Thursday, February 8, 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.
Introduction of Visitors.
Are there any Returns or Documents for tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Mr. Webster: I have two legislative returns for tabling.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I have a number of legislative returns for tabling.
Speaker: Are there any Reports of Committees?
Introduction of Bills?
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
Bill No. 20: Introduction and First Reading
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I move that Bill No. 20, entitled the Mental Health Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Health and Human Resources that Bill No. 20, entitled the Mental Health Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Motion for introduction and first reading of Bill No. 20 agreed to
Speaker: 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 Question Period.
Question re: Hendersons Corner power project
Mr. Phelps: I have some questions for the Minister of Community and Transportation Services regarding the power line that was built to Hendersons Corner on the Klondike Highway as a result of an election promise made by the Government Leader last year. I asked questions about this in Committee of the Whole on December 12, 1989, and the Minister said he would take notice and get back to me.
Who paid for the transmission line out to Hendersons Corner? Was it totally paid for under the rural electrification program, or not?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I apologize to the Member for not having the information available to me at this instant. The Member raised it in the supplementary budget debate, and I did produce the information relating to the questions on Hendersons Corner. I would be happy to answer those questions in budget debate this afternoon.
Mr. Phelps: I am a little concerned, because there has been ample time to answer the question; it is an important question. I want to know who paid for the main line. At that time he said he did not think the residents paid for the main line. Who paid for it? Yukon Energy, the government, Yukon Development Corporation? Perhaps the Minister responsible for the Yukon Development Corporation can tell us?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I do not have the information at hand, if the Member is looking for great detail as to the precise cost and so on. The Yukon Energy Corporation paid for the line, and the line was built, in the end, as a decision of the board of the Yukon Energy Corporation. It was a single phase line because they felt that it constituted a pre-build on the line that would subsequently be built. The Yukon Energy Corporation paid the cost.
The view of the government, which was confirmed in a dialogue between the Yukon Energy Corporation and the department, is that as a normal rule in the development of subdivisions, the developer would absorb the costs of providing power to the site. It would be charged against the lots. This was not an example of that normal situation.
Mr. Phelps: This line was built as a result of an election promise that was made last January. Why was this line paid for, and why do the residents have to pay for so many other extensions?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The decision of the board was that it constituted a pre-build on a line of a higher calibre that would be forthcoming. Therefore it could be justified to the Public Utilities Board as an expense of the corporation.
Question re: Hendersons Corner power project
Mr. Phelps: Has the rule been broken? Did the Public Utilities Board specifically agree that Yukon Energy Corporation should be paying for that line?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I do not know if the question was even put before the Public Utilities Board. When the corporation is assessing an expenditure like that, it has to make a judgment as to whether or not such an expenditure would be acceptable as a legitimate one when it makes its rate applications.
Mr. Phelps: So, this has not been passed by the Public Utilities Board, the watch dog on matters such as this. Are the ratepayers throughout the Yukon paying for the line for the votes that this government tried to buy when it agreed to pay for the main line into Hendersons Corner during last years election?
Mr. Hon. Mr. Penikett: Huff, huff, puff, puff.
The question, which is about as argumentative as one could get, deserves an answer in those terms. The line was built as a pre-build. One of the decisions that is before the corporation is the decision to extend a line down that highway. That line will be of a much higher calibre than the one that is there. The decision was made by the corporation that the line could constitute a pre-build, and therefore it was absorbed by the corporation.
Question re: Hendersons Corner power project
Mr. Phelps: I want to make a point about why this seems to deplorable to this side. In my riding, Hootalinqua, the residents along the Tagish extension, the residents of Judas Creek, the people who live in the Robinson subdivision, the people who live along the Mayo Road: in each and every case, when they have had electricity provided to them, they have had to pay for every single inch of the electrical line to their subdivision or to their property. I want to know why they are treated differently and why the Minister seems to think that their situation is any different from the situation of those people at Hendersons Corner?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The pre-build decision is the reason why, but I find it fascinating that the Leader of the Official Opposition is now saying it is deplorable from his side of the House. Not too many months ago, the Conservatives were arguing that not only should the Energy Corporation build the line but the Energy Corporation should pay for it. What an amazing flip-flop in a few months.
Mr. Phelps: I think the Minister should get his facts straight. We were talking about government policy. If the government has a policy, it should be applied to everybody equally, not be something they change at every whim during an election. There have been lines extended and paid for by residents throughout Hootalinqua since this special gift was conferred upon the good people at Hendersons Corner. This was not done under any policy we know of; it was done without the blessings of the Public Utilities Board. I want to know whether or not this government intends to pay back part of the costs it is loading onto the people who live in Tagish and the Taku subdivision, the people who paid for their line at Judas Creek, the people who paid for their line at Robinson subdivision and just recently the people who paid for their line on the Mayo Road. Are they going to pay back some of that money so that they are treated equally to the people who were lucky enough to be asking during the course of last years election?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: What appalling hypocrisy. He talks about government changing ...
Speaker: Order please. Would the Member please use language that is parliamentary?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Absolutely, Mr. Speaker.
We have one Member on the other side arguing that the Energy Corporation should be building and paying for the line, and denouncing us as horrible and evil and insensitive because we did not. A few months later, we have the Leader of the Official Opposition getting up and saying we should not have built the line and that the residents should have paid for it.
The policy of the government is that when subdivisions are developed the developer should provide access and power should be supplied and charged to the consumers. In this case, the corporation justified the bill on the basis of having pre-built the line down the road, and therefore it is a charge which, in the judgment of the board, could be attributed to the corporation. It is interesting: before the election, they were arguing one thing; after the election, they are arguing something else.
Mr. Phelps: No, we are not. During the election, our position was very clear. Under the rural electrification program, the line could be extended.
Question re: Hendersons Corner power project
Mr. Phelps: I would like to go back to December 12 when we were debating this in the House, on Hansard page 771. At that time I made the point, and I will make it again, that we have a number of areas right now in Hootalinqua, such as Deep Creek on the Mayo Road, and the area along the old Dawson Highway just west of the hotsprings on the Hotsprings Road. In each case, and there are undoubtedly more, we have similarities. In every respect, they are similar to the Hendersons Corner situation. Can those areas, specifically the two I have mentioned, expect equal treatment and have their main lines paid for by Yukon Energy on the same basis as was done for Hendersons Corner?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: In an exactly identical situation, no doubt the corporation would behave in an identical way.
Let me point out that there are subdivisions in the Members constituency and south of Whitehorse that benefited from the Teslin line extension, which was paid for by the utility, not by the home owners. Distribution from the main line is covered by the rural electrification program. The Member knows that. That is what the program exists to do, not to build main lines.
Mr. Phelps: This is ironic, and it is unfortunate that the Minister is too busy to get his facts straight. Judas Creek was the first subdivision area to be serviced under the rural electrification program. It was done before the transmission line was built to Teslin. It was done at the expense of the people who live there. They paid for the extension of the line out there, and paid for the distribution to each of the lots in Judas Creek. That is what the facts are.
Are people in Hootalinqua going to be treated equally under the law to people at Hendersons Corner, who get things during an election?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I have to say the Members representation is appalling nonsense. The energy company that is owned by the people of the Yukon will always behave in a way that treats people equally. I find it strange that, prior to the election, we have the loud tyrannical outbursts from Members opposite about how we had to build this line, and we had to pay for it. Now, after the election, they are taking the exact opposite position. It is quite incredible.
Mr. Phelps: It is a remarkable coincidence that the board made up its mind to pay for this extension out to Hendersons Corner during the election. Approximately what date did the board make this decision?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I cannot tell the Member what date they made the decision off the top of my head. Out of proper respect for the expression of opinions in this House, I do know that when I asked the officials of the corporation to have another look at this question following the debate in the House, they promptly did so.
Question re: Hendersons Corner power project
Mr. Phelps: Could the Minister take notice of a question? The question is: how much did the main line extension cost; what date was the decision made by the board to build that line; exactly where is the main line that Member is speaking of proceeding to beyond Hendersons Corner?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I would be more than happy to respond to those questions and provide a full and complete answer in writing to the Member as soon as possible. My answer will be free from the political hyperbole we heard in the Members questions today.
Question re: Yukon College president
Mr. Devries: I have a question for the Minister of Education. As I am sure the Minister is quite aware, the college is operating without a president in an air of uncertainty. How much longer is the college going to have to operate with this position vacant?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: We did a number of things in the past few weeks, but we did not name me to the board of Yukon College. Consequently, I cannot speak for the board.
The Yukon College board is well aware of the requirement to hire a president. They had a meeting this week to discuss that very matter, and will discuss it further in the coming month. They do know the hiring of a president is a high priority, they have made it one, and they have spent considerable time discussing it. It will be their decision as to when they hire a permanent president.
Mr. Devries: Is the Minister concerned about the potential for liabilities if the decision is not to hire Mr. McCaffrey as president? My understanding is that there was a commitment made to him.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am not sure of the intent of the question, but I will guess.
I had no hand in making an offer to any person to be president of the college, but as far as I am aware, the offer of employment was contingent upon the permanent board ratifying the request. That is at least one of the reasons why the current board is deliberating now.
Question re: Yukon College pension funds
Mrs. Firth: My question is for the Minister of Education and is about the Yukon College as well.
When the government made the decision with respect to the pension funds of the Yukon College employees, why were the local businesses not offered the pension funds, and why was there not an attempt to see if the local businesses could provide pension funds to employees, as opposed to the business going to an outside firm?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am not sure what the Member is asking. Is the Member asking whether or not the local insurance companies, The Co-operators, Firth, and others could provide the service to the college? I am not sure. I do know it is a highly technical area, and it is not one I am aware of in detail. I know extensive discussions took place among the union, the Department of Education and the college with respect to the pension plan to acquire a plan with benefits that was at least equivalent to the one current employees have. I will attempt to answer the questions in detail on insurance services in the main estimates, or at the earliest opportunity.
Mrs. Firth: I do not know if the Minister is intentionally being ignorant or obtuse, but I am not asking about insurance for The Co-operators or Firth. I would not ask that kind of question. It is not within my jurisdiction to ask that.
