Tuesday, February 27, 1990 - 1:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. At this time, we will proceed with Prayers.
Speaker: We will proceed with the Order Paper.
Introduction of Visitors.
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS
Mr. Devries: I would like to introduce Dave Harder, of Whitehorse, and Jerry Sherman who is with the Christian Embassy of Canada.
Speaker: Are there any Returns or Documents for Tabling?
TABLING RETURNS OR DOCUMENTS
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I have three returns for tabling.
Speaker: Are there any Reports of Committees?
Introduction of Bills.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
Bill No. 34: Introduction and First Reading
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that Bill No. 34, entitled, Third Appropriation Act, 1989-90, be now introduced and read a first time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Finance that Bill No. 34, entitled Third Appropriation Act, 1989-90, be now introduced and read a first time.
Motion for introduction and first reading of Bill No. 34 agreed to
Speaker: Are there any Notices of Motion for the Production of Papers?
Notices of Motion.
Are there any Statements by Ministers?
This then brings us to the Question Period.
Question re: Yukon Pacific Forest Products
Mr. Phelps: I have some questions for the Minister responsible for the Yukon Development Corporation regarding the Watson Lake sawmill.
When the Minister announced the sale in the House on January 12, just before the last territorial election, he said 15 percent of the sawmill corporation shares would be held in trust for the employees and would be sold to the employees within the next year. That was over one year ago. Can the Minister tell us why nothing has been done to discuss the ownership situation with the employees at the Watson Lake sawmill?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: In the intervening year, there has been a number of problems at the property that may not have created the most opportune environment to conclude that commitment for the government. We recently reconfirmed our view that our 15 percent should be offered to the employees. I am pleased to have received recently a communication from some people representing the employees and will be instructing officials to meet with them and to assess the question. It is somewhat complicated at this moment by the role of the receiver/manager, but that is an issue we will have to discuss.
Mr. Phelps: I must have a copy of the same communication. Why have the employees been kept in the dark about the negotiations with T.F. Properties and Shieldings with regard to the receivership court action?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Of course we do not normally conduct such negotiations in public, nor does anybody else. We were trying to achieve a purpose, which was to see the bills paid for the operation, to see the money that was promised to that operation forthcoming. That is what we have been trying to achieve. The willingness of the government, subject to acceptable arrangements, to sell its shares to the employees is one that has been oft stated.
Mr. Phelps: Since the closing of the sale to Shieldings and T.F. Properties of the assets of Hyland Forest Products, have officers of Yukon Development Corporation ever tried to meet with the employees of the mill to discuss the 15 percent of the shares that are being held in trust for the employees?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I do not think there have been any formal meetings, as such. As the Member will know, during much of the period we have been talking about there have been a number of problems about the corporation with which we have been trying to deal. Most prudent business people have assumed that we were not dealing with the optimum environment for concluding that transaction in the period we have just been through.
Question re: Yukon Pacific Forest Products, employee association
Mr. Phelps: The employees have formed the first lumber employee association and have sent a two-page letter to the Minister, signed by 30-odd of the employees, about the mill. When is the Minister going to instruct his officials to commence some dialogue with the association regarding the ownership situation?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Upon receipt of the fax or telex of the communication this morning, I instructed that a response be prepared indicating our willingness to have a very early meeting.
Mr. Phelps: With regard to one of the questions asked in the letter, I am wondering whether Yukon Development Corporation will be giving the employees the chance to purchase shares in the sawmill on similar terms and conditions to those afforded other purchasers of shares in the operation.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Any such consideration will be subject to negotiation, as it was in the past. I am not prepared to commit myself to any particular financial arrangements at this moment. We committed ourselves to a meeting and to those discussions, and we will proceed from there.
Mr. Phelps: During those discussions, will the Minister take steps to ensure the employees are fully briefed with regard to the present financial situation of the sawmill operation and its chances for survival?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: That is obviously of great interest to the employees. At present, it would be incumbent upon the receiver/manager to provide them with what information he has available. The information that we would have on a day-to-day basis would come from that same source.
