our gallery, Mr. Cam Cameron. I would like to take this opportunity to extend to Mr. Cameron best wishes from our caucus and a very happy ninetieth birthday.
I not only have the good luck of having Mr. Cameron as a constituent but he is also a very good friend of every Member of this Legislature. Cam, as most of us know him, is 90 years young today. Cam is a real Yukon pioneer. He came to Dawson City and the Yukon in 1925 as a young North-West Mounted Police officer. Cam left the force when he married Martha in Dawson in 1928.
Cam is well known, as well, to many residents of the Yukon River, where he patrolled upstream and downstream from his home at Fort Selkirk. Other Yukoners in Whitehorse, Dawson and May had the pleasure of Cam serving them and their communities as a member of the RCMP.
Cam retired from his active work in the civil service in 1970. In 1972 he took up the position of Sergeant-at-Arms of the Yukon Legislative Assembly and just recently officially retired, although those of us who know Cam know that he will never retire.
For everyone who knows Cam, he really is a walking history lesson and he loves to tell you all of those great stories of the past. I know that tonight at the family get together and birthday reception many great stories will be relived once again.
I would like to take this opportunity on behalf of my caucus to wish Cam a very happy birthday and good health for another 90 years. Thank you.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: As the Member for Whitehorse Riverdale North has indicated, we, too, on this side, would like to wish G.I. Cameron a very happy ninetieth birthday. He is, as everyone knows, a most solid and respectable individual, and provided that solidity and respectability to the Legislature when it needed it most of the course of the last few years.
His beginnings, in the Yukon at least, were in Keno City, where the old community buildings that he once frequented are still standing. It is a little more serene now that it was then, but nevertheless the beginnings that Mr. Cameron had in the territory in my constituency are still remembered in that district and he has shared with me some of his thoughts and some of his experiences during that period.
On behalf of the government caucus, and I know it is shared by the opposition caucus, I would like to express congratulations on his ninetieth birthday. I think really we should do something very special 10 years from now when G.I. turns 100 and the world enters a new millennium. I think that would be one of the most significant celebrations that this territorial Legislature could have at that time.
Speaker: Are there any Returns or Documents for tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Mr. Webster: Mr. Speaker, I have for tabling a legislative return concerning bison at the Aishihik cut-off.
Speaker: Are there any Reports of Committees?
Mr. Brewster: It gives me great pleasure to stand here today and table some more Save the Goldpanner petitions. I have, up until today, tabled 1,945; today I am tabling 3,986, for a total of 5,931. I am very pleased to see that the moccasin telegraph is still working in the Yukon, and we still have petitions coming in. Unfortunately, the moccasin telegraph worked faster than we could, and we could not get them all gathered in.
It is quite apparent that the licence plate is going to be changed, but the one main reason I am tabling these now is to teach this government and future governments that you do not tamper with the history of the Yukon, because the Yukon people will certainly make it known that they do not like it.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Speaker: Mr. Clerk?
Petition No. 3 and No. 4
Clerk: Mr. Speaker and hon. Members of the Assembly, I have had the honour to review two petitions, being Petitions No. 3 and No. 4 of the first session of the Twenty-seventh Legislative Assembly, as presented by the hon. Members for Kluane and Whitehorse Riverdale North on December 14, 1989. Subject to the considerations raised in my report on Petition No. 1, I find that these petitions meet the requirements as to form of the Standing Orders of the Yukon Legislative Assembly.
Speaker: Pursuant to Standing Order No. 66, Petitions No. 3 and No. 4 are deemed to be read and received.
Introduction of Bills.
Are there any Notices of Motion for Production of Papers?
Are there any Notices of Motion?
NOTICES OF MOTION
Mr. Lang: I move
THAT it is the opinion of this House that the Yukon Government should not implement the proposed increases in motor vehicle licence plate fees.
Mr. Phillips: I move
THAT this House urges the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, the Hon. Tom Siddon, to assign one of the six new community adviser positions established for the western region to the Yukon in order to support and promote the salmonoid enhancement program in Yukon schools and various communities throughout the Yukon.
Mr. Nordling: I give notice of the following motion:
THAT this House urges the Government of Yukon to give full consideration to the findings and recommendations of the task force report, entitled We Need Someone to Talk To, in developing and implementing programs for the prevention of suicide in Yukon.
Speaker: Are there any Statements by Ministers?
Formula Financing Arrangements for 1990-91 to 1994-95
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I rise today to inform the House of the formula financing arrangements we will be subject to for the next five years.
Since last spring, our officials, and officials of both the Northwest Territories and federal governments, have held a number of meetings to define the financial arrangements between our governments that will prevail after the current agreement expires on March 31 of this year. I am happy to say that we and the Northwest Territories were successful in moving the federal government away from a position that, were it to have been imposed on the territories, would have effectively crippled the operations of our governments.
Unfortunately, we were unable to convince the federal government to move all the way to a position that we considered fair to all parties under the circumstances. The arrangements being imposed upon us will have a direct impact upon our ability to deliver programs comparable to those delivered by our provincial neighbours in the south.
The new arrangements, as compared to the existing agreement, will cost this government approximately $80 million in the five years beginning April 1, 1990. Over these five years, this loss works out to roughly $2,700 for every person in the Yukon.
In this time of fiscal restraint at the federal level, it was inevitable we would have to scale-back our expectations. We were prepared to bear our fair share of the burden of deficit reduction. In this regard we anticipated a cut of $5 million in the grant we would otherwise have received in 1990/91 and reflected that figure in the tabled main estimates.
Given the arrangement we will have to accept, this figure is low by some $4 million.
We feel that a reduction of this magnitude means that the people of the Yukon and the Northwest Territories will bear a much higher proportion of federal deficit reduction efforts than will other Canadians. The reductions, if applied on a per capita basis to the Canadian population, would mean the federal government would have to reduce its spending by over $70 billion in that same period. Nothing approaching cuts of this magnitude have been, or will ever be, achieved by the national government.
The revisions to the formula that the federal government is imposing can be explained very simply.
Every local tax has a base upon which it is calculated. To these bases the federal government has applied the average tax rate levied by the provinces. The result is, theoretically, the taxes we could be expected to raise at the national average tax rates. From this figure is deducted the actual taxes we raise. In our case there is a shortfall. In other words, our tax rates are lower than the national average, and the federal government will deduct this shortfall from our grant. After a reduction factor I will speak of in a moment, the federal government is saying that we would have to raise our tax rates 36 percent to have achieved national average tax rates in the fiscal year 1987/88. This is clearly ridiculous.
We have serious reservations with this methodology, but we have been only partially successful in convincing the federal government to modify the system to account for the unique circumstances that exist in the north.
We all know that an income of x dollars in the Yukon does not have the same purchasing power as does the same income in the south. This is because of our high cost of living, which limits the amount of dollars available from each individual to pay taxes. Our local tax rates must be lower than the national average if the tax burden on our residents is not to be so far above the national average as to lower the standard of living in the Yukon to unacceptable levels. We have done studies that indicate that the tax burden and tax effort of the Yukon is at or higher than the national average when all taxes paid by our citizens are taken into account. These calculations indicate this result even before our high cost of living is factored into the equation. Were the living cost included in these calculations, the tax effort and burden of the Yukon becomes even higher. While the federal government admits that living cost is a valid concern in relation to tax effort, they refuse to make allowance for it.
The methodology of the new system itself is faulty, and we have repeatedly pointed out these faults to the federal government, largely to no avail. For instance, the new system shows that the Yukons tax-raising capacity is 18 percent above that of the richest province, Ontario, despite the fact that our personal income per capita is five percent below that of Ontario. The new system assumes we have a very high sales tax base for which we are penalized because we have no sales tax. What is not taken into account is the fact that the base as calculated is grossly overstated because government constitutes such a significant portion of the economy in the north, and governments do not tax themselves.
The federal government has taken some, if insufficient, note of these circumstances. They have applied a 15 percent reduction to all calculations under the new system to account for these technical inadequacies. They have also agreed to phase-in the new formula such that we will not feel its full impact for three years, and a population factor has been incorporated into the expenditure base. While these concessions are welcome, they go nowhere near far enough to fully account for the unique conditions that exist in the Yukon in particular and the north in general.
Aside from these methodological difficulties, the fact of the matter is that, in constant dollars, federal spending per capita in the Yukon has declined over the course of the last 10 years, whereas it has remained more or less constant for Canada as a whole.
Our dependence on the federal grant has decreased over the past five years, such that the federal transfer payment as a percent of the total budgetary income has decreased from 61.6 percent in 1985-86 to approximately 58 percent in 1989-90. But, now we are being told these must be reduced even further.
Despite these facts, the federal government has insisted that the new system be adopted without modification, other than the 15 percent reduction factor and phase-in period I have mentioned above. The result is that we will have to cope with a significant loss of funds we would otherwise have received in the future.
One of the worst features of the new arrangement is that, for every dollar volume increase in our locally raised revenues, we will see our federal transfer payment reduced by approximately $1.40. The implications of this are obvious. There is a clear disincentive to economic development, and it is difficult to understand precisely where the federal government was coming from when the proposal was developed by them.
In essence, what the federal government has done to this government and to the Government of the Northwest Territories is impose the equivalent of an income tax rate in excess of 100 percent on marginal income.
The ironic thing in this whole matter is that we have heard from some quarters in Ottawa that this is being imposed upon us because we are in relatively good financial condition and have not run ourselves into the ground by indiscriminate spending.
The only way for the Yukon government to significantly increase its net revenue and flow is to increase tax rates. However, I want to assure the people of the Yukon that, as far as we on this side are concerned, tax increases will be a last resort. There are many other things that can be done to cover the loss of revenue we are about to experience.
We can spend our money even more efficiently than we are at present. This does not mean we will have to reduce any essential programs. We are committed to providing first-class levels of service in all essential respects. We will, however, look at ways to increase the value we receive from each dollar spent and reduce the impact of the federal cutback.
In addition to this, we must, as must all Canadians, reduce our expectations for continued increases in government spending. The new financial reality we are facing will require a more realistic appraisal of the true importance of the new expenditure proposals if we are to avoid increasing tax rates and the already high tax burden borne by the people of the Yukon.
In the future, when there is a request or demand for government funding, no matter how worthy is that request or demand, we must ask the simple question: where are the funds to come from?
As harsh as is the new financial regime that is being imposed upon us, I believe we can still live within our means, as we have in the past. I believe we can do this without tax increases and without impairing our essential services, but it will demand a great deal of discipline on the part of government and the citizens of the Yukon.
Mr. Phelps: I am somewhat surprised by the extreme reaction we witnessed from the Minister to the new formula finance arrangements when they were announced back in December. Yukoners knew for many years that the original package the NDP inherited was rich partly because of the recognition, in 1985, by the federal government of the need to upgrade our capital infrastructure in the Yukon.
We have consistently made this point over the years, and we have been consistent in criticizing the government when there is waste of public money, whether it be on unnecessary government growth, or the Watson Lake sawmill, or over expenditures on such facilities as the Ross River arena and Yukon College.
There was a lot of negotiating and consultation between the two levels of government prior to the new formula being announced. I am concerned that the ministerial statement we have just heard is somewhat misleading, because the accuracy of the projections depend on certain hypothetical assumptions being made, and I suspect the Minister is painting a worst case scenario for the public of the Yukon. I do not think that is appropriate or fair.
I look forward to studying the issue in some detail, and I would certainly like to receive some objective estimates, rather than estimates that are based on extreme hypothetical assumptions. In fact, I would ask the Minister to entertain the possibility of having a public symposium on this new financial formula, utilizing officials from both levels of government, so that the press, the media and Yukoners can fully understand the consequences.
I say this because it is a very important document. If taxes are raised by this government in future, Yukoners will know that much of the blame must rest on the NDP government because the public knows that it is responsible for all the waste that has occurred over the past five years. Thank you.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am more than surprised by the remarks of the Leader of the Official Opposition in his response to the ministerial statement this afternoon. I am surprised, particularly, because of the fact that the Member has repeatedly indicated that not only is the formula itself too rich, but he has made comments in this Legislature, implicitly and explicitly, that we should expect that this formula should be cut back, and in fact has acted as an apologist for the federal governments position over the course of the past number of years. It was even more difficult, under the circumstances, given that the Members opposite have been bragging even publicly that they have been phoning Ottawa regularly to encourage them to cut back the formula grant that is provided to the Yukon. This betrayal of the public interest of the Yukon is a disgusting inditement of the role the Members opposite have been playing throughout this whole affair.
The formula itself, as negotiated firstly, was a formula that was negotiated between governments and it was one that was announced jointly by the governments. In this particular case, we discovered after the final announcement was made that we were never negotiating anything with the federal government and in fact that we had to thank the good offices of the Yukon News for telling us what the formula arrangement was. That accounted for, in part, the reaction that I had with the formula, as announced. However, I am more than happy to make special efforts to give the news out to Yukoners respecting the formula arrangement because, despite the fact that the Members opposite seem to be in favour of this arrangement, I feel that it has elements to it that are very damaging to the future of the territory. I feel that the wisdom and the thinking in the arrangement are highly questionable, and I am more than disappointed in the Leader of the Official Oppositions response this afternoon and can only suggest that it is in keeping with their response about the formula financing all along and ultimately their betrayal of the faith that Yukoners had in them, in terms of their appropriate position with federal authorities.
Speaker: This then brings us to Question Period.
Question re: Formula financing
Mr. Phelps: I have some questions regarding the formula financing package that was announced just before Christmas.
The new package will result in a smaller transfer payment from Ottawa than was anticipated by the Minister when he announced the budget for 1990-91 in the fall. In fact, the shortfall is approximately $4 million over and above what the Minister announced.
Is the Minister going to make any changes to his budget now that there is a certainty with regard to the federal transfer payment for next year?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: As difficult as it is to respond to questions in the House respecting our strategy, given that I know that the Members opposite will be phoning Mr. Wilson before I am finished my sentence in order to communicate the position of the Government of the Yukon, the answer, quite briefly, is that any changes with respect to the expenditure proposal in the main estimates will be made later in the year when a full accounting of our revenue is made. That full accounting will incorporate the O&M lapses that have traditionally taken place in the previous year, and we will be able to determine at that point what is necessary to balance our budget.
Mr. Phelps: What the new package does is reduce the growth in government expenditures in Yukon over the next two years.
What areas is the government going to cut back in over the next few years to meet the expectations under the financial formula arrangement?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: What this new package does - that the Members seems to support - is to provide a perverse disincentive to economic development in the territory. It cuts back expenditures over the life of the agreement to the tune of about $2,700 per person. It does provide the signal to the Canadian public that the federal government is prepared to treat the north differently than it is prepared to treat the provinces. It treats Yukon unfairly. The fact of the matter is that over the course of the next few years the government is going to have to accommodate whatever is imposed upon us through the budgeting process and make those announcements on our proposed expenditure plans to the Legislature on an annual basis.
Mr. Phelps: What is the Minister saying? Is government growth now going to stop because of the new formula financing agreement?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Members opposite always equate government expenditures with government growth. Yet when there is a proposal to spend money on teachers, health care, counselling services or on the many things they request that is not growth, that is appropriate budgetary action.
The government plan of action is to balance this budget in every year that we introduce a budget in this Legislature. So far, we have had surplus budgets.
Spending will be tighter. It certainly will be carefully directed and Members will be able to see where priorities are on a year-to-year basis based on the spending plans that we table annually.
Question re: Formula financing
Mr. Phelps: We have not been getting any answers from the side opposite. I am sure people know that.
Is the Minister saying the government will be reducing its manpower over the next few years?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The only thing I said in response to the questions raised with respect to the formula agreement is that the budget we have on the table now for next year is a supportable budget, given the character of the operation and maintenance lapses that we experienced on an annual basis in the previous years, in this case in the current year. The formula itself is something I have indicated is to be imposed on us and we must live with, despite the fact that it asks Yukoners to increase their taxes by 36 percent, despite the fact that it has a disincentive to economic development, despite the fact that it has not rewarded the fact that this government has been operating at a surplus.
The plans of the government will be, clearly over the objections of the federal Conservatives and the Yukon Conservatives, to balance our budget despite the very obvious perverse provocation from Conservatives - it seems nation-wide.
Mr. Phillips: Just remember when you point at somebody, three fingers are pointing back at you.
Mr. Phelps: The Minister opposite seems to have an affair going with perversity. It is a word he has used over and over again. We have not received any answers.
Does the government intend to reduce its office space over the next three years to try to meet the cut in government growth that will be imposed by the new arrangements?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The only reason I have been overindulging the word perversity is that I unfortunately have to look into the eyes of perversity every time I come into the House.
As I have indicated before with respect to the spending plans of the government, the budget we have tabled is a budget we feel we can support and defend. Any future spending plans or priorities would have to be determined by the government at a future time, depending on the governments projections of revenues and expenditures.
