Tuesday, February 20, 1990 - 1:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. We will proceed with Prayers.
Speaker: We will proceed with the Order Paper.
Introduction of Visitors.
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS
Mrs. Firth: I would like to introduce today, Usana Patramontree from Thailand. She is with the Ottawa office of the Auditor General. Usana will spend a year in Canada as part of the Auditor General fellowship program. In August she will return to her home in Thailand.
I would like to ask all Members to join me in welcoming Usana and hope she enjoys this beautiful Yukon day as her first visit to the north.
Speaker: Are there any Returns or Documents for Tabling?
TABLING RETURNS OR DOCUMENTS
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I have a number of returns for tabling today.
Speaker: Are there any Reports of Committees?
Introduction of Bills.
Are there any Notices of Motion for the Production of Papers?
Notices of Motion.
Are there any Statements by Ministers?
This then brings us to the Question Period.
Question re: Devolution, forestry
Mr. Phelps: I have some questions for the Minister responsible for the Executive Council regarding devolution. Talks have been going on for some time about the devolution of the forestry program from the federal government to the Government of Yukon. We know that the program was devolved to the Government of the NWT several years ago.
Can the Minister tell us where we are in these negotiations for devolution?
Hon. Mr. Webster: We are still in the preliminary stages of the devolution discussions. I would like to remind the Member opposite of the situation with the NWT; they just have the responsibility for fire suppression, not the whole responsibility for management of forestry in general.
Mr. Phelps: Can the Minister tell us what we are going for in our negotiations? Is it more than the NWT got, or the same?
Hon. Mr. Webster: The Yukon is planning to go for a full devolution of responsibility, including management of the forestry sector.
Mr. Phelps: Is there any target date for when the negotiations will be concluded and the transfer will have taken place?
Hon. Mr. Webster: A preliminary target has been set for some time in 1991. Of course, the Yukon is busy in preparation right now with some policy papers for public review, on which we can base some decisions to come forward with some forestry legislation.
Question re: Devolution, forestry
Mr. Phelps: In January, I raised the issue of decentralization of the Yukon government and suggested that forestry might ideally be based in the Watson Lake area to lend stability to that community. I am wondering whether or not any discussions have taken place between the Watson Lake council and this government with regard to the forestry transfer and the possibility of basing that program in Watson Lake?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Such discussions would be premature. I have indicated before to the Member, perhaps in that round of questions to which he referred, that the government is developing a policy on decentralization. I indicated at the time of those questions that federal program devolution gave us an opportunity to achieve some of those objectives, and we were looking quite positively on the prospect of the forestry program being centred in Watson Lake. The Member will know, though, since he has referred to the fire suppression program, that there is already, from the staff of that program, a very substantial lobby, which we have heard as MLAs and Ministers, that locating the fire program in Watson Lake would be a bad management decision. It is that kind of device we will have to be looking at. Certainly, our notion has been to look quite kindly on the prospect of the forestry management program being located in that area, which is the centre of the forestry industry in the Yukon.
Mr. Phelps: Can the Minister tell us which departments in this government have been examined with regard to decentralizing departments and moving people to rural communities?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: We have received a number of suggestions from a number of quarters, including that committee, but I want to make it clear to the Member that no department is being slated for devolution - no department, in total. We are not actively contemplating that. The candidates for devolution are likely to be units and branches rather than departments, or perhaps even some functions. I have previously indicated to the Member that prime candidates would be programs that are about to be devolved from the federal government since we think some of the space, personnel and other issues attendant with the most complex devolution propositions can be more successfully addressed in that scenario.
Question re: Mammography unit
Mrs. Firth: I have a question for the Minister responsible for the Womens Directorate with respect to the mammography unit.
The Yukon Advisory Council on Womens Issues feel they have been let down and are angry. I am glad they are there when we need them to stand up for women.
Why have we not heard anything from her or her department? Specifically, what representation has she made to the Minister for Health and Human Resources with respect to the mammography unit?
Hon. Ms. Joe: I am also pleased that we do have a committee that stands up for equality for women. I would also like to say that prior to becoming Minister responsible for the Womens Directorate, the Womens Bureau was on its way out with the old government. Thank God for this government that it has been reactivated.
I have made presentations to the Minister responsible for Health and Human Resources and would like to refer this question to him.
Mrs. Firth: It is fine for the Minister to say that the Womens Directorate is working, but we have not heard a peep out of them or the Minister with respect to this issue. They are not doing women very much good just sitting there silent.
With respect to this specific issue, did the Minister make representation to the Minister of Health and Human Resources that the money for the mammography unit be included in the supplementary budget?
Hon. Ms. Joe: I have made representation to the Minister responsible for Health and Human Resources. It is not up to me to divulge my discussions with him in regard to anything in this House. She has asked me if I have done that, and I certainly have. It has been a priority with all of us. This is the only government that has ever listened to women in the Yukon.
Question re: Mammography unit
Mrs. Firth: The history we are talking about is on the record. For two years, women of the Yukon have been waiting for a mammography unit. The Minister responsible for the Womens Directorate made no public comment. We heard not one peep from that group or the Minister. The advisory council had to come out with a press release and express extreme anger and frustration at dealing with this government - which looks after women? - and that is why we do not have a mammography machine.
The person I am directing the question to was the Minister responsible for the mammography unit for four years. Now we have a new Minister who is responsible for another year, and still no mammography unit.
Has the Minister of the Womens Directorate made strong representation and can she, in any way, reassure us that there will be money included in the supplementary budget so women are going to have a mammography unit for use now?
Hon. Ms. Joe: I can assure this House that I have made strong representation to the Minister responsible for Health and Human Resources. I can also assure this House that there will be a mammography machine in the Yukon.
Mrs. Firth: Either the representation is not strong enough, or the Minister of Health and Human Resources is not hearing the Ministers words. Has the Minister of Health and Human Resources heard the message from his colleague, the Minister responsible for the Womens Directorate and from his other colleagues? Will he make a commitment that money will be in the supplementary budget for that mammography unit?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The Minister of Justice, the Minister responsible for the Womens Directorate and I are in perfect harmony on this question. We support each other in this objective.
Mrs. Firth: Perfect harmony hardly expresses one Minister making a commitment during an election campaign, then the other Minister becomes the new Minister of Health and Human Resources and cancels the commitment for funding. The Minister of Justice says that it was never cancelled. The advisory council states in its report that a commitment was made.
It was a commitment for funding, not just for the machine. Will the Minister responsible for Health tell us if women of the Yukon will be able to read the supplementary budget and see a specific identification of money there for a mammography unit?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The Member knows very well that we do not announce the contents of supplementary budgets in advance. The commitment of this government to obtain a mammography unit and provide a comprehensive mammography service is a matter of record. I have indicated today in a legislative return, probably not yet been received by the Member, our exact intentions on that score.
Question re: Contracts
Mr. Nordling: I have a question for the Minister of Health and Human Resources with respect to contracts. During debate on the supplementary estimates, the Minister of Health and Human Resources tabled a list of contracts that had been completed as of December 7, 1989. Before we debate the Department of Health and Human Resources in the main budget for 1990-91, will the Minister table a list of all contracts, both completed and outstanding, up to January 31?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I can certainly indicate to the House all the contracts that were completed by January 31, and I can try to give information about others. I do not intend to table some contracts where work is in progress, especially if it involves negotiations or Cabinet submissions.
Question re: Contracts
Mrs. Firth: If I could just follow up on that with a question respecting the same issue: last week, I asked the Minister of Health and Human Resources for two contracts: one for John Walsh and one for Doug Rody with respect to their work on the health transfer. At that time, the Minister said he had signed a letter and that I would receive a letter and one contract. He said he had signed the letter yesterday, which, according to Hansard, meant on Wednesday, February 14. I have still not received any correspondence from the Minister - that is four government mail days - and I would like to ask the Minister if the correspondence has been sent to me or if I am going to get it or what has happened to it?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I may have misspoke myself the first time I answered the Member; what I had in fact done was approve a draft. I have subsequently signed a letter to the Member and if she has not received it today I would be happy to provide her with a photocopy.
Mrs. Firth: I am looking forward to receiving it. I just want to point out that the Minister of Health was very firm in his answer and now we are finding out that he may have misspoken himself. I look forward to getting that correspondence at the Ministers earliest convenience.
Question re: Contracts
Mr. Nordling: I would like to clarify what will be available. Is the Minister saying we are not going to get contracts that are in progress that deal with negotiations? Is that what he is saying, and is that why the Member for Riverdale South will only be getting one contract - because either John Walsh or Doug Rody are in continuing negotiations?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: With respect to contracts dealing with work in progress, as will other Ministers, I will review requests for copies of those contracts on a case-by-case basis. As for myself, I have indicated to the Member that if the contracts involve work dealing with preparation of policy documents or Cabinet submissions or negotiations, I will reserve the publication of those documents until the work is completed.
Question re: Trust company feasibility study
Mr. Lang: Last week, we were informed by the Minister of Economic Development that a grant had been given for $25,000 to the Yukon Development Corporation for looking at the feasibility of a trust company proposal. Part of the result of that study identified alternatives for the Yukon Development Corporation to participate as a stockholder - I presume in a trust company. I have a question for the Minister responsible for the Yukon Development Corporation. Could he tell us whether or not the Yukon Development Corporation is going to be participating in a trust company as a stockholder, or in any other way?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Such a question has not even been contemplated by the board, nor by the government. The Member may know that under the agreements we have with the aboriginal people on the land claims negotiations - I cannot recall the exact language - there is language to the effect that the Government of Canada and the Government of Yukon will make their best efforts to see such a financial institution established in the Yukon. I am assuming the work done by the Development Corporation is early work toward the assessment of the viability of that objective.
Mr. Lang: I gather the report has been completed. Can the Minister undertake to table the report in the House so we can view the viability of such an operation?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I understand nothing of the kind. Certainly the Minister has not seen any report yet. When I do, I will take under advisement the question of tabling it.
Mr. Lang: Maybe I misunderstood, but I was under the impression the study had been completed. Can the Minister tell us who is doing the study on behalf of the Yukon Development Corporation?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: It is a nationally prominent consulting firm. I do not know the name of the firm off the top of my head but I can take that question as notice.
Question re: Business development loan funding
Ms. Hayden: My question is for the Minister of Economic Development.
Out of a total of more than $2.5 million in business development fund loans, I find it curious that Members opposite have seen fit to zero in on the Yukon Indian Development Corporation, Tagish Kwan and Bald Eagle. The Members received a list of all projects approved to date under the business development fund. I have noted under the non-repayable category, BDF approved a total of $34,505 for the Yukon Chamber of Commerce. Other non-repayable funding included $44,200 to the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce, and $19,000 to the Klondike Placer Miners.
Given these additional examples of current funding, can the Minister tell this House what organizations have benefited from BDF funding in the past?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I do find it passing strange as well that the line of questioning yesterday seemed to focus not only on the Yukon Development Corporation as it continued to do today, but it seemed to zero in on those corporations sponsored by native organizations.