Since the mill is now in his charge, he would be a better source from whom to obtain that information. If there is a problem in terms of mandating that to happen, however, I am willing to endorse that it happened. However, as I have told the House before, the receiver/manager is an agent of the court not of the government; he would not, I am sure, take instructions from us.
Question re: Yukon Pacific Forest Products, employee association
Mr. Phelps: Will the Minister take steps to ensure that there will be reasonable and ongoing communications between YDC and the employees regarding the operation of the sawmill and the ownership situation?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: That would be facilitated greatly by the creation of the employees association, especially if it represents all the employees. Had there been a bargaining agent or a union there, it would have been easier to communicate with the employees rather than having to try to communicate with all of them singly, which is at best a little more complex than trying to deal with designated representatives.
Mr. Phelps: Is this simply a piece of information that the Minister has gleaned irrefutably? Does he know this because the YDC has attempted to communicate with the employees in the past?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I know that as a common sense person. I have had meetings with the employees, during which time I indicated the governments intentions to the employees - on the shop floor in Watson Lake.
In most cases where there had been successful employee participation in the ownership of a corporation in this country or elsewhere, particularly in the forest sector, there has usually been a bargaining unit that was a party to the process. It is always much easier to negotiate with a designated and certified bargaining agent in such circumstances than it is with a large group of people who may or may not be represented by a formal organization.
Mr. Phelps: Why has the Minister not tried to communicate with the employees since the sale went through and since the election has taken place?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: On a number of occasions, I have indicated our willingness to proceed on this basis. I have also previously said that, given the problems being experienced by the mill since the sale last year, there has not been a perfect opportunity to commence those negotiations. I have reiterated, as has this Cabinet, our willingness to see that 15 percent sold to the employees if acceptable arrangements can be made.
Question re: Yukon Pacific Forest Products
Mr. Phelps: This is fresh, new information we are being provided. I am rather astounded by it.
Why did Yukon Development Corporation not acknowledge the problems that the mill was experiencing prior to the fall? Why did it suddenly, at that time, finally indicate there were real problems with regard to bills being paid and so on?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: If the Member is suggesting that as a shareholder we should have made some public statement about the problems and, therefore, potentially compromised the operations position in the market, I think that would have been very bad advice. That would be bad advice.
What we attempted to do, not only as a government but as a minor participant in the operation, was to deal with the investors, to get them to live up to their commitments, to pay their bills; we maintained a very persistent pressure on that score. I think we took legal steps when we were in a position to do so. We were not in a position to do so until a few days before we went to court.
Question re: Yukon Pacific Forest Products
Mr. Devries: I have a question for the Minister responsible for the Yukon Development Corporation.
In March 1989, when the Yukon Development Corporation sold the Watson Lake sawmill to Yukon Pacific Forest Products, it agreed to pay for the costs of leasing a temporary mill to a maximum of $550,000, plus another $100,000 for startup costs. Why, at that time, did the Minister not announce that the corporation would be providing an additional incentive by paying double the going rate, $225 per thousand board feet, for finishing, and an additional $60 for shipping the existing rough lumber inventory?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I have no knowledge that would confirm for me that the assertions being made by the Member opposite are founded on the truth. I will take the question as notice and ask the officials, but I will still be governed in my answers by the limitations imposed on me by current court actions.
Mr. Devries: I have a document here that clearly states the facts, and it is a letter written from Yukon Pacific Forest Products to Yukon Development Corporation, and it is signed by Michael Sweatman. I would like to know why this additional incentive does not appear to be mentioned in the annual report of the Yukon Development Corporation. Since this approximate $200,000 figure may be a low estimate of the actual incentive, would the Minister table a legislative return showing the total amount for finishing and shipping the rough lumber inventory?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: As I have said before, I have no knowledge of the document the Member is talking about. If he is quoting from it, perhaps he would do us the courtesy of tabling it in the House. I will see if he is taking it out of context or not and file an appropriate legislative return.