I am asking about the pension plan for the employees. I would ask the Minister to be very careful and very serious about his answers. I want to know why the local investment firms were not approached to see if they could provide the services required for the pension funds of the employees at Yukon College when they transferred from the jurisdiction of the territorial government to their own jurisdiction? Why were the local investment firms not approached about providing those pensions funds as opposed to the business just being given to a company outside the Yukon Territory?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The area of pension plans and pension funds is a technical one. There were negotiations between the government and the union. After all, the funds are held in trust for the employees, and consequently the representatives ought to have a say in what plan is acquired. If the Member is willing to wait until I have more detail, I can provide it later.
Mrs. Firth: I am addressing this question to the Minister of Education and the Minister of Finance. He should have this information. A major decision was made that this business would go outside of the Yukon Territory instead of being kept here with local companies. These local companies could have offered exactly the same package.
Speaker: Order please. Would the Member please get to the supplementary question?
Mrs. Firth: They could have offered the same package that the employees have. Will the Minister come back with a full accounting of how the decision was made? Who made it? Was it him in his capacity of Finance Minister or as Education Minister?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Member is not listening. I said that the matter was one of negotiation between the employer and the employee. I was not aware, as Minister of Education or as Minister of Finance, that the pensions funds were managed locally. I understood that there might be sales people for larger pension funds. I will take the Members point. If there is a local pension fund, I will find out about it.
I will ask the department why a pension fund was not directed through local sales people. I am not a pension fund expert. I admit that freely, even though I am Minister of Finance. I will have defer to the officials to provide some advice on this matter.
Question re: Yukon College pension finds
Mrs. Firth: The issue here is not to find out if the Minister is an expert on pension funds. The issue is business staying here with the local businesses. It was not too long ago that the city got into a big debate and hassle with the local investment firms because they had gone outside of the Yukon for their employees pension funds.
I have at least three businesses in my constituency that provide this kind of service. When the Minister finds how this decision was made and who made it, could he report to the House on the status of the supplementary pension packages, so we will know if that contract has gone outside yet or the local businesses will have an opportunity to at least provide that service, so we do not have a leakage of that business to outside the Yukon as well.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It is a revelation that the Member has three businesses in her residential riding providing pension funds. This is an important issue among the union, the Department of Education and the Public Service Commission. There have been negotiations between the Public Service Commission and the College Employees Union. They came to a settlement that provided a package, in accordance with direction provided by government, for equal or greater benefits to the employees.
I am not aware if it had any involvement with local retailers or local salespeople at all. I will undertake to provide the information for the Member at the earliest possible opportunity.
Question re: Na Dli Youth Centre, contracts
Mr. Nordling: I have a question for the Minister of Health and Human Resources relating to the young offenders facility. Yesterday, the Minister tabled several documents relating to young offenders. Four appear to have been prepared by Audrey McLaughlin. Are these four papers all the documents we received from Audrey McLaughlin for the $55,000 contract she had?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: No, there were two Cabinet submissions in addition to the ones I tabled.
Mr. Nordling: Will the Minister provide us with a list of activities that Ms. McLaughlin was involved in and what advice the government received pursuant to these contracts, without breaching any security?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am not at all clear what the Member wants. Does the Member want us to have a description of Ms. McLaughlins activities, day-to-day, during the period she was doing work for this government: an accounting of where she spent each hour? Perhaps he could be clear about what his purpose is in asking this question.
Mr. Nordling: Perhaps I could put it another way. I would like to know how much Ms. McLaughlin was paid for her Cabinet submissions, whether they were outside this contract, or not, and exactly how many there were.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: If the Member would like a report of that kind, I believe the Member already has the information about the global amount of money. If the Member is asking what cost was assigned by the department for each step in the process of developing the philosophy and program statement for the secure custody young offenders facility, which was tabled here yesterday, I am sure we can do that if the Member will be patient.
Question re: Na Dli Youth Centre, contracts
Mr. Nordling: The Minister must be a bit sensitive about this particular contract. When I look at the papers, it is of concern that this is what we received for $55,000.
There was also another consulting contract we are aware of for between $15,000 and $20,000 to Hector Mackenzie to develop wilderness programming for the young offenders facility. Has the Minister seen that report? Will he table it?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I believe it was a policy submission to the previous Minister. I do not know whether it is tableable or not. I have read it, and I will take another look at it in that context.
Mr. Nordling: In reviewing the files, did the Minister find there were any other consultants hired or reports done with respect to programming at the young offenders facility?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I have reviewed the files, and I believe there is mention made in the documents the Member received yesterday to a large number of reports, many of which are shown in precis form in one of the documents: reports on programs elsewhere in the country, programs in the United States, programs on first nations reserves. I believe that if I went through the files, probably all the literature on all those programs is available, or was available at one time. In doing a library search, I am not sure I could guarantee to provide or table all that information in this House.
Mr. Nordling: Again, the Minister is being very defensive and very silly. How many consultants were hired? Who were they? What reports did they do for government with respect to programming at the young offenders facility? I am not asking for Cabinet submissions that would compromise security up there. I am sure the Minister can give us numbers and amounts without jeopardizing security at the facility.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am sure I can answer that question. I will treat that as a written question and respond accordingly.
Question re: Prospectors assistance/exploration incentives program
Mr. Phillips: I have a question for the Minister responsible for mines. I understand the Minister is planning to roll the prospectors assistance program and the exploration incentives program into one in the near future. I would like to know, from the Minister, if the funding will decrease, increase, or stay the same under the new program.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am not sure what the Member is asking. The tabled estimates show that the exploration incentives program was or is or will be $500,000 in the coming fiscal year. The prospectors assistance program will be $200,000. The total will be $700,000 and if, after discussions with the Chamber of Mines, there are program changes, then the program funding will remain at $700,000.
Mr. Phillips: Several prospectors and mining companies are currently planning their 1990 summer exploration programs. I would like to ask the Minister when he expects to finalize this new single program and when will it be available so that mining companies can plan for this upcoming season?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: In the months of January and February, we have slated times with the Yukon Chamber of Mines executive to discuss program improvements, and a number of meetings have already been held. I have yet to receive a report about those meetings and their detail, but I do have some sense of the general direction as I have discussed some of the requests by the Chamber of Mines already, and they seem to be fairly reasonable ones to me. With respect to the program changes, I would think probably by the end of the month we could have the program changes entrenched so that better delivery of the programming to prospectors and people involved in exploration can take place, and people can express whatever funding expectations they have of government at that time.
Question re: Alaska Highway realignment at Whitehorse
Mr. Brewster: My question is to the Minister of Community Affairs and Transportation Services. Proposals to change the Alaska Highway within the Whitehorse municipal boundaries have been prepared by the three levels of government federal, territorial and municipal and conceptual plans have been made available for public comment. The proposed realignment of the Two Mile Hill will cost between $3-5 million alone, and the overall price tag for the proposed changes is in the neighbourhood of $10 million. I would like to know if the Minister has negotiated or will be negotiating increased funding arrangements with the federal government to cover the cost of the proposed changes?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I have to tell the Member that he is perfectly correct - the Alaska Highway corridor study is currently in progress and, while numbers have been identified for proposed changes, no decisions have been made as to which ones would come first or which ones would even be done at all, and at what time. To answer the Members question regarding negotiations, the issue has reached a stage of discussion and no financing arrangements have been made.
Mr. Brewster: Can the Minister advise the House what percentage of the total cost of the proposed changes the Government of Yukon and the City of Whitehorse may have to pay for?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: At this time, I cannot advise the Member. Any arrangements regarding financing are not in place and will not be in place for some time. I cannot provide him any further detail.
Mr. Brewster: Since the worst section of the Alaska Highway is between Beaver Creek and Destruction Bay, can the Minister assure the House that this section of the highway will receive priority when the highway is upgraded, even over the changes to the municipality of Whitehorse?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The section between Haines Junction and Beaver Creek is already treated as a priority on several fronts, both in terms of the efforts to resurrect the Shakwak project and our efforts with Public Works Canada. Those priorities will remain.
We are in the process of doing the Whitehorse corridor study. I do not have any final recommendations on proposed changes or costs. Those decisions are yet to be made.
Question re: Granger mobile home subdivision
Mr. Lang: I would like to move to a different area, the Granger development. Over the course of this past winter the city and the government have been at an impasse on that type of servicing, underground or overhead, for the proposed mobile home subdivision. I do not think it is any secret that this type of development is going to give some people the opportunity to get into their own, relatively affordable, homes if those lots ever come onstream.
Have the Minister and the city reached any decision on this matter?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: No. I can tell the Member that the city undertook to review our cost estimates relating to the development. Upon reviewing those they agreed they were accurate. The next course of action will be to determine whether we downsize the standards, as discussed, or find a new financing scheme to bring them onto the market.
Mr. Lang: This particular issue has been going on for quite some time. We discussed it in this House last fall. When can we expect a decision on this development? People are waiting to find out what the price of the lots are, and are also getting ready for the building season.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The matter is now in the hands of the city and we will be addressing it at the next breakfast meeting I regularly have with the city. I agree that it would be extremely useful to have these lots brought onto the market in the coming year. This may well be possible. Certainly, the extent of discussions that have taken place indicate that our suggestions to provide a certain level and standard of electrification are critical to the cost of the lots. I sincerely believe the city is reconsidering its position and expect to hear from it the next time we meet.
Mr. Lang: I sincerely hope the Minister is not having breakfast in one of the local bars here in the near future. Is there a possibility these lots will not be up for sale this spring?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I do have quite a number of breakfast meetings in bars. At breakfast time the bars are not open and the meetings are arranged there by the local restaurant firms. Since the Member is opposed to all bars I will not continue. It is a possibility that the subdivision may not come onstream this year.
Mr. Lang: That is a real revelation. Money has already been allocated for these lots. Some dollars have been spent, and the Minister says that they may not be put up for sale this year. The Minister is saying that this is a very viable option. What does he expect of people who want to purchase mobile home private lots? Will the department permit people with larger sections of land to subdivide and provide mobile home private lots? Is that the other option that is available for these people? A lot of people are waiting for this development to be put out for public tender.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: If the Member consults with the city, he will find that there are a number of other options being considered. I am not prepared to interfere with city decision making. The city is currently evaluating its decision about the standards for that development. I expect that the city is seriously considering our option to put the lots up for sale at the lowest possible cost. I expect that we may be proceeding in that direction shortly. We are prepared to move if the city is prepared to make that decision.
