Thursday, January 25, 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.
Are there any Returns or Documents for tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I have for tabling a document entitled Strategy for the Acquisition of Government Office Space.
Speaker: Are there any Reports of Committees?
Introduction of Bills.
Are there any Notices of Motion for the Production of Papers?
Are there any Notices of Motion?
Are there any Statements by Ministers?
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS
Government Office Space Plans
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I rise this afternoon to advise Members of the Assembly that the Department of Government Services has now concluded a major planning exercise that will set the direction for government office accommodation over the next three years.
The first planning activity was to define suitable office space standards. The practices of other jurisdictions and the private sector were surveyed. The standards, which define the quantities and types of appropriate office space, were released by this government in late 1988.
The second planning activity was a comprehensive survey of the governments present accommodation and needs in the Whitehorse area. This was carried out over the last half of 1989. All departments were surveyed to assess the adequacy of their office accommodation. The office space standards were used as a yardstick to determine whether or not each departments accommodation was up to standard.
The survey showed that there is presently a shortfall of about 4,000 square metres of space in Whitehorse for government needs. This result was not unexpected: in recent years, this government has initiated a number of new programs in high priority areas. Environmental protection, labour services, land claims and family violence are but a few examples. Furthermore, the government has taken on, through devolution or cost-sharing arrangements, new program responsibilities such as mine safety, French language services and B and C airports, to name a few.
At the same time, we held off making any major commitments to new office space, pending the decision on the old Yukon College facility.
As a result we have accepted short term overcrowding in the interest of long term economy. The completed office space needs survey now gives us a precise picture of what we need to resolve the situation.
The third planning initiative was to develop a strategy for acquiring the needed office space. At this stage, we consulted with the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce. Our objective was to see that the government could meet its needs economically, while at the same time contributing to stability in the local market for commercial office space. This cooperative effort produced a statement of principles, which are contained in the Office Space Strategy document I tabled a few minutes ago and demonstrates our ability to work with the private sector to resolve our needs in a manner that meets the concerns of all interested parties.
I will highlight the main features of these principles. The government will continue to use a mixture of owned and leased office space. The decision to own or lease in any given instance will depend primarily, but not exclusively, on the economics of the situation. This government will not withdraw wholesale from existing leases in a move to a higher level of ownership. The government will, in future, use a request for proposal process that will give private sector developers more time to respond to needs identified by the government. Finally, the government is willing to carry out consultations with the industry on a regular basis, as we presently do with the construction industry.
The fourth and final planning activity was to develop a specific plan of moves that would resolve all of the identified needs within the context of the principles that I just described. I will review for you the major elements of this plan.
We will turn over the old Yukon College property over to the Yukon Development Corporation so that its conversion to office space can be completed by the fall of 1991. This will provide almost 3,000 square metres of new space, in addition to the space for the Child Development Centre. We will then move the Department of Education into that location, which will permit us to consolidate offices now located in this building and in other locations around Whitehorse.
Moving the Department of Education out of the main administration building will enable us to complete the expansion of the legislative precincts, a project that has been long-awaited by both sides of this House. We will also use some of the space made available in this building to relieve overcrowding in some of the leased offices around town, for which there is private sector demand.
To obtain the remainder of the required space, we will issue a call for proposals for the private sector to provide space during 1991-92. This extended time frame will give potential developers time to build space if none is available on the market. We intend to use this particular lease to promote the development of a convention centre in Whitehorse by encouraging potential developers to incorporate the office space into a larger convention centre complex.
Completion of these planning initiatives demonstrates that, this government is managing its necessary expenditures on office space to the best advantage.
We will provide our employees with a good working environment. We will make our services accessible to the public. We will encourage increased stability in the commercial real estate market, and we will encourage concurrent development of other community resources.
Mr. Lang: I think it is important that the public realizes, since the government has grown so big, we have had a series of three different studies to determine where we are going to move to. The Touche Ross report cost approximately $60,000 four years ago. Now another study has been done by A.J. Hunt. That is only a portion of what this study has cost. We have been informed that this one will cost almost $18,000. We have spent $80,000 of the taxpayers money to try to figure out where the offices of the Government of Yukon should be located.
In the proposal presented by the government today, people should put in context what the Minister says about 4,000 cubic metre requirements. If one converts that to square footage, we are talking about a building approximately two-thirds the size of the Government of Yukon building. That is a substantial sized building. We would need eight city lots to accommodate the civil service.
Part of the excuse that the government is giving is the transfer of responsibilities to this government. To date, there have been minimal transfers from the Government of Canada to the territory. If a significant number of departments are transferred, would it not make sense to have the office space transferred to the Government of Yukon as well? It would make more sense than purchasing another 4000 cubic metres of space.
The other point I want to make is that decentralization makes a mockery of the governments position, and of the Legislature as a whole. The requirements for a building two-thirds the size of the present YTG building does not logically follow the principle of decentralization. That principle is that some of the present services are to be transferred to the smaller communities.
I have a further question I would like to put to the Minister. I do not understand why the Yukon College property is being transferred to the Yukon Development Corporation.
If it is to be renovated, I do not understand why it would not go out through simple tender under the normal government procedure. There must be a reason why that specific property is being transferred to the Yukon Development Corporation. Could the Minister enlighten us, as he has his burgeoning ideas of how government should function in the Yukon and grow larger?
I also want to caution the side opposite. Let us not forget that the population of the Yukon is under 30,000. The question the people of the territory have to ask themselves is: how much government do we need?
In conjunction with the 4,000 square metres that the Minister is asking this House to agree to, you should point out that, in the past year, the government has gone out and rented space in the Whitehorse Performance Centre, the Nissan Carcare Centre, 208B Main Street, as well as the Prospector, for an additional 6,000 square feet. That is additional, over and above what the Minister has indicated in this House. It is an additional 13,000 square feet.
Speaker: Order please. I would like to remind the Member he has one minute to conclude.
Mr. Lang: I could speak on this for a long time. If we need a building as big as this to house the aspirations of the Minister of Government Services and his colleagues, obviously it should take some time.
I want to conclude by saying that there are a lot of people out there now who are real taxpayers. The side opposite has to remember that they are entrusted with the taxpayers money, and those taxpayers are really questioning the action of this government and where it is taking the people of this territory.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I would like to respond to the Member, firstly by making it clear that the aspirations of the government, in terms of its space needs, are not mine. They are those of Members opposite as well. One of the major initiatives being undertaken through the space plan is to accommodate the demands that are coming from Members opposite relating to legislative precincts.
Mr. Lang: Point of Order.
Speaker: Order please. Point of Order to the Member for Whitehorse Porter Creek East.
Mr. Lang: I think we had better get it clear on the record here. Our precincts, from our Members point of view, are satisfactory. There is a need for a minor increase in floor space, but it is minor. It is definitely not the size of this building. I think the Minister had better correct the record on that.
Speaker: Order please. There is no Point of Order. Does the Minister wish to continue?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I accept the Members point of interruption he just created. The Member has clearly changed the position of the side opposite respecting their space needs. Legislative precincts have clearly been one of the pressure points to Government Services in recent months, including those space needs for Hansard. Those are not unreasonable requests.
I should make it very clear that, indeed, the Member is inaccurate when he suggests that there have been no program developments or program transfers. There have been considerable increases in the transfer of programs from the federal government and growth of programs by this government that require space for development. In the areas of examples that I cited: in airports, we will be taking on more personnel in an impending transfer; lands, we already have; we have had national safety co-transfer of inspectors; we have had mine safety transferred; we have had French language legislation and programs developed. We anticipate considerably more programs to be developed and created.
We already have taken initiatives respecting environmental protection. A hazardous waste unit has been created and announced in this House. We have increased personnel in environmental protection. In Education, we have a past program that has been introduced: the family violence unit. There is a considerable number of programs that have been introduced. The Member talks about the number of studies that have been undertaken. The fact of the matter is that the most recent study has a projection for the next several years.
The point of the presentation I make today is that we will not see the effects of any new space until 1991. We are going to be moving into the old Yukon College with the Education Department, once its renovations are complete; those are not anticipated to be done until the fall of 1991. In terms of current space pressure demands, there are no changes.
The Member refered to decentralization. I dare suggest to the Member that, in the past four years, there have been close to 70 positions that have moved into rural areas - positions which, in many cases, reflect teaching staff. In fact, there are something like 20 positions in my community alone. Decentralization is being addressed by this government and Members will be kept advised accordingly.
Speaker: Order please. I would like to remind the Member he has one minute to conclude.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member asked: why the old Yukon College? With what has happened at the federal level in finance negotiations, there is no capital money for us to do those renovations. That is a fact of life. The Yukon Development Corporation is in a position to financially address raising the funds necessary to do those renovations. As I have indicated, our capital budget is not able to carry the costs of those renovations and we are not prepared to cut back our schools and our road construction to accommodate space needs. This was a most opportune moment for us to initiate this exercise with Yukon Development Corporation and it is proceeding.
Speaker: This then brings us to Question Period.
Question re: Yukon Pacific Forest Products
Mr. Phelps: I notice that the court case involving Yukon Pacific and the Yukon Development Corporation has been adjourned sine die. Can the Minister tell us if a deal has been reached and, if so, when we can expect an announcement?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I can advise the Leader of the Official Opposition that a tentative agreement has been reached in negotiations respecting Yukon Pacific Forest Products Ltd. A number of conditions must be met in order for this agreement to be implemented. No details can be released at this time. However, we expect to be able to release these details, providing the conditions are met, some time next week.
Question re: Land claims
Mr. Phelps: I would like to ask some questions of the same Minister on land claims.
Very little information about land claims progress has been made public over recent months. We keep hearing about March 31 being some sort of deadline.
Can the Minister tell us the significance of March 31 with regard to the land claims process?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I thank the Leader of the Official Opposition for his question. May I commiserate with him since he seems to have caught my cold.
The significance of the March 31 date is that the federal Minister has set March 31 as a deadline for the completion of the umbrella negotiations. As he has done with some other comprehensive claims that have been reported in the media, he has indicated that it is a firm deadline and we should not expect to be negotiating under some kind of open-ended schedule. From our point of view we believe the agreement can, with sufficient will, be concluded by that date, and we have instructed our negotiators accordingly.
Mr. Phelps: Just to be clear, if the umbrella agreement is not completed by then is there a threat that the federal monies will be cut off?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I think the Member opposite will know that the threat was not phrased in those terms, nor was it put in terms of money being cut off, but given that in the past we had to set some deadlines by mutual agreement in order to get the necessary discipline of focus in the discussions, this is something we have worked with before.
Let me explain. We had two previous deadlines we worked against before. One in the middle of June a year and one-half ago and another last November. In both cases, we missed the deadline by a few days but that did not mean negotiations stopped at the moment we missed the deadline, but the deadline was a useful discipline to keep people focused on the project at hand.
Mr. Phelps: Can the Minister give us some information about what remains to be done to complete the overall umbrella agreement?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: It is very hard in Question Period to give an adequate briefing about what remains to be done in the umbrella agreement. I would be happy to provide a briefing for the Member. Let me try to describe it in these terms. As the Member will understand better than any Member in this House, the umbrella agreement involves an awful lot of detailed legal drafting. In some sense there are hundreds of detailed legal questions about which the federal government is now coming to the table with a large number of lawyers who are raising questions or are involved in debate. Our team was in Ottawa for a number of weeks this month dealing with exactly those questions, as was the CYI team. All three parties were there. Those are proceeding. It is not an easy thing to describe exactly what is left to be done in Question Period, but by some device, whether by private briefing or written answer in the House, I can give the Member a better progress report than I can do in a couple of sentences here.
Question re: Land claims
Mr. Phelps: I would appreciate it if a written response to the last question would be tabled in the House. I am more concerned about the substantive issues rather than the more picayune legal-type issues. I am more concerned about whether there is an agreement in principle on the main outstanding issues to complete an umbrella agreement.
