Tuesday, February 6, 1990 - 1:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. At this time, we will proceed with Prayers.
Speaker: We will proceed with the Order Paper.
Are there any Returns or Documents for tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I have for tabling a number of legislative returns on questions raised by Members opposite.
Speaker: Are there any Reports of Committees?
Introduction of Bills?
Are there any Notices of Motion for the Production of Papers?
Notices of Motion?
Are there any Statements by Ministers?
This then brings us to the Question Period.
Question re: Na Dli Youth Centre
Mr. Phelps: I have some questions for the Minister of Health and Human Resources regarding the young offenders facility, Na Dli. Yesterday, the Minister said that when a violent incident occurs at the facility the RCMP are called in, and that this is in accordance with the procedures at the facility. Can the Minister tell us whether or not these procedures are contained in a written document?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: It is an established procedure for the facility so I can only assume that they are.
Mr. Phelps: Assuming they are, will the Minister table the documents that make up these procedures in the House?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I would consider doing that, but I would like to review the document very carefully before I do so, lest the publication of such procedures would, in some way, compromise the security of the facility and put either the staff or the public at risk.
Mr. Phelps: I am always pleased with the Ministers concern about secrecy for the good of all. Will the Minister tell us if the procedures call for the manager of the facility to be phoned before a decision is reached to call the RCMP?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Forgive me. The Member would have to repeat his question. I am sorry. I missed the verb.
Mr. Phelps: Do the procedures call for consultation with the manager of the facility prior to calling in the RCMP?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am not quite sure what the intent of the question is, but as with most facilities of this kind there is a supervisor on duty at all times and I assume it is up to that person or their delegate to carry out that procedure.
Question re: Na Dli Youth Centre
Mr. Phelps: Yesterday, in speaking to my request for leave on the emergency debate, the Minister attempted to make it sound as though what happened at the facility was not really much to be concerned about at all. He stated, The windows were kicked out; the metal fittings were replaced; there was no security or safety risk, and the damage is being repaired. At no time was there anything close to a riot situation. I am told, directly from the facility, that the reason the RCMP were called in last Saturday night was because the violence was escalating and the workers were terrified for their safety because they thought the doors holding two inmates were about to be kicked down. Will the Minister confirm this?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: No, I will not, and I do not know what the Members source is but the report I have from the staff of the facility is at variance with the allegations made by the Member.
Mr. Phelps: Does the Minister know whether or not the manager of the facility was called prior to the decision being made to call in the RCMP?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: For a certain fact, I do not know that, but I can assume that whenever there is an incident of this kind the people in the chain of command are notified, and I am sure that is a normal procedure.
Mr. Phelps: Maybe the Minister could check this out and report back to the House: can he tell us whether the manager appeared at the facility at all during the time the RCMP were there trying to calm down the violent situation?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I do not know whether the Members source is some employee who has a grievance against the manager or not. That seems to be the direction or thrust of his questions, but I will take the question of fact as notice and report back.
Question re: Na Dli Youth Centre
Mr. Phelps: Yesterday, the Minister said that two young offenders were removed from the facility by the RCMP and taken to the RCMP cells downtown for the night. I understand that removing the two kids was the suggestion of the RCMP and not the youth service workers at the facility. Can the Minister confirm that?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I cannot confirm or deny that. I have already given the House the reasons why the people were removed and, since I was not present for any conversation between the RCMP and the staff, I cannot tell the Member what words were exchanged between them.
Mr. Phelps: Sometimes it is pretty difficult in here during Question Period. What I am trying to get at is that we had a violent situation at the facility on Saturday night. The RCMP were called in because the workers were terrified. After all, one of them had already been severely beaten up a few weeks before, and one was threatened at knife point and tied up. They were terrified and called in the RCMP because they could not control the situation. The two youths were removed because that night the workers were unable to control the violent situation. Could the Minister confirm that?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: No. I will not. The information provided to me by the staff from the department is that the workers did not see the situation as being out of control. According to their perception, they were in control of the situation. The call to RCMP was consistent with the established procedures of the facility.
Question re: Na Dli Youth Centre
Mr. Phelps: On January 3, we had a situation arise where one guard was badly beaten at the facility. One guard was tied up and threatened with a knife. All nine inmates escaped. A government vehicle was stolen and wrecked. All kinds of damage was done to the facility. I understand that while the facility was being repaired and the youths were being kept in the holding cells, the manager of the facility bought a bunch of new games for the facility. Can the Minister find out what games were purchased at that time, and what the cost was?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I will take the question as notice. If the Member is seriously interested in an answer, he would have given me notice. This is a line of questions that amounts to an attack on the manager of the facility. I am not sure that is a proper activity for Question Period. I will take the question as notice and report back. However, if we have some anonymous source making accusations against a public official, that person who is the plaintiff should identify themselves so the manager can face his accuser.
Mr. Phelps: I love it. Here is the Minister who goes to Ross River and blames the bureaucrats for the overspending on the arena and promises to find out who is responsible so that he can fix them. This is the Minister who consistently denies the doctrine of ministerial responsibility and is throwing up this brand new smoke screen. Why did the government, or whoever did it, purchase the games at that time? Was it to reward the young offenders for their previous actions?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Let us deal first with the preamble since once again Members opposite have repeated misinformation. None of them were there when I made my statement in Ross River. I will tell them what I said. I said that the building was not completed according to this governments policies and priorities. We took accountability and responsibility for that, and we had public meetings about that. We said that we wanted to take steps to make sure that it would not happen again.
That kind of ministerial accountability is a radical departure from what we experienced during the many horrible years of Tory government. The Member who is laughing built a building in Faro that tipped into the permafrost because he ignored a report. He never did take responsibility for that. He never took responsibility for the $12 million screwup in the sewer and water system in Dawson.
We are taking responsibility. If Members seriously want the question answered about what games were bought by what person in what facility on a certain day, they will observe the tradition that was required of us when we were in Opposition: they will give notice.
Mr. Phelps: Without being quite that specific, perhaps he could answer the question, which was, why would the games be purchased to reward the previous activities of the youths?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The question is argumentative, since we know that all the youths in the facility, at one point, had fled it. Games were not being purchased in reward for that activity.
We have also had questions from the other side about program procedure. We hope there is the ongoing process of rehabilitation at the facility, and I am sure whatever was purchased was a contribution to that end.
Question re: Na Dli Youth Centre
Mr. Phelps: That leads me to another area, which is the lack of proper programs for the facility. We have the young offenders apparently being rewarded for their previous activities by the purchase of new games.
What programs have been afforded the victims of January 3, the youth service workers who were beaten up, threatened and so on? Are there any programs to help them cope with the stress in their job?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: If the Member had been paying attention to the answer of the previous questions, he would know there was one employee who was assaulted; the same employee was tied up. Immediately on the day following the incident, officials of the department called in counsellors, and Yukon Family Services came and met with all the staff present, to deal with the trauma of the event. I have already advised the House of that. If the Member had been paying attention, he would know that.
Mr. Phelps: Is the Minister saying he is satisfied that enough programs have been made available to the workers at the facility?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I have not been asked the question previously about whether or not I was satisfied. The Member will know we have a well-established program here called the Employee Assistance Program, which is designed to provide counselling and support for employees who are feeling certain kinds of stresses. That program is, and has been, available to the people who were victimized in the escape, and will continue to be available, upon request.
According to the terms of that program, the Member will know requests are made anonymously, and I will not receive in any way any report as to what access had been made by employees to that program, because it would be improper.
Mr. Phelps: Going back to other programs, namely those programs that are intended to help rehabilitate the inmates of the facility, I understand the judge in court today criticized the government for its absolute lack of proper programs for rehabilitation. What is the government going to do to get its act together in this regard?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Once again, the Member is making an allegation that is unfounded. I understand there was a news report on the CBC News at 12:30 that says a Supreme Court judge is questioning about the programs and has asked for a report on the programs. I understand the judge is also quoted as raising questions about the program and the facility operations, but he has also said he wants answers. The judge has not necessarily reached the conclusion the Leader of the Official Opposition obviously has.
Question re: Na Dli Youth Centre
Mr. Nordling: It should tell the Minister something when it is not only this side that is asking for answers, but members of the public and a judge.
Yesterday, the Minister described the secure custody young offenders as possibly dangerous to themselves, or to others, angry and violent troubled young people. He said young offenders in similar facilities elsewhere often behave violently and disruptively.
He then said the staff are not trained or equipped to perform the function of guards. Although the staff are not guards, has the Ministers department developed training programs to give his staff confidence and to help them deal with the potentially dangerous situation they face every day?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am sure that all Members in this House would want to know that the staff are trained to operate the facility in a way that does not put them at risk - a way that gives them a high degree of safety. I do not want to suggest that every single young offender in a facility like that is violent or dangerous or troubled, but they are all people who are having trouble with the law. Within that population will be some people from time to time who are violent and dangerous; those people are a risk to the staff and sometimes a risk to themselves. I, of course, as a Minister of this House, will want to be continually satisfied that the programs are adequate from that point of view. That is why we asked for the third-party review from the senior officials from the B.C. service; the report that we are now receiving indicates, I understand, that, while there are some recommended improvements, the program, the procedures, the staff and the facility are of good quality.
Mr. Nordling: On January 24, I asked about the consultants reports that formed the basis for programming at the young offenders facility. The Minister said he would check into the files and find out how many reports there were, what recommendations were made and what recommendations were accepted. Has he done that and can he answer the question today?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Yes, I received a report today about the reports mentioned by the Member, and I understand they were tabled in 1986.
Mr. Nordling: I do not think that is true. We asked that they be tabled in 1986. The former Minister refused because they were ongoing or they were too long - there was a whole rigmarole, and we do not have those reports. I asked specifically about a $55,000 report done by Audrey McLaughlin with respect to the young offender planning service. The Minister said he would check into that and go back and read it himself and would report to the House. Can he do that today?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I have not received a $55,000 report by Audrey McLaughlin. The reports I have seen so far, and read, are the reports commissioned by this government: one, the report on the consultation, which was carried out by the former Minister and the then Member for Tatchun, in association with departmental staff, which was an assessment of the kind of facilities required for young offenders. That report involved visits to the communities; the report was received and analyzed and reviewed by the government and, as I understand it, made public in this House. There were other reports, which were recommendations about programming that may not have been made public because they deal with procedures in the operation. I will take the question as notice, but I understand that for some of the questions asked by the Member the information was replied to earlier.
Question re: Na Dli Youth Centre
Mr. Nordling: We do have a copy of the report done by the former Minister and the former Member for Tatchun.
I would like to know what we got from Audrey McLaughlin for our $55,000. Obviously, it was a lot of material and none of it was tabled.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: If it was done by Audrey McLaughlin, no doubt it was an excellent report and has been used by the government.
Mr. Nordling: We have heard that story before. I would like to know if the Minister will table the report that was done by Audrey McLaughlin so that we can all see how wonderful it is.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am absolutely certain that if Audrey McLaughlin had written the Ten Commandments and I tabled them in this House, the Members would say there were 15 missing.
Mr. Nordling: Again, the Minister can run all over the place but it is not going to stop us from asking questions. I would like him to make a commitment to table the report done by Audrey McLaughlin so that we can all see it.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The answer has already been given to the question. If, in fact, we are dealing with Cabinet documents, if we are dealing with ...