Speaker: Time for Question Period has now lapsed. We will now proceed with Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
Speaker leaves the Chair
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Chair: I will now call the Committee of the Whole to order. Would the Committee like to take a break?
Chair: I now call the Committee to order.
Bill No. 19 First Appropriation Act, 1990-91 - continued
Community and Transportation Services - continued
Hon. Mr. Byblow: What I would like to do is put into circulation a bit of a paper on wetlands sewage treatment. It is a couple of pages that gives some of the background on research and activity that is going on in the Yukon relating to wetlands. It is not terribly technical and Members may not feel there is enough information about what precisely constitutes the wetland system, so I would invite Members, if they wish, to borrow the copy of the feasibility study done for Teslin by the consultants, out of which that narrative is derived. It provides much more specific detail and information relating to just what constitutes wetlands treatment. Or, if Members wish, I could arrange for a copy to be provided from the consultants, but that would take some time. I do have this copy available if anybody wishes it.
When we were in supplementary discussions, I committed several things to the Members opposite. There was a question on Beaver Creek; there were a couple of special waste questions; there was a question on the Keno City survey, and I tabled those as legislative returns a couple of days ago. There was another question relating to the rural electrification program and what dollars were provided under that program, and I would put that into circulation at this time as well.
Aside from that, I leave it to the Members opposite.
Mrs. Firth: I would like to go back to the organizational structure of the department with the new organizational chart the Minister provided us. I would like to ask the Minister why they felt it was necessary to remove the communications portion of the department, with 2.16 person years and $1.529 million, from the new assistant deputy minister position that was created and have that position report directly to the deputy minister?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The best answer I can provide is the one of precedent and background. Since the communications unit was established - I believe it was two and one-half to three years ago - it has been a small unit with fairly intense activity and has reported, since day one, to the deputy minister; it was just felt that that would be the best structure to maintain.
Mrs. Firth: Can the Minister tell me, then, if these three assistant deputy ministers are they all in the same job category? Are they all classified the same and are they all in the same salary ranges?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Two of the ADM positions are MG9s, and one is an MG10 classification.
Mr. Devries: A surprise announcement was made about Watson Lake asking for the special waste disposal site. Has the Minister received a formal request?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: It was a surprise when I first heard that it was being contemplated by the community about a week or two ago. The Member recognizes that this government has set up the special waste committee to address the question of finding a location for the facility. One of the directions that I gave to the committee was that the facility must be located outside a community or municipality.
The chair of the committee advised me about 10 days ago that a couple of communities were inquiring about the possibility of having the facility in their communities. We discussed the matter, and the committee is going to pursue that interest. The Member is quite familiar with the interest in the special waste facility that Watson Lake has shown.
I have not had any formal request, but it would come through the committee. The committee would investigate it as part of its approach to determining the most suitable site. The Member heard the presentation at the meeting of the Association of Yukon Communities last week, and he understands what the committee has done. It has taken an Alaska Highway corridor and is looking at that on a first priority basis in trying to find a suitable location. That is because of access, power availability, security needs and so on.
The short answer is: yes, there are communities that are interested and want to further explore the siting of the facility in, or very close to, their communities. Until I have more information on that, I cannot advise further on whether or not the government would contemplate changing its position and allow that to happen. I would seek any advice from the Member on it. The communities see the special waste facility as an economic tool. They see an economic interest in constructing and managing the facility.
Mr. Devries: When I first heard about this, I thought it was the government that was pushing it. I thought that if they cannot get rid of me in court, maybe they can kill me.
There was a washout on the Nahanni Range Road last spring that was never repaired. Several people from Watson Lake got stuck in 4X4s. The Minister was going to keep it passable. There have not really been any complaints about it, but I am concerned about the forest fire fighting access. It would be good if the road was kept in a passable condition.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The situation has not changed. It is our intention to keep it minimally passable with an absolute minimum of maintenance. I am not sure whether or not the washout has been repaired. I can give the undertaking we will check it out in the spring to ensure minimum passage is possible, at minimum cost.
Mr. Phillips: I would like to go back to the Teslin wetlands sewage. Has this actually been going on in Teslin for a couple of years, with it working, functioning well?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: In Teslin, no. Teslin has a sewage lagoon that is containing the sewage from the community quite adequately. There is no need for at least two or three years to discharge it from the lagoon. It will not be overflowing for a couple of years yet. Teslin is looking to the future to the time when that lagoon will not contain all the sewage that is generated, and will have to release it. The community did not want to see that discharge take place without some control, and did not want to see it just released where it is, to flow into the lake, they wanted to see what other options there were. That is where this approach came from.
Mr. Phillips: Have we tried a small test pumping some of the fluid onto the swamp? Or is that what this will eventually do when they decide to do this?
The Minister announced recently he was nominating Teslin for an award for their efforts in this particular project. From what I read in this information, very little research in this regard has been done north of 60". Although this may be a test example, I think nominating for the award may be a bit premature because if we find out it does not work it could be rather embarrassing if we find it is damaging to the environment.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am sending over the single copy of the consultant report to the Member. It shows the detail of the tests they did run on the Teslin operation. The Member is correct in assuming there were tests done in the Teslin area and they are articulated in the report. We did a similar kind of test in Old Crow. It is indicated in the handout that there are a couple other communities examining this option as well. This is very much in an experimental stage in the north, but the tests do indicate that the ground conditions, if right, and as they were in Teslin, can discharge the sewage quite adequately without any harm to the environment, and are in fact, an enhancement of the base through which this flows.
Mr. Phillips: I have to admit to the Minister that my speed reading is not quite up to snuff, so I have not had an opportunity to glance through the document. I will take his word for the statements he made about the tests being done.
If we were looking at one project, such as the Teslin project, why would we be doing the same kind of thing in Old Crow or in several other regions? I have a specific concern in respect to Old Crow. I know they have a major sewage problem there. The difficulty lies in the number of days of summer in Old Crow when sewage would break down, which are far fewer than the number of days in Teslin. I would suggest that there would be a dramatic difference between Old Crow and Teslin.
Why would you not first check one out, and find out whether that works, then try it in another one? If it does not work in Teslin, it is not going to work in Old Crow. That is what I am getting at.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Members question is not unreasonable, but the fact is we have some results of success, particularly in Old Crow. The Member says it should be the most serious conditions in the north for an experiment, and they are. The fact is that Old Crow has been using a wetlands system for the last couple of years, in terms of the discharge from its lagoon to the creek, the name of which I have forgotten, where it eventually enters. It has not shown that the wetlands system will not work that far north.
The testing in Teslin works, and Teslin is very optimistic that the whole application of the wetlands system will work for that community.
In the case of Old Crow and Teslin, and in Haines Junction where they are now looking at this, as well as in Destruction Bay, the quantities of sewage effluent are very small. In the case of Old Crow, there is a marginal discharge into the wetlands system. We are not talking great volumes. We are talking about a controlled, small amount of discharge into a wetlands basin, where it percolates and filters through. It has worked in Old Crow. Testing has worked in Teslin. Haines Junction and Destruction Bay are looking at it. I have asked the City of Whitehorse to do the same.
Mr. Phillips: I will ask the Minister this but you, Madam Chair, might be the best one to answer this. The last time I was in Old Crow, there was no primary or secondary treatment of sewage. There were no settling ponds there. Maybe there are now. Is that the process, that it goes through those ponds and then into the swamp behind the airport? Is that the swamp you are talking about, the wetlands?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I believe it is in behind the airport. It is part of the swamp land in that section. The lagoon has been in place there for two or three years, and discharges have been made into the swamp land and are percolating through to the natural water system.
I should point out for the Member that, in Old Crow, the quantities are very small.
Mr. Phillips: I can appreciate that. If it is working in Old Crow, I am pleased to hear that. I will be following that very closely. If it works in Old Crow, it would appear it may work everywhere else in the Yukon. I am sure that with its short period of time during the summer months, when it has the time for the bacteria to work or the effluent to percolate, then I suppose it would work anywhere else.
I will follow that and take advantage of the report the Minister gave me. I will read through it. I may have some further questions after I have had an opportunity to look at the report.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: To conclude the subject with the Member, if the Member wants a copy of the report, he should let me know because that is my copy and I do not want to lose it. I do expect to get it back. As the narrative indicates, I believe Mayo is now looking at this as an option as well.
Mr. Brewster: I think one of the problems at Destruction Bay is that, number one, nobody bothered to tell the people who lived there. I think, as the Minister may recall, there were some letters on this but nobody went near the people. They just went up and started doing it. Mainly, there was no overflow because they were hauling from Beaver Creek and Burwash down there and this was not designed for that.
The other little problem I have is that you mentioned it was going out in a slow process; when you put two-inch pumps on it and pump it out you eventually create a stream. I would be very concerned. Kluane Lake is one of the most beautiful lakes in the world and I think I should probably warn the Minister now that I am now on record questioning this; if that lake is damaged, it is his guilt not mine. When you start pumping water, it is just like coming off a mountain as a stream. I can understand a slow discharge, but when you are pumping it you are eventually going to create a stream.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I have some recollection of the correspondence exchanged on the subject. It is one of those exchanges where the Member generally does not believe what my letters say, and we debate that after the letters arrive. In the case of Destruction Bay, as I recall, they have a lagoon system that builds up through the course of the winter into the spring and well into the summer; the discharge is done late in the fall and that is at a time when the lagoon has had an opportunity for its aerobic and bacterial action and settlement so that what you are discharging is a partially-treated effluent. That discharge is already partially treated, if you will. I suppose the only point I would making in concluding is that it would be ideal if we could take that partial, secondary-level-treated effluent in Destruction Bay and put it through a wetland system so that it comes out at a tertiary level into the lake, that would be ideal.
Mr. Brewster: I did not mean to get into debate here, but I guess we should get some things clear. Number one, that lagoon was designed for approximately 55 to 60 people - Destruction Bay. The next thing we know, thay are hauling from Beaver Creek, which, fortunately, I guess through a little hollering from the MLA and a few other people, got stopped. After a year of hauling 107 miles and throwing it into one of the most beautiful lakes there is, when you have all that swamp up at Beaver Creek - Lord God knows why they would do a thing like that, but that is government.