Have there been any negotiations regarding overlapping or trans-boundary claims; for example, those claims on Yukon by aboriginal groups that do not reside within the Yukon?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am not sure that there have been negotiations as such, although there have been some discussions about some of the non-resident groups that aspire to have land beyond the quantum provided for in our framework agreement. I recently had a meeting with one group where we had a frank and friendly exchange but an agreement to differ. We stated our position about how the overlap questions had to be resolved. We expressed our opposition to non-resident political rights in the Yukon. We also expressed our concern about non-resident land quantum beyond what was provided for in the framework agreement.
One group expressed that they were looking for equitable benefits on this side of the border. We left the meeting with a better understanding of each others positions, but also with an agreement to disagree.
Mr. Phelps: Unfortunately, that is often the case involving boundary claims. Does the government have a position regarding the timing for settling the outstanding trans-boundary claims? Is it contemplated that those claims must form part of a final settlement with the Yukon?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Our position is - and I think it has been agreed upon by the parties - that we will make our best effort to do that. We do not, however, want to see the Yukon claim flounder on an unresolved question beyond our borders.
The difference between the Yukon and the Northwest Territories, I think, is somewhat different than the position between the Yukon and B.C. There are negotiations going on both sides of the border between the Yukon and the Northwest Territories so there is some possibility of linkage - or reciprocity, if you like - in terms of dealing with the pace of the Fort McPherson Dene, for example. That is a less realistic option in the case of people whose traditional lands straddle the Yukon-B.C. border, for reasons the Leader of the Official Opposition probably understands.
Mr. Phelps: Court action has been initiated by the Kaska Dene of northern B.C. over the area of land surrounding - and including, I take it - the municipality of Watson Lake. What is the present status of that action?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The position of the federal government is that they will not simultaneously negotiate while a court action is proceeding. There has been some negotiation. Recently, the Kaska Dene stated that, based on legal advice, they may proceed with their 1870 case, the constitutional case arising out of the Ruperts Land transfer, the constitutional obligation to compensate for land required for settlement.
They have recently indicated that they may proceed with that matter in the face of any satisfactory solution to their demands north of the border. All we can do in the face of that is to indicate that if they decide to proceed with the matter we will understand and it will be before the court.
Question re: Land claims
Mr. Phelps: I take it the Kaska Dena position is they want land in the Yukon as part of their claim?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Yes. Land is one element of what they would describe as equitable benefits north of the B.C.-Yukon border.
Mr. Phelps: Still dealing with trans-boundary claims, I was somewhat concerned about a month ago when there was a news report about the issue of a defence installation at Komakuk Beach. It was stated the Inuvialuit were claiming they had the right to land, specifically Komakuk Beach, under the COPE land claim settlement. That is certainly not the case. I would hope this government would make that clear.
Is that the position of this government?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Member may be referring to the defence installation and the Inuvialuit claim that they have special rights under their final agreement with respect to the work at the installation. It is the governments position that their rights with respect to job opportunities and business opportunities under the Inuvialuit Final Agreement should be respected, but there are no further accorded rights to the Inuvialuit, as a result of the defence installations, that they should be given beyond what is contained in the final agreement.
Mr. Phelps: I am glad that is clear, and I hope any misunderstanding will be addressed fairly soon. The radio report indicated they were claiming more than just rights to employment and so on, but land as well.
I would like to move on to a new question.
Question re: Land claims
Mr. Phelps: I would like to ask a couple of questions on the status of Yukon communities at the land claims table. Are the individual Yukon communities presently being represented at the negotiations by independent negotiators?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: They are not being represented by negotiators, because they are not parties to negotiations. What we had worked out was an agreement whereby, with the consent of the first nation involved, observers from the affected municipality could sit as part of our team at the table. I cannot say for sure at this moment how many first nations have agreed to that formula, but that was the formula we worked out to give municipalities access.
If there is a scenario where the first nations are reluctant, for one reason or another, to have a municipal representative at the table during negotiations, we have given an undertaking through a variety of arrangements, including those made with the Department of Community and Transportation Services, to make sure they are briefed and apprised by our team about the issues under negotiation.
Mr. Phelps: Is this government providing the various communities with any funding to prepare themselves and to hire expertise with regard to the land claims negotiations?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: With respect to the issue of support for communities at the table, the Member is aware that, through the Department of Community and Transportation Services, specifically Municipal Services, funds have been provided to respective communities. This was a subject of some considerable discussion through last summer and fall, but $40,000 was made available to communities to use at their discretion for the duration of this fiscal year.
In addition to that, we created the position of a land claims coordinator from the department whose duties include close liaison and communication and work with the Association of Yukon Communities. For the Members information, these discussions, from my perspective, have been with AYC.
Mr. Phelps: There are ongoing negotiations, then, with regard to further funding once the $40,000 runs out? I would not imagine it would go very far in view of the price tags of some negotiators.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The budget we have tabled for the next fiscal year includes, at the minimum, a further provision of $40,000. The understanding that we reached with AYC, in these special arrangements to provide expertise and funding for municipalities, was to do a review after six months. That review coincides with the new fiscal year, and we will be doing that.
Question re: Wood bison
Mr. Lang: Yesterday, I asked a number of questions of the Minister of Renewable Resources with respect to the wood bison. Yesterday I asked the following question: would the Minister of Renewable Resources verify that disease can be in an animal for a minimum of seven years before it can be detected? Is that not correct? The Minister yesterday said he understood that was true. My question today is: in view of what has taken place in the Northwest Territories, what assurances can the Minister give us that we are not going to be confronted with similar diseases that are afflicting the herds in the Northwest Territories?
Hon. Mr. Webster: First of all, I want to assure the Member that, as I reported in the legislative return that was tabled in the House in December, these wood bison come from Elk Island National Park, not from the Wood Buffalo National Park where they have the diseased animals. There has been a long history of disease checks on the animals in Elk Island National Park, and it has never been indicated that that particular herd of bison has been affected by this disease. Back in 1986 and again last year, we have taken bison only from Elk Island National Park and, as I say, with the long history of them being disease-free, that is some assurance that they will remain disease-free.
Mr. Lang: If there is such a disease contracted by these animals and one way or another brought into the territory, what assurances can the Minister of Renewable Resources give us that it will not adversely affect moose and other animals in the wilds?
Hon. Mr. Webster: If that were to be the case, I obviously could not give any assurance at all that it would not affect the other wildlife populations of the territory. Of course, that is the very reason why there is so much concern in the Northwest Territories right now, with the situation in Wood Buffalo National Park.
Mr. Lang: Could the Minister tell us the cost to both the territory and the federal government, directly and indirectly, to bring in wood bison this year?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I do not have that information, but I can bring it forward next week in the form of a legislative return for the Member.
Question re: Wood bison
Mr. Lang: I refer once again to the Minister of Finances revelation he gave the other day in response to the formula financing. One of the statements in his final closing remarks was: In the future, when there is a request or demand for government funding, no matter how worthy that request or demand is, we must ask the simple question - where are the funds to come from?
In view of this new principle that the government still has not comprehended or taken too seriously, can the Minister tell us this: in view of the fact that we are going to be increasing the herd, could the Minister tell us how much it is going to cost to feed these animals once they arrive here - assuming they are going to be put in the same stockade north of Carmacks?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I could also include that information in the legislative return. I will prepare one for presentation to the House next week dealing with all financial matters surrounding the importation of more wood bison to the Yukon.
I want to point out that this is a cooperative agreement with not only the federal government and the Fish and Game Association, but there are a lot of national organizations that very much want to see a core of free-ranging bison in the country in order to get them off the endangered species list. There is a great deal of merit to that program, and I would like to see the cooperation we have had from government and private agencies continue.
Mr. Lang: I understand the intent of the program, but I think we have to evaluate the program thus far. A very major public concern has been the resulting nuisance the bison have become on the highway to the point where there has been at least one accident. In view of the fact we will be increasing the herd, what assurances can the Minister give us that we will not be experiencing more of a traffic hazard, such as the one being experienced in the Haines Junction area?
Hon. Mr. Webster: The department has devised a wood bison management plan for that break away herd of some 16 animals that have positioned themselves along the Alaska Highway around the Aishihik Road cutoff. That plan will be reviewed by the Yukon Fish and Game Association. They will be making suggestions and possible amendments, and the plan will be put into action. There are several proposals being put forward at this time to alleviate the situation and alleviate the potential for further road accidents. I know the Member for Riverdale North is aware of those, being a member of the Fish and Game Association.
Mr. Lang: I would ask the Minister to table this proposed management plan so all members of the public will have the opportunity to make their observations known. I wonder if that could be tabled in the House.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I will have to take that under advisement as this management plan for wood bison is a cooperative venture with the Yukon Fish and Game Association, along with the Department of Renewable Resources. I would have to consult with that organization to get their concurrence.
Question re: Wood bison
Mr. Lang: Every time we have an issue with the government, it is always the responsibility of somebody else. This time it is the Fish and Game Association. Has the government been in constant correspondence and discussions with the Fish and Game Association since the initial inception of this program?
Hon. Mr. Webster: Before I reply I want to make it very clear that this is a joint management program with the Yukon Fish and Game Association. That is the way it will remain. We are not saying that the Department of Renewable Resources is putting all the responsibility on the Fish and Game Association.
We have been in close communication with the Yukon Fish and Game Association all along to introduce a fourth free-ranging wood bison herd in this country. As I have just stated, they have, in their hands, our management plan for their review.
Mr. Lang: For the record, I know that there are members of the Fish and Game Association, as well as members of the public, who are very concerned with the program in view of what is happening in the Northwest Territories. I pass that on to the Minister.
When the Minister reviews the financial obligations of the government, could he report in the same legislative return how much the infamous buffalo roundup in Haines Junction cost this year where a combination of helicopters and horses were used? I would like a full accounting of what was spent and who received the money?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I would be pleased to supply the information to the Member.
I should also stress that we did take the Members suggestion of rounding up some cowboys in the area to get that part of the herd back to the main herd. I want to thank him for it at this time.
Question re: Wood bison
Mr. Brewster: The information we gave them was that they should herd, not cowboy. I would like to know the qualifications of the cowboys who chased those buffalo.
Hon. Mr. Webster: That comment was in no way directed at my good colleague, the Member for Kluane. The suggestion was made in an article in the Yukon News by the Member for Porter Creek East.
Mr. Brewster: I would like an answer to my question.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I am sorry, but I was so intent on addressing the preamble of the Members question, I did not hear his question. Could he repeat it, please?
Mr. Brewster: Yes, I would like to know who the qualified cowboys were. Were they in helicopters, or just who were qualified to chase those buffalo?
Hon. Mr. Webster: Obviously, a qualified helicopter pilot. More than that, I would be pleased to also include that information in a legislative return.
Question re: Minimum wage
Mrs. Firth: The Yukon already has the highest minimum wage in Canada. It stands at $5.39 an hour. The Northwest Territories is next at $5 an hour. The Employment Standards Board has made a recommendation to the Minister of Justice to increase the minimum wage, and the Minister has commented publicly that she agreed with the recommendation for the increase and the amount of the increase suggested.
What kind of increase could Yukon employers be facing in the near future?
Hon. Ms. Joe: The Member has cited something I have said publicly, and I do not believe I have said anything publicly with regard to the recommendation from the Employment Standards Board. Any decision in regard to a minimum wage in the Yukon would not be a decision that would be made by myself alone. It would definitely have to be a decision of Cabinet.
Mrs. Firth: On January 17 of this year, on the 7:00 p.m. news on CHON-FM, the news reporter said that Margaret Joe says she has received the suggestion and agrees with it; that was in reference to the Employment Standards Board meeting making a recommendation about increasing the minimum wage. It was reported on the news.