I do not want to leave the impression for the Member that only native corporations apply for funding when they account for a very small proportion of the number of applicants.
The Member for Riverdale South calls this disgusting. I find the line of questioning yesterday quite disgusting as well.
A number of projects have made application. The vast majority were for non-native corporations. The Gold Rush Inn, for example, received $250,000.
Speaker: Order please. Would the Member please conclude his answer.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Mr. Speaker, I am trying.
There were a long list of items, but some of the more significant items could have included the hotel space we are providing loan funding for in Whitehorse and in Dawson City hotels at $500,000 and the Gold Rush Inn at $250,000.
Ms. Hayden: I also noted that the loan to Yukon Indian Development Corporation is in the repayable, non interest-bearing category. The loan to the Tagish Kwan/Bald Eagle is in the repayable, interest-bearing category. Another sizable business development fund loan of $50,000 was approved for the Annie Lake Golf Club, also in the repayable, interest-bearing category, as was approval for $40,000 for the Yukon ...
Speaker: Order please. Would the Member please get to the supplementary question.
Ms. Hayden: For the information of those present in the House and the general public, would the Minister please explain the difference among the three - non-repayable; repayable, non-interest; and repayable, interest-bearing - categories of the business development fund funding and the general intent of each category?
Some Hon. Members: (inaudible)
Speaker: Order please.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Mr. Speaker, would you please get the yelping dogs on the Conservative side to delay their baying to some other time?
The questioning yesterday was a sad state of affairs. It is important to point out that the business development fund has a wide range of clients.
With respect to the non-repayable contributions, these are not as readily available as are the repayable loans that require interest or no interest.
The guidelines for the application of funding ...
Some Hon. Members: (inaudible)
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Mr. Speaker, obviously the Members on the Conservative side are more than embarrassed about the rather direct and prejudiced questions with respect to the native corporation.
Speaker: Order please.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: They are very concerned and are trying to shout out the Question Period.
The guidelines for the funding program are readily available for the media.
Question re: Trust company feasibility study
Mr. Lang: This has been an embarrassing display for all of us. I apologize. We are asking questions about things like the Yukon Development Corporation. I want to go back to the Minister responsible for that corporation as far as the trust fund and the $25,000 non-repayable grant it received from the Minister of Economic Development to study the feasibility of a trust company.
In his response to my first question of whether or not the Yukon Development Corporation was going to become involved in a trust company, the Minister said no, not to his knowledge. On February 19, the Minister of Economic Development indicated the terms of reference included the identification of alternatives for the Yukon Development Corporation to participate as a stockholder.
If it is not the intention of the Yukon Development Corporation to become involved in the formation of a trust company, why is this part of the terms of reference of the study the Minister referred to earlier?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am sure it has not escaped the attention of anybody that when the Members are asking about hiring or funding, they never ask about prominent Conservatives or prominent Conservative businessmen who found a way into the public service during our time.
I am happy to answer questions, even the more odious questions from that Member opposite.
If you are going to assess the viability of any proposition, including a proposition such as creating a trust company for the Yukon Territory, you have to look at the options in terms of establishing it, including the various options in terms of shareholding.
Were such a step ever contemplated by this government, it would first require a Cabinet decision. Secondly, I am certain it would require legislation in this House. Any consideration of this step is in the very early days. The Development Corporations work in this field will provide us with some of the options and some of the information we will need, but it is not a step that will be taken lightly by this government, even though the general desirability of having a domestic financial institution is something that we think would be a good idea in the long term. There are enough problems associated with such institutions in neighbouring western Canadian jurisdictions that I am sure we would want to proceed very cautiously.
However, as I recall from the land claims agreement, we are required to have a look at this, and that is what we are doing.
Question re: Skagway Dock
Mr. Phillips: I am almost afraid to ask this question because it is about the Yukon Development Corporation, and I know the Government Leader is quite sensitive about it.
Around January 18, the Government Leader and senior officials from the Yukon Development Corporation were in Juneau and met with Alaskan officials. Could the Government Leader tell us what the nature of that visit was?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: There have been press reports that describe the visit. The purpose of the discussions with the state government were further to the situation in Skagway, which was described by Judge Lilles as a bottleneck monopoly, and one that is very costly to Yukon consumers and producers.
The Governor of Alaska has now introduced into the Legislature of that state a bill designed to see the establishment of port facilities in that community. We were briefed about that initiative by the Governor and his officials. We were further advised about the developments in Skagway, where the issue of this development would be put to a vote on April 17 of this year.
While there, we also met a number of members of the Senate and the House to have discussions on the same subject.
Mr. Phillips: Could the Government Leader tell us what interests the Yukon Development Corporation has in the proposed dock facility in Skagway?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: If the Member is asking what financial interests, the answer is none. At this point, the Yukon Development Corporation has a responsibility as lead agency on this project, as charged by the government. That was explained by the Minister responsible for Economic Development yesterday. There is no proposal right now that would involve us investing any money in it at all. I do not discount that possibility, but there is no proposal to do that.
As I described it in answers to questions some days ago, our objective remains that we would like to see a free port there. We would like to see competition in the port. Failing that, we would like to see a public facility that would be run for the benefit of all the consumers and producers in this area.
Mr. Phillips: The Minister has expressed a great interest in a new port facility in Skagway. Is the Minister contemplating this government will be contributing financially to a port facility in Skagway?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I have already answered that question. We are not contemplating it at this moment. We have no such proposal before us. The interest we have in that facility is the public interest of the people of the Yukon. That has been articulated before.
The evidence from Judge Lilles report is that both producers and consumers here are being ripped off right now with the present arrangements. That is not good for the development of the territory. Therefore, that is something we want to change. Major investors in the territory have made the argument that it is strategically important for the economic future of the territory that the port be opened up there, consistent with the free trade agreement that the Members opposite are so pleased with.
We should be trying to see Skagway become a free port. That would be in the interest of both the State of Alaska, the Yukon Territory and for both our countries.
Question re: Yukon College Gymnasium
Mr. Devries: The gym at Yukon College was supposed to have been open late last year. The Minister of Education stated in late January the facility would be open within a few weeks. More than a few weeks have now passed. Could the Minister advise the House if the college gym is open? If it is not, why not?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The matter of the college gym has been the subject of discussion between the chair of the board of governors of Yukon College and myself in the last couple of weeks. At that time, I made it clear to the chair of the board that the management and the opening of the gym is the responsibility of the board, as the chair of the board has assumed. Consequently, we have not directed any official opening exercise to occur. Instead, we have asked the college board to review the matter and establish an opening schedule and management schedule for the college gym.
Ultimately, the matter has been left up to the board, as it should. We will be hearing from them very shortly I am sure.
Mr. Devries: I could be mistaken, but my understanding was that the Minister of Education was still responsible for the buildings. I thought the administration, et cetera, had been turned over. It should not take four or five months to install bleachers in the gymnasium. Can the Minister check into the situation and see why it has not been opened? Since it has been cold a lot of the students have not been able to get out for exercise, and the leading educators claim that if students do not exercise their bodies they have a hard time getting their minds to work properly.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am tempted to respond primarily to the call for exercise among Yukon College students rather than the question being put.
Just as a brief history lesson: in 1988 the Legislature passed something called the Yukon College Act. The Yukon College Act anticipated that an interim board, then a permanent board of governors would manage the operations of college facilities in the territory. In this particular case, it is in the City of Whitehorse.
When the interim board was appointed, they arranged for the management of those facilities up until the time a permanent board was appointed. A permanent board was appointed on January 22, 1990, and the permanent board is consequently charged with managing the facilities of the college. The facilities of the college include a gymnasium. Consequently, the board of governors is responsible for the management of the operations of the college in college buildings, which include a gymnasium. I hope that makes the situation clear for the Member.
Question re: Yukon College gymnasium
Mr. Phelps: What we are talking about is the actual completion of construction and whether or not the gym has been completed to the satisfaction of this government, and whether it, therefore, has been turned over to the college board to manage. Has it been completed?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: That is a much easier question to answer. To my knowledge, it has been completed. The Member asked about opening ceremonies. Perhaps he was being cute. I was responding to the question about opening ceremonies.
Mr. Phelps: We are told then that the government is happy with the completed building and bleachers, and it is simply up to the board of governors to determine when it should be open. Is that the position the Minister is giving us?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The exact arrangement with respect to the contractor and the Department of Government Services is not known to me. I am told there is very little holding up the prospect of opening ceremonies and the turning of the gym over to the college board. Consequently, my understanding is that the gym is finished. If there are any outstanding items of a minor nature, I am not aware of them at this time. I understand the college gym can be open for service almost any time.
Mr. Phelps: Either it has been completed and has been turned over or has not been completed and has not been turned over. Which is it?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: If there is a signing-off ceremony between Government Services, as the owner, and the contractor, I am not privy to that particular detail. I have been told by the Department of Education that there is very little holding up the opening ceremony, so I have communicated that to the college board.
Question re: Yukon College gymnasium
Mr. Phelps: This started out as a very simple question from the Member for Watson Lake. I do not have the luxury of sitting beside the Minister of Government Services, as does the Minister of Education, but perhaps the Minister of Government Services can tell us whether or not the gym has been completed to the satisfaction of government, that the bleachers are all installed and the facility is signed off and ready to turn over to the college board?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: For the Members information, I have to tell him that I am not knowledgeable at this time as to precisely the status of the gymnasium turnover. I will undertake to provide that detail to the Member.
Mr. Phelps: In the event that the gym has not been completed to the satisfaction of government, could we be advised as to what the problems are and what remains to be done, before the gym is turned over to the college to be managed?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The answer, in short, is yes.
Question re: Motor vehicle registration
Mr. Brewster: My questions are to the Minister of Community Affairs and Transportation Services. Can the Minister advise the House whether it is true that all motor vehicles in Yukon must be registered by March 31?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: To my knowledge, the Members assessment is correct.
Mr. Brewster: Since I suspect the majority of Yukoners are thoroughly confused about the new system for motor vehicle registration, will the Minister advise the House what steps he is taking to correct the current mass public confusion he has created?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: With respect, I would suggest that the confusion may lie in the Members perception of things. It is correct that not as many people have reregistered their vehicles to date, as in the past, and it is my understanding that the motor vehicles branch will be engaged in a publicity campaign to encourage people to do it soon and quickly, so as to avoid the lineups that we inadvertently will still see this year. As the Member knows, we are introducing the staggered licensing system for future years, but this year we will be required to register vehicles by March 31, at which point people will have an option as to when to select their next registration time. The motor vehicles branch are encouraging people to get their vehicles registered, and I am sure the Member is encouraged by that.