After that, they have now put Burwash sewage in there too, which adds approximately 78 to 100 people. The lagoon that was designed for 55 - you are now putting 130 to 160 peoples waste in there and you are now pumping it out. I do not care what you say; it is not going to come out purified because you are putting too much in for what the original design was intended to cope with. That is what I have argued all along. Your original design was too small for taking in the whole area you took in, and it is going into one of the most beautiful lakes in the Yukon and I am very, very concerned. It is a big tourist attraction; everybody loves that lake, and you are playing with fire.
Here, Teslin gets the recommendation for the award, yet you state right in this thing that Destruction Bay has been doing it for two or three years. Why did they not get the award? At least, they should have had that much privilege.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The ideal setup for Destruction Bay would be a proper wetlands system. Unfortunately, it is not a proper wetlands system. At best, it is a wetlands system that is not working well. It is pumped out as opposed to being a controlled discharge, a slow saturation with a proper percolation so that the cleansing of the effluent takes place.
The Member is correct. It is only a partial wetlands treatment. It is pumped out. It forms a stream so that the settlement through the ground does not exist for a proper treatment. It is not a desirable situation. I will undertake to improve the sewage disposal systems and the policy to approach those systems in the territory over the next few years.
Mr. Brewster: Now I have the Minister on record. That is all I wanted.
Mr. Phillips: Could the Minister drink the water in those wetlands? If he were to go to Teslin next year after the discharge to see if the water was clean enough, it would be a good test to see if the system works. Would the Minister drink the water?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I spent some time researching and reviewing this treatment process because I was interested, and I wanted to learn more. The report indicated that the wetlands system is being used in Saskatchewan and northern Ontario. The water quality is at a drinking standard when it comes out of a proper wetlands system, where it filters through a wetlands basin, has enough distance to percolate. The water is pure enough to drink where it rejoins the water system.
The question that the Member just posed was also posed to a consultant. He said yes, if it was filtered through a proper system. I cannot say if I would drink the water that came out of the Teslin wetlands system. I would have to see the results of the treatment. I predict that it should be drinkable, according to that report. The tertiary-level treatment that the system provides should make the water drinkable.
Mr. Phillips: That is why I expressed concerns earlier about the nomination of the award possibly being a little premature. We are not sure how it is going to work. I would also like to add that I am concerned about the environment and have been for quite some time. The Minister may be able to make the choice of drinking or not drinking the water. That is fine. Unfortunately, some of the wildlife that live in that area cannot make that choice. They will come down to the water and drink it. I am concerned about that.
There are probably quite a few species of wildlife in that area that use the water. They would range from small animals to larger ones, such as a moose. They do not have the choice like the Minister and I do. We need to proceed on a very cautious basis to determine if this works. To me, it sounds almost too simple to work. I wonder why someone did not think of this before. I would like to go on the record as saying that it does sound awfully simple, and I am a little skeptical.
I caution the Minister not to hang himself too far out for a national award or any other program until we get strong indications that this is working. It may not happen even in the first year. It may take two, three or four years before we discover that this has some harmful effects on the environment. It has happened before when we thought we were doing good things and found out in the long run that it was not a good idea to put the garbage in the War Eagle pit, for example. It sounded like a great idea 10 or 12 years ago when we decided that it would be a great garbage dump.
Now we find out that feeds the whole water system running into the Yukon River. We now have all kinds of chemicals leeching into the Yukon River there. I caution the Minister not to jump on board waving the banner brightly until he is convinced that it is going to work.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I thank the Member for his comments. I appreciate his suggestion for caution and accept that. In my mind I am convinced the system does work. In fact, it has to be proven that it will in Teslin, Destruction Bay, Haines Junction or Mayo. We have to have a successful working model in the Yukon besides Old Crow that will prove the wetlands system does work. I would like to see that happen. If it can be applied to Whitehorse, we stand to save millions on the exercise. The Member points out an intelligent caution by pointing out what happened with the Whitehorse dump. The dump was, in effect, a form of sewage treatment where it percolated through the soil and eventually entered the waterways. It was not a proper wetland system because it was virtually on the bank of a creek leading directly into the Yukon River. There was no basin for it to move through, so it is understandable why the Whitehorse dump would have contaminated so quickly.
I accept the Members caution and invite him to look that report over and explore it further, to contact the municipal council in Teslin. If he is passing through I am sure they would show him the plan of the area for the application of the wetland system. I am certainly encouraged by this approach. I, too, need more proof and evidence it will work well.
Mr. Brewster: I wonder if the Minister or his department has ever communicated with northern B.C. where each farmer has put a lagoon in for his own home. The plans are designed by the government and each farm has a lagoon. They would not work for a big community, but it is quite apparent this system works. I think they should look at a thing like this and maybe we can solve problems in places like Willow Acres where they want $20,000 or $30,000 to put it underneath the ground. We all know if you keep it on top it evaporates much faster. The plans are all designed and approved by the British Columbia government. The reason I know a little bit about it is that my sister and brother-in-law happen to have one. The only problem is if you do not have a lot of water it is not as effective as if you have lots of water. They fence these because the cattle go in there and drink or possibly some kid might fall in.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I have not personally written to any operators of private lagoon systems, but the Member raises a valid point. It is practically applied here in many of the communities. Many communities have a lagoon system, albeit undercapacitated in some instances. My community has a three-cell lagoon system. The third cell is dry because it is evaporating and flowing away before it gets to the third lagoon. It is in a wetland as well. We have been applying the wetland system, albeit with very limited knowledge of the impact. If some thorough tests were done 20 years from now, the Faro lagoon may well be so saturated for disbursement that it is actually contaminating the Pelly River.
It may well be the case down the road. The wetlands system has a similar potential and capacity to essentially plug itself up and no longer be workable. That is part of the technology that has to be refined for the north.
We are using a lagoon system that is, in part, a form of a wetlands system in terms of the way it percolates out and disperses.
The concluding point, and the Member will understand that from the report, the key to the wetlands system is the presence of water for mixing.
Mr. Phillips: I would like to move to another area. It is waste disposal. I talked about it a few minutes ago, and that is the Whitehorse dump. There is some problem up at the dump, and I know the city is looking at solving the problem now, which is with the waste oil pit. It may be totally a city problem, but I know that YTG contributes to that waste oil pit, or has in the past, with all the waste oil it has from its various shops in and around Whitehorse.
Do we now have the capability in these places to have furnaces that burn off all our waste oil? How do we deal with it? Do we still haul our oil up to the waste oil pit and dump it in there?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member raises another environmental concern of some fairly broad parameters. It is how to get rid of some of these wastes that, historically, we have just been dumping out and contaminating our environment.
As a matter of practice, the Yukon government contains its own used oil now. I am not sure what it used to do, but I think it used to dump it into dumps like everything else. We now contain our used oil from all our units. It is contained in storage, and we are currently seeking from suppliers furnace applications that will burn the oil. At this time, I am not sure precisely where it is at, but that has been a direction we have taken in the last short while.
The government is storing its used oil, and we are planning to burn it ourselves. With respect to the Whitehorse situation, I am sure the special waste management group would be addressing that as a form of waste that may need special attention.
I am not sure what more the Member was asking. Perhaps he could elaborate.
Mr. Phillips: Years ago when I worked at the White Pass shop, almost once a week, Jake from Jakes Corner would arrive with his truck, and he would load up all the waste oil and haul it out there. He had a furnace at Jakes Corner that would burn this waste oil. I know there are currently some garages in town that use their waste oil and have furnaces they burn it in. If the Minister is saying they are looking for those types of suppliers so they could get rid of that oil, I think that is a good move.
I do not know how economical it would be for many of the shops up and down the Alaska Highway to haul their oil in here. The Minister might want to examine taking a spot like Haines Junction and putting a waste oil furnace burner in there to serve the North Highway section, and one in Carmacks or Pelly that would serve that area, rather than haul it all to Whitehorse. Sometimes, you might get a 45-gallon drum a month from some of these shops, which might not be worthwhile to haul in every month. It might be better to wait or have smaller depots around the territory.
Where is the Minister storing all the waste oil? When did they start storing the oil and stop pouring it into the waste oil pit on top of the hill?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Approximately a year ago we stopped dumping it and began storing it. On the other subject of waste oil usage or utilization around the territory, I think it would probably be in the interest of anyone in the private sector to make sure they are installing furnace facilities that would burn this type of oil. There may well be a market for that to happen on a natural basis. I know when I was in Faro and involved with the hotel, we looked at changing our furnaces over to make use of all the waste oil we were aware of around the community as well as the waste grease from our restaurant operation. Our analysis was that installing the particular furnace that would have burned these multi products was cost prohibitive for a small operator like I was in that situation. There could be a joint effort where a number of businesses or one larger operation could put in that kind of burning equipment and then become a collection agency to burn some of that oil and grease. It is something I flagged with the waste management group, and I expect that, once we get the hazardous site squared away, it will be part of what they will be looking at very sincerely. I will be looking forward to those two recommendations if we should be further involved.
Mr. Phillips: Is the Government of the Yukon assisting the city in any way with the work they are doing on the waste oil pit up top of the hill there? The city, I believe, is examining pumping it out this spring; they have done some preliminary tests on the oil, I understand, and found that it does not contain any hazardous chemicals other than just oil and grease. There are no PCBs or anything like that in it.
It seems that the city and the Yukon government have the same problem - the problem of disposing of waste oil - and I hope the Government of the Yukon is working closely with the city, or at least will in the very near future work closely with the city so that we do not have two governments running in two different directions both trying to solve the same problem. If we put our heads together, maybe for a lot less cost to the Government of the Yukon and a lot less cost to the City of Whitehorse on a joint effort, we could solve this waste oil problem. It is a territory-wide problem, not just the problem of the City of Whitehorse, and it is a responsibility of the territorial government; they probably contribute a great deal of the waste oil in the territory with all their maintenance equipment they have.