What kind of an increase are Yukon employers going to be looking at in the near future, with respect to the minimum wage?
Hon. Ms. Joe: I already said a decision like that would be a decision that would be made by Cabinet. At the time a decision is made, I will announce that.
Mrs. Firth: When is the decision going to be made?
Hon. Ms. Joe: I cannot make that announcement today. It will be in the near future.
Question re: Minimum wage
Mrs. Firth: Is it the policy of the Ministers government to increase the minimum wage? I am sure she can answer that.
Hon. Ms. Joe: Certainly it is.
Mrs. Firth: So, therefore, we are going to be looking at an increase, is what the Minister is saying. Could she give us some indication of when that final decision will be made, when it is going to Cabinet, so employers of the Yukon have some idea of what kind of time line they are looking at before they have to increase the minimum wage?
Hon. Ms. Joe: Of course it is the policy of this government to increase minimum wages. We would not want to have a set minimum wage forever. I have already said we will be making a decision; I will be announcing it, and I am hopeful it will be sometime in the near future. I cannot give her an exact date, but it will be in the near future.
Question re: Highway maintenance
Mr. Brewster: Recently I had the opportunity to drive the Alaska Highway from the B.C.-Yukon border all the way to Haines Junction. I encountered but one sanding truck in spite of some very slippery roads. Could the Minister of Community and Transportation Services advise the House what instructions he has issued to his department regarding when and where Yukon roads will be sanded?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am sincerely surprised at the Members allegations of not being satisfied with the maintenance level on the Alaska Highway at the time when he drove that entire stretch. That would have taken quite some time. The instructions are standing. The department is charged with adequate maintenance of the roads under the budgets available to them. The Alaska Highway is included in that. We have a financing arrangement for the maintenance of the highway with the federal government. The funds are there. The instructions are standing, and the job ought to be done.
Mr. Brewster: There have been numerous accidents caused by icy conditions and lack of sand or calcium chloride. I would like the Minister to assure this House that he will give the road crews sufficient resources to do their job and make Yukon highways safe.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: For the past several months there have been allegations from Members opposite of inadequate maintenance on the highways. In each case, I have investigated them. There is absolutely no substance to any suggestion that there are inadequate funds or inadequate directions to the highways crews for maintenance. I am led to believe that a fairly efficient crew is out there, who work diligently at doing the best job they can under the conditions they face.
I had a discussion with the Leader of the Official Opposition regarding the Carcross Road. There were some circumstances that did create a temporary unsafe situation, and reasons were given. I can only give the Member the assurance that the budgets are there. The directions and the responsibility are there. If the Members have specific problems, they can raise them and we will deal with them.
The Member did raise the question of special instructions regarding school bus routes. I have directed that that be treated on a priority basis.
Question re: Riverdale traffic congestion
Mr. Phillips: My question is related to the ministerial statement that the Minister of Community and Transportation Services made in the House today. I am concerned about the traffic problems in and out of Riverdale at the old Yukon College, the Robert Campbell Bridge and at the South Access intersection where it meets Second Avenue. At certain hours of the day, there is very serious congestion now. Moving the Department of Education and any future departments into old Yukon College will only add to this problem. The problem will increase because government employees go to and from work at the same time each day. It will not be like it was at Yukon College years ago when college students would arrive throughout the day.
My concern is that we provide adequate access into Riverdale and to the hospital at all times for emergency purposes. As well, I have a concern about the traffic tie-ups, that in some cases now back up traffic north to Elliot Street and south to the IGA store. The Minister told us last April that this issue was being discussed at a political level. If government departments are moving to the old Yukon College, what arrangements have been made with the city to assure the residents of Riverdale that the traffic problems will not increase with this move?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: A couple of points should be made. The relocation of Education employees to the new facility will not happen until approximately August 1991.
Community and Transportation Services did a study in 1988 and, at that time - as the Member is aware, because he asked me for a copy of the study in the past - the study recognized some traffic problems with the situation that is there today. The study also projected, at the time, that there would be 113 employees in the facility, since, at that time also, it was anticipated that Renewable Resources would be moving there.
The problems that were identified relating to the bridge are problems of normal traffic that are not going to be affected either by the college students who were there or by the growth through the move of Education. The additional 100 employees who will be located there from Education will, indeed, contribute some traffic increase. It is a problem that the city and the government have to resolve. The city and I have discussed the issue and, in fact, as recently as two days ago, my administration met with the city administration to lay out the plans relating to the old college, and the matter is being addressed.
Mr. Phillips: My information is different from the Ministers. I contacted the city this morning and the official I talked with, who is a senior official, advised me that there was one meeting. It was quite a few months ago; they met once and YTG was going to get back to this official and give him the number of people who were moving there so that they could look at potential traffic problems. Since then, YTG has never called or dealt with this senior official and I am wondering: which official within the City of Whitehorse did they meet with and what kind of resolution have they come up with to solve the problem of the traffic congestion going in and out of Riverdale?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I cannot give specific names because I do not know them, but officials from my department met with senior people, or a senior person, on January 23 - because I requested that that happen - to advise of these plans that are taking place and so that the city was kept fully informed.
Mr. Phillips: The Minister stated earlier in one of his answers that the problems on the bridge are just general traffic problems and are not necessarily related to Yukon College, but I can assure the Minister - and I am sure the Member for South Centre who comes across that bridge every day could also tell the Minister that - when people start turning left into Yukon College, there is going to be a major problem on that bridge and there is going to be a major problem with people trying to get in and out of Riverdale - especially emergency vehicles.
I would like to know, since the Minister has now made this announcement, what other things the Minister has done so that I can assure the people in Riverdale that traffic will flow freely in and out of the Whitehorse General Hospital, in and out of Riverdale and in and out of the South Access turnoff leading to the approach to the bridge. What assurances can the Minister give this House that those types of problems were addressed before the Minister made this announcement?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: In a large part, I have answered the question. The traffic problems relating to the bridge are currently there. The college has been closed for two years and the problem still exists: the turning lane problems and the suggestion for a traffic signal identified in the report - those are problems that do exist and that have to be addressed. They have to be addressed between now and the time when the Department of Education would move in. The details of our discussions with the city as to the responsibility for financing have not been resolved but I expect they will be, because they have to be, and that is the assurance I can give the Member. As of this instance, the problems the Member describes exist currently with nobody over there, except the Child Development Centre and are problems that are not of this governments making. They do have to be corrected. The Member is correct. The report indicated a need for some revised structure for turning lanes, suggested the possibility of a traffic light; those problems are there now and they currently exist and they do have to be addressed ...
Speaker: Order please. Would the Member please conclude his answer?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Yes, Mr. Speaker. I have concluded.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now lapsed. We will now proceed with Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair and the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Government House Leader that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
The Speaker leaves the Chair
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order.
We will have a short recess.
Clerk: We will continue with debate on Health Services
Bill No. 13 - Second Appropriation Act, 1989-90 - continued
Health and Human Resources - continued
On Health Services - continued
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Our critic will have to remind me exactly where we were when we left off last night. If one or the other of the Members opposite wants to remind me of where we left off, I am at their disposal.
Mr. Nordling: We left off at the Health Services line and I did not have any more to say on it. We were about to clear it. The discussion, when we left off last night, was regarding who the Minister called sleazy and disgraceful. This was the Minister of Finance, and had nothing to do with the Minister of Health and Human Resources, so if none of my colleagues have further questions on the Health Services line, I am prepared to clear it.
Mrs. Firth: I remember exactly where the Minister left off last night. I believe he had just given us a little talk about how tough it was to negotiate with the federal government for money. I believe we were talking about how he and the Minister of Health and Welfare Canada were both big boys and had entered into tough negotiations.
I do not think the Minister has ever experienced as tough a negotiation as I can recall us having as Members of this Legislature and the then government, when we had a Liberal federal government in Ottawa with which we had to negotiate. In those day it was a tremendous, huge feat to come back with a couple million dollars to promote the tourism industry. I can appreciate the Ministers difficulties when it comes to negotiations but I think sometimes the territorial government takes a little bit tougher attitude than it should and perhaps loses sight of the fact that we are a small entity. We do receive a lot of funding from the government and perhaps we should concentrate on somehow getting the message across to the Ministers that we do appreciate some of the efforts that the federal government makes on our behalf, and some of the funding that we do get. I found that effective with a Liberal government in Ottawa when we were a Conservative government, and I think that kind of attitude of cooperation and politeness crosses party lines when you are looking for assistance for the people that you are representing.
I want to appeal to the Minister to take a more polite approach. I do not know if that is the appropriate word. I am not inferring that he is rude, but I do have to call into question what is happening when it comes to the negotiations regarding the hospital transfer and the ability for us to get funds. Last night I asked about the reason we turned back the secondment that the federal government had given us. I do not think the federal government thought that was a polite or common thing to do. There were only six months left in that contract term, and I am sure during that term the individual could have done some things of a benefit to us that could have assisted the health transfer.
I hope the Minister takes my comments in a constructive way. I am not in any way trying to be confrontative or critical. I just realize that, in the best interests of the people we represent, we have to sometimes represent ourselves in a softer way. That does not diminish holding to the fact we have to get the best deal for the people we represent.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I quite agree with what the Member says about the way in which one conducts negotiations. It certainly is my experience that using honey before vinegar is an appropriate way to go, since we have had, in the last few years, many more agreements than disagreements, and agreements on quite substantial questions with the federal government. I have also been criticized for going too far. I was upgraded recently by having the Prime Minister refer to me as his good friend, which I think is allowing for a little poetic licence. We have tried to be constructive. When the federal government has done things that we approve of, I have personally gone out of my way to pay compliments. The Ministers with whom I am now dealing directly have been nothing but constructive and polite in their discourse. I believe whether it is Mr. Cadieux, Mr. Beatty or Senator Murray, while we are frank in stating our positions, there is no unfriendliness or unnecessary unpleasantness at all in the dialogue between us.
We both have public interests to serve - they, the national public interest, and we, the Yukon public interest - and that is the way the negotiations proceed until you reach an agreement.
I can only tell the Member that there are times when you have to stand firm, though. On the question of languages, we had agreements three times at the negotiated level that were rejected at the Cabinet level. I think it was only by standing firm that we were able to avoid something that I think would have been unfortunate for the Yukon. We did not have any screaming or shouting about that. It was simply a frank statement of ones perspective, and that is necessary in negotiations, too.
Mrs. Firth: I would like to ask the Minister about another subject before we finish this line item. Is the cost of the mail-out on the proposed Yukon health act, which explains the proposed principles and which has gone, I am concluding, to every household - that is what the Minister said was going to happen - in this supplementary estimate? Could the Minister tell us how much it cost?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: At this moment, I am not sure in which line that is. Can I take the question as notice, and I will come back to the Member and say where it is.
Mrs. Firth: Yes, and if the Minister could tell us how much it cost, we would like to have that information, as well.
I have some comments about the mail-out itself. I looked at the Chair to see if it is appropriate that I ask questions about it now. This is in the largest line item under Health Services. I would expect it is either going to be now or at the end, when we pass the whole budget. I see the Minister nodding his head that he is prepared to answer questions. If that is all right with Madam Chair, I would like to proceed.
The questions appear to be rather vague and philosophical. Exactly what does the Minister expect to get from this questionnaire? What purpose is the department anticipating the results to serve?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The questions are open ended. The Member describes them as philosophical. I would not go so far as that. They are deliberately general to invite comment from the broadest cross-section of the community. We have had some comments from people who found them too general, or not technical enough, but we have also had people come into the department who needed some help understanding the nature of the question and wanting to talk about what was considered.
