Monday, February 19, 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.
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Speaker: Under Tabling Returns and Documents, I have for tabling a report of the Chief Electoral Officer made pursuant to section 335 of the Elections Act.
Are there any further documents for tabling?
Hon. Ms. Joe: I have for tabling the annual report from the Department of Justice and the Yukon Utilities Board annual report for year ending March 31.
Speaker: Are there any Reports of Committees?
Introduction of Bills.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
Bill No. 4: Introduction and First Reading
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that Bill No. 4, entitled An Act to Amend the Income Tax Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Finance that Bill No. 4, entitled An Act to Amend the Income Tax Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Motion for introduction and first reading of Bill No. 4 agreed to
Speaker: Are there any Notices of Motion for the Production of Papers?
Are there any Notices of Motion?
Are there any Statements by Ministers?
Expansion of rural banking services
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I would like to inform the House of new developments we will be taking with regard to rural banking. The lack of banking services has been cited on a number of occasions, notably in Yukon 2000 consultations, as a severe hindrance to local economic development. It is also a great personal inconvenience if basic banking facilities are not readily available to the public.
In response to these concerns, the Government of Yukon has increasingly been involved in the provision of rural banking services in the Yukon. Our government entered into an agreement with the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce that included provisions for some rural banking services to be carried out by officers of that bank.
The contract also required the bank to investigate means of providing service to small communities via banking agencies - a unique approach by a chartered bank for rural banking in Canada.
The first agency operation was established in November 1988 in Ross River as a pilot project. It has been an unqualified success and the banking-agency concept has attracted a great deal of interest from other jurisdictions, particularly the Northwest Territories, Saskatchewan and British Columbia.
The success of the agency operation has convinced us that it should be the model for future expansion of banking services throughout the Yukon. In addition to using agencies to provide banking service in communities where there is none, we intend to use them to replace, where appropriate, the part-time service provided by bank personnel from Whitehorse. Agencies provide longer hours of service, are less expensive, and more sensitive to local conditions because they are operated by individuals who live in the community they serve.
As a first step in the expansion and improvement of banking services in our smaller communities, two new initiatives will soon be implemented.
First, the existing one-day service per week in winter and two-days service per week in summer for Haines Junction will be converted to a five day per week agency service. This operation is scheduled to commence during the week of March 4. Negotiations with the agent chosen by the bank, Mr. Terry Madley at Madleys General Store in Haines Junction, are in the final stages.
The present volume of business done in Haines Junction, coupled with the large number of tourists visiting the Kluane region, justify the extension of full-time service to the community. We hope that the availability of these services will help to extend the length of time tourists spend in the region.
Second, an agency operation will be established at Beaver Creek. This agency will operate four days per week, year-round, and is scheduled to begin the week of March 18. Final negotiations with Ms. Sally Stitt, who is expected to be the agent for the bank in Beaver Creek, are currently underway. The agency will operate out of the Beaver Creek Post Office.
These agencies will provide basic banking services, including deposits, withdrawals, the cashing of cheques and the payment of accounts and Visa bills. Loan applications will be available for processing through the Whitehorse branch and, although there may be some restrictions on the service, bank drafts and money orders will also be available.
The relative isolation of the community and the number of tourists passing through it more than justify the establishment of an agency in Beaver Creek.
It is difficult to predict the course of future banking service expansion. Much depends on the availability of a suitable agent, the volume of transactions and the cost of the particular operation. An obvious location would be Old Crow, which is isolated and lacks banking facilities. We are also investigating the conversion of the part-time operations in Carmacks, Mayo and Teslin into full-time agencies, and establishing agencies in other communities that, at present, have no banking facilities. In addition, we are, of course, looking at ways to improve service in Faro.
I am certain all Members will be pleased with these initiatives and join me in wishing the new agencies success.
Speaker: This brings us to Question Period.
Question re: Land claims, overlapping
Mr. Phelps: I have some questions for the Minister responsible for land claims regarding the issue of trans-boundary land claims and the news that three Yukon bands and one in the NWT have signed an agreement over land that can be shared by all those bands. My first question is: is this agreement about settlement lands in addition to the lands that will be selected by the three Yukon bands?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I thank the Leader of the Opposition for his question. The agreement to which the hon. Member refers is an agreement between the first nations in the two jurisdictions. It is not an agreement to which any government is party. It is to be hoped that this agreement will be a very positive step in bringing us to a resolution of this question, but no government has signed an agreement yet with respect to the subject of this agreement.
Mr. Phelps: Is it felt that the 2,000 square miles of land they are talking about will be selected by the three Yukon bands or is it additional land that the extra-territorial band is claiming?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: On the first question, let me indicate to the Leader of the Opposition that we have not changed our position on the question of Yukon land that should be available for settlement of beneficiaries or residents outside our borders. I will reiterate what we have done elsewhere: the principal responsibility for overlapping land claims is with the federal government, and I believe they are now clarifying their position with respect to the issue of land quantum and whose quantum would be affected by an agreement as indicated in this agreement between first nations.
Mr. Phelps: I understand that the Fort McPherson band wants to meet with the Yukon government shortly, and I would like to know how the Yukon government is going to respond to this claim. Is it going to be consistent and say that this government is opposed to land being selected by extra-territorial first nations in Yukon?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: We are in negotiations, but I can tell the Member we have been consistent. There was a meeting very recently in Vancouver at which our negotiators met with all the parties on this question. Our position was very clear. As a result of that meeting, we are now in the process of clarifying the federal governments position on exactly this question.
Question re: Land claims, overlapping
Mr. Phelps: I take it the Yukon governments position is there should not be land selected in Yukon by extra-territorial first nations. Is that the position?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I want to clarify the answer. The Leader of the Official Opposition has spoken with me both privately and publicly in this House as to the established interests of the Fort McPherson Dene in that area. I want to be perfectly clear that we respect those interests, but we have not proposed a change in our previously-indicated position.
Mr. Phelps: I am having trouble getting a clear answer. My understanding is that the policy of this government is that there should not be land granted to extra-territorial first nations as a result of their selecting land under land claims in Yukon.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I have been clear on that a number of times, and I will be clear again. I do not want the impression left, though - and I am sure the Leader of the Official Opposition will understand we do not recognize any interests in that area by the Fort McPherson people - he and I have previously agreed about the established hunting and fishing rights that are well established in that area.
I do not want to be in the position of negotiating on the floor of this Legislature, and I am trying to again say to him that this government is in the process of clarifying the position of the federal government on exactly the same point.
Mr. Phelps: I believe the answer was clear, and it is that this government is opposed to land being selected by extra-territorial bands. Did the agreement that was arranged among the three Yukon bands and the Fort McPherson band deal only with the claim of Fort McPherson people, or did it include Arctic Red River and Aklavik as well?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am going to have to give a qualified answer. Because of some uncertainties arising from the nature of the land selections in the proposed Dene/Metis agreement, I cannot be exactly sure on that point. It is Chief Ross of the Fort McPherson band who has been the principal advocate of this particular claim. I believe it is proposed that his people would be the principal beneficiary of an agreement in this area.
Question re: MV Anna Maria
Mr. Phillips: I have a question for the Minister responsible for Economic Development. Over the past several years, the Yukon taxpayers have contributed approximately $300,000 in the building and marketing of the MV Anna Maria. Last week, we learned the taxpayer has contributed another $21,000 to this unsuccessful venture. According to the information provided us in the House, $6,000 was to determine the MV Anna Marias seaworthiness or, in clearer terms, whether or not it would float.
For the Government of the Yukon to be spending another $6,000 to determine whether or not the boat is seaworthy, months after the total project has failed, is a bit after the fact. Why would we have waited until now to determine if this boat is seaworthy or not, after we have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The hon. Member is enjoying himself immensely with questions like that. We did not spend the money to establish whether the boat would float. As I understand the situation, consistent with the mandate of YDC, there were potential investors who approached it with the view to a possibility of a joint venture of some kind or another. The YDC prudently applied for and obtained some money to check out the feasibility of various kinds of business options for that unfortunate boat and reached certain conclusions, on which it made its decisions as a result of that.
The boat clearly floats. The question of whether it is able to successfully navigate the Yukon River on a continuing basis was severely put to the test last summer.
Mr. Phillips: Last Thursday, in the debate on the Department of Economic Development: Mines and Small Business, we were told by the Minister responsible that the $6,000 survey was to determine the seaworthiness of the MV Anna Maria. Why would we have waited until now, after we have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in this boat, to determine if it is seaworthy? Why would that not have been done by the MV Anna Maria? Why would the government not have checked into that before it granted all this money to the MV Anna Maria?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am not quite sure which question the Member is asking. If he is asking about the roll of the YDC, which, before it considered a decision to make a certain kind of investment, was doing what it ought to do, which was to check out the feasibility of certain kinds of options for that boat, we did not have anything to say, whatsoever, about the design or the building of that boat originally. I doubt if Members wearing their free enterprise hats, as they sometimes do, would have argued that we ought to have had anything to do with it.
Mr. Phillips: At the time that this money was granted, many questions were asked about this very thing. Was there not a requirement of Karpes & Pugh, when they made the initial proposal to the Yukon Development Corporation for funding, that they prove that the boat was seaworthy, that the boat could actually go up and down the Yukon River?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Once again, the Member has his facts wrong. Karpes & Pugh never applied to the YDC for funding.
Question re: M V Anna Marie
Mr. Phillips: There is the Minister squirming again and just twisting words around. Karpes & Pugh applied under the Economic Development Agreement for the original funding that they received; it was for almost $300,000. Is the Government Leader telling us today that when the Department of Economic Development reviewed that loan it did not check to see if that boat would actually be seaworthy or could ply the Yukon River? Is the government just now finally checking up on it after it found out that it will not?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: This is an interesting proposal that the Member is making. The Member is now saying that the private sector, when they make business proposals, is not responsible for anything. However, somehow this government ought to develop the bureaucratic capacity to be able to know about marine engineering, to be able to design boats, and so on.
This is not a role that this government, through the federal/territorial development agreements, ever contemplated for itself. It is up to the proponent - the business, the investors - to make the decision about the design and the utility of the boat.
It is not for the public service of this government to assess the business plan, to pass judgment on the design, the colour or the materials of a boat like this. It is taxpayers money, but it was not contemplated under the Economic Development Agreement that we signed with the federal government that either the federal or the territorial government would develop the bureaucratic capacity to be able to second guess every decision made by the private sector. That was not contemplated.
Mr. Phillips: That is a strange rationale. We give someone $300,000 for a project, and in this particular case, we do not even know if the boat will float, let alone the project. Would the Minister table the new seaworthiness study that was done after the boat was drydocked and is no longer able to work on the Yukon River?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I believe that the Member is just playing political games. The Minister of Economic Development has already given him the information that he seeks. There are well-established rules about the publication of feasibility studies - Members opposite have asked questions about them in the past - and we will continue to observe those rules here.
Question re: MV Anna Maria
Mr. Lang: I have a question and I hope that it is nobody elses fault. I hope blame is not cast on somebody else who is not here, or whatever the case may be. In May 1977, $49,000 was authorized through the Economic Development Agreement to Karpes & Pugh, for marketing the cruise line. On Thursday afternoon we were informed that the Government of Yukon gave a grant of $15,000 to the Yukon Development Corporation - to quote the Minister - to examine the potential marketing schemes that would make the boat a viable venture for potential purchasers.
In view of the fact that the Government of the Yukon paid for a $49,000 feasibility study in 1987 to market the cruise line, could the Minister responsible for the Yukon Development Corporation explain to this House why he authorized an additional $15,000 to do another study?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: One, the Minister did not authorize it, because this was not the kind of application that would normally even come to this Ministers attention. Let me explain to the Member that I am sure that the contribution that was made back in the year the Member has asked about - I am not sure it was not 1986 rather than 1987 - was to assess the marketability of their Yukon river cruises, which I am sure they demonstrated that they can sell. What has not been demonstrated is that that particular boat can effectively navigate that river on a continuing basis. The question now is, I presume, whether that boat can ply other waters in this area and whether such trips can be marketed, which is, I suspect, a separate marketing question.
Mr. Lang: In view of the fact that Panamerican has the first mortgage on the MV Anna Maria and that it naturally follows that they will get paid first out of the proceeds of any sale, did Panamerican put any money toward this study and, if not, did the government ask them to put money into this study?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Panamerican interest, as I understand it, is to sell the boat to the highest bidder. The people who have come forward to make application through YDC through the business development fund for marketing studies are not connected, strictly speaking, with Panamerican. They are assessing the viability of the boat to perform other kinds of tourism activities and assessing the marketing potential, as the Premier noted, of something other than a river run between Whitehorse and Dawson. They are not in any way, to my knowledge, connected to Panamerican, whose interest is collecting the outstanding loan.
Mr. Lang: I did not understand that. Perhaps the Minister could answer my question. Was Panamerican approached to put money toward this study, in view of the fact that they are going to get first crack at any money put forward on the boat?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: To my knowledge, no. The Department of Economic Development, which is responsible for the YTGs loan funding capability and Panamerican, who is the other creditor, have not directly contacted or been in touch with persons for the purposes of providing funding to do marketing. What the Department of Economic Development has done has been to respond to a request for funding from the Yukon Development Corporation to provide for funding for the purposes of marketing.
Question re: MV Anna Maria
Mr. Lang: To clarify this for the record, I was under the impression that Panamerican was actively trying to sell the boat and auction it off. So I would assume that they are also responsible, at least in part if not in total, for marketing the sale of the boat. Is that not correct?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: That is not necessarily true. They are not legally bound to ensure that any costs associated with marketing ventures by prospective proponents are paid for by them. Clearly, it is desirable for someone to purchase the boat; clearly, it is a good concept to provide boat tours, and if the technical details can be resolved then they would be a real boost to the territorial tourism economy. I think most people still believe that to be the case, and it is still a worthwhile venture to support if the right marketing plan and the right business plan can be adopted.
Question re: MV Anna Maria
Mr. Phelps: Did Yukon Development Corporation apply for and receive this money because Yukon Development Corporation intends to buy the boat and run it?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I have already answered that question. The Yukon Development Corporation had discussions with investors who were raising the possibility of the Development Corporation having a business relationship with them. Yukon Development Corporation did what it prudently should do, which was to look at the business plan that was proposed and the options described by my colleague, the Minister of Economic Development. Having applied for and received the money, it did those studies, reached its own conclusions and decided it would not proceed to make any investment in that project.
Mr. Phelps: I assume the other party was not T.F. Properties Limited. The operation was not going to be operated out of Watson Lake?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: T.F. Properties, to my knowledge, does not have any interest in the waterways of the Yukon or in the tourism or cruiseship business, but should I become aware of any interest later, I will of course update that information for the House.
Question re: MV Anna Maria
Mr. Lang: Would the Minister responsible for the Yukon Development Corporation table the feasibility study in question; also, could he undertake to bring forward all the various feasibility and marketing studies that have been done on this project since its inception, so that we can have an idea of what has been done with regard to this ill-fated venture?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The Member knows, because this question has been asked at least half a dozen times before, I think. To my knowledge, when the Department of Economic Development finances feasibility studies and the project goes ahead, the feasibility studies remain the property of the proponent for a certain period of time. In this case, the project did not go ahead and so, in fact, as the Minister has already said, they are now public documents, and we would have no objection to tabling them in the House.
Question re: Na Dli Youth Centre
Mr. Nordling: I have a question for the Minister of Health and Human Resources with respect to the young offenders facility. Since February 3, when the RCMP were called in to remove two young offenders from Na Dli, problems have continued at the facility. I understand that further vandalism and damage has been done. Can the Minister give us an update on the damage and the costs of that damage, since February 3?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: No, but it is correct that there have been one or two individuals at the facility continuing to act up. As I have indicated before in the House, we can expect that to continue to happen. I have not been provided with any report yet on the costs associated with the damages, but I will take notice of that question now.