Mr. Brewster: It is no wonder I was confused a little bit, but I am in quite a good class, because there are quite a few confused people. If you take a look at the chart, it says 10 months or 22 months, 11 months or 23 months, 12 months, 13 months, 14 months. My question of the Minister is: can he advise the House what he is doing to help the rural residents? Are they going to have to be registered once or is government going to make 12 trips up the road for each month?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member is correct that there are options available to people when they do reregister, and one of the efforts the motor vehicles branch is putting in place is to increase the number of reception clerks available for people here in the Whitehorse office. In the rural areas, the government agents, where they are located, will continue to provide those registrations. During the course of the coming years we are going to be increasing our frequency of visitations to communities for the purposes not only of registering vehicles but also to provide for increased opportunities for people to write and pass drivers licence tests.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now lapsed. We will now proceed with Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Government House Leader that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
Speaker leaves the Chair
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order. We will now take a short recess.
Chair: I call Committee to order.
We are continuing with general debate on Department of Education.
Bill No. 19 - First Appropriation Act, 1990-91 - continued
Education - continued
Mr. Devries: I just have a few general questions. In the supplementaries the Minister talked about 12 vacancies in the Department of Education. I believe one of them has been filled by Wally Seipp. I guess the question would be: who is taking Wallys place for the position of regional superintendent for area one?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I do not know who will take the place of Mr. Seipp now that he has been appointed to the superintendent position. The position will be up for competition and the best-qualified man or woman will get the job, I am sure, once the competition takes place. As we normally do in the senior levels of the branch, we have an interview committee that incorporates Education Council and CYI interests, as well. That is the past practice in filling senior positions in the department.
Mr. Devries: Regarding the other 12 vacancies, what is their status?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There are a number of vacant person years: accounts payable clerk in finance and administration; a teacher in the pass program; a coordinator for the learning resource centre - these are under recruitment. There is the position of director of research and planning for advanced education. There has been no replacement selected at this point. The incumbent is someone who is on secondment from the Alberta government. The manager of employment development programs, in that branch as well, resigned, and that hiring decision was left until after the new ADM is appointed.
The position of conservator in the libraries and archives branch is one of the vacant positions. It is scheduled to expire on March 31. The other positions in the archives branch are under recruitment presently. They should be filled within the next month to two months.
Mr. Devries: I am just reviewing the yellow pages. I am surprised that the Department of Education is within $30 to $40 of the average cost per Canadian student for education. I had expected that our costs would be slightly higher.
Several years ago at a school committee conference, I found it interesting when a teacher from Whitehorse gave a presentation on curriculum. All the parents were asking that it be put into the schools. She drew a picture of a student, and made a circle with the four areas: spiritual, mental, et cetera. She then wrote on a transparency all the things that the parents would like to see in the school.
When this transparency was put over top of the four main points that education should try to achieve, it seemed as if the student was blocked out as well as the four main points. This indicates some of the fears that surround the education act. The act is trying to meet so many of the desires of parents and interest groups that we may be losing sight of the student and the three basic Rs of education. Does the Minister have any comments on that?
The Minister was talking about developing the curriculum. I would appreciate any copies of any different areas that are developed so that I can review them. That would be an education for me.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The cost per student in the Yukon has been changing because the student population is becoming more urban oriented than it has in the past. It is no secret that the Whitehorse population is growing faster than is the rural population. The cost of education in the Yukon has historically been high because of the high cost of providing full programs in communities with a very small student population. That is less so now we have the economies of scale on our side in an urban setting - the Whitehorse setting. Consequently, our cost ought to be more in line with some of the provinces that spend more on education than others in the country. That trend is not surprising.
For the information of the Member, the cost per student is not a factor in the teacher pay increase, which is one of the elements that has yet to be included.
The crush of requests from the public for curriculum additions into the system is a point of concern to educators around the territory. There is always the feeling you can add on new programs, new neat ideas, into the curriculum as if there is a bottomless pit of time available in a day for a child to absorb this material. It is almost as if no sense of priorities must be inflicted on the curriculum for children, because there is always an opportunity to add more things.
We have to understand that when there is a request for tourism education programming or driver education programming, or an endless list of new project ideas, there is only so much a school day can accommodate. What we are talking about doing is not consciously adding more programs to the curriculum development department, which would add more subjects to the system and compete with the time during the day, but change how we are doing things - change a standard unit in the B.C. curriculum, for example, and ensure that certain quality standards are met using Yukon terms of reference, Yukon history, Yukon biology, Yukon geography, Yukon environment, Yukon community life, rather than that curriculum that involves terms of reference alien to the students. You do not have to go very far in rural Yukon for people to be concerned about the Mr. Mugs reader, for example.
It makes references to big English sheepdogs that very few people in the Yukon have ever seen, and in an urban setting, which very few people have experienced. At the same time, you are trying to teach reading skills to the children. The one thing that makes the reading program easier to absorb is the fact that, in teaching reading, you are referring to things that are familiar to them in a manner that respects who they are as a community.
For example, if you went to Old Crow and were teaching children how to read English, it is important that people there, who have their own cultural traditions, their own way of learning and their own terms of reference in their own community, should have a reading program that meshes with their community and not something that is alien to them from the beginning. Too much of that alienation builds up, and people lose their respect for education systems and, tragically in some cases, lose their respect for learning and education itself. The task of the Yukon Department of Education is to change the way we do things, rather than to add on more projects that cannot be accommodated in a five-hour day.
I will be more than happy to pass over some of the curriculum projects that the department is looking at doing. I cited some of them in my opening remarks. Those are some of the major ones we are undertaking. If the Member wants more information about those, I will be more than happy to accommodate him.
Mr. Devries: I would even appreciate some of the ones that are in native languages. I am sure I can find a few interpreters around.
There was one other question the Member for Porter Creek had asked. The Minister was going to supply us with the names of the people who are involved in research being done on the B.C. curriculum.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: With respect to the native language program, that is one of the more exciting and attractive areas in terms of innovative approaches to learning, as well as an expansion of program efforts. They are interested and keen to provide a full school program, right through to grade 12. The challenge is to ensure that there are teachers in each of the major language groups in the territory who are fully qualified, and that the program materials are sophisticated enough to take it to high school programming, and the possibility for program expansion should not be hindered by the availability of teaching and professional backup staff.
They have been doing some very exciting things in the last little while, and we have also determined finally - and I think this concerns a question emanating from Watson Lake some years ago - that the native language program at the grade 12 level is an acceptable language qualification for getting into some universities that do have a native language prerequisite. The taking of native languages in the future, once the program development has been built to accept high school programming as well, will be common knowledge to parents should they wish to enter their child in a native language program. This native language program itself can be a prerequisite for entering university. It is not simply an elective that bears no relation to prequalification for university level courses.
The team members I referred to yesterday are: Doctor Sheila Rose, who is a director of curriculum; Terry Corcoran, who is a regional superintendent; Jeannette McCrie, a primary supervisor; Wolf Riedl, representative of the Principals and Vice-Principals Association; Glenna Howard of the Yukon Teachers Association, and Karen Lammers of the Education Council.
Mr. Lang: I just want to pursue a question I was asking last night, having to do with busing. I asked the Minister if he would make available to us the recommendations plus the responses to those recommendations by the school busing committee in Whitehorse. I understand they had a meeting some time ago, when recommendations were put to the Minister, and I wonder if he could give us copies of both the recommendations and the responses?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I did indicate what the recommendation was with respect to the Basswood/Cedar loop. I also indicated last night, in the closing moments, that I had not responded to the recommendation to not proceed with that loop, and I think I cited the reasons for their recommendation. I will see if I can go over them again by memory.
Mr. Lang: I am not trying to interrupt here, but that is not the point I am making. The school busing committee made quite a number of recommendations to the government, and I was wondering if I could get copies of those recommendations plus copies of any responses the Minister has made to those recommendations.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: So the Member is talking about the full range of issues? Yes, okay. They have not come to a conclusion on some of the issues, because they are talking about everything from the Carcross Road busing accident and the recommendations surrounding that, to overcrowding as a result of the inclusion of day-care transportation, to the issue of pickups. All of those things were discussed, but to my knowledge, there are no firm recommendations, in particular with respect to the overcrowding situation. As to the bus service to Basswood/Cedar, there was a recommendation, which I related. With respect to the Carcross Road busing accident, the Minister of Community and Transportation Services related the issue there, but the issue of overcrowding is still outstanding, and they are considering a number of things with respect to overcrowding. I have asked them not just to consider a solution that requires extra busing - that is a simple one and we can do that, if we had the money - but to think of other innovative ways of getting kids to school on time. They have talked about the removal of what they call designated busing, which is no double runs; the costs associated with that are, I think, in the $200,000 or $250,000 range. Obviously, the addition of buses is at a cost of approximately $50,000 per bus. There is also the proposal to use City of Whitehorse Transit for the high school students.
We will provide bus passes to those students and use the available spaces on school buses to provide transportation for the younger students. Many different scenarios are being considered. This time I have not received any recommendation. When they have firmed up their discussions, which will take another month or two, I will communicate their recommendations to the Member or ask them to direct their recommendations to the Member.
Mr. Lang: I would appreciate hearing any recommendations from that body. It is affecting all the ridings in Whitehorse. We are all receiving complaints regarding the situation depending upon how things have gone over the week or the month.
I have another concern in my riding, and that is the overcrowding at the Jack Hulland School. In the debate on the supplementaries, the Minister indicated that the government was seriously looking at the prospects of another school in the Porter Creek area. The land that has been identified for that purpose is in the Cedar/Basswood Street area.
I also understand that some communication has taken place within the school committee regarding portables for the school. Could the Minister update us on what the intentions of the department are? What steps are being taken to accelerate the planning for an additional school in the Porter Creek area to take care of an overcrowding situation that will only get worse as time goes on, in view of the building going on in the Porter Creek area?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It is important to point out that the problem of busing in the City of Whitehorse is not new. However, the characteristics of the busing situation are new. For example, the total number of students bused in 1985-86 was about 3,500. The number of children being bused now is about 3,700. There is an increase, in that same period, of seven full-time buses. There is also one kindergarten bus.
The problem has a complex nature given the number of resources that we have put into school busing in the city. It is my dearest wish that the school busing committee try to ascertain the specific reasons for the dramatic increase in the demand for busing.
In understanding that increase, I would like them to make recommendations that can alleviate it somewhat. In 1985-86 we had about 650 students, grades one to 12, taking the bus on the average day.
I do not have an average day, but on a peak day, as of this last October, we had 1500 students taking the bus. We are only talking about a 200 student increase in terms of total population. Perhaps there are a number of reasons like the increase in programming, and much more emphasis on things like French immersion, which has climbed dramatically from that period. The enrollments in the Catholic schools have increased dramatically, at least in the elementary school - to overflow proportions. There are a number of problems that have come about as a result of program selection rather than numbers of students increasing.
That is why it is a difficult situation. The busing budget has been strained in the past, and we added three buses to the Whitehorse area this last year alone. Clearly, we have a problem we have to resolve.
In respect to overcrowding in Porter Creek, there is acknowledged to be overcrowding in Jack Hulland in particular. We have added some classroom space in Porter Creek Junior High in the last couple of years. There is overcrowding at Jack Hulland. The situation started primarily this last year, and perhaps the year before.