Some Hon. Member: (inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Penikett: ... These are the Members opposite, who did an opinion poll at public expense from the public, and then would not release it. What kind of hypocrisy are we hearing here? Are we now saying that Cabinet documents for the NDP must be made public but Cabinet documents for the Tories can be kept secret forever? Is that what we are saying?
Question re: Na Dli Youth Centre
Mr. Nordling: Is the Minister telling this House that the report done by Audrey McLaughlin is a Cabinet document? Is he refusing to make it public?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I stand by my previous answer. I said that I would be reviewing the document. Any document that has recommendations about procedures or implementation of programs that would compromise the security of the facility, I will be thinking twice about before releasing. I have already taken the previous question as notice. This is the seventh time the Member has asked it.
Mr. Nordling: Yes. The Minister took it as notice on January 24. We have not heard a word. I will be asking again next week.
I also asked the Minister of Government Services what the total cost of the repairs and improvements to the young offenders facility was. The Minister said he would be pleased to provide that when he received it. Has the Minister received it yet?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I take the question as notice. I can provide the information to the Member later.
Mr. Nordling: I asked the same question on January 30. The Minister of Government Services took it as notice then. He also said perhaps the questions could be more appropriately answered by the Minister of Health and Human Resources. I asked the Minister of Health and Human Resources, who also took the question as notice. Perhaps the Minister of Health and Human Resources could answer the question today. What is the cost of the repairs and improvements to the young offenders facility as a result of the January 3 escape?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I do not have a final accounting yet. The latest information I have is that the repairs were in the neighbourhood of $43,000. The repairs were described in previous discussions in the House. I also indicated we have made a decision to install the perimeter fence, which is also indicated and recommended, and will be substantially above that cost. We do not have a clear indication, but it will almost certainly be in excess of $100,000 by itself.
Question re: Na Dli Youth Centre
Mr. Nordling: I also asked the cost to the Yukon government of bringing the consultants, or investigators, in from British Columbia. The Minister said there was no fee, but we would be paying their expenses. Can the Minister tell us how much it cost us to bring them up here?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I can provide the information. If the Member was interested in the cost of the airfares, hotel rooms and expenses while they were here, he could have given me notice of that question. I could then have had the answer today.
Mr. Nordling: I thought I had given the Minister notice and that he was going to bring back that information. The Minister said that, besides that investigation, there had been an occupational health and safety review. When I asked the question, the Minister did not tell me the results of the review. He mentioned on another occasion there was a clean bill of health. Will the Minister table or provide the results of that occupational health and safety review?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The occupational health and safety reviews are investigations or procedures carried out between employers and employees. It has not been the custom anywhere to release those reports to third parties or to make them public. According to the law introduced and passed by the previous Conservative government, it was never contemplated that they be made public.
Mr. Nordling: Perhaps the Minister can expand on the findings. We have a big problem at the young offenders facility. If occupational health and safety gave that facility a clean bill of health, I would suspect there is something wrong. We heard Friday night that the staff was so afraid for their safety that they called in the RCMP. I would like to know the results of that review.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: If the Member is calling me a liar, either indirectly or directly, I will go and recheck the facts of the occupational health and safety examination. There were at least two visits to the staff there. I am advised that the occupational health and safety report, in the first case, gave the facility a clean bill of health, but I will reconfirm that fact.
Question re: Agricultural policy
Mr. Lang: I would like to turn to a different topic here, and I hope we can get some answers from another Minister on another issue. It has to do with the question of the elusive agricultural policy.
Back on November 22, I asked the Minister of Renewable Resources when he was going to table the agricultural policy. He responded as follows, I indicated to the Member earlier it will definitely be tabled in two weeks time. That was on November 22.
On December 14, I once again asked about the elusive agricultural policy, and asked if it was going to be tabled. The response from the Minister at that time was, Simply put, the agricultural policy, although it has been developed, has not been before Cabinet for approval, and that is why it cannot be tabled before Christmas. Later on, he says, I am hopeful that it would be early in the new year.
It is 1990 and we are getting into February. First of all, has the Cabinet approved the agricultural policy?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I am pleased to announce that Cabinet has approved the agricultural policy.
Mr. Lang: Is it true the policy was to be announced today and has been delayed?
Hon. Mr. Webster: Not quite. It was the intention to announce the draft agricultural policy on Monday. However, that was preempted by the statement made by the Minister of Community and Transportation Services on the accident on the Carcross Road.
It was our intention to table it this week in the House. However, that has been delayed until some time in the future.
Mr. Lang: Once again, I would like to go back to the elusive agricultural policy. We were told last spring that the agricultural policy would be prepared for the fall. We were told twice in late fall, almost winter, that the policy was developed, but it had not been approved by Cabinet. Today, we were told it was approved by Cabinet but is not going to be made public for some time to come.
Being that the Minister belongs to an open government, could he explain to the public, and to those who are very interested in what this agricultural policy contains, why the policy is not being made public?
Hon. Mr. Webster: The main reason the draft policy is not being made public at this time is mostly due to the fact this draft policy is being developed cooperatively between two departments: Renewable Resources and Community and Transportation Services. Most of the draft policy dealing with the Department of Renewable Resources is fairly straight forward, offering some services that will develop the industry. With respect to the Department of Community and Transportation Services, however, the matter is a bit more complicated. It is dealing with the acquisition of land for agricultural purposes, taxation of that land, et cetera. That department has expressed its desire for more time to develop a communication strategy to accompany the release of this draft agricultural policy, and hence the delay.
Mr. Lang: Once again, it is someone elses fault. I can understand that. We are getting used to that.
The agricultural and the disposition of agricultural land policy has been developed and has been approved by Cabinet. Is that not correct?
Hon. Mr. Webster: Both aspects of the draft agricultural policy have been approved by Cabinet.
Mr. Lang: Perhaps I sound persistent on this, but I have good reason to be persistent. Could the Minister tell us when the various departments are going to be satisfied with their communication strategy so that the minions they serve will be notified of their policy? When can we expect it to be made public?
Hon. Mr. Webster: To get a more accurate, more definitive answer to that question, I would suggest the Member direct his question to the Minister for Community and Transportation Services for his ideas.
Question re: Agricultural policy
Mr. Lang: Could I ask a question of the Minister for Renewable Resources? Will the Minister responsible for Renewable Resources be the Minister announcing the agricultural policy?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I want to make it clear again that the part of the policy for which my department will be responsible is fine in its present state. We are awaiting, as I said, for the development of a communication package for the matters pertaining to Community and Transportation Services. As the draft agricultural policy has been developed by both departments jointly, it will be announced and introduced jointly by both Ministers.
Question re: Agricultural policy
Mr. Phelps: I am really confused, particularly about this problem with communications. Are the two departments engaging different advertising agencies? Is that the problem?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Let me tell the Members of the Opposition a story. Once upon a time, this government undertook the commitment to prepare an agricultural policy. That exercise has been ongoing since this new term of office began and was, in fact, undertaken as far back as two years ago. The Members opposite are seeking reasons why the policy is not being announced. The Minister responsible for Renewable Resources has indicated that there is a temporary delay in the public release of the policy due to a desire to ensure that adequate communication takes place when it is released. That is what is currently taking place. We are tying down some loose strings as to whom the documents will be sent and the nature of the communication that will take place with respect to the document. Some loose ends have to be tied down in respect of the land component of it; that is currently happening, and Members can be rest assured that the document will be released shortly.
Question re: Agriculutural policy
Mr. Lang: In deference to this side of the House and to the general public we are here to serve, it is nice to know we are going to an advertising agent and that they are going to put a policy together to give it a proper look for propaganda purposes. I would ask the Minister this: we have not heard a definitive time frame for the release of this. The last Minister who spoke, whose fault it is now - and I will use the word shortly - I would like to ask Minister: shortly, does that mean by the end of this week?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am usually referred to as the Minister of Community and Transportation Services. Minister Shortly is a new reference, which, from this height, I certainly would not consider appropriate.
The draft policy that we will be releasing shortly will be going through a fairly extensive consultation process. Members can appreciate the complexity of those kinds of arrangements being adequately and properly put in place. We are dealing with support aspects for agriculture; we are dealing with land. That is a complex issue, as the Members opposite can appreciate. We are in the final stages of putting forward the consultation plan that is going to be released at the same time as the draft policy will be released; it may take a few more days, it may take a week. If the Member wants to tie down shortly, that is the approximation.
Question re: Agriculture policy
Mr. Phelps: I am really getting confused, but that is not unusual, given some of the answers we get from the other side. Maybe it is the advertising campaigns that perplex us from time to time. Are we getting ourselves in the situation, like we did recently with the Hootalinqua North plan, where we spent something like $120,000 and had consultation all over the place and, now, we are starting over? Is that what is going to happen with the agricultural policy? Is that the plan, to keep it going forever so we never do have a policy?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Let me assure Members opposite we are not engaging the elaborate expenditure of an advertising agency. Let us put that to rest. We are simply tying down our consultation process that will be kicked in at the time the draft policy comes forward.
To answer the Members question with respect to Hootalinqua, the Member also recognizes that the Hootalinqua plan is also a very complex issue and is by no means either scrapped or put on a back burner. It is proceeding, and the Member is fully aware I am in full consultation and communication with the parties affected.
I would conclude by reminding Members opposite that they worked on a draft squatters policy for seven years and produced nothing.
Mr. Phelps: I was going to make a modest proposal to the Minister who speaks to us from the great heights of the other side. I would suggest, gently and softly, that he deliver the agricultural policy to the people affected, and he will get their reaction soon enough.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: It is our full intention to do so. We will be releasing the policy shortly from this height, and we will be advising Members opposite when we will be doing that. A consultation process will be put in place at the same time. That is what we are tying down. That is the reason for the delay. Sure, I am to blame.
Question re: Agriculture policy
Mr. Lang: I would be the last to want to discuss size, and I am sure the other side as well.
I want to tie this down a little further. Can we expect this policy to be made public either toward the end of this week or the beginning of next week? Is that the time frame we are working in?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I would like to tell the Member he is reasonably accurate in his estimation of when we plan to release the draft policy.
Question re: Office space
Mr. Phillips: I have a question on a different subject, but it is for the Minister who is sometimes appropriately nicknamed Taku Ace, or today he has been called the Minister responsible for holding up the agricultural policy.
My question is to him in his responsibility as the Minister of Government Services. Last week, he issued a ministerial statement here about government office space. In that statement, the Minister said the government needed more space and intended to use this lease for more space to promote the development of a convention centre in Whitehorse.
Before the Minister took it on himself to announce he wanted to promote a convention centre, did he bother to check, or have any of his officials check, to see if someone in the private sector has plans in the works already? Did the Minister or his officials call anyone in the industry to check and see whether they were doing anything about a convention centre?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: As I indicated in the House previously, the space policy I introduced approximately a week ago had been developed from a set of principles and a strategy that had been extensively discussed with the private sector - with Whitehorse and Yukon Chambers of Commerce. To answer the question specifically, yes, there were discussions with that aspect of the private sector in respect to our approach to address the question of a convention centre.
As I announced in the policy, it is our intention to use our need for space to encourage the construction of a convention centre, if that is deemed appropriate and necessary.
Mr. Phillips: I will be really interested to hear who the Ministers department actually contacted. Since last week, I took the opportunity to check local business people myself. I was told that one individual was planning such a facility. This recent announcement of the governments joint venture for a convention centre could make it very difficult for the private sector to proceed.