Mr. Nordling: Can the Minister tell us if the RCMP have been required to attend at the facility since February 3?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: They have been, according to the procedures I described in the House, and no doubt they will be again.
Mr. Nordling: We know the Minister does not want to review the programming, but I would like to know if there is an end in sight. How long will this level of vandalism and violence carry on, with the taxpayer footing the bill, before the Minister looks at the programming?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: No matter how good the programming or the facility, I hope the Member understands that, as long as the facility exists, there will be young people in that facility who are sufficiently troubled, angry or violent enough to act up, cause problems and attempt to do damage. As there are such people in society, so also will there be people like that in this facility.
As I have said before, we will be continuing to try to improve the program and the facility, in terms of both its security and its rehabilitative function.
Question re: Na Dli Youth Centre
Mr. Nordling: Is the Minister telling this House that the level of damage, vandalism and violence that is taking place at the facility, and has been since it opened, is normal and acceptable in his estimation?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: As I have just indicated, consistent with my previous answer, we hope that level will reduce over time. In answer to his other question, as to whether we are ever going to completely eliminate violent acts and acts of vandalism in such a facility, I think we should have no reasonable hope they will ever be completely eradicated, because they are not eradicated in any other such facility anywhere else.
Mr. Nordling: I do not expect all vandalism and acts of violence to be eliminated. I do not think anyone does.
Is it true that new furniture is being ordered for the facility the kids up there cannot lift up, throw around and damage?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Specifically, I cannot document any furniture orders on the floor of this House. Given the Members interest, I will take notice of the question and report back about exactly what furniture has been ordered.
Question re: Mammography unit
Mrs. Firth: The Yukon Advisory Council on Womens Issues met this weekend. They have been in touch with the Minister of Health and Human Resources office requesting a letter in response to their outstanding request with respect to the status of a mammography machine for the Yukon women.
The letter from the Minister was without commitment for money and without a commitment as to a time the machine would be put in place. We still have a chance to get the unit this year. The government has to bring in a final supplementary budget request for additional money. Will the supplementary budget include money for a mammography unit for Yukon women?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The Member is correct in most of her preamble, but if a budget comes before this House, we do not announce it in advance.
Mrs. Firth: The Minister of Education did. When we asked him questions about additional funding for Yukon College, he stood up in the House and said it would be in the supplementaries.
The Minister said if - the big if - they were going to give the money, it would be in the supplementaries. The Minister of Health and Human Resources can tell us if it is going to be in the supplementaries. Yukon women want to know and the advisory council wants to know: is the money going to be in the supplementaries?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The House will know what is in the supplementaries when they are tabled in this House. I have previously said, and it continues to be our position, that when I receive the firm proposals from the department and have an ability to make a decision within the financial resources available to us, that decision will be made. We remain committed to providing that service in the Yukon, and we are going to do it. When I am in a position to make an announcement in this House, I will do so.
Mrs. Firth: Maybe the Minister just cannot make a decision. As far as my information is concerned, all the work, including the discussions with visiting radiologists, has been done. The machine was to go to the Whitehorse General Hospital. The advisory council announced in its annual report that the government had committed funds to the purchase of the unit. So, all the work is done. The final decision rests with the Minister. When can we expect the money? Will it be in the supplementaries, so that women know?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: It is another way of asking the same question again but let me assure her that all the work has not been done, and this Minister will be making a decision expeditiously, as this Minister has always done.
Question re: Yukon Pacific Forest Products
Mr. Devries: I have a question for the Minister who always makes decisions, responsible for YDC. This past weekend, during my stay in Watson Lake, I noticed the degree of uncertainty surrounding the present status of the sawmill. Does the Minister know if the $1 million financing required to keep the sawmill in operation has been arranged by the receiver/manager?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: No, and the Member has to understand that the receiver/manager is not accountable to me and does not report to me. The receiver/manager is an agent of the court.
Mr. Devries: My understanding is that the receiver/manager is having problems acquiring the books from T.F. Properties and is having problems arranging the financing, as there are questions of whether the value of the assets are adequate to cover the $1 million needed. In view of this situation, I ask the Minister if YDC would be prepared to guarantee this loan?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: This is a wonderful turn of events. First, the Member puts into a preamble some information that I have no way of knowing has any foundation in fact whatsoever. Second, he is begging us to do something that every other Member in his party has been begging us not to do, which is to put more money into the facility. It is very interesting but I cannot comment on that possibility; it is purely speculative.
Mr. Devries: Well the Minister can say what he likes about what I said but I will take that as a definitive no.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The Member can of course take it how he wants but it was neither a definitive no or yes; I said the question was hypothetical.
Question re: Licence plates
Mr. Brewster: My question is to the Minister of Community and Transportation Services. Could the Minister advise the House how many licence plate designs were submitted to the government for its approval?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The question has enough of an absence of detail to make it difficult for me to respond. If the Member is talking about the number of licence plate designs that have been reviewed by me since the exercise began last spring and summer, that would be impossible to say. If the Member is referring to the number of licence plate designs that were submitted during the period of the questionnaires and petitions, I would have to take notice on that as well because there were quite a number - no question, a number of people submitted suggestions and ideas for inclusion in the design. I cannot put a number to them, but there were at least a dozen or more during the period of questionnaires and petitions, that is, the period during December and January.
Mr. Brewster: We could still play around with words for license plates. Can the Minister advise the House how many license plate designs were done by the administration and given to the government for approval?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Again, I do not know precisely the number. Quite a number of designs were submitted by my department. A number of those designs were suggestions that I made. A number of them came voluntarily from the department. I do not know what the specific number is. There were, however, quite a number of designs submitted to me by the department.
Mr. Brewster: I will try to make this easy for him. Could the Minister please table all the designs done by the him and the administration in the Legislature?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I suppose I could, but it would take some work for which I would question the value. I would have to go back to the number of designs that were submitted since last spring. I am not even sure if many of those designs were kept. It could be a difficult exercise, but I will consider it. I always consider the Members requests important because I do respect his judgment. I have esteemed and reverent respect for the gentleman.
Mr. Brewster: All I want is a yes or a no. I really find it fantastic that the government does not have a record of the licence plates designed by his administration.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member is making a false assumption that there is no record. I am simply saying that the record may be difficult to produce, because now that a decision has been recommended for the final version of a design, there is little reason to keep the previous designs.
The Member is inaccurate to suggest that there is no record. Respectfully, I will undertake to see what I can do about his request.
Question re: Hamlet status for rural areas
Mr. Phelps: I have some follow-up questions for the Minister responsible for Community and Transportation Services regarding hamlet status in the Yukon.
On February 13, he answered a question of mine about hamlet status in Hootalinqua North. He said, I would just flag for the Member that it is a little more complex in the Hootalinqua North area given that we are attempting to conclude a planning exercise in that area as well, and it may be necessary to combine the two efforts, referring to the planning exercise and achieving hamlet status.
What did the Minister mean by combining those two exercises, planning in Hootalinqua North and the hamlet status development?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: We are concluding a Hootalinqua North planning exercising that was begun approximately three years ago. It resulted in a planning document that was tabled by the steering committee. That committee produced the plan, and it has received considerable public discussion since that time. The Member participated in public meetings that I held on that very subject.
Hamlet status would require a steering group. It would require a planning group. It would require some considerable time being spent by the people from the area with the department to prepare for a charter that would spell out the terms, conditions and required references for a hamlet status.
It may not be wise given that we are in a planning exercise for the area.
This was to combine a proposal I put forward to conclude the planning with a structure for hamlet status. I believe the Member is aware that the proposal I raised with him in private discussions, as I have raised with members of the community in Hootalinqua North, was to strike further planning committees for the area. Those planning committees may very well ideally streamline with a hamlet status planning exercise.
Mr. Phelps: The difficulty that residents will have is that they see hamlet status as a separate issue, with the evolution of a form of responsible local government - one person, one vote, and so on - being somewhat different in range, scope and intent than the land use planning for the area.
I ask if the Minister would consider the two exercises as entirely different matters and proceed accordingly, since there is the demand that will be emanating from these two areas of Hootalinqua North?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I appreciate the point the Member makes, and that is what I flagged with him last month. We have a land use planning exercise that is being concluded. We have indications that hamlet status is desired by some areas of Hootalinqua North. We have a structure that will eventually devolve into hamlet status, which happens to coincide with a structure I have proposed for concluding the land use planning.
The Member suggests they are clearly separate. At this point, I am taking advice on the subject. The Member can appreciate that if we proceed with concluding the land use planning exercise with a particular committee structure and, at the same time, a hamlet status steering group structure develops, there may be not only an appearance, but an actuality, of duplicating efforts. That is what I am reviewing and I am trying to determine what is the best approach to take. I appreciate the Members suggestion that his position is that they must be separate, and I will take that into consideration.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now lapsed. We will now proceed with Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Bill No. 20: Second Reading
Clerk: Second reading, Bill No. 20, standing in the name of the hon. Mr. Penikett.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I move that Bill No. 20, entitled Mental Health Act, be now read a second time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Health and Human Resources that Bill No. 20, entitled Mental Health Act, be now read a second time.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: A quality health care system is one that meets the needs of all of its patients. Governments have the responsibility, with all their means, to ensure that quality health care in Canada is available to all, particularly to those who require special needs and care.
This is one of the basic beliefs of our government and one of the principles that forms the basis of our health care vision for the 1990s, a vision we hope we will continue to service into the next century.
Part of the vision for the 1990s has already been revealed in other programs and legislation announced in this session. The Hospital Act, the strategy on prevention of family violence, our announcement of some additional counselling and suicide prevention services, and the territory-wide consultation process to establish the framework for Yukons first health act: are all essential elements for improving the quality of life and health care for all Yukoners in the decade ahead.
Today, I am asking the House to consider at second reading the principles of another component of our health care strategy, the new Mental Health Act. This is an important piece of legislation, as it provides for psychiatric patients to receive the best medical care and the best legal protection possible through our health system. Mental health patients, through no fault of their own, are often the most vulnerable of those needing care. I am sure we have all heard horror stories, apocryphal or first hand, of those who have suffered - patients who have fallen through the cracks.
This act provides a legal framework that will guarantee mental health patients the care and the protection they require at the time when their need is greatest.
The legislation strives to provide a fair and proper balance, one that safeguards the rights and meets the needs of psychiatric patients, their families, their care givers and their communities.
The bill before the House establishes guidelines to assist all parties involved in the assessment, care and treatment of patients. It clearly sets out the rights of patients, rights that will ensure that patients will at all times be treated with the dignity, respect and confidentiality, which they deserve.
The act also defines the duties and responsibilities of doctors, nurses and hospitals, as well as those of the police and the judicial system during the occasions when their involvement is necessary.
I believe that everyone in this House today will agree that it is time for a new mental health act. Much of the substance of our present legislation predates the Yukon becoming a territory. For the first 50 years of the century, there was essentially little change made to the ordinances dealing with insanity. Significant amendments were brought forward in the mid-1950s and again in the mid-1970s.
I want to take this opportunity to state, however, that truly important amendments - amendments that took the first steps towards recognizing the rights of patients - were effected in 1984 under the ministry of the late Andrew Philipsen. This new act builds on the foundation laid in 1984.
In working towards a new mental health act, extensive consultation was carried out with groups and individuals who would be affected by the legislation. We sought the opinions of, among others, the Law Society of Yukon, the Council for Yukon Indians, the RCMP, the Mental Health Review Board, Whitehorse General Hospital, the Yukon Medical Associations, Doctor Herbert Cohen, the resident psychiatrist, and various departments of the federal and territorial governments.
While different perspectives were, of course, put forward by those consulted, what was striking was the very high level of concern over the rights of mental health patients and the view that, as we are able to successfully treat more illnesses, we should try to keep people in their own communities and, where possible, in their own homes.
We do not expect people to greet this legislation with joy, for mental illness is an unhappy part of life - sometimes a tragedy for families. Perspectives on how best to deal with it, how best to treat and care for the mentally ill, are not uniform. There are provisions in this legislation for involuntary psychiatric assessments and admissions to hospital. These are not matters with which people feel comfortable, but sometimes, when we are dealing with people who are desperately unwell, so ill that they are a danger to themselves or others, whether actively or through neglect, society has to take action.
What we have to ensure is that any action taken is only taken after all criteria are met, after all rights of the patient have been observed and after other possible options have been canvassed.
I would like to point out some of the key features of this new legislation to serve these ends. This act ensures that no person can be defined as mentally ill merely because of conduct or beliefs that are unusual or contentious, be they in the area of religion, culture, politics, sexual behaviour or preference or because of the use of drugs or alcohol; nor can they be detained under the act because of degenerative or untreatable conditions such as Alzheimers disease or any type of developmental disorder, traumatic brain injury or mental retardation.
This act also makes provision for individuals to be admitted for treatment voluntarily. The conditions under which a person can be apprehended and detained against their wishes have been much more clearly defined and the process that must be followed in such a situation, complete with time lines, has been set out. The situation of small, rural communities has also been taken into consideration.
The role of the Mental Health Review Board has been substantially changed and for most purposes, the process of detention and review of an involuntary patient has become administrative rather than legal. This means that the process moves from an adversarial, juridical form, to a less formal review board. The review board will be comprised of experienced health and legal representatives, as well as members of the general community. We believe that its makeup will ensure that the goals and the intent of the Mental Health Act are maintained and that in each individual case a proper balance is struck between the rights and needs of patients families, providers of care and the community at large.
One important change in the new act is that there is now a limitation put on the lengths of involuntary detentions, which must be reviewed by the board every 21 days. If the attending physicians are of the opinion that the detention should be renewed, it is their duty to present evidence of this to the board, meeting all the original criteria for detention. This change does away with the possibility that a person might be made the subject of an involuntary committal and then forgotten about.
Under this new legislation, patients will not automatically lose all rights once they have been involuntarily committed. Patients have the right to have treatment plans transferred to facilities outside of the jurisdictions and other aspects of their detention reviewed by the board. We believe that mental illness does not necessarily mean a lack of any capacity or power to reason and that the rights of involuntary patients must be observed and their desires effected, where possible.
We have also, through this legislation, made a commitment to increase, where possible, the mental health services offered at the community level. Subject to cost and the availability of qualified staff, we will, whenever possible, keep Yukoners in the Yukon, in their own communities and in their own homes. To this end, we are examining the need for extended community services for people covered by this act.
The act also safeguards the estate of a person who has been found to be mentally ill. These are just a few of the new provisions contained in the Mental Health Act. I look forward to the comments of the Members of the Legislature on this progressive piece of legislation and I recommend it for your consideration.
Mr. Nordling: We, on this side, support the introduction of a new Mental Health Act. We have been asking questions about a new mental health act for many years. There was considerable discussion about a new act two years ago, and I know there was input from mental health professionals at that time, and a commitment from this government that a new act would be introduced at the next session. I do not know what the hold up has been for the last two years. Perhaps it will come to light when we debate the bill in detail in Committee of the Whole.
This new act is very comprehensive, and we will see what comes to light as we debate it clause-by-clause. During that debate we will be seeking explanations of certain clauses. The thing that does stand out very clearly with the approach taken in this new act is that the effectiveness, the success or failure, will depend almost entirely upon the individuals that the government appoints to sit on the Mental Health Review Board.
So when appointing that board, I hope the government of the day will keep this in mind.
Motion for second reading of Bill No. 20 agreed to
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Government House Leader 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 Committee of the Whole to order and will declare a brief break.
Chair: I will now call Committee to order.
Bill No. 19 - First Appropriation Act, 1190-91 - continued
Economic Development: Mines and Small Business - continued
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I have asked the department to provide a handout on the business development fund projects by type with a notation as to what the project is about, as Members have requested.