As a bench mark, the parents, in reading the Boreal Report, saw a recommendation that Jack Hulland should have a population of 470 students, ideally. We are now around 550. The school has housed over 630 or 640 in 1983, so it is not as bad as the worst time in its history, but it is a problem that has to be addressed. I do not believe there is a single classroom in Jack Hulland that is not being used.
The thinking is that there has to be some way to address the needs of Porter Creek students in the coming year. The construction of any school in Porter Creek is going to take two to three years, anyway. How are we going to accommodate the students who live within walking distance of the school?
There have been some meetings with parents and the school committee, and the thinking of the department suggests that for this coming year we should be adding some portables at Jack Hulland School.
Potentially, we could artificially limit the enrollment at Jack Hulland to a specified number, but that would entail busing students to those schools that have space. Some of those schools are well across town. That would not be the ideal situation for people living in Porter Creek.
The idea is to add portables and to try to accelerate the construction, if we can, of the Catholic elementary school, or the school designated in the school facilities plan tabled in 1987, in Porter Creek. We could do the planning this coming year and see if we can accelerate construction after we review the capital budget. That is something we should do, and are doing, as a consequence.
I know the department is reviewing the capital plan to try to determine whether or not the construction of another school in Porter Creek can be accommodated in the next two or three years. In any case, the plan to build another elementary school, along with the Granger School in Whitehorse, was in the school facilities plan. It is a question of how fast we can accelerate it in order to meet neighbourhood pressures in the Porter Creek area. That is where it all stands.
Mr. Lang: We definitely have a problem in the area and the surrounding area. I recognize the dilemma the department is in, but I do not think we should be surprised we are in this situation in the Porter Creek area. As the Minister indicated, it was identified in the 1987 plan the department had commissioned that there was going to be an eventual need for another school in the Porter Creek area. Fortunately, in the planning of the city, in conjunction with the Department of Education, they had the foresight to identify an area where such a school could be built. There is no problem as far as land is concerned; it is how quickly could you accelerate the planning process to the point where we could go into construction?
It concerns me that we need a year for planning another school. It is as if we had never built a school before. At the same time, we have two schools on the books that we are in the process of building this forthcoming year: one at Granger and one in the south part of the City of Whitehorse.
With some minor modification, because of the grade level that is going to be in the school, I do not see why those plans could not be adapted and used in the Porter Creek area. I am sure those are going to be nice accommodations and good facilities. The Government of the Yukon Territory has a fine reputation for building very fine facilities.
My concern is that if we go ahead with the portables, we will be talking about the portables four years from now. What steps can we take to accelerate the planning process so that, if we have to go through this forthcoming year, we have some commitment that we will be seeing tenders going out for another school in the Porter Creek area in the 1991-92 budget year? The concern that has been expressed to me by a number of people is you install the two portables, or whatever, and it becomes a fact of life and everybody forgets about them. It is not going to solve the problem.
Could the Minister comment on that?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: A commitment to a school in Porter Creek East has been publicly made. I even remember having two meetings tying in with the south highway school being discussed in the Legislature to reassure the school committee of Christ the King Elementary School, in particular, that the governments commitment to them still stood, even though they were not screaming in the media.
We are absolutely committed to proceed with these facilities. We went through a long consultative process to determine the needs and draw up a capital plan that could be accommodated, given our expectation of revenue in the future. It started some years ago with the Boreal reports. They were an assessment of each school. At the same time, they had to do an assessment of busing requirements, because I was always interested in trying to bring the busing costs down or keeping them reasonable, in the design or location of new facilities. That was followed up by the criterion study, which was a phone survey, and ultimately led to this document here, the Report on Yukon School Facilities Requirements of June 10, 1988, submitted by the department and the Yukon Education Council.
It talked about the renovations that would be required, including Porter Creek Junior High, which we have finished. It also accommodated for the need for the new elementary school in Porter Creek. Consequently, we made the commitment publicly. I corresponded with the relevant school committees to indicate that we were going to proceed with this elementary school.
I had those meetings with the school committee to indicate that, despite the debate in the Legislature, we are still committed to this school. Recently, in discussions with the Jack Hulland School committee, we indicated we are going to try to accelerate it beyond the timetable we had established. The budget in front of us includes some money for this school.
The design does not seem to be so much of a concern. That can be accommodated once we have the geotech results, and have some sense of what the classroom break-out is going to be in terms of what kind of programming you are going to provide. That has to be known in advance. There will be discussions with school committees and the Education Council as to what will be incorporated into the school. That is not so much of a concern.
The concern is to try and find the money and try to accelerate beyond what we have already indicated. That is what we are presently trying to do. I do not have a formal or informal report from the department on that matter yet. Therefore, I am not in a position to conclusively say how fast we can accelerate, but we are intending to build this school.
The commitment has been put on the record on a number of occasions, and I have had the opportunity to meet with parents in the last two to three months to indicate the commitment stands and that we are solidly behind it.
Mr. Nordling: I would like to clarify the Department of Educations position. Several options were being considered. Is it the departments position that portables will be moved onto the grounds at Jack Hulland School for 1990-91? How permanent will they be? Will there be a cap for the number of students at that school?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: In explaining the matter to the Member for Porter Creek East, I indicated the department is considering the addition of portables at Jack Hulland. It is on this budget. We have to reallocate the funding to do it, just as we reallocated the funding last year for Takhini School.
Mr. Nordling: How many?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There would be two, and they would be like other portables. Once the new elementary school was built in Porter Creek, the portables would be available for use elsewhere, if there was the demand. They would not be required at Jack Hulland School.
We are considering the inclusion of those portables. It was suggested that the portables be incorporated at some other site in Porter Creek. The problem is that they are stand-alone facilities with no support facilities for classrooms. Those parents who are going to send their children to those portables, would like to have support facilities.
There are definitely concerns from the Jack Hulland School committee about the 550 enrollment. We are going to try to address it in terms of adding portables. That is the only way we can do it, short of busing Porter Creek students to other schools. The parents do not considerable that a desirable alternative, especially for elementary school students.
Those options are presently being discussed with the school committee. There could be a number of variations that they can consider. We have not made a final decision yet. We have had the experience that when we want to put in portables, we can put them in fairly quickly.
We proved that at Takhini, when the situation got to the critical stage where classes were being held in the hallways, and even the bar space in the Takhini Recreation Centre was overflowing. We were able to respond quickly to that situation last year to prevent it from recurring in another year.
I wish I could tell the Member, or make an announcement, that things are happening, but I cannot because they are under discussion. We do realize something has to be done at Jack Hulland and we are prepared to find the money within the budget and reallocate it in some way to provide the portables. The location will be determined.
Mr. Nordling: The parents whom I have talked to are quite understanding and know they might have to accept portables at Jack Hulland. They have the same concern expressed by the Member for Porter Creek East, and that is that once the portables are set up there, four years from now we will be standing here asking when the portables will be moved and a new school will be built in Porter Creek. Is the Department of Education in a position to make a decision on the length of time those portables will be on site? I think the parents were talking about a two-year maximum.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I would suspect that unless something changes with respect to the population in Porter Creek, the portables will remain until a new elementary school is built, which may be two to three years, depending on whether or not we can accelerate the project. The project was slated for three years, starting this coming year, but if we can accelerate it then it will be two years that they will remain on the Jack Hulland site. I do not see any other way around it unless the population drops off, or something magical happens. Very seldom, something magical happens.
I understand the concern of the parents. We have a situation where some portable units became very permanent. The Grey Mountain School, consequently, is about as permanent a fixture in the city as anything else. I do not anticipate that happening here because we are actually committed to the construction of another elementary school in Porter Creek because of the obvious need. That is where we are putting our resources.
We have three priorities in Whitehorse. One is the south highway school. That one is going to be in place and is budgeted for this September. That will be a prefab like the Old Crow School, or the J.V. Clarke School in Mayo. The Granger School will go ahead. Finally, the Porter Creek Elementary School will go ahead. We are starting the process for that. We do know that the needs are there. We have a projection for the longer term needs, given there is a glut of students in the elementary grades who will require enhanced space in about five to seven years time at the junior high level, and senior high a few years after that. There is some sense of population growth in the department and some understanding of the population growth and the pressures that are developing in various neighbourhoods around the city.
Mr. Nordling: Is there a maximum number of students the department will allow on the Jack Hulland site before students are bused to some other school? I know that parents are talking about capping it at 550, but the estimate for 1991 could be as much as 565 students. I would like to hear a little more about the maximum allowable, or whether we would add another portable in a year or two if enrollment rose.
The other thing I am not clear on is whether the elementary school in Porter Creek will be a public school or a Catholic school.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: As I indicated to the Member for Porter Creek East, there is discussion about capping enrollment. We have come to no conclusions about that, because capping enrollment would obviously mean that some students will have to be bused out of Porter Creek or past Porter Creek from the north highway area and the Mayo Road.
Consequently, some discussion has to be held with the parents before any decisions about capping enrollment. The discussion has to take place this spring in order for everyone to know what the situation will be well before the summer vacation.
As per the Report on Yukon School Facilities Requirements we tabled two years ago, the plan is the school be a Catholic school. That was in response to the overcrowded situation within the Catholic community and a recognition that there are many Catholic parents who are not sending their children to a Catholic school because they have to bus them.
There are some Catholic parents who do not want to send their children to a Catholic school. In the preliminary stages, we have to do what we did with the south highway parents. Along with the statistics bureau, we have to analyze the aspirations of parents as to what specifically they are looking for to determine the character of the school. We have communicated to the Christ the King Elementary School committee, who have taken an aggressive interest in this matter, that we plan the school to be a Catholic one at this point.
Mr. Nordling: Just to finish off this discussion, at the moment the plan is to put portables on site at Jack Hulland to accommodate as many students as we can, and that there be a Catholic school built at the corner of Wann Road and Basswood as soon as possible.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Yes. The discussion involves portables on the site of Jack Hulland, as well as a discussion about capping the enrollment at Jack Hulland. We have indicated it is our preference to put portables on site at Jack Hulland School. We will try to find the resources for that purpose so we can have them on site this September.
The commitment is to try to move on the Catholic school as soon as possible. We already have the planning funding in the budget we are discussing now, but we will try to consider accelerating the construction of that school, if at all possible, and see what our capital planning will permit or tolerate.
I know there is a reserve in Porter Creek, the one the Member mentioned. I am a little hesitant because it is very close to where I live, and I would not want anybody to think that...
Mr. Lang: It was there before you got there.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: That is right. The Member for Porter Creek East has a good point. The reserve was in place long before I ever arrived in Porter Creek. I do not want any Member to think I am trying to put a school close to where my children are growing up.
Mr. Lang: The twins will not have far to walk, will they?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: No comment. In any case, there will definitely be a school going up there in the next few years.
Chair: We will proceed with line-by-line.
On Finance and Administration
On Operation and Maintenance
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The differences here between the forecast we just discussed and the estimates now include the addition of the communications officer we did discuss in the forecast, who was moved from the policy and planning section; that is for $45,000. There is an addition of $62,000 due to changes in staffing. We do not expect vacancies in this particular department.