Mr. Phelps: When I spoke in reply to the ministerial statement about the suggestion and need for an objective review of the new formula financing agreement, and the possibility of the government putting on a bit of a symposium for the media and interested public, utilizing officials from both governments, I meant it.
Would the Minister consider such an exercise and, if so, how soon could we expect such an exercise to take place?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am not going to spend a lot of time negotiating such an idea with the federal government, given the fact that they have not treated us fairly in the past. Nevertheless, I will consider the suggestion made by the Member. Any opportunity to indicate what this formula means to Yukon, any opportunity to announce the fact that the government is living within its means, that it has been budgeting responsibly all along, despite the combined efforts of the federal Conservatives and Yukon Conservatives, I will be more than happy to explore.
Question re: Licence plates
Mr. Lang: Maybe we can move to something that somebody on the front bench can take full responsibility for, instead of pointing fingers at people who are not here.
During the past two months, the Yukon has experienced one of the most emotional debates in recent history, namely the debate over the changes to the licence plate.
Late last Friday afternoon, the Minister of Community and Transportation Services announced the decision. Can he confirm that he held his press conference at the Taku bar?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The unveiling of the new design that I put forward last week was done at the earliest opportunity that I had, upon returning from Faro, where I spent the latter part of the week. Rather than inviting the media, late in the day, to my office, I offered to meet them at a location where I knew they gathered.
Mr. Lang: Could the Minister confirm that that was the Taku bar?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I can confirm that in the affirmative; yes.
Mr. Lang: I hope that the Minister is not blaming the media.
The issue of the licence plate changes has affected many Yukoners to the point that almost 6,000 Yukoners signed petitions. Numerous citizens wrote letters on the issue. Numerous constituents phoned all Members of this House to voice their opinion on the proposed changes.
I have a question for the Minister and it is this: can the Minister for Community and Transportation Services explain to this House why he has belittled the significance of this issue to the point where he would make the public announcement of the changes in a local bar?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I want to make it clear to the Member and to the media that I am not blaming the media for anything. I made the decision at the earliest opportunity that I had to make myself available to let the Yukon public know the decision that had been made. It was in my interest to let the Yukon public know that the goldpanner was being kept on the licence plate and I wanted to do that at the earliest opportunity, and I did so.
Question re: Licence plates
Mr. Lang: It is ironic. On Friday morning the Member for Old Crow was on the radio, speaking about alcohol and the devastating effect it has had on her community, to the point where she was actively advocating prohibition through a motion tabled in this House. Hours later, Mr. Byblow, Mr. Penikett and Mr. McDonald announced a major public policy change to one of the most controversial, emotional issues experienced in recent Yukon history - announced in a local bar.
How can the government, namely the Minister for Community and Transportation Services, expect to have any credibility on combating alcohol problems in Yukon when the government has now taken the position that it is going to announce public policy in local bars?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I think the Member is attempting to make a linkage here that is not going to work. I should also correct, for the record, that the Member for Old Crow has not advocated prohibition, and that is a matter of public record. The Member should also be aware that I can restate for him as many times as he would like that the earliest opportunity that I had to let Yukon people know about the retention of the goldpanner on the licence plate was late in the day on Friday, upon returning from Faro. I took the liberty to go to the media.
Mr. Lang: I just want to ask one further question on this as a Member of the Legislature. The Minister did the proper thing here approximately a month and one-half to two months ago when he announced the proposed changes to the Legislature through the vehicle of a ministerial statement. The Minister knew the Legislature was sitting today and my question to the Minister is this: why could he not have had the decency to confront the people of the territory in the Legislature and let them know through this forum, as opposed to belittling the issue and announcing it in a local bar?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Mr. Speaker, let me state clearly for the Member that there is no belittling of the issue. I have already indicated to the Member that it was my intention to make the announcement last week. I had stated publicly that I intended to make the announcement last week. My schedule was so absolutely bizarre in terms of pace that the earliest opportunity I had was late in the day on Friday, and I have already explained to the Member the circumstance around which that announcement was made.
I should also point out to the Member that I set the deadline of the fifteenth for the questionnaires and it took me a couple of days to have those results tabulated and reviewed and, in fact, to produce a plate that would be acceptable. I felt I had a commitment to make the announcement to the public last week. I took the first and earliest opportunity I had to let Yukon people know about the licence plate, and those are the facts of the matter.
Question re: Licence plates
Mrs. Firth: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the same Minister regarding the same issue. This issue was one of the most important issues that Yukoners dealt with. Yukoners felt that: it deals with heritage; it deals with individuality; it deals with symbolism, and, Mr. Speaker, people felt extremely emotional about this.
The Minister and his colleagues misjudged the issue from the beginning. They misjudged the public reaction to it, and now they have misjudged the method of announcing the changes.
The government tries to trivialize the issue. The Minister of Education laughs about this issue that so many Yukoners find so serious. They try to trivialize the issue and they insult Yukoners by having a press conference in a bar. No Yukoner is going to accept the Ministers explanation. I would like the Minister to stand up and tell us why he feels it was appropriate to make this announcement from a bar.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I feel I have already answered the question, probably several times. I, too, have respect for the issue that was dealt with surrounding the licence plate. I, too, value Yukon heritage. I, too, value the individualism of Yukon people, and I do consider the issue of significant importance. I consider it of such importance that it was necessary to get the message out to Yukon people of the decision taken that they were concerned about, and the earliest opportunity that I had, I took, and the occasion around which it happened is the best opportunity that was available to me.
I should point out, Mr. Speaker, for the record, I believe the previous Member, in asking a question, cited most of the front bench as being at the Taku for the announcement. That is not the case. That is an incorrect statement of fact and I want to correct the record.
Mrs. Firth: The actions of the Minister show a complete lack of respect for the almost 6,000 people who signed the petitions and the hundreds of letters, phone calls and questionnaire results that were sent to this government. Those were the Yukon people, not some elite crowd that had gathered in a bar one night.
What on earth made the Minister think that it was appropriate or acceptable to the people of the Yukon for him to make that announcement in that manner?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: If the Member suggests that crowds in bars are idiot crowds I am appalled at her statement.
I would further suggest that I have had an association with media from my past years as well, and on many occasions I have joined the media on Friday afternoon in the Taku Lounge for various discussions. I made the same offer last week that I would join them to make a statement about the licence plate, and that is all it was. I expected to sit around a table and discuss my announcement. The facts of the matter are that it is not with any reduction of sincerity, or reduction of importance surrounding the licence plate that it was done. It was in simple respect and recognition to get the message out to friends in the media.
Question re: Licence plates
Mrs. Firth: I would like to ask a new question of the Minister.
I have some questions about the proposed design of the licence plate itself. Today at five minutes to one, the Minister gave us a copy of it. We did not get a copy or an invitation to the press conference on Friday, nor did any of the petitioners or people championing the cause of the petition. I believe there was a selected guest list to this press conference that the Minister held in the bar.
This new plate is going to have the colours of blue, black, orange and yellow on it. The goldpanner is going to be in orange and yellow. The letters are going to be in orange and black.
Why has the Minister not asked people what they want their licence plate to look like? Why is he not going to the public and giving them a choice as he promised when we were last sitting in the Legislature?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I have to clarify the Members erroneous introduction suggesting that there was a selected press conference on Friday afternoon.
The fact is that the media were notified that I would be joining them to talk to them. I find it rather interesting that the Member would chastise my response to how Yukon people felt and sent a message when she is a Member in this House who does not even have a goldpanner on her plate. That is the sincerity with which the Member opposite treats the licence plate issue. The Member is expressing some hypocrisy on the issue.
With respect to holding a contest, because I believe that is what the Member is talking about, I have spent 20 years in public office and public life, including the classroom, and have been involved, on many occasions, when letterheads, logos, symbols and motifs were being sought from some public consensus. I have been burned many times in conducting those types of consensus exercises.
You invariably end up having to make a selection from a short list, or from a long list or, in the end, you have to choose somebodys particular design over another. Invariably, you end up insulting quite a number of people while you make one happy.
I have had the opportunity of response from over 5,000 people. Members opposite have helped generate it, and I appreciate that too. The response was in the form of correspondence, of design suggestions, various communications by telephone, letter and fax, including the results of the questionnaires themselves.
During the early and middle part of last week, I had the opportunity to review all those responses. The people who are ...
Speaker: Order please. Would the Member please conclude his answer.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The people who have responded to me have indicated this is the type of plate they would like, and I have concluded with a design I am going to be recommending to my Cabinet colleagues.
Mrs. Firth: The Minister can stand up and attack me personally all he likes. He knows very well what the regulations are with respect to the licence plates, so I am not going to get into that issue. I want the Minister to stick to the issue.
The Minister led the public to believe ...
Speaker: Order please. Would the Member please get to the supplementary question.
Mrs. Firth: Mr. Speaker, fair is fair. The Minister stands up and gives a whole speech and never answers a question. I will take a new question if I have to, but I want to make a point.
The Minister indicated to people that he would be prepared to listen. All I would like to ask the Minister is what happened to suggestions the public brought forward to him? For example, an individual brought a design forward to the government that was extremely well received by the public. Surely, the Minister is not going to make the same mistake all over again and say, This is going to be our design, and we are not going to consider anybody elses design. I know the Minister has a copy of this, because I received a carbon copy. This licence plate was in the newspapers. It was presented by Mr. Dale Perry.
All we are asking is that the public have some opportunity to say what its licence plate is going to look like. Is the Minister saying he is going to completely disregard any suggestions that were made by any members of the public? Surely the public ...
Speaker: Order please. Would the Member please get to the supplementary.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member is becoming ludicrous. On the one hand, she suggests I have not consulted or listened to the Yukon public. I mean, what does this represent? This represents listening to the Yukon public, listening through questionnaires, through petitions, through letters. The Member cites the specific Mr. Perry design. Mr. Perry is getting a personalized response from me about his proposal. There are reasons why it cannot be used and would have to be redesigned to be accommodated on a licence plate, and Mr. Perry will know that. This is the Member who does not even believe in a goldpanner, and she is trying to tell me I have not listened to Yukon people.
I am finding the Members line of questioning absolutely ludicrous.
Mrs. Firth: Stick to the issue.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member is suggesting I have not listened to Yukon people. That is a mistake. That is an error.
Mrs. Firth: Do not take a cowardly approach like your leader does. Stick to the issue. Defend your own policy.
Question re: Yukon College president
Mr. Devries: As the Minister of Education is well aware, Yukon College is presently experiencing a state of turmoil with disillusioned staff and students. The situation has been created by faulty government planning and political intervention in the operation of the college, with the hiring and firing of the previous president by the Deputy Minister of Education, Shakir Alwarid, just prior to the transfer of the college to independent status.
If there were problems with the previous president, why were those problems not dealt with earlier and not left until the last minute, leaving the college in an absolute state of administrative chaos?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Forgive me, the Member knows not of what he speaks, which is not unusual. The issue, as it has transpired - the Member for Porter Creek West also has something to say about the matter but one at a time. The situation as it has transpired was that an act was passed in this Legislature in 1988 that called for the devolution of the college from the Department of Education. It also anticipated a transition period wherein an interim board would gradually take over responsibility for the college. That transition period happened specifically on January 1, 1990, at which time the board of governors for Yukon College, or the interim board, whichever was in place, was to take responsibility for the financial administration elements of the college. Until that time, employees of the college were employees of the government - employees, particularly, of the Department of Education.
The Member has made a number of accusations that are ridiculous but, nevertheless, if the Member wants to repeat them, one at a time, we would be more than happy to debunk them.
Mr. Devries: If the Minister feels everything is running well there I am sure that there are a lot of people there who would be happy to keep his phones busy.
On January 18, it was reported that the same deputy minister was meeting secretly with the interim college board in a hotel room and I would like to know what Mr. Alwarid was doing there. When is this political intervention in Yukon College going to end?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The political intervention at Yukon College never began, so I guess it cannot have ended, either.
The college board certainly has some problems facing it with respect to staff morale. Both the interim board and the proposed board, or the new board, are aware of the problems that they are facing and will move expeditiously to resolve them. The luncheon in question was a luncheon that was called by the chair of the Yukon College board of governors. The chair asked Mr. Alwarid, the Deputy Minister of Education, to attend and Mr. Alwarid consequently did attend, at the boards request.
Mr. Devries: So the Minister is saying that his deputy minister attended this meeting at the college boards request, and not under the authority of the Minister?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I did not catch the very end of the Members question but I assume that it was to comment further on Mr. Alwarids presence at the luncheon that Mr. Holt called. If the Member is asking whether or not Mr. Holt invited Mr. Alwarid, the answer is yes, he did, and consequently Mr. Alwarid did attend, upon the request of the board, and Mr. Holt in particular. They were there; they had lunch. The board discussed among themselves some business but the purpose of the luncheon was to acquaint the board members further with a candidate for the presidency of the college and also to acquaint Mr. Alwarid with the candidate. That was the reason for the lunch and that was the sum total of it.
Question re: Yukon College board
Mr. Nordling: I also have a question for the Minister of Education with respect to Yukon College. The Minister is certainly touchy about the issue and what I wanted to note in the middle of his speech was that it is interesting that, instead of dealing with the issue, he attacks the questioner, following in the steps of the previous Minister and the Government Leader. This Legislature passed the College Act on May 18, 1988, outlining the composition of the permanent board of directors. The permanent board was to assume full responsibility for the college on January 1, 1990. I would like to know why, with over a year and a half to appoint the board, it was not done and in place to take over full responsibility of the college on January 1.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I apologize if anyone feels that I am attacking them personally. I certainly would never do anything like that. I do, however, take exception to the questions, and it is important to point out the misstatements that are contained in those questions. I do that as a public service.
The plan for the board appointment had been to appoint a permanent board of governors in December 1989. Consequently, in October and November, letters were sent to groups that would be nominating candidates for the board to do so. In late November, the community campus committees got together and indicated they wished more time to make their nominations. That was agreed to. That backed up the timetable for appointing the permanent board by some weeks after the Christmas vacation was taken into consideration.
Mr. Nordling: Could the Minister tell me what the deadline for nominations was, and is he blaming the community campus committees for the lack of appointments and the resultant confusion that has ensued?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There has never been any attempt to point fingers or to secure blame in this question. A number of things have transpired in the period that was designated to appoint a permanent board of governors. The community campus has requested a fair amount of time to consider those appointments. They had requested more time than was asked for in receiving nominations. We gave a period of three or four weeks for the committees to make their nominations for appointments, but there was a legitimate request for more time.
The situation was quite clear that the board would be appointed at the earliest possible opportunity. The time to appoint board members was not based upon what was happening at the college.
Mr. Nordling: If we do not blame someone, there still has to be some responsibility for the lack of appointments after the lead time that was given. It is important that the college be seen as a well organized and professional institution. That is not happening. Who set the deadline for nominations? What was the deadline?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The December date for the appointments was set by me. The letters to the nominating groups were signed by me. The decision to agree to an extension of the deadline was also made by me. I agree that it is desirable to have a well run, professional and efficient college. There will be, from time to time, problems occurring at the college that the board is going to have to resolve. Some Members opposite may desire to draw the government into those decisions, but that is contrary to the act that they agreed to pass in 1988.
Question re: Yukon College financial management
Mrs. Firth: I have a question for the Minister of Education regarding the financial management of the Yukon College.
On January 2, there was a news release about $1 million being presented to the newly independent Yukon College. The $1 million was to cover the expenses of the board for three months. I believe it was until the end of the fiscal year 1989/90. At the same time, we were without a president at Yukon College. The temporary board was embroiled in a controversy that I am sure must have taken most, if not all, of their time. The employees have been calling me about major pay outs that were being made.
There was also an ad in the paper at that time for a manager of finance for Yukon College with responsibilities listed for supervising the staff of six. That would include all the accounts payable and revenue administration of money at the college. The closing date for that competition was January 19, 1990.
Who is really in charge of the books there? There is a great deal of concern about the amount of money being spent and the accountability process.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: If the Member is making allegations or accusations of misappropriation of funds or the improper direction of funds, I wish she would just make it rather than imply it. The financial management of the college is in the capable hands of a director of finance who came onstream in October. All the financial arrangements, accounting policies and policies respecting personnel matters of the college have been developed and designed over the course of the last year and are well in place. The funding of $1 million was provided to the Yukon College board as per the arrangement to ensure the transfer did take place on January 1, 1990. It was not to cover the entire three months; it is an advance on the three months, until accounting adjustments are made by the end of December 1989.
Nevertheless, the financial affairs of the college are in good hands.
Mrs. Firth: Who is going to be publicly accountable for those expenditures? Is the Minister prepared to answer questions in the House regarding the matter of the financial expenditures at the college?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: As the Member will remember, the Yukon College Act, which was passed in this Legislature, and the Member was present for that debate, did indicate that the college board would not be subject to the Financial Administration Act; it would be an independent entity. The people responsible for the expenditures of funds would be the board. They would be responsible for the financial administration of the college. That is what was anticipated then and that is what will take place, according to law.