Mr. Phillips: Several months ago I raised this issue. I would like to raise it again today to see if we have made progress. I talked to the Minister about developing a made-in-Yukon catalogue. Alaska has been very successful with the catalogue of Alaskan products they have produced. They are circulated now all over Alaska and in some of the lower 48 for people who wish to obtain such things as native products and various other products that are unique to Alaska. It has proven quite successful. It is almost a mail order catalogue that can be purchased by tourists during the summer months for ordering later. Has the Government of the Yukon gone any further with this? The last time I raised the issue there, was talk of examining it to see if it was worthwhile. Can the Minister report to us on that?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: We have nothing specific to the Yukon catalogue at this stage of the discussions. We have taken consideration of that project and of others in the context of the trade and investment strategy, which we are developing in concert with the Yukon Chamber of Commerce.
We supplied some resources to support the Made in Yukon campaign. That is the first step in establishing an awareness of those things that are made in the Yukon. It also encourages people in shops to note when a product has been locally manufactured.
The next step was to work together on a strategy with the Yukon Chamber of Commerce, which would make or break the project. It is unwise to try to do these things independently of the private sector. We have been engaged in discussions with the Yukon Chamber of Commerce and interested individuals.
We had the seminar in late January to discuss the trade and investment strategy. That strategy will help us to determine the best way to market goods, who would participate and in what way. It would also help us to know how best to attract investment into the Yukon. It is a two-pronged approach.
The subject of marketing Yukon products has been raised, and we are working on a strategy that will ultimately be done in concert with the private sector. Consequently, it will have a good chance of success.
Mr. Phillips: We are not setting up a Yukon catalogue like the Alaskans have. I am attempting to get a copy of that catalogue and, when I do, I will make it available to the Minister. From what I understand, they are hard to get, even in Alaska. There is quite a demand for them.
I have another question about our liaison with our Alaskan neighbours. This last weekend, several members of the Alaskan Chamber of Commerce were in Whitehorse. I met with them at a function on Friday night, and saw some of them on Saturday. What involvement did the Department of Economic Development have with that exchange? I know it is put on and hosted by the local Chamber of Commerce. I do not recall seeing anyone from the Department of Economic Development at the functions I attended. Were they helping or involved in any way with that conference?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Department of Economic Development has been accused of not being very visible at times, but in this particular case, they were involved. As the Member knows, it was not an exchange that was sponsored by the Yukon Department of Economic Development, but it was one the department was very interested in and, consequently, nobody less than the deputy minister partook of some of the functions associated with this exchange. I indicated I was planning to go last week, but I could not make it. The Department of Economic Development has taken the situation in hand and provided thorough contact with them during this mission to the Yukon.
Mr. Phillips: I apologize if I did not see the deputy minister at the conference. When I was there earlier in the evening, I did not see anyone from the Department of Economic Development.
This was more of a fun in the sun trip. It was not exactly a hard-working conference. I know some of the members from Alaska worked hard at some things, but it was not economic development. They had a great time while they were here and partook in the Rendezvous.
In the future, if we are thinking of planning other activities for them, could we make them more aware of opportunities that are here in the Yukon? Just in my conversations Friday night with some of the directors of the native corporations from Alaska, they were interested in things that were happening in the Yukon with the Yukon Indian Development Corporation. I made some suggestions about meeting with some of those people. I think they will in the near future talk about some joint ventures and ideas they may both have.
There is an opportunity there to look at some kind of joint venture that would bring some economic activity to the Yukon in the future. I am suggesting that the department has them here, they come on their own hook, it does not cost us anything to get them here other than the few functions we put on for them, and it would be a great opportunity to make them more aware of economic opportunities in the territory while they are here.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: As you know, the Yukon Chamber of Commerce was the sponsoring organization this time around and the Department of Economic Development was interested. I could probably forgive the Member for missing other members of the Department of Economic Development at the occasion on Friday night, but the Deputy Minister of Economic Development has rather a unique face and visage, and it is somewhat surprising to me that he would miss that gentleman.
The department, of course, helps to encourage interaction between the private sectors of Alaska and the Yukon and, as I indicated last week, does provide support through the sponsorship of attendance at trade shows. That is something we have done this year and will continue to do in earnest next year as well, because they have proven to be fairly good opportunities for Yukon businesses to display their wares outside the territory, yet in a jurisdiction where there is a reasonable chance of doing business.
We have not to this point - and it would probably be too early yet - done an analysis of the actual effect of those trade shows to determine whether or not business opportunities have taken place as a result of that exposure in Alaska. The department and the government have taken an interest in Alaskan economic development. I believe the Alaska native corporations will be here tonight, and representatives from the Department of Economic Development and the Premier will be visiting with them. So, certainly, the potential for an increased relationship between Alaska and the Yukon is something that we have been trying to pursue and will continue to pursue and feel that it has as much benefit or potential benefit as our relationship with the southern provinces - and, I would submit, an even greater benefit.
Having the Alaskan Chamber of Commerce come to Yukon in the middle of winter to enjoy our weather is something I had not automatically thought of as a business opportunity but, given the weather this weekend, it does not surprise me that they came.
Mr. Phillips: I am pleased to see we are taking the opportunity to meet with some of the native corporations. I know that some were planning to stay over when I talked with them on Friday, and we were encouraging one or two others to stay as well. There are three or five currently in the territory. I am pleased to see we are taking that opportunity.
I should mention for the Minister that some of the trade missions carried out between the Government of the Yukon and Alaska have been successful. I talked to one of the individuals from a company called Northerm who has literally opened up a window of opportunity in Alaska - several windows of opportunity, in fact. It has worked out very well for them. That is a good sign.
They are our closest neighbours and our closest market so there are opportunities there we should explore. I understand from talking to many of them that the Anchorage economy is starting to pick up. Unfortunately, it is partly because of the Valdez oil spill, but over and above that, it is starting to rebound, and there will be more opportunities in the future in that area.
I see another Member wishes to speak so I will allow him that opportunity.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I just want to mention for the record that the Alaska Chamber of Commerce loved our weather so much they actually stayed over another day because they were not able to fly to Juneau yesterday. Therefore, they did extend their stay. When I met with them last night they seemed quite happy to be doing so.
Mr. Phillips: I understand on the weekend that the Government Leader, who loves our American neighbours dearly, was over in Anchorage celebrating the fur rendezvous. I am not sure whether he rode down the street in the parade or not, or how much money we spent on the Yukon float, but that would be interesting to know.
I will move into another area and that is the new business development fund that we have talked about a little bit. Has the fund done what the Minister said it would do, and that is to streamline the process. It has been in effect for a year now. Have loans been more rapidly processed? Have we filled up some of the cracks that businesses were falling through in the past when they were unable to access any other funds? Has the new fund changed that? What kind of a success ratio have we received as a result of the new business development fund?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I have been around the territory quite a bit since we last spoke about the concept of amalgamating all business loans programs into one fund. The concept has proven to be quite well accepted by people around the territory. The thing that really provides for the benefit is the single application, the single set of guidelines and the single review process that is inherent in the business development fund.
It is impossible at this point to state conclusively what the actual impact has been until we have done a post year one evaluation. However, I will venture to say that the impact has been very positive in the territory. When I first became Minister, there were some complaints by several businesses that the processing time for applications was too long. There were also some concerns that the bureaucracy around the application process was too rigid.
There were also complaints that people did not get funding when they requested it. Some of those complaints are still floating around because not everyone who applies receives funding. The process has been streamlined. The public reaction, as a result, has been positive. I have not been able to actually quantify the reaction, but it appears to be positive.
There have been very few complaints about the administration aspect of business loan funding, but more complaints about whether or not people receive the loan in the end. There are also times when people do not know how to put together a business plan and find it difficult to make application for this or any loan. When they come forward, they are encouraged to put the right information into their applications. This sometimes requires time that they did not anticipate. Consequently, the time it takes to process the application is extended.
We cannot avoid that, if people without experience are looking for funds; we simply cannot have incomplete applications. We have to be assured that the people who are making application have their business plan at hand. The fund concept has been positively received. I have not had the same number of complaints about the processing time. That is a positive element about this new fund.
Mr. Phillips: I have to tell the Minister that I have had a lot fewer complaints about the fund this year than I did in the past several years. That may be a good sign that the fund is more accommodating.
I do have some concern about the direction in which the fund is going. I am concerned, for example, about the working capital funding that we seem to be getting into. One of them is to a Doug Twiss and the other is to the Tagish Kwan Corporation. That is a very high risk if we are looking at deficit financing, like we were in the Tagish Kwan situation. There is some assurance that these funds will be protected, and that we will be able to recover them somewhere down the road.
Does the Minister have any comments about the direction that the government seems to be taking in this line of non-interest bearing loans that it is giving out?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Many of the projects we do provide funding for are a greater risk than one would expect the bank to approve, largely because we are the funding agency of last resort. People go to FBDB and the bank before they come to the Yukon government. If we are looking for a risk-free operation, then we are looking for a banking operation. The banks already exist to provide that funding.
There is some risk associated with many of the things we do provide loan funding for. I do not dispute that, and I do not mean to change that situation, either. Unless it is something that is very small, each proposal that comes forward has to have a reasonable business plan in place and a reasonable opportunity for repaying the loan, unless the project is very, very small. The officials in the Department of Economic Development are charged with the responsibility of assessing whether or not the risk is reasonable on either of those two counts. Nevertheless, they do not have to assess whether or not a project has no risk, but they do have to assess whether or not the risk is reasonable.
With respect to working capital, the principles still apply. The example cited by the Member of the Tagish Kwan Corporation for the project we mentioned last week is not a high risk situation at all, in my view. My understanding is the bank, which is also supporting the project, increased its loan funding at the same time we provided the bridge financing for the duration of the project.
I am also told the building inspectors are on the site every few days to ensure the project is going ahead. If the project is completed as anticipated, the funding will definitely be repaid. That is a lesser risk than many of the ventures we go into. In terms of general principle, the word reasonable is an operative word. A reasonable risk is determined by officials in the department, but it is based on whether or not the people have a business plan and whether or not they can repay. Those things are taken into account in assessing all loan applications.
Mr. Phillips: I want to state on the record that we are concerned that any kind of debt financing is a little different from what most of us had anticipated this fund being used for in the first place. Initially, we thought it was to expand businesses, to look at new economic opportunities and to create more jobs. When you start looking at bailing out or assisting individuals or groups who are in financial trouble, it becomes a different matter. It is a matter of possibly preserving some jobs rather than creating them. Initially, the intent of the whole program was to create more economic opportunities, not to try to salvage the ones that were badly floundering. That is a concern.
When we get into these types of high-risk or debt financing situations, do we have qualified people who have a good understanding of the market out there? When the banks loan extra money, like the bank did in this particular case, their people are highly trained in these types of financial matters. Do we have the same type of expertise when we move into debt financing? We have people there who are up on new projects and can suggest ideas in that way, but is it part of the job description to be just as versed in giving advice on debt financing, whether it is a good or bad deal for the Yukon, or do we seek outside opinions when we get into this type of situation.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I think the Member is right if he is saying that the business development fund is not primarily responsible for what he calls debt financing but will loan bridge funding if a particular project is in difficulty. That does not mean it cannot happen. The Member hit on one reason why it has in the past, and that is in order to preserve jobs rather than to allow things to slide or trouble to occur, the economic consequences of which are troublesome. The fund is there to provide for a healthy economy and government financial assistance can be put to the task of producing a healthy economy, according to certain guidelines.
When the risk is too high, no matter what the project is - whether it is a new project or expansion of a business or whether it is bridge funding - we do not participate. If the risk is reasonable, then we do, as we have in the past. As I said, in the particular case that the Member has cited, I do not believe it is a good case to cite because I believe it is as close to a blue chip loan as we can find, given who is on the payment end when the project is finished.
With respect to the qualifications of people in our department, I think the people in the department are quite competent and capable of assessing business plans. Many of them are ex-business people themselves - some are ex bankers - but it would be foolhardy to say they have a perfect expertise in many of the areas that come across their desks. Many proposals that come across their desks are technical in nature and require special analysis. In those cases, the special analysis is done, or the department encourages the proponent to do the analysis, so that it can be read and understood by the business development officers, and ultimately by the business development advisory board, which will ultimately be making the recommendations to the Minister.
Generally, I would say the qualifications for assessing primarily small business activities is very good, but when they need to marshall expertise in particular areas they do so one way or another.
Mr. Phillips: Before we move off general debate, I would like to talk about a couple of other small areas. One is the Yukon governments involvement in the Skagway dock. Could the Minister update us on any activities there?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Only very generally, at this point. The government has expressed an interest - and I used to expressed an interest regularly in the House when I was Minister of Community and Transportation Services - with respect to the desirability of a competitive port facility in Skagway. That was, and still is, an integral part of a transportation system that will serve Yukoners well, well into the future. When we constructed the road, I remember announcing that it was desirable that the high seas be competitive and that affected our decision with respect to the request by Alaska Marine Lines to haul goods - that the port be a competitive environment and that the road be a competitive environment. Of course, on the discussion about whether or not the road would be open 24 hours a day in the wintertime to Curragh only, we rejected that proposal because it did not match our desire to have a competitive transportation route between Whitehorse and Skagway. When Alaska Marine Lines came forward and asked to haul goods between Seattle and Vancouver and Skagway to Whitehorse, we indicated support to the federal minister to provide for an exemption to allow for competition on the seas.
When it came to the Skagway port itself, we indicated to the state the desirability of a public port or a port that provided for competition. As a general proposition, we have been consistent from day one, when we were negotiating with the State of Alaska for the opening of the Skagway Road, and we still believe that competition on that route is a desirable goal. Consequently, we have been making those representations to the state.
Mr. Phillips: I want to thank the Minister for his history of the Skagway dock, but my question asked if there are any developments currently taking place. Has the Minister, or any government corporation, met with Alaskan officials recently to discuss plans for another dock in Skagway?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I can only speak for economic development. The Department of Economic Development has participated internally with the Yukon Development Corporation and Community and Transportation Services to assess the situation of a port development in Skagway. Economic Development itself has not made contact with the state, to my knowledge. I believe that the Department of Community and Transportation Services and the Department of Transport have been in contact, and I believe that the Yukon Development Corporation has had some contact, although I have not checked that.
The Department of Economic Development has been participating internally, assessing the situation with other agencies and departments of government to determine our position as things transpire in the state and in Skagway.
Mr. Phillips: I am not quite clear what the Minister said. Is he saying other departments are meeting with Alaskan officials, such as the Yukon Development Corporation? The Minister is responsible for the Department of Economic Development, and I want to know how well it is coordinating with other departments so we do not have three or four different departments meeting with Alaskan officials. Do we have a joint committee with the Department of Community and Transportation Services, the Department of Economic Development and possibly the Yukon Development Corporation, or any other department that is looking at that possibility and discussing the proposed Skagway dock? If we do not, it might be a bit confusing to Alaskan officials if three different departments are meeting with them on an ongoing basis, and all are talking about the same thing and maybe not having their stories alike.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am pretty certain the stories are all the same, no matter who is speaking for this government or no matter who they are talking to in the State of Alaska.
The Department of Economic Development is not the lead. It does participate on work that is being undertaken to analyze the situation with respect to port facilities. It is not the lead agent; it participates in working sessions. The lead agency would be the Yukon Development Corporation that has been discussing the situation with the state. I do remember, and this goes back a little bit, as Minister of Community and Transportation Services I did have discussions with the state myself respecting the port facilities, and ultimately about the marine haul route from Skagway to Vancouver or Seattle.
We discussed the situation and indicated what our policy was on port facilities and the reasons for that position. The state officials appeared to be quite sympathetic to that view. They said that they had not worked on it to that point, but they would be doing work after that.
I have not been personally involved in the situation since then. Officials from the Department of Economic Development have been involved in inter-departmental working groups.