Why did the government announce its policy prior to at least taking the time to check other local hotels to confirm their plans?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I would like to challenge the Member on the point he makes that the announcement by the government, that it will encourage the construction of a convention centre through its ability to lease space, has been detrimental to the creation of a convention centre. That is completely contrary to the truth of the matter.
In our discussions with the private sector and with the Chambers of Commerce, they were encouraged by this approach to see development of this sort take place. A convention facility is not a stand-alone facility. It is a facility that the private sector is most unlikely to develop on its own. Any encouragement that could be provided, such as through government leasing of space, would be seen as an enhancement to seeing the project go. It would enhance the private sector and the governments need for space.
In conclusion, the suggestion that we put forward to encourage the construction of such a facility in a venture with the private sector can only be viewed as beneficial to development of such a facility. Our approach to this would be through a call for proposals. We would call for proposals for space in which we would ask the proponents to develop a proposal whereby a convention centre may be a functional extension of that space. We would then review these proposals.
Mr. Phillips: The Minister made the point that a convention centre is not a stand-alone facility. I am here to assure the Minister that a certain business person in this town had acquired the land, and the plans were in the early planning stages for such a convention centre? That individual is now concerned that the government is going to joint venture with someone else. This will then kill his plans for a convention centre in the future.
Why did the government not phone the various local major hotels in this town and ask if they had any future plans for a convention centre. They could very well have joint ventured with one of them. This individual is concerned that he may be squeezed out just because the government did not take time to check to see if anyone was planning such a facility.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am trying to tell the Member that that is precisely what we did. The Chamber of Commerce is a representative body of the business sector. We dealt with the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce and developed the principle and the strategy by which we put forward the idea to encourage a convention centre through the need of government to have space.
We dealt with the Chamber of Commerce, which has adopted and supported that principle. It is not possible for the government to single source a joint venture with any business in town. That cannot be done. We propose to call for proposals that will allow any business in town to put forward a proposal if they are interested in securing space to support the convention centre concept.
That does not deny any business an equal opportunity to become involved. It does not give any commitment, on our part, to any business ahead of time. If there is an interested party in the community, they will have every opportunity, even a better one, with our space strategy plan.
Speaker: Question Period has now lapsed. We will proceed with Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House revolve into Committee of the Whole.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Government House Leader that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Motion Agreed to
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Chair: I now call the Committee or the Whole to order. We will have a break at this time.
Chair: I will now call the Committee to order.
Bill No. 19, First Appropriaton Act, 1990-91 - continued
Chair: We will continue with general debate on Executive Council Office.
Executive Council Office - continued
Mr. Phelps: I have finished my questions in general debate, but I think that some of the other MLAs would like to ask some questions.
Mr. Lang: On December 5 a number of questions were raised on the budget that are still outstanding. The questions were raised, and in some cases the Minister did not know the answers, and we understand. Commitments were given, however, and notice was taken that we would be provided with the information.
Is it the practice to ensure that officials within a department read Hansard, go through the commitments and ensure that we get responses to the questions that we asked? I sometimes feel like I have to be like Sherlock Holmes, going back to make sure that I get the information that I asked for. What is the overall policy of the government in this regard?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I hope that I will be in a position to answer the Members questions. I just received a response to one of the questions the Member asked. He wanted some information, and I double checked because I was not sure if it was accurate. I am hoping that we can have it this afternoon when we are in the main estimates. I do not know what other questions the Member is referring to that are outstanding. I have responses ready or on the way for two questions. Perhaps the Member could jog my memory on the other ones. I do not have Hansard in front of me so I cannot remember.
Mr. Lang: Before we get into jogging the Ministers memory, I would like to ask him about the overall policy in this regard. The credibility of the House is in question, not so much the credibility of the Minister. Commitments are made by the other side, and I feel that it is the obligation of those who are there to assist the Minister and the department to ensure that we, as Members of the House, are provided with that information regardless of which side of the House we are on.
What is the policy of the government? Could it be reinforced so that the top civil servants are made aware of it and honest efforts can be made to provide the information requested?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The instructions that I gave following the supplementary discussions were for the Hansard to be reviewed and that answers be prepared for the outstanding questions. Answers to questions do slip from time to time or they are overlooked. Sometimes we need to remind them. That is the standing instruction, and it is one that operates throughout the government.
Mr. Lang: I hope so. We are going to keep an eye on it.
The government had a contract on devolution with a Mr. Woodhouse who was paid $32,000 by the Executive Council Office. It was our understanding that the same individual may have had a contract with the Yukon Development Corporation. The question was asked: was he? And if so, for how much? The Minister was to provide us with that information.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I apologize to the Member. I took notice of the question, and I am sure that it is information that is readily available. If anyone is listening to me in the bureaucracy, maybe they could get the answer this afternoon, so that I can provide it to the House.
Mr. Lang: I sure hope so, Madam Chair. He is the boss.
Since it is the policy for the civil service to always provide us with the answer, and we have not gotten any, I will go on to the next question. I will quote from Hansard, page 680, just in case the staff forgot to read that page, since it had to do with the Executive Council Office.
I asked the following question of Mr. Penikett: I would like to move to another area. Do you have a breakdown of what ministerial travel for this past year has been, by Minister and by trip? If so, I wonder if he could table it in the House.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I received the answer to that question. I was prepared to table it today. I took a look at the answer before coming into the House, and I had reason to believe one of the parts of the answer was inaccurate. I asked them to double check it. I am sure I will have the answer to that question this afternoon.
Mr. Lang: I would like to move on to the next question. On page 680, two paragraphs down below that one. It is fairly close, if the staff was reading this closely. I asked the following, I would also like a breakdown. We know what the chief negotiators salary is. He named a number of other positions in the Land Claims Secretariat: regional negotiator, communicator and various other positions. Could the Minister give us a breakdown of each one of these positions and what kind of contract we have entered into?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I can get the Member a list of the amounts we have budgeted for contracts in those areas. I can file that by legislative return.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: With respect to that answer, could I read the answer to the Member? If the information answers all his questions about that, I will table it accordingly. If it does not, I will provide further information.
The other positions in the Land Claims Secretariat directly involved in the umbrella final agreement, land selection and first nation agreement negotiations include the chief negotiator, Mr. Chris Knight; the senior land negotiator, Karen Hougen-Bell; three land negotiators, who are Karen Armour, Brian Wootten, and one position that is vacant; four positions in the secretariat to support the negotiations process and undertake the range of administrative responsibilities required to ensure adequate preparation for negotiations. Those are the assistant deputy minister; the director, Mr. McTiernan, who is present here today; the director of implementation and administration, Linda Engels; the secretary, Jill Doyle; and the clerk-typist, Lynn Black.
The ongoing drafting services related to mapping for land selection negotiations and communication services are provided through service contracts: in drafting services, and another one in communication services provided by Mr. Arnold Hedstrom.
With regard to Denise Berken of drafting services, I can update the information provided in this answer. This was a problem we had this morning. Management Board made a decision to convert that service contract to an employment contract, according to instructions from Revenue Canada. Even though I will table this in the House, as of this morning, I know that a change is required in the answer. I hope the Member will understand, as I amend it on my feet.
Mr. Lang: Are the contracts for the first positions outlined by the Minister on a per diem basis?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I mentioned two contracts: one on drafting and one on communication services. I do not believe they are on a per diem basis, but I could find out. I am sorry, I do not have that information in my head.
Mr. Lang: I would appreciate if he would even table the documents of what it is costing the taxpayers, for example in the area of communications. I did not quite understand those other positions. For example, would Mr. Chris Knight now be on a contract position?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: No, he is a public servant originally seconded from Community and Transportation Services. He occupies a term person year in this organizational structure. The senior land negotiator I talked about, Karen Hougen-Bell, is an indeterminate person year. The three land negotiators I talked about are all on employment contracts.
Mr. Lang: I take it that the salaries being paid are similar to the salaries they were being paid when they were working in other positions within the civil service. Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Essentially, the people who were in term or indeterminate positions are in the classification system of the public service. In the employment contracts, allowing for the fact that contract employees have different benefits and so forth, the public servants would be paid according to the market value of the work they are doing.
Mr. Lang: Perhaps the Minister could provide us with the exact figures for the employment contracts, because obviously they would be much different than, for example, the salaried people, which is fine; I do not have a problem with the salaried aspect of it. Could the Minister make an undertaking to provide us with that information?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I can tell the Member that the land negotiators are on a salary at the AR-17/19 positions in the public service, which is the position for land negotiators.
Mr. Lang: I am sure it is Greek to everybody in this House except perhaps the Minister, so perhaps the Minister could provide us with copies of the contract so that we can have an idea of what we are talking about.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I could provide the copy of the salaries for people in that range, I am sure.
Mr. Lang: I would like to go a little further on the information the Minister provided to us. He talked about mapping services. Could he provide us with all the service contracts that have been let in this area for the past year for the purposes of drafting and mapping, other than for the individual who they have converted to a permanent person year?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: There is, I think, only that one drafting contract for that one person. That is the person who does the mapping work related to the land claims process. I do not even know if the employee has been told this yet but, effective this morning, at Management Board, at the request of Revenue Canada that position was converted to an employment contract.
Mr. Lang: I have another question on Hansard, page 681 - in case the Executive Council missed this in their rigid scrutiny of it. The question was put to the Minister by Mrs. Firth about a report that was done, I believe, by Eloise Spitzer; it had to do with work on the Constitution. The question was, quote: So the Minister is saying they were simply Cabinet documents. How much did she receive for that contract? Mr. Penikett replied, I will take the question as notice. I will have to get back to the Member. Has the Minister got that information?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am pretty certain that Miss Spitzer was an employee of the government during that time, but I will double check. The fact is that she was doing an early draft on the constitutional paper for Cabinet and that is what she was employed on.
Mr. Lang: Can you double check to ensure that the individual in question not only was an employee but at the same time did not have a contract? I hope that was not the case.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I will double check.
Mrs. Firth: If I could just refresh the Ministers memory: it was a contract; it was after her employment had expired and maternity leave had expired. There was a contract with the government. There had been a directive given in Executive Council about several people who were going to be working on contracts. Miss Spitzer was one of them; Mr. Woodhouse was another. There was discussion about one of the secretaries being seconded to another area. The specifics of the contract were that Miss Spitzer was to be working on the constitutional question as well as in other areas dealing with Meech Lake; a green paper was supposed to be presented for discussion and the Minister made reference to it several times in the Legislature.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I will double check that information for the Member.
Mr. Lang: I have a question of the makeup of boards and the policy of the boards. In the legislation being brought forward, the government is being very specific in recommending that individuals be appointed to these boards instead of it being the full prerogative of the government. Is that the policy of the government? Is that the direction that the government will be taking?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The stated policy of the government is to achieve, with respect to boards and committees, gender, racial, regional and political balance in appointments to boards and committees. That is the stated policy of the government.
Mr. Lang: I am concerned about the method of appointment. I would like to know about the policy of the government in those instances where a board is created. For example, on the Recreation Advisory Board, where the government has the prerogative to appoint three members, the remainder are based on the recommendations from organizations. Is that the direction that the government will be taking in future years to ensure that these organizations are represented?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: It is a general direction. Overall, on the boards and committees, we would like to achieve that kind of balance. We are nowhere close to achieving it on many individual boards. It may not be practical or possible on boards where we have a minority of the nominees to touch all the bases. It may not be possible to have all the interests that we would like to see represented.