The circumpolar conference in Sweden is slated at $25,000; that includes the contract work for the studies I mentioned in the House, plus studies that will emanate from the conference itself. Also, there is a provision for $15,000 for the provision of the governing board of the arts centre. That accounts for the difference between the forecast and the main estimate.
Administration in the amount of $645,000 agreed to
On Finance and Personnel
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There is only a very slight increase here. The salary increases and salary difference due to staff changes will be approximately $28,000 to $29,000, and there is a $1,200 increase in telephone costs.
Mr. Devries: In this area, did the Minister mention the extra position for superintendent? Does that fall into this area? I did not catch it earlier.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: That will be listed in Public Schools, which is coming up in the next branch.
Finance and Personnel in the amount of $406,000 agreed to
Operation and Maintenance in the amount of $1,051,000 agreed to
On Yukon Arts Centre
Hon. Mr. McDonald: This is a perennial debate item. This is the final years cost to bring the total of money reserved for the arts centre to $7 million.
The project is expected to go to tender this month. If all goes well, we expect construction will start at the beginning of May. Just for the Members information, when the facility is open, the bill for operation and maintenance costs will include $142,000 for the utility costs, basic operating costs, and that is something we have committed to the facility. There will be a grant-in-lieu to the City of Whitehorse of an initial $140,000. The balance of any funding that is required will be negotiated between the government and the arts centre corporation board, to the extent the government is willing to put additional funds toward the operations of the arts centre. Presumably, that will take place once the corporation board has been nominated and appointed, which I would hope would take place during construction.
Mr. Devries: There were a few articles in the paper regarding Arts Canada North recently. I understand they are still behind the Yukon Arts Centre. They are contemplating some sort of facility downtown in the future. My understanding is that if the tender happens to come in high again they will possibly withdraw the $500,000 they have committed to it. Is that something I am misinterpreting?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I think they are well aware that as financial times get tighter it will become more and more difficult to continue a commitment of $7 million, with cost of living increases eating it away. Consequently, it will be more and more difficult to support the construction of the arts centre under those circumstances. Whether they pull their commitment, or whether we pull our commitment is a matter to be determined, based on how fast inflation eats into the cost of the construction budget.
At this time, the government remains committed to the construction of the arts centre. We feel as strongly as we ever have that this is a desirable facility for the future of the college as well as for the future of the community of Whitehorse.
I am not sure if the Member is aware of the background on this issue or not, but it is a fairly lengthy one involving fairly significant compromises on the part of the government.
In any case, I understand Arts Canada North has expressed an interest in pursuing an arts centre facility downtown. It is not in our capital plan but they are perfectly within their rights to pursue it, but I wish them well. There is a potential that they will pursue a facility downtown. They are simultaneously maintaining their support for an arts centre facility at the Yukon College site.
Mr. Devries: Reading between the lines, if this contract came in above the guidelines that the government has set, possibly the whole thing could collapse, and the other thing is that the Minister is indicating he would not contemplate any government funds on a downtown, multi-purpose facility in the near future.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I cannot commit that the support for the government portion of the arts centre will continue if the tenders continue to come in over budget. What is absolutely the case is that if there are tenders that come in over the expected budget they will not be accepted. That is the bottom line of understanding that both Arts Canada North and the government share.
I cannot speak for anything downtown. The reason the funding is coming out of the budget for the Department of Education is because we modified the design of the college substantially in order to accommodate the desire for a performing and visual arts centre. We accommodated in a number of ways. We accommodated it by indicating the control would be by a board independent of government. We also indicated the design could be changed, which resulted in an increase in costs.
As long as the site does complement what the Yukon College is doing, with respect to its performing arts activities and its other general needs, then we would be more than happy to try to accommodate, in the finest of Yukon traditions, other peoples interests. What happens in the future with respect to a performing arts facility, in terms of any government commitment, has yet to be determined, but there is nothing, to my knowledge, in our capital plan for any other performing arts facilities in the City of Whitehorse such as that which Arts Canada North is contemplating now, as of the meeting the other night. They are perfectly entitled, of course, to come to the community development fund for funding, as is any other organization, and they may try their hand at applying for government line department funding in the future, but at this point we have not contemplated any support for a facility downtown.
Yukon Arts Centre in the amount of $2,500 agreed to
On Yukon College Endowment Fund
Yukon College Endowment Fund in the amount of nil agreed to
Capital in the amount of $2,500,000 agreed to
Chair: Are there questions on Allotments or Person Year Establishment?
On Allotments and Person Year Establishment
Allotments and Person Year Establishment agreed to
Finance and Administration in the amount of $3,551,000 agreed to
On Public Schools
Mr. Devries: Just looking at back at Public Schools, I realize they possibly may have taken on a few more areas in this budget but I believe that if you look back between 1987-88 and the proposed budget at this year, we are looking at approximately $10 million, a 30 percent increase. I am just wondering how we can afford to continue at our rate of approximately a 10 percent increase a year. How much has the school population increase been in relation to the increase in the budget? Does the Minister have anything to say in that regard?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: As much as I would like to announce a 30 percent increase in the public schools estimate, I do not think I could honestly do that, given that probably half of the increase is the transfer of the facilities and transportation out of Administration to the public schools branch, as well as a funding transfer from Government Services, both on the O&M side and the capital side, for a total of $1 million to the branch, to simply allow the public schools branch to manage the facilities themselves, as I indicated in the opening remarks. We are consolidating expenditures for public schools in one branch of one department so that ultimately we can have a better costing of the school system in the Yukon. Ultimately, it will make it easier to consider funding devolution to school authorities or boards. At this time, obviously the vast majority of the costs and initiatives in this area can be explained by the transfer of $4.8 million from facilities and transportation to public schools, from finance and administration, which includes the initial bus routes, as I mentioned before, and also includes the funding from Government Services.
I will go down a list in a few moments, but in terms of general explanation, I did not indicate that the policy and planning branch had been transferred for $217,000. That branch no longer exists as a separate one. There was an increase in funds to cover full year costs of the additional 7.35 teaching person years. Those are the major reasons for the increase. We are doing other things that I will get to in a minute. That is the major reason for the dramatic rise in this branchs budget.
On Operation and Maintenance
Hon. Mr. McDonald: This is where the job of the superintendent of Schools shows up. The amount here is for $82,000. We have also added $35,000 for the differences in the salaries related to staff changes. We are going to encourage the addition of one conference with the Education Council, which is something that they have been requesting for some time. That expenditure comes to $12,300.
We expect, with the difficulty in recruiting teachers, recruitment costs to increase by $97,000. That is tentative, but we are reading the signals that are there. We have also added awards for excellence in teaching jointly with the YTA. We have added the valedictorian awards for the Yukon high schools of $1,800. We projected that we will have full year costs of the Department of National Defence secondment for $16,000. That will be a recoverable item.
We do expect that the education act costs that we mentioned last year will not be borne in the coming year. That is a reduction of $195,000. That nets out to the increase that we showed here. It is rather small, but nevertheless an increase.
Mr. Devries: I know that the valedictorian program has existed for several years, because my daughter got one of the awards. Where was it before?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: This is actually the first year that we have budgeted for it. We have covered it off as a miscellaneous expense in the past. We are now applying it universally right across the territory. Mr. Smith of the northern region first initiated it. Now, every Yukon high school provides some remuneration for the valedictorian of the graduating class.
Administration in the amount of $2,089 agreed to
On Program Delivery
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The differences here are for the addition of teachers. This is where the teachers show up in the budget. That is for $562,000 in total. There is a salary provision for staff members seconded to the college of $80,000.
There is a new distance education pilot project for rural schools for $7,000. The native elders program is $13,000, and the new arts program, all of which I have mentioned before, is for $10,000. There are some increases to student materials that amount to $63,000. The native language centre receives a transfer from the department of $619,000. This used to be in the program support section of the public schools branch that is now coming from the program delivery section of the branch. We are anticipating an increase in the provision for freight and postage for schools of $18,000. We provide for teachers who are seconded to the native language program, and rather than have their salaries drawn out of program support, we are having them drawn out of the program delivery section. That is $61,000, and that accounts for the increase.
Mr. Devries: God forbid if this is taken in the wrong context, but I am curious what the native elders program consists of.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It is a rather interesting program that has been piloted in a number of schools. It encourages elders who have traditional skills and a love of teaching those skills to come into the classroom or for students to go to them to allow them to impart these skills to young people. Sometimes it might mean a native elder, a woman, who wants to teach students native medicines. She will take the children into the bush and expose them to the roots, berries and plants and provide instruction right there. It may involve elders coming in to talk about trapping, and trapping skills. What this program does is to pay them for their time - some small compensation for the time they put in for providing this valuable contribution to a number of schools around the territory.
The fear is that many of these skills and much of this cultural understanding is being lost as elders get older. It concurs with the effort to make the Yukon system more relevant; this is one more element to make the system more relevant and more acceptable to all students, and particularly native students.
Obviously, all students are exposed to this information and to the teachings of the elders, and they will all benefit from it.
Program Delivery in the amount of $25,922,000 agreed to
On Program Support and Development
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The reason for the reduction is that the Native Language Centre grant, which we just discussed, has been moved to Program Delivery. The differences in increased expenses are for salary, increases in differentials, and there were some vacancies in Program Support during this current year that are now filled and the remaining positions are expected to be fully filled in the coming year, for an increase of $31,000. That accounts for the changes.
Mr. Devries: For the Native Language Centre, do we not get a grant for the French language program from the feds to cover that cost?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: No, we do not. The bilateral agreement between the federal government and the Yukon government covers French language instruction only. The agreement struck between the Executive Council Office and the federal government with respect to language services provides for some services for native language interpretation but it does not have a direct impact on the funding for the Native Language Centre. That is something we provide out of our own resources for our own people. It is a contract we sign with the Council for Yukon Indians, which administers the program. It makes all the administrative decisions as to how the funding is spent. The program, of course, is run by a board and over a season there are a number of chiefs on the board; the director is John Ritter and they have done some exciting things. As a matter of fact, the Native Language Centre has been noted by the circumpolar ministers conference as being a leader in its field - even the infamous College of New Caledonia that we have heard so much about, which is trying to make moves in this area and has some interesting things going on in native language instruction, has also indicated what Mr. Ritter and Margaret Workman and Glen Johnson and others are doing at the Native Language Centre is very noteworthy. It even receives students from the Northwest Territories who are taking a Loucheux program, and it has even taken students from Alaska. They participate in language development activities every year. I think in the next year or two years, they hope to house the Summer Language Institute for native language programs for the north, and that is a reflection I think of the stature acquired through long years of good effort and slugging away and doing a good job.
