Tuesday, January 30, 1990 - 1:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. We will proceed with Prayers.
Speaker: We will proceed with the Order Paper.
Introduction of Visitors.
Are there any Returns or Documents for tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Mr. Webster: I have for tabling a legislative return concerning bison.
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?
This then brings us to the Question Period.
Question re: Office space
Mr. Phelps: I have a question for the Minister of Government Services regarding his recent ministerial statement about office space, wherein he indicated that the government is facing a shortfall of 40,000 square feet of office space in Whitehorse. In the rural communities, the Association of Yukon Communities and the Yukon Chamber of Commerce have been lobbying this government for a decentralization policy - to decentralize government from Whitehorse to the communities. The government has indicated that it is moving toward decentralizing. My question to the Minister is: did he take decentralization into account when he announced that there is a shortfall of 40,000 square feet of office space in Whitehorse for government?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: In order to answer the Members question adequately, I will have to take it in two parts.
With respect to decentralization, the Member is aware that a decentralization committee has just recently reported on its findings, and the government is in the process of reviewing that report and determining a practical approach to any form of implementation of that policy.
With respect to the space plan for the office strategy that I tabled, yes, indeed, the space strategy has flexibility built into it that could address decentralization activity by the government.
Mr. Phelps: So I take it that the Minister is telling us that studies have been done by the government to estimate the reduction in requirements for office space in Whitehorse that will come about as a result of decentralizing government. Is that the case?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: What I am telling the Member concerning decentralization is that the government is currently specifically addressing its approach to the decentralization policy development. In other words, the strategy for decentralization is currently being developed. It is going to be developed on the basis of the committee work that was done and recently turned in to us. It is going to be done on the basis of full consideration for practical activity in decentralization, and it is going to be done in the broad context of overall government policy.
Mr. Phelps: This issue is not new. Is the Minister telling us that we spent $84,000 on office space studies in 1986, $18,000 just recently, and we are going to spend $5.5 million to fix up the old Yukon College for office space, and we have not looked at the impact of decentralization on office needs in Whitehorse?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: What has been tabled and explained and provided to Members and to the public at large is a strategy for the acquisition of space. In other words, what I tabled in documents last Thursday was the approach this government is going to take for any requirements relating to space acquisition. Tied into that, I also announced details surrounding the renovations of the old Yukon College. All of that simply tells the Members opposite that we have a plan to deal with any needs relating to space. We have also identified the current demands on space requirements and our long-term approach to this. I have indicated to Members how we are going to deal with it. These are the principles; these are the steps we are going to take for any space requirements. If they encompass a need for decentralized activity, the space strategy can accommodate that. To put it in very practical, blunt terms, if there is a need to move a branch of a government to a rural community, because that is what the Member is driving at, then our space plan has a flexibility built into it to accommodate that. In other words, there will not be a vacancy of space. We have identified in the strategy how we will address any vacancy that should result. That is in the strategy that I tabled.
Question re: Office space
Mr. Phelps: Au contraire. The Minister said in this House last week that we were going to need 40,000 square feet of additional office space. Then he told us, and the media, how they were going to meet that need. One of the things we were told was that $5.5 million will be spent renovating old Yukon College to meet part of the Whitehorse needs.
Has the government done any studies to forecast the future office space requirements in communities as a result of decentralizing government from Whitehorse to the communities?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Perhaps I can take this opportunity to correct a figure the Member just cited. It probably stems from an incorrect figure I gave yesterday with respect to the cost of renovations for old Yukon College. I believe I indicated yesterday $5.5 million; in fact, the figure is $6 million. I was incorrect yesterday and I am correcting the record.
As the Members are aware, the space strategy I outlined speaks to and deals with Whitehorse. We are now in the process of addressing rural needs and encompassing any decentralization activity that may occur. The Member has to recognize that we only recently received the decentralization committee report and I have already told the Member we are currently reviewing it and addressing our practical approach to it.
Mr. Phelps: I would remind the Minister that decentralization of government was a platform of his party in 1985. It is not something new. I am somewhat appalled by the lack of figures or studies that realistically take into account such an important policy of this government.
Has the government conducted any studies to forecast the future office space requirements that will come about as a result of the devolution of federal programs to YTG, and could we have those studies tabled if they have done some?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: With respect to the preamble to the question, the Member is quite aware, having been here for the last four years, of the number of decentralized moves that this government has undertaken: for example, the inspector in Dawson, the inspector being moved to Watson Lake, two rural superintendents in education. The Member is acutely aware of the decentralization activity that has occurred.
The devolution of federal programs has been part of what the activity of last year was all about. The Member should be aware that between last winter and now we have identified things like the requirements for office standards. We have identified the needs, and those very needs are exactly what the Member is enquiring about. Those needs address the devolution of the federal programs that have taken place, that are taking place, and those that are contemplated.
Mr. Phelps: Would the Minister table these reports?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I will take advice on that. I am reluctant to give a commitment, because a number of those studies that relate to federal devolution programs are very sensitive documents. They are sensitive in the sense of estimating the intended strategy of the government relating to federal devolution. Members will recall the announcements relating to old Yukon College where certain branches of government were expected to go into there. Those announcements, having been made prematurely, certainly did create false expectations. At this time, I am not committing to table the reports until I can review the sensitive nature of the documents.
Mr. Phelps: I cannot imagine a government so cloaked in secrecy that it refuses to let the public know what kind of office space it might be offering future employees of the government. Nobody will be terribly upset if they find out that the government does have some concrete plans regarding the number of square feet needed to house each of the programs they are presently negotiating.
I am curious as to whether or not this government has considered, when it completes the negotiations for the devolution of forestry from the federal government, having that department based in, for example, Watson Lake. Has the government done any studies about the need for office space to house a department such as that in Watson Lake? Has the government done any work in that regard?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member alleges that no information has been provided regarding devolution. I want to state for the record that I have cited, at least on two occasions, devolution programs that are in progress and are anticipated. It is anticipated that the Arctic B and C airports program is to be transferred shortly. I have indicated that we have a transfer of lands administration anticipated. National safety code inspectors have been transferred. Mine safety has been transferred. A French language program has been transferred. We anticipate the Crown attorney being transferred. The aboriginal French language program is another example.
The Member can rest assured that all of these programs and future contemplated ones are part of space planning by this government.
Speaker: Order please. Would the Member please conclude his answer?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: At the same time, a number of programs that Members opposite have been asking for have been introduced. Programs that the public has been asking for have been introduced. Are the Members suggesting that we cut back on some of these programs? If so, which ones?
Mr. Phelps: I have heard non sequiturs, but this one takes the cake. My question was whether or not this government has examined the future office space requirements in the communities. If so, will the Minister table his study in this House so we can all look at it - the future office needs in the communities that would be a result of decentralization or establishing new programs that come to this program through the process of devolution in the communities? Would he table the report that shows they have taken these factors into account?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I have already indicated to the Member, with respect to rural communities and devolution of programs to those communities, that is currently in progress. We have just recently received the decentralization committee report. We are currently developing that strategy. We are currently looking at that, and it is premature for me to provide any information on that at this time.
Mr. Phelps: Let us be blunt and factual. What the Minister is really telling us is that they did a study, they are going to spend $6 million on upgrading the old Yukon College for office space, they need another 1,200 square metres - 120,000 square feet, which would be great in conjunction with the convention centre - but they have not even considered the decentralization policy this government has spoken about for so long. Is that not what the Minister is saying?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Emphatically, no. This government is addressing the issue of decentralization and is developing a strategy. This government is receiving public consultation and input on decentralization. This government has already demonstrated decentralization, so it is inaccurate for the Member to suggest that this government has not addressed the issue of decentralization in this current space plan.
I would also point out for the Member that, with respect to the $6 million being spent on the old Yukon College, it is an expenditure that is a good deal. If the Member is suggesting we should have torn the building down and built a more expensive new building, he should say so. If the Member opposite had supported our efforts with formula financing, then we would have had that money in our capital budget as well.
Question re: Office space
Mr. Phelps: Maybe if the government had been a little more careful and less negligent with regard to its dealing on the Watson Lake sawmill, one example of many, they would have had money to build and revamp three or four old Yukon colleges.
This is absolutely ridiculous. On the one hand, this Minister stands up and says the government is going to decentralize by moving whole departments out into the communities. On the other hand, he is saying we need at least 40,000 square feet more than we now have in Whitehorse immediately. Is that what he is saying?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Again, the Member is inaccurate to suggest the government is not addressing the decentralization issue and that it has not addressed it to date. We have demonstrated our efforts at decentralization over the past number of years, and are currently in the process of developing that further. It is the Members suggestion, not this governments, that whole departments be moved to rural communities. The Member should not imply that this government has demonstrated wasteful expenditure and suggest Watson Lake.
The Members opposite should remember the $10 million they blew on the Dawson water and sewer project. The Member for Porter Creek East should remember his school that he built in Faro for $2.5 million that collapsed ...
Speaker: Order please. Would the Member please conclude the answer.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: ... a year later.
Speaker: Order please. Would the Member please conclude his answer.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I believe I concluded my answer to the Member.
Question re: Na Dli Youth Centre
Mr. Nordling: I also have a question for the Minister of Government Services, with respect to the young offenders facility. Last week, the Minister of Health and Human Resources gave a rough estimate of $40,000 for the repairs and improvements to the young offenders facility. He said we would get a final costing from Government Services when the work was completed. Can the Minister of Government Services tell us if the work is complete and what the total cost was?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I will be pleased to, when I have it, and I will be quite prepared to provide it; I do not have it at this time.
Mr. Nordling: Could the Minister tell us when it will be available?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I cannot, but it should be shortly. I am sure that the work, when completed, will provide the final figures.
Mr. Nordling: Is the Minister saying that the work is not complete yet?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: No.
Question re: Na Dli Youth Centre
Mr. Nordling: Perhaps the Minister could tell us what is going on at the facility? The public is interested in knowing what has been done to improve security, what damage there was to repair, and cost breakdowns. From what the Minister is saying, I do not know whether the repairs have been done yet or not, or when they will be done. The Minister of Health and Human Resources was predicting that the young offenders would be back in the facility last Friday.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Those questions would more appropriately be answered by the Minister responsible, and I am sure he will be here tomorrow to do so.
Mr. Nordling: How convenient. The Minister of Health and Human Resources says we will get a final costing from Government Services when the work is complete; the Minister of Government Services says we should ask the Minister of Health and Human Resources. I think someone over there should take a little bit of responsibility.
There is also going to be a fence built around the whole perimeter. I would like to ask the Minister of Government Services if his department will be involved in the costing or building of that perimeter fence?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Mr. Speaker, I will take the question as notice.
Question re: Yukon College, distance education
Mr. Lang: I would like to move to the area of advanced education. An area of concern to many Yukoners is the whole field of what is termed distance education. I understand considerable work has been done in this area, primarily through the advanced education branch as well as the college over the past several years. I would like to know whether or not the Minister of Education can confirm that two employees within the Department of Education, a number of years ago, travelled to Alaska and evaluated their system and then brought forward a report of how distance education could be utilized in the Yukon.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Member is quite right that the advanced education branch and Yukon College have been very interested in piloting new methodologies for improving education services, primarily to the rural areas. In the last little while, as a matter of fact, a number of pilot projects have been undertaken, most especially the law course that was done through a teleconferencing method to rural areas from the Whitehorse campus of Yukon College; it was reputed to be a first-class course.