There is a whole class of boards though, for example, those arising from the land claims agreement, where, in those cases we will be appointing a portion of the board, and the first nations will be nominating people to boards. We will be appointing them, but they have the right to make nominations. They may not respect our wishes, for example, in the case of gender parity. That will be their decision.
Mr. Lang: That is not the area that I am pursuing. It seems to me that in the last three years, in the amending of legislation, the position of the government has been that the organizations affected through the legislation would be recommending their own membership on these boards. One that comes to mind is the wildlife advisory board. In that case, various organizations are asked for nominees, and the government then appoints members based on those nominations. Is that the general direction that the government will be taking, keeping the racial and gender balance in mind?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I cannot say that it is a blanket rule. There are a couple of boards where that policy and practice may lend themselves to it. There are other cases where it will not. One example that we might enshrine in law is the Council on the Economy and the Environment. There would be a lively debate about whether or not we did what was done in the Hospital Act. I will explain why. From time to time, Members on the side opposite, Mr. Brewster and Mr. Phillips, have made representations on behalf of the agricultural association that it be represented on that council.
We have had other representations from other groups likewise. The trappers, at one time, argued that their volume of production was greater than the agricultural association and that they had a greater claim to representation. There are people in the fishing industry who claim that the size of the fishery sector, including the sports fishery, is more significant than agriculture.
We also recognize that over time these things change. In a dynamic economy, some sectors will expand, some will shrink. The relative size of these sectors will change. Therefore, it might be a mistake to embed it in law, even if it was said that the agricultural association or its successor shall be a nominee.
My guess is that, while we might want to see gender parity and a regional and political balance, we would be mistaken if we embedded into law that a particular organization had a right to nominate while another one did not. In five years time, one organization might have grown, and that sector of the economy might be more significant. The other one might have shrunk. We would not want to have to open up legislation to reflect that new reality.
Mr. Lang: I know there is always going to be an exception to a rule; I appreciate that, and I will accept the Ministers logic. Another one that comes to mind that we are going to be dealing with later in the session is the Yukon child care board where the Legislature will be saying, through the government, that we shall nominate from these various groups. It is not a may, it is a shall. I am just taking it as a matter of general policy, not specific, knowing that there are isolated cases such as the Economic Environmental Council, which the government is going to continue and expand where possible for the purpose of these nominations where appropriate. That is what I am taking as policy.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: We are going to try to empower groups and individuals who have not previously had much access to these processes. We are going to respect, in the case of the child care legislation, the wishes of the House as expressed in the motion adopted here, but we will, as well, try and achieve the kind of regional political balance we talked about just a few moments ago.
Mrs. Firth: I have some questions for the Minister about the person year complement in his budget. He said yesterday that there was an increase of 3.27 person years in this budget, which accounted for three terms in the French languages and three in the aboriginal languages areas, and the .27 was for some other clerical assistance or something. I would like to ask the Minister about where the three new secretaries show up, that we discussed in the supplementary estimates for the Ministers. He also talked about a committee liaison person in the supplementary estimates; that is another person year. Also, in this new budget, there are three assistant deputy minister positions in the Executive Council Office that were not present in the 1989-90 budget. I see that as six, possibly seven, new person years that are not reflected in the budget.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The Cabinet support positions were discussed in the supplementaries and, in fact, as I introduced the estimate yesterday, I talked about the increases since the supplementary was approved, so I was talking about additions over and above that. The deputy minister positions were from the person year establishment for the department but were reclassified and redefined. I am sorry; was there another part to the Members question?
Mrs. Firth: The committee coordinator.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: That was also in the Cabinet support, which we approved in the supplementary. When I described the increases yesterday, I talked about the increases over and above the supplementary just approved.
Mrs. Firth: Can the Minister tell us what the increases are from the 1989-90 budget to this budget, including the increases in the supplementary budget? There must be close to 10 or more person year increases.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: While the officials are looking it up, I will go by memory. In the positions in the Cabinet support area, which we previously discussed in the supplementary, there are the three terms in the French language area, which are 100 percent funded by the federal government; in this budget, but not in the supplementaries, are the three positions in the aboriginal language area, which are also 100 percent funded by the federal government. There is the .27 of a person year, which is going to the statistics branch and which rounds out to, I think, half the person year total addition for them for this year. The regulations clerk will be leaving the department in the year we are now in and will be going to Justice, as it was recommended that that person year was more appropriately with the legislative council operation.
Mrs. Firth: I would still like the Minister to point out to us the difference in the person year complement in the 1989-90 budget. When you look at that person year complement, and then look at the person years that have been added in his department in the last numbers he has mentioned; I see an addition of 10.27 person years. Yet, the Minister says it has not been that many and talks about one regulations clerk who went to Justice. I will follow that through into the Justice department. It is very difficult to track people down if we do not have a full accounting of the numbers of persons.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am quite happy to lay it out for the Member in a chart. The numbers are: three terms in the French language program; three terms in the aboriginal language program; and the positions in the Cabinet support program, which we talked about in the supplementaries. This comes to a total of 11, minus one, which is the regulations clerk who has gone to Justice. This is 10 person years, in terms of total person years. The Member is right. That is 10, but that includes the numbers previously improved in the supplementary that passed this House.
Mrs. Firth: On the person year reconciliation, 1990-91 main estimates, we have 57 people in the 1988-89 mains; the 1988-89 actual was 57 persons. The 1989-90 forecast was 59.23 persons. Now, we are saying we have 59.50: 57 to 59.50 does not reflect the extra 10 person years.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am sorry. I could not hear the numbers. She talked about the 0.23, which was a fraction of a person year. We added the 0.27 to make it 0.5 person year for the statistics. That is what happened on that one.
I am sorry I do not have the information here but, with respect to the others, there were four person years who were approved in the supplementary. There may have been three in the French language area in the last year. That is seven person years. What we are adding in this budget is three terms here, which are in the aboriginal language area. This adds up to the 10 the Member spoke about.
In the document filed yesterday by my colleague, the Minister of Finance, the person year reconciliation on the second page shows 57 person years and four terms in the 1988-89 mains. In the 1989-90 mains, there were 57 plus four. There was a 0.23 person year for a survey officer in Statistics, and three Orders-in-Council and the registrar transfers in Justice, leaving a net number in the mains of 59.23 and four terms.
In this budget before the House now, we are adding a 0.27 term to make a 0.5 person year for the survey officer in Statistics, and three aboriginal language terms, leaving us with 59.5 indeterminate positions and seven terms. Six of the seven terms are in the languages area, and the 0.27 person year is an addition in the statistics unit. That is over and above the supplementaries already approved.
Mrs. Firth: The Minister combines the term and indeterminate into the 66.50 person years, which is the full complement of the department.
I would like to ask the Minister for some clarification about the comment he made about the assistant deputy minister positions. In the budget for 1989-90, there were no assistant deputy minister positions in the Executive Council Office. Now there are three. He made a comment about the jobs being redefined. Could he explain that?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The Member said there were no ADMs in the 1989-90 mains. That is not correct. There was one ADM. As I indicated on December 5 during discussion of the supplementary, I explained there would be two assistant deputy ministers. As I explained in my introductory remarks, the third deputy minister is in the intergovernmental constitutional development devolution area. That ADM position was created by converting a position we had for devolution coordinator, which was vaguely defined in terms of the hierarchy of the department, and had been occupied. The first incumbent was a DM in rank and is now our senior intergovernmental relations officer in Ottawa. That came from the devolution coordinator person year.
The land claims ADM, the position occupied by Mr. McTiernan, is a position created and classified from the person year that was in land claims for the land claims administrator, previously occupied by Mr. Piper.
Mrs. Firth: This is just to express to the Minister what has happened. In the 1989-90 budget that was tabled for last year, there were no ADMs on the organizational chart that explains the relationship between organization and programs. The ADMs were obviously approved by Management Board submission throughout the year. Two of them were identified in the supplementary budget: the land claims one and the devolution one. There is still one outstanding ADM position.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I apologize. I may have confused the Member in the answer. The first ADM position created is the one we would now describe as the policy and communications ADM, which is held by Mr. Sinclair, present here today. That was the first ADM position. I believe it was created in 1988, and the first incumbent was Mr. Bill Oppen.
That policy and communications ADM is responsible for, among other things, the public affairs branch, the French and aboriginal languages services, policy, planning, statistics, et cetera. That was the first ADM in the department.
The second ADM position created was the one I described around land claims in the supplementary. The third and most recent position is the one in constitutional development, devolution and intergovernmental relations. That position has not yet been filled.
Mrs. Firth: If that is the case, and that position was an ADM position in 1988, why was it not listed as such on this organizational chart in his budget of 1989-90? On that organizational chart, the budget did not indicate any ADM positions.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I apologize if the organizational chart did that. I was asking Mr. Sinclair to try and remember when the position was created, and he thought it was 1988, but I will have to confirm exactly when it was. The Member may be quite right that it was a Management Board decision after the budget was cast, or in mid-year. In any event, I will check to find out the exact date of that decision.
I want the Member to understand that was the first ADM position. The span of control from that ADM was excessive, in Mr. Finglands view. Given the emphasis of the government, in terms of the governments priorities in land claims and in the devolution and constitutional agendas, he recommended the organization we now have.
Mrs. Firth: I can concur with the Minister that that first position was probably created some time ago, because I think the Public Service phone directory indicated the individual by that title at that time. So, the remaining question is: why was it not reflected on the organizational chart in the budget? This is the question that is going to come forward in other departments as well, because when you examine the budget of 1989-90, there are a total of two ADMs reflected in that budget. In this budget of 1990-91, the number of assistant deputy ministers that is actually reflected on the organizational charts is 16. That encompasses all the departments, so perhaps the Minister could tell us why it was not reflected on there? I would like him to give us some information as to the additional money needed for salaries for these individuals who have had their jobs reclassified to ADM positions from the policy and planning, from the devolution coordinator, and now the land claims secretariat. I am sure that, with the title of ADM, comes an increase in the salary dollars that had been previously identified for those positions.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Not necessarily, because both of the people who were incumbents in the positions before were people who had been DMs and, I suspect, classified and paid accordingly - although I will have to confirm that. So I do not think it follows that it was necessarily a salary increase, in order to meet the DM salaries. As I just explained, the person who was the devolution coordinator had been a deputy minister for some time, and I am sure was being paid as such even in the devolution coordinators position. Likewise with Mr. Piper who, as the Member may know, was at one point a very senior official in this government and was probably classified and paid accordingly.
Mrs. Firth: Perhaps the Minister could examine it for me so that we can see whether they have incurred any extra dollars because of those ADM positions.
I would like to move to something new. Could the Minister confirm that one of the employees from the land claims secretariat has been seconded to the Workers Compensation Board? There has been no public announcement about that.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: It would not be for me to make the public announcement. I did indicate, indirectly, last night, I believe, in answer to questions from the Opposition Leader that Mrs. Engels had been temporarily assigned to act in Mr. Booths place in the Workers Compensation Board. She is, in the long term, though, assigned to the task of the land claims implementation, as I described.