Mr. Phillips: I was just expressing the concern that we should have a one-window approach as much as possible when we deal with this. That would be in our best interests. That was the point I was trying to make. The Minister was explaining that there were several departments looking into it.
Maybe I can suggest that if the government is going to pursue the Skagway dock, they should establish a working committee of the three or more departments that are involved. The Minister told us that they are talking to officials. Maybe it could be dealt with in this manner. It would be a one-window approach rather than a shotgun approach that may be taking place now.
A study was done by Prologic Inc. that deals with the Dempster Highway pipeline. Could the Minister table that study if he has a copy of it? Ten facts sheets on business topics were prepared by Kim Tanner. Are those facts sheets available to look at? I do not recall getting copies of those, and I would like to see what work has been done on that.
If no one else has any further questions on general debate, I am pretty well finished and I am prepared to move into line by line.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I can assure the Member that coordination has been done on the Skagway port. The governments position on competitive port facilities has been the need to provide clear and coherent information to the state. That has been the route all along. Yet, there are still responsibilities between the Department of Community and Transportation Services and the Department of Transportation in Alaska. I do not think that would be unexpected.
We have undertaken to get some more detailed information on the costing of pipelines for the inevitable pipeline inquiry. That will probably first take place in the Mackenzie Delta. Our expertise on pipeline costings is negligible; consequently, we require that information.
Since the contract was just recently cut, it would be premature to try and make a report public. I will, however, take the question as notice, and the Member will, I am sure, get back to us next fall.
The pipeline is inevitable, but I am not absolutely convinced that that will be the case given what has recently happened in correspondence between Jake Epp and the National Energy Board. It appears that Mr. Epp is concerned about some of the rationale for the impending National Energy Board decision.
The National Energy Board decision is pending because it has been asked to delay its report by the Council of Canadians, who made the argument that, under the free trade agreement, our gas reserves for the future would be jeopardized by the sale of Prudhoe Bay gas at premium prices to the east. As I explained last week, since then Mr. Epp has requested the National Energy Board provide a full explanation of their pending decision with respect to the environmental consequences of the export of natural gas, and that will ultimately delay and maybe cause further hearings on the export of natural gas from the Mackenzie Delta.
As these issues rise and fall in importance and urgency over time, this is one of those situations where we can expect some delay in that matter.
What did the Member want with respect to Kim Tanner?
Some Member: (inaudible)
Hon. Mr. McDonald: In terms of making them public, absolutely. They are there for the use of businesses and people who are interested in business development. I do not see any problem with making those public when they are ready. I do not know if they are ready at this point.
Mr. Phillips: In conclusion, and in the spirit of utmost cooperation, which we have always exhibited with the Minister across the floor, we would be more than prepared not to demand the Prologic Inc. report on the Dempster Highway pipeline until it is done. That would be a reasonable position to take from our side, and that is the position we will be taking.
Mr. Lang: Under the repayable interest-bearing portion of the Economic Development Agreement, there is an area called infrastructure and an administration complex for $500,000. What is that for?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: That is the Teslin administration complex.
Mr. Lang: Are we lending them the money and then renting the building back to them?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: We are lending them some of the project funds and we are renting some space from them.
Mr. Lang: I am sure there are a lot of people who would like to come in contact with the government to get involved in these overall general policies of the government.
An item that is under information and technology is a data bank north, for just over $62,000. What is that for?
To be a little more definitive, it is Dakwakada Development Corporation.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I do not have that information in front of me but I can pull out the information shortly.
Mrs. Firth: On the current year projects, by type - the information that the Minister made available to us today - on the front page, the Development Corporation has received $25,000 for a trust company proposal. I had thought the Minister said truss - not the kind that men wear, the kind that are used in building. Could the Minister tell us now what this trust company proposal is all about and why the Development Corporation would be getting involved in that kind of a proposal?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I cannot indicate why the Development Corporation would be part of the trust company. I think we were discussing this last week and we concluded a whole line of questioning on the basis of each of us talking about different subjects altogether - it did not seem to bother either of us, though.
With respect to the study itself, I indicated last week and in the check list this morning, that I promised to provide as much information as I could but we will have to leave it up to the Minister responsible for the Development Corporation to provide further information.
The study itself will result in the following: recommendations regarding appropriate corporate and capital structures; the identification of various investment instruments; the identification of alternatives for YDC to participate as a stockholder; alternatives with respect to the selection and composition of board members of the board directors for such a trust company. That is the information. If the Member wishes to find out why the Development Corporation is engaged in this particular project, that might be information that is best requested of the Minister for the Development Corporation.
The Dakwakada Data Bank North project is a project that involves the Dakwakada Development Corporation, which is the Champagne/Aishihik Bands Development Corporation. It is the establishment of a digital mapping business under a franchise agreement with a company called the Canadian Data Bank Limited. They would use the Canadian Data Bank Limiteds new digital and scanning techniques to transfer geographical data onto a computer disk. This would have a support role for the mining industry.
Mrs. Firth: Back to the trust company proposal: is it the bands trust company? I will ask the Minister for the Development Corporation why they are doing it but is there someone in particular for whom this research is being done?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The references to bands in this particular case only came as a result of the misunderstanding between the Member and me with respect to trusses and trust. I am aware of no band involvement at all.
Mrs. Firth: Now that we have our trusses and our trusts sorted out, the last word with the ts, I would like to ask the Minister if this is going to be an ongoing project or was it a one-time trust company feasibility proposal or is there going to be further information done regarding this trust company?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The project was billed to the business development fund as a one-time assessment. What happens from here, I am not sure. A lot will depend on the recommendations of the report, but at this point it was a funding request to analyze the viability of trust companies, and it was never billed to us as even potentially necessitating ongoing financial participation on the part of the department. That is all I am aware of at this time.
On Operation and Maintenance - Administration
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The administration program, as you can see, is forecast to be $557,200. There are no capital estimates associated with this department, as you will also see on the summary page, 108. There is an increase of $17,000, which is primarily for the salaries and benefits of permanent personnel along with other general operational expenses for those personnel.
Administration in the amount of $557,000 agreed to
Operation and Maintenance in the total amount of $557,000 agreed to
On Prior Years Projects
Mr. Phillips: I suppose this could have been a question for general debate, but is this department planning anything significant at all for the 1992 celebrations; would any of these departments be including anything in their budgets for that type of program?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The department itself is not the lead agent for the 1992 tourism celebrations - the Department of Tourism is. However, the community development fund, as a funding agency, has received applications and has recently approved an application for, I believe, in the neighbourhood of a quarter of a million dollars to provide for the planning for the Project 92 Celebrations, territory wide. I believe the funding is to be provided to the Anniversaries Commission, who will disburse the funds to communities. Inasmuch as Project 92 is primarily a Department of Tourism responsibility, the department does not have any specific departmental responsibilities in that regard.
Prior Years Projects in the amount of nil agreed to
Capital in the amount of nil agreed to
On Allotments or Person Year Establishment
Allotments or Person Year Establishment agreed to
Administration in the amount of $557,000 agreed to
On Energy and Mines
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The funding required here totals $2,199,000, if one were to take the O&M and the Capital together. This year, the branch will be focusing on improving program delivery of the capital programs.
On the O&M side, it will be seeing an increased emphasis on mining policy and program development. Last year, we added a person to the branch to deal specifically with mineral policy development. Apart from that, the department has not gone through any major changes. The request for the money for O&M is fairly modest, at $4,000. The branch is an important one in terms of its role.
The branch will be focusing attention on improving the capital programs under the mining section. We have had some discussion about that as well in the House.
Mr. Phillips: Where is the Prospectors Assistance Program and the Mining Incentive Program? We are rolling that in to one, I know. What is the status of it now? The Minister said that he was meeting with the Chamber of Mines to discuss it.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It is on page 113 in the book. We have had significant discussions so far in the sense that we are coming to some conclusions on the program. We put both the Exploration Incentives Program and the Prospectors Assistance Program together and worked with the Chamber of Mines to develop new criteria for applications under the prospectors assistance program.
In doing so, we changed the length of time during which a person could apply and receive funding. The lifetime limit has changed for people receiving funding because so many people are dedicated to prospecting in the territory. We agreed that the combination of both programs will have one administrative structure. The maximal allowable is $10,000. The minimum field time requirement will be 30 days. We are eliminating the 80 day upper limit because some prospectors wish to do their work in inclement weather.
There are a number of other more minor elements to the changes that I can list if the Member wishes. The changes to the program itself will be well in place for the upcoming season.
Administration in the amount of $126,000 agreed to
On Energy Policy
Energy Policy in the amount of $75,000 agreed to
On Mining Policy
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There is not much to say. It involves two people. There is not much change from last year. The personnel costs are $123,000; other support costs are $109,000. The balance of the funds are for the study to be approved by the Yukon Placer Mining Implementation Review Committee in support of the development of the placer mining industry. The work they would like to do is A Biological, Physical and Economic Study of Placer Mining and Fisheries Resource Interactions in the Yukon. That is the title. I did not dream that up myself.
Mining Policy in the amount of $182,000 agreed to
On Woodsmoke Control
Mr. Phillips: Is this the last year of this program? I know there was a decreasing amount of money as it went on. What is the status?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: This is the last year of a five-year program. The funding was provided to the City of Whitehorse and was provided on a decreasing scale every year. The first year was $80,000. The second year was $64,000, then $48,000, then $32,000 then $16,000. The woodsmoke control officer position, as I understand it, has been vacant for awhile. They are in recruitment now to fill the position. I understand the City of Whitehorse has every intention of continuing its service in this particular area. Under the agreement, we would be required to provide 20 percent of the funding in the final year, and this is our financial commitment.
Woodsmoke Control in the amount of $16,000 agreed to
Operation and Maintenance in the amount of $399,000 agreed to
On Energy Conservation Fund (SEAL)
Mr. Phillips: The Minister gave us a report on the SEAL fund. Reading through the report there are several things the report recommends tidying up. One is when they give out the loans, and the other is in collection. Is the government taking steps to do that? They say they are developing a computer model that will allow them to be more accurate that way. Has that happened?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: We are proposing to act on that recommendation, as well as the other eight or so recommendations the SEAL evaluation proposed. At this stage, the work is still ongoing with respect to the program changes. We have not implemented those changes, to my knowledge.
There was the suggestion made to alter the program to encourage greater participation by low income people, which was of some concern to me, in particular. There was the suggestion by the evaluators of the program that no low income people were supported by this program. Strictly speaking, that is not correct. There are a few low income people who do take advantage of the program, but the fact remains that very few do.
The one rationale for that was that low income people quite often do not own their own homes and, consequently, would not be eligible for the funding. There is also the suggestion that perhaps low income people who own their own homes, whether it is a loan or not, but especially if it is a loan, cannot fund renovations to their homes. We are working on some of the suggestions for changes and are considering other alternatives for the delivery of the program to try to best meet those objectives.
At this point, we have not finalized the changes, but there are a series of them that are worth pursuing.
Mr. Phillips: Does the government have a deadline for acting on the recommendations put forth in the SEAL report? Does it accept all the recommendations the SEAL report made?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: We have not made a decision as to whether or not we will accept them all. By that, I mean that every recommendation shows up some problem area or potential problem area with a program and makes some recommendations on how changes can be made. We may not take up some of those recommendations. We have not finalized our position with respect to those matters.
There are some other recommendations, such as the use of CMHC and CYI to help market the SEAL program. There are some significant factors involved and things to consider if we were to abide by that particular recommendation. There is the suggestion that we develop better education materials, flyers or pamphlets to advertise the program so that one can target it better for lower income people. That is also a recommendation more easily acted upon.
There are some technical recommendations with respect to the management systems for the loan management and client screening. Those have yet to be finalized.
I would hope that late this spring we would be in a position where we could make the necessary changes to help target the program and make it better. We agree with the general thrust of the evaluation, that the program could be better targeted, and we will be making decisions with that in mind.
Mr. Phillips: One of the areas the Minister touched upon was the promotion and value of the program. It is a very good program but, in the last couple of years, there has been less and less said about it other than in the Legislature. Word of mouth is the main way it is being spread now, and that is being done by builders, contractors or others who are dealing with the program. Is the Minister going to act upon the recommendations in the report that say it should take a little higher profile? After all, it is going to save individuals and the Yukon itself a lot of money in the long run, because our winters are not getting any milder and the program is really designed to make it a little more affordable to live in the territory. Consequently, it helps everyone. Are there any current plans on the books to do more promotion of the program.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: That is the key question I referred to before with respect to better targeting and better promotion. The program is fully subscribed. In fact, last year it was oversubscribed, so there is no shortage of applicants for the program, whether the government makes a big deal of this program in the media or not. The issue is whether or not we are targeting those people who most need the program. I agree that better work can be done. We would also like to put on some workshops this coming year with the building community to make them more aware of what is available under the program.
The key question is whether or not we can target it to lower income people and make better use of it for those people. This program is obviously a popular one and is fully subscribed and will continue to be, but it is not known whether or not we will allow things to continue as they are without a conscious effort to target it to lower income people. In that respect with the evaluation, I think a valid point has been made and marketing efforts should be directed at lower income people who may need this kind of program more than others.
This should encourage them to provide for better energy-efficient homes, so that the people who need the program the most can take advantage of it. So that, in general terms, is what we are looking at doing. Marketing is one element of it, in terms of just the public relations campaign itself. Marketing is one element of it that has to be refined.
Mr. Phillips: If the program is fully subscribed and it is as good a program as the Minister keeps telling us, why is there an eight percent decrease in the budget this year for that program? Is that just financial restraint that the Minister is exhibiting? If this is a program that is in fact helps everybody in the territory and helps keep more dollars in the territory, what was the reason for an eight percent decrease in the budget?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: As the Member will note, the change of eight percent is from the forecast from last year to the main estimates this year and I guess the reason is that the program was over subscribed last year. It is quite often the case that when supplementary time comes around, if we are providing for a loan funding, because loan funding itself does not affect our surplus or deficit situation, we can increase loan funding in mid-year. Certainly, if there is as much takeup this year as last year, then we would certainly be tempted to do that. But as the forecast estimate shows, it was more than we had estimated it would be and we felt that that might be an abnormal year, so we did not want to over state the estimates for this year. Because it is largely funding, it certainly can be enhanced at supplementary time and have no impact on the accumulated surplus of the government.
Energy Conservation Fund (SEAL) in the amount of $550,000 agreed to
On Yukon Energy Alternatives (YEAP)
Yukon Energy Alternatives (YEAP) in the amount of $450,000 agreed to
On Internal Energy Management
Mr. Phillips: That is a 29 percent decrease. Can the Minister elaborate on that?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: As the Member knows, this program primarily provides funding for audits on government buildings. A large number of audits have been done over the last couple of years and, consequently, we felt confident we could lower this expenditure somewhat. The audits and recommendations for improvements to government buildings are provided to Government Services, which is requested to take action during the budgeting process on any upgrading of public buildings. From time to time we do special assessments, such as the indoor air quality study for public schools, which has resulted in some work being done by Education and Government Services at various schools around the territory, and the City of Whitehorse in particular, to improve the air quality in the schools. It is not simply a building-by-building energy audit. Quite often it can be a program that analyzes all public buildings.
We do feel we have enough energy audits to keep us busy in the capital program for some time and feel that a slight reduction here would not slow us down in any way in providing better energy management of our buildings.
Mr. Phillips: Do we do any energy audits on buildings we lease, or just on buildings we own?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Under this program, we do not do any energy audits on buildings other than those that we own. Things such as the air quality for buildings that we lease are done by Occupational Health and Safety. This program is only for our own facilities.