To answer the Members question directly, as part of the Circumpolar Education Ministers Conference, the State of Alaska hosted a symposium on distance education technologies approximately two years ago in Juneau, and representatives from the Department of Education did attend to see what were the benefits and costs of distance education methodologies. The primary thrust at that conference was in the field of telecommunications and the more expensive means by which distance education could be employed. Obviously, the costs associated with that, and the long-term operation costs, were something that the state officials felt should be emphasized so that any mistakes they may have made in the past with respect to the delivery of distance education through telecommunications could be avoided in the future.
Mr. Lang: I take it that the answer to my question is yes. Distance education technology is important, I think we all agree. Can the Minister confirm that there is a position at Yukon College who is directly involved in helping provide services in long-distance education in the extension service part of the college curriculum?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am sure that the Member will enlighten us eventually as to what he is leading toward, but given the question that the Member asked, there could be any number of answers provided. I will pick one; there are a number of people, through extension services, who are interested in employing distance education techniques to improve the delivery of courses to rural areas other than the Whitehorse campus. It is not the only way that those courses are delivered to rural Yukon, of course, but certainly there are people there who are very interested in encouraging programming by distance-education methodology. Whether I can pick on one in particular, I do not know, but I certainly do know that the college and extension services are interested in improving their services; yes.
Question re: Yukon College, distance education
Mr. Lang: New question, Mr. Speaker. I just wanted to confirm for the record that there are a number of employees, both in the department as well as the college, involved in this very important area of new technology. This brings me to my question. In reviewing the contracts that the Department of Education has entered into, I find there was a contract entered into with a Mr. Joe Barrett, who I understand is the son of the ex-premier of B.C. It was for $8,500 to prepare a report, entitled Utilization of Distance Education Techniques. Could the Minister tell us why this contract was necessary, in view of the fact that a number of employees in the department are already involved in this work and have been involved in it on an ongoing basis?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Finally we find out that the Member for Porter Creek East is not in the least interested in distance education technologies and techniques, but more interested in trying to make a point with respect to the employment of a particular person whom the Member has taken joy in announcing as the son of David Barrett.
The reason for the contract, as I remember it, is that the distance education techniques, the information and the studies that have been done in the past, had not been collated. Various projects had been identified by Yukon College as things that could be tried. The same had not been applied to public schools branch, and consequently the desire was to pull the information together and let principals know, in particular, in the public school system, what opportunities existed for them and to act as a beginning point for further discussions through public schools.
Mr. Lang: I should point that the information that I received in this report confirmed what I was told. Concern was expressed to me by quite a number of employees who felt that the work was unwarranted, since the work, in most part, had already been done. I want to ask the Minister this: Why was the individual in question paid $8,500 when the Minister admitted, in response to my question, that all that information was already available at the college?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I did not admit any such thing. The Member is trying to force-fit facts into his allegations. Clearly, I do not agree with him at all, nor do I agree with the assessment given by the employees, whomever they may be, that the work to be done was not useful.
The work that is primarily being done is to support the public school system, for which there has been little or no direct work done at all in the past. The distance education methodology used for adult education through Yukon College is a different situation than it is with the public school system. Consequently, the public school system had a desire to improve distance education methodology for public schools and needed a working document to initiate discussions for the future to try new projects and develop new strategies for the delivery of programming through the public school system. That is one element that I have asked to have the department concentrate on in the future, largely in response to concern by parents in rural areas that the availability of programming is too narrow and should be expanded. Many of these people have expectations...
Speaker: Order please. Would the Member please conclude his answer.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Many of these people have expectations that are bred in southern jurisdictions and are now trying to encourage the government to innovatively improve programming in rural areas.
Mr. Lang: We take it that no one in the Yukon had the ability or was qualified to do such work. The facts are on the table and the point that has been made to me is that employees are becoming more and more concerned about the political interference, or patronage, or whatever you want to call it, that is appearing more and more in our day-to-day workplace.
Can the Minister table this $8,500 report? Further, can the Minister highlight any new or innovative ideas contained in that report that department staff were not aware of prior to Mr. Barrett arriving on the scene?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: First of all, the person in question is a teacher in the Yukon school system.
Secondly, I am at a loss to provide a defence that is going to titillate the media or Yukon public because the only way I could is to name partisan Conservatives who are working for this government. They are doing, admittedly, a good job, and I would be the last one to criticize them on the floor of this House, unlike the Members opposite. There are numerous persons who are working and doing a good public service for the government and the Yukon people - Conservatives and Liberals, as well. I would be the last one to name them in order to respond to the cheap shots that the Member for Porter Creek East is making.
I will take notice on the question to table the report. With respect to the allegation that it somehow contains magic solutions, the point of the report was not to contain magic solutions, it was to demonstrate that there are alternatives and to encourage people to discuss those alternatives in the future.
Question re: Yukon College, communications employee appointment
Mrs. Firth: I have a question for the Minister of Education.
A week ago we were debating the Education supplementary budget, and I asked the Minister about the newly created communications job at Yukon College that was given to an individual without competition. The Minister said at that time that the individual was a school teacher transferred from Faro. Her position in Faro was filled by someone else and she was given this job by appointment and not by competition. The issue here is government hiring practices.
Who made the appointment?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The question the Member asked is one of dozens of questions I have asked the department to respond to. I have not received any notice as to the specifics of this particular question. I cannot provide further information beyond what I provided last week.
Mrs. Firth: The Minister did not provide any information last week. His officials did. I hope we do not have to have officials here in Question Period to answer questions. Perhaps I will direct my supplementary to the Minister for the Public Service Commission, whose responsibility it is to see jobs are given in a fair way without political interference.
Can the Minister tell us why this job was awarded without competition?
Hon. Ms. Joe: I apologize. I was not listening to the supplementary question. I am not sure what the Member is talking about.
Mrs. Firth: I will refresh the Ministers memory. I am concerned about the new job that was created at Yukon College for a communications coordinator. It was given, without competition, to an individual by appointment. The Minister responsible for the Public Service Commission is responsible to see that jobs are given within this government in a fair way without political interference.
Is the Minister aware that this happened? Is the Minister concerned that perhaps the job was not given in a fair way since it did not go to competition and was given by appointment?
Hon. Ms. Joe: Unless I have the information regarding the specifics and the job, I will not be able to respond. In cases where jobs are advertised, there is a competition. Jobs can also become available through exemption. In some cases, exemptions happen when the commission feels that it is not necessary to advertise for those positions. The government does that, and the Member knows that. There are different ways in which people can gain employment with this government, and one of them is through an exemption.
Mrs. Firth: The job was not even advertised. I just wish that someone in those front benches would pay attention, could answer their questions without the officials and cared about what was going on with the hiring practices in the Public Service Commission. Will the Minister direct her department to investigate the matter and find out exactly what happened? We cannot get any information from the Minister of Education. Will the Minister direct her department to see what happened in this instance?
Hon. Ms. Joe: The Member makes allegations. She made a little presentation prior to that saying all these nasty things, which, in most cases, are argumentative and do not comply with the rules of this House. I am sorry. She was asking another Minister a question. I did not hear the first part of that question. If I had heard it, I might have been able to respond to her questions.
I would like to know what the Member wants, and I will bring back the information on the position in question. I will bring back the information that she is asking for.
Question re: Yukon College communications employee appointment
Mrs. Firth: This is the question I asked the Minister of Education. I will read it again; it is not argumentative. It is information that I got from Hansard from the Minister of Education responses. A week ago, I asked the Minister of Education about a newly created communications job at Yukon College that was given to an individual without competition. The Minister, at that time, said that the individual was a school teacher, transferred here from Faro yet her position in Faro was filled by someone else. She was given the job by appointment, not through competition, and the job was not advertised.
Who made the appointment? I would like the Minister of the Public Service Commission to check to see that it was all made in fairness so that anyone interested in the job had an equal opportunity to apply. I am simply asking the Ministers department to investigate that.
Hon. Ms. Joe: The Member is repeating her request. I have already said that I would bring the information back to her. If she wants to ask the same question again, I will give her the same answer.
Mrs. Firth: She just asked me to stand up and repeat the question for her. She pays better attention when she is reading the newspaper, for heavens sake.
I do not mean to be argumentative. I would just like an answer to the question. We are here representing concerns people have brought to us. The union is concerned about this; other people who were interested in a job are concerned about it. We would just like a straight answer from the side opposite, please.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: As I indicated last week, the information we had available to us at the time was provided to the Member. The opportunity to take notice was also taken, because the Member asked for further detail. I indicated I would try to get back with further detail. The Minister for the Public Service Commission has indicated she will try to get back with further detail. We have already provided the information that the person was an employee of the Department of Education, and we were even able to name an individual employee in a particular transfer situation during estimates debate. We also detailed the issue with respect to the possibility for exemption from competition and the appeal procedures that are available if people do not like the exemption being provided. We have been more than accommodating with respect to information. I have already indicated we are going to try to get information across. The Member is trying to make the very pathetic case that there is something other than full disclosure by this government. I would submit she has not made any such case.
With respect to the very detailed detail the Member wants ...
Speaker: Order please. Would the Member please conclude his answer.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: ... with respect to this particular appointment, it is going to have to wait until we can get the very detailed information to her.
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 that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Government House Leader that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
Speaker leaves the Chair
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order. We will now have a short recess.
Chair: I will call Committee back to order.
We will continue with Bill No. 13 with the Department of Tourism.
Bill No. 13 - Second Appropriation Act, 1989-90 - continued
Hon. Mr. Webster: The department is submitting a period 5 variance that identifies reallocations between O&M programs but no actual change to the vote. There are minor reallocations among capital projects but again no changes in the total vote and no changes in recoveries. We would welcome general debate.
Mr. Phillips: I have a few questions in general debate. One pertains to the proposed waterfront development that is taking place. I know the Department of Tourism is not necessarily involved directly in that - it is the Department of Community and Transportation Services that has its deputy minister on that three-person committee. One of my concerns is that the Department of Tourism is not involved in a major tourism project such as that, and I would like to ask the Minister what kind of liaison he has with the YTG official on the committee, and what kind of input has been given to that official about what they would like to see in the waterfront development proposal?
Hon. Mr. Webster: The representative of the Government of Yukon is certainly aware of the role that tourism should play in that waterfront development. Of course, most of the problem right now is hinging on the fact that the White Pass & Yukon Route owns such a large part of the property down there - including the train station, which is the subject of great debate - that it is very difficult at this time to come up with a common development design for that area.
Mr. Phillips: Is the government doing anything to break the deadlock? There is some urgency to the waterfront development; 1992 is less than two years away and there are going to be literally hundreds of thousands of tourists coming to the territory. We are entering the era of the 1990s when we will have many major celebrations, right to the year 2000, and it certainly would be a lot nicer if we had such a facility in place - or at least mostly in place - by the time all these people arrive, so that when they go back they will tell a friend and maybe we will gain something from it through tourism. I think we have spent far too long discussing this issue and the time for action is now. We should not rush into it headlong and get a haphazard project - I am not suggesting that, but I am suggesting that there have been a lot of good ideas brought forward by the people who made submissions to the three-person committee. I think there is a general consensus of what people would like to see down there, and I would like to see the Government of the Yukon doing something to urge White Pass and the City of Whitehorse on so that this thing can get on track and we can start construction.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I certainly agree with the Member that the time is long past for some action on the waterfront development. It is my understanding that the next phase of this development is for the committee of three - representing the city, the White Pass, and the Government of Yukon - to have another public forum to discuss revisions to the original plan as a result of the public input that they received over the last four months. I do not know at this time - not being the lead agency in this role - when that next meeting is planned for.