Mrs. Firth: The Minister talked during the supplementary budget about a firm that had been contracted in Ottawa to give strategic advice on dealing with the federal government, and he was talking about the new lobbying legislation and how we were going to have lobbyists on behalf of the Yukon Government. Can he give us an update on that and tell us if the contract is going to be ongoing, and in what particular areas is the government going to be lobbying the federal government?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The contract is ongoing. I forget, for the moment, the name of the firm, but the person in the firm with whom we are associated is Miss Jodi White, formerly, I think, principal secretary or executive assistant to Mr. Joe Clark during the time he was Prime Minister. She is providing us with strategic advice rather than technically lobbying on a whole range of issues having to do with formula financing, land claims and devolution questions - well, basically, the intergovernmental agenda between this government and the federal government.
She has been extraordinarily successful in facilitating arrangements and meetings with people who we otherwise might not have been able to see as quickly. She has been a consistent and reliable source of information about the thinking of the federal government on a number of questions.
She and I have discussed the problem of her, even though she is giving strategic advice instead of lobbying, appearances. Accordingly, she made the decision to publicly register herself in accordance with the legislation - I am not sure if that legislation has been passed or if it is still forthcoming with the federal government. Her intention is to identify herself as a lobbyist for the Yukon government even though the primary intent is more in the area of strategic advice to enable us to lobby more effectively.
Mrs. Firth: Can the Minister tell us how much this is going to cost? Has the cost been anticipated? What has been spent on it so far?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I could find an approximate cost. We are using her on a continuing basis, so I will not know until the end of the year what the final costs are. I could probably find what the cost will be to December and provide it to the Member. I hope I can do that shortly.
Mrs. Firth: Can the Minister tell us how long this contract has been active? How long have we been utilizing this service?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Assuming that we continue to have a satisfactory working relationship, we are looking at it as a continuing relationship.
Mrs. Firth: How long has she been on contract?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I think she started to work with us in this fiscal year. I recall Mr. Lawsons recommendation that we retain her. We began the discussions this summer, and it was probably in the fall that we began to use her services - I understand it was in October that we started contracting with her.
I am advised that the problem that the Member identifies about not showing assistant deputy ministers is that the old organizational charts did not show positions; they showed units. The difference that the Member is pointing out is that this year the Department of Finance has revamped the format of the charts to better show the organizational relationships and the positions.
For example, the Department of Finance had two ADMs for years. It is only this year that we have been showing the individual positions at the ADM level. That is the reason for the difference in the organization charts between previous budgets and in this one.
Mrs. Firth: I thank the Minister for that explanation. I will follow up on it and check it out. The Minister said that the ADM position for the devolution had not been filled yet. I do not recall even seeing it advertised. Has the government advertised the position yet?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: It was advertised before Christmas; I will have to check as to exactly when.
Mrs. Firth: I would like the Minister to check it for me please. When does he expect that the department may be filling this position?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I cannot give a precise date, but I will check with the deputy minister and establish the answer to that question.
Mrs. Firth: Has the Minister had lots of applicants? Does the department have an individual in mind for the position?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: No individual has been identified to me as a pending appointment. There were a number of applications.
Mrs. Firth: Is the Minister going to be requesting the position be filled by a woman?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: If there are qualified candidates, we will be looking very enthusiastically at that prospect.
Mrs. Firth: I am asking the Minister specifically: is it an ADM position for a woman? There have been ADM positions advertised for women only. I would like to know if this is going to be one of them.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: This was not one of the six advertised.
Chair: Shall we proceed with the line-by-line?
On Operation and Maintenance
Mrs. Firth: In the extra salary dollars for the ADMs, should there be some? They would be in this line, would they not?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: If there are any extra salaries, they would be in the lines of the organization charts under the specific areas, which would be intergovernmental devolution and ...
Chair: Are there any questions on Capital expenditures?
Mrs. Firth: I have a question under Allotments, the O&M Other for $223,000. What does that include?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: This deals with travel inside and outside the territory, protocol duties, accompanying visitors, trips to Ottawa and other provincial capitals, contract services, repair and maintenance of office equipment, entertainment, rentals, supplies, postage, freight, advertising, program materials, and communications. Would the Member like a breakdown of the dollars on each of those?
Mrs. Firth: I do not need a breakdown on every particular area. I am interested in how much they have identified for contract services and entertainment.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Contract services is $59,000. Entertainment on this line is $6,000. This is protocol hosting, distinguished visitors, and so forth to the territory.
Administration/Secretariat in the amount of $755,000 agreed to
On Land Claims Secretariat
Chair: Is there any general debate?
Are there any questions on Allotments or Person Year Establishment?
Mr. Phelps: The O&M Other has gone down by 38 percent. Why is that?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: It is substantially because of the conversions I explained to the Member. There was also a commensurate increase in the Personnel side going up. Conversion of the service contracts to employment contracts means a reduction on the Other line and an increase in the Personnel line.
Chair: There are no Capital expenditures.
Land Claims Secretariat in the amount of $994,000 agreed to
On Public Affairs Bureau
Chair: Is there any general debate?
On Operation and Maintenance
Administration in the amount of $158,000 agreed to
On Information Services
Mr. Phelps: We would like an explanation of that increase.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: That increase is largely a result of merit increases and full staffing. You will notice there is also a commensurate increase in the Personnel line.
Information Services in the amount of $212,000 agreed to
Photography in the amount of $160,000 agreed to
On Inquiry Centre
Inquiry Centre in the amount of $130,000 agreed to
Allotments in the amount of $665,000 agreed to
Operation and Maintenance in the amount of $660,000 agreed to
On Photography Equipment
Photography Equipment in the amount of $5,000 agreed to
Capital in the amount of $5,000 agreed to
Public Affairs Bureau in the amount of $665,000 agreed to
On Policy and Planning
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The most notable thing I should mention here is the branchs intergovernmental responsibilities; its members have been transferred to the new constitutional development, devolution and intergovernmental relations branch, covering of course constitutional development devolution and federal intergovernmental relations. That budget also includes the budget for the federal relations office.
This establishment remains at five, which is seven person years minus the two Ottawa positions. Personnel and operational costs are virtually unchanged for the year. The only significant changes are a reduction of the annual $25,000 contribution made since 1984 to the Asian Pacific Foundation. I described that in my introductory remarks.
Its role is redefined now the branchs main activity is coordinating a central host development planning and review among all departments. This involves activities such as coordinating all aspects of policy planning for the government, including the preparation of Cabinet papers, planning documents, and work such as throne speeches, progress reports on various policies that we are implementing - such as economic strategy or social policy initiatives - management of the committee review system, Cabinet committees - the policy review committee, deputy ministers review committee - and analysis for those various committees.
The branch also does policy and planning work for the Executive Council Office and organizes multi-departmental work such as issues surrounding the North Slopes, which we talked about last night, and makes hurry-up projects in special areas such as science policy development, which was done originally under this shop, and we have contemplated doing other work that I cannot think of at the moment.
On Policy and Planning
Policy and Planning in the amount of $341,000 agreed to
Chair: There is no Capital.
On Person Year Establishment and Allotments
Person Year Establishment and Allotments agreed to
Policy and Planning in the amount of $341,000 agreed to
On Constitutional Development, Devolution and Intergovernmental Relations
Hon. Mr. Penikett: We did talk about the kind of work that this branch should be involved in last night, and we talked about the Meech Lake issue, the intergovernmental work and the growing complexity and importance of the federal/territorial relations and, in some cases, territorial/provincial relations. There have been a number of, we think, notable events in the past few months. I know one in which the Opposition Leader has taken an interest: the resolution of the question of the Commissioners signature on federal/territorial agreements. We have been involved in representations on some of the issues we discussed last night: offshore boundaries and lobbying for participation in all of the federal-provincial conferences on matters that affect us, and obviously the question of the transfer of provincial-like responsibilities is an ongoing imperative for this government.
Constitutional Development, Devolution and Intergovernmental Relations in the amount of $257,000 agreed to
On Federal Relations
Federal Relations in the amount of $289,000 agreed to
Chair: There is no Capital. Are there any questions on Allotments or Person Year Establishment?
Constitutional Development, Devolution and Intergovernmental Relations in the amount of $546,000 agreed to
On French and Aboriginal Language Services
On French Language Program
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I said most of what I can say last night in my introductory comments. This program essentially follows from the passage of the Languages Act in this Legislature. By the agreement with Ottawa on this question, I have identified the staffing that is contemplated in this area. In this coming fiscal year, we will be moving from the program development stage to the implementation stage with the language minorities in the Yukon.
French Language Program in the amount of $468,000 agreed to
On Aboriginal Language Program
Aboriginal Language Program in the amount of $448,000 agreed to
Chair: There is no Capital. Are there any questions on Allotments or Person Year Establishment?
On Person Year Establishment and Allotments
Person Year Establishment and Allotments agreed to
French and Aboriginal Language Services in the amount of $916,000 agreed to
On Internal Audit and Evaluation
On Internal Audit
Internal Audit in the amount of $363,000 agreed to
Chair: There is no Capital.
On Allotments and Person Year Establishment
Allotments and Person Year Establishment agreed to
Internal Audit and Evaluation in the amount of $363,000 agreed to
On Bureau of Statistics
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The Yukon Bureau of Statistics is the central statistical agency for the Government of Yukon. Its purpose is to develop timely and relevant information relating to the policy development and government decision making in keeping with professional research standards.
The bureau has recently done a major assessment of its mandate and activities. It is developing a set of research priorities for the coming fiscal year. It is developing a work plan for the year following.
Complementary to research for department, the bureau will also be undertaking its own core research, including the feasibility of bringing the national labour force survey to the Yukon, input/output research, industry estimates of the gross domestic product and estimates of imports and exports and social research on population. They will also be starting some long-term work on developing a system of social accounts for the territory. These will resemble the economic accounts that are now becoming of very high quality here. They are becoming a very important tool for policy makers and program managers. This is a long-term plan.
Mrs. Firth: Statistical information gatherings are very expensive. Could the Minister tell just how much this system of social accounts for the territory is going to cost? There will be a start-up cost as well as some ongoing costs. Can he give us that information?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: We cannot assign a cost to that at all. Let us assume that we have some numbers now. For example, almost every jurisdiction in the country has something that could be called a health status report. It describes in detail all sorts of things such as mortality rates, causes of deaths and the kind of indices that the Member would be well acquainted with as a nurse.
We do not have a report like that in the Yukon. We have some statistics that come from all over the place that are gathered by our health services branch, by the hospital, by the federal government or by us. Over a period of time, we will have to integrate those into a set of accounts like most large jurisdictions in the federal government and most nations have.
It is difficult here, for a lot of reasons, to develop economic accounts. That is because of the small population. Some of the research methods that can be used elsewhere cannot be adequately used here. We are not assigning any dollars to this project. We are starting to think about it as we gather information. It is more, at this stage, about how we use the information that we already have rather than develop new research methods. We are talking about something that may take many, many years to achieve.
Mrs. Firth: My concern is that it is also very expensive if you start compiling statistics. Does the government have something specific they want to keep track of?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: There are no hard specifics. This branch has been very good at responding to requests from all sorts of departments. When departments need some information of one kind or another this branch has historically done a fine job of supplying that information., sometimes at very short notice. I use the example of health status information. We are going to have an increasing need in this territory for something resembling a health status report. Over time, the way in which we collate and analyse the information that is already available is going to be increasingly important. It is a question of improving the timeliness, relevance and quality of the information we have. We are not starting any new research or assigning any new budget to it at this stage. That is one of the directions in which we are moving.