Mrs. Firth: The Minister just said that the director of finance was making those decisions and had complete control of the management of the books.
Has the board been making those decisions and approving the financial expenditures at the college?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am finding it hard to believe that the Member opposite insists that she is talking about the same things when she talks about the financial management at the administrative level of the college on one hand, then she is talking about the Financial Administration Act on the other hand. The responsible agents under the act for the financial affairs of the college are two different things. I had indicated that the financial administrative affairs at the administrative level of the college were in good hands. I also indicated that the Yukon College Act has stipulated that the Financial Administration Act would not apply and the responsible agents would be the board.
Yes, indeed, the board is making financial decisions at the college and they are taking financial responsibility. I am sure they have delegated some financial decision making down the line, as governments do, and as college boards do. They are the responsible agents; that is true. They have been taking that responsibility seriously; that is true. They are doing so to the extent that they must to deal with the financial affairs of the college. The interim board did so, and the new college board will do so as well.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now lapsed. We will proceed with Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Mr. Speaker, I move that you 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 that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Motion agreed to
Speaker leaves the Chair
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Ms. Kassi: I call the Committee to order. When we return, we will continue with debate on the Department of Education. At this time, we will have a recess.
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order. We will continue where we left off on December 14, 1989, with the supplementary estimates.
Bill No. 13 - Second Appropriation Act, 1989-90 - continued
Education - continued
On Policy, Planning and Evaluation
Chair: Is there further debate?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I have some follow-up answers in respect to a couple of questions that were previously asked.
With respect to the question respecting a loop bus road into Basswood and Hickory, I can now tell the Member for Porter Creek East that issue is being broached with the school busing committee, which is either meeting today or shortly, to discuss the scheduling into those roads.
There was also a question with respect to the Dawson City school, and whether or not any part of the reunion was funded by the Department of Education. The answer is no. No money went to the reunion at all. The reason why the issue came forward in the first place was there was a possibility that the school opening could take place simultaneously with the reunion. The thought was that perhaps the Department of Education could provide some funds to help out.
Because the reunion had already been previously scheduled, it was not possible to allow for both a reunion and a formal opening of the facility, given that some of the work was still being done on the school.
With respect to the apprentice at the Yukon Forest Products operation, and the fact the apprentice was working without supervision, I have had an opportunity to check with the department, and I will be issuing a legislative return on the subject to give more detail. All I can indicate is that the department has been in touch with the personnel manager to tell him that if there is any apprentice working, the person has to be working with a journeyman, and that journeymans number has to be submitted to the department for verification.
As of very recently, we have not yet received any verification of the journeyman status of the person who is ostensibly providing the supervision. Consequently, the person has not been reinstated as an apprentice.
That is good for starters.
Mr. Lang: I entertained some questions to the Minister the other day with respect to the question of the apprenticeship consultants report that was done. The Minister indicated to me he would take the question as notice regarding making it public. Where is that now?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Member asked a couple of questions with respect to the qualifications of the individuals, and we are doing the report. I was then asked whether or not the report is being made public at this time. It is not yet my intention to make the report public, given the answer I gave last time, at this point at least, but I have been able to secure the qualifications for Mr. Orval Refvik and Claire Brown. Mr. Refvik has a bachelor of arts, a bachelor of education and a masters of education. He has been director in industrial training in Manitoba. Claire Brown has a bachelor of education and was the project coordinator for training programs, particularly for the Limestone Training and Employment Agency in the Province of Manitoba, as well. That is basically it. They are from Manitoba, and those are their qualifications.
Mr. Lang: It concerns me that every time we seem to turn around here we seem to have a consultant from either Manitoba or Saskatchewan, at a great deal of cost to the taxpayer, I might add. I am beginning to wonder why we have top notch civil servants within the government whom we are paying top dollar to, comparable to any other jurisdiction in Canada, yet at the same time we go out to Saskatchewan and Manitoba and bring these people in to tell us how to live, at about $25,000 a crack, it seems.
My question to the Minister is this: is it not true that the Apprentice Advisory Board also did a review this past year on the question of apprenticeship?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It is not my understanding that the Apprentice Advisory Board had done a review of the apprenticeship in the department and its relationship with the Yukon College and the Yukon College trades administration. I will check that for the Member, but I have not heard of such a study. With respect to the consultants, I would venture to say that the predominance of consultants whom we do hire, in Education especially, are from British Columbia and Alberta. The Member has pointed out a number of them; perhaps he is particularly sensitive to the words Manitoba and Saskatchewan, but it is my general feeling that we get a great deal of support, when we do secure outside services, for persons from Alberta in particular. With respect to the need for evaluations, there are times, from time to time, where an evaluation is required, and it is not always a well considered idea to have the people of the department doing the evaluations of the function of the program themselves. Sometimes that is productive; oftentimes it is not. One might argue that there is a bias associated with any report that they produce. Quite often it is the people themselves who want to ensure that any report that is done is done in such a way as not to give any sense of bias.
I can assure the Member that, with respect to reports and evaluations of programs that we could do, we do not slavishly adhere to outside consultants as the bottom line. We take what expertise and understanding they can provide to a particular issue, and then evaluate it based on our criteria, to determine whether or not we feel that, in the end, the evaluation is accurate and the recommendations should be acted on.
Mr. Lang: Madam Chair, that still does not answer the question of where we seem to be getting these consultants from. I would disagree with the Member; most of the consultants and most of the employees seem to be coming from Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Quite frankly, what is becoming more and more evident is that there seems to be more and more political involvement in the public service. That has become more and more of a concern among the people the government is here to serve, and secondly, also among the government employees. We are getting more and more calls about political interference within the civil service.
I understand, at times, there is some of that, but the extent to which it has become prevalent I think should be a concern to all Members of this House. Forget the political partisanship. I have a lot of difficulty with somebody coming in from Manitoba on a crash course, when they do not even know where the Yukon is, and $25,000 or $50,000 is going to be spent teaching them where the Yukon is, and they are going to tell us what is wrong with our education system and how we should fix it up.
I would ask the Minister: when does he expect the Cabinet to make a decision on this apprenticeship report? That was the excuse he used back on December 14, as the reason he could not release it.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: That remains the reason why I am not releasing the report at this time, given the sensitive nature of some of the recommendations. Consequently, Cabinet will ultimately decide whether or not the report will be made public. The Cabinet will deal with it this spring some time, I hope, along with other matters respecting apprenticeship and trades training in the territory.
Madam Chair, we went through the issue of political involvement, political interference and the charges of political interference before we last dealt with these estimates, and I already indicated to the Member, and I have not changed my mind even one iota, that a partisan political public service is not in the best interests of Yukoners and will not be promoted by me.
I agree that public servants should not act in any kind of partisan way. However, public servants must act in accordance with the requests regarding public business put on them by political people, particularly Ministers of the different departments. It is that direction that they must follow. It is appropriate and essential that there also be proper accountability in the Legislature.
I do not agree with the allegations that the department is becoming a partisan political tool. If there are particulars about the allegation that the Member wants to discuss here now, or with me privately, I will take them as notice, because I do not support that kind of maneuvering in the public service.
Mr. Lang: Could the Minister open his eyes? When we finished our discussions on December 14, the Minister said that there was a strategic plan being done by Nicols Applied Management through Yukon College. The Minister indicated to the House that we could receive a copy of the contract. Could the Minister provide us with a copy, and could the Minister tell us who it is?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: These are some of the consultants from Alberta whom I was talking about. I will send around a copy of the contract. They include Mr. Peter Nicols from Edmonton, Mr. Fred Williamson who is vice-president of NAIT, Horace Ottley who is the retired assistant deputy minister of advanced education in Alberta, and Jane Sommerville who is a manager. These persons are doing something similar for Arctic College.
Mr. Lang: This total amount is for $125,000. Is this what the contract is going to cost?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Yes.
Mr. Lang: Is Mr. McArthur, who was doing the contract for the Education Act that we discussed last December, the same Mr. McArthur who is the Deputy Minister of the Executive Council Office?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: That is correct.
Mr. Lang: What was the full amount Mr. McArthur was paid, not just including the contract but monies paid to him for expenses and cost of travel over and above the contract?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: That is the total contract.
Mr. Lang: Is the strategic plan for Yukon College going to be made public?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Yes. After the board has reviewed and approved the plan any supporting reports or documentation will be made public.
Policy, Planning and Evaluation in the amount of $86,000 agreed to
On Yukon College
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There are a few things that make up the $131,000 reduction.
Firstly, there was a transfer from public schools of the Native Teacher Education Program salaries and startup costs because the college is the actual delivery agent. That is in the amount of $154,000.
There was an under expenditure of $30,000 because of overall reduced utility costs.
There was an over expenditure in book store purchases as a result of increased students, but this is offset by an increase in recoveries.
There was an adjustment to reflect devolution to the board as of January 1, 1990. There is a grant of $1.8 million that is net of projected recoveries of $328,000. That is to be maintained by the college. Basically, what we are accounting for here is the fact that the college is going to be taking receipt of recoveries, meaning student fees, et cetera, and they will be able to keep those for their programming purposes. We have estimated the amount normally accruing to the government from the college from student fees and fees from the food services area, anticipating that they will now be receiving those fees and will be using them toward their budget.
Mr. Devries: I am still unclear on that. The Minister might have mentioned it, but I did not catch it. Is the $1 million that was given to the college here several days ago included in the $8,669,000, or is that money in excess of what we are voting on today? Are we actually voting on that amount, too?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It is included in the $8 million. As I indicated in Question Period, the $1 million was an advance in the final three months of the operations of the college, based on historical expenditures in the final quarter of the year. Any adjustment made to the college will be made after the final accounting is in for December 31. We will then know exactly what is to be paid to the college for the balance of the operations for this fiscal year, taking into account for the fact that it will now be receiving the recoveries itself. They will not be received by Finance. If you have a fee, you pay that directly to the college. You do not pay it to the government, with the government showing the recovery. The $1 million is part of the total grant that has been allocated for Yukon College.
Mr. Devries: In laymans terms, it was not really a gift, it was a budgeted gift - it was something that had been counted on all along.
Could the Minister break down Yukon College slightly more in respect to how much the total costs of their rural campuses are and, possibly, the area of teaching versus custodial? I would like just a rough breakdown, not on minor dollar items but the larger figures.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I will see if I can secure that information. As I indicated before, this final amount is only the appropriated amount for the final quarter, and not for the whole year. Secondly, the Member is right. It is not a gift. There is no such thing as a freebie. There were services to provide, and it was anticipated they would be providing them for these particular funds. It was based on an estimate of what they would normally have to pay for college operations, under normal circumstances in a normal year.
I will try to secure the information. I guess the Member is seeking information with respect to the cost of each community campus, or the custodial costs, or rental costs? Whatever in particular, there is a mountain of information, and I can find it, depending on how the Member proposes the question.
Mr. Devries: It would be nice to have a fairly well broken down breakdown, with a total on custodial.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I will try to secure the information. I know we have it. It is just in a format that makes it difficult to provide, but I will do that tomorrow.
Mrs. Firth: I would like to ask the Minister some questions about the severance pay packages the employees at Yukon College received. Could the Minister tell us exactly what has been paid to some of the employees since the transition of the management of the college from the Government of the Yukon to the board of governors at the college?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The college employees have received what they would normally receive if they were severing their employment with the Government of Yukon. That means they would receive a third of their sick leave. They would receive their accumulated compensation time and severance pay package. As I understand it, some of the employees have elected to have their superannuation paid out. This would come from the federal government. Some have indicated they would like to have that paid out.
Mrs. Firth: Could the Minister tell us how much that total package was?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The figure of $1.3 million springs to mind, but I will have to have the figure checked because I simply do not know. I will check - I do not know whether that money was actually paid out or whether it was transferred to the college for the purposes of their benefit plan. I will certainly have it checked.
Mrs. Firth: We are talking about quite a significant sum of money, and I would like to know why the Minister does not know. Again, the question I put in Question Period is: how do we get answers about the financial management over there? The Minister stands up and says everything is fine, everything is fine, trust me, if I say it is fine, it is going to be fine. He cannot even tell me the figure, how much the total package is, which I think he should be able to do, Madam Chair. He cannot even tell us whether it was transferred to the college or whether it was paid out, yet I have employees telling me that there have been people who have received huge cheques from the government. I would like to know how many employees we are talking about, how many people received payments and within what ranges were the amounts of money that they got?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I detect from the Members tone of voice that she is now on her horse. With respect to the amount of the payout itself, some will be coming from the federal government, some is coming from the PSC budget and some from the education budget. The Member has asked for the total accounting and I have indicated I will try to secure that. If the Member is suggesting that, because I do not know right now the specific dollar amount, the financial affairs of Yukon College are in a state of disarray, I do not agree with her. But I will certainly try to secure the information with respect to the total package. The employees numbered approximately 141.
Mrs. Firth: You know, Madam Chair, it would be really refreshing to hear just one Minister get up in this House and just answer the question and address the issue.
If I had asked this question in Question Period, the Minister would say those are too specific to ask in Question Period and that they should be asked in budget debate. I get stories about Yukon College having a board answering for its budgetary matters, and it is going to have an annual report. I want some specific answers, Madam Chair, and I am told by these Members that this is the place to ask for the specific answers. I am not on any high horse; I am simply doing my job as I have been elected to do, and I wish the Minister would respect that.
I would like to ask the Minister if he will bring back the information, with a breakdown of the amount of the portion that is paid by the feds for the superannuation payout, the number of employees it involves and the number of dollars. I would like to ask if he will bring back the information about the amount of dollars for the Public Service Commission, what their pay out was, the number of employees and the amount of money, and the same for the Department of Education, so that we can have a full accounting and a breakdown of the expenditures and the numbers of personnel we are dealing with.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: A straight question deserves a straight answer, and the answer is yes.
Mr. Lang: Just to follow this up for information for the Members, is the money we are speaking of here included in this supplementary, or is that going to be over and above what we are dealing with here?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: First of all, everything that is to be paid to Yukon College by the Department of Education is in the budget. There are no additional expenditures with respect to pay outs for this government. The Minister for the Public Service Commission can answer that.
With respect to the federal government, I am not sure exactly what the arrangement is for their method of pay out, whether they vote it now or have an accumulated fund to do their appropriate pay out. Nevertheless, there will be no requirement for supplementaries to pay out the employees.
Mr. Lang: I want to get this clear in my mind. I believe he used the figure $1.3 million that he thought it was going to cost for the purpose of severing ties with the employees who have gone over to Yukon College. That is included in this figure of $8,669,000 in the supplementary budget we are referring to; is that correct?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I will get the information, as I promised, but I indicated the reason I could not answer the question here was because the major portion of the pay out is from the Public Service Commission. The accumulated benefits they would receive in their pay out would be accumulated in the Public Service Commission budget, not in the Department of Educations budget. The superannuation plan is a federal plan. For those people who have elected to be paid out under the federal plan, they will receive the money from the federal government.
With respect to any costs to the Department of Education particularly, there are no additional costs. They are in the budget. There are no additional costs associated with the termination of the employees and their benefits.
Mrs. Firth: I am still not clear. Is that money included in this supplementary estimate? When the Minister answers that question, I would like him to answer if the $1 million cheque he announced on January 2 is in the supplementary estimate as well.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Yes. All the funds that are dedicated to Yukon College from the Department of Education that are associated with the transfer are in this budget as part of the $8 million. As I have indicated, though, there are some funds that will come from other sources. When I mentioned the accumulated benefits from previous years, that money is secured with the Public Service Commission budget, not within the line departments budget. That money would come from the Public Service Commission.
With respect to the superannuation plan, pay outs of that plan come from the federal government, because they are the sponsors of the plan. The money would come from there, not from the Department of Education, nor the Public Service Commission, nor the Yukon government.
Mrs. Firth: Is the $1 million that was given to the college to cover the expenses to the end of the fiscal year 1989-90 an additional $1 million to the overall O&M costs of Yukon College for the year 1989-90?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I indicated to Mr. Devries that it was not. This was the projected amount advanced toward the costs of operating the college in the final quarter of this fiscal year. It is not for a full quarter, but any supplementary will be paid once the final accounting is done for the end of the calendar year, December 31. When that is finished, the appropriate expenditure for the fourth quarter can be made and transferred to the college. That, too, will be part of the budgeted amount for Yukon College.
Mr. Lang: When we last sat, I asked the Minister to give us an accounting on severance costs to persons who left the government. That accounted for quite a number of areas in the Department of Education. The Minister made an undertaking to provide us with that information. Do you have that now?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The total pay out, both from the Public Service Commission and the department, would be: $46,800 to the management group, $96,100 to the Government of Yukons employee union and, $114,600 to the Yukon Teachers Association. That is for the period of April 1 to December 31, 1989.
Mr. Lang: Do those figures include anyone who has left the government, or is this just for those people who have come to an agreement with the government and left?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: This is for everyone.