Mr. Phillips: That leads me to another concern that I have, and I expressed it with my first question. This is, really, in fact, a tourism development project and will be something that will enhance tourism in the future - at least it is a major component of that. I am wondering how much communication the Department of Tourism has with the Department of Community and Transportation Services. Have you made a proposal to them, as the Department of Tourism, saying what you would like to see on the waterfront development? Have you made suggestions to them and if you have made these kinds of proposals or suggestions, would you be prepared to table them in the House so that we can see where the Department of Tourism is coming from with respect to the waterfront?
Hon. Mr. Webster: Again, the input from the Department of Tourism is provided in the Cabinet Committee of Economic Policy, where the government came up with its position on a number of matters related to the waterfront development. However, as I mentioned earlier, because the White Pass Corporation, for example, owns the section of land where the railway station is situated, it is very difficult for us to have much influence in the decision as to what may happen to that facility in the future. Certainly, the Department of Tourisms positions have been made known.
Mr. Phillips: I would like to move to another area now and that is the visitor reception centre that is tentatively planned for the City of Whitehorse. Would the Minister update us on exactly where we are with the visitor reception centre? Two studies were done recently. I understand that one made recommendations that various people in the tourism industry were not very happy with, and the study was redone. I guess that they are happier with the second one. I am not quite sure of that but that is my understanding. Where is it now, when can we expect an announcement and how soon will we start construction of this sort of facility? The other question is: where will it be?
Hon. Mr. Webster: Those are a lot of questions packed into one question. I will take them one at a time. The Member is quite correct about the first study, which identified the Jim Light arena as a prime area for the downtown visitor reception centre. There were many objections to that; consequently, as the Member has suggested, there was another study conducted, which identified some 14 sites - 12 in downtown Whitehorse, I believe, and two along the highway. Again, he is quite correct in saying that there was a lot of disagreement on the recommendations of that report.
In response to his question as to where it stands right now and if there is some commitment by this government, the Member knows from the mains that were tabled a couple of months ago that there are no monies identified in this years capital budget for the construction of a reception centre. All I can say is that I share the opinion of the Member opposite: I believe it is a priority and should be in place by 1992. Fortunately, we have another budget year prior to those celebrations.
Mr. Devries: I understand that several requests have been made for a small visitor reception centre on Highway 37 at the entrance to the Yukon on the Stewart-Cassiar Highway. Is the government seriously considering filling this request? What stage is it at?
Hon. Mr. Webster: That request has been made. In fact, I was in that area this past summer and the people who run the gas station and the RV park made that pitch to me. At this time it is not under active consideration.
Mr. Lang: I want to strongly recommend that the visitor reception centre for Whitehorse be located at the top of the Two Mile Hill, somewhere along the Alaska Highway. I will give reasons for this. I had the opportunity of going through British Columbia this past summer as a tourist. As a member of the travelling public, I can say that I was more prone to stop at a visitor reception centre that was close to the major highway than if I had to go down into the centre of a community to find what that community had to offer me and my family. I do not think my feelings were much different from anyone else who was travelling.
Parking is the other question. The Department of Tourism brought forward a study to substantiate their reasons for having it downtown, but I am talking as a member of the travelling public.
I think we have a wonderful opportunity to combine the visitor reception centre theme in conjunction with the proposed Yukon Transportation Museum. You have an area close to the airport with lots of parking. A non-profit organization is making every effort to put together a museum of transportation in the Yukon. In view of the celebrations we are going to be undertaking in the next number of years, it would be advantageous to combine the O&M costs of running that facility with the cost we are incurring for staff for the visitor reception centre. It makes a lot of sense.
It is strategically set; the land is available, and it would encourage people to pull off the highway to find out what not only Whitehorse has to offer, but what the Yukon has to offer. There are a lot of pluses to it and it should be very carefully examined. The business community should wake up to the fact that if you have somebody downtown you already have a captive audience. It is to get them from the top of the hill downtown. Once they are down on the main street the community will take care of them.
I feel we are losing some business. We would be able to spread the message about Yukon to those people traveling through our country. I would like to hear the Ministers comments on that.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I agree with the Member when he states that in his opinion the main visitor reception centre should be located on the highway for some of the reasons he mentioned.
However, that is not the recommendation that came out of that report. The recommendation suggested that we have the main reception centre located in downtown Whitehorse, and we have satellite centres on the highway located in one or two areas. They specified a prime location by the South Access Road currently where the City of Whitehorse has that recreational area.
The Member is quite correct in this regard. I was in contact with the people in Prince George this week where they have two reception centres, a satellite one on the highway and the major one located in the downtown area.
They find that they have six times as many people stop into the reception centre on the highway even though it is a much smaller one, a satellite one, than they have in the downtown centre.
I do agree with the Member on that point. The community seems to be evenly split on that matter. The Member opposite suggested the Yukon Transportation Museum as a site for the location of that reception centre on the highway. The study also indicated that many more people first coming to the Whitehorse area are approaching Whitehorse from the south as opposed to the north. Most people who have approached Whitehorse from the north have already gone down into Whitehorse. That difference is about two or three to one. That was another reason why the south access was identified as a more ideal location, instead of anywhere in between the two access routes into town or north of it.
I would like to thank the Member for the suggestion. We have recently received a requestion from the Yukon Transportation Museum for us to consider that very suggestion the Member is making.
Mr. Lang: I am pleased to hear that the Yukon Transportation Museum Association has put that suggestion forward. The Minister of Finance said that in anything that is done, one has to ask, Where is the money going to come from? I would like to recommend combining a number of assets that we have into one, to keep our O&M costs down to the point where the taxpayers can bear it. It would be more advantageous to have a visitor reception centre at the south end and at the north end, but anything we do is a compromise.
There is an opportunity for us to really make a display, in conjunction with that group, and a stopping off place that will really encourage people to stop and find out what Whitehorse is about. I am not disagreeing with the statistics, but I do not think that it matters if the visitor reception centre is at the south end or the north end or in the middle. As long as the tourists stop and they still have access into Whitehorse, it might be enough of an encouragement to go down into Whitehorse. The Minister should take a serious look at that. Preliminary work should be undertaken to get things moving as much as we can.
Architectural and engineering work could be done so that we can possibly get a start in the fall. I do not accept the side opposite saying that it cannot be done because there is no money. We are looking at a supplementary of millions of dollars. The government made decisions after we left the House, and that is, rightly or wrongly, authority vested in the government. The money can be found. We are not talking about five, six, eight or 10 million dollars.
If we could find some reasonable amount of money and work with the Yukon Transportation Museaum Association, this might be the way to do it. Maybe we could get a first-class visitor reception centre, in conjunction with that museum, in place before the Alaska Highway celebration that many people will be travelling to the Yukon and to Alaska to take part in.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I want to make it very clear that I am not dismissing the Members suggestion about that site being another option. At this time, the problem is that there is no consensus on recommendations in that report. A decision has to be made as to whether the main reception centre is to be located in downtown Whitehorse or on the highway. In the final analysis, if it is decided that it should be on the highway, it would preferably be the South Access as opposed to the idea of the Yukon Transportation Museum site.
That is the problem we have at hand. I also agree with him that that issue has to decided soon so we can go ahead with plans for next years capital budget construction period, at the latest. The serious suggestion he has made, that it could be started earlier if we come to a decision in this matter through a supplementary, is quite in line.
Mr. Lang: Obviously, the Minister is going to get full support from this side of the House in coming to a fairly finite decision. I do know you are going to get some differences of opinion in the business community. In view of the conversation we have had here, we both agree that the most advantageous area is on the Two Mile Hill. You are the Minister, we are in the Opposition, and we are both elected by all the people, not by one sector of the community.
We have already resolved that question. Secondly, the next question is: should we do it in conjunction with the Yukon Transportation Association? You already have the letter welcoming the possibility of sitting down with the government.
We will do anything we can to assist you in getting things into place for this, because I think we are missing the boat. The ideas that have been brought forward here can keep your operation and maintenance costs down, which are so important to us as taxpayers.
Chair: I would like to remind the Members to make your remarks through the Chair.
Hon. Mr. Webster: Again, I want to emphasize to the Member that the important thing here is to come to a decision this summer, get the matter resolved and get into action.
Mr. Lang: I want to correct the record. It should be a decision this spring, not this summer. He can do a lot in the summer if the decision is taken in early spring.
Chair: Is there any further general debate?
Mr. Phillips: This weekend, I had an opportunity to attend the AYC conference in Whitehorse. One of the focuses of that conference was to talk about tourism in the early 1990s in the Yukon. Several panel members were involved in that. As well, there was an alderwoman from the City of Red Deer, Gail Surcan, who gave a presentation to that conference. Ms. Surcan is very involved in tourism and tourism activities in the Province of Alberta.
Some of the suggestions Ms. Surcan made were very valuable to everyone who was there. One of the ones she made is near and dear to my heart, and that is the concern she expressed about advising our tourists as they arrive in the territory that we have a clean, pristine environment, and encouraging them to try to keep it that way.
I go back again to a motion that we passed in the House here last spring. It talked about a publicity program that would include advising tourists about keeping Yukon clean and about the value of our clean air and water. There have been some things done by the government. The Minister mentioned a safe camping program or environmental camping sort of thing. I cannot remember the exact name of the program. I am concerned about some type of program where signs would be put up at the entranceways to the territory. It may be by signs or by some brochures or other information we give to people, advising them how to travel environmentally safe, or at least to provide protection to Yukons environment as they travel through.
One of those things, of course, is not to litter; the other one would be advice on where the dumping stations are for the RVs so they just would not drop their stuff in the local gravel pits. I think the suggestion the other day from the Member for Watson Lake of a bag with a map on it is an excellent idea and might be something we could look into.
I would like to ask the Minister if, in light of the proposals or suggestions made at the conference last weekend - I know he was there, listening to the same proposals I heard - he has given any consideration to this type of a program so that it could get off the ground now and when the ground thaws we could put the signs up. I called the program last year Yukon Pride and that was probably a mistake; I probably should have called it Websters Pride and we might have gotten somewhere. But I did name the program, and I think that was probably a mistake - I should have let the government do it. I am open to any suggestion for an anti-littering program that this government adopts and I can assure the Minister that, unless it is absolutely foolish, I will give it full support.
I would like to find out from the Minister if he does share the same concerns as I do and if the Minister is prepared to tell us at this time that he will initiate some type of a program - if not early this summer, then at least have the planning in place this summer - so that by the time 1992 rolls around or by the time tourism increases for the 1990s we will have some kind of program in place that will advise people on how they can travel through the Yukon and help maintain the pristine wilderness that they see all around them.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I enjoyed the remarks made by the guest panelist from Red Deer, and particularly the comments about the need to educate tourists. We have to educate tourists to provide them with a better experience on their holiday. This, of course, was not just limited to the environment; they were talking, indeed, on a broader concept - to teach about the history of our territory and its heritage and, in the campgrounds, some of the nature aspects. Some of these things, the heritage branch of the Department of Tourism is already doing through its museums program, its signage - the special interpretive signs. With respect specifically to the environment, I think our department, along with Renewable Resources, are already doing quite a bit in this regard. Last night I mentioned, for example, that we will soon have available a new pamphlet on wilderness ethics, which will be a guide to the tourists as well as Yukoners - how to treat our wilderness to ensure the environment is not harmed. There will be sections on low-impact camping, packing out your litter.