It is very early yet, but I understand the responses are starting to come in. Once we have tabulated the responses, that will assist us in preparing the position paper, which I described, and that will also be made public. There will be a further round of discussion and response, and further meetings, as I have previously indicated, prior to the preparation of the bill.
Mrs. Firth: I agree with people who have said that they needed assistance with answering questions, and they were concerned that there was nothing specific. That is my concern, too. I was being generous in saying that the questions were sort of philosophical and non specific. I would predict that the answers that the Minister gets will be from one end of the spectrum to the other. There will be a real broad range of answers.
It will be difficult to pick out any specific similarities in the answers, if he was looking for any key thing that could be zeroed in on. The Minister is going to tabulate the responses. I do not know what he thinks he is going to get that he could tabulate. The last question asking if anyone wanted to participate in any further consultation could be answered with a yes or no, then he could say that people wanted to participate more or less. That is the only specific question. Maybe people will want to know more about traditional healing practices. I do not understand what concrete, usable information the department is going to get with this questionnaire that will assist them in the tasks ahead, as the Minister described them.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I understand that the open-ended nature of the questions is inviting people to write quite long statements and letters, depending upon their point of view. There is a considerable body of interest in the territory in non-traditional forms of medicine, alternate healing systems. We are hearing from them. Some people will be responding about the health promotion questions. People are saying that they would like to not only have more information but would like to remain in touch regarding this process.
We are trying to talk in lay language about some broad principles. People will, in their responses, be talking about their interest in, support of or opposition to those principles. The Member will understand from debate that has occurred in the House and in the community that some of the questions as to what forms of medicine should be covered by the health insurance system is a matter of considerable controversy in this community. We will get a full range of opinion on that subject that will help us define and frame the issues for further stages in the consultation.
We have had, in advance of this process from the aboriginal community, a lot of people talk to us about what they would like to see. For example, some would like to see some respect shown or some institution show some accommodation. We have very little in specific recommendations about what that would mean or how we should proceed to deal with those ideas. This approach should invite some discussion. We will get response of that kind that will give us a better idea of how to proceed to opening up a discussion with people who are interested.
Mrs. Firth: I will not belabour the discussion about the mail-out. I do not want to be cynical about it, but for some reason I cannot feel that the Minister is going to get a lot of information that will help him with the very tough, tough decisions that he will have to make. It is almost like he wants the people to write a wish list. That is a concern of mine. I look forward to the Minister proving me wrong, and that we get everything under control.
There is going to have to be some really critical, tough decisions made, some action taken in the Department of Health and Human Resources to get our health costs under control, even though it is not going to make everyone happy. It is a big job, and I am cynical about how this is going to help out.
Mr. Phillips: I would like to move on to another area. This is an area that has been discussed before: having a home or some kind of facility in Whitehorse for pregnant women from outside of Whitehorse who have to come into town for a short period of time, for one reason or another, and may have to spend anywhere from two or three months to three or four days in town prior to having their babies. I have raised this before in this House, and so has the Member for Porter Creek West, and the government said it was looking at this type of a program. I raised it specifically because one of my constituents has called me on several occasions and has approached the department and said that she has a house, which is very well kept, and she is willing to offer this type of a service but she seems to be getting one excuse after another as to why it has not started. In fact, as late as just last week, she inquired of me again about this type of service. I would like to know what the status is, so I can inform this constituent and other people who are interested in providing this kind of useful service to mothers who are coming in from out of town to have babies. Is the program ongoing or when will it start?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: As I mentioned last night in the discussion on this item, $37,000 has been provided for work in this field in this particular estimate. We are proceeding on two fronts: one is to look at the feasibility of the proposal to have one central boarding facility that perhaps would be run by a private society through some contractual arrangement with us; we are simultaneously developing proposals to deal with the kind of arrangements such as proposed by the Members friend or constituent, which is that we would have a log of a number of private homes that could accommodate people on this basis and we would have a program that would provide medical boarding, particularly for pregnant women from rural communities but also for other situations where people might have to come in to see a doctor or wait a few days for surgery or need a recuperation period when they come out, and so forth. We are proceeding on those two tracks; we are looking at both of them. We have specifically had discussions with one organization that has a proposal it wanted to put forward. We are moving on both those tracks in this area, and that is what the $37,000 is providing for in this budget, as I described last night to the Members present.
Mr. Phillips: I am pleased to see there is some movement on the issue, but I think the service I suggested my constituent would provide would be an excellent type of service; it would be a real home-type service for these people. It would be a good atmosphere for them to be in rather than an institution or a large building. I think using existing homes and people who are willing to provide this service would probably be less expensive than building a facility. It would be a more caring atmosphere as well.
My next question is: the money is identified, and I would like to know if the government has a target date for instituting this service. Secondly, what are we doing now for the pregnant women who come to town or people who have to come to town for medical services? Are they staying in hotels like they were in the past, or do they try and find their own accommodation somewhere?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The Member should know, as I indicated earlier, we are studying the best alternative. There are some people who like the kind of model the Member is proposing, but other people have a concern about it and believe that a larger home run by a society where people in similar situations, who are waiting to go into hospital, with certain kinds of attendance or arrangements that are made exclusively for them, may be better. The study we are doing now will evaluate and assess that. I am assuming that, if we can reach a conclusion - whether we go the problematic route, which is contracting with a number of homes, as the Member is suggesting, which is not a difficult program to put into place although we would have to write the guidelines and regulations and so forth - or whether we go the other alternative, which could involve a group such as a church group who have a large home or something they want to make available for that purpose. We have not concluded that yet but we will be doing so, I would expect, in this fiscal year; between now and the end of the year we should see a conclusion to the work we are doing and be able to make a decision.
What is happening now, as the Member knows, is that basically people are staying with family and friends in Whitehorse or they are staying in hotels, and that is the situation we are looking to change.
Mr. Phillips: I would like to encourage the government to get on with it. It has been almost a year now since the issue was brought up. It is an issue that will not go away because mothers will continue to have babies and people will continue to come to the hospital for treatment. There are people willing to provide the service and the government should seriously look at that. I hope they are looking at what other jurisdictions are doing, as well. I do not think this is the first time this has arisen. All kinds of other areas have had similar problems. We should get on with it and not continue to study these things to death and take forever to do it. It is needed. We have known for four or five years and have talked about it. Nothing has really happened. I hope the wheels can get into motion and within this fiscal year we will see something happen one way or the other to help solve this problem for the people who have to come to Whitehorse for medical services.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: We made a commitment to do something about this, perhaps a year ago. It is appropriate to study the experiences of other jurisdictions. I know one jurisdiction that went holus-bolus to one model and it did not work out. We are looking at other jurisdictions with experiences more applicable to us. What is happening in the Northwest Territories is particularly interesting. We will make a decision expeditiously and get on with providing the service.
Mrs. Firth: One outstanding issue we discussed last evening respected a list of diseases, reasons or ailments that they were going to provide for outside-territory travel. I understood it was either ready or almost ready because it was going to be presented to the Public Accounts Committee. Perhaps the Minister could update us on that.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The deputy and I were both surprised to learn that it had not arrived at the Public Account Committee. I will find out where it is and give the Member a copy of what will be provided to the Public Accounts Committee as fast as I can.
Mr. Devries: I have a few more questions on the help and homes matter.
Chair: We will first pass this line item.
Health Services in the amount of $6,460,000 agreed to
On Juvenile Justice
Mr. Nordling: Because this is a net figure and there are probably under and over expenditures I would like more detail on how the $26,000 is arrived at.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: There are four elements that are all under and are small amounts: reduction in expected employee travel out of the Yukon was $6,000; reduction in expected cost for contract services regarding the development of policy manuals, $3,000; reduction in the grant to the committee on crime prevention, $15,000 - we had $39,500 budgeted and the actual for last year was $25,000; a minor reduction in youth custody of $2,000 due to a slightly smaller number of youths in custody than expected over the summer.
Juvenile Justice in the amount of an under expenditure of $26,000 agreed to
Chair: Are there any questions on Operation and Maintenance Recoveries?
Mr. Devries: Can we go back to the Help and Homes for Families Society issue for a moment? After looking over what the Minister said yesterday I have a few items I would like clarified.
As the Minister is well aware, when they first were elected, I was personally very impressed by some of the initiatives the NDP government was taking. I even had a short love affair with the party, and even got along with Mr. McDonald at that time.
Basically, my concern is that when I passed on some of the information to Watson Lake that the Minister gave last night, and upon further review myself, I felt it was an insult to my constituents and to the Help and Homes for Families Society. He implied that Help and Homes for Families Society was being greedy and asking for funding from several different sources for the proposed shelter for abused women and their families.
Upon review of the Safe Places Program users guide, one of the criteria for a safe places application is assured funding from status Indians, and a special consideration would be given to projects that have more than one funding source. I realize with the different sources they are seeking, there could be two meanings there, that they meant sources outside of government because that is possibly where the catch could be. I would like to hear the Minister elaborate on that.
Will the Minister be writing to the society, commending them on their initiatives in seeking these different funding sources?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: First of all, let me be quite clear. I did not call the group from Watson Lake greedy at all. If the Member characterized my position as calling it greedy, he did himself, the program and the group a disservice.
The fact of the matter is that we have $125,000 operating in our budget, which is for all the rural communities in the Yukon Territory. We have a large number of communities that have needs in this area. The Member has spoken persuasively about the level of the problem in Watson Lake, but I also have other colleagues in this House who also speak about the problems in their constituencies.
The Member has quite properly indicated that the group has applied for funding from numerous sources - governmental sources: federal, territorial and provincial. I commend its initiative in doing that, but we will have to be conscious of the finite dollars that are available to us. I am keeping mindful of the comments of the Members colleague. Just a moment ago, the Member for Riverdale South talked about someone having to get a handle on the costs in this department. I am going to have to say now to my colleague from Watson Lake that I am not going to say yes to every request. If his group in his community is proposing the most expensive program in this area of any community in the territory, outside of Whitehorse, I may have to tell him we cannot support it.
If they can find some other sources of funding, for example some locally generated funding, if part of the budget they want to have for the no doubt excellent program they have in mind is going to come from their community, then we will make our contribution. If the Member is talking about more than half of all the money available from this program - which is for all the rural communities - just for his community, plus money from British Columbia, plus money from Indian Affairs, plus money from two other departments of this government, plus free land, we are going to have to have a frank discussion about that with the group and his community.
I want him to know, and I want the people in his community to know, with no malice or hostility at all, we want to see this shelter established and this program a success, but the dollars are finite. We want to make it work, but that means that neither I nor the deputy, nor the people in charge of this program, are going to say yes to every single proposal that comes in, automatically, and we are going to have to have some very serious discussions and negotiations about what can be sustained.
Mr. Devries: I guess I will just have to leave it at that right now. The Minister must realize that some of these people are getting slightly hostile and frustrated. I will have to bring this information back to them and see what they have to say.
Operation and Maintenance in the total of $6,250,000 agreed to
On Capital Expenditures
Chair: If there any general debate, we will proceed line-by-line.
On Community and Family Services
On Child Welfare Group Homes - Planning and Renovations
Hon. Mr. Penikett: We are looking here for a revote of funds approved in the previous fiscal year. That is the reason for the request of $23,000. A number of children group homes continues to require upgrading to meet code requirements, which will involve internal renovations to improve the suitability of facilities. In some cases, it is necessary to make grounds improvements to ensure that neighbourhood standards are met around the buildings. If the grounds are not satisfactory, one of the problems would be an unwillingness to be good neighbours. This would happen if the grounds are not up to neighbourhood standards. We have provided a little money for that.
Child Welfare Group Home - Planning and Renovations in the amount of $23,000 agreed to
On Equipment Replacement
Hon. Mr. Penikett: This is a revote of funds that were approved in the previous fiscal year to maintain equipment in group home facilities to certain standards. The group home purchases include: mattresses, beds, night tables, dressers, living room furniture, appliances, cribs, high chairs and other infant care equipment.