Mr. Lang: What was the number of people who left the government on mutual arrangement? I would like a breakdown of those who have been paid out for leaving.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Member asked the question before, and I said at that time that I would not give him the information. Then the Member asked the question in a roundabout way to try and zero in on the information. I did agree to provide the total figures of severance pay outs for the department. I also broke those figures down into groups. I cannot give the Member the particular pay outs to particular individuals. I cannot provide that kind of personnel information.
Mr. Lang: Can the Minister tell the House why he cannot give that information out? If somebody got paid out from the public treasury, surely the taxpayer has the right to know who is getting the money. How can the Minister say so complacently that it is nobodys business who he fires or who he pays out because he is the Minister and he is holier than thou.
A terrible situation has developed in the Department of Education in the past year. There is a list of 26 people who have left. I can understand three or four. There is a total turnover in the Department of Education at a very critical time in our history. The Minister says that it is nobodys business.
It is our business. Do I take it from these figures that all these people were dismissed for a total sum of approximately $250,000, that that is what the taxpayer has paid out because of the political and administrative bumbling that has gone on within the department?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Clearly, I disagree with the Member on a number of points he has made with respect to the management of the department.
There is certain personnel information that has historically not been provided - individual pay, the specific remuneration paid to any particular employee of the government. We have never provided that information in the past and I will not provide it in the future.
I have indicated exactly what the information on severance pay is and have asked the department to provide that information in detail. I have just provided that.
The Members are wrong on the numbers of people who Members allege to have been fired. Unfortunately, my hands are absolutely tied, and I cannot provide the detailed information, although I would love to. Nevertheless, that is the protocol this House has historically honoured and I will not be the first to tread new ground on that area. It would not be fair to say these people have been fired. I would be hard pressed to say that any of them have been fired.
Mr. Lang: Let us put it this way, a lot of them left happily knowing they were leaving because they did not want to stick around. That is a known fact. He says it is nobody elses business. It is the peoples business because the Department of Education is about the children of the Yukon. Why does the Minister feels he is above it?
How many employees did the $46,800 that he quoted for management affect?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Firstly, with respect to the grandstanding on the educational future of the children of the territory, there is no Member in this Legislature who takes it more seriously than do I. The statements the Member has made will not induce me, nor any responsible Minister, to provide personnel information on exact pay outs.
This total pay out is for all accrued benefits that are associated with people leaving. I can find out exactly how many are affected in each category, but this is for the accrued pay outs for such things as accumulated compensation time, sick leave and severance pay packages.
Mr. Lang: Does this also identify the amount of dollars that had to be paid out for people who moved out, and we were bound to pay their moving expenses?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: My understanding is this does not include the travel for people who have left. I believe there are two people who would fall into that category.
Mr. Lang: If so, how much money was spent, and is it identified in this budget? If so, where?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The total is roughly $25,000, and it is incorporated in the public schools branch and the college.
Mr. Lang: With the hirings and firings that have been going on at the Yukon College, can the Minister update us as to exactly how many dollars have been involved with the position of president, or those acting as president, and what costs are involved there with respect to bringing the present individual here who has been hitting the media fairly recently?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: We do not have the information, but we can secure it from the college.
Mrs. Firth: When we were last sitting, I had asked the Minister to give me an update as to the status of the former college president and whether they were still negotiating his removal. Has anything been settled? Did that individual have privileges at the college when it came to office space and so on? The Minister gave me a guarantee he would find that information and bring it back.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I did think I answered the question before. If I recollect correctly, I indicated the past president no longer has any association with the college whatsoever. With respect to the period after the president left the college, I believe he kept some personal books in storage there, but they may have been removed by now, as far as I know. He had no other association with the college after that.
To my knowledge, the person is still living in Whitehorse.
Mrs. Firth: Is the interim college president, who has since retired, working in the Department of Education? If so, where?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: To my knowledge, the acting president of the college is still an employee of the college. He is not employed within the Department of Education at this point.
Mrs. Firth: Perhaps the Minister could tell us in what capacity he is an employee? What job is he doing? What is he doing there? He is not the interim president any more?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I believe his job description is director of college development.
Mrs. Firth: Does that have a job description? Is that a long-standing job? Is it a new job? Can the Minister provide us with that?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: That is the job he had prior to taking on the responsibilities of acting president.
Mrs. Firth: Who did the job while he was acting president?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: While Mr. Casey took responsibilities for acting president, his job was taken up by others in the management group of the college.
Mrs. Firth: So what happened to those people, then, when he went back to that job?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: As far as I am aware, every one of the management group who did little bits of the director of college developments job went back to doing full-time what they were doing before. It was felt that if there was going to be a vacancy in the management group of the college, it should not be the acting president, so the acting president position was filled by Mr. Casey.
Mrs. Firth: I would like to ask the Minister about another job at the college, that of a communications person. When was that job filled and was there a competition held for it? Can the Minister give us a job description for it?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I believe the appointment was made in September, and the appointment was not made by competition. The incumbents name is Sharron Sweeney.
Mrs. Firth: Perhaps the Minister could tell us why it was not open to competition, why it was just an appointment? That would appear to me to be rather irregular. Could he explain the circumstances of that?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I take it that when the transfer was made, the college was a section of the Department of Education, and the incumbent in the job was a member of the Department of Education; she had the qualifications, and I presume there was an exception given to allow that person to take the appointment.
Mrs. Firth: Perhaps the Minister could tell us what the person was doing before and why there was a necessity for them to be given this other job without it going to competition?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The person was a school teacher, and the person had the qualifications for the particular job. All exemptions are posted for a 10-day period to determine whether or not there are any challenges to the exemption; I presume there were none, or they were not successful, and consequently this person was appointed to the job.
Mrs. Firth: Perhaps the Minister can tell us why she was not required as a school teacher any longer. Was that position replaced with another teacher?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I presume that the teacher wanted the transfer. I felt the teacher was qualified for the position. Any vacant teaching person year in that quarter was filled by an appointment.
Mrs. Firth: If the position was not advertised, how did this teacher know the position existed to know she wanted a transfer? There is something missing here. The position was not advertised but all of a sudden this person requested a transfer and was qualified for this position so this job was given by appointment, without competition.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I do not know how the teacher got to know about the job. I do not know much more about the situation than that, but if the Member wants to ask more questions I can take them as notice.
Mrs. Firth: I want the Minister to come back with a full accounting of the job and why the individual got it. I want a response to all the questions I have put this afternoon. The Minister can refer to Hansard.
As well, I would like to know whether the individual was replaced in the capacity of school teacher. Was that job filled? Where was it that they came from?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I know the job was filled but do not know who in particular got the job of teacher in Faro. I can provide that information.
Mr. Lang: I want to refer to questions asked on December 13, 1989 that I did not get answers to.
There was a contract for $29,000 to a Lionel Orlikow. Was he a deputy minister in the NDP government in Manitoba? Is that the same individual?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Yes, I believe he was.
Mr. Lang: For the record I believe it is important we know where these people are coming from.
There was $10,900 to Northern Research Group. Is that not Lindsay Staples, now the chairman of the environmental economic group?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Member does not have to be cute about this because I did indicate who it was before. The answer is yes.
Mr. Lang: Is that the full amount it is going to cost or does he still have an outstanding contract with the government, and if so, how much?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I believe that is a complete amount. I do not believe the person has any other work with the department.
Mr. Lang: We have an individual by the name of Mr. Lawton who, I understand, is an assistant deputy minister now. He came here initially as a consultant. Can the Minister indicate exactly how much he came here for, on a contract basis? Did we pay his moving expenses when he successfully landed a job in the free competitive marketplace that we now have in the public service now?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The person was a consultant who initially came in to do work with respect to the Native Teacher Education Program. That was in June of this past year. He put together the program that was subsequently started.
Mr. Lang: Could the Minister confirm that this individual had been working with the deputy minister in northern Saskatchewan in the past?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: They were working in reasonably close proximity. I do not know the exact details of their relationship. The Deputy Minister of Education did know of Mr. Lawton in Saskatchewan.
Mr. Lang: Is that a pure coincidence? I assume that there was no one in the Yukon capable of assuming such a position as the ADMs. Is that correct? Is that why we went with local hiring from Saskatchewan?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There was a competition, which had a board, and Mr. Lawton was selected.
Mr. Lang: Was the deputy minister, Mr. Shakir Alwaird, on that board?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: If the deputy minister had not been on the board, I am sure there would be questions asking why he was not. Of course, the deputy minister was on the board, as was the Public Service Commission, and others.
Mr. Lang: What about the assistant deputy ministers position that closed about three weeks ago? Was that given to a local resident or was it someone from outside the Yukon? Could the Minister identify who was it, where they came from and how much it cost to get them here?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The position was not filled.
Mr. Lang: Maybe the lights went out somewhere along the trail. I am positive I talked to a new assistant deputy minister who just got off the bus. I had a problem in my constituency that I went to him about. His name was Ferris or Fairy. Could the Minister take charge of the department and find out who actually is moving in from Manitoba and Saskatchewan with all these bright lights and shining ideas that we have been devoid of up to now?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The position has not been filled. The Member knows that Peter Ferris is filling in for the ADM. This is a transparent strategy, if nothing else. He will be in the Yukon until April 1, 1990 to act in the position of ADM. He is from Manitoba.
Mr. Lang: Why, on December 14, 1989, were we told that the position was being advertised, had just closed, and that a decision was going to be made? Is this person in an acting capacity? I was left with the impression that he was the ADM. He didnt give me the impression that he was a playwright of any kind.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: At the time that the Member asked the question, the selection process was close to being concluded. However, the only certified person in the interview process pulled out. Consequently, the position was not filled.
Mr. Lang: Where did he come from in order to be in an acting position? Was there no one capable locally to do that kind of a position until such time as we had to make a definitive decision? I do not understand how these top position always seem to have to go to people from outside the territory.
I would like to ask the Minister this, as well as the Minister responsible for the Public Service Commission: how does this tie in with the principle of local hire?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I will not answer for the Minister of the Public Service Commission on a government-wide basis, but all I will indicate is that the people who applied for the job were not certified, with the exception of one person who pulled out. There was a strong desire that the position be filled, even on an acting basis, given the responsibilities we wanted to undertake within the department. The decision was made to secure someone who was certifiable, but who was unable to come full-time.
Mr. Lang: You mean that we had to phone all the way to Manitoba to find someone capable enough to hold the department together in this particular area for three or four months? Is that what the Minister is telling this House? He brings some probably very nice person up here who does not even know where the Yukon border is, and he is going to determine what is going to happen in education in a very influential position in the next three or four months in an acting capacity. I do not understand this at all.
Can the Minister tell me yes or no? Is the Minister telling this House there is nobody in the territory qualified or capable to fill such a position, even as an acting position, until such time as we go out and advertise? Is that what the Minister is telling the people of the territory? Is that how arrogant we have gotten, that nobody who lives in the Yukon Territory has the ability to survive in top management because they perhaps do not carry the right political card? Is that the problem?
I am getting awful sick and tired of it, and I will tell you that there are a lot of people in Porter Creek East who are getting sick and tired of it. I think you had better take a hard look at what you are doing to our government - the Legislatures government, not your government.
How much did we pay to bring this individual in, this well-qualified individual? How much are we paying per diem, and what is the total cost going to be to the people of the territory as we act out this little play, until we get the person we want?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The histrionics are not going to improve the situation at all. A persons personal politics has absolutely nothing to do with this and, as far as anybody in the Department of Educations personal politics, it has never had anything to do with anything.
With respect to the person who has accepted ...
Chair: Order please. We will have one person speaking.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The person who has been temporarily hired for the position of acting deputy minister is being paid at the normal rate. With respect to any other costs associated with filling the position, I can have that information brought forward.
As I have indicated, with respect to the local hire, there was nobody locally who applied who was certifiable. The Public Service Commission is the agency that determines whether or not people are certifiable. As far as I am concerned, that is the bottom line.
Mrs. Firth: There was a contract for $16,000 that was given for the months of April to July to Pat Walsh; it was termed a casual salary at the MG-6 level. Could the Minister tell us what that contract was for in his department?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The person the Member is referring to was a casual employee. I understand that approximately $16,000 was paid to this person and the person was hired into the policy planning section and dealt with policy matters in particular. That is as much as I know at this point.
Mrs. Firth: Madam Chair, I wonder if the Minister could tell us why that contract did not appear in the list he gave us of the service contracts to December 1989? I may have missed it, but I have gone through it a couple of times and it does not appear in there anywhere. I wonder if he could explain why.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The reason is that there was not a contract. The person was a casual.
Mrs. Firth: If the person was a casual, what was that person doing?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The person was hired into the policy section of the department and was working with policy matters. I know there was some work done with respect to student financial assistance and other areas, but generally the person was to help out during the summer in the policy area.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Was that individual replacing some other person who was away, or was it an extra casual?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It was extra help.
Mrs. Firth: How did that person get that extra help? Was the job advertised? Did the Public Service Commission put out a competition, and she entered a competition to get that job? It was an extra job. Now, we know. Extra salary.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: As I understand it, the position was not advertised. I am not sure about the circumstances around the appointment as casual, but I will have that matter checked.
Mr. Lang: Was the individual we are talking about the spouse of the ex-chief of staff, Mr. John Walsh?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Yes.
Mr. Lang: Well, Madam Chair, just for the record, what a coincidence. Are we not getting incestuous?
Mr. Devries: I have just one question regarding Yukon College. How many students are presently enrolled in the Native Education Program?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There were originally, I believe, 15. I think some people who were nominated dropped out at the beginning. I believe there are around 10.
Mr. Devries: Since the program is not filled to capacity, has it been opened to any non-natives?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: For next year, we are contemplating the extension of the program to non-native students. At this time, the intake happens once a year in September.
Mr. Lang: I do not think the question was answered. My constituents made some observations as well about the fact the program was not filled by people of native ancestry. Is it the policy of the government that people of non-native ancestry could not fill those positions?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Originally, the concept behind the program was for native students. The concept was to redress the problem we had of there being no native teachers in the schools. It was a serious problem, and we designed the program to encourage native students to enter. We also designed the program to have maximum cultural sensitivity to native students. That was a primary direction and was undertaken when the program was initially designed. It would require a rethinking of some of the objectives if we were to expand the program to other students. Nevertheless, when the program was first offered, the applications were up to 60 or 70 in August, and we felt quite confident that the program would be fully taken up. After the selection process was undertaken and the candidates were considered, and the school year begun, a number of students indicated they could not make it for this year and would try again next year. That caused enrollment to drop after the commencement of the school year. Consequently we were left with 10 students for the program.
If the Member is asking for a simple, two-part answer, firstly, the program is not designed to accommodate non-native students at this point. As I indicated to Mr. Devries, consideration is being given to do that.
Secondly, when the people gave notice they could not participate in this program, the school year had begun, and it would have been too late to accommodate even other native students who had applied.
Mr. Devries: When a student drops out of a course like this, are they held responsible for any of the costs that are incurred as a university would? Would a $5,000 or $10,000 investment tend to keep them there? The minute they drop out they know it is money down the drain. Is there anything the department can come back on the student for? Another student could have been in this place and it has cost so many dollars. Is there any way to recover that?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: We do not contemplate any financial penalty to students who drop out. When a student going to university drops out, the maximum the student can lose is their tuition fee, and only if they pass a certain deadline with respect to that tuition fee. There is an investment for people who move to another community to set up house. It is not contemplated as part of public nor university policy that people will lose thousands of dollars should they discontinue their studies. It is not part of the college policy to inflict a financial penalty on students who withdraw either. They would normally have to pay tuition first in order to collect it back.
Mr. Lang: I want to ask about the space at the Yukon College. Is it true they are running out of space for conducting classes and doing administration at the college?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It is hard to say whether they are running out of space. It is a little more complicated than that. Certainly, student enrollments for Yukon College have dramatically risen. There are approximately over 700 full-time students and better than 3,000 part-time students territorial wide in the college programming. In the Whitehorse campus, it has meant that numbers of students attending have increased dramatically as well. Some of the programs have noteworthy enrollment increases, such as the Northern Studies Program and university transfer programming. That is probably the most dramatic increase in the last year.
The original concept to allow for dedicated classrooms for certain subjects has had to be rethought in the last little while. I have not been personally involved in the space allocation at the college, but I do know the thinking that the classroom space and the timing of classes must better accommodate the fact there are more students going to the college.
There is some specialized space at the college, which is really good for certain kinds of programming, in particular for the trades and technical. Overall, the amount of classroom space is being much better utilized than it was before. It will not be too long, maybe in the next 10 years, when there may be a desire for more dedicated classroom space for the college.