If the Member is trying to deal with matters in this House that are before the courts, he is obviously going to have to be very patient. I do not know what purpose is behind this latest line of inquiry.
Mr. Devries: I thought the mill was in receivership. I guess it is still before the courts, in a sense.
The Yukon Development Corporation paid Yukon Pacific Forest Products $60 per thousand board feet for shipping this lumber. I do not know whether it was cash or a transfer of shares. Could the Minister advise the House if the trucking contractors were ever paid for the shipment of this lumber, or are they still patiently waiting for these cheques from Yukon Pacific Forest Products?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am sure that is a matter before the receiver/manager, not before this government at this moment, but I will also take notice of that question.
Question re: Extended care facility
Mr. Lang: I am going to be easy on the Minister of Health and Human Resources today. I want to first announce to the House this matter I want to raise is not before the court. It has been discussed at some length in the Legislature. It is a question of the extended care facility, or the lack thereof. To refresh memories in the House, in 1985-86, the same Government Leader asked the Legislature to approve $150,000 for the design work for an extended care facility. In 1987-88, we voted one dollar with the understanding we would give vote authority and that certain things would proceed over the course of that year.
In 1989-90, prior to and after the election in the same budget, we were asked for and approved $648,000 for planning, design and architectural work to be done on the extended care facility in this past year, 1989-90.
I was very disturbed to have the time line for the construction period that it is going to take to construct a very much needed facility for Yukon and for Whitehorse tabled here yesterday: the extended care facility. The scenario shows that the grand opening, where we will all eat cake, is going to be in March of 1993.
Last year, we voted $648,000. What work was done toward the building of this facility over the course of this past year, in view of the fact we approved the money a year ago?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I have already answered that question in estimates. Perhaps the Member was not paying attention, and I will do it again.
The work that was commissioned this past year was the recruitment of a health planner. I have described in this House the work that person is doing; he is giving us an overall plan in terms of the health continuum of needs for seniors and people requiring extended care, the continuum ranging from home care through facilities like Macaulay Lodge to the kind of extended care facility we are going to be constructing beginning next year.
I also told the House that a number of capital projects with very large operating costs were subject to a second look by Cabinet recently, as a result of the pending formula financing cuts. We have to be absolutely sure that we can proceed with them under the new formula.
That caused us to delay the implementation and not commit the money that had originally been voted, because we could not be certain that we would be able to pay the operating costs much less the capital costs if the formula had been cut as much as the federal government had originally proposed.
Mr. Lang: I find that answer unacceptable. The Member brought a line item in the budget to this House for a much needed facility that was agreed upon unanimously; it was endorsed by all Members in this House. I have constituents in my riding who should, right now, be in an extended care facility.
It is a very sad state of affairs that we face. Now we are looking at 1993 for a completion date. Why was there no planning and architectural work done in this past year? The money was voted for it. Why was that work not done in view of the financial negotiations that were under way?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: This is another wonderful example of the Opposition speaking out of both sides of its mouth. The Leader of the Official Opposition told its convention that this government was spending too much on social spending. Every other Member of the caucus is demanding that we spend more in a time of cuts in the formula.
This government behaved prudently. We are talking about a $6 million-plus capital cost. We are talking about $2.2 million in operating costs. The Member cannot keep asking for more expenditures out of a smaller pot. We are going to behave prudently in not committing ourselves to huge new program expenditures in the future unless we can be reasonably certain that the taxpayers of the territory can absorb that cost.
That is the way we are proceeding. Nobody needs to persuade us of the need for an extended care facility, but a prudent government has to be persuaded that it has the ability to pay for it.
Mr. Lang: This government has been so prudent that we have a $3 million arena when we started with a $500,000 estimate. It has been so prudent that we have over a $1 million curling rink in a community that will not be open in the foreseeable future.