I think we have a lot of information contained in the vacation guide for the benefit of our tourists as to locations of dumping stations and, again, how to treat the Yukon in an environmentally-friendly manner. We certainly have signs up already - the Member is suggesting some signs - as a reminder to our tourists. We have some that are negative in a sense, being the $500 fine on our highways for people who do litter. Certainly, we are handing out a lot of information at our visitor reception centres along the highways on a number of matters - whether it be the fishing synopsis or the special pamphlet we put out on using Yukon campgrounds - each of which makes a special effort to implore people to clean up their mess, to not leave a mess, and to leave the Yukon in the pristine condition in which they are expecting to find it.
In response to the Members question, it is our intention to expand on a program we have already embarked on for the last number of years.
Mr. Devries: Could the Minister tell me if anyone has ever been fined or if they have ever taken a case to court where someone was fined for littering?
Hon. Mr. Webster: The Minister of Justice informs me that she is not aware of anyone who has been charged with that offence.
Mr. Devries: According to the sergeant in Watson Lake, the laws relating to litter do not provide a clear definition of what is highway right-of-way. If litter was lying on the pavement, a person could be fined, but the moment it is either in the ditch or in a gravel pit, there seems to be a problem. He has advised his officers there would be no point in charging anyone because it would be unenforceable. It is something the Minister should look into.
Hon. Mr. Webster: Is this the opinion of the RCMP in Watson Lake?
Unfortunately, I cannot concur with my colleague, the Minister responsible for Community and Transportation Services, but I would think that the highway right-of-way includes the actual highway surface itself.
Mr. Phillips: While we are on the highway, I would like to turn to another area I have some concern with and that is road signs. We all know tourism is the second largest industry in the territory and has been for some years. When mining was in trouble in the territory, tourism was the largest. We also know that 75 percent of our tourists are Americans. This has been something I have stressed for quite some time. In Canada we deal in the metric system and many of our American friends have a great deal of difficulty understanding exactly where they are and how far it is to the next gas station or community.
I have suggested many times that we consider putting up signs along the road that would say, 50 miles to Whitehorse", or to wherever it happens to be, so we can assist our American friends who probably spend anywhere from three to five days travelling through the Yukon. They cannot be expected to understand the metric system in that short period of time. This is not without examples. If you travel to Europe and other countries of the world there are signs in English even though many different languages are spoken. The metric system is similar. Many of the Americans are senior citizens and just do not have a clue what a kilometre is. The year 1992 is going to be our big celebration. We are in the tourism business; we are talking about the tourism business in a big way, because it is going to be the thing of the 1990s and into the next century. We should do everything we possibly can to accommodate the tourists who arrive in the territory. One thing that we can do that will not cost a lot of money is put up signs every 50 or 100 miles along the highway identifying the next community and how many miles it is, so our American friends can better understand exactly where they are on the highway and how far they have to go for gas.
I would ask the Minister if he agrees with that, and if he does, when they will start doing that. Have they started some of it already?
Hon. Mr. Webster: No, we have not started it already. I believe this matter of making signs available in both metric and mileage comes up every year. It is a matter of standardization across the country. I am sure PEI gets just as many American tourists as we do, but they do not give their signs in both kilometres and miles, just as no other province in this country does. It may be a practice in other countries but not in Canada.
Recognizing this problem is one of the reasons why we go to great lengths on all our publications to inform Americans about our system. We do charts that give the distances in both kilometres and miles. We even give the Yukon maps with that information free of charge to tourists. That is the way it will be so that we are standard with the rest of the jurisdictions in this country.
Mr. Phillips: Here we are again. We are doing some things like putting charts in our travel guides, but quite frankly, it took many of us here in this House several months to understand. It did not just happen immediately. It took some people several years to understand exactly how far Carcross was in kilometres. I know many senior citizens who still do not understand the metric system and never will. We do not always have to be the same as everyone down south. There are other areas down south that have signs and mileposts. Some places in B.C. and Alberta have done it.
In most cases where we see a sign in the Yukon, B.C. or Alberta that tells the mileage to the next place, the private sector is usually responsible for that. The business person knows that that is how they cater to the people coming to see them. That is how they help them out. If they see a friendly sign that says 100 miles to the next gas station, they might stop at that gas station because they figure they will be told some other things that they have been trying to find out for the last 100 miles. They have probably been reading the milepost book and have no idea how far it is to Liard Hot Springs or if Haines Junction is around the next corner.
It is not a big deal. It is not a real big deal. It is a big deal, however, to the people who are coming up the highway. We cannot possibly expect to give them a book and expect them to understand the metric system in a three or five day trip through the territory. I cannot understand the Ministers thinking on that at all. He figures that a 50, 60 or 70 year old American tourist who has lived under the imperial system their whole life, will suddenly understand the whole highway system in the territory from the Ministers friendly graph.
The Minister should give this serious consideration. We are in the tourism business. In Hawaii, things cater directly to the public. Not all parts of one country do things the same as in other parts of that country. They cater to the tourist because they know where their bread and butter is. We should do that kind of thing.
Hon. Mr. Webster: The Member has suggested that members of the private sector already do that for the benefit of the tourist. The visitor reception centre in Dawson City has all the distances posted, to Whitehorse, to Tok, et cetera, in both kilometres and miles. There is nothing wrong with that.
Mr. Phillips: If the people in the visitor reception centre think it is so important to have a chart that they can photocopy to give to the tourist, why does the Minister think that it is not important that a sign be put on the highway? What is the big deal? If people have to come to the visitor reception to understand it, why does the Minister not make it easier for them? Why is he trying to make it more difficult for the tourist? It would amount to probably 50 signs throughout the territory on various roads. The beginning of each road would state the distance in miles and in kilometres.
Our good friends in Alaska know how valuable it is. When we get off the ferry in Skagway, Alaska, there is a sign right at the end of the ferry that give the distance to Whitehorse in miles and kilometres. They could see the light. Why will the light not go on in the Ministers office?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I have already explained the reason why we do not put signs up in both kilometres and miles. Have I not? The Member for Kluane is shaking his head in a negative fashion. I am pretty sure that I said, just about 10 minutes ago, the reason we do not do that in the Yukon is that we are trying to standardize this nationally. We have it posted in one fashion and that is in the metric system, which has been officially adopted by this country.
It is interesting because this came into being quite some time ago. It came into being when the side opposite was in government. If it was such an easy thing that made such perfect sense, why did the side opposite not put signs up in both miles and kilometres?
Mr. Brewster: Let us start at the beginning. When I first came to this House, I introduced a motion to go back to miles. That was defeated in this House. After that, I received letters right from Mile 0, Dawson Creek, right to 1202, Beaver Creek, backing me and telling me I was perfectly right, that this is for tourism.
Then, we turn around and say we have to be standard across Canada. It is really funny that we seem to have the thought that if something is good for us and good for the government, then we are standard across Canada. Then, we hear the Minister of Finance stand up and say that we are different, we have to have things done differently. We cannot have it both ways. Let us have it one way or the other.
Also, for anyone who has travelled around where there is tourism - if you go into Banff, Jasper, or any of those places - there are signs in Japanese, because they know where their money is coming from. They have brains enough to know it. There is another funny thing; we have a centennial coming here. I am being told by people on the commission that most of the people coming up here are people who were up here when the Alaska Highway was built. Now, they are not going to find any of the places that they knew.
The other thing is that we keep talking about our culture. Our culture on the Alaska Highway was 1016, 1202, 1083, 777, 1093 and many others. In fact, I can tell you the time when that was a post office-recognized number. They were their mail post numbers - it was not Haines Junction, it was 1016; it was not Destruction Bay, it was 1083. This was our culture that the bureaucrats continually took away from us. They sit and smile and think this is funny. They do not know how to cater to tourists, and it is quite apparent when all the national parks where the Japanese visit have Japanese signs so they can be understood, but we are different.
On this one here, though, we are going to stay the same, just to suit the bureaucrats. I then turned around and suggested in this House that we place a milepost every 10 miles. That was turned down. Then, I said, when you put in kilometre posts, why not every so often put a milepost, so that at least 86 percent of our tourists understand where they are. The answer to that was: they can learn our language and they can learn our ways, or they do not need to be here. Eighty-six percent of our tourists can go home because they do not understand us. It is a very sensible attitude, and it is a bureaucratic attitude, and it is time to change if you want tourism.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I hardly know where to start, so I am not going to say very much at all about this. I do not think the Member opposite would have it both ways, either. When the side opposite was in government, they were the ones who removed the mileposts. When that side opposite was in government, I do not know why the good Member for Kluane did not make it very clear to his colleagues to leave the mileposts in and to put signs in both miles and kilometres.
Mr. Brewster: It is very easy to explain. If the Minister there had been in this Legislature when I was there, there were many times when I disagreed with my government, and I had the guts to stand up here and say so.
It never bothered me, as an individual, to stand up and say, I disagree.
Mr. Phillips: I would like to remind the Minister of something as well. It could very well have been the Conservative government of the Yukon that removed them, but the Minister should be reminded that was a federal law. We were required to remove them all across Canada. When the federal Conservatives were elected in Ottawa, they gave provinces and territories the option to change back. That just happened about five or six years ago.
Since that happened, we have been consistent with motions in this House requesting the side opposite to put up some kind of sign on the side of the road to indicate the distance in miles and kilometres, so our tourism friends could understand.
Yes, we changed it, but because it was a federal law and we had to. That law does not stand anymore. That has been changed. The Minister should be aware of that.
I would like to hear from the Minister. He argued a few minutes ago that we were the ones who changed it and it sounds like he is prepared to change it back. He now has the option to. The federal law has been changed; he does have the option of putting up signs on the highway. Let us make it perfectly clear. We are not asking for milepost signs up every single mile of the Alaska Highway. We are asking that at for 50-mile or 100-mile points on the highway, or at certain junctions on the highway, they put up a central sign in miles and kilometres, like they do in Skagway when you get off the ferry - there is a sign there. That is all we are asking. I do not think it is a great request when you consider that we probably now have 75 to 85 percent Americans visiting, and I will bet you that by 1992 it will increase to somewhere around 90 or 95 percent, because many of the people involved in the Alaska Highway were Americans and many of their relatives and friends will be coming up during that period. What is so wrong, when you are in the tourism industry, with doing things that cater to the bulk of the tourists you have coming up here?
Hon. Mr. Webster: The Members opposite have suggested that this is the practice in other parts of the country. I will check on that to see if it is the case. If it is possible to have it done here, it will be considered.
Mr. Phillips: I would like to go on now to another area of local education and education for Yukoners who are involved in the tourism industry. This weekend, again, one of the main things that was talked about was having a good, well-trained workforce to work into the tourism industry.
Currently, we have a program called the Yukon Host program. I had the opportunity last summer of taking that course myself, with several of the young students who worked up at the Whitehorse fish ladder. I have to say that the people who conducted the program did an excellent job, but I did feel, after taking the program, that it was not quite as specific as it could be. I think now the government is in the process, in conjunction with the Tourism Industry Association, of re-evaluating the program or designing a new program. I think that is a good idea but I would like to make some suggestions to the Minister that he consider going one step further; I would suggest that we need people in the tourism service industry. We need well trained people in the tourism service industry. We need people who understand the value of tourism, and I would suggest to the Minister that possibly he could talk to his Minister of Education and they could consider some type of an elective program that might start, say, in February or March of each year in the school, which would offer some kind of tourism training or service training, specifically to students in the high school grades. Those students could gain some kind of certificate or whatever from that program, saying they had taken it, so that they would be considered on a priority basis to the service industry out there when they are hiring people. I think it would be extremely valuable to the young students to be trained in the tourism business in the beginning and it would be extremely valuable to the tourism industry itself.