Mr. Lang: I do not feel like I got an answer. The observations made to me were there is definitely becoming a shortage of space for the various programs offered at the college. I just asked the Minister if that were true. I did not ask for better-use space; I was asking if there is a shortage of space.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I gave the Member the long answer. In the short answer, I would not say there was a shortage of space, if the college can provide for the appropriate scheduling of classes at the right times during the day. If the Member is making the point that the available space is becoming more crowded, yes, but if the Member is making the point that space is becoming so crowded that it is inhibiting the operation of the programs, I would say we have not reached that point.
Mr. Lang: Then my information is correct, and the school is becoming overcrowded and you have had to look at your scheduling to adjust for that.
In view of that - and it is a startling revelation, in view of the fact that we have spent $50 million on that building - that we are starting to talk about a shortage of space.
What projections does the Minister have with respect to the space situation at the college? What plans is he taking to the planning board in the next couple of years?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Member took my remarks and put a twist on them that I did not, to say there was a demand for space that could not be accommodated by the college and, secondly, that in the next couple of years we will have to look at new space. I did not say that, nor did I imply that. What I did indicate was that, initially, as I indicated in my long answer, many of the classrooms were considered dedicated to a particular class and particular instructor. That is a luxury that is no longer available to the college and, consequently, they have to make better use of the available space. If a classroom is empty, a number of classes can be held in the available space, and it should not be dedicated to one particular instructor or one particular class.
The college did not cost $50 million. As I have indicated time and time again in this Legislature, the total cost will run in the neighbourhood of $52 million to $53 million for the arts centre, for the archives, for the gym and for the trades and technical wing and the two other wings at the college. That $50 million is a fabrication, as far as I am aware.
Briefly, if the Member wants a short answer, I do not believe there is a space crunch that requires capital dollars to be spent by this Legislature for construction of new space. I believe that with appropriate programming and scheduling timetabling, they can more than easily and comfortably meet their space requirements with the space they have.
Mrs. Firth: After the election, there was a new deputy minister. There was some controversy about hirings and firings. All of a sudden, a casual position was created for a communications person. Can the Minister tell us if that position originally went out to competition?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Yes, it did go out for competition.
Mrs. Firth: I am talking about the initial position. I know that the position was eventually advertised. When it was initially started, there was a casual position for the communications person. Was the position of the casual communications person advertised, and did it go to competition?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: No. Originally a person was brought in to meet some departmental requirements. The incumbent was brought in for the position on the condition that the position would be advertised or filled within a 30-day period on the basis of competition.
Mrs. Firth: Who made the decision as to which person should be brought in to fill that casual communications position?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The deputy minister made the decision.
Mrs. Firth: Did the deputy minister have the approval of a person year to do that? Had the decision been made that this was going to be a permanent job to be later advertised?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: My understanding is that a person year is not required for a casual position.
Mrs. Firth: The Minister is really saying that the deputy minister is at liberty to hire as many casual people as he wants, bring them in without competition and without the job being advertised - he can just create a job within his department. If he can then get approval for a person year, that can become a permanent person year and the job goes to competition. Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The twist that the Member puts on it is not one that I share. The deputy minister is required to perform certain duties and undertake certain actions that the government requests of him. In a particular case, like a communications officer, there is the desire to communicate better within the department and with the public to produce newsletters and other things. These were all part of the request that the Minister puts to the deputy minister. The deputy minister responded quickly by bringing in a casual, initially, and putting the position up for competition.
It just so happened that the person who was brought in as a casual was the person who also won the competition.
Mrs. Firth: There is no twist here to anything. The fact remains that the deputy minister can bring a person in without any competition, without any approval of any person year, and can hire them to do any job. We all agree that the communications within the department was in a disastrous mess after the first month of the deputy minister taking over the department. The deputy minister has the ability to bring this casual person in to do a job. Then when the job is made official and a person year is identified, of course, is it not reasonable that the individual who has held the job in a casual capacity would have the edge on any other person applying for that job? I would like the Minister to prove me wrong and tell me how many times it has not happened, but in most instances would the casual person not be the successful candidate when that job is advertised and the position is awarded?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Member is not going to goad me into doing research to try to justify her position with respect to a particular allegation. However, I will say, as a general proposition, that yes indeed, I would agree that if a person has been doing the job, they would have a better understanding of what the job entailed than a person who had not done the job. Nevertheless, there was a proper competition for the job, and the person did secure the position.
Mrs. Firth: Does the Minister agree that this gives the deputy minister a tremendous power and influence? I mean, he or she - we are never going to see another woman deputy minister at the rate this government is going, so he applies here - gets to hire people. They are in a very influential position, where they can create jobs, go to the Minister, lobby the Minister for a person year and then the individual who has enjoyed that job and that position for whatever period of time becomes the most eligible candidate for the position when it does go to competition. I see this happening in the Department of Education. I know it is happening in other departments also, and I suppose the alternative I have is to follow up with the Minister of the Public Service Commission and see what the Minister is going to do to resolve this issue. I think it creates an unfair advantage, and I think people within the Public Service Commission would also agree with that. I am talking about employees, people who are presently employed with this government and people who are not employed with this government perhaps wishing to seek employment would agree that this is an unfair advantage, and substantiates the accusation that my colleague from Porter Creek East says, that to get a good position, you have to be a friend of a friend of a friend. The Minister is always outraged about those kinds of accusations, but this substantiates that and certainly is good documented proof that that abuse could happen.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: If the Member is suggesting that deputy ministers have the power to appoint casuals to positions to do particular pieces of work, yes, the deputy ministers do have that power and they are encouraged to get the job done. In this particular situation, when the he appointed the she to the communications position, the deputy minister was caught between a rock and a hard place in the sense that there was a demand for action now - not a month, two months from now, but now. The deputy minister responded in the best way he could in ensuring that a casual was brought in to fill the job. The Member can read into it what she likes. I do not like what she is reading into it, but, nevertheless, I obviously cannot change that, despite my best efforts. All I can say is that the communications work was an important priority for the department and, consequently, the services of someone were required, and the necessary work with respect to competitions was done. I do not know what more I can say.
Mrs. Firth: Just to make one final point, I am not reading anything into it; I am just looking at the facts and the facts as they present themselves, and they are very obvious. Other people see this, too, so it is nothing magical or mysterious; it is just a fact.
Yukon College in the amount of an under expenditure of $131,000 agreed to
Mrs. Firth: The Minister is saying that his department did such a good job of balancing its books that it was in excess of $16,000 for the total amount of the operation and maintenance expenditures. There was no shortfall of money within the Department of Education operating and maintenance expenditures?
Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The overall answer is obviously yes. We know we are requesting $16,000 and believe we need the $16,000 in order to undertake the work we indicated we would during the estimates debate we have just completed. That is not to say there have not been some fairly significant fluctuations within the department. We have just been spending the last few sitting days walking through the fluctuations in the department. There has been an over expenditure of $500,000 in one area, an under expenditure of $500,000 in another area. I believe we can live with $16,000. If the Member is trying to make a point that magically we have come right in on target, as much as I would like to have the department take credit for the budgeting, there are some fairly significant fluctuations within the department that I have just finished explaining.
Mrs. Firth: I just wanted to get it clear on the record that the government is saying they have found offsets within their budgets for over expenditures and that all they are going to be requesting is another $16,000. The Minister has confirmed that. That is just up until July. Can the Minister confirm that for us?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I do not know where the month of July comes into this. The $16,000 is for the operation and maintenance for the Department of Education. This is estimated for the fiscal year-end, being March 31. Period 5 was the point the estimates were made for the year-end financial picture. The Member might be referring to the teachers settlement, that is not budgeted in the Education budget, but would have to come in on a supplementary before year-end. That is the only thing I can think of that would change this. Apart from that, the $16,000 in this budget is something I think we can live within.
Chair: No questions on the operation and maintenance recoveries?
Operation and Maintenance Expenditures in the amount of $16,000 agreed to
Chair: We will take a brief recess.
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order. We will proceed with capital expenditures for the Department of Education.
On Capital Expenditures
Chair: Is there any general debate? Shall we proceed with line-by-line?
On Finance and Administration
On Yukon Arts Centre
Hon. Mr. McDonald: This is a revote item of $1,719,000, for a total project estimate of $7 million capital. The project is scheduled to go to tender in mid-February, with a closing date of early April and construction to start in May.
Mr. Devries: What is the anticipated total cost now?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It is $7.5 million.
Mr. Lang: Is there an agreement with the Yukon arts community with respect to what is being cut from the proposed facility? What is being cut, to what extent, and what are the projected costs of the cut?
Could the Minister provide us a written copy of exactly what is proposed?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I can provide the information in writing, if the Member wishes. Recently, the design has been reviewed to determine whether or not any minor alterations that can maintain the scope of the project, as well as saving money, can be made. Those were discussed between the Departments of Government Services and Education, and Arts Canada North. The changes suggested were acceptable to the three parties I just mentioned, and they will be worked into the design.
They include such things as redesigning and simplifying the front entrance, for an anticipated saving of $20,000; changing the art gallery lighting grid to a simpler type, for an estimate of a $20,000 reduction; the change in the cabinets in the bar area, a deletion of $20,000; changing the vestibule fuel heating system to a simpler type, $20,000; changing the site drainage piping slightly, a saving of $20,000; reducing the amount of ceramic tile in various areas, $5,000; deleting security cameras, $45,000; reducing millwork quality slightly, $20,000; and changing the metal roof profile to one that does not exactly match the existing college. It makes it a little bit distinctive, but saves $80,000. The total savings amount to $250,000.
Mr. Lang: Is the Minister telling this House that the changes have been agreed to by Arts Canada North?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: With respect to the Arts Canada North executive, yes.
Mr. Lang: Will the $250,000 proposed saving be adequate to have this go out to tender and come within the dollars allocated for the purpose of the tender?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There are never any guarantees about that, but I had certainly thought that last time I went to tender, given the advice that we had from cost consultants, that we would be on the mark. Unfortunately, the bids came in high. The savings here will give us added room to manoeuvre and will make it a more likely proposition. As I said before, the design consultants who had worked with us before on other projects, such as the college itself, were pretty accurate in their cost estimates. They were very accurate with respect to the archives building, but, for one reason or another, the bids for the project did not come in to meet our expectations when we tendered it this past fall; that was the reason why we could not award the contract and why we had to consider a retender.
Clerk: That was Finance and Administration, Yukon Arts Centre.
Yukon Arts Centre in the amount of $1,719,000 agreed to
On Public Schools
On Facilities Construction and Maintenance:
On Student Residence - Whitehorse
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Again, this is mainly a revote. We revoted $895,000 and another $418,000 is required, for a total project cost of $1,863,000. This project is scheduled to go to tender next week and scheduled to be completed by August 15.
Mr. Devries: What is the total budget for that project? The $1.8 million?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Yes.
Mr. Lang: I have a question that has to do with the overall philosophy of what we are doing. Various governments throughout the past 25 or 30 years have really made efforts to upgrade the school facilities in all the communities and I think, quite frankly, they can take a lot of credit over the years for what the school facilities are like, whether it be in Old Crow, Faro, Haines Junction or other smaller communities outside Whitehorse. My concern is why do we need such a large facility in Whitehorse if we are supplying the schools to the rural communities, especially in view of the fact that I understand we are looking seriously at maybe having a residence in Haines Junction as well?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The problem, as the Member states it briefly, is well stated. We have, in the past, over many, many years, attempted to provide for as much senior level programming as we can in the communities in the Yukon. Efforts have been made at considerable expense to ensure that, as far as possible, a full grade range is available to the children in any particular community. There remain, however, a number of communities whose student population cannot justify a full grade range for a high school within commuting distance. Consequently, there are a large number of schools in the territory that still only go to grade nine or 10, and do not have the full high school programming.
Secondly, there is also an element of the student population that looks for certain programming that we do not offer in the remote high schools where we have a basic core structure for the students to take. Quite often, it is the case that when we provide the basic core structure, even in a school where there is a high school with grades nine through 12, there are certain specific courses of a technical nature where we cannot find the appropriate staff to provide for the course, and there may only be one or two students in those courses. In those particular cases, the student may have resolved to go into engineering or some post-secondary institution that has these courses as prerequisites. Consequently, we have to make space available at a student residence in Whitehorse where the programming is offered through F.H. Collins High School. That remains an element of reality in the Yukon education community and would only be deleted, I guess, with substantial infusion of funds into all communities, but we do not have the funds.
So, basically, it is two things. First, the fact that we cannot provide a full high school program in every community because it takes at least a minimum of four to five teachers to provide that program, and even when we do provide the basic program there are subjects usually of a technical nature that we cannot provide anyway. Consequently, the only alternative for those students is to either take the course by correspondence or, because the success rate for correspondence courses is not generally considered high, to come to Whitehorse and take advantage of the student dorm. The numbers at the old St. Elias dorm downtown were such that we did not have sufficient capacity to meet the numbers of students from the Yukon who wanted to attend classes in Whitehorse. We do accommodate, where we can, too, students from northern British Columbia.
When we have had to turn these students away, we end up having no alternative in the Yukon if they cannot find private accommodation in Whitehorse. We did attempt in 1985-86 to expand the St. Elias dorm, but we could not do so because the lots adjacent were not available. We had to go to a place where we could provide for the proper expanded space and have room for expansion if the need arose in future years. That is the reason why we moved to this residence.
I agree with the Member that it is desirable, as a first priority, to provide full high school programming in the communities. That gets down to a matter of dollars and cents as to whether we can deliver the programs. This is an alternative, albeit not the best one.
Mr. Lang: I assumed that some thought would have been given to the community of Old Crow, for example, where it is not feasible to have grade 11 and grade 12 because of the low numbers. The thought was, however, that maybe these students could be going to school in Dawson City, further increasing the number of students in those grades. The community is not that large. It is not as difficult to adjust to, coming from a smaller community.
There could be a relationship between Ross River and Faro where there is a distance of approximately 40 miles. I do not understand why some effort is not given to having those secondary students go to Faro instead of Whitehorse, which is so far away. Subsequently, that brings the social problems along with it, with the children being away from home. That is the idea that I was putting to the Minister, not that we were going to expand to grade 12 in all of these smaller communities, in Beaver Creek for example.
The Minister intimated that I was putting that thought across. My idea is to use our larger centres outside of Whitehorse, instead of centralizing in Whitehorse. Obviously, it is probably too late and that is a shame. When I go to Watson Lake, Haines Junction or Dawson City and look at those beautiful facilities, I think that another four, five or eight kids could make a big difference to a student body of that size. The kids can be much more effective in a community of that size. Perhaps we do not take enough time to think these things out. There are different ways of skinning a cat and meeting the objective that is wanted. No one in the House is arguing that we do not have to find a place for those students if we are not providing the grades in the communities. I just thought that there might be other ways of doing it.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Member hit the nail on the head regarding my thoughts on the provision of student residence services for rural Yukon students. This issue came up in 1985 or 1986 when alternatives and suggestions were being sought, and that perhaps a student residence service could be provided in Haines Junction, Dawson, Mayo or Faro. There were some good arguments on the need to consolidate some of those operations because they needed personnel on a 24-hour basis. The concept was one I was more than prepared to explore. I did so at a number of school committee conferences and with parents of the students affected.
It appeared that a good idea like that was not shared by the parents of these students. It was their view that, whether they be in Old Crow, Ross River or Beaver Creek that they travel to Whitehorse for certain reasons, whether it be shopping or other purposes. They informed me in no uncertain terms that the citizens of Old Crow do not normally go to Mayo to conduct regular business. The transportation systems are geared to service communities from Whitehorse rather than intercommunity links. So I was told in no uncertain terms that we could put residences wherever we felt like it, but they would not put their kids there unless it was in Whitehorse. I thought the reasons as stated by the Member for Porter Creek East would make good sense to help justify some of the smaller, marginal schools if rural students attended there. If students had trouble coming to a big community, they could start in a medium-sized community before they came to Whitehorse. It certainly appeared to be a good solution to me if we could get around the problem of duplicating O&M costs on a couple of more facilities in the territory. With almost no exceptions, the parents indicated they would not put their students in a community other than Whitehorse.
The thinking was that if we built a residence, it would not be downtown; it would be in a more serene environment like Riverdale. It would be within walking distance so students would not have to be bused to and from school or the gymnasium, et cetera.
In the design, we also thought it would be important, given that so many of the students are native, that there be space for an elder-in-residence, which was subsequently designed into the building and, also, to look as much like a home as an institution can get. Those were the compromises in the design, location and usage we could come to in order to accommodate the needs of rural students without putting it outside of Whitehorse.
There was some suggestion that we should have a number of group homes in Whitehorse where students of one community would come to one place and, basically, have a community atmosphere. They would all basically come from the same roots and it would feel more like a family in a group home setting. The only concern with that is there are a half-dozen communities that send students to Whitehorse. The concept of two or three group homes turned into a very expensive proposition to run. We have a fairly small staff. There is the expectation by the parents that the facility be watched 24 hours a day to keep the children on the straight and narrow and, also, that meals would be provided. The idea that we would have more than one centre in Whitehorse turned into an expensive proposition on the operation and maintenance side, which we could not proceed with, unfortunately. We did try to design the student residence in such a way as to give it more of a home atmosphere, albeit a very big home with lots of bedrooms, as well as incorporating other features that would resolve some of the parents concerns.