I am just making a suggestion that the Minister should sit down or have his officials sit down with the people in the city. I then heard them discussing the matter the other day on the radio. The two should work closely on any kind of joint effort that might help solve the problem.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Again, the Member makes a reasonable suggestion. The waste management group I have appointed to look at the siting of a hazardous waste facility will be looking at this item once they have met their obligation under site selection. The city does sit on that committee so what ought to be happening, if the members are on the ball, is that the plans of the city respecting waste management should be surfacing at that committee level, so that there is the best understanding and exchange of information between the city and the government. The Member makes a valid point that the government and the city are probably two of the biggest generators of waste oil and grease in the territory, next to perhaps Curragh Resources. The committees structure should offset that, but the Member has flagged it, and I will make sure we do not get off on separate tangents.
Mr. Devries: At the sawmill we used to mix the waste oil with the sawdust that we fed into the boilers. If they are always short of sawdust, they could possibly utilize some of this waste oil we are talking about. I could bring it up at the waste management meeting tomorrow night in Watson Lake. I could make that suggestion.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: It is a reasonable suggestion. If it has worked to mix oil and burn it effectively without an increased environmental damage from the poor combustion and release of either anything toxic or non-toxic into the air, that is good. I am sure that with enough heat the oil would be adequately burned. I am sure the waste committee has a number of ideas being suggested to it about waste management, and as we all get a little more conscious of the damage we have been doing to our environment and start looking at ways of using the three Rs, we will all become a little more sensitive to waste management. These ideas are all good and we have a responsibility to act upon them.
Mr. Phillips: Do we have any idea how much toxic waste, or used oil, or other waste such as that comes down from Alaska through here? Do we have regulations to control that? When we see transport trucks roaring through here, we have no idea what is on them. I do not know of any major incidents, but I am not sure what Alaska does with all its waste and am wondering whether or not much of it actually passes through the Yukon and what restrictions apply when it does.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: That falls under transportation of dangerous goods. That is very strictly regulated. It is federally regulated under the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act, and we have inspectors in the territory constantly monitoring and ensuring that those goods are transported properly and safely through the territory. I have no fear on that score.
I hope the Member was not suggesting what has been happening on our southern Canada border, where waste is coming in from another jurisdiction and being dumped, and the trucks going back. I certainly have no evidence of that happening if he is raising that. That would be a matter of policing. I do not have any evidence it is happening.
Mr. Phillips: I have no evidence of that other than the RVs that pull the plug in the gravel pits. I do not know of any coming through to dump waste here. I am concerned about someone trucking radioactive material, or PCBs, or anything, to plants down south in the U.S. but if they are covered by the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act then I am satisfied with that.
A year or so ago, the Northern Canada Power Commission transported several transformers containing PCBs from Faro to its holding site in Whitehorse here. Were they required to get a permit? Did they get a permit and meet all the requirements for transportation?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I do not know about the specific case. They would need a permit to transport that material. It falls under the category of dangerous goods. I have no knowledge of any noncompliance so I have to conclude that everything was done according to Hoyle - meaning that it was done under the requirements, which are very strict, of the transportation of dangerous goods legislation, and enforced.
Mr. Phillips: Could the Minister bring that information back to the House? It was around that time that Northwestel transported some PCBs from somewhere in the Northwest Territories to the Yukon. There was an article in the paper, and a few people got excited about it. It was around that time that they transported those PCBs from Faro into Whitehorse. No one even knew it had happened. I found out about it from an individual who was concerned about the transporting of PCBs in the Yukon.
When we transported these PCBs, did they have all the proper permits? Were the PCBs transported in a safe manner? I would like assurances from the Minister that that happened. Could the Minister find out about the actual permits? When were they applied for? When were the goods transported?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I have no problem procuring the information. I have no reason to believe that there was anything done either illegally or outside the regulations or the act.
The Member raised a point about some PCBs being transported from the Northwest Territories. They never did get here. They were not transported into the Yukon. There was an intention to but it never got to that. Our legislation stopped it. I can get the information relating to the transportation of the PCBs from Faro.
Mr. Phillips: I would like to be clear on that. I did not mean to say that they brought the Northwestel PCBs into the Yukon, although that may have been their intent. It was about that time that there was a story about that. I was told around that time that PCBs were transported from Faro to Whitehorse. I am not sure if the authorities had the proper permits. Did the authorities comply with all the laws? Who transported the goods? When were the goods transported? When did they get their permits? I would like to make sure that everything was done according to the rules that are set out in the regulations.
Mr. Devries: The Minister mentioned that he was in Teslin. Did he manage to get up to Swift River when he was there?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I was trying to remember if I did. I did not. It was nearly midnight when we concluded our meeting and discussions, and I headed back to Whitehorse.
Mr. Devries: The last time we discussed Swift River I thought I had a commitment from the Minister about some information pertaining to the solar collectors. Who funded them? Could the Minister provide that information to us? I understand that it was funded by the federal government. It is taxpayers money, regardless of who funded it.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I have this vivid recollection that I provided the information through a legislative return, but I will check. I recall tabling some detail relating to deficiencies, solar collectors, contractors and metric standards relating to Swift River. I will have to check. I thought I already provided that in a legislative return, but I stand to be corrected.
Mr. Devries: I believe the Minister supplied everything pertaining to the building other than on the solar collectors. It is just an item of interest to see how feasible it is and how it can be used as an energy-saving device.
Chair: We will proceed with line-by-line on page 68.
On Policy, Planning & Administration
Chair: Is there any general debate?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The increase reflected is $186,000. This is the projection of full staffing for the policy, planning and administration unit. As the Member recalls from yesterdays discussion, this is now called corporate services on the organizational chart, but it is still the same thing.
The expectation is to have full staffing for the next year. There are expected increments that will constitute most of that cost. The land claims personnel are now budgeted into this. It is comprised of natural increases, full staffing and the two land claims persons.
Mr. Brewster: I want to ask one thing to be sure I have things correct. On page 66, there are 21 person years but, when you come into this new organization, you have gone to 19. I see two on the land claims, and I presume those are the two person years that were taken out and who report directly to the deputy minister from the assistant deputy minister.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I apologize for the delay, but I had to be sure. Yes, the increase on land claims I just spoke about is the two person years we talked about yesterday - the land claims coordinator and a researcher position, one that was filled and one that was not. The expectation is they will be filled for the next budget year. In turn, that explains the increase from 19 to 21. The creation of the ADM does not reflect an additional person year.
Mr. Brewster: The original one that is in the book had 21, and on page 66 there are 21, which I understand. Then you took two out, so it did not increase the corporate affairs; it reduced it by two, and you moved them up into land claims. Is that not correct?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member is partly correct. In the new organizational chart I tabled yesterday the corporate services is 19, plus two departmental, which makes the 21 person years. Perhaps the Member could explain again what question he is raising?
Mr. Brewster: When the book was originally put out, policy planning and administration was 21 person years. Then, when you give us this new one, you reduce corporate service, which was policy planning and evaluation, down to 19 person years. Then, all of a sudden, up on the right-hand side, going directly to the deputy minister, you have two person years. If you add the $180,000 and the $1,476,000, you get the right total. I was just trying to confirm that this is what happened.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: That is precisely what happened. Communications was already in there on the one chart, even though it was shown as separate on the other. The Member is correct.
General in the amount of $1,657,000 agreed to
Mr. Brewster: O&M Other - how would that $247,000 break down?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Under Allotments, the $1,360,000 is clearly personnel costs. The $247,000 is costs associated with policy and planning - that would be office requirements, telephone, some contracts that would be expected to be let. The $50,000 under Transfer Payments is the $50,000 that we have allocated to land claims for municipalities and unorganized communities. The Member will recall that $40,000 has been provided to the municipalities for their support to the table and the $10,000 has been provided to unorganized communities for any land claims support they may need.
Mr. Brewster: What bothers me is talking about $10,000 for unorganized communities for land claims, yet when you look around, all the others have high-priced lawyers. How do you think it is fair for these people to try to compete against that for $10,000. There was a booklet in here for $15,000 that said nothing. How do you expect them to get any information into land claims for $10,000?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I respect what the Member is saying, but he has to recognize that our entire branch has a responsibility to provide full service to the unorganized communities. By way of background, the branch intended, by the creation of a land claims coordinator and a researcher, to be able to provide service to the municipalities and the unorganized communities without additional cost. The communities made the case that they needed some support to pay for various costs associated to land claims. If they had to come into Whitehorse for a seminar from Haines Junction, that is an overnight trip with meal costs. We identified the money where it would be legitimately used for lands claims business.
The estimate was made that municipalities more closely connected through working with the bands in their communities required some substantial support to meet commitments. The unorganized communities were out there, but who do you give the money to, such as if you are talking about Tagish, Destruction Bay, or Beaver Creek? We have a close branch relationship with the communities and can provide the land claims support that may be needed. There is not a municipal council that has the same kind of status in the negotiations relating to municipal matters. I am trying to provide the Member with the comfort and assurance that the unorganized communities receive far more support from our staff than the municipalities do. The municipalities received more in funding and key land claims personnel, namely a coordinator.
Mr. Brewster: I understand that. However, when I go to the unorganized communities they say they do not know anything about land claims, they were never consulted and never told anything. They are in the dark, and $10,000 is not going to solve that. When the territorial government goes around, they tell them what they have decided; they do not ask them. It is not very fair.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I take the point of the Member and will transmit it accordingly to the staff that communication to small communities, lodges and isolated settlements is not adequate and we should transmit as much information as we can. I accept the point.
Mr. Brewster: I thank the Minister for that.
Allotments agreed to
Chair: There is no Capital.
Policy, Planning & Administration in the amount of $1,657,000 agreed to
On Operation and Maintenance
Chair: Is there any general debate?
Mrs. Firth: Where does the new box on the organizational chart for departmental land claims come in his budget now? Did it come in the policy section we were just doing - I notice the Minister nodding his head that it does.
The Minister said he would bring me the job description for the coordinator for communities and the lands researcher. Just before we go on to communications.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: That is being pulled together. The Member raised that last night. It is still coming.
Mr. Phelps: I have a motion on the Order Paper about TV stations that speaks to the desirability of providing at least two TV channels to communities that do not have such a thing, such as Tagish. There was mention of this in the communications policy under the Yukon 2000 banner. I received a large petition in Tagish and Carcross asking for either cable or extra TV services. It was signed by virtually everybody who lives out there.