Equipment Replacement in the amount of $9,000 agreed to
On Health Services
On Extended Care Facility
Hon. Mr. Penikett: This is the amount of money we expect to spend on the facility that should start next year. We took longer than we hoped to retain the services of an extended care planner. That person is in place and has briefed the Opposition critic on the extended health care continuum, the gaps in the service now including the extended care facility.
We have indicated in the main estimates the capital program we are contemplating for next year. The plan of the government is to proceed with this even though the demands on the operating side of the budget will be strained. We have recognized the need and that it is not diminishing but growing. That point has been made articulately, particularly by the Member for Riverdale North, in whose constituency we have a facility that started off as a senior citizens home and is now an acute care facility for seniors. That was never planned to happen. Substantial upgrading of that facility took place to meet its new need.
We are contemplating, in the budget before the House for next year, having money allocated that will see some further improvements in that building. That will help deal with some of those needs and the home care program until we have an extended care facility in place.
Mr. Nordling: What I would like to see from the Minister - if he has it, and I cannot recall whether we had previous discussions about this - is a flow chart with the time frame on it for the extended care facility. My concern is that it has been an on-again-off-again project and my impression is that it is off again for a while. This extended care planner is not an architect to design our $6 million facility; this person is looking at extended care in the territory, from keeping seniors in their own homes, if possible, to the operation of the Macaulay Lodge, to the use of the extended care facility. What I would like to be able to do is go back to my constituents with some clear delineation of what is happening with the extended care facility - what we have for the $248,000 we have spent and what stage we are at.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: We are tendering for an architect - and the Member is quite right, the person is not an architect - but the health planner, and I think the Member may have been briefed on this in his visit to the department, deals with the continuum health needs; the extended care facility is just one part and it is in fact at the far end of the continuum of services and programs: one gap of which is filled by home care, one gap which is filled by the improvements at Macaulay Lodge.
We have a functional plan done now. Conceptually, part of the program is the integration of hospital services and other services, but the Member is asking for a flow chart and I think we can provide him with one. Probably, that is the most succinct way we can describe what we see as the program.
Mr. Phillips: I would just like to explore for a moment some of the comments the Minister made earlier. I realize there is funding in the budget to upgrade Macaulay Lodge in the interim to try and accommodate the needs of some of the seniors who are in that lodge, but a concern I have, and it is related I suppose indirectly to the lack of an extended care facility, is this: as we all know, because Macaulay Lodge is so full of people who are probably in need of this extended care facility, there are an awful lot of other seniors who are borderline and who we deal with in the home care program. An integral part of that home care program is an occupational therapist. We also know that these types of seniors can deteriorate quite rapidly; from one year to the next there can be quite a change in their condition - whether they need the home care or whether they need Macaulay Lodge. My concern is, and I go back to what I said before, is that we did have a half-time occupational therapist. Do we now have a full-time occupational therapist to fill in or at least try and pick up and deal with some of the needs that some of these seniors have, who cannot get into Macaulay Lodge? I have dealt with several of them in Greenwood Place and other places in town. We are getting to the point - and I experienced this with one of my own family members who we discovered one day was barely living, just cooking things like soup and other things simply because they could not do the functional things that one normally does every day, and yet had not told anyone in the family that, until we explored the cupboards and found that this was happening. I think possibly we could avoid some of this, on an interim basis, with a fulltime occupational therapist who could deal with these people and work with them every day and keep them as functional as possible. That is a concern I have and I do not know whether we are doing anything. I would just like to know if we are in the interim before we get this extended care facility out.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I will have to report back to the Member. I know we advertised, but I do not know exactly where we are in the process. Last year I think the Member and I talked about the need. We conceded the need and talked about the new staffing we had made. I think he was making a pitch to me that the half-time position should have been a full-time position. I think he did actually concede that we had done some good things.
I know all the problems the Member talks about on half time. He is quite right about the changing situation with seniors. One of the advantages of the home care program is that you can pick up on a situation much better than if people are living alone and looking after themselves.
An interesting experience in Alberta had people going the other way. There were people moving from a nursing home environment home for awhile, and then, when given an alternative, it was found that they would rather not go back to the nursing home. The Minister of Health in Alberta was describing the last time they had a strike in nursing homes: they had to provide alternate arrangements for residents. They found home care arrangements in apartments for those people. I think she said that nobody would go back to two of the nursing homes. That is an interesting case about the determination that some seniors have for keeping their own privacy and independence as long as possible. One understands that.
In order to make a home care program effective, you have to have the services and people to come in to meet peoples needs in order to maximize the potential of that program. I am agreeing with his comment, and I will take notice of where we are with advertising that position.
Mr. Phillips: I believe I read the ad as well for an occupational therapist, but I believe it said half time. Is it half time like they said they were going to do last year, or is the government reconsidering making it a full-time position simply because we do not have an extended care facility? Quite frankly, we are accused sometimes of asking for more money, but I do not have a problem on this issue. I have dealt with it personally, and I deal with it all the time when I go to Macaulay Lodge. We have more and more of our seniors who want to stay in the territory, and it should be a very high priority with this government that we do all we can to, first of all, take care of our seniors, and, secondly, to maintain them in their own home environment.
The Alberta example the Minister gave showed that a more personalized service made all the difference in the world. Sometimes they lose a lot of their drive to live, to do things on their own, their pride, and they give up when we put them in these institutions. This is not to say the people in Macaulay Lodge are not doing a good job. I think they are first-class. I have nothing to say but good things about the staff at Macaulay Lodge. They have been working under very adverse conditions in the last few years, but they do a first-class job. It is just that they are snowed under by the type of care they are now having to give. Some people I know who could have gotten into Macaulay Lodge quite easily four or five years ago when they needed that kind of care, can no longer be considered today because one has to be almost in need of extended care because the waiting list and priority lists are so long. Now they are put into the hospital, and that is a worse situation again. It is not the fault of the nurses, it is just that it was not designed for that function and is a real problem.
We should look seriously at the home care program. It is good for the seniors. I believe it is more cost effective in some cases and should be seriously looked at.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I will check into what we are doing about the occupational therapist. As I recall, we had some difficulty in recruitment and we are advertising nationally. Obviously, it would make a difference if it was a full-time job or half time if you are advertising for someone to move here.
I can only say to the Member that you do not have to do anything to persuade me about the advantages of home care. I think it was my colleague, the present Minister of Justice, who initiated the program here and, I say this not in the partisan sense, but I think it is one of the best things we have done.
Mr. Phillips: That was my only concern as well. The Minister mentioned that a half-time person is hard to recruit. That is exactly the argument the occupational and physiotherapists have used with me. Unless somebody with those types of skills is already up here and is not looking for a full-time job, it is sometimes difficult to fill those half-time positions. It is like asking for a part-time doctor. It is very difficult to get somebody who is willing to do that. Usually, they are young and energetic people who are making a career in it, and they do not want a half-time job; they want a full-time job. That is one of the other reasons why I suggest it should be a full-time position. I think we need a full-time occupational therapist.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I thank the Member for his comments. I hope he will also understand that, increasingly in this day and age, we get more and more people coming to us and saying, in terms of full-time jobs we advertise, that they would like to do that on a part-time basis, or a job-sharing basis, because they do not want to work full-time. If we are trying to recruit nationally, it is logical that we would have more luck advertising a full-time job than a part-time job.
Mr. Lang: I want to pursue the extended care facility. It is an area I think definitely crosses partisan lines. If the Minister wants some help in finding money elsewhere in the budget, we would be more than happy to give him some advice on where he could reallocate funds from other places in the budget.
I want to get some assurances here. I think this is the third time we have voted funds for this extended care facility. I want to get assurances from the Minister here today. Will we actually be constructing a facility this summer or fall, regardless of whether or not the federal government transfers the hospital?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am deliberately going to avoid making a commitment regarding dates. Sure as dickens, if I commit myself to a date, I will be proven wrong, whether I am in control of the situation or not.
We are determined to go ahead with an extended care facility. We are going to be tendering the architectural work. We will get the design done and, then, we will be proceeding with the building. We have a finite amount of money in the budget. That is what the architect will be told we are going to spend on capital. As we have discussed before in the House, the operating part of it is a very expensive program, for all the reasons we have debated here. We are going to have to be providing a quality program within that finite financial limit.
It will help if we can also conclude the hospital transfer negotiations on the same track. If we can have an extended care facility and the hospital using common heating, light and water systems - if we can integrate the costs of those hard services - we can achieve some economies that way. If we can do that, we will.
If we do not conclud the hospital transfer right away, then my instinct is to try and get an arrangement with the federal government about the land and prebuild the extended care facility, and treat it as a prebuild on the new hospital complex.
Mr. Lang: Nobody is going to argue that, but I just want to get it clear on the record then. The worst case scenario is if the federal government does not come through with the transfer, and there is no agreement between YTG and the feds, the government will then be proceeding with the concept as a prebuild, for the purposes of the first wing to a new hospital, which would be an extended care facility. The intention of government is that construction would begin sometime this year. Is that not correct?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I want to be careful that we do not say wing because it could be an annexed building. I am talking about prebuild in terms of the complex. I am talking about the next fiscal year; I am looking at proceeding with the construction.
Mr. Devries: I am sure the Minister knows why I stood up. We passed a motion last year regarding checking into the feasibility of an extended care facility in Watson Lake. The last time I received any communication regarding this, a coordinator had been hired to look into both a Whitehorse and a Watson Lake extended care facility. Could the Minister update us on what is happening there? The 12-month deadline mentioned in the motion is nearing very quickly.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: We had to have discussions with the federal government. Our health care planner is working on this project. I could give the Member a better briefing when we get to the main estimates on Health and Human Resources. I can probably give him a more detailed report at that time if he is agreeable.
Mr. Phillips: Before we leave this area, I would like to go one step further than we have gone before. I would like to suggest a possible location for the extended care facility. I know it is going to be somewhere in the hospital area. I highly recommend that it be put closer to the river bank, rather than further away from it. I also suggest that there be some sort of verandah or exposed area where the seniors could sit overlooking the river and the town.
I know from experience at Macaulay Lodge, many residents crowd into the foyer just to see what is going on. It is not a real exiting pastime, but it is something that gives them peace of mind, and they enjoy doing it. I think we should really take into consideration that these people could have a nice view of the valley, the riverboat and the things that are happening in Whitehorse. They would enjoy some of the view.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I do not want the Member to think this remark is frivolous, but I am getting to the age where I am becoming subjective about some of these questions. My own wish is that any facility that we build will be oriented more toward the river than to the road that is in the neighbourhood. I would like to see maximum sunlight in order to provide an aesthetic appeal for the people in there. There are other values that we should try and achieve such as energy efficiency. We are trying to do all those things in any facility that we build.
Mr. Phillips: Since the building will face the new waterfront development, it should also tie into the theme as closely as possible so that it does not look like a big, concrete government building. It should look like it belongs on the Yukon River, and it should look like part of the Yukon. Closeleigh Manor is a beautiful example of how a building can be very attractive sitting on the river. That type of design is something that should be kept in mind when the building is being designed.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The Member opposite sounds almost like the Member for Whitehorse West. I am so glad that he has been won over to our local materials approach and that kind of aesthetics. He is singing a song of aesthetics in which I would be happy to join him in harmony. I would want the building to look like it belongs, not like something that has been ripped out of the ground in New York and plopped down here.
If I have any influence on the architect, and I may or may not, I would like to see a structure that looks like it belongs on the river bank. It is may not be built in the pseudo-Victorian style of Closeleigh Manor, because I am not sure that that is appropriate, even though it is my favourite building in the territory. Maybe the Old Territorial Administration Building is my favourite, I am not sure. However, looking from this side of the river, it will be an appealing design and an attractive addition to the water front.