Mr. Devries: What is the capacity of this new residence when it is completed?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Thirty-six students.
Student Residence - Whitehorse in the amount of $1,313,000 agreed to
On Robert Service School - Upgrade Expansion
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The project is complete, and this is a revote of $183,000 for work done in this fiscal year.
Robert Service School - Upgrade Expansion in the amount of $183,000 agreed to
On Porter Creek Jr. Secondary Expansion
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There was a revote of $81,000, but only $21,000 was required in order to culminate this project. The project is complete. The reason there was a revote of $81,000, but only $21,000 was required, was because the contracts came in lower than anticipated.
Porter Creek Jr. Secondary Expansion in the amount of $21,000 agreed to
On Granger - Design Construction Elementary School
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The $69,000 is required to complete the design phase in this fiscal year. The project is scheduled to go to tender this year, but the detailed drawings have not yet been done. That is the next step.
Mr. Devries: I do not know. Every time that I go to the Granger subdivision, it seems that there are no houses there. Where are the students coming from? What is the plan?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Granger subdivision, up to this point, has only sold 17 lots with houses. The planning for the school has taken into account students from McIntyre, Hillcrest and Valleyview, who would all be within walking distance of the school. More lots are scheduled to be sold in the Granger subdivision. There is also the potential for a trailer court in the immediate vicinity. Right now, if a school was to go into operation, it would draw from the students in the McIntyre and Hillcrest areas. There are about 140 of those students. There are also the students from the McCrae area who will be bused into Whitehorse.
Granger - Design Construction Elementary School in the amount of $69,000 agreed to
On Watson Lake Secondary Upgrade and Expansion
Mr. Devries: I believe it was Klondike Enterprises that got the contract. Is the Minister still considering using heat from the Yukon Electrical power house? The sawmills power house is sort of on hold for the time being.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The design of the mechanical centre for the school will take into account the possibility of being linked up to an alternate power supply. That could be through the use of heat exchange or in other ways. The Department of Economic Development: Mines and Small Business is still eager to draw interested parties together. At this stage, the only thing the public schools can do is to design something to receive an alternate power source.
Watson Lake Secondary Upgrade and Expansion in the amount of $583,000 agreed to
On Whitehorse Elementary Upgrade
Hon. Mr. McDonald: This is primarily a revote from prior years. What was done this year, as I have indicated before, is that the bus loading terminal was completed, the winter retrofit, the office for the vice principal, the handicapped washroom, the photocopier storage room and the dental lab alterations and ventilation, which is underway.
Whitehorse Elementary Upgrade in the amount of $120,000 agreed to
On Gym Floor Refinishing - Various Schools
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The work that was done was for Carcross School. The design and installation of badminton lines and floor sockets for the badminton standards has been completed. On the Robert Service School we saved the old gym in the reconstruction effort and it was resurfaced. The Teslin School had the installation of new volleyball standards in the gymnasium. One of the reasons why we are turning back $60,000 is that it was determined in the end that F.H. Collins still had a couple of years of useful life in the gym floor, as it had been resurfaced in 1985, so we did not proceed with that particular project this year.
Gym Floor Refinishing - Various Schools in the amount of an under expenditure of $60,000 agreed to
On Grounds Improvement
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The following projects, as I have indicated before, are in the main complete: the Jeckell tennis courts are complete; the Johnson Elementary School sports field was completed - there are some seasonal deficiencies there that I am sure the Member will understand; St. Elias Community Schools sports field is complete; the Carcross School playground equipment was installed; there was partial landscaping at Robert Service School with the installation of a Big Toy; there was new playground equipment installed at Teslin School, J.V. Clark School, Grey Mountain Primary School and Kluane Lake School; and all the schools received some grounds maintenance for the season.
Grounds Improvement in the amount of $33,000 agreed to
On Computer Labs
Computer Labs in the amount of $10,000 agreed to
On Jack Hulland Upgrade and Renovations
Hon. Mr. McDonald: We voted $350,000 for this item. This is a supplementary for $40,000. There will be some work in the coming capital budget to continue work on this school. The office expansion is complete. The specialized teaching rooms for home economics and art were converted to regular class rooms. The design is underway for the installation of opening windows and sky lights in the west wing. The design is also underway for upgrading the ventilation system as the air quality tests had revealed that improvement was needed. The tendering phase for opening windows in the east wing is still to be undertaken.
Mr. Lang: There are some very significant problems with the ventilation. The Minister referred to design. When is the project actually going to be done? Can the Minister give us a time frame for the correcting of a very serious situation?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The work on the changes to the ventilation system and the installation of opening windows and sky lights in the 1968-69 wing will be done in July and August this coming summer. There will also be additional full-spectrum lighting put into the school.
The point on ventilation is something we take as the highest priority for the school. Consequently we will be doing that work this summer.
Mr. Lang: Another concern arising is overcrowding the facility. What plans does the Minister have for forthcoming years with the increasing student population? What plans are there for ensuring the school does not get overcrowded?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The overcrowding problem in Jack Hulland School is really a problem that, in its nature, cannot be resolved outside Porter Creek, because of the busing and attendance areas. Consequently, the addition of schools in Whitehorse, without some significant changes to bus schedules, will not resolve the Porter Creek situation. Right now, the Department of Education is trying to work scenarios where we accelerate the construction of the Catholic school in Porter Creek, so it might start next year as well. At this point, I have not had a report from the department as to how that might be undertaken.
The student population is about 550 at Jack Hulland now. It has had as many as 630 students before, in 1983 or 1984. The overcrowding is a problem we should try to resolve in the long term. The parents at Jack Hulland School have indicated they feel that further expansion to the school itself would put an unreasonable strain on the central services the school currently has. It is their preference to see elementary school space being constructed, not at Jack Hulland, but at some other site in the area. Consequently, that is the rationale and justification for accelerating this schedule with respect to the construction of a Catholic elementary school.
Mr. Lang: Is the government planning to put interim portables on the site?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: That is something we will have to think about, despite the concerns expressed by some parents. It may be the only resolution to the situation. I should not be categorical about this, because they are still undertaking a study with respect to what is possible. I will go through all the potential variations before a decision is made.
We want to ensure that there is adequate space as soon as we conceivably can.
Mr. Lang: I have a concern. To my knowledge, there is no money being projected to be voted for another Porter Creek school being built. If we do not at least give the authorization through the budget, my concern is we are in a situation where really nothing proceeds. The Minister has talked about the prospects of a Catholic school being built in the vicinity. Is he going to be in a position, in the next month or so while we are in session, where, if more information becomes available, he will be prepared to come into this House and get the necessary vote authority to go ahead with the planning and design that would be necessary for such a facility?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I have been assured by Finance many times that there is vote authority right now to undertake public schools construction. That is vote authority; what we have here is a project listing. We discuss each project each time, but that is not the same as giving a particular project vote authority.
Nevertheless, if there is any potential for a change in plans while we are still sitting, and if any conclusions have been drawn from the department, I will certainly announce or provide the information to the Member with respect to the potential for making a move to provide space.
I would be hesitant to state categorically, however, given the passion some people feel about this subject, that the only solution is to put portables in at Jack Hulland School. There are a number of people who feel that is not appropriate, and we will have to weigh the pros and cons, and discuss this further with the school committee and any other affected school committee, before we proceed.
Mr. Lang: I want to express some concern about portables. I raised the question to see if he intended to put them there. I know there is concern from parents in the area and it has to be given consideration.
Is the Minister going to be in a position in the next two to three months to give direction to the department to begin the design and planning work for such a school so we could go to tender next year if numbers are warranted, so we could have a facility in three years, instead of four years?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It is premature to indicate whether we can proceed, or whether or not the circumstances would justify or warrant us proceeding with the construction. The consultation has yet to take place.
Any changes to the capital plan that could cause acceleration obviously will have to be at the expense of something else. If we increase funds in one area we will have to undertake consultation with affected groups that perhaps their projects are going to have to be delayed a little bit in order to accommodate increased demand.
I have already indicated to the department that it is my view that the overcrowding problem in Whitehorse is generally a priority for the department and the situation at Jack Hulland, in particular, is a priority. We will have to look at the various options before us to explore whether or not the situation can be resolved in this way, or in other ways.
We had planned to construct a Catholic elementary school in Porter Creek. The design phase funding is in the capital main estimates. If discussion about the alternatives proves that the school should be built, they have also been charged with finding a way for the project to be advanced in the capital plan. That is where we stand now.
Mr. Lang: I want to make the observation that we are pressing for a very much-needed facility in the Porter Creek area and the government goes ahead a year in advance for the Granger subdivision, it is going to look funny when you have a school three-quarters empty waiting for people to build homes, and at the same time we are sitting in an overcrowded facility. That is the saw-off that is going to have to be made. I make that observation because it is going to take a number of years for the Granger subdivision to get to the point where there are enough students to justify a school, yet at the same time you are asking us to vote almost $1 million. In view of what is happening in Porter Creek East and West, and with children being bused in from the north highway, we will be pushing the Minister to take some appropriate action to remedy the situation. This side will do anything we can to assist the Minister.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am happy to hear that. I might just take the Member up on his offer of assistance. In questioning by the Member for Watson Lake recently, I indicated that Granger school is still seen as necessary in order to alleviate the overcrowding in Whitehorse. There are more places that are overcrowded than Jack Hulland School. Consequently, the situation requires redress. After a tremendous amount of consultation on the need for the construction of new public schools and on the location, we did come to the conclusion that a school built in Granger would help alleviate some significant requirements.
If the Granger school were to be built now, it would be accepting approximately 140 students. With new construction in the McIntyre subdivision, we can probably expect 40 more families by June. It would not be appropriate to change our plans now regarding an elementary school at Granger. I will take the points that the Member has made. They are similar to the ones that I made. We will be trying to address the short term as well as the longer term space requirements in Whitehorse.
Jack Hulland Upgrade and Renovation in the amount of $40,000 agreed to
Chair: The committee will now recess until 7:30 p.m.
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order.
We will continue with debate on capital expenditures on page 30.
On F.H. Collins Upgrade
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There is a marginally increased amount of work for F.H. Collins slated here. We had devoted $200,000 for the upgrading of a project that had started with $50,000 the previous year. The interior of the school hallways have been lightened and brightened. That has been completed. New stage drapes have been installed. The painting of the interior of the gym has been completed. Various classroom alterations for various program requirements have been completed. The auto servicing shop conversion, with overhead doors, has been completed. The installation of a fume hood in the art room has also been completed, and the weight room expansion design is underway.
Scheduled for the end of this year, there was also new flooring in the cafeteria and light fixtures in the gym. That is still scheduled to be done.
F.H. Collins Upgrade in the amount of $45,000 agreed to
On Chief Zzeh Gittlet School and Teacherage
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It is quite simply that the work done here was a little less than we had projected, but the purchase and installation of the new Big Toy and relocation of the program playground equipment has been completed. The replacement of the front doors has been completed, and the installation of full spectrum lighting throughout the school has been completed.
Mrs. Firth: Can the Minister tell us something about this Big Toy? Are they being made locally, or are they being made outside?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: They are purchased locally through a local supplier, but the only local content is the installation itself.
Mrs. Firth: Can the Minister tell us who that supplier is?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Peacock Sales.
Chief Zzeh Gittlet School and Teacherage in the amount of an under expenditure of $10,000 agreed to
On Miscellaneous School Facility Alterations
Hon. Mr. McDonald: This is again a small increase to the $180,000 voted for the current year. A number of miscellaneous projects have been undertaken in a variety of schools. If the Members want me to list them I can do that.
I see they say yes, please list them. It is not that long a list, about eight items: Grey Mountain Primary School, the construction of a storage mezzanine in the activity room; at F.H. Collins, a new office was constructed and a gymnasium for the physical education instructor and some alterations for the drafting room; at Tantalus School renovations to the staff room and construction of a partition in the library for the native language program; at J.V. Clark, the expansion and renovation of the area where the college campus is, the construction of a partition isolating the library from the office area, in the hallway; at Del Van Gorder School they keyed all of the locks in the school after the theft of the master key; at Carcross School, there was the insulation of a climbing frame in the gymnasium and the supply and insulation of a cupboard on the staff room; at St. Elias Community School there was the supply and insulation of bulletin boards, and currently being tendered is the design and insulation of windows for the music room; in the Ross River School, there was the supply and insulation of a display case for the library and the supply and insulation of shelving for the community education class room.
Miscellaneous School Facility Alterations in the amount of $60,000 agreed to
On Christ the King Elementary Renovations
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The work here is primarily for additional office space. The design and construction of the office space was completed in August, 1989.
Christ the King Elementary Renovations in the amount of $35,000 agreed to
On Del Van Gorder School
Hon. Mr. McDonald: This is a new project to consider the stabilization and restoration of the gym and library. The gym was condemned shortly after opening in 1981. A series of engineering reports indicated that it would be too difficult to stabilize. We discovered the existence of a very specialized firm called Fowler and Associates, of Alberta, that had specialized in the stabilizing of buildings of this sort. They were contracted to do a study and to do some stabilization.
The stabilization was $410,000. The restorations are estimated to be $440,000. With the funding that is here, plus the funding that is in the main estimates, the stabilization and restoration of the gym should be complete. We feel comfortable at this time in saying that that facility can be saved, to everyones immense relief.
Del Van Gorder School in the amount of $652,000 agreed to
On Jeckell Gym and Upgrade
Jeckell Gym and Upgrade in the amount of $18,000 agreed to
On Jackell Special Education
Hon. Mr. McDonald: This is for the installation of the special education classroom that we wanted to put into the Jeckell School to accommodate its special education needs. The school is the recipient of a fair number of special education students in the junior high range. They had not had a space that suited their purposes until the renovations took place.
Mr. Devries: Special education, I believe, was just started last year. When would a review of this program be done to see how effective it is and if it is working well or if any changes have to be made?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The government has provided a whole broad range of special education services across the board for many years now. What has happened recently is the announcing of a new policy on special education, and the policy has not yet run one years course at this point. The major elements of the policy, as I know the Member knows, have been incorporated into the draft education act and there is further consultation going on with respect to that field right now, with the interests who have expressed concern about special education services. What we have done recently, in the last year, of course, is to improve the level of services, both by indigenous specialists and also in the use of special aids for students who require one-to-one treatment. I would think that, so far, the services provided are sufficient to meet the needs currently felt in Yukon, to the extent that we reasonably can, and of course we do evaluate every year, in the budget process, whether or not those services should be enhanced or otherwise. I believe, at this time, that the services are at a satisfactory level for the special needs groups and the special needs children.
The thing that is of most interest to special needs groups right now is the decision-making process determining the appropriate attention paid to individual students and whether or not there is an appeal procedure in place to account for the concern that parents have with respect to arbitrary decision making. That appeal procedure is not only housed in the special education policy but will be contained within the education act as well.
Jeckell Special Education in the amount of $28,000 agreed to
On Takhini Portables
Hon. Mr. McDonald: This, too, is a new project that we had to respond to quickly this year, given the overcrowding at Takhini School. There was sufficient funding to provide three additional portable class rooms, which were installed and completed for occupancy by September 11. They handle approximately 65 students. There was one outstanding item that was scheduled to be completed by the end of the calendar year, and that was the installation of carpeting.
Takhini Portables in the amount of $250,000 agreed to
On Teen Mothers Facility
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The funding required here was to renovate the Selkirk Street School Annex to accommodate the teen mothers program that had to be readied and available for occupancy on January 2, 1990, the first day back to school. The renovations began after the removal of the Child Development Centre from those premises. Now the teen mothers program is incorporated here.
Mr. Lang: What are the projected O&M costs? There is obviously going to be an annual O&M cost. Can the Minister outline those for us?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: On an annual basis, the program would be approximately $105,000 for salaries for instructors associated with the program. In this particular year we are looking at approximately $60,000 for salaries.
Mr. Lang: What about other associated costs like vehicles? The reason I am asking this is that the Minister has told us the consequences of the financial formula, and, when programs like this are started, I would have thought they would be costed out so we know where we are going so there will be no surprises. Can the Minister give us the full projected costs of the program?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: We had announced this program last year as one element of the returning-to-learning initiatives of the Department of Education to accommodate the teenage mothers who currently have dropped out of the public school system and who required some special attention if we were to encourage them to complete their high school education. Consequently, we did budget this as an item of priority in order to accommodate those teen mothers.
The total cost is $105,000 for 1990-91 and that includes everything, including salaries. I can provide the breakdown tomorrow, but the total cost for this program is $105,000, and that includes salaries and other ancillary costs.
Mr. Lang: How many teen mothers would be attending such a facility?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: We have identified 30 possible persons but, at this point, we feel that 12 young women will come into the program in the first intake.