It was just before the electrification of a large area of Tagish that the petition went around. I know, from the information that was tabled from the Minister this afternoon, that Tagish Beach electrification came to $150,000. That is now complete, so there are a lot more families in Tagish who are interested in an extra channel or hearing about plans, if any, for the private company to cable the area.
For the past two years or so, we have been tantalized with the prospect of the private company cabling both Carcross - as a priority - and Tagish, which would be more attractive because of the electrification. Are there ongoing talks with the cable company? They were interested and were waiting for some money to come through from a federal program. It never did come through. Where do we stand right now regarding Tagish?
I get a lot of calls from retired people in Tagish, elders, and people in Carcross who would like to have something. It is pretty frustrating to be stuck with the one channel.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: It is fair to say that we are currently in discussion with the private sector on that score. That discussion has been going on for the past couple of years, largely originating from the intention of the federal communications ministry to provide some $25 million for cabling and television to remote communities. It was anticipated that the funding would be released with a good portion of it coming to the Yukon. The private sector here was anticipating that. Plans for WHTV to move into the rural community fell through when that plan failed.
There have been renewed discussions on that recently. Those discussions are not concluded. An attempt is being made to revive a plan to cable a number of communities. We are quite open to having discussions that would ensure some open-air reception of a second TV channel, piggybacking on that installation.
Those discussions are not concluded, and I cannot even anticipate when they will be concluded. They have been ongoing for the past four or five months, and we should be having some results soon as to whether we have a deal or call for proposals, or what. There will be capital costs involved if we attempt to do any additional TV installation, and we are not budgeting for it this year.
Mr. Phelps: To place it in perspective, what you have in Tagish is a lot of people with TVs, a lot of people who would really enjoy a second channel, such as BCTV. The same situation prevails in Carcross. I suspect both those communities are pretty close to being viable for cable TV, given the subsidy from the federal government. The risk that is being run by the company, and the government as well if they are trying to piggyback a deal, is that a lot of people in Tagish and Carcross are looking at dishes right now. I am one of them. Once we have dishes, we are not going to buy cable TV from anyone, I can tell you that.
To give you an analogy, if you look at Marsh Lake and Judas Creek, they are not very interested in extra TV channels because everyone there who is interested in extra channels has a dish. I suspect the window of opportunity to go to Tagish or Carcross and sign up a bunch of subscribers is going to rapidly vanish. I know people are going to buy their own dishes, myself included. When that happens, there will be no justification for the cable company to come in with cable, and you will be looking at going alone on one, two or three new channels, as people demand that service.
I think time is of the essence; some signals have to go out to people. As I say, I know of a good many would-be cable subscribers who are going to say, To hell with it; I am going to buy my own dish.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member is aware this government has taken a major responsibility to provide television and radio to all those communities CBC was not prepared to go into. We have essentially done that. In his own riding, the Member is quite familiar with the action that has been taken on that score.
The question that arises from the Members statements is, whose priority responsibility is it to provide a cable service to rural communities? Is it the governments, or is the private sectors?
I think the Member would agree that cable service should be the job of the private sector. I have indicated to him our willingness to discuss with the private sector piggybacking on that for some additional service. For us to go in as a lead agent and provide a cable service is out of the question. As a long-term goal, we would like to see a second open-air television channel in all communities. We have not budgeted for that this year. Down the road, as we clear away some other priorities, I would like to be in a position to do that sort of thing and start a phase-in program similar to the one done in the past, that at least saw a minimum of one station in communities.
There are quite a number of communities that are taking an initiative, partly through community associations and partly through the private sector, to put multichannels in their areas. Watson Lake and Dawson come to mind, as well as my own community of Faro. In each case, there is still an open air CBC channel available. To repeat myself, in our approach, the long-term goal is to have an open-air second channel made available to all communities. Long term could mean five or 10 years.
Mr. Phelps: To make that representation for both Carcross and Tagish, if you are talking to the cable company interested in those areas, among others in the Yukon, and I will make representation myself as well, it just seems to me that if people in Carcross and Tagish got BCTV a lot of them probably would not get their own dishes. They would wait for the cable and buy the cable when it came. But if they get nothing, in the next year or two, they are going for the dish and there just will not be a market for cable. That is the problem and what it means is that the people who cannot afford dishes are out in the cold; they will have neither. They do not have the option of cable. There are a lot of people living in Tagish who cannot afford dishes and your subscribing market will not be large enough to justify cable so they lose out.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I hear what the Member is saying. Perhaps he could make one clarification for me? He talks about Tagish in particular. It is my understanding that Tagish is currently served by open-air CBC. You do not require a dish for that reception. Perhaps he could clarify whether I am correct on that score?
The other point relates to what he talks about in terms of the private sector. If the private sector is prepared to go in and instal cable, and we are prepared to piggyback some additional equipment to provide for a second open-air channel, that would be the best of all worlds, I assume. I am not clear how we are to encourage the private sector to do it; perhaps the Member has some thoughts? If we are expected to do more than provide a piggyback supplemental equipment second channel responsibility, then we are getting, in my opinion, too closely involved with cable service provision with the private sector where we ought not to be. Roads and schools and so on are more important. Perhaps the Member could just clarify the role of government?
Mr. Phelps: After a lot of questions and correspondence and so on, we got two new facilities for that part of my riding, Hootalinqua. We dismantled the old one that was up on top of Caribou Mountain, and we ended up with a brand-new receiver transmitter for Carcross in the grader station yard. We ended up with a brand new receiver and transmitter for the Tagish/Marsh Lake area, up on top of Jubilee Mountain where the telephone dish is. That, I am sure, is saving the government a lot of money in terms of operation and maintenance compared to the one they had to fly propane into with helicopters all the time. It was serviced by helicopters, but you can drive to both of these; they are quite handy. We now have the facility so we can add another channel on each of these for less than $11,000 capital cost. So, as I understand it, to bring in, receive and retransmit BCTV, you are looking at less than $11,000 at Tagish, which covers quite a lot of people, because it is sitting up on top of the mountain and the signal goes in various directions. The same applies to Carcross, for less than $11,000 - the estimates vary - in capital cost you can get BCTV and transmit it to everybody in the Carcross area.
My understanding was, from previous correspondence with the previous Minister, that the Whitehorse cable company wanted to go in, using the federal grant and some of their own money, and cable Carcross and maybe Tagish, if there were more residences - which there are now because of the electrification. I understood that the government was prepared to sort of piggyback on that by saying, Okay, we will help you out, but you have to provide the second channel, BCTV, to people who cannot or will not take cable.
There was some kind of a deal in the making there that dragged on and on for various reasons.
I am not sure who is to take the lead role for providing the $11,000 for Tagish and for Carcross, but unless you get the second channel into play very soon, the cable company is going to lose the paying customers - enough paying customers, I suspect, to make it not feasible anymore. I would like to see that brought to their attention to see what could be done to bring on BCTV from those two transmitters. If that is done, most of the people who were interested will remain interested in buying the complete cable service when it comes. If it is not done they will wait and be happy with a second channel for a year or so. They will not wait if they just have CBC for much longer.
Mr. Brewster: We have only the CBC in Beaver Creek. It is not quite the same as elsewhere, where people buy dishes. The permanent residents are about six families, and the rest are put there by government departments and are there for a year or a year and one-half and cannot afford it. It is one of the most isolated communities in the Yukon. All we have is CBC. Several times they have been promised another dish and have never got it. When is this going to happen?
The other group of people, 25 to 30 people around White River, have a microwave tower above them and only one of them can get TV or radio. There is absolutely no communication with the Yukon. I would suspect it is a matter of piggybacking onto that microwave tower on the mountain.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Can the Member elaborate? I understand that White River has television reception now.
Mr. Brewster: The lodge at White River and the lodge at Bear Flats have it. One lodge is four miles away and the other one 10 miles away; the people in between do not have any reception. None of them have CBC radio.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I believe the Member and I have corresponded about the radio side of that. I am trying to remember the latest correspondence. I believe we have both written stiff letters to CBC requesting that service. I have to get an update.
Mr. Brewster: When we brought the channel down to the dish at the end of Kluane Lake, and included Burwash, I complained that those at the southern end of the lake lost their television. That was corrected, but only for a month. The last trip I made up there, I saw they are receiving nothing but snow. Whether this is maintenance or if it is just not going to work, I do not know. Two of them have already bought their own dishes, so they do not care anymore.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: That location creates poorer reception. Does it serve more than two families?
Mr. Brewster: It is becoming quite a community down there. The Arctic Institute has probably 10 or 15 at all times. There are three or four families who have moved in and built in the last little while. I have a letter from the Minister conceding to gravel that road because of the people in there. I would say there are 45 people in that area.
Mr. Phelps: I cannot think of a government program that would do more to improve the quality of life, particularly to seniors and elders who live in some of these communities, than a second channel. Talk about bang for the buck: for $11,000, you are able to provide all that extra viewing to all these retired and shut-in people during the winter. Government ought to be moving more quickly to provide that service. I am talking about Tagish and Carcross.
There are a lot of elders, and a lot of them cannot afford cable and never will be able to. I cannot understand why government is not more willing to make that small investment that would improve the quality of life so much. It is only $11,000 for all those people over 70 and 80 who live out there like Mrs. Sidney and other elders. To me it would be a winner for any government to put in a device to give them double the programming.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I never expected the Leader of the Official Opposition to be giving me political coaching.
It amounts to establishing a second channel program for all the communities. We have a responsibility territory-wide from where we sit. A program has to have its perameters set. It has to have budgeting appropriated. We would have to determine who will be phased in first and over what length of time this money should be spread. There is a great demand being placed on money these days. I accept his representation. We will be into a new budgeting process soon, and we will see if a program can be developed.
Mr. Phillips: I would like to make a brief suggestion. The Government of Yukon would be able to do four of these programs if they cut out Barry Stuarts $62,000 holiday. I suggest that many of the elders in the Carcross area could use that extra channel rather than the guy who has made $700,000 in the last four years.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: If the Member is saying that I should find $62,000 in a government employees income, he is out to lunch. It is something that I am not capable of doing. The Member does not have the right to make those kinds of demands. We are now looking at a $97 million budget with a lot of demands and appropriations. If we talk about $11,000 for Carcross and Tagish, we have to talk about a possible $15,000 for Beaver Creek and possibly $18,000 or $20,000 for Old Crow. We are talking about a program that has to provide that second channel over the long term. Those are decisions that we will be faced with. I accept the representations that the Members are making.