Mr. Phillips: If we move into a building, which we find out later has to be upgraded because it is costly to operate, do we incur any costs in that? Do we lease per square foot and the owner makes the improvements to ensure that the building is energy-efficient? I am concerned about the possibility of us leasing a building, moving into it, then doing all kind of renovations where we incur the costs. If that is the case, could it be done upfront? Could we not determine upfront if the building is energy-efficient and it be the responsibility of the owner of the building rather than the government?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The program does not cause any audits to be done in any buildings other than in the ones we own. The O&M costs associated with the buildings we may rent would be a negotiated item with the owner of the building before the agreement is signed. That is my understanding, but we could confirm that with the Minister of Government Services. The Department of Government Services would have to satisfy itself that the energy efficiency was satisfactory before they enter into an agreement.
They would have to work with the person leasing the building to ensure that if any additional or unwarranted costs are anticipated, that it be worked into the calculations of the lease fees or rental charges.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am assuming that is the case. I am presuming the Minister of Government Services will corroborate that.
Internal Energy Management in the amount of $100,000 agreed to
On Prospectors Assistance
Prospectors Assistance in the amount of $200,000 agreed to
On Exploration Incentive Program
Mr. Phillips: This is quite a decrease from last year. Can the Minister indicate the reason for the decrease?
When we talked about this last year, we discussed the program working in conjunction with any federal program that was ongoing. How has that worked out? What is the status of that?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The reason for the decrease is that, when we evaluated the program, it was shown that while the program was fully subscribed, it had no impact whatsoever on the level of exploration taking place in the territory. In the beginning, the purpose of the program was to encourage exploration and also to encourage local people who were skilled in exploration to do the exploration work.
The evaluation proves the program was accomplishing very little on the first point, and was marginally successful on the second point - encouraging local people to work on exploration projects. The fact that the exploration industry dropped from an expenditure of $50 million down to $21 million or so at the same time our project was static seems to suggest the reduction in exploration funding projects in the territory was largely due to the elimination of flow-through shares and, secondly, the problems the Vancouver Stock Exchange was having. Whether we had an exploration incentives program or not, it would have no impact on the level of exploration funding.
That was a cause of some great concern, because we cannot put expenditures in where they are not warranted. We cut it back as a result of that, but we felt there were some areas where funding for the industry could be enhanced. Consequently, when we started working on the program modifications, we rolled in the prospectors assistance program along with the exploration incentives program and, in discussions with the Chamber of Mines, we came up with a list of application criteria that would better meet the target of encouraging the exploration to take place.
The Member may know that I did discuss both these programs with the Chamber over the course of late summer, early fall and late fall, and their suspicions about the exploration incentives program were much like ours. They had no strong feelings whatsoever about this particular program, given that while people would take it if it was there, it was not having the desired results. They indicated substantial support for the prospectors assistance program. That is why we have not only combined it but have also increased the prospectors assistance portion of the program to assist with that funding.
Exploration Incentive Program in the amount of $500,000 agreed to
On Economic Development Planning
On Mineral Resources
Mineral Resources in the amount of nil dollars agreed to
Capital in the total amount of $1,800,000 agreed to
On Allotments and Person Year Establishment
Allotments and Person Year Establishment agreed to
Chair: Are there any questions on the additional yellow pages?
Energy and Mines in the total amount of $2,199,000 agreed to
Chair: We will now take a brief recess.
Chair: I call the Committee back to order.
We are on Economic Development: Mines and Small Business.
On Economic Policy, Planning and Research
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The funding here for a total of $3,045,000 is changed on the operation and maintenance side only by the increase dedicated to Northern Accord negotiations.
On the capital side we are talking about the expected contribution toward the Economic Development Agreement, should it be negotiated.
The capital is entirely for the EDA and once it is negotiated, the funds will be spread out among the relevant branches. The community planning portion of the EDA would remain in policy, planning and research.
Mr. Phillips: Currently we have no EDA, but what the Minister has done is put funds into the budget so when we reach the agreement the appropriate funds will be there, is that correct?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Yes. We are showing an abundance of optimism in anticipating an agreement, budgeting for it, and hoping it will come, barring no shock tomorrow afternoon from our pals in Ottawa. We are still anticipating there will be an agreement this year, and have been lead to believe there is a very good chance, and consequently planned for it. We will have the money available for it should we negotiate it.
On Operation and Maintenance
Mr. Phillips: There is a 76 percent increase in that. Could the Minister tell us what that is about?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The funding is primarily for the wages required for two Northern Accord personnel. All the funding increase for administration, research and analysis and economic policy and planning, with the exception of minor merit increases, are dedicated to the Northern Accord.
To make things clearer, I will talk about the Northern Accord increase. We are budgeting for $126,000 for personnel within the department, a senior negotiator and one other person. We are also budgeting contract services, including the evaluation of pipeline options that has begun in the current year.
There are the financial implications of a Northern Accord and the extension of the Russell Banta contract. That comes to a total of $240,000. The rest of the costs are for telephone, travel, rentals, et cetera. That is the basic funding for the Northern Accord negotiations as we step up activity.
Mr. Phillips: I take the priority that the government is placing on the Northern Accord is an indication that the government is anticipating further development of the oil and gas preserves in northern Yukon and that there will be some revenue generated from that. I hope that is the direction in which the government is going. It is a lot of money to spend if our position will be no development in northern Yukon.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The reason for our participation, as I have said on many occasions, is that we want to be a player with respect to things that happen in or around the Yukon and off our Yukon shores. In order to be a player, and not simply an advisor, I think it is essential that the Northern Accord negotiations come to a conclusion, and that we are then, by agreement, a real participant and decision maker in north coast decisions and northern Yukon decisions. It is also essential that those relationships between Yukon and the NWT be clarified in these matters so that, when things come forward - development decisions or development decisions that have environmental impacts - we have a clearly-defined role to play, responsibility, and the signing of the Northern Accord final agreement will allow us to play that role.
Mr. Phillips: Can we establish any kind of a deadline for a Northern Accord agreement with the Government of the Northwest Territories? Are we shooting for any deadline: a year from now, or two years from now?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: As I said before, there are three parties to these negotiations: the Yukon, the Northwest Territories and the federal government. It would be highly unlikely that the federal government would sign the Northern Accord arrangement bilaterally with Yukon and not the Northwest Territories. So, there are three parties to consider. We are shooting for next spring for a Northern Accord final agreement and, given all the work that is going to be involved in coming to that conclusion, we feel this will be money well spent.
Mrs. Firth: Before we clear that item, I would like to ask the Minister how much money is in that area of his budget for assistant deputy minister positions.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There is one assistant deputy minister for Economic Policy, Planning and Research, and MG9. That means it is in the range of $61,000 to $79,000.
Mrs. Firth: The other ADM position is in the other area. Is that what the Minister is saying? Would that new money identified in that area be for the ADM position?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The other ADM is responsible for economic programs. The funding for that this year is identified in the administration branch of the department.
Mrs. Firth: Could the Minister tell us how much additional monies his department had to have for ADM positions?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The position was a reclassification of an MG8 to an MG9. There was a vacant position in the department, and we reallocated that position to be the ADM. The funding for the MG8 and MG9 overlaps. I am not sure exactly what the difference might be in actual fact. I have to find out what the difference is between the previous incumbent in the director of policy and planning position and what the incumbent would be receiving to say what the difference in the cost would be.
Mrs. Firth: Could the Minister provide that information for both the ADM positions in his department for us at a later date?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: If the Member is asking whether or not I can provide the additional cost of reassigning the MG8 to an MG9 and a comparison between incumbents, I can do that.
Mrs. Firth: The Minister is giving a commitment to do it for both the ADM positions? Or is the other one a brand-new position with an allotment of money identified for it?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The one for economic programs is new. That is the one redirected from the MG8. The director for policy became the ADM for economic programs. The ADM we are talking about now is an existing position in economic policy, planning and research. There is no new ADM there. There is only one new ADM in the department and that was a reallocation of a person year. It used to be an MG8 and now it is an MG9. Now it has become an ADM.
Administration in the amount of $650,000 agreed to
On Research and Analysis
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There has been no difference from last year to this year overall in this section. It includes administration, research and analysis, economic policy and planning. We have added more than $400,000 for Northern Accord negotiations. Apart from that, we still have 12 people, three people in administration, three people in research and analysis, and six people in policy and planning.
There are three person years in research and analysis. There is $600 for in-territory travel. There is $3,600 for out-of-territory travel. There is $40,000 for contract services related to the Yukon Economic Strategy and the economic accounts study. There is $1,800 for telephones. Basically, it is the same budget as last year.
Research and Analysis in the amount of $240,000 agreed to
On Economic Policy and Planning
Hon. Mr. McDonald: We have the same number of people as last year. There is a manager of policy and planning, a secretary, there is a senior planner for renewable resources, a senior planner for nonrenewable resources, there is a senior planner for business and industry, and there is an industrial benefits officer.
With respect to travel, there is $1,800 for in-territory travel and $5,300 for out-of-territory travel. There is nonemployee out-of-territory travel. There is $75,000 for contract services relating to the Yukon Economic Council and economic strategy follow-up, and there is $2,200 for telephones. It is basically the same budget as last year as well.
Economic Policy and Planning in the amount of $415,000 agreed to
Operation and Maintenance in the amount of $1,305,000 agreed to
On Economic Development Agreement
Hon. Mr. McDonald: This is the total funding that we can realistically get from the EDA. We can afford to be pleasantly surprised if more funding comes through. This will be for the elements of the agreement that we are trying to negotiate with the federal government.
Only the community economic development planning would stay in this branch after the first supplementary, if we agree to this. The others, for example if there was a tourism subagreement, would go to Tourism. If there was a Renewable Resources subagreement, it would go to another branch of the department. Mineral resources would go to another branch.
The only one that would stay in the branch of economic policy, planning and research would be the community economic development and planning. The federal departmental officials have indicated that this is a realistic figure. If they get funding approvals, this will happen. If they do not, it will not.
Mrs. Firth: When does the Minister expect that he will know? It is kind of hard to just put a number in the budget and say that we can wait and see.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I do not know. Last year it happened after the beginning of the fiscal year. They said that they were going to pull out all the stops this year and will try to get an agreement before the end of this fiscal year. It will happen when DIAND decides that it will happen. We have asked that it occur as soon as possible so that as much planning can go into proponents projects as possible so they will know it is there. We have expressed our interest very forcefully. I do not know when it is going to happen.
Mrs. Firth: Perhaps the Minister can tell us what the process is going to be for people who apply for assistance under these agreements? Will they be told that their application will proceed, but the federal government might not approve this money? In the event, that something does happen, all the applications may become null and void. I am looking for some reassurances from the Minister of how the process is going to work if it is vague as to when we will know the final results of the Economic Development Agreement.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Whitehorse has been fairly clear that we will not be leading anyone to believe that there will definitely be an EDA. There is a good possibility, so the proponents should do a lot of work with us and prepare an application. We indicated, in our advertising, that the funding stops at the end of March of this year.
We have not given anyone cause for anticipation of further funding. There would be some very angry people on the street if we did and they had put some work into it. We have told them that we are trying to negotiate a new agreement. We have dedicated some of our own funds for a new agreement, but we cannot guarantee that that agreement will be struck.
We have been candid about that. If people want to continue to develop a project on the chance that there might be an EDA, that is a calculated risk. I cannot provide them with any more certainty than I have been able to provide the House right now about whether or not there is going to be money in this agreement from the federal government or if there is going to be an agreement at all.
Mrs. Firth: When the Minister says they dedicated some of their own funds, is that part of this $1,740,000 and, if so, how much?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Thirty percent is Yukon government funding, on a 70:30 cost share. Thirty percent works out to about $520,000.
Mrs. Firth: Is the government going to go ahead with that amount of an expenditure, regardless of whether there is an Economic Development Agreement or not? Will they be taking applications based on the expenditure of that $500,000?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: No, we are not. It would be a $500,000 program. We are not going to take applications on the basis of this funding largely because the applications, if approved, would have to go through a joint management process. We would be putting people through a double twist if we were to ask them to go through this program now. We do not have a program with guidelines the territory would fund unilaterally. We are not taking applications at all. We are only indicating that, if there is an Economic Development Agreement, there will be funding from the territorial government.
Mrs. Firth: I just have one last comment. It seems unusual to ask for a vote on such an unsure thing. Why was this amount of money put down? Why was there not just a line for Economic Development Agreements? It just seems to be guesswork.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It is not entirely guesswork. There is a good chance we will have an agreement. It is not absolute, and it is not the kind of thing you take to the bank, but there is a very good chance that we will. We have had indicated to us that we can participate in historic funding levels. That is why we put this particular figure into the budget.
In designing a budget, we wanted to ensure that, with all the other funding requests that there may be, this particular project made it to the budget. Consequently, we put it in.
Economic Development Agreement in the amount of $1,740,000 agreed to
On Prior Years Projects
Prior Years Projects in the amount of nil dollars agreed to
Capital in the amount of $1,740,000 agreed to
On Allotments and Person Year Establishment
Mr. Phillips: Is the Allotments O&M Personnel and O&M Other as a result of the Northern Accord? Is that why there is such an increase there?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Yes, it is just another way of restating the same thing.
Allotments and Person Year Establishment agreed to
Economic Policy, Planning and Research in the amount of $3,045,000 agreed to
On Economic Programs
On Operation and Maintenance
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The total for this particular branch is $7,708,000, which is the combined capital requirement of $7.3 million and $408,000. The operation and maintenance portion is not changed from 1989-90. This money provides for the salary and wages for six person years and the operating money to support advisory boards and ancillary costs for the business development fund. The administration of the community development fund is also funded through the capital program.
The capital budget appears to have a significant decrease from the available funds in 1989-90, but it should be remembered that the reason for the high forecast was the revote of capital funds from the previous year.
In addition to this, there were funds in the forecast amount for the EDA Renewable Resources and Small Business subagreements. These will be good for this year. The funds were here this year for the EDA programs because, once it was negotiated by Policy Planning, it was split out into the branches. Next year, we are showing no funds for EDA under Economic Programs. We are showing all the funds in Policy Planning. Once we have negotiated an agreement, it would again be in the supplementary and split out to the branches and come back to Economic Programs section. That is what we are looking at in this branch.
On General Administration
General Administration in the amount of $130,000 agreed to
On Business Assistance
Business Assistance in the amount of $278,000 agreed to
Operation and Maintenance in the amount of $408,000 agreed to
On Community Development Fund
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The reason for the reduction is that in the forecast amount there was money that was revoted - carry-overs from previous programs such as the LEOP program, Yukon training opportunities program, and Yukon employment incentives program. That was a program that was rolled into the community development fund when it was initially created. The carry-over last year was in the $1.4 million range.
Even though the forecast shows a reduction from the 1989-90 forecast to 1990-91 estimates, there will be more funds available for new project funding in 1990-91 than there was in the current year.
Mrs. Firth: Could the Minister tell us what the government spends on a yearly average on this program? When the local employment opportunities program was initially established, it was set at $3 million year. That was the program where the Ministers sat on the committee and approved the funding. With the addition of the other programs, what is spent, on average? I know there were revotes in the supplementaries that came forward. The voted-to-date figure was $5,091,000. On an average, are we spending $3.5 million or $4 million?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It is difficult to answer the question because the community development fund itself has only been in operation for 10 months. The predecessor, LEOP, might have lapsed $120,000 maximum out of a $3 million budget. The other programs I did not mention. One came over from Health and Human Resources, but I am not sure what the experience would be in those particular programs. It is difficult to provide the comparison the Member asks for because of the rather significant difference in the character of this fund and its predecessors.
What I can do is see if I can get that information from the programs predecessors, Territorial Accounts. That way we could find out exactly how much was spent in prior years in each program.
Mrs. Firth: I think it is an exercise the Minister of Finance will be doing anyway. It is a relevant question to ask: to make a comparison on the amount of money being spent in the combination of programs compared to what is being identified now for the Community Development Fund. That is supposed to be comprised of all those different programs. I look forward to seeing the information that the Minister can provide us with. We will be able to use it as a comparison in future years.