Extended Care Facility in the amount of an under expenditure of $400,000 agreed to
On Communications Disorders Equipment
Hon. Mr. Penikett: This is for the purchase of an audiology unit. That is something on which we have had representations in this House, and that is what that is for.
Mr. Nordling: What were we doing before? Have we changed our policy and now have a unit, or did someone in the private sector have one? I wonder why we did not budget for it before and how long we have been needing it? Why did it come at this time?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: This is going to be a highly technical description. The unit we have now, and were using, is busted. We had to get a new one. If that is too technical I will provide a written answer.
Mr. Nordling: That was perfectly clear to me.
Mrs. Firth: Along with the purchase of a new unit I had heard the government was going to be creating another person year to do the audiology exams. Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am not sure what the Member is asking about but we are looking at the possibility of getting a new technician position to run the unit. There has been a new position in a related field, but that was Education, not this department.
Mrs. Firth: All this department would provide would be the individual to use this machine and do the testing?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: That is basically correct.
Communications Disorders Equipment in the amount of $60,000 agreed to
On Extended Health Benefits - Seniors
Hon. Mr. Penikett: This is a case where we had increased registration, resulting in a greater demand for additional rental equipment. Some of the equipment on the list includes: hospital beds, specialized wheelchairs, walking aides and specialty aid pieces.
Mr. Phillips: Would this include some of the equipment that is in Closeleigh Manor in the activity room?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: No. That would come under a different line. We have a stock of this equipment that we rent to people who might not be able to afford to buy it. We rent it to people who may need it from time to time.
Extended Health Benefits - Seniors in the amount of $3,000 agreed to
On Chronic Disease Benefits Equipment
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Again, we had a bit more demand than we anticipated in the kind of equipment we have here for chronic diseases: manually operated hospital beds, specialized wheelchairs, grab bars and support rails, respiratory equipment, patient lifters - that kind of equipment.
Mrs. Firth: When an individual makes application for that kind of assistance through their doctor, is the government paying for the whole hospital bed or for the whole rails? Are they paying the total cost of the piece of equipment that is being requested?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: If someone with a chronic disease is in need of something like this, such as a specially operated hospital bed or something like that, we are providing that out of this program - and it may be until they pass away that we are providing it.
Mrs. Firth: Are you paying for the total cost of the item?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Yes, I believe we are paying for the total cost.
Mrs. Firth: Madam Chair, before we clear this item, could I just ask the Minister when we do the budget debate, the new budget, 1990-91, if he could present me with an answer for that? I am quite interested in exactly what kinds of pieces of equipment we are providing and how much we are paying for then and to what extent. I think that might help us in assessing the cost of the whole chronic disease list.
Chronic Disease Benefits Equipment in the amount of $4,000 agreed to
On Juvenile Justice
On Young Offenders Facility
Hon. Mr. Penikett: This is a revote of the money voted last year to complete the facility. The revote is necessary because the delays in construction were caused by inclement weather at certain critical construction phases. We did, of course, discuss the revised construction schedule during last years mains debate. Yesterday, I was asked for a rough estimate, if I could give it, on the cost of the improvements and repairs that have to be made to the facility as the result of the very unfortunate recent incident. I think we have a very rough estimate of $40,000, except for - and we will get a final costing from Government Services when the work is complete - a perimeter fence that will be installed; that will be an additional expense which is not costed yet and not in this budget. I believe, with the $40,000 included, we will still be within budget in this supplementary.
Mr. Nordling: Are we talking about an additional perimeter fence? There is a perimeter fence now that makes a sort of small exercise yard - the Minister is nodding his head - so what we will have is an additional large perimeter fence around the whole facility?
The other question I have is, with this supplementary - and the Minister said we will be within what has been voted so far - that is within what we had last March? The total revised vote was $3,224,000 to complete the young offenders facility?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: That is correct. That will include the recent necessary improvements, but will not include, and I emphasize this, the additional perimeter fence.
Mr. Nordling: Last March, when we discussed the 1989-90 main estimates, there was a capital recoveries forecast of $1,919,000. I asked about that figure and how it was arrived at. The Minister said, There may have been a formula on which the settlement with the federal government was based. I will take that question as notice and report back to the Member.
I have not received a report back. I would like to know how that figure was arrived at. Why are we revoting the building, but there is no revote on the capital recovery? There is no capital recovery shown.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: First of all, I think it is a good question. Secondly, I apologize for not answering the Member. I thought we had cleared up the commitments on questions we promised to answer. I am going to have to take the question as notice, but I will tell the Member what I think it is.
As I recall on the negotiations about the recovery on the young offenders facility, it was subject to negotiations. That was exactly how much the federal government, according to the Young Offenders Act and negotiations that had gone on with different governments across the country - every government worked hard to put facilities in to get a secure custody facility - and that may have been a reflection of the final settlement of that recovery.
I do not know. I guess that is what it is, but I am going to check. I will provide a written answer to the Member, and I apologize for not getting back to him before.
If the recovery was finite, in other words, it was the final contribution, as the feds were not paying 100 percent, then we may have received that in that budget, and no more recoveries from them after that. This is simply a revote for the previous year because of delay in the construction. We may have received the recovery in one year and completed the project in the next.
Young Offenders Facility in the amount of $1,020,000 agreed to
Capital Expenditures in the amount of $719,000 agreed to
Chair: We will have a break before we get into the next department.
Chair: I call Committee back to order.
We will begin with general debate on the Department of Justice.
Department of Justice
On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures
Hon. Ms. Joe: In the area of Justice, we are requesting $955,000 in the supplementary O&M funding at this time. Within the department, there are a number of areas that have full vote authority but no funds allocated. Due to the fact that it is impossible to estimate or anticipate what may occur within the year, a large portion of the O&M variance requested is comprised of these areas where activities could not be anticipated. Examples include costs associated with the hire of outside counsel, Yukon Utility Board and Yukon Medical Council hearings and judicial recruitment expenses. The policing contract expenses form another significant part of the total variance.
Yukon is responsible in this fiscal year for 68 percent of the total cost for policing service under the terms of our agreement with the RCMP. The anticipated costs, as forecasted by the RCMP, will exceed the main estimate by $165,000 in this fiscal year.
Another major part of the variance is the French language agreement, whereby the cost of staff and equipment associated with the preparation of legislation in both official languages are borne by the federal government and are shown as an increase in our expenditures, offset by a corresponding increase in both capital and O&M recoveries. The total O&M and capital expenditures are $118,000.
The mine safety program was incorporated into the department on April 1, 1989; the salaries for the employees transferred from the federal government appear as a request for supplementary funding in the amount of $123,000. We recently signed that agreement and full funding will be transferred to this government. The French language and mine safety agreements are one-time items and will therefore not occur again.
In all other operational areas, the department has remained within the original budget, thereby demonstrating sound financial management practices and fiscal responsibility.
Mrs. Firth: When we had the briefing session with the officials from the Department of Finance, I asked a question about the contents of the supplementaries and what the reason was for the $955,000 additional request. Mine safety was one of the items cited; another one was inquests and another one was a supplementary for the Human Rights Commission. I would like to ask the Minister why there is no policy planning line indicated in this budget - the program policy and planning, which is where the Human Rights Commission would be found - and that amount of money should be identified in this supplementary column.
Hon. Ms. Joe: There is no supplementary for the Human Rights Commission. There may be one in the main estimates.
Mrs. Firth: There cannot be a supplementary in the main estimates.
Hon. Ms. Joe: There is no supplementary anywhere for the Human Rights Commission.
Mrs. Firth: The officials in the budget lockup said that the Human Rights Commission had been given an additional $10,000 in this supplementary. I do not know why the official would give me wrong information. Could the Minister clarify that?
Hon. Ms. Joe: There was a transfer from one section of the human rights budget to another one. The transfer was made from the adjudication costs to another. That transfer was the only one. The adjudication costs were not needed and were transferred.
Mrs. Firth: I had an understanding that that sort of transfer should not take place. Ever since we have had the Human Rights Commission, the Minister has maintained that the adjudication costs were totally separate from the O&M cost of the Human Rights Commission. Now she is telling me that there were extra dollars so they paid off the Human Rights Commission deficit off. That should not be. If the Human Rights Commission got extra funding, it should be brought to our attention in the supplementary budget.
I can see it built into the new budget, because the department has been given the new budget based on this increase. They have been given a budget percentage increase on the whole amount. I object to that. They got not only a supplementary when the new budget was established, but they were given an increase based on that supplementary. I object that the Minister is indicating, after maintaining that the adjudication funds are something entirely separate, that they would have used those funds to pay off the deficit that the Human Rights Commission had.
Hon. Ms. Joe: The transfer of funds from one program to the other within the Human Rights Commission was not done in the manner the Member states. I understand that that was a possibility that she was sharing with other people but that was not the case.
Mrs. Firth: The Minister just stood up in the House here and said that they took money from the adjudication, which I believe is about $42,000 or so, in the budget; they had some left over so they took it and they gave it to the operation and maintenance of the Human Rights Commission.
We have always been told in the Legislature that the Human Rights Commission adjudication boards budget last year was correct: $42,000. We were told that was separate from the operations of the Human Rights Commission and could not be included in it. The Minister just stood up and told me that the $10,000 extra that the Human Rights Commission received came from adjudication. Now, it is not me telling people; she just told me that.
Hon. Ms. Joe: It is a bit difficult to deal with something that is not a part of the budget that we are dealing with right now. We did not include that in the supplementary because it was not a supplementary item. I would wonder why we would be dealing with another area. I have given her the information that I have in regard to that. I do not have any other figures here to use as a guide with regard to a debate on something that is not included in here as a figure. I can only stand by what I said already, which is that there was no supplementary budget figure for the Human Rights Commission. I would like to say that they were not given any money to supplement their deficit, that everything that was done in the proper order.
Mrs. Firth: I am not prepared to proceed with debate on this budget then, until there is a clarification. I was told in the budget lockup, by the officials, that there was an additional $10,000 given to the Human Rights Commission. The Minister stood up in the House, just a few minutes ago, and said that, yes, they got some extra money but we did not have to ask for a supplementary for it because the $10,000 came from the adjudication funds that were left over. We will see that written in Hansard tomorrow.
I would like a clarification. The Minister is maintaining that we should not even be talking about it because it is not here. Well, I maintain that there is a difference in the information that has been given to me and I am not prepared to proceed with this budget until there is a clarification of that issue.
I would be prepared to take some of the lines and go through them but, you see, there is not a line for Policy and Planning, which is where both the adjudication transfer of funds and Human Rights Commission would be, so if I go through these items and clear them, then I have cleared the budget and I never get my question answered. I have no alternative but to ask the Minister to stand this aside until we get a clarification of the difference, the discrepancy in the information that was presented to me in the budget lockup - the two variations of information - and the conflicting, contradicting information the Minister has just presented.
Hon. Ms. Joe: I am prepared to proceed with the budget but I am also prepared to bring back clarification on the information that she is asking for in the House. It is one item that appears to be a bit confusing and certainly deserves to be brought back to the House and clarified. I would agree with that, but I am prepared to proceed with the other areas of this budget. I do not know how much more she wants to in general debate or whether this is it. If she is prepared to go ahead in general debate and ask other questions, I would be prepared to do that and will bring back the kind of information that she wants.
Mrs. Firth: I object to the Minister saying that she is going to go ahead with the budget. In light of the seriousness of the conflicting information, she should be prepared to stand it aside. Otherwise they may as well get all their numbers in here, because they are going to have to push it through. It would be a courtesy to stand it aside.
Chair: Would you prefer to proceed with line-by-line items and not clear the total? Or do you want your formal request to stand?