Mr. Phillips: I offered the Minister a suggestion because, like his counterpart, the Minister of Finance, he was whining about all the tough times that we will experience with no money. I am suggesting that the government has an opportunity to look at the budget. A guy who made three-quarters of a million dollars in the last five years is going to get another $62,000. It is not going to cost more money to put the channel into Old Crow or in any of these other communities. The unit costs the same whereever it is put.
Chair: We will now take a short recess.
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order. We are discussing Community and Transportation Services.
Mr. Lang: I wanted to ask a question with respect to what is happening with the efforts of the department to transform the VHF system to the newer system. How much has been spent? Where are we going with it?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The MDMRS system falls in the next line item, under Capital. Is that what he wants to talk about?
Mr. Lang: We can wait until we get to that part. Could the Minister give us an idea whether they are making any major policy changes this forthcoming year?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: No, there are no policy changes regarding the program. The program is still in place as was described in the past. It is a five-year, four-phase program to replace the existing VHF mobile radio system, and it is proceeding as described in the past on various highway linkages. The cost identified in the Capital line item is what we are spending this year, $1,110,000. The expenditure this year will be on the North Klondike.
General in the amount of $360,000 agreed to
Operation & Maintenance in the amount of $360,000 agreed to
On VHF System Replacement
Mr. Lang: I want to follow that up a little further. With the technology changing so rapidly, is there some thought we will have to put in more advanced changes than what are now projected for this system? I am primarily thinking of cellular systems. Is there a possibility of that?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: At the time the decision was taken to go this route, the potential new technology was taken into account, and this was determined to be the best and most cost-effective system.
The Member raises the subject of cellular phones. Even where cellular phones are installed, they do not connect to a satellite system. They still require radiowave transmission, mountaintop to mountaintop.
I was just in Saskatchewan over the past year where they are installing a cellular phone system, and they are using a repeater station concept similar to ours. To answer the Members question regarding whether or not we will have outdated ourselves by the time we install it, I think quite safely we feel it will not. The system is clearly safe in our minds for comfortable usage over the next 20 years. The new technology that may come along will still be adaptable in the technology of it.
VHF System Replacement in the amount of $1,100,000 agreed to
On Community TV
Mr. Brewster: I would like to know in which community they are spending this capital?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The installations are going to be done in Carmacks and Burwash. In Carmacks, the cost will be $23,000, in Burwash $20,000, and $17,000 is for general equipment.
Mr. Brewster: I am really puzzled. You are putting another dish in Burwash, yet you moved a dish out of Destruction Bay to get the two of them hooked in together, and you took it away from the south end of the lakes because you wanted to include Burwash. Now you are putting another dish into Burwash? I am getting a little confused as to what we are doing around here.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: As the Member may or may not be aware, the installation that was made at Burwash was done through a sharing arrangement with Northern Native Broadcasting. It was a temporary installation. It was done to provide a signal to the people in Burwash Landing. What we are doing now for the $20,000 is to establish a permanent installation. Going back into what was done previously, a transmitter was replaced on Kluane Hill, I believe - the Member should know where that is; I do not. It was replaced by a new site near Destruction Bay. We talked about that in the past, because it was cheaper maintenance and so on. We received a number of complaints about the reception at Burwash. We could not increase the power to generate the stronger signal. What we are doing now is putting in a permanent installation that should solve all the complaints we are getting on the quality of transmission for the community.
Mr. Brewster: Are we talking about radio stations or TV? It looks like TV.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: This is radio.
Mr. Brewster: I do not read very good but if they put radio instead of community TV I might be able to decipher this budget book. TV usually means television and radio is radio.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I apologize for the budget book. It ought to say community television and radio. The Member can be assured that next year it will.
Mr. Brewster: I would like to thank the Minister because I thought I was going to enter into another battle from now until 5:30. We have already destroyed the television at the south end of the lake and are putting in another television station. If they put down what they really mean they would not have so many people on this side having heart attacks and getting very furious about what is going on. I would also like to thank the Minister for clarifying it.
Community TV [and Radio] in the amount of $59,000 agreed to
Capital in the amount of $1,169,000 agreed to
Allotments agreed to
Communications in the amount of $1,529,000 agreed to
Mr. Brewster: Under statistics, may I ask one question?
You have communities served with television at three. I presume this is three CBC radio stations that the territorial government is paying for and the rest are paid for by CBC. Is this correct?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member is dead on.
Chair: Is there any general debate?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Which page are we drawing information from, Madam Chair?
Chair: Page 74.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: We are talking about administration?
Chair: General debate on transportation.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: We can go line-by-line.
On Operation & Maintenance
On Branch Administration
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The $1.418 million is entirely comprised of personnel costs, essentially salary dollars. The decrease of $42,000 is simply the net result of reduced costs. The personnel allotments remain the same.
Some travel costs are being saved. The difference of the $42,000 is a reduction in travel expenses. There are some reductions in salary costs. It is holding the line.
Branch Administration in the amount of $1,418,000 agreed to
On Highway Maintenance
Hon. Mr. Byblow: That is the budget portion for maintenance of the roads. The $31 million reflects an increase of approximately three percent. All highways have a certain requirement for maintenance standards. The budgetary dollars are there. It has gone up by the rate of inflation. We expect to be continuing to the best job possible. This is the maintenance budget, the primary cost of the whole department.
Mr. Brewster: Does the Minister have a breakdown? Could I have the breakdown for the three or four major roads in the Yukon and for the Alaska Highway? I would like to compare the amounts being spent on each highway.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: We expect to spend $10,646,000 on the Alaska Highway for maintenance. The anticipated maintenance costs for the Klondike Highway are $5,065,000. The anticipated costs for the Campbell Highway are $3,941,000. The Dempster will cost $4,177,000. The Top of the World Highway will cost us $1,150,000. The Canol Road will cost $952,000. Those are the principal roads. I could not mention roads without mentioning the Tagish Road for $293,000. We expect to spend $1,250,000 on the Haines Road.
Mr. Brewster: The Dempster Highway, the Top of the World Highway or the Canol Road are not broken down separately. Those maintenance costs do not show up anywhere. Why would that be?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member is saying this information could be included in the budget as an identified, anticipated cost for maintenance for roads. I do not know why we do not do it. I suppose it is something we can contemplate. The Member recognizes that some of the roads that show up on the capital side do not show up on the maintenance side, for good reason. That is because there are no capital costs assigned to those roads for this year; there is no construction on them.
Mr. Phillips: Could I go back to Highway Maintenance for one second. There is a question about ferries.
Chair: Is the Committee agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Mr. Phillips: Last year, the Ross River ferry was pulled out of the water about two weeks earlier than normal. Was there any reason for pulling it out the first week of October, as opposed to the second or third week, like they normally do every other year?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am advised that there is no particular reason other than, in previous years, there was a considerable risk by leaving it to the middle of the month, because of ice appearing prior to pulling out the ferry. It was a judgment made at an administrative level to ensure the ferry was not caught in ice before it was pulled.
I am sorry if it affected his hunting expedition.
Mr. Phillips: No, it did not affect my hunting expedition at all. By that time, I already had all the game I needed, but it did affect some peoples plans for hunting on that road. The concern I have is it is an activity of a lot of Yukoners in the fall, and they do hunt in that area. I know there were some problems this year in that area, with some accusations being made of some game being left, but I think that is more of a problem the conservation officer can solve, rather than the highways department.
I just wondered why it was pulled out early and if that is going to be the policy in future. There are lots of people who do go into that area, and it is a recreation Yukoners like to partake in, and it does pump a lot of money into the economy when people buy their groceries and go out on their hunting trips for a week. In the future, on a road that is used for that purpose, it might be better if we advise the general public a little further ahead of time so people can make alternative plans.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I accept the Members representation. I know for a fact, because I have seen it, that when the ferry is to close, there is a minimum of a two week notice period publicly in the community, and usually on the radio as well.
My experience with ferry administration is that when there are appeals or requests made for the ferry to extend its service in the water, the department has made those extensions on a day-to-day basis. I know that for a fact, because I was involved on a number of those occasions.
If there is a notice that the ferry is shutting down, there should be representation made, and a good cause will allow us to leave it in on a day-to-day basis, as long as it is reasonably safe to do so. That has been done. It should be pointed out that the reason would have to be a good one.
I am not sure that a hunt may be an adequate cause, but certainly a mining operation still in the area has often been a good cause. Some people doing special work in survey or otherwise have often caused us to allow it to be held over a day or two until they got out. The policy is very flexible on closure, depending on demand and safety.
Mr. Phillips: I am not going to dispute the Ministers facts, because he obviously has more knowledge about taking ferries in and out of the water than I do. I just want to make a note that a lot of Yukoners from Whitehorse and Ross River, and other areas, do go into that area in the fall for food gathering. It does help offset some Yukoners costs of living up here and it is an area that has in the past had a fairly reasonable population of game, by game branch statistics. Because of the difficulties now around Whitehorse, with so many areas closed, a lot of Yukoners from this area of the Yukon have to go those distances to get game. I just bring it to the Ministers attention that I may disagree with him; I think hunting is a very valuable resource and many people spend an awful lot of money hunting and fishing in the territory every year. In fact, it is probably the reason why a lot of people live here: so that they can get out and enjoy the outdoors. I would suggest that, next time they are thinking about closing the ferry, they should consider not only the mining and that type of activity but also the recreational activities of Yukoners in that area.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I accept the Members representation.
Mr. Lang: I just want to make one other point to what my colleague just said. An important aspect that has to be considered from a renewable resource side is that, if that access becomes very limited for hunting, it is going to put more pressure on the other areas in close proximity, especially in the Ross River/Faro area, and could have a real effect on the game populations in those areas. The more you curtail the ability of the hunters to have various areas to go to, the more effect there is going to be on the game population.