Community Development Fund in the amount of $4,000,000 agreed to
On Business Development Fund
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The same explanation holds true here, in large part. The forecast incorporates some revotes from a prior year commitment. The 1988-89 actuals, for example, as Members can see on the cover page, show that the expenditure was in the $2.6 million range so it is increasing each year. I presume this year will have more revotes from projects committed but not spent. This should boost the $3.3 million upwards after the first supplementary.
Business Development Fund in the amount of $3,300,000 agreed to
On Economic Development Agreement
Economic Development Agreement in the amount of nil agreed to
Capital in the amount of $7,300,000 agreed to
On Allotments and Person Years
Allotments and Person Years agreed to
Economic Programs in the amount of $7,708,000 agreed to
Chair: Are there any questions on the previous pages?
Are there any questions on the pink, yellow or green pages?
Capital in the amount of $7,708,00 agreed to
Chair: Go back to Schedule A. Economic Development: Mines and Small Business, operation and maintenance in the amount of $2,669,000.
Some Members: Clear.
Chair: Capital, Economic Development: Mines and Small Business, $10,840,000. Clear?
Some Members: Clear.
Economic Development: Mines and Small Business agreed to
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I suggest that we take a break until 7:30 p.m.
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order.
We will continue with Schedule A, Department of Education, $54,134,000. We go to page 127, general debate.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Madam Chair, the budget for Education represents a total of $66,198,000 in operation and maintenance and capital funding, to be divided among the service branches and programs of the department. The department is planning to offer new and innovative programs, while improving the efficiency of existing services. The budget before you is designed to strengthen the resources of public schools branch. I will be explaining the new programs that will contribute to the implementation of the new education act, which will be brought before the House in the spring, as well as accomplishing other objectives. It includes initiatives, for example, for the new Yukon-based courses and curriculum resources, professional development for Yukon teachers and increased services for special needs children.
The budget is the first budget to reflect the Department of Educations new administrative approach, which is more community-based or school-based, and which delegates authority to and increasing involvement of principals for minor personnel decisions, maintenance, purchases and supplies.
The operations and maintenance component of the Department of Educations estimated budget totals $54,134,000, which is a 5.6 percent increase over the 1989-90 estimate levels. Capital expenditures are budgeted to a total of $12,064,000, which is a decrease from last years estimate of $15,940,000, which generally reflects the completion of Yukon College, which, for the past four years, has been a major capital expenditure.
I will outline some of the major budget items for each branch, starting with public schools.
First, let me begin by giving some general background. There is a total of $36,984,000 for the O&M portion of the public schools budget. This is a 21 percent increase over the 1989-90 estimate of $30,440,000, but it is only a three percent increase over the 1989-90 forecast. There will be, in this budget, the 7.35 new teaching person years that we discussed in the supplementaries, at a cost of $442,000. Nine hundred and nine thousand dollars is budgeted for special programs and, as Members will note, funding for this area has steadily increased. For example, in 1988-89, a total of $349,000 was spent. Now, although $1,021,000 was budgeted in total for this area last year, this is not a decrease as the figures reflect the transfer of teaching staff from this category to program delivery for a decrease of $173,000. An extra $50,000 is to be used for contractual work in child education therapy as well as in other programs for special needs children. One hundred and ten thousand dollars is identified in the capital budget for appropriate equipment for special needs children.
The policy and planning unit is being transferred to this branch, as are the facilities and transportation unit and the administration branch. The activities of these two units have a direct bearing on the activities of the public schools branch, and it makes sense for the branch to be responsible for them.
These changes reflect increased emphasis on public schools in the department and help prepare the department for eventual devolution to school authorities.
The policy and planning unit has an identified budget of $217,600, which covers one director and two analysts. The facilities and transportation unit has an identified budget of $4,871,000 and this includes the automatic increased cost-of-living factor from the consumer price index and includes the three additional bus routes we added over last year.
The major administrative change that I would like to highlight is the transfer of the schools maintenance budget from Government Services to the Department of Education, in the public schools branch. A line item of $468,000 in O&M is part of the $5.18 million budgeted for facilities and transportation, and $532,000 in Capital is part of the $932,000 budgeted for miscellaneous school facilities alteration. That adds up to a total of $1,000,000 from Government Services. The Department of Education will be responsible for all costs associated with school maintenance.
Countering this is a transfer from the Department of Education of three maintenance person years and $160,000, so all maintenance labour is supplied by Government Services.
Most importantly, this consolidation allows for the delegation and transfer of responsibility and accountability to principals, who will work in consultation with local school committees. This delegation will likely be further enhanced by the implementation of the new education act.
There are new services and programs on the budget as well as increased support for existing programs. A $20,000 increase in the budget for school field trips will bring the total to $114,000. An increase of $69,400 to the budget for student materials will now bring that budget to $520,000.
There is a provision for $10,000 for the innovations in teaching award. This will recognize teachers who have made a real difference to their students in communities through excellent and innovative challenges and work. The first awards are expected to be presented at the Yukon Teachers Association annual general meeting this spring, in April.
There is $1800 budgeted for the valedictorian award, which is a $250 prize presented to the valedictorian at each Yukon high school. The House can probably guess by the way that I am stumbling that I was not a valedictorian myself. I can always count on the support of the Member for Porter Creek East in things like this.
There is $5,000 being dedicated to tapes and materials for the principal certification program. This new program allows Yukon principals to expand and upgrade their management and administration skills for the benefit of the schools.
It should be noted that the principals take these courses on their own time and largely at their own expense.
There is $13,000 for a new elders-in-the-schools program that brings native elders into the classroom to share their skills and teachings. While several elders have already been doing this on an informal basis in the schools, the program formalizes that arrangement and ensures they are fairly compensated for their time and commitment. There is $10,000 for a new arts program designed for students interested in the arts, which makes for special opportunities for them to meet, talk and work with artists to enhance the arts education the students now receive.
There are also several initiatives under the federal/territorial bilateral agreement between the Secretary of State and the Department of Education related to the French immersion programs. There is: $28,200 dedicated for an additional French monitor and related expenses; $41,300 is dedicated for additional staffing for the French immersion; $48,500 is for professional development for French teachers; and $2,500 is for an evaluation of the French immersion program.
There is $27,400 dedicated for curriculum development for several Yukon-developed courses. They are the environmental studies program, which is a course for grade 10 students that allows them to study conservation strategies at both the global and regional levels, to evaluate the populations effect on ecosystems and promote and practice environmental awareness.
The Yukon wilderness program is another course for grade 10 students, this one using an innovative approach of outdoor challenges and experiences to cover much of the material offered in the conventional courses of physical education 10 and social studies 10. For Yukon history, there is a text on the early Yukon history that looks at human events in the territory prior to the gold rush.
There is also $15,000 for assessments of Yukon schools. These funds will allow the department to bring in education experts to assist in evaluating the schools.
A total of $8,472,000 is identified in the 1990-91 budget for capital projects in the public schools branch.
There has been $3 million identified for the construction of a new elementary school to serve the Hillcrest, Granger and MacIntyre subdivisions. Specification on the design of the school will begin in April.
We have budgeted $1.4 million for the construction of a new school to serve the south Alaska Highway area in the vicinity of the Carcross cutoff. This school will be opened in time for September and the start of the next school year. We have budgeted $250,000 for the upgrading and renovations at Jack Hulland Elementary School. This is the third year of a four-year project that includes improving the sources of natural light, upgrading the ventilation system and installing sinks with hot and cold water in various classrooms.
We have allotted $300,000 for upgrading at the F.H Collins High School. This is part of a multi-year project, which is implementing the recommendations of the 1984 energy audit. It is also for renovating office and clerical storage space.
There is $200,000 for the upgrading and renovations at Selkirk Street School. Walls, floors, doors and hardware are being upgraded systematically over several years. In the coming year, the priority is fire separation walls and washroom renovations.
We have dedicated $300,000 to grounds improvements. This year, specific projects have been identified at Whitehorse Elementary School, Tantalus School, Selkirk Street School, Porter Creek Junior Secondary and Del van Gorder, in addition to maintenance at all schools.
We have dedicated $60,000 to computer labs. This is a multi-year program, with labs scheduled for installation in Johnson Elementary School in Watson Lake and in Tantalus School in Carmacks this year. We have dedicated $120,000 for renovations at Christ the King High School. This involves the installation of a security system and window retrofits, and is scheduled for the summer.
We have budgeted $30,000 for the refinishing of the gym floor at Selkirk Street School. We have budgeted $60,000 to the installation of a handicap lift at Selkirk Street School as well. Lifts were installed at Whitehorse Elementary School and F.H. Collins in past years. We have allocated $932,000 is for miscellaneous school facilities alterations. These are smaller projects such as modifying doors, et cetera, that are in the $5,000 to $20,000 range at various schools.
As I indicated, $532,000 has been transferred from Government Services. Three hundred and fifty thousand dollars has been earmarked for the upgrading of Del Van Gorder School. The schools foundations were successfully stabilized last summer, and this money will be used to restore the interior of the gym, the stage, libraries and classrooms in the affected section.
In the book, there is $140,000 for the upgrading of the Kluane Lake School. This is 100 miles or so off the mark. This is actually for upgrading the Beaver Creek School, and extensive rehabilitation work of the buildings interior and exterior will be undertaken, to be completed by September. One hundred thousand dollars has been earmarked for the construction of the Catholic elementary school, at the beginning of the construction process. This money will cover the initial planning for the new school, including a survey of the Catholic community, to assess its requirements and preferences. Four hundred thousand dollars has been earmarked for the upgrading and expansion of the Watson Lake Secondary School. As Members know, this is a multi-year project, which is expanding the existing high school and replacing sections of the facility that were built before 1973. The balance of the project is expected to go to tender later.
One hundred and ten thousand dollars, as I have mentioned, is for special education equipment; that covers the cost of equipment such as an amplification system for the hearing-impaired child, or special attachments for desks and tables for physically-handicapped children.
The figures, as the statistics will tell you, translate into an average direct expenditure of $5,454 per student. While this total is virtually identical with that in the 1989-90 forecast, it is expected to rise further once the teachers settlement is factored in. This settlement is not shown in the estimates, as I have indicated before in the House, but it will come forward in the supplementaries. This completes the operation and maintenance and capital portions for public schools branch, which will total $45 million or so.
In advanced education, a total of $14,435,000 is budgeted for operation and maintenance, an increase of $4,789,000 over last years estimates. Yukon College expenditures are now a part of the advanced education branch, and this accounts for more than $8 million. The Yukon native teacher education program, transferred to this branch from public schools branch, accounts for an increase of $632,000.
This branch is involved in two major initiatives of great significance. One is a million dollar commitment to the Yukon Indian land claim, which is a result of the agreement in principle, to be used for training to aid the implementation of the claim. Another is the $50,000 increase to the apprenticeship incentives marketing program, or the AIM program. This helps employers provide long-term employment and training opportunities for Yukon apprentices, through direct financial incentives. This year, AIM will be able to accommodate some 32 apprenticeship agreements.
The Yukon native teacher education program is now the responsibility of the branch, as I have indicated. It began in September at Yukon College and is a four-year degree program, offered in conjunction with the University of Regina. The sum of $632,000 is identified in the budget as a transfer payment to the college, to cover the cost of operating the program.
A total of $398,000 is budgeted for capital expenses in the advanced education branch, $200,000 is for community campus facilities, and $190,000 is for the updating and upgrading of existing equipment in programs at Yukon College. This covers Yukon College community campuses, as well.
Even though the college is not part of the department anymore, it is still funded by the department. Consequently, $8,697,000 will be transferred from the advanced education branch as a grant to the college to cover its operation and maintenance expenditures. These funds will be administered by the board of governors of the college. For the Members information, the lump sum grant is used because it is the board, not the department, that is responsible for the planning, operations, finances and administration at the college.
They are developing many new programs and enhancing existing ones as well, of course, such as the new northern studies program. This has four concentrations: native studies is already underway; northern justice is next; the northern science program is in the development stage; and the northern outdoors and environmental studies will begin development work later this spring. There are other programs the college is undertaking again this year: the community administrative skills training program the Premier noted in the ECO estimates, and the Indian management program, as well as tourism and hospitality courses.
That completes the advanced education branchs budget, for a total of $14,833,000.
For libraries and archives, the operation and maintenance budget totals $1,664,000. The capital budget of the libraries and archives branch totals $694,000, which is a decrease over the 1989-90 forecast figures, as the construction of a new archives facility is now almost completed.
The new archives facility still plays an important part in the years budget, however. There is $200,000 that will be spent renovating the existing archives facility to accommodate expansion of the Whitehorse Public Library. This will be the first increase in space for the facility in 23 years. As part of the expansion, the audio-visual unit will be moved back to downtown Whitehorse from its current Hillcrest, Burns Road location.
There is $20,000 dedicated for community library development. This will be used for the upgrading of the Watson Lake Public Library and to help develop the community library collection. There is $25,000 provided for branch library equipment. This is to be used to install microfilm and microfiche readers in communities, in order to make the Yukon archives collections and the Yukon newspapers accessible to all territorial libraries.
There is $20,000 dedicated to the audio-visual equipment, which is used for the ongoing replacement of obsolete equipment. There is $10,000 for library equipment used for technical services, and $17,000 is for conservation assessment - this will fund an assessment of the archives conservation laboratory and in-house treatment of identified collections.
There is $370,000 for the archives relocation and purchase installation of new shelving, storage equipment and furniture. There is $22,000 dedicated to display preparation and maintenance - displays are developed and located throughout Yukon communities. Work is underway to coordinate upcoming displays with the anniversary celebrations. There is $10,000 dedicated to convert the heavily-used archival films onto videocassette for reference use. We have discussed that on a number of occasions in the past.
The total budget for the libraries and archives branch is $2,358,000.
The finance and administration branch, which is the last branch, decreased substantially to $3,551,000, compared with the $5,487,000 in the 1989-90 estimates.
This is due, in large part, to the administrative changes that have taken place in the department, especially the transfer of facilities and transportation to the public schools branch.
The operation and maintenance budget of $1,051,000 is about 12 percent higher than the 1989-90 forecast. The increase is due to the salary and other costs associated with the position of communications officer, research and travel activities associated with circumpolar education, provision for a governing board for the Yukon Arts Centre and general miscellaneous other expenses.
The capital budget of the finance and administration branch is $2.5 million. This, of course, is for the Yukon Arts Centre, of which construction may well begin in May, with completion date set for 1991.
That completes the budget for the finance and administration branch, which totals $3,551,000.
Perhaps we could, if Members wish, discuss some of the items they are interested in?
Mr. Devries: I am sure the Minister realizes that, as we go through the department line-by-line, he will probably have to repeat most of those comments. My pen would not move that fast.
As a general overview of education, things have, in my view, calmed down slightly upstairs, and it seems that some positive things have taken place, but some negative things have also taken place. There was and there still seems to be an element of mistrust and fear for some of the peoples jobs, but it has slowed down, and it is possible that, through this, things are improving. I think the Minister does have to face the fact that the general consensus is - and I have been in touch with teachers in Whitehorse and various people with the Department of Education - that he does have a bit of a loose cannon running around up there, but I do not really expect him to either agree or disagree with me on that.
As much as Yukon College is in the hands of the board of directors, my feeling is that the Minister still has to bear some of the responsibility for the situation the college is in presently with regard to not having a president. Possibly, the college is in a bit of a state of uncertainty at this point.
I had the opportunity to talk to several students at the college one day, and they do feel the situation surrounding the college not having a president at this point has affected them, and also the initial bungling of the government in this respect.
I am reluctant to get into too many specifics about the whole situation, because it is very important to get the college operating in a non-political environment; it is hoped that many of these things will iron themselves out, given a little time. But by the same token, these students do feel that their studies have been affected by the staffs preoccupation with this situation, and we hope that the board of directors will have it resolved very shortly.