We spent $8 million, $10 million, $12 million, $14 million, $20 million on a sawmill. Then the Minister talks about being prudent. I am talking about a facility in this community that is badly needed. I am submitting to the side opposite that it has been negligent in its duties.
We started voting money for this facility in 1985-86. In view of this time line, which now says 1993, can the Minister tell this House what he can do to move this time line up to try and get this building up before March, 1993? That date is very unacceptable.
I would like to challenge the Minister to come to my riding some time and meet a few of the people who very much need this facility.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The Member who just spoke was the one responsible for 100 percent cost overrun on the Porter Creek school. He was responsible for a $12 million sewer and water system in Dawson City that cost twice as much to operate as the system that he replaced. This is the Member who built a gym in Faro that could not be used because it cracked from top to bottom on the day it was built. This is a Member of a Cabinet that voted themselves a $60 a day wine and aspirin expense account, so caring were they of the taxpayers money.
Speaker: Order please. Would the Member please address the question.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am sorry to embarrass the Members about their hypocrisy.
This is a needed facility. This is one of many demands that is being made of the social envelope of this government. We have had to assess very carefully whether, given the reduced money available to us from the federal government, we could afford to proceed.
Near the conclusion of the formula financing negotiations, we have decided to proceed. The building will be built. We hope that it will open in 1992. The Member can come to the opening ceremony. I do not care what he eats. He can eat crow if he wants because that is probably what he will be doing.
Question re: Extended care facility
Mr. Lang: I think it is sad when the Government Leader can stand in his place, time in and time out, and never respond to a question; he never gives the credit that this Legislature is due. It is his responsibility to answer - not to us but, more importantly, to the people of the territory - the very valid questions being asked. I have no problem when the Member opposite talked about being prudent, but this particular facility is a priority to all Members of this House. Since 1985-86, we have voted money for this particular facility. Now he has the audacity to table in this House yesterday a document that says it is going to be completed in 1993. I want to ask the Minister if he will undertake, on behalf of those people who need this facility, to take this back to his department and see if the time line recommended in this legislative return can be speeded up.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The Member, after several years of misusing the word audacity, should know that it is pronounced audocity not audicity - but I know the wonderful, anti-intellectual Member, the great know-nothing from Porter Creek East, is not interested in having any information on that score as he is never interested in information in this House. His questions are not questions; they are attacks.
I told the House last night, in response to exactly the same question from the Member for Porter Creek West, that we are looking at building it as soon as we possibly can, and the earliest date we can begin construction of the planning work laid out in the schedule I tabled yesterday is in the next fiscal year, in the early spring, in March. The departmental staff will try and shrink those time lines, but as a purely practical proposition, they advise me it cannot be done faster than that. With the resources available to us, we will be getting the extended care facility open as soon as we can.
Question re: Health services transfer
Mr. Nordling: I have a question for the Minister of Health and Human Resources with respect to the health services transfer. I would like an update on the progress of the transfer of health services from the federal government and, specifically, whether or not there has been any movement toward agreement on the second-stage transfer and when a meeting will be scheduled between CYI, the federal government and the territorial government.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The Member wants an update. Mr. Speaker, if I am going to get all the questions, perhaps we could excuse the other Ministers so that they can go and do some useful work. I am happy to stay here all day and entertain the questions of the Members opposite. I just wondered if my colleagues might like to do some useful work, as time is so short.
I can give an update in Question Period, but it is not an ideal forum for doing so. I am surprised I was not asked this yesterday when my estimates on Health were before the House. The short answer is, as I indicated, that there is a new ADM responsible in the Department of National Health and Welfare; we are in communication with that person; the person, I understand, has gone back to their superiors to re-examine their mandate. As soon as this House has risen, there will be an opportunity for me to perhaps meet with the national Minister and for meetings with CYI and the other parties, I am sure. I think we will be in a position shortly, but not tomorrow or the next day, to know whether there is any room for movement on the question of the second-stage transfer. I certainly hope there will be and that is what we will be negotiating hard to achieve.