I think that has to be given serious consideration as well, because it has a domino effect. Like my colleague has pointed out, in game zones 7 and 9 - those people who live here and like to go hunting and see it as part of their recreation and one of the reasons they live here, they are doing it and they are going to other parts of the territory and putting pressures on new situations where, in some cases, there is animosity now being expressed in the small communities because perhaps there are too many hunters. That is because we have let, in part, game zones 7 and 9 deteriorate to the situation where there is very little game. That is where the Minister of Renewable Resources has an obligation to meet that concern, because it is affecting other parts of the territory as well. With modern technology the way it is and the ability for people to move long distances in a very short space of time, they are prepared to go that distance if they have to. I really think it has to be given very serious consideration.
Highway Maintenance in the amount of $31,837,000 agreed to
Hon. Mr. Byblow: This reflects a little more than an inflationary increase for anticipated increased costs in a number of areas related to airport maintenance. We anticipate some increased costs relating to observer communications; we anticipate some airport maintenance contracts to be increased. I believe, at this point, it is entirely recoverable but it does bring up the B and C agreement that the federal government and the Yukon government have been working on for a couple of years - I keep saying in the eleventh hour; it must be the eleven fifty-nine-fifty-ninth hour now - and we are anticipating to have the deal signed soon. It will, in subsequent budgets, reflect the non-recovery of this line item.
It will reflect a certain amount of money for maintenance and for capital. I have spoken with the hon. Member for Kluane about part of the B and C airports agreement to reflect an increase of service in his community. This is just a status quo for now with some anticipated increased costs.
Mr. Brewster: Would there be an amount included for the extra work required for the Haines Junction airport?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I was having some difficulty understanding the question. If the agreement is signed and the improvements take place, then the airport comes under territorial control and administration. We would have to inject those increased maintenance costs or negotiate them in the deal. That would be done after the improvements. This budget does not reflect increased maintenance for the improvements because they are not shown here. The agreement is not part of this deal.
Mr. Brewster: I gather from that it probably will not be transferred this year. Either that or we will need a supplement. If that airport is brought up to a C standard, which it is not now although it is marked a C standard, it is going to need a lot of work. That includes that one and the one at Carmacks. They do not come up to a C standard.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member has a fair point. That is part of what has been negotiated over the last couple of years. If it is signed off, it will see capital dollars for the upgrading of the Haines Junction and Carmacks airstrips, because those are the ones in the worst condition. That is part of the negotiating position: to ensure we have the capital bucks to upgrade those airports to the proper standard and the maintenance dollars to carry it on.
Mr. Brewster: The Minister said they were in the worst condition. I do not know about Carmacks, but the airport in Haines Junction is one of the best in any community we have. It is a perfect airport for taking off because the wind is right. They have a big gully at the end just like the Whitehorse one. It is perfect. The only problem is that it does not have lights. The airport is not in poor condition; it just does not have the facilities.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I stand corrected on terminology.
Mr. Lang: Is it true that all the principles of the agreement for the transfer of the airports had been agreed upon by the Government of Canada and the Government of the Yukon Territory last fall, and the reason it was not transferred at that time was because of a dispute between the parties as to whether or not the Commissioners signature should be on the transfer?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: That was part, but not the complete story. The agreement was not completely finalized. Mr. Bouchard and I met late in the fall and were near ready to sign. There were some intergovernmental concerns about things like signing authorities, timing of transfers, how dollars would move through formula financing arrangements, what future impacts would be possible relating to the program transfer, so there were a number of things that held up the final signing.
We have most of those ironed out. We could be signing within a month, but I think I have said that before.
Mr. Lang: Is the financing for this agreement tied in with the new Formula Financing Agreement?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: That is one of the outstanding elements of the arrangement. It is being explored right now.
Mr. Lang: We have been negotiating this for over a year. The financial formula was not an issue at that time. Because of the length of time, and because of the dispute over whether Mr. Penikett or Mr. McKinnon was going to sign it, is that why we are now in the dilemma of financing the agreement because of the Formula Financing Agreement?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Member made mention that the agreement was under negotiation for a year. That is not correct. The negotiations have been ongoing for a number of months longer than that. We thought we had an agreement on a number of occasions over the last 18 months to two years between the federal Minister and the Government of Yukon. Each time the agreement was brought before the Treasury Board, it was turned down.
The Yukon had a final negotiating position established about 18 months ago. The issue of a formula agreement did not become an issue until we got some of the signals from the federal negotiators on the Formula Financing Agreement. Something like the arrangement between the Government of Canada and the Government of Yukon on the Arctic B and C airports could be affected, in future years, by base funding cuts. We are very concerned that any agreement we might strike now might be cut as a result of the new formula, which takes into account things that did not exist before.
We had no reason to be concerned up until this summer when the formula financing negotiations were under way. When we got wind of some of the things that could happen, we were concerned, and we remain concerned.
Mr. Lang: That confirms that we have let the window of opportunity go by. Are we in a situation where the financial terms and conditions will be much less than what the federal government had offered us in the summer? The Minister keeps saying that they did not offer anything then. Earlier he said that the Government of Yukon took a position and that the federal government took a position. The federal government must have taken a position of some kind. Are we being offered less now through the agreement?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I just finished explaining. We had been negotiating positions with the federal officials up until this last summer and early fall. We thought this was a good arrangement. The federal government thought likewise. That was taken to Treasury Board and turned down each time. We never received an official okay or anything close to that from the federal Treasury Board.
At exactly the time that there was some light at the end of the tunnel, there were also signals from federal Finance that the Arctic B&C airport transfer could be jeopardized under the new terms and conditions of the formula financing arrangement.
We naturally became concerned and expressed that concern to federal Finance officials. They understood that concern. They indicated that we should wait until the formula agreement was finalized before we should considering going further. We knew we should be concerned about that. If one agreement struck between one department and a Yukon government department established certain phase adjustments to the transfers from the federal government to the Yukon, and there was an assumption that those base adjustments were going to be secure for the period of the agreement, then the only thing that could cause us any kind of concern would be if there was an attack on our base itself.
Consequently, we had no reason for concern up until early this fall and late summer, when we started finalizing negotiations of the formula finance transfer arrangements. We had no reason for concern because we had no reason to believe our base funding would in any way be jeopardized by the formula financing arrangements. It was a natural thing to continue to proceed with the Arctic B and C transfer at that time - or any transfers, for that matter.
As I indicated, we had a position for some time, and we were prepared to stand by that position. It is the same position we have right now. The only concern is that, if the base is going to be jeopardized, then anything we sign between a federal and territorial department may be meaningless, if the base is going to change. So, we have to get an arrangement signed that says the agreement we have agreed to between departments - one federal department and the Department of Community and Transportation Services in the Yukon - is a real agreement and a base, and if the funding is channeled to our base through a base transfer, that base will not be affected for the period of the transfer agreement. That is a reasonable position.
Federal officials agree it is a reasonable position. We think we should be protecting ourselves to ensure that an agreement signed is an agreement honoured.
Mr. Lang: Once again, my concern is that the window of opportunity has gone by. Here we are sitting and talking about the financial formula. The Minister sits and nods his head over there. He should not be nodding his head. For three or four years, he was the Minister who stood up and said the B and C airports are being taken over. I think it was announced in the Throne Speech three or four different times of how this major step in devolution was going to come forward and would justify $250,000 being spent in the Executive Council Office for all the work in devolution. What do we have? We have a Minister standing up here and telling us he is not too sure what it is going to entail now.
Some Hon. Member: (inaudible)
Mr. Lang: I would say the only one who is a blockhead in here is the one who just spoke the word that was inaudible for the Hansard to pick up.
Is the terms of what is going to be involved in the transfer going to be less money than what had initially been agreed to between the departments, prior to the federal Treasury Board turning it down?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The agreement is essentially the same as the arrangement that was negotiated some time ago. The only concern has been whether or not the transfer to the Yukon now will be jeopardized if it is channeled through as a base adjustment, because the base is going to change.
The agreement we struck with federal negotiators for B and C airports was finalized at the officials level a number of times over the past 18 months. The only reason I did not do anything like critique the federal government was because we were in negotiation, and I felt we were bargaining in good faith between the two departments. We were discussing all the terms of the arrangement, and we had come to conclusions at the officials level, which turned out to be rejected by Treasury Board.
This is federal Treasury Board, not Yukon Treasury Board. We were negotiating an arrangement all that time and we felt we were coming to a conclusion. There was no reason to suspect for one second that there should be anything other than a transfer arrangement. All we needed was federal Treasury Board approval to get it. We were never given any offers from the federal politicians, with the exception of one Minister, and I will not name him, who felt that we had an arrangement he should support, and did try to get support in the federal cabinet, but he could not get it through. The bottom line was that we had negotiated an arrangement; the arrangement was, as far as we were concerned, secure until such time as a formula agreement and the formula negotiations changed it. No window of opportunity was ever missed at any time by this government with respect to B and C airports.
Madam Chair, given the time of the hour, I move that you report progress on Bill No. 19.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that Mr. Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Motion agreed to
Speaker resumes the Chair
Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
May the House have 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. Monday next.
The House adjourned at 5:30 p.m.
The following Legislative Returns were tabled February 8, 1990:
Demolition (mid-September, 1989) and burning (after September 30, 1989) of kitchen shelter at Rancheria Campground (Webster)
Oral, Hansard, p. 942
Cost of demolition of kitchen shelter at Rancheria Campground (Webster)
Oral, Hansard, p. 995
Payment of commission by Yukon Pacific Forest Products Ltd. to T.F. Properties for selling lumber (Penikett)
Oral, Hansard, p. 873
Yukon Development Corporation investigation of background of T.F. Properties and its principals, Myrah and Ferguson (Penikett)
Oral, Hansard, p. 853
T.F. Properties - possible interest in company that trucked lumber from Watson Lake sawmill to B.C. (Penikett)
Oral, Hansard, p. 873
Money received by T.F. Properties for managing Watson Lake sawmill (Penikett)
Oral, Hansard, p. 873
Yukon Development Corporation re T.F. Properties and Watson Lake sawmill (Penikett)
Oral, Hansard, p. 854
Establishment of first Assistant Deputy Minister position in Executive Council Office (Penikett)
Oral, Hansard, p. 1041
Advertising of position of Assistant Deputy Minister, Constitutional Development, Devolution and Intergovernmental Relations (Penikett)
Oral, Hansard, p. 1042