Mr. Phelps: What is the explanation for it going from $120,000 to $132,000 to $112,000?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: It seems that money has been reallocated across from other lines. The total program increase in here is $18,000 and that was mainly attributed to merit increases and reclassifications in the bureau, and a $16,000 increase in personnel costs. I will have to take the question as notice because it is not easy for me to track with the information I have at hand.
Administration/Management stood over
Information/Publications in the amount of $144,000 agreed to
Mr. Phelps: Perhaps we could have an explanation on the increase there.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I will have to check this. It looks like they moved half the person years from the administration area to this line. That may in large part explain both of the questions of the Member.
Mr. Phelps: Perhaps we can have that verified.
Chair: Is the Committee agreed?
Method/Analytical stood over
Chair: Capital, $12,000
On Statistical Support Materials
Statistical Support Materials in the amount of $12,000 agreed to
On Surveys and Data Development
Surveys and Data Development in the amount of $10,000 agreed to
Bureau of Statistics $572,000 stood over
On Office of the Commissioner
On Operation and Maintenance
On Office of the Commissioner
Office of the Commissioner in the amount of $120,000 agreed to
On Cabinet Support
Chair: Is there general debate?
Mrs. Firth: I wonder if the Minister could give us some information about the person years in this area for the committee liaison person. What exactly is the job description of that individual?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I thought we had discussed the community liaison position previously in the supplementary, but if I have not given the Member a job description, I would be quite happy to table that.
Mrs. Firth: I would like the job description. The title, I gather, is community liaison person, but is this not the person who is supposed to be getting the names for the government committees and putting people on the government committees?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: That is correct.
Mrs. Firth: Could the Minister just give us some information as to how this individual goes about doing this? Are letters sent out to groups? Exactly how does it operate?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: It ranges from advertisements in the paper, which the Member may have noticed, inviting people who would like to serve on boards and committees to submit their names and to contract with groups. We have a large number of boards and committees. We have vacancies occurring all the time and we have to try to identify suitable candidates for the boards and committees, and the individual recommends alternatives to Cabinet for appointment.
Mrs. Firth: Does this individual, then, look after all the committees and boards that are listed in the committees and board handbook, and is that individual also responsible for seeing that that book is updated and published on a regular basis?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: As far as I know; there may be some exception, which I cannot think of off the top of my head. I think that person looks after all the boards and committees identified in the handbook.
Mrs. Firth: Who did the job before? I am trying to determine why this was such a priority with the government, why it was felt that this position was necessary.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Well at one time nobody did it, but I think that having a person devoted to it is a major improvement.
Mrs. Firth: That is not entirely correct; someone must have done it, because we received updated boards and committees handbooks, and people were continuing to be appointed to the boards, so it must have been done by someone. I would like to know why the Minister feels that it is necessary that we have a person year identified to do that kind of thing.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: When I said nobody was doing it, in a sense everybody was doing it; sometimes that amounts to nobody doing that. Ultimately, Ministers were making decisions, and the people we had on staff upstairs were dealing with these matters. We think that it is very appropriate to have someone whose time is devoted to this task.
Mrs. Firth: So we understand the process correctly, this individual would submit names for replacements on boards and committees that become vacant, or that are due to become vacant. Those names would then go to the Cabinet, and the Cabinet would make the final decision as to whether those people were going to be appointed or not.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: They would go to the responsible Minister. As Members know, some are technically Cabinet appointments, some are technically ministerial appointments. We have a practice of sharing our knowledge on these questions.
As the Member knows, there are some board and committees where we are required by law to take nominees from certain groups. In that case, the job would simply ensure those nominations are forthcoming.
Mrs. Firth: The salary range for that position is $42,000 to $55,000. Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The information I previously gave on that question still stands.
Mr. Phelps: What explains this large increase?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: In previous years, we budgeted separately for Cabinet tours. With these estimates, we have combined this with ministerial travel, so the 1989-90 forecast of the figures on page 56 is the total of the two activities.
Mrs. Firth: It is difficult to proceed without the information that had been requested about ministerial travel. How much money has been identified in this budget for ministerial travel?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The Member is asking me how much we have budgeted this year for ministerial travel. The total travel allocation for all Ministers is $137,000.
Ministers in the amount of $179,000 agreed to
On OIC Personnel
OIC Personnel in the amount of $811,000 agreed to
Chair: There is no Capital expenditures. Are there any questions on Allotments or Person Year Establishment?
Allotments and Person Year Establishment agreed to
Cabinet Support in the amount of $990,000 agreed to
On Public Inquiries
Public Inquiries in the amount of $1.00 agreed to
Plebiscites in the amount of $1.00 agreed to
Chair: We will go back to Bureau of Statistics.
On Bureau of Statistics
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am advised the substance of the response to the two questions the Member asked on the stats bureau is as I indicated. There was half a person year moved from the administration area to the methodological line of the research activities, and that explains the difference between the numbers.
Administration/Management in the amount of $112,000 agreed to
Methods/Analytical in the amount of $294,000 agreed to
Bureau of Statistics in the amount of $550,000 agreed to
Chair: We will return to Schedule A.
On Executive Council Office in the amount of $6,235,000 agreed to
Mr. Lang: There were a number of questions that the Minister took notice on. Can we expect responses within the week on those questions?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I will try to get the answers this afternoon to the questions the Members asked, including the ones asked this afternoon. I will include the travel question the Member asked earlier.
Chair: Is it the wish of the Committee to have a break before we go into Community and Transportation Services?
Chair: I will now call the Committee back to order.
Community and Transportation Services
Chair: We are on Community and Transportation Services, Schedule A for $53,440,000. We are on general debate.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: In terms of general achievement and direction over all, the Department of Community and Transportation Services contributes substantially to a number of goals of the government relating to economic development, the quality of life, and at the same time, it is very responsive to individual and community priorities.
I do not think I will repeat my comments. In short, the Community and Transportation Services is committed to a number of general goals and objectives of the government. It reaches across the broad expanse of the territory, both physically and socially, in terms of services provided. An emerging priority the department is faced with is the ever-increasing protection of the environment. As Members are aware, we have developed a series of programs aimed at environmental protection, and we are developing those initiatives and enhancing them on an ongoing basis. At the same time, we are committed to land claims implementation, and it is receiving an increased emphasis.
We are realigning a number of resources to meet the ever-growing challenge of providing a broad range of services with limited dollars. In this budget, the department is asking for a total of $97.8 million. Of that, $53.4 million is for O&M expenditures and $44.4 million is for capital expenditures. On the revenue side of the ledger, the department takes in $42.2 million in various revenues and recoveries. The net expenditures of this budget are $55.6 million dollars.
The capital recoveries of that portion amount to $19 million, leaving a net capital expenditure - that is, new dollars - of $25.3 million. Again, we have anticipated revenues of $7.3 million and O&M recoveries are estimated at $15 million, leaving a net or new expenditure on the O&M side of $37.6 million.
The budget, Members will recognize, reflects about a five percent decrease from last year, but I want to point out and emphasize to Members that, on the O&M side, we have maintained the rate of inflation in the budget; in other words, on the operations side we have maintained a three percent increase to the budget.
I would like to speak briefly to several areas. As I indicated, in Transportation the total budget of $56.9 million is accounted for in transportation expenditures; $20 million of that is for capital and $36.5 million is for O&M. Compared to recent past years, there is, as I have noted, a reduction in funds allocated to transportation capital projects. I have already emphasized that on the O&M side we have kept up with the rate of inflation but the capital side does show a reduction.
This in no way suggests that we have a reduced sense of importance in transportation. In fact, what has occurred is that over the past several years, there have been substantial increases in capital expenditures on transportation and it was an attempt to build up the infrastructure of transportation with available dollars, which are no longer required at the high level of importance.
We have a far better transportation system now than we did five years ago. That, of course, does not suggest that the job is done. We still do have capital expenditures in transportation and the budget does show $20 million for road construction in this budget.
In addition to that, we have the Resource Transportation Access Program; we are putting $2.5 million into that budget. As Members know, it is a program that allows us to respond quickly and effectively to provide transportation infrastructure wherever it is needed in resource development, be it tourism, mining or otherwise.
I hope that we will be concluding the transfer of the B and C airports through devolution that has been ongoing for some time. There will be a substantial transfer of dollars with that program when we do transfer it. Things have not moved as quickly as I had hoped but I am expecting that we should have an agreement shortly.
I make note of the South Klondike Highway as an important - in fact, a critical - component of our transportation system because, essentially, it links all of the Yukon to tidewater. We are showing $6.2 million allocated to the reconstruction of the South Klondike and, as Members are aware, we recover that under the engineering services agreement with the federal government, as part of recoverable dollars.
Members are familiar with the economic importance of the Faro riding to the economy of the Yukon and the program that was begun this past year to upgrade the Robert Campbell Highway. We are earmarking $2 million for continued reconstruction of that highway between Carmacks and Faro.
I have previously announced our intention to move to a staggered licensing system, and we are anticipating, with that program, that we should have a shorter lineup of people for the licence period of renewals. Overall, we are looking to see some improved customer service. We have just slightly increased our staffing at the motor vehicles branch.
Particularly to Members in rural ridings, our emphasis in electronic communication in this budget is reflected by $1.5 million being budgeted. That is going to be going to replacement of the VHF system. We have talked about that in past budgets. Additional monies are going to go for improved facilities and equipment to provide TV and radio reception to the small communities. Again, this is a program that was begun some time ago and is continuing.
Also within the department, we will continue our efforts in continuing programs for the orderly and aggressive management of lands. The land development program promotes both economic and social objectives by making land available for industrial, commercial and residential needs at the lowest possible cost. We have identified $7.8 million for continued land development. As Members know, that money is recoverable in the long term through the land sales.
In addition to direct capital expenditure, land capital development continues to be supported through the operation and maintenance side of the budget in the lands branch and other branches of the department. The lands branch is also going to be preparing for the eventual devolution of jurisdiction from the federal government and, to that end, we are completing an automation of a land inventory system. That should be concluded in this coming budget year.
We will be working with other resource management organizations to establish a geographic information system for all mapping and land information throughout the territory. It is our intention to establish a solid data base for land dealings we expect to come.
Members are familiar with the capital block funding arrangement with municipalities. Nearly $10 million is identified in this budget to be transferred to municipalities that, in turn, apply them to their priority projects. At the same time, our conditional municipal water and sewer grant goes up from $345,000 to $412,000, also shown in this budget. Our grants-in-lieu will also rise slightly to just over $2 million.
Members will recall that last fall I announced the intention to conduct a public consultation process on the various reforms in building standards. This streamlining is ongoing. Our protective services section should be concluding that by spring.
We will continue our environmental work. We have identified $1.6 million for water supply projects in various communities. We have $1.3 million for sewer and water projects, including $904,000 for sewage treatment and disposal, as well as $320,000 for solid waste disposal projects. In addition to those programs, we are developing and intend to implement a solid waste disposal site policy and the comprehensive special waste management program, currently underway.
Within the department, we have established two positions to support the land claims process. A director of departmental land claims will have the responsibility for the departments role in land claims. That position is supported by a senior lands researcher. We have identified $180,000 in this budget for this work. That includes $50,000 that will go to municipalities and unorganized communities to provide for various services they become involved with in the land claims process.