Mrs. Firth: Just to add to what the Minister has said, I think accolades should be given to the native language program; they work extremely hard. I can remember, a long time ago now when I was Minister of Education, they were just starting that struggle and definitely received our support and have continued to receive our support. The steps and progress they have made cannot go unrecognized, and I think they definitely have national recognition as being one of the leading places for native language programs. I see it as a very positive initiative and I think they are only going to get better and provide more services, with the ultimate goal and objective of achieving the preservation of some native languages. It is an exciting program, and our side of the Legislature definitely supports them and encourages them to carry on. We hope the sky is the limit.
Program Support and Development in the amount of $1,556,000 agreed to
On French Language Program
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Most of the French language centre is recoverable under the bilateral agreement. I will explain the increases.
Of this, $58,000 is for salary increases and differences in salaries, and new staff hired on. An additional monitor and related expenses were for $28,000. I believe we had four and now we have five. The staffing for the French immersion program, lead year funding, is a recoverable item of $41,000. Increased telephone costs were $7,000. There have been some reductions in funding, particularly for Yukon students who have participated in cultural and linguistic activities outside the Yukon. This is not in the agreement for 1990-91. Also, the distance education for French teachers is not in the bilateral agreement for 1990-91, for a reduction of $20,000. That basically covers the changes.
Mrs. Firth: I have been looking at the annual report of the Official Languages for 1988-89. I have had some representation made to me about the division of the expenditure. In the report, the total number of students for minority language enrollment in the Yukon is 46. In the regular program, which includes immersion enrollment, they have a total of 2,695. When it comes to the amounts of money identified for those two programs, the amount is split 55 percent to 45 percent, with 55 percent in favour of the minority language. This translates into $433,000-plus. The second languages are $353,000-plus. I wanted to know if the government had made that observation, and if there was any particular reason why the amount of money for the smaller number of students is so high. Is it all going toward educational costs or is there a large administrative factor? What is accounting for the 46 students eating up 55 percent of the budget as opposed to the almost 3,000 taking 45 percent?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The reason for the 46 students receiving the majority share of the funding is that all programming costs for the French-first-language program, or lEcole Emilie Tremblay, are borne 100 percent by the federal government.
In the French immersion program, we pay for the teacher costs ourselves except for the lead year, lead year now being grade 10. This year it is in F.H. Collins School. We pay for the salaries of teachers through the program delivery section of the budget of the department, and do not pay at all for any of the costs associated with the French-first-language program. We get the funding for the teachers, for program materials, for advisors, monitors, et cetera, and do not pay for any of that funding ourselves.
For the French immersion and core French programs, we have received some funding for the French Language Centre to pay for the pedagogical systems, as well as for some of the costs associated with the introduction of French immersion year-by-year. In this coming year, we will get the salary costs for the French immersion teacher. That is an enticement to increase French immersion activities in the Yukon.
Because the Secretary of State assumes that, if the children were not in French immersion they would be in the English stream, they assume we would be able to cover the cost of the teaching staff in the years following that. For French immersion, for example, we expect to receive two more years of lead year funding to provide for salary support for teachers. After that time, we will receive no funding for French immersion teachers.
If one were to take all the teachers from the French immersion program, one would see the balance change in the other direction. It would be dramatic if we were to add the 20 or more teachers who teach French immersion.
Mrs. Firth: I understand the process the Minister has just explained. When the government requests funding for the French-first-language program from the federal government, they are obviously asking for the amount of money they are getting. Someone has to submit a proposed budget. Has the government examined the amounts in the budget? Why does it seem like a lot of money for 46 children? I am trying to get an idea of it.
Could the Minister give us a breakdown of that money: how much goes to salaries; how much goes to administrative staff; how many people are there in administration; what amount of the money is directed to actual program delivery within that French-first-language program?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I will try and get the information on funding specifically dedicated to the French-first-language program for the Member. I am sorry that I do not have it here.
The Member is right that we do make suggestions to the Secretary of State for funding on this program. It has been overly generous with respect to this particular program, almost to the point of embarrassment. We could almost get whatever we ask for. The reason for that is the desire to initiate this project in the Yukon, which is predominantly English. The Secretary of State feels it requires a special effort, given that the predominant language here is English. They are making a special effort to accommodate these students.
The student-teacher ratio for French-first-language has historically been about as good as it is for rural Yukon. That makes it much better than it is for other urban schools. That can only be partially explained by the multiple grades in each class. It is also explained by the fact that the predominant language is English. A concern has been expressed that a special effort must be made to encourage a French language environment.
I will try to dig up the figures for the French language program. I am not sure how much I can determine what are recoverable and what are not.
For the French-first-language program, we have a total expenditure of $589,000 projected in 1990-91. That includes $455,000 for personnel, $116,000 for Other, and I will tell you what that is in a minute. It also includes $17,000 for transfer payment.
The personnel includes eight teachers, which is for both the program at Whitehorse Elementary and the one at Jeckell. Employee travel outside the Yukon is $10,200. That is what we get within the bilateral agreement. The cost of relocation of teachers is $41,000, and we are projecting at least three. That also includes a summer camp for students. Supplies is $2,600; advertising, et cetera, for teacher recruitment, as well as local publicity for papers is $14,600; total materials is $48,000. That is for school supplies, everything from library books to video recorders. That brings the total of non-personnel costs to $116,000.
There is also $17,000, which is primarily for the transportation and tuition expenses for French-first-language students requiring schooling outside of the Yukon. Those students who were in the program, for which there is no program this year, are given $6,000 per student by the Secretary of State to attend French language programming outside of the territory.
I believe there is a French language college in Saskatchewan that accepts these students. That is all recoverable under the bilateral agreement.
Mrs. Firth: I would like to ask the Minister if he could come back with a breakdown of the administrative personnel costs for the French-first-language program. He gave us the teachers, but that is for both programs - the French immersion/French second language as well as the French first language. We do not disagree with the government that an effort has to be made in this area of minority languages and French first language, but I do not think we would want to be perceived to be excessive in our demands of the federal government or to create obvious inequities here within the Yukon. I believe that is the concern that is being brought to me as an MLA from some of my constituents.
Also, do I understand it that if the French-first-language program separates from the Whitehorse Elementary School and sets up on its own it will mean we will lose some benefits in the duplication of services - for example, the library, computers, et cetera? Will the French first language have their own set of library books and resource materials and computers, so that we will have to have another set for the French second language and French immersion programs? I think that is something the government should look at in the event that move takes place, and whether it is a wise financial arrangement. I know the French immersion/French second language program does benefit from some of the dollars we get to support the French-first-language program because of the resources and the funds that are available to buy French computers, typewriters and library resources. I am just looking for an update on the governments intention in that direction.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Yes, the Member has captured one of the considerations that has to be taken into account in any decision on the move of lEcole Emilie Tremblay to Christ the King Junior High School. Of course, there will be some mirroring of the two schools as part of the Christ the King Junior High School, which will use those facilities which are presently underused. This is more than acceptable to that school committee.
With respect to the sharing of resources, that is an issue, even though I think we are getting better at purchasing textbooks, anyway, which we must do for the future English or French programs - we are getting better at providing for resource materials to support the French immersion program.
There will be some loss of materials, because some of those materials will go with the French-first-language program if they move, as well as the hardware that is purchased through bilateral agreements for that program. There will be some reduction in that joint effort, and that will probably be the downside to that move.
Mr. Devries: (translation not provided)
I just wanted to see if the Minister knew the difference between French and Dutch. I was asking the Minister if all the children in the elementary school now study French, or is it still a pilot program? I did not say the last part, because I would not know how to translate it. All the children who were on this pilot program that was originally instituted in grade one got French first, then grade two, and I believe it had to reach grade six before everybody had it. Does everybody have French now in the elementary schools?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am responding to the Member in my heritage language, which happens to be English. There is no Scottish accent attached to it.
Not all the schools have French language through all the grades yet, but we are moving, lead year by lead year, to try to provide for core French to all the schools.
As the Member will note, this was a program announced by the Minister of Education in 1985. The understanding was that it would take a fair number of years to implement. We are doing it as fast as we can, in terms of recruitment limitations. We have to find teachers who can speak French as well as do other things. French teachers are more and more difficult to find, as time goes on.
Mr. Devries: I believe the children who take native languages can take both or either. I understood there were some problems with John Ritter in that respect. I remember several arguments we had with the school committee when this was first started. They have the option of taking either French or native languages.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: We have had scheduling problems in the past at Watson Lake, in particular, and also at Takhini and Christ the King Elementary School. We have asked the principals to do their very best to try to accommodate both languages. The issue for a native language centre has always been to put these languages back-to-back so you have to take either one or the other. There was also a concern about the fact some people felt that learning a native language would not quality as a prerequisite to get into post-secondary education for those universities requiring a second language. This has proven to be incorrect, fortunately for the native Language Centre. If you are a student and are considering various options, there are universities that require a second language that will accept the native language as that prerequisite language. They will also accept Ukrainian as a prerequisite language, believe it or not. Whether or not they accept Dutch or not, I am not sure. The move now is to accept more than simply French, especially in western communities where there are heritage populations, or immigrant populations that still practice certain languages. Back-to-back scheduling will always be a problem for those administrators who have a glut of activities and perhaps lack the imagination to make them fit. The design now is to try to encourage the scheduling in each school so that you can take both if you wish and none of the core courses is sacrificed.
French Language Program in the amount of $1,328,000 agreed to
On Special Programs
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It looks like a reduction here, but much of this reduction is transferred to other programs. A speech pathologist position is now filled, so the full year costs will add $26,000 to the branchs programs. There are extra contract costs for psychotherapy for $50,000. We expect there to be an increase in the number of work experience students from 12 to 20 for $1,600.
Much of the other reduction is due to transfers to other branches. There are also a number of other items, which include a reduction in contracts for home-bound students and students requiring external assessments. Based on our experience in that particular area, we do not need as much funding.
There are some startup costs for the wilderness program, the teen moms program and the pass program that are not required because they have already been started.
Special Programs in the amount of $909,000 agreed to
On Facilities and Transportation
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The facilities and transportation branch is going to require a small increase this year. There is a bus contract increase of $128,000 based on CPI. A facilities manager for $67,000 has been added. There is also a requirement for increased supplies due to more space added in the capital program for $17,000.
We also project there to be a higher repair cost for school equipment, to the tune of $2,300.
There are some salary adjustments and some expected reclassifications that did not take place, which means a $21,000 reduction.
This nets out to the increase of $193,000, so it is primarily the bus contract.
Mr. Devries: On the busing contract, does the Minister have the information available on how much of it is for Diversified, how much would be for Watson Lake Bus Lines? I believe there are only the two of them?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: We are searching for that. For the Members information, Diversifieds contract comes up for renewal in 1991; it is a contract with five-year renewals, for a total of six years or so, and it will be tendered in approximately September of this year. There will be a fairly long tender period, and we will try to encourage local busing contractors to bid, as we have in the past. The problems in the past, of course, have been that the economies of scale do not always work in favour of a small busing contractor, but Watson Lake Bus Lines did bid very aggressively in the last round and were successful.
The Watson Lake section is $102,000; for 1990-91, it will be $102,447 and the balance would be for Diversified to cover the rest of the territory.