Mr. Nordling: It is really difficult, because there are no precise answers coming from the Minister, so I have to keep asking. The reason I am asking is that I asked this same question the other day, and the Minister replied that the second stage is possibly complicated by the current negotiations in land claims. Well, it is either complicated or it is not; then the Minister says perhaps when the House rises, he will meet with the federal Minister.
I would like to know some of the goals. How long will negotiations drag on before the Minister does become personally involved?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I can only be personally involved in negotiations when the House is not sitting, for all sorts of practical reasons. My first duty is to be here when the House is sitting.
I did not want to interrupt the hecklers.
The Member is confused about whether the second-stage transfer could or could not complicate land claims negotiations. It is my opinion that there is a very high degree of possibility of doing exactly that because the first nations in this territory are probably going to be negotiating, and in some cases are negotiating, self-government powers in the health field and potentially have their eye on some of the federal health services they might like devolved to first nations rather than to us. That is obviously an issue for land claims.
It makes it impossible, unless we can work out some satisfactory arrangement for all parties, probably, to reach a final conclusion on that question at the health transfer table in advance of the self-government negotiations.
We are going to have the meeting soon with the first nations and federal officials to see if there is a way around this problem. If there is we will cut that Gordian knot. Our preference, oft stated, is that we should proceed with the transfer in two stages: transfer the hospital now, and if the federal government will give us the money to build a new hospital now, we will proceed with that now. We will deal with the second stage at the conclusion of the land claims negotiations or as part of land claims negotiations.
That is the problem. I have stated it before and I do not think I can be any more clear. We are going to try to work out that problem out. It is a difficult one.
Mr. Nordling: I know we hoped to have an umbrella agreement by the end of March. Will this three-party meeting take place in March? I know how complicated it is to set up a meeting with a federal Minister. Has the Minister or his department contacted Mr. Beatty or his office to arrange a meeting between the two Ministers sometime this spring after the House gets out? The government has the order of business and knows approximately what time we will be finished.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I do not think the government has that for sure. I understand from conversations between the House leaders today we may not be breaking at all. I do not know what the Member is saying.
Let me just say it is customary in negotiations between governments that officials reach a high degree of agreement before the Ministers involved come to the table. Unless Mr. Beatty has changed the position he articulated to me in the meeting in October, I am not sure how useful a meeting between us would be. Nonetheless, I would be more than willing to meet with him at any time if it would help to resolve the impasse in these negotiations.
Question re: Health services transfer
Mrs. Firth: I did not realize we were discussing House leaders business on the floor of the Legislature during Question Period.
I have a question for the Minister of Health and Human Resources.
Surely the Minister fancies himself a playwright. He should know: he is playing the leading role. Do not be discouraged.
It has been almost a month since I asked a question regarding the health services transfer, particularly with respect to the employees at the Whitehorse General Hospital. I asked specifically about target dates for the completion of the classification process and final signing of the memorandum of understanding.
At what stage is the classification process? Specifically, is it in the beginning stages, half completed, or is it near completion?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: My understanding is that the classification process was due to be complete before Christmas, but a number of the potential employees of the Yukon government had problems with the classifications that have been proposed as a result of that process and wanted to have a second look at them.
My understanding is we acceded to that request and, therefore, it has not been completed yet.
I do not know if further meetings on that question have been scheduled. I would have to take that as notice and report back to the House. The short answer is we were due to complete them before Christmas. We have not, because of concerns expressed by a number of people that the classifications were not satisfactory from their point of view.
Mrs. Firth: The exercise is ongoing. The Minister has not given us a clear indication as to how far the classification process has proceeded.
The process is going on. I specifically asked the Minister about the next meeting at the negotiating table. I think he has again answered my question with the same answer as is already in Hansard. When I asked when the next meeting at the negotiating table would take place, he said, I will take that question about the next meeting at the negotiating table as notice.