In quick summary, those are some of the highlights in this budget. They reflect our priorities relating to land claims, environmental protection, to good government and the provision of healthy communities. I would be pleased to respond to any questions Members may have before we enter line-by-line.
Mr. Brewster: I am very disappointed to see that, again, there is no money appropriated for the Alaska Highway. We have a centennial coming in two years. Everybody says the road is better. I laid a complaint about ice on the road, and the Minister stood up and assured me his department assured him these were not the conditions. I would like the Minister to drive down the road with me sometime, and I could show him some idiot marks. There are a couple of hills known as idiot hills between here and Haines Junction. There must have been between 25 and 30 cars that have gone in there. I came back on Monday, and there have been another eight or nine gone in there.
I even have a gentleman here from Watson Lake to join the idiot club when he tried to come to work here. He took off on the road. I am a little sick and tired of people in the department here saying these things when they are not contacting the foreman or anything else out there. I am very disappointed about it.
How can the Minister get service contracts to build the Skagway Road? He can get a service contract from the federal government to build the Dempster Highway, he can get a service contract to build the Klondike Highway, but he has never made an effort to get a service contract to get the Alaska Highway fixed up?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I have such reverent respect for the Member that I cannot possibly respond in kind.
I want to tell him that he is dead wrong when he suggests that this government has made no effort to establish a service agreement with the federal government for construction of the Alaska Highway. I do not have to repeat the lengthy discussions he and I have had in this House, and others in times before us, about the deplorable condition of sections of the highway from a construction point of view.
This government maintains an engineering services agreement with the federal government for the maintenance. It provides the best maintenance that it can. On the construction side, Public Works Canada is not prepared to identify any funding that it is prepared to turn over to the Yukon government for the Alaska Highway. It would probably turn over the road if the Yukon government was prepared to fund its upgrading.
The Member knows full well that that is a prohibitive exercise for us. If we take over any responsibility of the Alaska Highway, it has to come with funding to the appropriate level, so we can construct it totally. Public Works Canada has historically spent its reconstruction money principally on the B.C. section. We have discussed this before. We had in the magnitude of $30 million a year going out on Alaska Highway construction. That was slowly eroded on the Yukon side, so the majority of that money was spent on the B.C. side. Public Works Canada had some idea that if they upgraded a substantial portion of the B.C. section, the B.C. government was going to take it over. When we went to check on that, only months ago, that was hardly the case. B.C. was not prepared to take over the Alaska Highway.
The Public Works strategy of trying to upgrade the B.C. portion to the detriment of the Yukon, was a bad strategy, a poorly thought out plan, and it caused what we have today. I took time, on one occasion, to meet the Minister of Transportation from B.C. On another occasion, we crossed paths at a separate location. I have corresponded with the most recent transportation minister from B.C. The Hon. Rita Johnston from B.C. and I have signed a joint letter to Elmer MacKay, the federal Minister of Public Works, asking him to come to the Yukon, view the road, sit down with the affected communities of the highway, and deal with the dilemma we have.
The Member is asking, why will the Yukon government not identify some money in this budget for the Alaska Highway? It would be ludicrous and irresponsible for us to take our few, hard-fought dollars and pump them into the Alaska Highway. The federal government has that responsibility, and it ought to deliver. We are doing everything we can to encourage it to do that delivery.
At the same time, we have gone to the other side of the border into Alaska, and we have entertained discussions there. Discussions are continuing with respect to the Shakwak project. The Member knows the Alaskans have historically been committed to upgrade that portion of highway from the border on the west side down through Haines Junction to the Alaskan border. We have the highway pretty well complete to Haines Junction. We still have the section from Haines Junction to the border to complete.
Discussions are happening as to whether we can get some arrangements or deal going to upgrade that portion at American expense, because that is the commitment. Americans are saying they have no money and are not going to continue with the project. So, we have dilemmas all over. In the meantime, my department, my officials and I are doing everything reasonably possible to expedite some attention from the feds. In fact, I will take it upon myself to send a copy of the joint letter we just sent to Mr. MacKay to the hon. Member. Perhaps he can circulate it in his community, and we can continue to encourage the federal Minister to take more responsibility and identify money in his budgets, where the responsibility for upgrading that highway should be.
Mr. Brewster: Firstly, I would like to correct the record. This is about the fourth time it has been said in the House that the Alaskans committed the money. The Alaskans never committed the money. If you go back and look at the original agreement, it was between the United States of America and Canada to do the Shakwak project. The Alaskans bailed their money in, so do not tell me these things cannot be done. They bailed their money in and did the Haines Road, because the American government backed out.
I also find it very ironic that we can go to Ottawa and get service contracts to build 40 miles of hardtop highway, and we can build the Dempster Highway, which I have no problems with. They are all roads that should have been here. Where the figures show the most tourist traffic on the Alaska Highway, nobody does anything. Now, you are advertising to bring in thousands of people in two years, and you will have nothing but a wagon road up there, or maybe the whole plot is, as all the lodge owners say up and down the highway, to send them Dawson.
They said this publicly on the radio. We are not going to get this. They will all be rerouted to Dawson. The Minister said there was no problem, if you wash out they will all go to Dawson. Maybe this is the way the deal goes. It is absolutely ridiculous.
I am no longer going to sit here and listen to Ottawa being blamed. I know Ottawa is to be blamed but you are the people who are supposed to be looking after the Yukon, so look after it.
Chair: I would like to remind the Committee to address remarks through the Chair.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: We have debated this in the spring budget. I believe we debated it in a motion. We are debating it again. What I have difficulty understanding is what more this government, my department or I can be expected to do? I just described to the Member some of the more recent actions being undertaken to try to spring some funds from the federal government to undertake the responsibility that they rightfully have to adequately keep that highway at an acceptable level. That is not meeting with success to date. The Member says we have a responsibility to look after the Yukon and I think we carry out that responsibility quite admirably.
I am not sure what can be done with those areas of responsibility that are not ours. We are talking to the Alaskans, we are talking to the Americans, we are in close communication with Public Works Canada, and I have now joined forced with B.C. to approach the federal government.
I suppose there is more of that type of action that can be done. I am quite open to any suggestions the Member may have about how we can deal with financing the reconstruction of the Alaska Highway. I have indicated in previous discussions that some of the exercises we have engaged in with the feds and Public Works Canada have resulted in some improvement, but only an improvement of the ratio of money spent between B.C. and the Yukon. There is no increased level of funding.
We are talking hundreds of millions of dollars to adequately and properly reconstruct the Alaska Highway. I spent time with the federal Minister of Transportation, Mr. Bouchard, discussing the issue with him. I raised it in the context of the Yukon not having rail access as a mode of transportation. What ordinarily is being spent in the rest of the country on rail transportation support by the federal government ought to be diverted to our existing road infrastructure.
Mr. Bouchard was quite sympathetic to that, but it is going to take some time to redirect funding priority at the federal level to bring Yukons road infrastructure to a comparative transportation level that the provinces enjoy. Believe me, we are doing everything humanly possible from every known angle to persuade the powers that be to provide the funding that ought to be done on the Alaska Highway. That is at a national level, an international level, a provincial level, and now our efforts are directed to try to bring Mr. MacKay to the Yukon to view the highway and meet with the affected communities. That is in collaboration with the British Columbia Transportation Minister.
If the Member has suggestions on what more I can do, please share them.
Mr. Brewster: In the first place, we passed a motion after a big ruckus in this House. We had to go outside and sit down as gentlemen in the back and talk, and then bring it back in. That motion, as far as I am concerned, gave a complete clearance. I thought that the Yukon would jump up and take the lead in this and get Alaska, get B.C., get Alberta, and go down and sit in Ottawa and demand something. But just like all other motions in here, we do a handshake, then we walk away and that is the end of it.
You talk about it being $300 million over 10 years to put this thing in. It runs to about $30 million a year, which is not a great deal of money for a road; and figure out what you would be saving in maintenance. Look at what has been saved in maintenance per mile on the Haines Highway because the road was built properly. It is fantastic. You do not look at this thing for one year or two years. The Minister still has not told me how he can get service contracts for every other road in Yukon, but he cannot get one for the Alaska Highway.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Perhaps the Member could clarify for me the issue he is raising about service contracts? If I understand what the Member is getting at, he is talking about the South Klondike Highway where we have an engineering services agreement with the federal government, who provide the funding directly, and we administer it and then maintain the road after that. The capital costs are covered by the federal government.
He asks the question of how is it that we can get that on the South Klondike, because I do not believe we have it on too many other roads, although we do have it on the Dempster. On the Alaska Highway, the federal government is refusing to enter into those kinds of arrangements; they fund any reconstruction of the highway directly through Public Works Canada, and, historically, they have allocated about $30 million a year for upgrading and, in the past number of years, they have identified most of that for B.C. Through the efforts this past year, and the motion the Member refers to helped, Public Works Canada have, indeed, started transferring a more equitable arrangement of funding between B.C. and the Yukon. In this coming year, I believe $6 million has been identified for the Yukon portion of the Alaska Highway. So, there is capital reconstruction to the tune of $6 million to come in this year, but that is minute compared to what is needed.
I guess the short answer to the Members question is: Public Works Canada funds the reconstruction of the highway. We maintain it through an agreement that they fund. They own the highway. I cannot say whether they are prepared to turn it over to us, because they have not said but I expect we might be interested if they provided the appropriate level of funding for upgrading.
Mr. Brewster: That answers one question nobody has ever asked. You talked about devolution and bringing things here and you want to take over the hospital and these things, which I agree with completely, but you say you want the money. Has anyone in the Department of Community and Transportation Services ever gone to Ottawa and said, Look, we will take over that highway, but we need a certain amount of money to repair it?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: To answer the Member very specifically: yes, indeed. I raised that very issue with Mr. MacKay in my meeting with him last summer - I forget when, but it was probably about July or August. I raised the issue and essentially said to the federal Minister that the only way we would be interested in taking over responsibility for and ownership of the highway would be if we had the appropriate level of funding to provide for the upgrading and continued maintenance.
The rest are in our formula financing arrangements. Yes. That has been put to the federal Ministers. It has also put at a staff level with Mr. Mackay. Maybe the Member could offer some influence at the federal level for greater consideration of the Alaska Highway - the federal Minister is more of a colleague of the Member. I would be interested if the Member could get support from his federal colleagues for increased funding for the Alaska Highway.
Mr. Brewster: The Minister is becoming a great politician. He has a copy of a three or four page letter that I sent him telling him what I thought of the situation. It was backed by all the lodges in my area. He is just playing politics.
The Minister never did tell me if Ottawa turned him down. He said that he asked Ottawa, but the Minister did not tell me what the answer was. Here we go again. It is the same old thing. The government is just talking, and the Minister is not telling me what the answers were. I would like to know.
This is a major complaint that he has heard for years. He will hear it for another hundred years if he lasts that long because it will be here. The people on the north end of territory will not give up until they get that highway done. It is really ironic to think that two mines may save the most beautiful part of the Yukon.