Mr. Lang: When does that start?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It starts this month.
Teen Mothers Facility in the amount of $20,000 agreed to
On South Highway School Design
Hon. Mr. McDonald: In this particular line item, the government has completed its analysis of the public consultation that took place jointly with the south highway school advisory committee. The surveys that were carried out confirmed that a minimum enrollment of 110 students would come from the area of the Carcross Road, the Alaska Highway South, Mary Lake and Wolf Creek, with student projections on the rise in coming years.
Consequently, a building advisory committee was formed with representatives from all the subdivisions to discuss the potential site and design of a school that would help relieve the student population pressures in Whitehorse. A site in Golden Horn subdivision has been selected for the site, and the project is now almost ready for the call for proposals from companies that can provide a prefab design for a school. The total estimated budget is $1.5 million.
Mr. Lang: Once it is built, what is going to be the ongoing operation and maintenance of such a facility?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: At this point, we feel the utilities would be $80,000; custodial services would be $65,000, and there is still some discussion about the impact on the busing requirements set for the area.
Mr. Lang: I did not catch the first part. Did you also outline the salaries for new teaching positions as well?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: No, I did not, because there is no incremental increase to the system for adding more space. A new school will not entail new teachers; it will entail new teaching person years. The teachers would be re-allocated from Whitehorse schools.
Mr. Lang: The Minister is telling us that we are going to establish a new school at the other end of Whitehorse and we are going to be able to re-allocate within the person years of the teaching staff that we already have allocated for Whitehorse, and that there will be no increase whatsoever in respect to this proposed new school? I find that hard to believe.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The answer is yes. It may not be just for Whitehorse schools. There will be re-allocation within the Yukon system, but certainly because we add another school does not necessarily mean that we should improve the student/teacher ratio in the system, and consequently where the teachers actually teach may entail that they may be teaching in another school than they are in now, but the construction of a new school anywhere does not necessarily entail the additional hiring of teachers. The allocation of teachers is dependent upon the staffing formula.
Mr. Lang: I am fully conversant with that; I know you have a formula. What I do not understand is how the Minister can stand here and say that he does not feel that there is going to be any need to increase the teaching staff. First of all, you are obviously going to have an administrative cost to the school, which is going to be an added cost. The reason I am asking is that I think the Minister has a responsibility to let us know what the projected operation and maintenance costs are going to be when these facilities are finished, because that is going to be the ongoing cost that the taxpayers of the Yukon are going to have to face and are going to be locked into. I accept the Minister at his word but I just have to say as a Member, and knowing government and knowing how things work, that I just find that hard to believe that there is not going to be any increase of any kind respecting the salary component of running the school.
While I am on my feet, I wonder if the Minister could also - if he does not have it with him maybe he can provide it with the mains - provide the operation and maintenance projected cost for running the arts centre, as well. That is going to be down the road as well but the Legislature is going to be locked into it. Perhaps if the Minister, in his other portfolio, stands up to answer that, he could answer whether he has a projected overall operation and maintenance cost of what the proposed capital projects are going to cost down the road? Has he got those figures available to him, because it is definitely going to have to be there as far as planning future budgets.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: With respect to the arts centre, which we have dealt with today, we have debated the O&M costs of the arts centre a number of times. I indicated before, and I indicate again, that the incremental increase to the operation and maintenance costs of the arts centre is in the $200,000-plus range. It is difficult to identify a precise amount because of course the services system will be hooked up to the central heating system of the college, but we have already been given an indication from the Department of Government Services that the incremental increase to the operation costs of the arts centre will be $200,000 for services. What happens within the arts centre is a matter of negotiation between the government and the arts centre corporation board, given that the arts centre corporation board will have the responsibility of a fair amount of cost recovery. The only thing we have budgeted for, with respect to the arts centre for the coming year, is $15,000 for the operations of the board.
We do not expect to see the arts centre open its doors for 18 months at least.
The basis upon which we seek approvals for the hiring of new teachers is a Yukon-wide system. It depends, not upon the number of classes available, but on the number of students available, the numbers of students in each communities and their requirements based upon their position in the school system - whether they are in kindergarten, grade one or grade 12 - determines the number of teachers according to the formula.
The construction of new class room space does not necessarily entail any change to the staffing formula. It has already been said that there will be no new teachers to accompany new school construction. We have not done that before, and we do not propose to do it now. The only justification for new teachers in the system, in future years, will depend on the availability of funds and the staffing formula. The O&M for the school would be for the school services and for the custodial services.
Mr. Lang: I asked the Minister of Finance if he had a projected O&M cost for the various capital projects in the budget. These are costs that have not been incurred yet. Does the Minister have a projected O&M cost from these supplementaries plus from the capital budget that we will be discussing later on? That would give us an idea of the amount of money we will be looking at two or three years down the road.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: For Education, we do have the cost for each project. Each departmental minister has the O&M costs of any project they may be pursuing in their estimates. The departmental ministers could provide information on their own O&M estimates.
Mr. Lang: Could the Minister tell us what the overall impact will be on the total O&M?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Is the Member asking that we go back and do this all over again? What is the score?
Mr. Lang: I asked the Minister if he had an overall projected O&M estimate of the financial impact on the government. The Minister said that we could ask each Minister individually. We have not asked specifically about each line item. If the Minister has the information at his fingertips, which he just said he did, could he tell us what the overall O&M impact is over and above the money that have been voted to date? If he does not have that information, could he provide it at a later date?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I will ask the department to total them all up and provide the information for the Members.
South Highway School Design in the amount of $15,000 agreed to
On PA System Upgrade
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There are three PA systems that were supplied and installed for Tantalus School, J.V. Clarke School and the Ross River School.
Mr. Lang: I can understand one school having a problem with the PA system, but the Minister just rattled off two or three schools that were having trouble with the PA system. It is a substantial amount of money. I do not understand. Was there a major breakdown? Why are we coming to a supplementary that had no vote authority in the previous budget?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The PA systems were suffering significant difficulties and did require replacement. They were long-standing requests, and we had not been able to resolve these requests until this year. The requirement for putting in PA systems was not considered to be of the highest priority in previous years because of higher priorities, but we have been able to accommodate them. They have been given a higher priority by the school committees for those schools.
PA System Upgrade in the amount of $50,000 agreed to
On Instructional Equipment
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There were fewer requests than we anticipated.
Drapes in the amount of an under expenditure of $15,000 agreed to
On Teacher Furniture
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It is for the teachers in Old Crow.
Teacher Furniture in the amount of $15,000 agreed to
On French Language Facilities & Equipment
On Classroom Equipment-French Immersion
Classroom Equipment-French Immersion in the amount of an under expenditure of $15,000 agreed to
On AV Equipment - French Language
AV Equipment - French Language in the amount of $15,000 agreed to
On Advanced Education
On Yukon College
On New Building Construction
Hon. Mr. McDonald: This is a revote to complete the gym construction, which is now just about complete and due for opening almost any time. The commissioning of the mechanical system has just been undertaken. The contractor is about to turn it over to government.
Mr. Lang: Why has it taken so long for this particular facility to be completed?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: If the Member is referring to the gymnasium itself, I will check the tender date. I did not notice any special concern with respect to the length of time the construction was underway for the gymnasium. If there is any indication of extended construction schedule, I will let the Member know, but I was not aware of it.
Mr. Lang: Why are we asking for a supplementary of $478,000? It is quite a way out of our proposed estimate of $2.1 million, and we are now up to $2.6 million. Why is there such a discrepancy?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: This is a revote of funds that have already been committed for this particular project. We had voted $2.1 million in order to finish off the gym, counting on the money from the previous year that had been unspent. We had to vote it into this year in order to complete the gym. The gym cost more than the $2.1 million to complete.
Mr. Lang: I want to get this clear in my mind. Is the Minister telling the House that the original projection was $2.6 million?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The estimate for this project was $2,642,000 in total. It required funding this year in the order of $2.1 million, plus the previous years expenditures to provide for the total cost of the gym construction and planning of $2.6 million.
Mr. Lang: Can the Minister assure us we are not going to have another $50,000 opening?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The community rather enjoyed that opening. There were thousands of people in attendance. Even with moose stew and bannock, I do not think we could entice people to come and see a gymnasium. I would think the opening of the gymnasium will be rather low-key.
Mr. Lang: I have no doubt there will be another cake.
Mr. Nordling: Maybe I missed it, but when is the official opening of the gym? I heard it was supposed to open in October, but we were waiting for bleachers or the bleachers would not fit or we do not have them. I would like to know the date when the gym will be completely finished and open for the students.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Certainly, the opening will take place either this month or early in February when the contractor turns the gym over to the government. The delays that occurred in December had to do with deficiencies in the contract that the contractor had to remedy before the building could be turned over. Nevertheless, I had hoped personally that we could have the gymnasium open for December; that has not proven to be possible, but it will be opened either in this month or early next.
Mr. Nordling: Could the Member just give us some idea of what the deficiencies were that led to what I understand is a five or six month delay?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Member cited probably the most significant item, which was the bleachers not meeting the standards specified in the contract. I am not sure that it did entail a five or six month delay at all, but certainly it entailed a couple of months delay and any or all other items that were considered deficient were considered normal for this size of project, and the corrective action has been taken.
Mr. Nordling: I did exaggerate a little too much on the delay; it has only been a few months.
I would like to ask the Minister if he knows whether the bleachers that meet the specifications have arrived yet and are being installed, or whether we are still waiting for them.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I understand the bleachers that were ordered and were not to specification are being modified by the contractor to meet specifications.
Mr. Nordling: There is some question as to who is paying for the modifications. I would assume it is the contractor, but we would like assurance from the Minister that it is not being added on and that, in fact, it is not increasing the contract.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: In this particular instance, the Members assumptions are correct.
New Building Construction in the amount of $478,000 agreed to
On Community Campus Construction
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The original costs of construction of the community campus facility in Old Crow, as I announced last year, are reduced somewhat. The Government Services estimate was the estimate we were operating under in terms of the community campus construction. The facility is now projected to be built at a lesser size, and the funding reduction is largely a reduction of the scope of the project. The design concept is now being prepared by a company called Northern Cadworks.
Mr. Lang: Could the Minister tell us exactly how much this project is going to cost, and how many people will be attending the courses that are going to be put on there?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: At this point, in the design and the life of this project, the construction and equipment insulation will likely cost in the neighbourhood of $300,000: $250,000 for construction and approximately $50,000 for fitting the facility. There is potential that some money will lapse in this line item as a result.
Mr. Lang: Is this the total amount, then, for the project: roughly $650,000? Could the Minister also give us a projected operation and maintenance cost for the project once it is completed?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I will provide the operation and maintenance cost that will be associated with this facility. A number of designs are currently being run past the community campus committee in Old Crow and the Chief-in-Council in Old Crow and certainly the operation and maintenance cost specifically will depend on the design selected, but I will have that information when I bring back the information with respect to the O&M for the other facilities.
The projection, generally speaking, is in the neighbourhood of $14,000 for operation and maintenance.
Mr. Lang: What about the teachers salaries, or are we going to find that from within? Are we going to increase teaching staff at all?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I do not see a need for hiring teachers. There is a teacher in Old Crow community campus at present and that person is working out of whatever facility that person can find, as temporary accommodation, but I do not see any need to add, as this point, to the teaching staff in Old Crow. They have one and that should be sufficient to their needs.
Mr. Devries: The Minister said $300,000 for the Old Crow project, and the revised vote is $500,000. Where does the other $200,000 go?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The funding for community campuses was estimated at period 5 at $500,000. It is on that basis this supplementary was based. At the current time, it is projected the construction costs will be $250,000, with $50,000 for outfitting. In all likelihood, it will mean that $200,000 will lapse.
Community Campus Construction in the amount of an under expenditure of $200,000 agreed to
On New Furniture - New Facility
Hon. Mr. McDonald: This is a revote for equipment associated with the Whitehorse campus new construction. The monies we voted in the past could not be spent because the ordering schedule did not permit it to be spent in the last year, so it had to be ordered in the current year. Consequently, purchase of the equipment on the lists I provided to the Members was completed this year instead of last year. This is a revote.
Mr. Devries: Is some of this furniture Yukon made, or is most of it from outside?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am sure there is a mix of furniture. I am hoping there is some locally-made furniture, but I am not sure to what extent there was. There was a fair amount of furniture that was purchased outside the territory in order to accommodate the facility. The equipment here is everything from furniture to equipment, including computer work stations, et cetera, for the facility. I have the list if the Member wants to look it over again. I can pass it over again. I passed it over at this time last year.
Mr. Devries: Before we get toward the end, I still have one question regarding the list of contractors that was given to us a while ago. In there, I see where the area north superintendent was given a vehicle for $12,000 one year and $10,000 the next year. This is just the rent on this vehicle to Norcan Leasing. Why did the government not just purchase a vehicle? I would think that would have been more practical.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The initial decision was to lease a vehicle. I believe the thinking in the department is that funds be transferred to Government Services to provide for the purchase of a vehicle and, then, Government Services provide the vehicle as they do other fleet vehicles for the government.
New Furniture - New Facility in the amount of $371,000 agreed to
On Library and Archives
On New Archives Facility
Hon. Mr. McDonald: As Members know the funds required for this project total $4,200,000. This is a revote to support the construction of the facility. The scheduled completion date is July 30, 1990 - this coming summer - at which time the archives will move into the new facility.
Mr. Lang: Can the Minister give us an estimate of the ongoing O&M costs that will be locked into once this facility is finished, and also the increase in salaries that will obviously accompany such a facility?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: At this point the total costs are $160,000 associated with the new facility and they will be accommodated in the coming main estimates budget.
The O&M is $160,000.
New Archives Facility in the amount of $1,456,000 agreed to
On Storage Area and Equipment
Hon. Mr. McDonald: This is another item where the funds were revoted and there was a concern that we have sufficient space to house our collection. The collection expanded dramatically with the introduction of the Nielsen papers. Unfortunately, we have not been able to identify a special space for our collections, even though we have found secure space. When this item was considered in period 5 there was every expectation we would be able to make the necessary renovations. Unfortunately we cannot, so this money will lapse.
Storage Area and Equipment in the amount of $45,000 agreed to
Education in the amount of $7,344,000 agreed to
Chair: The Committee will take a break before we go on to Government Services.
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order.
We will begin with Government Services, Operation and Maintenance Expenditures.
On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures
Mr. Lang: Do we have a chance for general debate?
Mr. Lang: I appreciate that, thank you.
Could the Minister provide us with a copy of all the service and consultant contracts that have not been publicly tendered, similar to what the Minister of Education provided for us, please?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I did not pick up precisely which contracts the Member was referring to. Perhaps he could restate which contracts he is talking about.
By way of general debate, I want to tell the Members that the budget we have before us reflects primarily re-allocation dollars for the period 5 variance that this budget speaks to. That is to the end of July. We are looking at $58,000 in the capital side, and $296,000 in the operation and maintenance side.
Perhaps the Member could clarify for me the issue on contracts?
Mr. Lang: Prior to breaking for Christmas, we asked the Minister of Education for all the contracts that had not been publicly tendered, vis-a-vis the service and consultant contracts that had been let by the department, and to provide us with a list of the various contracts that had been let through the department.
I had asked the Minister if he could provide us with the same list, since it is already money that is spent. I do not understand why we do not get it for all the departments, because we are having to go through each department and ask for it. The Minister has it available to him on the computer. I do not understand why he just cannot have it up-to-date and give it to us.
It does not have to be bound and sealed and everything else.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: If the Member is asking for the service and consulting contracts, that is no problem. I can provide what is available. The Member has to understand these are the ones that would be procured by the Department of Government Services, and they would be accurate and totalled to any specific day that he would like. If that is what he is asking for, I am sure I could provide a fully printed, computer-quality copy for him as early as tomorrow.
Mr. Lang: I do not have any interest in the quality of paper that is used. All I want is the information. I assure the Minister that all I am asking from him is that I know that all the other departments service and consulting contracts have gone through Government Services and I do not understand why we do not get a list of the whole works and get it over with, as opposed to wasting time in the House, standing up and asking each Minister to get up and then go back to their department; it does not make any sense to me. Could the Minister perhaps undertake just to provide us with an up-to-date list and then when April 1 comes, provide us with the balance that has been left for the couple of months remaining in the calendar year? We are dealing with money that has already been spent.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: If the Member is asking for the service and consulting contracts entered into by the Department of Government Services, that is no problem. If he is talking about service and consulting contracts that come out of other departments, I am not prepared to do that. For those contracts to be tabled and provided publicly, I would want them to be accurate and checked with departments. It is our policy, as I have stated to the Member, to do these on an annual basis, which is not uncommon across the country. Nowhere in the country, however, are contracts tabled during the year. Respective Ministers have, quite cooperatively in many cases, provided to Members contracts pertaining to their departments, and that is fine, that is available to them, but for my department to provide them government-wide at this time, I am not prepared to do that.