Facilities and Transportation in the amount of $5,180,000 agreed to
Operation and Maintenance in the amount of $36,984,000 agreed to
Chair: We will take a break.
Chair: I will call Committee back to order.
On Facility Construction and Maintenance:
On Granger - Construct Elementary School
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Before we get into this line item, I will give a breakdown of the O&M costs associated with the capital program. The 1991 costs for the south highway school, the student residence, Robert Service School, Porter Creek Junior Secondary School, Takhini portables, instructional computers, community campus construction, community library development and the archives new facility total $259,570.
The only project that is not on that list is the arts centre. There is no 1990-91 costs for that anyway.
Mr. Lang: Does this include all janitorial costs? Is it just strictly heat, lights and taxes?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Most of them are heat, lights, and grants-in-lieu. For example, the student residence does not require additional costs. We are talking about an incremental increase. The Granger school is now going up. These are the 1990-91 costs associated with the capital.
This should cover the costs. We have not determined any other incidental costs. We would have to work those out throughout the budget.
Mr. Lang: Does the Minister have the projected O&M costs of the Granger school and the other long-term schools that are being built?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Yes. We have analyzed the costs of the other long-term projects. Since we are on the Granger school, I will detail that. A lot depends upon the final design. The maintenance is expected to be $38,000. The heat and lights are expected to be $45,000. Salaries - that is the janitorial - are $117,000 for a total of $200,000. The grant-in-lieu is expected to be $102,000 according to projected tax rates.
The reductions include the reduced busing for $50,000; the cancellation of the rental of the Takhini Recreation Centre for $56,000. That works out to just over $200,000.
Granger - Construction of Elementary School in the amount of $3,000 agreed to
On Jack Hulland - Upgrade/Renovate
Hon. Mr. McDonald: That is part of a four-year program. In the coming year we plan to do some window retrofits and introduce skylights, as well as upgrade the ventilation system. We have, in the past, worked on office and staffroom renovations and some extensions to the staff parking, so this year we will work on the window retrofits, skylights and ventilation.
Mr. Lang: I want to commend the government on this, especially on the area of ventilation; it is in bad need of repair. This is long overdue and we are very pleased to see it being proceeded with.
Jack Hulland - Upgrade/Renovate in the amount of $250,000 agreed to
On F.H. Collins - Upgrade
Hon. Mr. McDonald: This is also a multi-year project. We anticipate the work to be done this year to include window retrofits and also ventilation. This last year, of course, we did some finishing in the foyer area. A number of classrooms were renovated - four in particular. Also, the music room and the auto shop were renovated. There were a few incidental things, including the installation of new gym bleachers and there was also a weight room expansion last year. This year we are planning the next stage, which is a ventilation system upgrade and window retrofit. In the future, money permitting, there will be an office expansion for the school.
F.H. Collins - Upgrade in the amount of $300,000 agreed to
On Selkirk - Upgrade and Renovate
Hon. Mr. McDonald: This school is one of the older ones in the system and it was identified in the school facilities study as requiring a systematic upgrade, particularly the painting and floor covering, replacing doors, et cetera. The work to be done this year will be renovations to the staffroom and washrooms; there is a requirement for an increase in storage space, and to provide for proper fire separation walls in the boiler room. The priorities certainly will be the fire separation walls and the washroom renovations.
It is believed that further work will be required next year. This will be the first year we will spend this amount of money. We did some winter retrofit this year and provided some extra gym storage space.
Selkirk - Upgrade and Renovate in the amount of $200,000 agreed to
On Grounds Improvement
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The projects that have been identified for this year include some expansion of the parking area, and expansion on the playground equipment for Whitehorse Elementary School, refurbishing the playing field and fencing as well as the installation of bike racks for Carmacks School. Parking and playground equipment will be upgraded at Selkirk School. There will also be a requirement to refurbish the grounds after construction at Porter Creek Junior Secondary School. There is some work to be done at Del Van Gorder School after the upgrade work that was done this year. There is requirement for miscellaneous ground work throughout the territory. This also includes $15,000 for the year projection of operation and maintenance to keep up with the maintenance.
Mr. Devries: I had a few concerns last year about the procedure to tender - if it was tendered at all - the grounds improvement at Watson Lake Elementary. Mallard Construction is a random one I am thinking of. There are several contracts for $18,000 to $21,000. Are those tendered, or are they strictly an invitational bid?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I do not have the information, but I would suspect they would have been done on an invitational bid to Watson Lake contractors.
Mr. Devries: The Mallard Construction contract was not referring to something in Watson Lake. This is just one I took out of the air: installing fluorescent fixtures in F.H. Collins for $21,000. At what sum would a contract like this go out to public tender?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Invitational tenders can be put out to a figure of $25,000, after which time there has to be a public tender. If the Member has a particular project he would like me to investigate, I will do that. If there is any concern about how it was done, I will look into it.
Mr. Devries: I cannot find the other portion of it. For the Watson Lake Elementary School landscaping project there is $14,725 for fencing. I believe putting in the topsoil and doing the lawn was another $10,000 or so. Possibly, the whole project should have been up for tender. I have heard a few people talking about it, but I do not think it is of major concern at this point. It is possibly something the department should keep an eye on.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I will have a look at the project the Member cites and see whether or not there was any irregularity there. Whole projects are expected to be tendered after $25,000. If there has been any unreasonable combination of projects to try to skirt regulations, I will certainly have a look at that.
Mr. Lang: I think $25,000 is quite a bit of money, especially to a small contractor or one just starting out. If they do not get the opportunity on the invitational bids, how do they know these contracts are available? In view of what we have seen here, considering the amounts of dollars that are being authorized, I would ask the Minister to review it. Perhaps it should be anything over $7,000 or $8,000 going out to public tender.
It is important, especially in the small communities, as far as people being able to meet their bottom line at the end of the year. The same applies in Whitehorse, especially for young people just starting out in business. I hope we are encouraging some people to go into business. An $8,000 or $10,000 contract is very significant and could be the starting point for somebody to eventually become a significant player in the business world.
I would ask the Minister to review that to see what can be done. I recognize that sometimes, because of time constraints, invitational tenders have to be called, but that is not the case all the time.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I agree with the Member about the importance of small contracts to the small contracting community in rural Yukon, in particular. Anything that would encourage the channeling of available funds in their direction would be desirable.
I will have a look at the situation, in particular in the context of the issue raised by the Member for Watson Lake, and see what the practice is and whether or not the situation can be improved.
Grounds Improvement in the amount of $300,000 agreed to
On Install Computer Labs
Install Computer Labs in the amount of $60,000 agreed to
On Christ the King High - Renovations
Hon. Mr. McDonald: In the past we have done some work on Christ the King Junior High School. Last year some work was done on the home economics room and the science room as well as on the library. I visited the school, and those were the priority areas.
This last year, we constructed a canopy over the main entrance to the school, which was a longstanding request by the school committee. In the coming year we plan to do window retrofit for the schools. The school is currently equipped with the guillotine windows. Those are the siding up and down windows and are considered to be inappropriate. We also want to provide retrofit for the purpose of energy conservation. A new electronic security system will also be installed in the school.
Christ the King High - Renovations in the amount of $120,000 agreed to
On Gymnasium Floor Refinishing
Hon. Mr. McDonald: This is for Selkirk Street School. The schools, particularly in Whitehorse, which have experienced heavy usage as a result of the joint-use agreement, are requiring gym floor refinishing a little more often than we had expected. Selkirk Street School is the target this year.
Gymnasium Floor Refinishing in the amount of $30,000 agreed to
On Handicap Access Alterations - Various Schools
Hon. Mr. McDonald: In this coming year, Selkirk Street School is also the target. In the past years we provided chair lifts for F.H. Collins in three places as well as in Whitehorse Elementary School in the current year.
Selkirk Street School is scheduled for the installation of a handicap lift. That will be the major project under alterations for handicap access.
Handicap Access Alterations - Various Schools in the amount of $60,000 agreed to
On Miscellaneous School Facilities Alteration
Hon. Mr. McDonald: This incorporates $532,000 that was transferred from Government Services in their capital maintenance program. This is for general facilities repair, everything from roofing to sprinkler system repair, fire alarm testing repair, insulation upgrading, et cetera.
The $532,000 transferred from Government Services was based on a figure of historic expenditures in the public schools area. The balance of the $400,000 is broken down as follows. St. Elias Community School is scheduled for $18,000 worth of work, which includes the upgrading of windows and the installation of eaves troughs. There is also another $4,600 for the modification of some classroom doors.
Teslin School is scheduled to receive $6,800 for the stabilization of some modular classrooms that they have, as well as for the modification of some classroom doors. The installation of a physical education instructors office above the stage at F.H. Collins will cost $16,000.
There is $12,500 for the school in Old Crow, to refurbish the washrooms with new walls and some flooring. There is also $6,800 for Old Crow to rearrange the entrance to provide for rear access to the playground. The J.V. Clark School in Mayo is scheduled to have $15,000 worth of renovations to the library area. Grey Mountain School is scheduled to receive the climbing frame for the activity room; that is $12,000, which includes installation. There is a total of $79,000 for basic maintenance and miscellaneous millwork, storage units, shelving, et cetera, as well as $120,000 for projects that are as yet unidentified but which will be identified by school committees as top priority items, and there certainly are a lot of those.
Mr. Devries: The $532,000 that was turned over from Government Services - in the past, I always got a lot of complaints about the quality or the timeliness of their work. Has that been straightened out, or is Government Services still shaky in that department?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: What we have done is to move $532,000 from Government Services to the Department of Education; we have also arranged with Government Services to still do the work at the community level, but if they are unable to do the work, then it can be contracted at the community level without having to go through all the internal paperwork through two departmental hierarchies in order for a decision to be made. For example, if a school principal, who has signing authority for $5,000 worth of work, decides that some work is to be done, he or she will deal with the local maintenance person for Government Services. They will decide whether or not that person can do it. If that person can do it, then the work is done and the decision is made right there on the spot. If the local person cannot do it and the decision is made to contract it locally, then under certain guidelines and procedures, it will be contracted and done locally without having to go through the system, through the superintendents, into Whitehorse, in through administration and over to Government Services, down through Government Services, and of course if there is any miscommunication, it would go back to Government Services and back down into Education and back down to the school principal and then the principal would send it back. That is the reason why we have the delays. What we are saying now is that the school in the community will decide on priority projects, within certain budgets that we provide to them, they will make the decision and they will act immediately. There will be no reason to do other than have the priority project done. If the local Government Services person can do it, that is the first step; if he or she cannot do it, then it goes out to the local contracting community right away.
Mr. Devries: We hope that it is working well, and I compliment the Minister on doing this. I know it used to be a terrible headache.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: We have to thank this Minister right here, too, because obviously it takes two to tango, and he provided a great deal of support.