Mrs. Firth: We are on general debate. I want to know if I am going to have an opportunity to stand the item aside so I can get an answer on the funding before we pass the $955,000?
Chair: Yes, we will do that if we proceed with line-by-line or general debate at this point.
Mrs. Firth: Then we can stand aside the whole amount?
Chair: Stand it aside and bring it back again.
Mrs. Firth: We can stand aside the whole amount of $955,000?
Chair: Is the Committee in agreement with this?
All Members: Agreed.
Chair: Is there any further general debate?
Mrs. Firth: I am prepared to go through line-by-line.
Hon. Ms. Joe: The figure of $51,000 is, in most part, associated with the recruitment cost for two positions within the French language legislative drafting section. An agreement with the federal government provides for 100 percent recovery of all costs associated with the translation of all legislation into French. The other $10,000 would be for the judicial recruitment that would include travel, interviews and things like that.
Mrs. Firth: Is this a duplication of the French language services that the Minister of the Executive Council Office is providing? Is this just for translation of legislation? Has the department had requests for pieces of legislation in French? How many pieces of legislation have they translated into French for this amount of money?
Hon. Ms. Joe: We have an agreement with the federal government that requires us to have all our legislation translated into French by January 1, 1991.
Mrs. Firth: What exactly does that mean? Does it mean all our pieces of legislation have to be duplicated in French?
Hon. Ms. Joe: That is correct.
Mrs. Firth: That amount of money is fully recoverable?
Hon. Ms. Joe: Yes, it is.
Administration in the amount of $51,000 agreed to
On Court Services
Hon. Ms. Joe: Of that, $20,000 was used for deputy judge expenses that will continue to be incurred until the arrival of Judge John Faulkner. The total amount spent on deputy judges so far is $107,000. We are anticipating that $20,000 more will be needed to cover those expenses.
Mrs. Firth: This raises some very interesting questions about the third judge position. Is the Minister going to be filling that third judge position, particularly in light of the fact the amount of money we are spending on deputy judges is more than a judges salary now?
What is the status of that third judge position?
Hon. Ms. Joe: The Member has asked me if we were going to be recruiting a third judge for the Yukon. The answer to that is that we will not be at this time. The cost associated with deputy judges is set in the budget, and sometimes they will go over that. In the past, we have always had the capacity to use deputy judges from out of the territory, and that will sometimes still happen in the future. With the addition of the new judge, it will not happen as often as it does now, but it will certainly happen in some cases.
The complaint that has been given to us in the past is there have been periods of time where trials have had to go on for a number of months, and we do not agree with that criticism. The length of time spent waiting for trials in the Yukon is probably less than it is in other parts of Canada. I know that sometimes they do tend to extend for periods of time, but our record here is not that bad.
Mrs. Firth: Well, our record is sure nothing to brag about. I do not care how long they wait in other parts of Canada. In some parts it is outrageously long, and I do not think we have to wait that long here in the Yukon if we have the ability to have three judges. We have positions for three judges, but the government is intentionally not filling one of the positions. That does not even make sense.
Why is the third position not being filled?
Hon. Ms. Joe: The Member knows there is a judge on leave of absence from the courts. That third position allows for that extension.
Mrs. Firth: So, the Minister is saying that third position is being kept open exclusively for the individual who is on sabbatical now?
Hon. Ms. Joe: In the case of a leave of absence of individuals from their positions, that position is almost always kept open.
Mrs. Firth: Those positions are filled for a term. I think it would be more cost-effective to fill that position for a term than to spend $107,000 to bring in deputy judges.
Either the Minister needs the extra judge or she does not. If she does not need it, give back the person year, but do not keep something open exclusively for one individual when it is costing the taxpayer more money.
Hon. Ms. Joe: The $107,000 I have mentioned here is not an additional amount of money. It is some of the money we already have budgeted for. We are asking here for an additional $20,000, so we are not asking for $127,000. We are asking for $20,000.
Mrs. Firth: It is still $20,000 over the amount a judge would be getting in a salary. I am talking about the third judge position. We have had to call for deputy judges because we have only had one judge. Now, I understand in February the second judge position will be filled. I am asking about the third judge position. Can it not be filled on a term basis so the territory can benefit from its full complement of judges, as it has three person years designated, so our court systems do not have to be compared to ones down south - behind and backlogged - so we can be where we should be so that the administration of justice can proceed as it should.
Hon. Ms. Joe: It is very difficult to recruit judges. We have had problems in the past. We have tried to recruit judges to come for a certain period of time. It is not that simple. We know that from experience. We believe that the court system in the Yukon does not have that much of a backlog. Members opposite have mentioned that a number of times. That is not the case. Sometimes, cases have to wait for months to be heard, but on average it is not worse than it is anywhere else in Canada. However, it may be better in some places.
Mrs. Firth: The Minister will have to stop being inconsistent. I recall her saying how great it was when we were recruiting judges because she had some 50 applications. Now she is saying how tough it is to recruit judges. I do not understand what she is saying. One minute she says one thing. Then the next minute she says something different. Why are we not bringing in a judge for a term position to fill the third position? We would then be utilizing that judge instead of using the services of deputy judges to whom we have to pay salaries, moving expenses, accommodation and other expenses.
Hon. Ms. Joe: The money that is in the budget is being used to pay deputy judges. It is very difficult to hire judges on a term basis since we are not able to anticipate how long it will be for. It is difficult for lawyers who have large responsibilities in their home areas to relocate, especially to the north. If we felt that that was the most efficient way to do it, we would try it. Right now we are using deputy judges. They have become familiar with the Yukon, and some have been coming for a number of years. It seems to be working.
Mr. Lang: In view of the fact that a judges salary is in the neighbourhood of $85,000, plus benefits, would it not be in our best interests to approach those individuals who have been deputy judges to see if they want to move here for a year on a secondment? That would hopefully solve the backlog problem. The political commitments that were made by the government would be honoured while our comrades are having a $62,000 holiday. Meanwhile, the Justice department, most important, is being served.
I have had complaints as an MLA about the backlog in the justice system. Still, the Minister asks us to vote for money. We have never argued the fact that we need three judges. We have to expedite the justice system because justice delayed is justice not being done. Would the Minister consider having her deputy minister approach those deputy judges to see if someone might be prepared to come up here for six months or a year?
Hon. Ms. Joe: The Member has suggested what we have already done. Some of the deputy judges have been approached to do exactly that sort of thing. In some cases, we have been able to get deputy judges to come for two to three months. We do have a backlog, of course, but that is not always because there is no judge. There are other reasons why court cases are adjourned, and we have lawyers here who recognize that.
It has happened, so it is not always the case that we do not have enough judges here to deal with those cases. It is sometimes a request by counsel, and that is a fact. The backlog, as I have said before, is not worse than it is anywhere else in Canada. In order to see that justice is done, sometimes it does take time for both counsel to prepare a case, and it does not always happen tomorrow. There is a lot of preparation that has to be done and the Member knows that. We here in the Yukon know, and we have statistics to prove it, that our backlog is not that great. In some cases, in other parts of Canada, they have had to wait twice as long as some of our cases here. People who have appeared here in the Yukon, on behalf of Yukoners in court, have told us that very thing.
Mr. Lang: This is quite a simple request and maybe there are some other people out there prepared to do it. I want this to go on the record: I object strenuously, first of all, to the fact that we have been paying an individual $180,000 a year on the average, then we grant to him a $62,000 sabbatical because it was so tough and I guess he could not put any money in the bank, and now, thirdly, we are informed in this House that it is costing the taxpayer an additional $20,000 to keep his job open. Any person in their right mind, if they had any respect for the taxpayers dollars, would say, hold the phone here, we have to do something about this.
Can the Minister tell me, in good conscience, that the taxpayers deserve to have to pay an extra $20,000 so that Mr. Stewart can leave for a year? I do not believe you can justify it. We have overpaid that man. We paid that man more money than I thought the presses could print, and now we are told we are going to throw in an additional $20,000, indirectly, because of political commitments. Yet, when we stand up on this side and ask that justice be done, and give a recommendation, the Minister dismisses us with, oh, we proposed it to a couple and they turned us down. Surely, even if we ran an advertisement across the country, there might be somebody interested who could come for a year and try it, and we could save $20,000.
I think back to the Minister of Finance on this, on formula financing, when he said, now we have to ask where the money is going to come from. I just want to voice my objection. I think it is an absolute disgrace. You are squandering the taxpayers dollars and you should be embarrassed.
Hon. Ms. Joe: Far be it for the Member to not voice his objections in the House. He has done it time and time again and taken every opportunity to do so and, of course, that is his job. I have said that and I did not dismiss lightly the suggestion that he made. It is not that we have not done it before; we have tried and, as I said before, we have had deputy judges who have stayed here for a certain period of time. If it were just a case of asking somebody and having somebody here tomorrow, it would be easy, but it is not that simple.
I am as concerned with the taxpayers money as much as he is. Make no mistake about that.
Chair: Does Court Services clear?
Some Hon. Members: Disagree.
Mr. Lang: Madam Chair, I think it should be on the record that we disagree with the way the Minister is handling this.
Hon. Ms. Joe: I think that, in regard to this $20,000, there is a reason for it. That reason is that we do require that additional $20,000 to pay deputy judges to come to the Yukon. We cannot predict the trials; we cannot predict how often they are going to be needed, and sometimes it exceeds that amount. In the case of this item here, we have had to come to the House to ask for an additional amount but we do know that we have been very lucky in having the kind of people who have been coming to the Yukon to appear as deputy judges and, in a lot of cases, the individuals who have come to the Yukon are very familiar with the territory and the people, and as a matter of fact in a lot of instances have practised here in the Yukon. We value that contribution.
It is something we are going to have to continue to do all the time. There is always a time when we are going to need deputy judges.
Court Services in the amount of $20,000 agreed to
On Attorney General
Hon. Ms. Joe: The total amount indicated in the budget is $499,000. I will give a breakdown on that. This is comprised of several items. The largest expenditure is for legal service, in particular a case dealing with electrical work at the Yukon College. At the moment, approximately $150,000 has been committed for the hire of outside counsel for a number of cases. For example, Yukon Utilities Board legal advice, NEB hearings, hospital transfer and the Northern Accord. Anticipated expenses for the balance of the year will total $188,000.
In addition to these contracts, funds have been provided under a separate Management Board order for the hire of outside counsel in order that the government may take action against the architect and contractor at Yukon College for improper installation of heating, ventilation, air conditioning and other related mechanical equipment. That action was taken now because of the quality of work that was done. We anticipated that a few years down the road the added cost may be much, much more than that amount.
There is $150,000 for those costs, with the stipulation that any unexpended funds would not be used for other purposes. That figure would be $150,000.
Under an agreement with the federal government to provide the French language drafting service, the salaried cost of two individuals are fully recoverable, as I said before, from the federal government. The anticipated salary costs in the fiscal year for one solicitor and one secretary are $51,700. An additional amount of $2,000 will be incurred for office supplies.
One person year and salary has been transferred from the Executive Council Office to Justice, namely the regulations clerk. This person is now located in the legal services branch and salary costs transfered amount to $43,000 for the total variance.
Litigation costs of $25,000 are anticipated in conjunction with certain cases. Two inquests have just occurred that required considerable expense due to expert witnesses and testimony, hire of outside counsel, transportation costs for a large number of witnesses. Anticipated costs will require supplementary funding of $15,000.
Child advocacy costs are budgeted at $15,000 per year but are impossible to estimate as the appointments of child advocates are at the discretion of the judiciary.
Expenses to date are approximately $15,000 and we can project another $15,000 for the end of the year.
Mrs. Firth: Do I understand the Minister correctly that it cost her department $150,000 to launch a law suite against the electrical contractor of the Yukon College electrical system? Is that what the Minister said?