The mistrust surrounding the actions of the deputy minister earlier still seems to affect the general response I seem to be getting regarding the proposed education act. People want to see very precise wording in the document, and perhaps that is normal; I am not sure, I have never had to go through an act before.
There seems to be an air of suspicion from school committees. I get the feeling also from some of the members of the Yukon Teachers Association and from other people.
Another real concern with the act is where it refers to land claims. Some people have suggested that rather than push the act through in the next three to four months, we should wait a year to see what effect the land claims settlement would have on areas that are specified in the land claims settlement. People feel that the cart is being put before the horse.
Another question I may be asking is: will these areas of the act be rewritten once the land claims are settled, or will we always have to refer to clause such and such once the settlement has been achieved?
I am hearing many good things about the special education initiative that was started several years ago, but which has really been focused on in the past few years.
I found it interesting when the Minister talked about some of the Yukon-based curriculums that are being developed. The one on the Yukon history has been a long time in coming. I am amazed at how little my children know about the Yukon considering they have been educated entirely in the Yukon system.
In order to prevent a lot of duplication, I do not have too much more in the general debate area. I prefer to discuss some more of the issues at length in the line-by-line debate. Some of my colleagues may have some questions at this time.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Member began by talking about the theme of departmental morale once again. He felt that it had improved since the last time we spoke. That is true. We discussed the matter at length during the supplementaries in December and January. I do not know what more I can add on that point.
The Member talked about the college and the concern that there is not yet a president at the college. He talked about the feeling that the government has bumbled and that I should take responsibility for all the bad things that are taking place at the college, if they are taking place. The Member cited that students and staff are preoccupied with the issue of the hiring of the president.
A board is in place and things that have transpired regarding the hiring of a president have been the cause for some controversy. I am aware of that situation. I have been kept abreast of the situation.
With respect to the details of the hiring practice, I have supported the college board in the hiring procedures and the plan that they undertook, and I supported both the interim board and the permanent board in that respect. I even went so far as to reappoint some of the remaining members of the interim board to the permanent board. Clearly, if anyone is to take responsibility for the reappointments or for support for the interim board, I take responsibility for that. I do believe that they have dealt with the situation as wisely as they could and have been taking the long-term future of the college very seriously in their deliberations. I am convinced of that after all this time and even despite the controversy that arose at the college over the hiring procedure for the president. It is unfortunate that that took place and there is some residue of that dispute still underlying some of the atmosphere at the college; however, I do remain committed to supporting the board and feel that it will deal with the situation appropriately and responsibly in the coming months.
The education act is clearly something, generally speaking, I am not in the position to debate at this time, as I am sure the Member can appreciate; however, the Member is definitely speaking to people that I am not as exposed to because the dozens and hundreds of people I have been speaking to about the education act indicate that they not only have enjoyed the process and felt that it was useful and thorough and highly participatory, but they have a general feeling that what they have been asking for in legislation will come to pass.
There is always some suspicion that some people who put forward a submission are not going to get 100 percent of what they are asking for. I think that it is virtually guaranteed that they will not, nor can they, because different groups are asking for different things - you please one group and disappoint another group. Anyone who is walking into this process with the expectation that all people are going to get all things is going to be disappointed if they have that high a level of expectations. However, I think that, with the exception of the Home Educators Society, who feel, and I think probably quite rightly, that the draft education act did not deal very thoroughly with non-publicly-funded public school education, most people feel, though, that the draft act, even while needing some improvements, is a very good piece of work and they do see their authorship in the draft act, because it is so close to so many of the recommendations of the education act task force and of many individuals. It literally has the authorship of hundreds of people in the territory and pulls together well in terms of its themes.
I have not heard anyone ask for an extension of a year - before tonight - to bring this legislation to the House. I have heard from the school committees conference and from a large number of people who I have been speaking to since the tabling of the draft act, that it is time to come to a conclusion, that it is time that we put the act into force.
Some people have even reminded me that although the land claims is a factor, it has not yet fully fleshed out in terms of the legislative provisions surrounding Indian participation in the education system. It does respect much of the consultation that took place with the native community through the Kwiya Commission, in consultation with them in respect to the education act review committee, with the discussions we have had on the drafting committee, and bilaterally between the Department of Education and the Council for Yukon Indians.
There has also been good discussion between departmental officials and the Indian bands, even in the last round of consultations, which took place in January and early February. The act provides a framework for discussion. Indian bands will have no illusions about where the Government of Yukon stands with respect to self-government negotiations in the next couple or three years. Basically, our position is enshrined in the education act.
Through very thorough and extensive consultations with Indian people, we feel we have developed a framework legislation that will work from an educational perspective, will respect the culture but still work in the classroom or on the trapline, wherever the education is taking place. Time and again when we have had meetings with Indian bands around the territory, they feel very comfortable that the general framework of the act is sound, and feel the preparation for discussions under the self-government agreement negotiations in education will probably be among the most refined and sophisticated of any of the elements of self-government negotiations. This is because so much work and research has gone into developing the basis for understanding, with respect to the education system, and a legislative framework that will meet Indian peoples aspirations.
To delay the act for all persons in the territory, to wait for a final band agreement, will not be received well by many hundreds of people who have been participating in the drafting of this legislation. While they feel the act is good in its direction, they also feel it is time to act, and the act be implemented.
The communities have been involved in some major consultative exercise every year now for four years that, in some cases, have necessitated two, three or four public meetings around education. Consequently, their patience is wearing somewhat thin with respect to requests for further consultation.
I suspect it would be wise to bring the act into the Legislature in April, and discuss it thoroughly with MLAs then. I am sure every MLA is fully aware of what various interest groups have been saying. With respect to self-government agreements, we should leave the finetuning up to the band-by-band negotiations. At that time, if there are changes required in the legislation, we can consider those then. I feel the legislative framework of the draft act, as amended, will be a sound basis for education in the territory and will signal the Yukon governments position with respect to education in self-government negotiations.
With respect to special education, the Member, I think, joins with me in support for the enhanced initiatives in this area. I believe we have been sitting back a little too long in responding to the growing demands for special education students. We did develop a policy about 18 months ago, of course, and have been on the heels of that policy and implementing it. The policy did show up in the draft education act as well, so we are well and truly ensconced in the support for these initiatives and feel that we have come a long way in the last few years.
With respect to the local curriculum development, I share with the Member his concern about not having done enough of this in the past. It is interesting to note that, while many people have indicated they have a sense of Yukon history, at least as far as the gold rush is concerned, they have had very little sense of Yukon history - pre-gold rush, or even after the gold rush to the present day, and I think we have to improve our teaching in that respect so that people can understand what it is to be a Yukoner from the full perspective of Yukons rich history, both pre- and post-gold rush. While these are first steps in that direction, they are obviously not the final word and the efforts in this area will continue well into the future.
Mr. Devries: Possibly the Minister misunderstood me a little on the education act. Personally, as far as the act itself goes, I have had very few complaints that would indicate major changes other than those from the home schoolers. Most complaints have been that they would like to see some of the wording fine tuned; especially, there were concerns from the teachers in regard to transferability from authorities, et cetera - that whole area. I was just talking to Ken Taylor the other day briefly; my understanding is that, in discussions with the Department of Education, they have come to a sort of agreement that they think they can live with, although it still is something that will be flagged and looked at very closely.
As to the delay, I have had a few people mention it to me, and basically I just threw it out to get the Ministers feeling on it. Personally, I agree with the Minister that it is almost at the point where the thing has been beaten to death, and I am sure it is hard to get people to keep turning up at these meetings all the time.
I know when I was chairperson on the school committee in Watson Lake, up to about four or five years ago the first meeting went around. It has been a continual thing. Most of the concerns I have heard are addressed in the act. I must say I was pleasantly surprised when I looked at some of the major initiatives that were taken in regard to the authorities and in changing the structure of the school committees - I had not realized they had suggested changing over to this system that quickly, but I do support those initiatives being taken, because it is important to try and get the school more into the hands of the communities.
Another big question that has been asked is about the 20 percent curriculum. Quite a few people have some major concerns in that area. Perhaps it is the way the act is worded. It seems to be geared a little toward a native-developed curriculum and possibly it is just white mans natural fear that we perhaps consider ourselves dominant, which we should not do. There is this natural fear. I can see the native Members nodding their heads in agreement, and I cannot really blame them for that.
We have a majority that is in control of the school up to this point and we tend to be reluctant to stand back and let other people have a little more say in things that go on. We hope it will all work out in the end. We can live and have our kids go to school where there is no discrimination and where kids get along with each other as if they were one people.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Some of the concerns that the Member expressed about the teachers union have been a cause for discussion, as well as many other provisions of the act, because people assume that that was a matter between the department and the YTA. With the development of the new education act, the old provisions of the Education Act, including the revisions that were under the rubric of a teaching professions act have been publicly discussed. People are taking more of an interest in those provisions as well.
The YTAs desire for transferability between authorities is a reasonable concern and it is reasonable to address that concern satisfactorily in their favour, I think. I believe that there is some work going on to try to ensure that that is resolved.
With respect to the 20 percent curricula, what that implies of course is that 80 percent will be considered core, provided by the Department of Education and will be mandated to all schools to follow - as I have just said, in discussions with the Home Educators Society, all publicly-funded schools. The 20 percent curricula still has to be approved by the department but what it does do, though, is permit local communities to take terms of reference in their local area and apply curricula to their needs. Some of the curriculum development will be to take, say, a science program, and rather than having students analyze Florida swamp turtles, they will analyze the biology of the moose or Chooutla swamp turtles. That is one element of it. There will also be the potential, of course, for developing whole new programs that are of importance to a local community school. There will be the expectation that the curricula is professionally developed, of course, in order to be approved, and that it has a good pedagogical value before it goes out to the classroom.
With respect to encouraging others to have a say in the system, that is an element of the act that provides for some significant change in education decision making. I would venture to guess, though, that the decentralization of decision making out of the Department of Education, with respect to operational matters in the schools, will show that most people, and in particular most nonnative people, will enjoy more say in the school system than they had before. Clearly, there is an enhanced role for native people and that is to be expected. That will help to ensure that the education system works for them.
Those are only some elements of the act. The act speaks of a partnership, a partnership that stipulates the rights and responsibilities of all partners. Partners do not consist of the Department of Education with everybody else advising. The Department of Education will continue to play a role; parents will also play a role; students will play a role; and teachers will play a role. Everyone has rights and responsibilities within that system and everyone has decision-making power within that system. There will be no partner who will dominate so much that the other partners feel that they have been left out and will consequently not respect the system itself. That is the key to designing a partnership that works. As long as everyone is participating, then everyone respects the system and everyone supports the system.
The success of the education act, and education decision making and the system in the future, will depend on that. There is also the understanding that the education system can only contribute to the development of a child, that there is a role that parents must play for their full aspirations to be met in education. People have constantly said over the last number of years that the education system only has children for five hours a day. The rest of society, and in particular parents and families, have children for 19 hours a day. The education system cannot do everything itself. It must enjoy the support of the community and, in particular, the family and parents in order for everything to work. That is where we have to create the balance, and that is what the education act attempts to do.
Mr. Devries: I have just one more thing on the education act, and then I would like to get away from it. At this time, I suspect the Minister has done not done a five-year plan as far as what the financial implications of implementing the act would be. Once we start debating the act, the Minister could give us an idea of some of the costs.
In another area regarding costs, does the Minister have any idea of the capital projects presently taking place at the Granger and south highway schools? What will be the operation and maintenance for these projects, once they are onstream?
In the supplementaries, I believe the Minister indicated the south highway school would mean very little increase to the operation and maintenance costs due to the fact that many of the students who are presently going to school in other schools in Whitehorse would be going there, and some of the teachers would be moved to that school. There would still be additional costs, as far as janitors and heating, et cetera. Could the Minister give us an overall picture of the operation and maintenance costs on the capital projects?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: As I indicated before, when we get to capital projects, I will have the anticipated operation and maintenance costs associated. A lot depends on the design of the facility, et cetera, and they vary from school to school. For example, we can anticipate the Granger school will have certain general operation and maintenance costs with respect to utilities, janitorial services, et cetera. In that particular school, there will be one less bus required in the system because there will be many more students walking to school. For example, the Takhini Rec Centre will no longer be rented for purposes of providing school services.
There would be about a $100,000 offset. In the south highway school, there would be very little in the way of offsets to decrease the operation and maintenance costs of that particular facility. I do have operation and maintenance costs associated with each individual capital project, as best we can determine right now, especially if they are a long way from completion.
The costs associated with implementation of the education act will come forward when we debate the act. I will get those costs to the Member before we start debating the act, so there is an understanding of all the act entails, as well as the auxiliary costs we may feel are important but may not necessarily be directly tied to the legislation.
We feel that the legislation and the ancillary costs should come as part of the package.
Mr. Lang: I would like to touch on a couple of areas. First of all, in the supplementaries, we had some discussion about the apprenticeship review that was under way and the Minister undertook to tell us who had done the review of the apprenticeship area and the background of the individuals involved. Perhaps he can indicate at this time when he can make it public?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I did indicate who had done the evaluation and I remember repeating the names Orvil Rifka and Claire Brown, and their qualifications. With respect to the study itself, I am still not in a position to decide whether or not to make the report public, so consequently I cannot help the Member on that particular point at this time.
Chair: Would the Committee like to take a break?
Mr. Lang: I want to explore a little further into the document that was given to us from the B.C. curriculum, called Year 2000: A Curriculum and Assessment Framework for the Future, which was the aftermath of the initial Sullivan report that took place, I believe, in 1988 in the Province of British Columbia. I asked the Minister previously if the Department of Education had taken a position with respect to some very significant changes that are being recommended through this particular document. I am wondering if the Minister has had a chance to talk to the Department of Education to find out if a formal position has been taken on the various elements contained in this document. I also would like to ask the Minister of Education what is the position of the Province of British Columbia on this particular document and the proposed changes?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Firstly, I think the Department of Education in British Columbia is seeking to initiate the implementation of some elements of the new proposed changes to the B.C. curriculum. They are doing so more gradually than I think they had originally anticipated, largely because of the heat they were receiving - heat meaning the concerns and criticisms - from the school trustees and teachers and others associated with the education system. So, what they are doing is moving to provide for the implementation through a pilot status: picking a school in a particular district and considering the implementation of these changes there.
There are three major thrusts in the proposed changes: one is the ungraded kindergarten to grades 3 or 4 in the primary program; the second most significant change - some consider this the most significant change - is in the last couple of years of the students formal schooling, which would focus on those students who are going into the work force, on integration activities between school and work.
The third change covers the intermediate years, which will perhaps provide more of an emphasis on what they call creative thinking skills and problem solving. In terms of implementation, as I said before, they are going much more slowly than anticipated, and we have been sending out a work team of teachers and departmental officials and even including Education Council representatives, to go down to those schools where they are considering the implementation, on a pilot basis, to get an assessment of what the impact might be, and to also participate in B.C. Department of Education internal discussions concerning implementation.
We have not, at this point, decided to formally adopt any particular element of the B.C. program and its proposed changes. We do know we do have a considerable amount of time to make that decision, but at the same time, we are taking full advantage of each and every opportunity that the B.C. department puts forward, to understand the changes better. So consequently, we set up a project where we go down to work with people in B.C., to assess what some of the changes are. Some of the changes are going through a period evolution as well, as there is some discussion about putting these changes into practice. We are taking the potential for change seriously, recognizing that the implementation is some way off. We have not taken a position ourselves, with respect to any particular changes, even though some of them might have some interesting consequences. We are participating in B.C. department discussions about the speed and the extent to which the changes might take place in the future. They are looking at upwards of a 10-year implementation program or schedule, which will ultimately depend very much on whether or not they have the same political leadership in that province over the next 10-year period.