After we had the training session with the Yukon Host program at the fish ladder, we took the same kids up to the fish ladder and gave them extensive training over and above that, conducted by fisheries officials, on the types of fish that come through the ladder; it was more specific to what they were to do. We talked to them about getting onto the buses when the tour groups arrived. We talked to them about smiling and being friendly and telling people to have a nice day when they were finished. It was interesting. There is a guest book at the fish ladder every year and the guest book this year is absolutely full of compliments on the young students who worked up at the fish ladder; people felt they were very informative, they were very friendly, and many people came back a second time to the fish ladder - once on their way up to Alaska or through Yukon and the second time on their way back - and made the point of not only marking in the book that they thought the display was interesting but that they felt the children involved there were very informative and very helpful. I think that if we had some kind of program like that within our schools and possibly some type of more advanced education in Yukon College, we could consider in the future - I mean, we are a tourism-oriented area, we have the best training ground in the world, people with hands-on experience - that it would be a good way to train the talented people who could go out and work well in the service industry.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The reason I am answering the question is because this is primarily an education issue.
The Department of Education and Yukon College have been working with the Tourism Industry Association, and with the B.C.-Yukon Tourism Industry Association to discuss ways in which hospitality programming can be improved. That started after the introduction of the concept of the tourism institute was introduced by the government a year and one-half ago when the College Act was passed in 1988.
There is some programming that will meet the needs of the tourism industry in the coming years. The question of whether or not we should dedicate more than what the industry is requesting to tourism has been broached in the past. There is a difference of opinion with respect to that matter as to whether or not the government, in general, or the Department of Education, in particular, should actually lead the demand for tourism training or whether it should be industry driven. That is an old question, not a new one. Certainly, at this point it is not finally resolved.
In any case, there are competing demands at Yukon College for the available resources. Consequently, the dedication of the college to tourism programming, exclusively, in its business programs, would not be a viable alternative from the perspective of the college board or the program advisory councils perspective, because there are so many competing demands. That is not to say for a moment that tourism programming cannot be improved and refined, but a further or larger expenditure of resources in tourism would, I suspect, meet heavy weather in the program advisory councils perspective.
Pilot programs have been run through the public school system in Whitehorse and I believe they have been fairly successful. Short courses on tourism hospitality training for high school students have in the past had success based upon the capabilities of the individuals who conducted the courses. Those individuals who are considered to be first class instructors have done very well and all reports are that what they do should be continued. There has been lukewarm reaction to other attempts.
The concept of tourism hospitality preparation training for students who are considering entering into tourism hospitality for a summer job has been broached before. The concept will be continued this year. I will check the main estimates debate in Education to see exactly what is in mind at this point. I have encouraged the department to consider that in the past and will encourage them to consider it again in the future.
Mr. Phillips: The reason I raise the issue is that it is something I think is necessary in the territory. We are a major tourism area and in 1992 we will see a large influx of people into the territory. There is a problem now with a lack of properly trained and qualified staff in many of the tourism-oriented facilities throughout the territory. If we are going to be prepared for 1992 and, it is hoped, the great number of tourists who will come up in the 1990s we should start upgrading our programs and put them in place so we have the necessary trained staff to handle these tours.
I am pleased to hear the government is doing some things in the schools, but it can be considered as rather minuscule compared to what is being done in Alberta and British Columbia. They have quite massive programs for educating their youth and people who are working themselves into the tourism industry. They have identified, as the speakers this weekend identified, that the largest growing industry in the world right now is tourism.
As I said before, we are a natural. We already have the magnetic draw of the beauty of the territory and the history that goes along with it, and we should try to capitalize on this tourism to become a destination spot. The only way we are going to do that is to provide top quality attractions. We are already blessed with the scenery we have around here and the wonderful weather. Some people do want to come to 40 below weather, and we have that today for them as well. We do have some assets already in place. I think we would literally be missing the boat if we did not take advantage of this in this situation. I suggest that the government look very seriously into this. I have talked to the Minister of Education on it on a private basis, and I think he knows where I am coming from. There is an opportunity, with Yukon College, to develop some very advanced programs in tourism, and we should be seriously looking at that now. We should not wait until it passes us by in the 1990s to consider it. We should be after it while it is here. That is what I am suggesting to the Minister.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I would hope the Member does not think the Yukon College or the Department of Education is allowing opportunities in tourism training to pass us by. The Member did draw reference to the rather massive programs that do exist in Alberta and B.C., and that is true. When I reviewed the matter back at the time we created a tourism institute concept, there was the suggestion by the Member for Porter Creek East, at that time, that the Yukon College should concentrate, or somehow dedicate more resources, get a larger critical mass, if it was going to specialize, to make Yukon College a Canada-class, or nation-class institution for tourism training.
We discovered that colleges such as BCIT and others have tourism training programs that, in their own college, even though those colleges do not specialize in tourism training, that are larger than the entire Yukon College. This led me to believe that, if we are going to have a critical mass in terms of the national-class service, as has been suggested by some, that we would have to have a much larger college in order to do that.
In excessive discussions I had with the tourism industry at that time, it became apparent that what was required was something that was responding to the tourism industrys needs, rather than something that would lead to tourism. If the government wanted to go into the business of a very large tourism institute for purposes of other than serving the local tourism industry, that was the governments decision to make, but that is not what they were looking for.
At that time, the issues were largely whether or not the programming could be matched to the needs of the industry, given that the industry felt that people who were working for them could use upgrading. There were such issues as the timing of the programs, and if they could be other than long-term, full-time courses, which the tourism sector in Yukon could not accommodate. Instead, it was suggested that they be short, evening courses that could be handled by the tourism sector in the Yukon, being primarily and largely small business in nature and, consequently, unable to live with the absence of employees on a full-time basis over a long period of time.
At that time, the Yukon College board was just getting into place. Further discussions were to take place and have been taking place with respect to further accommodating the existing tourism industry.
There was a feeling that we could specialize in the area of wilderness guiding because there was so little of it going on elsewhere, especially in B.C. Consequently, we have made some moves to focus some of our efforts in new programming for the tourism and outfitting industries, in the field of guiding. That would deal with guiding for outfitters as well as for wilderness guiding. We can concentrate our resources there because there is a niche, which is not yet filled.
Mr. Lang: We were talking about Yukon College and younger people from the ages of 14 to 17, who are looking for summer work. The small person who hires these young people often find that their new employees do not know what to do. They have no idea how to make change. They do not know how to dress for work. They do not realize that their friends should probably not be hanging around where they are working. These are things that you or I would take for granted if we were an employee. To follow up on what the Member for Riverdale North has said, maybe we could put on a short course for those students who want to work during the summer. It could be a weekend course, or a four-day course in the month of April or May. These students could be better equipped to present themselves to an employer. That could also make it more beneficial for the employer to hire those younger people in the tourist industry, which lasts approximately two months.
There should be some discussion throughout the territory on making this available to see if we can give these kids more of a background so that they can present themselves for employment. Does the Minister have any comments on that? Maybe he is prepared to pursue that with the various business communities to see how this kind of an idea would be taken.
Hon. Mr. Webster: It is a very sound idea. I thought this was already being done by the Junior Chamber of Commerce. If it is not being done by the Junior Chamber of Commerce, it could be a good project for them to get involved with.
Mr. Lang: I do not believe that anyone is putting on a program of this kind. The weakness is definitely out there. Anyone who has children in the 14- or 15-year old age group would wonder if they would hire their children to work for them if they were an employer. There are some basic tenets that children can be taught fairly quickly to get them started in the workplace. The government could act as a catalyst in providing minimal resources to help organize a program at the college.
This should not be dismissed with the thought that the Junior Chamber of Commerce is taking care of it. They do not control Watson Lake or Dawson City. Would the Minister make an undertaking to pursue that idea and see if there is some foundation to it? Maybe a program could be put together in conjunction with the business sector.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I think it would be an unfair characterization of the Minister for Tourisms comments that he was dismissing the suggestion the Member was making out-of-hand by suggesting that it might be a good project for the Junior Chamber of Commerce. Given what is happening elsewhere, it might be an ideal project for a Junior Chamber of Commerce - but that is not the point of the matter. The point is that the Department of Education also regards it, as I mentioned to the Member for Riverdale North, as something worth pursuing as well.
As I indicated before, there were pilot courses that were run in the past in schools. Short term is definitely the order of the day because the curriculum now is jam packed and we cannot just keep adding stuff to the curriculum, so that obviously, the concept the Member mentioned with respect to evenings or weekend courses at the beginning of the tourism season is what we have been considering in the past. We have run some pilot courses. I have asked the department to continue to consider that. On balance, I would call it a success. Given the success that we have had with it, it should be continued. Obviously, if other organizations wish to entertain the concept, even through the Department of Economic Development: Mines and Small Business and the community development fund, I would suggest that it would be a very worthwhile project, even for people other than government and the Department of Education to consider, if they were requiring funds beyond what they can secure for themselves. Certainly, there are opportunities within government to pursue this matter because we do recognize that the hospitality skills of young people sometimes are immature or not yet formed and this kind of course and work does foster an understanding of what tourists expect when they come into the territory.
Certainly I understand the expectations of tourists have been increasing over the years, as has the desire for even better hospitality and greater care and attention. We do feel that is something we should be pursuing and we will even help out others if they would like to pursue that independent of the Department of Education.
Mr. Lang: I just want to say, from my perspective as a parent, that I would be more than happy to send my children to such a course. I think that it is not a question that they do not want to go. When you are dealing with kids of 14, 15 and 16 years, they just do not know. Nobody has ever told them. Unless you sit down and tell them - and I am talking, as the Minister said, about a Saturday, maybe three Saturday mornings or three full Saturdays, prior to the tourism season, to give them a basic grounding. They get a small diploma and it is hoped they could then present themselves to the shopkeeper or the person and say, look, I have taken this course and I do have some ideas. Would you give me a chance at a job for the summer? It definitely puts them one step up over and above somebody else who has not had any training from that age group. There are a lot of questions to it and I just hope that the government takes it seriously. I will be looking forward to seeing what comes of it.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I thank him for his comments. I also thought there was a training component to the Canada Manpower hire-a-student program. Once a young person signs up for employment through that agency, once they do secure a job, you would think that there would be a couple of days of training, such as the basics of introducing them to working in industry. I think that is another avenue that should be pursued as well.
Mr. Phillips: I would like to add to the suggestions the Member for Porter Creek East made and add to what the Minister of Education has said. I agree with the Minister of Education: it may be a little difficult to try and squeeze it into the existing school day; most curriculums are full enough as it is. Quite a few in-service days occur throughout the school year - a lot more than did when I went to school; the students are free those days and I am sure that, if a course was planned in the four to six months prior to the tourism season, and we included some of those in-service days, we might get a Friday-Saturday or another day of the week where students could avail themselves of some type of program. I think, too, if the program was carried out January-February-March-April compared to June-July-August, you might find more participation of the businesses involved. For instance, Murdochs Gem Shop and some of the hotels would be able to send one of their staff over. I think that is what is critical. The Yukon Host program, like I said, is a good program but it is very general. If you want a young person to learn about a job in, say, one of the local hotels or behind the counter in Murdochs Gem Shop or any other store in town, you want to be more specific of what the job is all about. You want the basic training on your attitudes toward the tourist, but you also want to tell them a little bit more of what the job is all about, what is expected of them, and that kind of thing.