Miscellaneous School Facilities Alteration in the amount of $932,000 agreed to
On Del Van Gorder - Upgrade
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The project is to stabilize foundations and to commence renovations, which was the funding identified in the supplementary estimates. In the coming year, $350,000 is dedicated to complete renovations. We have been fortunate enough to salvage the gymnasium/library addition to Del Van Gorder School and feel this funding, for a total of approximately $1 million, is money well spent, given that it would have been an expense to tear down and replace the facility.
Del Van Gorder - Upgrade in the amount of $350,000 agreed to
On Kluane Lake - Upgrade
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I apologize to the Member for Kluane that this is listed in the budget book as Kluane Lake School. Kluane Lake School was upgraded this year. The next school to be upgraded on the north highway is Beaver Creek. It is a school of similar size but many miles away.
The facility study we conducted a few years ago asked that there be a few things upgraded and rehabilitated in these small schools. This year we are upgrading windows, rehabilitating the interior by new carpeting in classrooms, painting, and replacing the furnace that has been a source of some concern to the community.
Kluane Lake - Upgrade in the amount of $140,000 agreed to
On Catholic Elementary School - Construction
Hon. Mr. McDonald: We discussed at some length what the school is all about. This funding is for the planning. We are looking at whether or not we can accelerate the construction from the previously-determined schedule by at least a year, and we will be better able to tell by this time next fall. We will know more details about the actual scope of the project and the timetable for construction.
Catholic Elementary School - Construction in the amount of $100,000 agreed to
On South Highway School - Construction and Design
Hon. Mr. McDonald: This is for a modular-style school to be constructed in the south highway area, at the Golden Horn Subdivision. The school is initially scheduled for about 110 students by September of 1990. We have discussed it often enough in the past. The school design will be modular construction, like the schools in Old Crow and in Mayo. The only thing it will lack will be a gymnasium, but that seems to be acceptable to the parents involved. They are mostly interested in simply getting the school. That is where it stands right now. It should be in place by the end of August.
Mr. Devries: Is a school of this nature tendered out? If it was, who got the tender?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: At this point, invitation to suppliers is the method by which the project is anticipated to go out. It is not standard construction. This will include the design, fabrication and setup of the modular school. A decision has not been made.
Mr. Lang: When does the Minister expect a decision to be made? Have the invitational proposals been received? Are they being reviewed?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: No, we have not received any bids at this point. We are still projecting that, based on advice Government Services received, $1.4 million will be sufficient to do the complete project in terms of the project layout and the gymnasium.
Mr. Lang: Will this be ready to go on September 1? Is that the time frame we are working in?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Yes, we are counting on it being ready by the opening day of school.
South Highway School - Construction and Design in the amount of $1,400,000 agreed to
On Custodial Equipment
Custodial Equipment in the amount of $40,000 agreed to
On Watson Lake Secondary - Upgrade/Expansion
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am sure the Member for Watson Lake will want to have a few remarks on the record in support of this particular project. I will give him that opportunity.
I know the Member knows the phasing as well as anyone with respect to phase 1 and phase 2. I am sure he knows who the contractor is: Klondike Construction. I am sure he knows every detail, because I am sure he has pored over the plans even more than I have. This project will deal with the gymnasium section first, which is the portion of the project of the greatest concern. It will end up over the phase 1 and phase 2 life of the project to be in the $9 million range.
Mr. Devries: The area I question is in the tendering process. My understanding is they are still anticipating using Yukon-grown 2x4 studs. I would assume they have to be kiln dried. At this point, I do not believe there are any made in the Yukon. Also, with reference to the Yukon-product siding, I do not believe there is any kiln-dried siding cut in Yukon mills from Yukon timber. There could be a mill somewhere I am not aware of.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I do not know. I am not familiar with the actual construction details. That is the responsibility of the Department of Government Services. However, I understand that if there are any specifications contained in the contract that cannot be met because it is impractical or the materials are no longer available or not available at all, that would be worked out between the owner, Government Services, and the contractor during discussions between the two.
Watson Lake Secondary - Upgrade/Expansion in the amount of $400,000 agreed to
On Instructional Equipment:
On Public Schools Miscellaneous Equipment
Hon. Mr. McDonald: This is $520,000 for miscellaneous equipment. This is everything from replacement furniture to industrial arts equipment to musical instruments to AV equipment, physical education equipment, et cetera.
In the past, as part of the budgeting process, the Department of Education worked up the estimates to the exact detail. Every year, those priorities were changed by school committees. We have not tried to do that again. These are based on prior-year expenditures instead. The budget is allocated in consultation among the superintendents, principals and the school committees as to the priorities expenditures. They are then distributed throughout the school system.
Public Schools Miscellaneous Equipment in the amount of $520,000 agreed to
On Instructional Computers
Hon. Mr. McDonald: In the past, we spent in the neighbourhood of $300,000 per year for instructional computers. We are dropping that to $150,000 because we have reached the point of having one computer for each eight students.
The $150,000 will replace six percent of the total number of computers every year, whether this is due to the computers being worn out or equipment upgrade to introduce the latest technology into the system. The funding here is for the replacement costs for the hardware and the software associated with the equipment.
Instructional Computers in the amount of $150,000 agreed to
On Special Education
Hon. Mr. McDonald: This is an increase to what we had previously budgeted. The requirements in this area are increasing, largely because the number of learning disabled students is increasing in the Yukon. They require adaptive technology. This technology has a very small market. Consequently, the equipment is very expensive.
When we have requirements for things like amplification systems for hearing-impaired children and attachments for desks for physically-disabled children, we require a special vote, and this is where the vote comes from. There are all sorts of specific needs, everything from braille writers to typewriter/computers for learning-disabled students across the system. The new special-education policy that we have adopted encourages that these services be available locally.
Special Education in the amount of $110,000 agreed to
On French Language Facilities and Equipment:
On French Language Equipment
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It is a fairly standard item. There are such things as French language computers; this is for the purchase of those computers. I understand this is not a recoverable item; it is for the general French language program.
French Language Equipment in the amount of $10,000 agreed to
On Prior Years Projects
Prior Years Projects in the amount of nil agreed to
Capital in the amount of $8,472,000 agreed to
Chair: Are there any questions on the next page? Allotments or person year establishment? Or the yellow pages?
They are all cleared.
On Allotments and Person Years
Allotments and Person Years agreed to
Public Schools in the amount of $45,456,000 agreed to
On Advanced Education
Chair: We will move on to advanced education. Is there any general debate?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The major expenditure increase in this particular branch is in the area of land claims. The land claims framework agreement did call for $3.5 million to come from territorial funds to support land claims related-training. It also indicated there was a commitment this funding would start to roll in the coming fiscal year. We have budgeted $1 million for that purpose. We have also enhanced the apprentice incentive marketing program by $50,000. So those are the two significant initiatives of note for the branch.
On Operation and Maintenance
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The reason this is $10 million is because the funding is mainly for the college. That is where the grant comes from. As I indicated before, the major addition here of new funding is for land claims-related training.
There is also a difference between Yukon College grants net recoveries of $325,000. The travel was low in 1989-90 due to the number of vacancies, and that is expected to be picked up this year for $20,000. The native teacher education program, which is funded through this branch with the college, is expected to have a full year of implementation. Previously, we had budgeted only for a partial year, and this is for $199,000.
There was a savings last year due to vacant positions as a result of the ADM vacancy for $42,000 that we had to pick up because we expect the position to be filled. There are other miscellaneous salary increases of $53,000. That accounts for the increase from the forecast to the estimate.
Mr. Devries: I get a lot of questions asked about the native teacher education program. Quite a few of them are fairly positive, but there still seems to be a kind of misconception as to what it is all about.
From the discussions on the supplementaries, my understanding is there were originally about 13 students who signed up. There was room for 20 but only 13 signed up, and there were 10 remaining in the program. I am not certain about that. I believe the career counsellor came to town the other day. My younger daughter signed up for elementary school teacher, so there must be something in the works for an elementary teacher program at Yukon College that we are not aware of yet.
Am I right, or am I only guessing?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Member is right that it has not been officially announced yet. I have had some experience dealing with his daughters on this matter. To correct the record, the number of students who are in the program now is 12.
As I indicated before, there was some discussion about expanding the program to non-native students. The focus of the program has been for native students, and the primary goal will be to provide for native teacher training. It encompasses a number of tasks that a simple, indigenous training program for teachers does not.
One problem the system has that must be addressed through a coherent and consistent approach to teacher training is it has to address the fact that there are very few native teachers in our system. There are fewer than a handful. Most of those people are in high demand in the system in curriculum development in terms of providing advice to CYI; they are seconded to the native language program and are not in the classroom. That is a significant structural problem for our school system that we have to address. There is no doubt that the major focus is going to be to teach native people to become teachers.
There is the problem in our school system, which is common to all school systems in the country: the anticipated shortage of teachers. We have heard a lot about it, but we have not been affected yet. Other jurisdictions have been affected more than we, for some reason, perhaps because we are a little more aggressive in searching out prospective teachers. We have a shortage of teachers, especially in the specialty areas: French language, sciences, maths, et cetera. That is something we should address, either through recruitment or through training.
We have been considering the expansion of teacher training activities to non-natives, bearing in mind the training program we have now has set its priorities for native students.
So, we will try to increase the enrollment for next year. There is no question about that. The program, so far as far as our assistants can tell, has been very successful. In four years we will produce graduates with full qualifications, which is something I hope we will all be around to watch, given that the Legislature has given a fairly considerable commitment to this project.
One has to remember that even if we did get a full complement of 20, which we can, and were to do it consistently with 20 per year for many years, we have to understand there would be a fair attrition rate. Many of the people who go through paraprofessional training will be drawn into other occupations because teachers tend to be leaders in the communities, tend to be well educated and articulate and tend to be drawn into other services in the community. We have to expect, if other experiences are the judge, that we will lose teachers, not to the communities, but to the education system. I expect a bit of that kind of attrition. That is something we have to bear in mind.
I know the Member has a fair number of things to say about teacher training, because it runs in the family. Perhaps we will return to this discussion tomorrow night at the same time. I move 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 considered Bill No. 19, First Appropriation Act, 1990-91, and directed me to report progress on same.
Speaker: You have heard the report of the Chair of Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Government House Leader that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: This House now stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. tomorrow.
The House adjourned at 5:29 p.m.
The following Sessional Paper was tabled February 20, 1990:
Letter dated February 20, 1990, from Minister, Health and Human Resources, to Minister Responsible for Womens Directorate, re formal approval of acquisition of mammography machine (Penikett)
The following Legislative Returns were tabled February 20, 1990:
Hendersons Corner power line extension (Penikett)
Oral, Hansard, pp. 1172 & 1173
Guidelines, travel for medical treatment, Health Services Branch. Revised: April, 1985 (Penikett)
Oral, Hansard, pp. 898 & 1176
Breakdown of $650,000 identified in contribution agreement between Health and Welfare Canada and Health and Human Resources (Penikett)
Oral, Hansard, p. 899
Cost of mail-out on proposed Yukon Health Act (Penikett)
Oral, Hansard, p. 909