Has the Minister ever approached Alaska to see if it is willing to contribute money? Maybe the Yukon and Alaska could have gotten together to work on the Alaska Highway. Just 50 miles a year would make all the difference in the world. Let us get on the ball and do something about this and quit talking about it.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: We have had discussions with Alaska. We have suggested that there be some financing arrangement with them for the upgrading of the highway. The Alaskans indicated that they cannot afford the full cost. There are negotiations occurring between Alaska and the Yukon about a potential cost sharing. I cannot say to the Member what the outcome will be. The Alaskans have indicated that they are prepared to help with the cost of reconstruction of the Alaska Highway from Haines Junction to the border. The Canadian government to date, however, has declined to accept that offer. The Canadian government - Public Works Canada - to date has not indicated a willingness to share in the cost of the upgrading of that portion of the highway.
We discussed our position that we are not interested in the highway without money for its reconstruction and continued maintenance. The response from the federal government was that the money could not be found to do that at this time and that they would look down the road for any devolution of responsibility on that score. I got my answer, and I suspect that it has been followed up by letter.
There is no interest in finding the necessary funds at the federal level to go along with the devolution of the highway. There has been an offer from the Alaskan government to cost share upgrading from Haines Junction to the border. To date, there have been no takers on our side.
Mr. Brewster: I am not going to carry this on because I will be back doing it tomorrow, the next day and the next day, and probably for the next 10 years, so I will just let that ride now.
The airport at Haines Junction is another one I have been fighting for now to get a few lousy little lights. Instead of all the people from Windy Craggy flying in here we could get some of them to stay in Haines Junction and help create an industry. Every year we are promised lights and it has never happened. I suppose the same thing will happen here. We are going to get a long-winded story about how the federal government did not do this and they did not do that. I would like to hear the long-winded explanation of why we do not have our airport up to standard like everybody else.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: On this question I would have preferred to be in a position to give him the final good news; I can only give him the temporary good news. In our dealings in relation to the B and C airport transfer, we will be taking over a number of airports and will be taking over the necessary funding to do the necessary maintenance for those airports. Built into that is some capital funding for annual upgrading, but the real gem of the deal, as it currently stands, is that there will be some major capital dollars transferred once the deal is signed - specifically for the Carmacks and Haines Junction airports. I think I let the Member know that in the past. Once the deal concludes, and I expect that imminently, Haines Junction will see a major upgrading. I can provide those details on the nature of that upgrading to the Member if he is interested.
Mr. Brewster: I do not know exactly what the word temporary means. I guess I will live long enough to see that one, too. I hope so.
I noticed in the Ministers speech he mentioned residential land, cottage land and industrial land, but there was no mention of agricultural land.
Has agriculture been transferred to the Department of Community and Transportation Services?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member knows my fondness for the agricultural community and agriculture in general. The deletion or omission of the word agriculture relating to any comments I may have made was simply that. Agriculture is with the Department of Renewable Resources. The lands component is still with my department. Everything is unchanged.
Mr. Brewster: I do not have a suspicious mind. I do not think the Minister would deliberately leave agriculture out on purpose. I think it was just a slip of the memory. After listening to Question Period, I am quite sure it was just a slip of the memory. I am quite sure that the agricultural people would be out here tomorrow morning just to shake us all up and surprise us a little bit.
Maybe the Minister could explain what the relationship is between the Department of Renewable Resources and the Department of Community and Transportation Services on land, and in getting agricultural land out.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Nothing has changed in the recent past. The relationship that exists between the lands branch and Renewable Resources occurs when land is going through the application process. The Member is familiar with the agricultural land application process, and the steps one has to go through. The lands branch is responsible for the identification of the land quantum; it is responsible for the various shared steps in the review process.
The lands branch is responsible for any surveys involved; it is responsible for the eventual agreement for sale that is developed, and it monitors that agreement for sale. It deals with the land component of the agricultural program.
Mr. Brewster: That is really very clear; it could not be clearer. I do not know what I will tell the poor farmers when they ask me, because I have no idea.
Another subject I want to bring up is the garbage dump on the Haines Road. I got one letter from the Department of Renewable Resources and I got another one from the Department of Community and Transportation Services; they both conflict and I would like to know just who is making the decision on that and when we are going to have a decision. It only started last June; we do not want to hurry the government - just take things slowly, do not get too excited.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am familiar with the closure of the dump he refers to - I believe it is the Dezadeash dump. Is that correct?
Mr. Brewster: Yes.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: What I can tell the Member is that, as recently as about a week ago, I met with the mayor and council of his community at the Association of Yukon Communities meeting and we spent some time discussing the approach to take in locating a new dump site, either within, or outside of, the municipality. One of the objections the municipality raised with me is that there was use of the current dump in Haines Junction by more than the municipal people living within the municipality, and there was a desire to relocate the current dump, partly because it is unsuitable for a number of reasons and partly because there is the potential that a relocated dump outside the municipality could serve a broader public than just the municipality.
We spent some time discussing that option and I believe some agreement was reached to take some preliminary steps by establishing a working committee and starting the process of site selection, et cetera, working in conjunction with the land use planning exercise that is going on in the area.
Mr. Phelps: I just want to ask one question, because we are getting fairly close to the end of the afternoon, and I want to give notice to the Minister: I have written him two letters with regard to agricultural land where promises have been made - offers made and accepted by two individuals about a year ago, but in both cases the promises have been broken by the department. I will be anticipating an answer to those letters prior to getting to item-by-item, otherwise we will have one hell of an interesting debate right here in the Legislature.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I appreciate the notice. I know the letters the Member is referring to; I will be providing a response to him. I am currently having them researched and details produced. I will leave it to the Member whether he wishes to bring it up on the floor of the House, but it may not be necessary. I think I have some answers.
Mr. Brewster: My leader has just been put in his place over here.
I would like to come back to the garbage dump issue. To put it in a simple way: you are making seven families haul their garbage 30 miles - that is a 60 mile round trip every day. During the summer months, the Champagne/Aishihik Band is down at Klukshu so you are making them haul their garbage 60 miles round trip. On top of all this, conversations are going on between the mayor and the municipality, which should have nothing to do with people who live 30 miles away. I am sick and tired of the municipalities controlling everything that is outside their community.
I was turned down by the Department of Renewable Resources; they were going to look after it and have it hauled. They even had the nerve to tell me there was one guy doing cleaning in the liquor vendors every night who could haul the garbage in for the other people. Sure, throw all the garbage into my car, what is the difference. I can haul it.
Then I thought, how am I going to stop this? I figured I had one way. I wrote to the mayor and the council and asked them if they knew that the government has ordered these people to haul their garbage. It is 30 miles in to dump their garbage and go back, and you are not getting paid for it.
I have to say, that one worked. Believe me, there were letters to Ministers flying all over the place and an explanation was made to the council.
I am a little sick and tired of this stupidity. Now, you mention they are going to move the garbage dump.
I can remember when that garbage dump was put there. At that time, there were about 60 people in that town, and 60 people stood up at the meeting and said, Do not put that dump there; you are putting it right on the main road; leave it down where it was. The bureaucrats won, and they put it there. When the bureaucrats finally put it there, the forestry came along and said, You cannot burn that. We will not let you light a fire in there. Now we are going to move it. We are going to start all over. We are going to go down in the bush somewhere and start all over.
We are going further than that. The Department of Renewable Resources is in on this one now. We are going to get an electric fence to put around there to keep the bears out. I do not know if it is going to be six feet high, but there is going to be one.
I went through this when I was a little boy. They put a wire around it, but they put it so people could step over it. There was a sign that said to step over it. The bears would come up and touch this, and it knocked a few of them down. The bear is not a dumb animal. He sat back there and watched the people step over this and, within three days, they were jumping over it and walking in. We have to have a bigger fence, so we have to have one nobody can get through.
National Parks is in on this. Everybody is in on this. The council can pay for this, and they have lots of money. Here we go. We have to buy all this, and we are really going to put up a nice big electric fence for $50,000 or $60,000. I do not suppose they thought they could put up the one they were going to put around the youth centre. We could probably put one there about six feet high, and I do not think a bear would know how to climb up that. We could not experiment with that. We could fool around and experiment with the bears.
Let us get back to the subject of the garbage dump. I am getting a little sick that people have to haul 30 and 40 miles. I am getting a little sick that when people in Mendenhall pump their tanks out, they are going to have to haul all the way to Haines Junction or Whitehorse. Who is going to look after the payments? It is about time the departments got together and one department looked after these things and quit this fooling around.
You go to one dump, and they say, That is not our dump; that belongs to Renewable Resources. That one belongs to the government; that one belongs to the highways outfit. They will look after it. That is a private one over there. You look after that one. We went to that one, and all the stuff dumped in there was government stuff, but it was a private one, and they told them to clean it up or else they were going to fine them. They are going to whip them around, lay all the laws down and get after them.
We kept track. We got the number of the trucks that went in there. It was really funny that a bunch of black and orange trucks went in there and dumped garbage.
It is about time we straightened this around. It has been going on for 10 years, and let us quit it.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I have to tell the Member I thoroughly enjoyed his little presentation, and I think he spoke from the heart over the frustration he views and feels about how things change, yet always remain the same.
I want to begin by saying our task is to try to achieve what the Member describes, to try and develop a workable policy for solid waste disposal that is going to be applied throughout the Yukon. That is what I have undertaken. I can assure the Member that we are working to that end, and we are going to be specifically dealing with the kind of problems in rural communities the Member cites, where we have a number of reasons why current facilities are inadequate, get closed, where other people do not want to see one be developed.
The Member is quite familiar with the NIMBY syndrome.
It is a prevailing attitude in todays world. I agree with the Member that we have to develop criteria, a set of guidelines as to why we can and where we should locate these sites that are going to serve the public needs for some years.
I can repeat for the Member that I am in communication and consultation with his community over the potential relocation of the dump site outside the municipality. As a result of advice that may come out of any kind of study that takes place over the next few months, it may be that the best location is within the municipality. In that case, I would still be responsible for locating suitable dump facilities for residents outside the municipality, or the Yukon government would be responsible for paying for part of the cost of a dump within the municipality if the public was using it. The Member makes the point about municipal jurisdiction and power. The fact is that within the municipality, the municipality is in charge. If the decision is to go with a relocated dump within the municipality, we are going to have very little to say about that. Should it go outside the municipality, we will have substantial to say about it.
Our responsibility is to develop and ensure that we have got solid waste disposal sites and criteria for those sites developed and refined so we can carry on with our commitment to environmental protection. That is a commitment that is taking place. I flagged it with the special waste committee, but it cannot be treated as a priority with them. We are doing some internal work on that in individual cases right now. The special waste group is concentrating on their priority task, which is to locate a special waste facility and site in very short order.
Given the time of day, I move that you report progress on Bill No. 19.
Chair: It has been moved that I report progress on Bill No. 19.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Motion agreed to
Speaker resumes the Chair
Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
May the House have a report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole?
Ms. Kassi: The Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No 19, First Appropriation Act, 1990-91, and directed me to report progress on same.
Speaker: You have heard the report of the Chair of Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Government House Leader that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: This House now stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. tomorrow.
The House adjourned at 5:27 p.m.
The following Legislative Returns were tabled February 6, 1990:
Breakdown of $41,000 allocated in Special Waste Management Budget (Byblow)
Oral, Hansard, p. 768
Costs re resurvey of Keno City (Byblow)
Oral, Hansard, p. 767
Report regarding inventory or characterization of special waste in the Yukon (Byblow)
Oral, Hansard, p. 768
Beaver Creek Community Skating Rink (Byblow)
Oral, Hansard, p. 751