I think we possibly could use some of the business people in a course like that; it could be a small diploma-type course where these people could sit in for a day or two or three over a period of time and come out of it as preferred potential employees in the summer. You might be surprised; a lot of young students would take advantage of that if they knew they could possibly make a little more money at the same job if they had this diploma, rather than just come in somewhat green the way most of them do now and jump from job to job throughout the summer. It makes it very difficult, I guess, for the student, and certainly for the business, which almost has an ongoing 24-hour training program from about May right through to September. It is very costly to these businesses to do that, and maybe we could facilitate things better if the government stepped in with this type of program early in the spring.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I think some of the Members comments are excellent. The desire to encourage business people to participate and provide some information on what sorts of things they may require is a good idea. Certainly, they can provide some wisdom about how their operations interact with the tourists. The idea about providing a certificate of completion is a good one, especially if it is done in concert with, say, the Tourism Industry Association or Chamber of Commerce or an employer group, because that would accomplish the desired goal of providing a little extra incentive for students to go into the training course if they knew that members of the Chamber of Commerce cared about whether or not a person had a certificate of completion for a couple of days course. That certainly is a possibility.
The idea of running it on in-service days is certainly a possibility, obviously if we are not using line teachers and presuming the students have those days off and are interested in taking those days off to go through more schooling. That is something we could certainly try and see to what extent we understand the psychology of students and on what they might consider to be holidays. It is worth trying, given that the time is available.
We do not want to run tourism courses or hospitality courses during the tourism season. Everyone is busy; they either have jobs or the businesses are too busy to participate. This was one of the considerations given during the pilot projects we have undertaken in the past: we hold the courses relatively close to the summer period or the period when students might take advantage of summer jobs; it is at that time when we can capture their interest. It is sometimes too remote, when it is 40 below, unless we are trying to teach people how to interact with tourists at 40 below, to encourage students to think as far ahead as four or three months from now. That was the reason why we held the short courses near the end of the school year, close to the tourism season.
The ideas are very good, and I will bring them to the attention of the department. I think, in partnership with the industry, something very good can come out of the suggestions, and we can improve our performance as a community with respect to providing for kinder, gentler, more attentive hospitality, by the people who work for businesses, when tourists visit the territory.
Mr. Brewster: I agree with most of the suggestions made here, but having been in the business all my life until I got this easy position sitting in here to sit and talk all day, there are a few things we are missing on this subject.
We teach children in these small courses to be polite, to say hello and to smile. Then you ask them the name of the river half a mile up the road, and most of them cannot tell you. You ask them the name of the mountain they can see from the window, and they cannot tell you, although they have lived there all their life.
About four years ago, National Parks advertised its job program to get people to work. Very few people in the Yukon got jobs. The people in my area were all mad, saying that the children were entitled to go to work there. They had grade 12 and they knew all the work. I talked with the superintendent and he was very cooperative. The next year they changed the whole questionnaire and none of the Yukoners could pass it again. They showed me the questionnaire and I know where the questions came from; they came right from the brochure that every tourist picks up when they walk out. All the answers were in that brochure. None of these children were ever taught that they have to read a few of these things. They thought because they had grade 12, they had the answers. Again, they brought people from outside and, surprisingly, people from Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario and, yes, even Quebec, were brought in and could answer these questions. These were university students who could not get jobs in their own field, so they came up here for a year to do these things.
This talk about teaching people tourism in one or two days is not possible. There is absolutely no way. In my experience, I found the good people were the older people who knew how to dress to come to work and knew how to talk to people and serve gas. I could tell by going through my till who was on shift, without knowing, by the money they made. They were courteous and went out to talk to people. We had one young woman who sold a man a steak when he had come in for a hamburger. He was back on his return trip, too. She did not learn that in two days, she learned that because it was her business and she went at it.
You can go into one of the information bureaus and they are nearly all older women. With the young ones, the information officer has to start going through a book. Surely, if you are going into this business you must have a little bit of sense.
I can recall a hunter I had out. My daughter was 15 years of age and she answered the phone and booked the hunt. He could not believe it. She could tell him all about the hunt, she could tell him what size the horns were and all about it because she grew up in the business. She booked the hunt at 15. We teach these children through grade 12 and turn them out into the world. Then we give them a two-day course in tourism. They are not going to do it well. You are going to have to give them a full background on it if you want them into it properly. If you are only going to give them two or three days they are going to get paid accordingly. The same person will get paid according to their skill if they are fully qualified because they will be worth it.
This talk of two or three days does not make sense. Alberta pushes this and pushes it. I was born in Banff. If some of these people we have here were working in tourism in Banff with one of those bus companies, they would run them off. There were university kids there who knew every mountain and every milepost up and down that road or they did not stay there. They would double their wages with tips. The guy who got on there who did not know anything would walk off and quit because all he got was wages; he did not get any tips. He did not tell anybody anything. Conversation is important. Most of these kids are not taught to talk to anybody. They are not taught to sit down and take a few minutes with them. They will sit and talk among themselves and ignore the tourists.
If you do not want people from outside to come in to run our tourist business, we had better start teaching some people here in the Yukon how to do it.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I will eagerly and willingly bow to the experience that the Member for Kluane has. Before I went into mining, I was five years in the hospitality industry, working in a restaurant. My experience is probably 40 years short of what the Member for Kluane has. I understand and respect his judgment on these matters.
When the issue of short courses versus long courses came up in the past, the people who were putting on the courses made it very clear what one could expect from the course content. There are definite limitations. The first thing is that a good history or geography lesson cannot be provided. That is what a lot of people are looking for. That does not come in two days. The people who put on the courses insisted that we do not expect that of the course.
The courses were able to motivate the students to try to understand what they would be facing with the tourists. They tried to get the student to understand who the tourist was - that they were people, not just something that walks through the door. These are people who have feelings and expectations. Even if the students did not know all there is to know about a specific business or about the Yukon, they were motivated to care about each person. That was basically the first step.
There is no substitute for experience. That is the best teacher. There is no substitute for the longer courses that are offered elsewhere. They provide a much more in-depth grounding in various aspects of the tourism industry. The Member is quite right that we cannot expect this to be the panacea, or that suddenly we are going to have an intensive tourism industry overnight from a few short courses in Whitehorse, Haines Junction and Watson Lake. This is not going to happen. It is going to take a lot of experience, working in the industry and respecting the tourists who come here.
Mr. Phillips: I am prepared to go line-by-line now if there is no further debate.
Chair: We will proceed line-by-line.
On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures
Hon. Mr. Webster: The $9,000 can be broken down in the following way: $4,000 is a reduction in salaries, and; $5,000 in the reduction in contract services since no special projects are anticipated for this fiscal year.
Mr. Phillips: Could the Minister provide us with a list of the contracts for this area?
Hon. Mr. Webster: We just received that information yesterday. The department is going through those contracts now to compile from that list what contracts have been completed up to this term. They will be available tomorrow, along with the contracts from the Department of Renewable Resources.
Mr. Phillips: Is the Minister just going to provide us with the ones that are completed? Are we not going to get any of the contracts that are still ongoing?
Hon. Mr. Webster: That is correct.
Mr. Phillips: This deals with the fiscal year up to March 31. I would like to have all of the contracts that have been let, even if they are ongoing, so that I have an idea of what is ongoing, if that is possible. I think all we are looking for is the list and what the contract is about. It could have completed or incomplete on a line on the back. I suppose that would be easy enough to do.
Hon. Mr. Webster: This budget deals with the period 5 variance so that all projects that are completed up to September this year will be ones that will be forwarded to the Member. The ones for the end of this fiscal year, March 31, will come out as they have every year, somewhere in the second or third week of April, for the entire year.
Administration in the amount of an under expenditure of $9,000 agreed to
Hon. Mr. Webster: The net increase of $28,000 for Heritage breaks down as follows: $60,000 required for contract services to prepare and deliver the Yukon historic resources act, which is offset by the following decreases: $19,000 savings in salary costs as a result of the recruitment of a new historic sites coordinator at a lower salary and one person on maternity leave for part of the fiscal year; a $10,000 reduction in grant funds to the Dalziel museum heritage house operation, which was terminated by the municipality, and; $3,000 not required for miscellaneous items.
Mr. Phillips: Are there any future plans for the Dalziel museum or is that idea gone now?
Hon. Mr. Webster: That is correct; that idea is dead.
Mr. Phillips: Just to express some disappointment about that, I do not know if the Minister has had an opportunity to see that museum but I have been through it two or three times. It is unfortunate because it did contain a lot of the history of the Watson Lake area and of the hunting history of the area for years. It is unfortunate. I know that the museum had all kinds of difficulty initially getting some commitments from government, and I think that contributed, partially, to some of the problems they had recently. It is unfortunate that we have lost that museum, because it was quite a unique and amazing display. It is unfortunate that it will no longer be a place that tourists can stop and see.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I share the grief of the Member opposite because I did have the opportunity to tour it this past summer. Despite some offers of assistance made by the heritage branch of the Department of Tourism to get it going, it was, in the end, a community decision to not proceed with the museum. However, that does not preclude, of course, the possibility, some time in the future, of a new community group getting together to make an attempt to make that into a museum, with assistance from our heritage branch.
Mr. Phillips: My criticism lies in the fact that it took so long for something to happen with the governments offer of assistance; I think that that created many of the problems. I know that I made representations to the then Minister of Tourism, several years ago. I know that several members of the Dalziel family did, several people from Watson Lake did, and it just took forever and ever and ever and it got tangled in the bureaucratic mess that some of things seem to get into. It just took too long, quite frankly, before a decision was made. Unfortunately, we have lost the museum, I hope temporarily. I understood that some of the exhibits were either being sold or put elsewhere. It is unfortunate that we are not able to contain that total exhibit in one spot and show it off the way it should have been shown off.
Hon. Mr. Webster: It is my understanding that my predecessor, the Minister of Tourism and responsible for heritage, who was also the MLA for the Watson Lake area, was quite keen on that project. He wanted to see it continue and made funds available for a startup. Unfortunately, in the end, the community decided not to. I do not think there was any problem at all with the support of the Minister at that time.
Heritage in the amount of $28,000 agreed to
Hon. Mr. Webster: The reduction of $19,000 is due to $92,000 reduced costs for participation negotiated in the Alaska Tourism Marketing Council Agreement. With that savings of $92,000, I want to inform Members that our level of participation was not reduced. It is a renegotiation of our original agreement. There was $10,000 reduced costs for participation in the Tourism North Agreement. That was resulting from a mutual agreement among all three parties to downgrade it from $210,000 to $200,000. There was an additional $7,000 not required for a variety of miscellaneous items.
In total, this results in a decrease of $109,000, which is partially offset by the following increases: $45,000 required for the Yukon image advertising campaign, which we increased in size. That is dealing with the Canadian market. An additional $45,000 was required for postage to cover increased mailing costs as a result of increased inquiries to our campaigns.
Mr. Phillips: By the increased postage, it sounds like our campaign seems to be quite a bit more successful this year. How much more successful was it?
Hon. Mr. Webster: Dealing with the Canadian image campaign, the responses have been quite encouraging up to date. Up to this week, we have received almost 18,000 responses, which is up 50 percent over this period last time.
As well, there is a very strong response to the Tourism Industry Associations campaign, which is directed to the U.S. market. That involves some $600,000 marketing dollars in that campaign.
Mr. Phillips: Does the Minister have any figures with respect to the TIA campaign he just talked about?
Hon. Mr. Webster: It is approximately the same as for the Canadian image campaign: 18,000 responses.