Hon. Ms. Joe: That is the anticipated cost.
Mrs. Firth: Is that all the amount that is identified in this budget? You are asking for the full $150,000 cost.
The Minister is nodding her head, indicating yes, the $150,000 is included. It is interesting that the Minister of Education never said anything to us in debate about the electrical contractors being sued at Yukon College. That is how forthcoming they are with information.
How much are they expecting this whole procedure to cost in legal fees?
Hon. Ms. Joe: I am not quite sure whether she is asking for the total cost of the solicitors in regard to this action, or if she is asking for the whole cost of the problems with the ...
We have included the cost of $150,000. As we have in every other budget, we have allocated $1.00 for cases such as this, never knowing what an actual cost is going to be or what action we are going to have to take for anything.
Mrs. Firth: How much has been spent so far?
Hon. Ms. Joe: There has been some money spent for this action already. We do not have an up-to-date amount. I will bring that information back.
Mr. Lang: What happened to warrant a $150,000 suit? We were all led to believe the college was completed, and things had gone well. All of a sudden, out of the clear blue, we are hit with a $150,000 bill for a court case with the electrical contractors. It would be very interesting to see how much the electrical in the building did cost, compared to the $150,000 suit.
Hon. Ms. Joe: The information I have is there was some work done that was not up to standard. I am not entirely sure what that work includes.
As I mentioned in my information prior to dealing with this, it includes the installation of heating, ventilation, air conditioning and other related mechanical equipment.
Mr. Lang: When the Minister follows that up, could she confer with her colleague, the Minister of Education, as well as the Minister of Government Services, and give us a full accounting of how much more it cost the Government of the Yukon Territory to rectify what they deemed to have been work that was not completed, over and above what had been paid out?
Hon. Ms. Joe: If the other Ministers responsible for those two departments would like to add any information to this, I have information in regard to the cost that will be coming from Justice. The information I have in regard to the problem is as stated in here, and as has been told to me in the past. We are proceeding with the action I have mentioned.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I can provide some information on the subject to the Members opposite. The issue surrounds the mechanical contract of the college. The work that was done was not done to the specifications Government Services required and called for in the original tender documents. There are ongoing discussions respecting correction of the deficiencies. The work has not been formally turned over in respect to final approvals. The court case is only alleged to be necessary at this time. There may be a settlement in the sense of adequate performance by the contractor on the job.
I do not have the details relating to the nature of deficiencies. It does relate to the mechanical operations, the ventilation system and the heating.
Mrs. Firth: It is more than just alleged. The Minister has said that the court case has been started. Money has been spent, and the Minister cannot tell us how much. She is going to bring that information back. The court case is either proceeding or it is not. Is the court case in progess?
Hon. Ms. Joe: I did not mention a court case. I mentioned that action on the problem had started. It may not have to go to court. Some other agreement may be reached. In order to proceed with this, money had to be allocated for the solicitor.
Mrs. Firth: We have either proceeded with the case or are going to or we have not. I am hesitant to allot $150,000 when this may not go ahead. Could the Minister define whether or not we have started it? If we have not and if there is a chance that we may not proceed with a court case and some deficiencies may be corrected, maybe we should not be giving the Department of Justice this $150,000. It could be better used somewhere else. The Minister says that some deficiencies may be corrected.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I do not have a current briefing on the subject. I am familiar with it from the point of view of deficiencies that my department was engaged in with the mechanical contractor.
The anticipation was that it might have to proceed to court if the contractor denies the deficiencies. The money had to be set aside for us to prepare the case. I am not certain if has proceeded to a legal status at this point. I can undertake, however, from the technical point of view, to find out where the issue is. I will give that undertaking to provide the Members with the information.
Mrs. Firth: Could we stand the item aside until we see if the court case is going ahead? We may want to change our position on the $150,000. I would like a full accounting of exactly what has happened and how much money is being spent.
Hon. Ms. Joe: There is always an expense prior to a court case, if it goes ahead or not. There is a possibility of an agreement between parties. That kind of agreement cannot be done unless someone works on it. In this case, we have spent some of the money to proceed with the action. I am not saying that the action involves a court case at this time. Some action has been taken on the problem as I stated here. I do not know if an agreement between the two parties will be reached, so it may not even end up in court. That is not something that I can predict right now.
Chair: Is the Committee agreed on standing this matter aside?
Attorney General in the amount of $499,000 stood over
On Consumer, Corporate and Labour Affairs
Hon. Ms. Joe: The total amount indicated here is $220,000. Of the total, $123,000 represents salaries associated with the two people transferred from mine safety. The agreement has been signed by our government but not the federal government. When that occurs the funding will be transferred.
The Yukon Utility Board hearings have incurred $49,000. The department has a $1.00 vote authority for the boards it administers.
The Yukon Medical Council is anticipating expenses of $42,000 to continue with investigations and ongoing medical inquiries. That is the projected cost to the end of the year.
The Employment Standards Act has been amended and the branch wishes to launch a publicity campaign to inform the public of the amendments. The campaign will involve the preparation and circulation of posters and pamphlets and some advertising. The anticipated cost for that is $6,000.
Mrs. Firth: Can the Minister just write a letter to the people involved as opposed to a $6,000 advertising campaign about the changes in the Employment Standards Act? We have avenues like the Chamber of Commerce, the unions and the Minister said she had certain representation. I would find it far more frugal to do that instead of launching a $6,000 glossy public relations advertising campaign.
Hon. Ms. Joe: In view of the very important changes we have made to the act, it is very important that we get that information out to individuals, employers and organizations in a different manner than just a letter. In the past we have conducted this kind of campaign through posters, pamphlets and other ways of communication that would include air time on radio stations. It is important that that kind of information get out in different ways and we have chosen to do it that way because of the importance of this matter.
People have been working under an Employment Standards Act for a number of years and now it has changed. We have to let them know what those changes are. We have already indicated to the people who identified some of the problems to us that we have made those changes and have let them know. There is certainly a group of other Yukoners representing different bodies that need the information regarding the amendments to the act.
Mrs. Firth: For a government that is looking for money, I would suggest one of the first areas you look for money is in the area of advertising, public relations, posters, flyers and little booklets. A personal letter from the Minister, to me, would have a far greater impact on those groups and organizations and would come to the cost of a stamp. It would provide a personal touch as opposed to printing up a bunch of posters and glossy things that nobody may never see or may not pay attention to. A letter from the Minister is going to get the attention of organizations and groups. They will read it and get the message. It is a personal touch. The Minister does not have to take my recommendation, but it is a sound and solid recommendation.
Hon. Ms. Joe: I take great pleasure in writing letters to Yukoners. I enjoy doing that. I enjoy signing my name to letters to let people know there are certain things that are happening. In this case, we already have pamphlets that give information on the Employment Standards Act and the amendments that have taken place. We have to have new pamphlets available with those changes. We cannot keep on giving out pamphlets or other information with regard to the act with the old sections that do not apply any more. There is a lot more than just writing letters to everyone. We have to have something that is available all the time until such time as any other amendments are made.
Mrs. Firth: Have they already ordered the pamphlets and started printing the posters?
Hon. Ms. Joe: We have not done that yet, but we would hope we could get this information out to people. We have already let a number of groups and individuals know about the changes, but there certainly has to be ongoing information that is up to date.
Mrs. Firth: The Minister made some reference to money for the French language program here. What is different with that allocation of money she described in the first line of Administration for $51,000?
Hon. Ms. Joe: I read off some notes I have here. I did not read it word for word, but there is no mention in here of the French language issue at all, nor do I remember it. Maybe I was not speaking clearly and loudly enough.
Mrs. Firth: I was sure she talked about it. We stood aside the Attorney General, did we not? Okay, it is in reference to that line.
I will ask that question when we come back, if the Minister could just be prepared to answer it.
Consumer, Corporate and Labour Affairs in the amount of $220,000 agreed to
On Solicitor General
Hon. Ms. Joe: This $165,000 represents an addition to the main estimates for the policing contract. The main estimate amount is $7,295,000. The RCMP estimate for the cost of policing is $7,460,000. We are advised by the RCMP that this is an accurate estimate to date, but it may change in the future. Since the accounting for certain costs incurred by the force is done in Ottawa, the exact amounts of the contract are often not known until period 2 or 3 in the next fiscal year. We have no way of obtaining a more accurate estimate and, so, have to rely on the information that is given to us.
Mrs. Firth: What is the $165,000 addition for? Did the RCMP indicate that to her?
Hon. Ms. Joe: The amount we are asking for is retroactive salary increases.
Mrs. Firth: The whole $165,000 is just for retroactive salary increases? How many people does that involve?
Hon. Ms. Joe: That includes retroactive salary increases, as well as things like gas for travel to outside communities and fuel costs.
Mrs. Firth: Could the Minister give us a breakdown of the $165,000, if she has it there?
Hon. Ms. Joe: I do not have a breakdown of this $165,000. The information and discussions that have occurred between the RCMP and the department have indicated the majority of it is for salary increases, for fuel costs, for airplane travel and other things that may occur that they have not anticipated.
Mrs. Firth: Nevertheless, I would like to see the cost breakdown. Whenever we have an organization like the RCMP asking for more money, I think we should see what it is for. Is this amount built into their new budget, or are we going to be looking at another supplementary estimate next year?
Hon. Ms. Joe: I will attempt to bring back that breakdown. Of course, with the information we have now and information that might be included, we would have to get it from the RCMP. If she wants a breakdown in specific amounts we will certainly attempt to do that.
Mrs. Firth: I suggest that we stand it aside again until the Minister brings the breakdown. We are standing the whole thing aside anyway so we can proceed when the Minister brings that breakdown for us next week.
Solicitor General in the amount of $165,000 stood over
Mrs. Firth: Madam Chair, may I ask one more question before we adjourn? I would like to ask the Minister if the Human Rights Commission will be coming to answer questions that I will be putting about the commission. Will the chairperson of the Human Rights Commission again be appearing in the Legislature, like he did last year, to respond to concern the Members of the Opposition may have?
Hon. Ms. Joe: We will be bringing back clarification on the information the Member has asked with regard to the Human Rights Commission but we do not have an item for Human Rights Commission and I do not think it is necessary to bring them back if there are no supplementaries listed in this budget. I will bring the information back that she has asked me for, and I do not anticipate that she will need any kind of involvement from the Human Rights Commission at this point in time. In the main estimates, of course, that will happen, but I do not think it is necessary in the supplementaries.
Mrs. Firth: In the event that it is, I would recommend to the Minister that she have them standing by. It will all depend on the comment the officials made about the $10,000 being in here as a supplementary for the Commission, so I would just recommend to the Minister that she have them standing by.
Operation and Maintenance Expenditures in the total amount of $955,000 stood over
Chair: Are there any questions on O&M recoveries?
We will proceed with capital expenditures.
On Capital Expenditures
On French Language Agreement Equipment
Mr. Lang: I would like to know what equipment we bought for $23,000. It is a significant amount of money.
Hon. Ms. Joe: It was needed for the acquisition of computers, I believe, and furniture for the two persons who will be filling this program.
French Language Agreement Equipment in the amount of $23,000 agreed to
Chair: Are there any questions on Capital Recoveries?
Capital expenditures in the amount of $23,000 agreed to
Mrs. Firth: I move that we report progress on Bill No. 13, Second Appropriation Act, 1989-90.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Motion agreed to
Speaker resumes the Chair
Speaker: I now call the House to order. May the House have the report from the Chair of the Committee of the Whole?
Ms. Kassi: The Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 13, Second Appropriation Act, 1989-90, 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. McDonald: I move the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Government House Leader that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: This House now stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m., Monday next.
The House adjourned at 5:24 p.m.
The following Sessional Paper was tabled January 25, 1990:
Strategy for the Acquisition of Government Office Space (Byblow)