Assuming they do, there is still a great deal of time for us to assess the impacts to determine whether or not we want to pilot anything ourselves. If we do, we have some flexibility on when we can pilot. If we do not, we can watch the effects of the pilot projects in B.C. to determine whether or not they would be useful for us.
Mr. Lang: It seems to me there is a fairly set policy direction laid down in this paper. Whether it be implemented this year or three years from now, the principles of what would be instituted with the province of British Columbia are clearly stated. I would have thought the Department of Education would have taken some position in respect to a number of these areas so the general public would know what we are going to be looking at in our curriculum. The document we have here is very important. I submit that all Members of the House should read it. There are some significant changes in how we perceive the kindergarten to grade 12 school system as compared to the changes being recommended in this document.
First of all, I should ask him some specific questions. Does the Minister of Education agree that kindergarten to grade 3 should no longer be graded through tests but through the learning profiles and various other assessments?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It is critically and essentially important that one does not overstate the degree to which the B.C. Ministry is attempting to implement this new program. If anybody had been watching what is happening in B.C. since the documents were tabled, one will know how much resistance there has been and, consequently, how slowly people are accepting the implementation of this.
If one were to think this is suddenly going to be sprung in its stark form on the Yukon, they would be wrong. That is not the way it is going to happen.
As I have already indicated, we have not taken a position with respect to the implementation of these reforms in education from British Columbia. We have indicated we will participate in better understanding what they mean, and we are continually doing that. In future years, we may decide to consider pilot. We do not have to pilot if we do not want to, meaning we pick a school and implement the reforms through one school. We can assess the value of the changes through the pilots that are taking place in British Columbia, if we wish. If the Member is asking me what the government thinks, I can tell him we have not taken a position. I will repeat that again: we have not taken a position with respect to that matter. I have not taken a position personally either.
There is pedagogy surrounding it, there is some value to ungraded elementary grades, but there is some resistance to it. There are some concerns about establishing standards at annual intervals, meaning grades. There is some concern that some discipline will be lost in ensuring that certain standards are met.
There are pros and cons to the proposal. We have not taken a position. We are not forced into taking a position. There is a good decade of implementation. We can consider it thoroughly. The Member may want a quick answer, but it is not responsible. It is not what we are doing. We are working in concert with the Yukon Teachers Association and the Education Council in assessing these things.
Once the assessments are over, we will have a discussion in our community to see if we want to pilot these things or adopt any or none of the recommendations. That is the way that we will proceed.
Mr. Lang: I take exception to the comments by the Minister. If the Minister has some responsibilities and some leadership, he will realize that the majority of parents in the territory do not even know that this document exists. They do not even realize what is happening in B.C. could well be implemented into our school system here.
The reality of the situation is that 80 percent of our curriculum is the same as B.C.s. It is incumbent upon the political leadership to let the public know what its position is on some very significant policy changes.
The Minister says that we have 10 years to learn and think about it. That is 10 years as they implement this program in the Province of B.C. It will not then have been debated in its totality in the Yukon. We will just be following like a bunch of sheep. We will not even know what has happened.
There are some very fundamental issues here on which the government has to take some responsibility. It at least has to take a position. Should there be grades? Should there be tests in kindergarten to grade 3? Should we have our system graded as it has been in the past? Should we go into the system of primary intermediate or graduate? What effects will it have on our junior secondary to secondary? What effect will it have on the three-stage approach that is currently under way? What are the cost implications of such a program?
I am looking at this document. The taxpayers and the Government of the Yukon had better look at it very closely. It says to me that, with the pronounced principle of individualized programs for each student, we will have a significantly lower teacher-pupil ratio. If that is the case, the government should tell us that that is what it is going to do and what the implications will be.
I cannot see, for the life of me, how the Minister of Education can stand in his place and say, We have not taken a position on this, because it would be irresponsible. I submit that just the converse is true. It is irresponsible for the Minister of Education to be ignoring this particular document, other than talking about junkets and going down to Vancouver Island to look at some pilot projects. I find it absolutely amazing. Here they are, having a major public debate in the Province of British Columbia on an ongoing basis over the significant changes recommended from the initial Sullivan report to this stage, and our government has not said anything. When we question the government about it, the side opposite intimates to us and the general public that it is really not our business because we have 10 years to figure it out. In 10 years time, we will be so far down the garden path and if this is implemented we will not even know that it has been implemented.
Some very basic choices have to be made. One very basic choice has to be whether or not we are going to follow the B.C. curriculum if they adopt these changes. If they adopt these changes, are we prepared to look for an example in the Province of Alberta, because we cannot afford our own curriculum. That is a given. The expense is too great. There are some very real telling outstanding questions that face the general public through this Legislature and the Department of Education, and I do not think we can tolerate or accept the lack of leadership being exhibited on this particular document. At the same time, when you read through the draft education act, for example, they talk about leaving 20 percent of the school curriculum with the school authority or whatever. This document talks about 20 percent of the school curriculum being left at the local level as well. So, I submit that at least some of what is in this document has already been thought of in view of what is in the draft education act.
I do not understand how the Minister can stand in his place and say to the general public, We cannot take a position on this. I think there are some very significant principles involved in this, and I think that the Ministry of Education has a responsibility to do an assessment of this document and table it in this House to let us know what the Ministry thinks - both philosophically and in principle.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There is definitely a fundamental disagreement between the Member for Porter Creek East and me as to what constitutes leadership in this particular question.
When the Member cites the education act as an example of what he regards as pre-implementation of the B.C. Education Act changes in the Yukon school system, that is completely ridiculous. There is no necessary connection between the two at all.
Madam Chair, the Member for Porter Creek East has had all kinds of opportunity to speak his mind in the Legislature.
Mr. Lang: And I will.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: And I know the Member will. True to form. Nevertheless, I have the floor and I ask for a little respect.
The education act does show what the Yukon people, what the Department of Education thinks are the fundamental principles of education in this territory and how the education system should operate in this territory. It is a result of extensive consultation with the public. As to providing leadership in the education system, I would think that what we have done is the ultimate, and it is not simply dictating to the public what should be, in our wisdom as the Department of Education or the government; it involves a consultation with the public who is going to be affected by the decisions.
The Member seems to be assuming that there is a widespread knowledge in B.C. about how these changes that are being proposed by the B.C. Ministry are going to be effected in the school system. There is no widespread knowledge. There has been widespread controversy, but no widespread knowledge. That is the reason the brakes have been put on with this initiative. It is being implemented much more slowly than was ever considered by the Minister of Education in British Columbia.
The people in British Columbia do not know what it means. Consequently, they are asking to have someone come to a conference on doing a piloting project for those schools that feel they want to take a chance. They have literally hundreds of schools in British Columbia. There are bound to be a few that are willing to take that chance. Those are the schools that are trying it on for size.
To visit those schools and discuss with those educators what the potential impacts are going to be is not a junket. It is a needed analysis of what the changes may entail before we make our decisions in our own Yukon school system as to whether or not we want to implement any of these, in some respects, radical changes.
With respect to the analysis of the changes, last year we struck a team of people representative of the Yukon Teachers Association, the Education Council, the Council for Yukon Indians and the department to start to better understand what these changes might mean in practical terms. We are at least the equivalent of any school district in British Columbia in terms of understanding what the changes might mean. The difference is that we can make the decision as to whether or not we want to participate or opt out, and they cannot. They are operating and moving slowly. We are on top of things.
In terms of providing leadership, after all the time we have spent in this Legislature over the last few years talking about consultation, I would think this would be one area where the Yukon public would not tolerate a Minister of Education standing up and saying yea or nay on these changes. They have been used to significant consultation on everything from the legal framework under which education operates to curriculum initiatives, the operation of schools, to the running of school buses. This government does not turn one single degree without consultation, especially in the Yukon school system. To take the kind of leadership the Member thinks we should take is irresponsible, given the expectation by the public and school committees to consult.
What is the first step in a consultation? The first step is to find out what they are doing in B.C., because other school districts do not know either. So, we have set up a team of people to start finding out what it will be before we implement anything in the Yukon, or before we make a decision on whether or not we are going to implement something in the Yukon, and then have the discussion back here. In one respect, the Member is right. People do not know what the issues are. They do not know what the changes entail. For us to find out, we have to go to B.C. and find out. We have to hear from B.C. what the changes entail, and that is the reason why we have this group doing that. There are many different things, and some of them are fundamental changes.
If there was a demand that, someday, we could magically expect them to show a gross misunderstanding of what curriculum is all about, if there was the suggestion that, come September of next year, all the curriculum material would be changed and there is no way we could possibly ever do anything other than B.C., and the B.C. government decided that every school district in the province is going to implement these new things, there would be cause for worry, but that is not the way it is.
Consequently, it is not a cause for concern. What we should be doing is deliberating, making the effort to understand, and drawing in the constituent groups who demand to be a part of changes like this. We should bring them in, have them analyze what the effects of the changes are so we can make a considered judgment, discuss what these potential changes might mean with school committees, and decide for ourselves whether or not we are going to opt in or opt to adopt another provinces curriculum.
It is too soon to take a position. There is no school district in B.C. that has taken a position. Why is the Member insisting that we take a position on this matter right here and now? It is not a responsible approach. The Member is right. It is the publics business.
The public should be involved. That is what I am saying. The public is involved and has been for some time. It has been participating and analyzing the changes. They will be analyzing the changes more in the future. There will then be a public discussion in the Yukon on whether or not we will adopt any of those changes.
Mr. Lang: The document we have before us very specifically states that the feedback to the paper will be carefully analyzed and used to prepare a final curriculum and assessment framework document that will be distributed in March 1990. Once finalized, the framework will serve as a basis for future provincial curriculum development assessment activities.
Is the Minister telling us the March 1990 deadline has been delayed?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am telling the Member the whole implementation of this initiative has been strung out and delayed while people have an opportunity to understand what it was doing. That is one of the reasons why the move is to try certain elements of the initiative on a pilot school basis. That takes those schools that voluntarily want to opt in as the pilots.
We do not have to watch the 6:00 p.m. news or read the B.C. papers to know that people do not understand all the consequences. They are not sure if this is just a fad or if it has a good pedagogical base. They want the time, and they are demanding the time. The situation in B.C. has forced the conclusion that the request for time has to be accommodated. That is what I am saying.
We do have the time to analyze this more deliberately than the rushed agenda that was originally announced when these initiatives came out.
Mr. Lang: The Minister still has not answered my question. March 1990 was the date that was set for all observations and critiques of this particular document to be submitted to the Ministry of Education in British Columbia. I understand from the Minister that that has been extended. Would the Minister clarify for us what time frame is British Columbia now working on for those school districts that do not understand or are confused about this document? How much time do they have to put forward their point of view before they finalize the proposed curriculum changes and assessments?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: With respect to the actual timetables, if the B.C. department is foolhardy enough to set other rigid dates, then I can certainly try to get those dates for the Member. I do not have them on the top of my head. What I am told, though, is that there is a great deal of time available to us and we can make deliberate choices should we wish. That is the assumption under which I am operating, and the consultative approach we have designed will be undertaken. The Member should know that the confusion is not in just a few school districts in B.C. but, I would say, the vast majority of school districts in B.C.
With respect to the actual timetables, I can find that out.
Mr. Lang: Could the Minister tell us when the working group he referred to was formed to look at this? The project team he talked about.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It was formed, I believe, last fall - exactly when, I am not sure in terms of what date they first met, but it was last fall.
Mr. Lang: This goes once again to the knowledge of what is going on. I do not recall there ever being any public statement that such a project team had been formed to analyze and evaluate what was happening with the B.C. curriculum. My question to the Minister is: why was it not made known to the public that there was a working group within the Department of Education along with representatives from outside the department as well? We are seriously looking at evaluating this situation.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I do not know what public the Member is talking about. The Education Council, as far as I am concerned, is a constituent part of the public. CYI is also a constituent part of the public. One might argue that the Yukon Teachers Association borders a public department. Certainly, we have been discussing, it and I have discussed it in the media - not the project team but our desire to analyze the situation in British Columbia before we take a decision to also discuss the elements in the Yukon before we make a decision. This is merely an implementation of that initiative and certainly, in terms of the project team itself, it is well known to the Education Council, which represents all school committees.
It is known to the Council for Yukon Indians, which represents all bands. It is know to the YTA, who have had more participants than others. I had indicated publicly that we are going to be reviewing the B.C. curriculum changes deliberately and thoroughly before any decisions are made. I have indicated there has to be a period of time during which the changes are being analyzed before such time as we have public discussion so we know what we are referring to when we initiate the consultation with each school committee.
I do not think there is anything particularly new in this approach. It is important business, but it is what we will expect, given the kind of consultation this government is famous for.
Mr. Lang: Has the project team put any recommendations forward yet?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: No.
Mr. Lang: Quite a number of us deem this to be an important issue. Could the Minister undertake to provide us with any recommendations that are provided through the project team or the Education Council with respect to this document so we are fully aware of developments as they progress?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Absolutely. There will also be a very thorough and public consultation with respect to this matter. Anyone would have to have a sack over his head not to notice the consultation when it happens.
With respect to the recommendations of the project team, I can communicate with the Member. He has expressed a particular interest in this area. I can communicate further and even regularly with the Member to indicate the status or update of the situation.
Mr. Lang: I would say it is a fairly significant situation where it is not just affecting one Member in the House. I have raised the question, and I would suggest that all Members on this side would want to receive an update as things develop. It is going to have significant social implications in all our ridings and, in that view, it is going to have political consequences.
We would like to be aware of events as they unfold instead of waiting to read it in the newspaper maybe three weeks after a recommendation has been put forward. I appreciate the Ministers undertaking.
Can the Minister tell us who is on the project team. He talked about the organizations but who is actually representing us on this public body?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Some of them are: from the department, Ernie Laughton and Dr. Sheila Rose, director of curricula, are on the team; Karen Lamerst, Chair of the Education Council is involved; the CYI representatives change from time to time, so I will have to check on that representation. There are a number of people who are involved from the YTA, depending on the particular area. A number of teachers have been participating.
If the Member wants to know those names, I can dig them out. They are specialists in various areas of the curriculum. Glen Howard, past-president of the YTA, is going down to B.C. shortly. The other names do not spring to mind, but I can have all the participants names made known to the Member.
Mr. Lang: They should be made to the public as well.
I asked some questions about the recommendations a few weeks ago about the recommendations by the school bussing committee. The Minister said that those recommendations would be forthcoming. I would like copies of the recommendations and copies of his response if he has given one.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Member asked particularly about a run from Wann Road to Basswood and Cedar Crescent. I have not responded to the School Busing Committees response on that recommendation. They indicated through the department to me that they feel for a variety of reasons that it would not be a good idea to ask the bus to take the loop around Basswood and Cedar.
They have indicated that it would extend the - I am trying to remember reasons for it from memory - length of time the bus would take to complete its route on a tight schedule. They said that it would create a precedent for other loops to be added. They feel that in the past there were expressions of concern by residents on the loops that the bus swallows up the whole road. They have indicated that the bus driver now asks all the students who board the bus on Wann Road to not cross the road before the bus gets there but to wait instead on the north side of the road and then wait until the bus stops and the flashing lights start; then the children cross the road to board the bus and they feel that that is a reasonable solution.
I have not made a response to that at this time. I will hear the Members comment on that tomorrow afternoon but the time is getting short, Madam Chair, and I would 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 from the Chair of Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some. Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved the hon. Government House Leader that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: This House now stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. tomorrow.
The House adjourned at 9:29 p.m.
The following Sessional Papers were tabled February 19, 1990:
The Report of the Chief Electoral Officer of Yukon, February, 1990 (Speaker, Johnston)
Annual Report, Department of Justice, 1988-89, for the year ending March 31, 1989 (M. Joe)
Yukon Utilities Board Annual Report, for the year ending March 31, 1989 (M. Joe)