Mr. Lang: I am prepared to accept that side of the argument. I will ask the Minister this: could he make them available to all of the Ministers of the front bench, so that they cannot say that they do not have the information? Make them available to them so that they can provide it to us in the House when we ask the questions. I think that would be fair because otherwise we are waiting for these contracts for a day or two days. I just think it is common courtesy, in view of the fact that we are dealing with money that has been spent.
I get the impression from the side opposite that they honestly think it is their money and it is not; it is taxpayers money that we are talking about. All that I am asking is that the Ministers have the information available and that when we start talking in the general debate on the various budgets, they table the documents and we can go through them. I am not asking for anything that is secret. It is to be hoped that it is not secret. Have we gotten to that stage? We are getting to the point that at 5:30 in the afternoon we cannot even get out of this building. Maybe there is something new that is happening and nobody has told us.
I would ask the Minister to provide us with the information for Government Services, and could he undertake to provide to all the Ministers of the front bench the service and consultants contracts that he has on his computer, so that at least they have that available to them and they can make a decision as to whether or not they will table them.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: What I will undertake to do is to provide the Member those service and consulting contracts that Government Services has entered into, respecting its departmental activities; I will provide them to the Member. I will provide them directly to his office, if he wishes, but I am not prepared to table them, nor am I prepared to table, government-wide, contracts at this time. It is a task that is far beyond what I am prepared to ask my staff to do, who are working very hard at numerous projects and policy initiatives that we are undertaking. We have already undertaken to provide these on an annual basis, in detail.
I should point out to the Member that he suggests something secretive and magical about these contracts. The Member should realize that the money has been budgeted. He has already gone through those activities for which these contracts have been let. It is not as if there is something secretive or inappropriate about these contracts.
To reiterate, I will provide what I can to the Member tomorrow, as I have stated, and I am sure he will be quite pleased with that.
Mr. Lang: I just want to say, for the record, that I have never heard such arrogance in my life. We vote a block of money for $250,000; the Minister cannot tell us what he is going to spend it for. We came back in the House to the Minister of Education and found out there is a real good old pork barrelling going on down in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, but they forgot to tell us at the beginning of the year because they did not know it was going to happen. The Minister cannot stand up there and tell us that we had full opportunity for full scrutiny of the dollars that were spent, because most Ministers on the front bench do not know how it was going to be spent; it is called a slush fund. That is the money we are talking about. We are not talking about $50,000; we are not talking about $75,000; we are talking about millions of dollars that have not gone out for contract, that the public does not know has been spent.
They did not know that they brought the deputy minister, the now deputy minister of the Executive Council Office - first year of a contract of $25,000 - under the auspices of the Government Leader to see whether or not he likes the Yukon. That is called local hire.
You did not stand up in the House and tell us you were going to spend the money that way, did you? So do not give me that, Madam Chair, when the Minister stands up and tells this House we had full chance to see how that money was spent. Nobody said Lindsay Staples, who has had every political appointment in this government, got an $11,000 contract to do public relations on the education act. Nobody told us that Mr. Orlikow, or whatever his name is, ex-deputy minister under a Manitoba NDP government, was going to come up and draw up the education act for us. Was the public told? For another $25,000, so we can have another guy with a red car come through the territory and see if he likes the Yukon on a summer vacation?
Do not tell me that, Madam Chair. The public has the right to know how this slush money is being spent - and there are millions of bucks. It is not $100,000 we are talking about.
Mrs. Firth: For the record, I would just like to indicate that the service contracts we were given last year for the 1988-89 year, by type, from Government Services, were for a grand total expenditure of over $53 million. That included 3,199 contracts. Of that, only $13 million were service contracts, so there is a lot of money that went out in other contracts, consulting contracts, and so on. I do not think the request we are making of the Minister is unreasonable. If we have to wait until the end of March, I guess we have to wait. The Minister of Education has provided the contracts for us so that we could have some decent debate, but the Minister of Government Services wants to be obstreperous and obnoxious and not give us these contracts. In Government Services, a legend is provided with the community codes, the department codes and the contract types. I do not have any problem with making a request to the Minister and his officials that they provide us with the contracts up to, I believe it was December 1, which could now be extended to December 31, of 1989. Then he could provide us with the rest of the contracts after March 31.
I just do not accept the Ministers explanation that he is not going to give them to us. That is ridiculous.
We should have an opportunity to review all those expenditures and ask questions where we feel they are warranted. Could the Minister consider his approach? Perhaps he could be a little more cooperative with the opposition Members and with the public, because we are asking questions on behalf of them.
I would appreciate it if the Minister would consider giving us a list of the contracts, by department codes, for the past fiscal year. Then when we debate this $22.7 million supplementary estimate, we have as much information from the government as can be provided so that we can have some fruitful and constructive debate.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am not sure what the Member is alluding to by asking the Minister to reconsider. I have already offered, prior to the outburst from the previous Member to provide the service and consulting contracts. I believe I can do that for tomorrows debate. I do not understand what more the Opposition is asking for.
Mrs. Firth: The Minister said he would provide the contracts only for Government Services. That is only one component of 16. We want all 16 contracts. Government Services has the capability to provide, by department codes from one to 16, a legend for all those contracts. I do not understand why the Minister is insisting that he can only do it for Government Services.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Before I undertake to provide the Members with information, I want to be sure that it is accurate, that it is checked from its source, that its numbers are correct, and it is not possible to do that in mid-year. I am not prepared to direct that to happen. I am not prepared for Government Services staff to drop everything in order to undertake preparation of a document for tabling.
The Members have correctly assessed that individual Ministers are quite willing to provide contracts relating to specific information and expenditures in their budgets. That is the information that respective departments have. As Government Services and a central facility for the year-end exercise, Members know that we have undertaken a policy to provide these after year-end, within weeks. Members will recall that that is far more information than Members opposite ever provided.
The Member suggests that it is an old story, but it is a very vivid one. The fact that this government has provided contracts on an annual basis is a major step forward in information being provided to the public and to Members. All Ministers who have responded to Members opposite have indicated quite a willingness to provide what information they can. That stands. However, I am not prepared to table a complete listing without the opportunity to verify its accuracy. I want to remind the Members opposite that nowhere in the country is it done.
They do not even provide contract listings at year-end in all jurisdictions. That is not to suggest that Yukon is an exception, but certainly not all jurisdictions provide what we provide. No one provides complete contract listings in mid-year. Members know the administrative component of it, not only with the workload but the fact that a lot of contracts are in progress and can change. The information I would like to give Members must be accurate. That is a standard and a policy I will maintain.
Mr. Lang: I understand the Minister not wanting to take responsibility for the Department of Renewable Resources, and I have no problem with that. I would ask the Minister of Government Services to take everything off the computer as of December 31, 1989, make sure all that information is provided to the Ministers responsible for the other departments so they have the opportunity to check them while we are scrutinizing other budgets so that when we get to their budgets they have the information so it can be tabled at that time. That way the Minister is not taking responsibility for any errors, and the Minister who is rightfully responsible will have the opportunity to go through it and then table the documents so we can have them for the purpose of debate on supplementaries of money that is already spent.
Will the Minister make that undertaking, and then it will be up to the Minister to decide if he will table the document. We will ask for it, I assure you.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: My colleagues and I will deal with the issue as we deem appropriate. The Members will, I am sure, be quite pleased with the results.
Mr. Lang: I take it that the Minister is going to embark upon my request, and I am looking forward to the Ministers on the front bench having the appropriate document when we ask for it, and we will not have to wait for two or three days. Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am not sure what the Member is trying to extract from me in the form of commitment. This government has been extremely open, extremely generous, extremely forthcoming with information. Now the Member is trying to get me to make a commitment that I am going to be providing information to my colleagues so he then can ask them if I have provided it.
I have to tell the Member that his line of questioning is strange. The Member has already had various commitments from this side that any contracts that can be provided from respective departments will be provided by respective Ministers at their discretion. In terms of the need for debate, I have indicated my willingness and cooperation to that extent. This government works together as a team, and I am sure Members opposite will be satisfied as we go through the budgets.
Mr. Lang: I am prepared to accept that, and we will see what happens with the front bench when we move on to other departments. I look forward to the Government Services contracts being tabled tomorrow.
Mrs. Firth: I have been listening to the Minister talking about checking this list and verifying it. It sounds pretty ridiculous. There are 87 pages here of contracts, and there are 3,499 contracts.
I would like to know how the Minister is going to verify them. Is he going to sit down and compare every contract to every entry in this book to see that it is correct and accurate? He is being silly with his argument about checking it and verifying it. Surely the public servants who have entered the information into the computer have done it correctly, and when the printout is made, there is some accuracy to the printout. I do not accept the argument that he is going to sit down and cross reference 3,199 contracts with an 87-page listing. This is ridiculous.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member is quite correct that every contract is cross-checked. It is not cross-checked by the Minister, but by quite a number of staff government wide, who go into an exercise of preparation of the tabling of those contracts. That is not a simple exercise. The Member for Porter Creek East has the wild imagination that you hit a computer button and everything spews out; it is nicely bound and ready for tabling in 10 minutes. That is hardly the case.
All those contracts are cross-checked with each department. Government Services staff and staff from respective departments cross-check the list of all contracts that are provided throughout the year at year-end. Any deletions or errors are caught, totals are checked and balanced, and a considerable quantity of work goes into those three weeks after year-end to prepare that document, and it does take up considerable staff time. It does take up time of the respective departments, and it is also coincided with the year-end, when you can close off accounts. You know where the year-end figures will lie.
To attempt such an exercise at this time, you have to repeat the same exercise, spending time between departments and Government Services, tabulating the contracts by list, by type, by number, by quantity and, of course, there is the problem of contracts that are in some stage of completion.
The Member is correct; a considerable amount of work goes into the preparation of those tabled documents. We are quite prepared to do that at year-end, because that is a commitment. That is the policy we have adopted, and we will continue it. Individually, as departments go, they can provide to Members, for debate as they choose, those contracts they have available in their information data base. We do not have all the contracts at this time from departments. They are not necessarily registered immediately after issuance.
Anything I would attempt to provide cross-departmentally would clearly be inaccurate, and I am not prepared to do that without the three-week exercise of having staff drop everything and do this job.
Mr. Lang: We know it is on an ongoing process. We also know that the computer has the ability to put the information out. The Minister for Education proved that. He does not have to tell me that it is so technical and difficult that the whole government has to come to a grinding halt for three weeks as they take a look through this booklet of 3000 contracts.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Lang: How would we know if the government missed one? They have not come up for public tender.
Could the Minister update us on the value-added concept? What changes have been made to it?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The question of value-added policy can probably be more properly called the up-and-coming business incentive policy. It is near a state of completion now. In the spring session, the issue was a subject of some concern, both in the industry and for Members opposite, as well as among people within the government. There were some problems with it.
Through the course of the summer, there have been extensive discussions and meetings with the contracting community, with the business community and with labour organizations. There is an agreement on the principles of a new policy that were established. Even that required some refinement, and it went on through the fall. We are now at a stage to move forward on a policy that would incorporate consensus from major interest groups in the territory.
The policy is at a draft stage with my department and with myself. It has not received any approval at Cabinet level. I expect that sometime within the next month or so, prior to the issuance of the contracts for the new fiscal year, we will have the policy in place.
Mr. Lang: Since there are some very significant contracts to be tendered within the next month or so, will this policy be in place prior to the issuance of contracts, for such as the archives and buildings of that sort?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: It is my clear desire and intention to try to have the policy in place for the contracts for the new fiscal year. The Member is correct; there are some construction contracts that are coming up shortly. One that I know that will clearly be let before the policy is in place is the student residence. I would be proposing to provide an addendum to that contract indicating that it may be subject to the new principles of the policy.
The problem I am having is one of timing. It is right in the eleventh hour of approval and refinement, and we have one contract that may be interfered with. That is the only one that comes to mind. I would give the assurance, or the comfort, to the Member that it is my clear intention, apart from the student residence, to have the policy in place for all construction contracts.
Mr. Lang: I would like to move over to another area of concern, and that is the question of office space. What new areas do they intend to be renting, or have rented under this supplementary? What is going to happen with the old Yukon College?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: In answer to the first question, there are several new properties affected by this supplementary. They will be coming in under property management. I can recite them to the Member now.
Perhaps I could just back up a bit, too. He raised another major initiative my department and I have been heavily engaged in, and that is relating to space.
Again, in the spring I indicated to Members opposite that the department was undertaking a study and, for the most part, that has been done. It, too, has reached a stage of completion. I am planning to advise Members in the House later this week of precisely what that space strategy is, essentially to get some advance reading on it. I will be talking to Members about the principles we intend to apply in relation to space acquisition. I will be talking about the intended use of the old Yukon College. I will be talking to Members in general terms about the space needs of government for the next three years.
Again, we are at the eleven-fifty-ninth hour of that exercise, and I can provide to Members the commitment that I will be making a statement in the House this week.
Mrs. Firth: Could the Minister tell us what the government is currently paying for space, what the latest rent is that they have paid for office space?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: That is a difficult question to answer with a specific amount, because there are some reasons why space would not be priced the same. As the Members opposite will recognize, depending upon the quality of space, the location of space and other factors, it can vary. It can also relate to the issue of whether or not tenant improvements may or may not be included. But, to come as close as I can to answering the Member with something specific, we did not pay higher than $16 net per square foot.
Mrs. Firth: Could the Minister tell us what he means by $16 net? That obviously is the nice figure to give; what is the real figure?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: For the most part, that is the real cost for the space, except for the additional costs that come with maintaining that space, such as utilities, taxes, janitorial; that, again, can vary from lease to lease, from arrangement to arrangement and whether you are sharing the space or utilities, for example. When you break that out on a per-square-foot basis, I can provide the Member more precise calculations of what some of those utility and janitorial and tax costs amount to in various leases. If the Member is asking what is the real cost, it is in addition to the $16 net for those purposes, and I would have to do some research to give some examples, because it would vary. Perhaps I can provide that tomorrow.
Mrs. Firth: I would like that information. I would like a range, if the Minister could give us one, say from the lowest to the highest that they are presently paying. I think that is fair to ask, and I would like the gross amount that is being paid, not a net amount.
I would like to ask the Minister whether or not the government pays taxes on all their properties that they have within the municipalities.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member asked if the government pays taxes to the municipalities. The Member must be referring to buildings that are owned by the government. In that case, government does not pay taxes to a junior government. I am sure the Member is familiar with the corollary to that, which is grant-in-lieu. So yes, through the Department of Community and Transportation Services, lands branch grants-in-lieu are paid to municipalities for government-owned buildings and property in municipalities. If the government is leasing space from the private sector, the taxes would be included in either the lease arrangements, or whatever arrangements are made.
Mr. Lang: Can the Minister give us a copy of the space study he referred to earlier?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: To clarify for the Member, in reference to doing a space study, it is a combination of a number of exercises, both in terms of actual analysis done of existing space needs, in terms of its quality, the factors of whether it meets employment standard needs. It relates to considerable interdepartmental committee work, principles of a strategy that were developed by a department, the result of which is quite a range of documentation and material.
I can undertake to the Member to provide to him, at the time I make public the details, the known summary of information. I do not think I have a single document that may show that, but it would not be too difficult to put together.
If I can take notice on the question to more adequately determine what useful summary-type information can be provided to the Member, I will. The Member has to understand that this exercise has been ongoing since March, when we undertook the major effort. There are volumes of material that has been prepared. I am sure the Member does not want that in terms of a study. I will try to determine some summary information for him and provide it at the time I speak to the details.
Mr. Lang: I am very confused there. Was there a study done? If there was a study done, who did it and how much did it cost?
The previous Minister of Government Services had undertaken quite an extensive study about three or four years ago, and I believe it was by Touche Ross at a cost of $60,000, and that was supposed to put us into the 1990s.
Who did the study and how much did it cost?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member refers to the Touche Ross report. That report was used in the study. It was updated by Alan Hunt and Associates. There was additional information through the office space committee, which is interdepartmental. There were considerable series of meetings and documentations relating to those meetings between departments and Government Services to assess the space needs. There were meetings with the Chamber of Commerce, relating to the principles for space acquisition and usage.
The closest I can provide to the Member for an answer as to whether or not there was a study: some work was done in updating the Touche Ross report by A.J. Hunt and Associates.
Mr. Lang: A.J. Hunt seems to be an expert on everything. How much did you give for this contract?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I do not know, but I will provide it with the listing of contracts that I anticipate tomorrow.
I move that you report progress on Bill No. 13, albeit slow.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. Byblow: 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 a report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole?
Ms. Kassi: The Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 13 and directed me to report progress on same.
Speaker: You have heard the report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I move the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Premier that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: This House now stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. tomorrow.
The House adjourned at 9:27 p.m.
The following Legislative Return was tabled January 22, 1990:
Bison near the Aishihik cut-off (Webster)
Oral, Hansard, pp. 809 and 811.