Marketing in the amount of an under expenditure of $19,000 agreed to
Operation and Maintenance Expenditures in the amount of zero agreed to
Chair: Would the Committee like to take a break or go on until 4:30?
It is agreed. We will take a short recess.
Chair: The Committee of the Whole will now come to order. We will continue with capital expenditures, line-by-line.
Mr. Phillips: I am prepared to proceed line-by-line.
Chair: We will proceed line-by-line.
On Capital Expenditures
On Wilderness Product Development and Marketing
Hon. Mr. Webster: This is a $30,000 surplus of funds. Since the wilderness guide promotion has largely been covered in the new travel guide, it was not required this year. The full amount of $30,000 has been reallocated to the signs and interpretation project, which is next on the list.
Wilderness Product Development and Marketing in the amount of an under expenditure of $30,000 agreed to
On Signs and Interpretation
Hon. Mr. Webster: The $30,000 for signs and interpretation is required to complete the interpretative site project at Kluane Lake.
Mr. Phillips: This is a line where we could probably look at the new signs on the highway that the Minister talked about examining. I look forward to the commitment that the Minister made that he is going to examine what they do in other jurisdictions and to come back to the House with some kind of recommendations about putting two signs on the highway.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I did make a commitment to the Member opposite to investigate the practices of providing information in both miles and kilometres in other jurisdictions. If it is deemed possible in the Yukon, given the example from outside, I can assure you, it would not be coming from the Signs and Interpretation budget. That would be coming from the Department of Community and Transportation Services, the highways branch.
Mr. Phillips: Could the Minister also clarify whether or not there will be signs put along the highways identifying lakes that have been stocked with fish? I believe that there are 19 lakes throughout the territory. There is some information available in the tourism brochure advising that some of these lakes are stocked. Some of the lakes are small pothole lakes and are off the highway. There is no sign on the highway signifying that it is a stocked lake. Local residents know, but it might be valuable to let tourists know where these stocked lakes are. They could catch stocked fish instead of the indigenous species. In some cases, it might help some of our indigenous species that are receiving more pressure.
Hon. Mr. Webster: The Department of Tourism is working on that project right now with the Department of Human Resources.
Mr. Phillips: Will the signs be up for this tourist season?
Hon. Mr. Webster: No, they will not be up for this season.
Mr. Phillips: Is the reason because there is no money in the budget this year for them? As far as I know, there are 19 stocked lakes. It seems to me it would not take a great deal of time to make 19 signs, once we devise a symbol for these lakes, or identify these lakes. Someone could probably do that in the government sign shop in a couple of days, if they knew exactly what was to go on the signs. Why is it going to take so long to identify these lakes?
Hon. Mr. Webster: My initial response was due to the fact the money is in next years budget. If it is possible to get the signs made by that time and up for this season, that is fine.
Signs and Interpretation in the amount of $30,000 agreed to
Hon. Mr. Webster: This is the $10,000 required for contract funds to prepare policy documents on development of the Yukon artifacts conservation and security policy.
Mr. Phillips: Is that complete, or has it started? Who has the contract to do this?
Hon. Mr. Webster: That contract is being done by Maureen Mahoney, and it is not complete at this time.
Mr. Phillips: When will the contract be completed? Will the Minister table the document in the House?
Hon. Mr. Webster: The contract will be completed sometime before March 31, but toward the end of this fiscal year. As it is our policy, it will be made public, naturally.
Conservation/Security in the amount of $10,000 agreed to
On Major Museums Development
Hon. Mr. Webster: This reduction of $50,000 refers to the Watson Lake decision not to proceed with their museum development.
Mr. Phillips: The Minister released a museums policy earlier in this session and had some criticism from the museums society about the building of this new facility and the possibility of various artifacts not being put on display and of it eventually turning into a museum and taking away from the local museums that are already here. Has the Minister had the chance to consider the comments made by the local museums society, and has the Minister decided that it will just be a facility for storing and restoring artifacts, rather than a display and, if he wants to put things on display in various stages, he could use some of the local museums we have in our communities now?
Hon. Mr. Webster: Just before Christmas, I wrote the executive of the Yukon Museum Historical Association, along with representatives of each of the members, giving them a fuller explanation as to what I perceive the role of that facility to be and, in particular, the education component, and asking them for their comments and reaction to that, and making it very clear that if, with this supplementary information, they still did not like the idea of having this educational display component as one of the roles of this historic resources centre, that was fine with me. In concluding my letter, I reminded them the policy was not carved in stone and, if that was the decision of the museum people, that is the way it would be, and it would be revised accordingly.
I am pleased to see the Minister was not as firm on the issue as he initially sounded in his ministerial statement. Has he had any response to the letter he sent prior to Christmas from the museums society or individual museums?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I have not received a reply yet. I think that letter was mailed on December 22, so I would not anticipate a very quick response considering the number of individuals involved in the society.
Major Museums Development in the amount of an under expenditure of $50,000 agreed to
On Heritage Properties Assistance
Hon. Mr. Webster: This $3,000 is required to cover the costs of developing and printing a pamphlet to explain the program, and for some promotional materials.
Mr. Phillips: Is this the program where the various houses are restored and moved in behind the Chamber of Commerce?
Hon. Mr. Webster: That is correct. There is $35,000 available in this current year with a maximum contribution of $20,000 with a matching contribution to repair foundation work on historic buildings.
Mr. Phillips: I think that has been a fairly positive program. That one corner of the street has had a marked change in appearance. Many activities take place there in the summer. This is one of the more positive initiatives and seems to be working fairly well. I know there are a lot of other heritage building problems within the City of Whitehorse, just in identifying, preserving and protecting them. I think this particular program, especially on that corner behind the Chamber of Commerce, has been a very positive one. The people who worked on that program did an excellent job in restoring those buildings to the way they were years ago.
Heritage Properties Assistance in the amount of $3,000 agreed to
On Planning and Feasibility
Hon. Mr. Webster: This reduction is a result of surplus funds due to the unavailability of qualified Yukon residents to fill the restoration planner position.
Mr. Phillips: What are we doing about that position that Yukoners are not qualified for? Is there the possibility of training Yukoners to do that, or is it something we have given up on?
Hon. Mr. Webster: This is a term position for just one year; the same position is not required in the next fiscal year. That is the end of the requirement for that position.
Mr. Phillips: I am confused here. We put $60,000 in the budget for the position. We could not find anybody qualified for the position, but we no longer require it for next year. It does not make sense. We either require the position or we do not require the position. If we are not now in need of it, why did we need it last year?
Hon. Mr. Webster: It was needed last year in anticipation of doing some restoration planning work at Rampart House. That project has now been eliminated from the budget for next year, hence that position is not required for next year. However, the historic sites technician and the Herschel Island restoration planner responsibilities will be expanded to absorb some of the duties of this particular position.
Mr. Phillips: Is that what the $20,000 was used for - the Herschel Island project?
Hon. Mr. Webster: The $20,000 that was used for the salaries of the staff who were, in the final analysis, assigned to doing that job.
Mr. Phillips: Doing what job? The Herschel Island job or the job on Rampart House? The Minister is not quite clear.
Hon. Mr. Webster: It involves two individuals working on three separate projects. Those two individuals basically did the work of three people.
Mr. Phillips: I think I am going to have to read this tomorrow to understand it. First of all, we had a project to look at the restoration possibilities on Rampart House. We decided not to go ahead with that. The Minister mentioned something about Herschel Island. I asked if the $20,000 was spent on the preliminary work at Rampart House or on Herschel Island. Now the Minister tells me that there was not one individual but three individuals who filled these positions, and I am not sure what positions. I want to know where the $20,000 was spent. We have a line item here that the Minister has told us they were going to spend on Rampart House but they changed their minds. I would like a little better clarification of exactly where these funds were expended.
Hon. Mr. Webster: This is not an easy thing to explain. Really, there were three positions. Obviously, I have already informed you that one of the positions was not filled. Three separate individuals were working on a variety of projects to do the work that was required and only $20,000 of the required work was actually done, leaving us the surplus of $40,000. If that answer does not satisfy the Member, I would be pleased to file a return with the more complete response.
Mr. Phillips: I would appreciate a more clear response so that we can identify the projects these people worked on.
The Minister said that one of the projects was to look at Rampart House. They say that project did not go ahead. My question is: if they were to look at the historical value of restoring Rampart House, it just does not happen on its own - the problem is still there - so what are they doing about Rampart House? Is anything being done there? I have been there myself several times; it is quite a little village on the hill but it is deteriorating and has deteriorated over the past few years. I am wondering if we are doing anything at all to at least secure it so that it does not deteriorate any further?
Hon. Mr. Webster: It has been identified as a priority for next years capital funding. We can discuss this further when we debate the mains.
Planning and Feasibility in the amount of an under expenditure of $40,000 agreed to
On Heritage Inventory
Hon. Mr. Webster: That involves the preparation and publication of a brochure on the Old Territorial Administration Building.
Mr. Phillips: I do not know if this is the right area for it, but I would like to ask if we have followed up any further on our attempts to recover many of the artifacts that were taken out of the Yukon Territory, specifically from Old Crow, and shipped to the United States. Have we done anything to try to return some of those artifacts back to the territory? I know there was talk at some time of getting some from Ottawa that were in a museum there. What is the status of that now?
Hon. Mr. Webster: That is one of the main reasons for the need for the historic resources centre so we can repatriate some of these artifacts. In the case where there is a possibility of some being purchased, we do have an acquisitions program. We have money in the budget for such purposes, but it is not very often that something becomes available to us.
Mr. Phillips: Is the Minister telling us that if we want to recover some of the artifacts that have been taken out of Old Crow in the last few years, we are going to be forced to purchase them to get them back?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I am not suggesting that at all. That was related to people who have Yukon artifacts in their own private collections. Generally speaking, the situation he describes with respect to the artifacts in the Old Crow area is that they will be returned by the federal government to the Yukon government as soon as we have a facility that meets the national standards.
Heritage Inventory in the amount of $3,000 agreed to
On S.S. Tutshi
Hon. Mr. Webster: This is required to purchase additional required restoration materials and supplies.
Mr. Phillips: I do not suppose the boat will float yet, will it?
Hon. Mr. Webster: No.
Mr. Phillips: When is this project going to be finished, and what are the anticipated costs to actually complete the project?
Hon. Mr. Webster: This is a long-term project, and it is scheduled to be completed in 1992-93 at a total cost over the five years of $905,000.
S.S. Tutshi in the amount of $35,000 agreed to
On O.T.A.B. Landscaping
Hon. Mr. Webster: This is required for completion of landscaping plans and installation of trees on the properties around the OTAB building.
O.T.A.B. Landscaping in the amount of $10,000 agreed to
On Yukon Archaeology Programs
Hon. Mr. Webster: There is $15,000 required here to fund additional costs related to the purchase of artifacts storage cabinets, supplies and preparation of a historic resources display at the Dawson Gold Show and the Yukon Trade Show. In addition, $10,000 is required to publish two branch archaeological heritage publications for the public.
Yukon Archaeology Programs in the amount of $25,000 agreed to
On Cultural Heritage Studies
Cultural Heritage Studies in the amount of $4,000 agreed to
Capital Expenditures in the amount of nil agreed to
Hon. Ms. Joe: I am not sure what kind of information the critic, whomever that might be, would like. I am prepared to respond to any concerns or questions that he or she might have.
Mr. Phelps: It is he. Because there are no changes in the budget, I am not going to be blowing at length. I would like the Minister to provide me, in her capacity as the Minister responsible for the Womens Directorate or PSC, with some of the statistics that she did quote during our discussion in the Public Service Commission part of the supplementary budget.
There was an increase in percentage of women in management in the government. If the Minister could give me some information on that in our discussion of the Womens Directorate in the main estimates when it comes up, I would appreciate it. I would also like to receive the comprehensive policy that the government is developing as soon as it is available. This is in regard to ensuring that there is equal opportunity and equal training, and that the move toward equality throughout the government is toward gender balance.
Could the Minister also advise us as to what the Advisory Council on the Status of Women is doing these days? We know about the Black and Blue paper and the success of that. Are there any other highlights that the Minister would care to tell us about?
Hon. Ms. Joe: The information on the statistics that I referred to yesterday is readily available, and I can provide that to the Member possibly by tomorrow. I hope that the affirmative action policy is very close to being finished. I will table that in the House when it is approved, it is hoped, prior to this session ending.
The advisory committee consists of eight people; it meets at least four times a year. It deals with a number of issues. Their concerns are in regard to women and equality for women in all sorts of areas, not only in employment. It includes any problems that they face in other areas.
The committee meets four times a year on a weekend. The members talk about a number of issues. Their concerns vary from the Black and Blue paper, to employment, to fetal alcohol syndrome, to other issues that concern women and how these situations can be improved. I have the latest report from them. I hope to table the committees annual report by next week or the week after. This will give the House up-to-date information on what they have done and what they plan to do in the future. The committee is one member short right now. One woman has resigned, and we are having a difficult time replacing her mainly because the way it is set up is geographical areas and we try to make sure we have representation from all parts of the Yukon on that committee. We are also trying to ensure we have equal racial balance as well. We are looking for a person from the Carmacks and Pelly area. I will certainly be tabling the annual report in this House.
Mr. Phelps: In the spring I suggested to the Minister that the government should look at a wider distribution of the annual report of the womens advisory group. Is it the intent of the Minister to see that the report is circulated throughout the community?
Hon. Ms. Joe: I am not exactly sure how many reports are being done, but certainly we would like to let as many Yukoners as possible know what the advisory committee is doing. We have considered the concerns of the Member. I am hoping there will be enough copies made so that a large number of people can see it. I will check.
Mr. Phelps: Does the Womens Directorate get involved with any great degree with the Chamber of Commerce or the new womens networking group? Are they active in trying to put forward the cause of woman outside the government itself?
Hon. Ms. Joe: The Womens Directorate and Economic Development sponsored a very worthwhile womens conference on women entrepreneurs that was very successful. The Member for Riverdale South was in attendance and can vouch for the success of that conference. As a result of that conference there has been a business womens network established. I understand they are very active and I keep hearing reports about what they are doing. They have been very involved in that sort of thing. One of their areas of concern is women in the economy.
Mr. Phelps: Those are all the questions I have at this time. Perhaps somebody else has a question.
On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures
Public Information, Policy and Program Development in the amount of nil agreed to
Yukon Housing Corporation
Chair: We will begin with general debate on O&M expenditures.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: By way of opening remarks I want to say that in the O&M we are looking at a supplementary in the amount of $586,000 and on the capital side we are looking at a reduction of $1,040,000.
When we were in debate last spring, I talked about a number of improvements the corporation was involved with, and I would like to comment briefly on a number of them. One of the improvements I have referred to dealt with the new computer system. Another was the tendering and contracting bylaw that had just been passed by the board and introduced to the contracting community. The third was the revision of program delivery policies and procedures - in other words, a consolidation of some of the programs that were being delivered, not only by Yukon Housing but government-wide, as well as a tightening up of the policy and procedures, administratively, within the corporation.
In all of these areas progress has been very good. One area I want to touch on in particular is in the program delivery area. Quite often in the past in debates in this House, the Opposition has raised concerns about program delivery as not being timely, as not being efficiently done, and that the corporation was failing in its mandate to adequately deliver programs.
What I am pleased with is that in this past year we have had a number of improvements that are noteworthy. The corporation has taken quite an initiative to correct some of the program delivery procedures and speed up the process of putting out the various tenders for construction early in the building season, and the results are actually quite good. By the end of September of this year, just prior to the time of this particular supplementary, the corporation had called in excess of 100 tenders and had awarded contracts in excess of $5 million. In fact, many of those tenders were called prior to July, which was an improvement over some of the previous performances.
This, of course, had a benefit of being much more timely in the delivery of the programs as well. By being earlier with construction, by getting those construction projects under way, this left more time for the corporation to devote to the rest of the program delivery.
The other interesting and useful development was that we were able to commit all of our budget this year, in terms of program delivery and construction delivery. In comparison to past performance, where we were turning back money because the construction program was not delivered, this year we have done very well.
To conclude my opening remarks, the contracting bylaw that was introduced by the board in conjunction with the contracting community seems to have gone over extremely well. It has tightened up the procedures and the policies relating to the awarding of contracts; the contracting community is quite pleased with it and it has allowed us, I believe, to speed up our delivery process. Of course, that is combined with what I also talked about in the spring: the turn-key approach to major construction.
Rather than taking it up ourselves, we asked for proposals. We selected a proposal and we bought the project upon completion. That has worked out extremely successfully.
With those general comments, I am open to any further questions or discussion in general debate.
Mr. Devries: First of all, could the Minister table the contracts that have been issued by Yukon Housing Corporation in the past year, possibly both the completed and uncompleted?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: In anticipation of the question, I have asked the corporation to prepare that listing. Unfortunately, it is not completed. It will be ready in the morning, so I will provide it to the Member tomorrow, if that is fine.
At this time, I can tell the Member that we awarded a total of 101 contracts, and I will be listing them for the Member in the material provided tomorrow. Of those 101 contracts, two of them were the turn-key construction jobs that I mentioned earlier, 35 were by public tender, and 64 were various invitational tenders.
The detail will come tomorrow, and I will provide it directly to the Member, if he wishes.
Mr. Devries: Also, with reference to one of the joint projects, would that have been between Yukon Housing Corporation and the Tagish Kwan Corporation? Is that a joint venture project on Centennial Avenue?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The turn-key project the Member mentions is what we refer to as the Centennial project. It is 24 units in Porter Creek. The contract was with Bald Eagle, and I understand that Tagish Kwan is a majority shareholder of that company.
Mr. Devries: Also, I am interested in the Quiniscoe partnership in the Granger subdivision. Is there any way I could get a copy of the joint venture agreement with them, so I get a better understanding of how it is set up, et cetera?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Members request is no problem. I can provide that to the Member tomorrow. It just explains the financing arrangements of the project for the construction of five units.
Mr. Devries: A few days ago, there was an announcement of a $1.5 million or $1.25 million apartment complex to be built in Dawson. Would the Minister elaborate on that?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The construction job is for a 13-unit complex. It was originally intended to be contracted for and built this past calendar year. That did not materialize due to a number of complications relating to land acquisition and some federal financing arrangements that were a part of the deal. It has now cleared all those hurdles. We have the drawings in hand, and it will be going to tender in early March of 1990. It is expected that it will be ready for occupancy by December of 1990.
Mr. Devries: Because it will be in Dawson, I suspect it will have a rustic style similar to Closeleigh Manor. Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Yes. The building will comply with the local zoning and esthetic requirements of Dawson City. The plans have already been to Dawson once. They have been sent back for revision, and we have them. We are meeting with the planning board again in two weeks time to address those requested revisions pertaining to the historical facades and esthetics required for Dawson construction. That is proceeding quite regularly, and should be finalized in two weeks or shortly after.
Mr. Lang: I would like an overview of the Yukon Housing Corporation. There is a concern about the longevity of the stay of tenants in YHC housing. Has the YHC ever done a review of tenants who have stayed, for example for six months, in YHC social housing?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The corporation does an annual review of each tenant for their eligibility to be in the unit. When that is considered in terms of the rural community, YHC is often the only game in town. A more frequent review may not be necessary. In Whitehorse there are plans in the general procedures of the corporation that are under review. They are to conduct a review more frequently - I am not certain how much more frequently. The review is currently done annually. That is not expected to change in rural areas, but I expect it will change in Whitehorse.
Mr. Lang: It goes back to the concept of what the housing is there for. We have had ongoing debates on that, but the taxpayer feels they have an obligation to provide social housing, and nobody in this House argues that it should not be provided. The question is whether or not it becomes a way of life versus a stopgap measure. It is hoped that an individual will go on to something else and find other accommodation.
For the purpose of the O&M mains, will the Minister provide a breakdown by community of the number of units in each community and how many of those units have been lived in by the same client for six months and longer? If you do not have six months and longer, you can give us one year and longer to give an indication of how permanent our tenants are in social housing and rent-geared-to-income housing.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I appreciate the request. Part of what is currently occurring is that very analysis with CMHC. The corporation is working in conjunction with CMHC to assess the current tenancy of Yukon Housings social housing stock. That information is being gathered. The Member raised the question about the purpose of housing in general. There is concern that the provision of social housing could well become a way of life for those tenants. The Member should recognize that the housing provided is housing that is provided to those in need and certainly the people who do make use of it are proven to be in that category of need. With our annual reviews of eligibility, that is addressed on an ongoing basis. The Member knows that government has developed a number of programs that speak to the client who would not wish to stay in social housing all their lives, but would like to eventually move to their own ownership. The programs that have been developed over the past couple of years speak to the issue the Member raises. The various home ownership initiatives that have been introduced and have been very successful for the most part, have encouraged people to eventually own their own homes where they could not in the first instance. He knows what I am talking about. The lease-purchase program, the owner-build program, and in another approach to providing this type of housing stock, the joint venture has addressed that. I will take the request as notice. I need to know precisely what stage the analysis is at that we are doing with CMHC in terms of assessing the client type.
Mr. Lang: I would expect that information, and I do not think it would be too difficult to get. I understand we just bought quite an expensive computer for the corporation, so, therefore, all the necessary mechanisms are there to have that information available. I do not see why it should be so complicated. I am not trying to put the Housing Corporation to a lot of work, but I have never seen that information outlined the way I asked for it, and I think it would give us more information to go on, as far as what we are doing.
I have no hesitation to say that I expect all clients to meet the criteria, as far as need is concerned. My concern is that I would like to see at least a number of those people, even 50 percent, over a period of time in a situation where they did not have to have the social housing, and the rent geared to income housing, provided through the Yukon Housing Corporation.
I was hoping there were other elements of the government working with these people to get them into the situation where they could earn a living and not become so beholden to the government, where government assistance becomes a way of life. For the life of me, I cannot say that is good for the communities if it is on an ongoing basis, nor is it good for the Yukon or Canada as a whole if we are propagating the situation of people staying in social housing.
That is my point. I think the government should be looking at that fairly closely.
In view of the hour, I move we report progress on Bill No. 13.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that Mr. Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Motion agreed to
Speaker resumes the Chair
Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
May the House have the report from the Chair of the Committee of the Whole?
Ms. Kassi: The Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 13, entitled Second Appropriation Act, 1989-90, and directed me to report progress on same.
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. Byblow: I move that the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Community and Transportation Services that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: This House now stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. tomorrow.
The House adjourned at 5:27 p.m.
The following Legislative Return was tabled January 30, 1990:
Bison: Costs of bringing wood bison to Yukon, involvement of Yukon Fish and Game Association, round-up in Haines Junction, and Proposed Action Plan for Bison Herd Near the Aishihik Road Junction (Webster)
Oral, Hansard pp. 906 & 907