A month later, he is saying the same thing. I have to ask the Minister whether he knows what is going on or not. Could the Minister indicate to me when he can report back to the House as to when the next meeting will take place at the negotiating table?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: In answer to the Members question, yes, I do know what is going on. When such a meeting is scheduled, I can advise the Member. I hope she will understand it is not possible for me to advise her of a meeting if it is not yet scheduled.
Mrs. Firth: The issue is that the Minister told me a month ago he was going to advise me of the meeting. He never advised us of any meeting. A month later, he still does not know when the meeting is going to take place. Is there or is there not going to be a meeting? Could the Minister tell us when the layoff notices are going to be issued? I understand that process has had to be rescheduled several times. Is there a new date for the scheduling of the layoff notices?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Forgive me, but I think the Member has things the wrong way around. The classification process and satisfaction on that score, the layoff notices, the six months to decide whether the people will be coming to work for us or to accept transfer in the federal system, all flow from an agreement between the federal government and us. That agreement has to not only encompass an agreement to transfer the hospital, but also an agreement to subscribe to finance the personnel package we have arrived at - in other words, the elements of a transfer agreement.
We cannot give offers of jobs to the employees - and the federal government would then give layoff notices - until we have a satisfactory agreement on the transfer. Unless and until the federal government agrees to provide the money for the hospital, unless and until it agrees to provide the money for the personnel costs associated with the transfer, the transfer will not proceed. Even though we had planning deadlines, timetables that were ideal for us and would have seen us complete the classification of personnel work before Christmas, would have seen notices and offers to the employees, enabling us to complete a transfer this summer, the essential agreement between the governments has not yet been reached. Until it is, we cannot proceed to completing these other stages in the transfer, which include the very important and absolutely essential personnel part of the agreement.
Question re: Health services transfer
Mrs. Firth: I understand the process. I do not have it the wrong way around. This process we are specifically talking about with respect to the employees at the hospital is continuing to go on, regardless of the hospital transfer. The classification process is going on; the employees have to be interviewed; the memorandum of understanding has to be signed; all the issues have to be dealt with that are still outstanding at the table; the six months layoff notice has to be given. That whole process is continuing.
At what stage is the classification process? When are they anticipating going back to the table to negotiate and reach some target date as to layoff notices?
That is going to happen irrespective of the transfers because it is the commitment that the Minister has made, that that process is going to go ahead.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The Member is partly right. Every single employee, as I understand it, has been interviewed, some of them more than once. Some of them have concerns that are causing us to delay the process.
Once that classification process is complete, the parties go back to the table and agree on the personnel package. We, as a government, and the federal government have to agree on a costing of that package. That becomes one element of the transfer agreement or the memorandum of understanding that the Member talks about.
Even when we have completed the classifications, which is imminent, we cannot make the offer to the employees until we have an agreement with the federal government on the money. We do not have that yet. I am hoping that in the time remaining in this fiscal year we will reach some agreement.
We do not want to leave the employees hanging in suspended animation for any longer. If the situation is that the federal governments position is immutable, we will have to face the very serious consequences of that decision and advise everybody accordingly. Our hope, still, is that an agreement can be reached and the transfer will proceed.
Question re: Annie Lake beaver dam
Mr. Phillips: My question is not to the Minister who has been whining under the pressure today. The Minister does not want all the questions. The Minister does not even want to be here. My question is for one of the Ministers who I hope wants to be here: the Minister for Renewable Resources, responsible for freshwater fisheries.
Last September the government highways officials removed a beaver dam at Annie Lake. With removal of the dam, the lake level was drastically lowered. The Yukon government biologists said that there was a good chance that winter kill of fish would occur because of the low water.
Government officials rebuilt part of the dam to raise the lake level. Can the Minister tell me if his officials have carried out any test on Annie Lake this winter to determine if there has been any winter kill as a result of the damage done by the Department of Highways?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I want to thank the Member opposite for his question. My officials in the department are aware of the problem that exists at Annie Lake. They plan to do some testing in the near future to see if any winter kill of the fish has occurred.
To date they have not notified many of the residents there of any evidence of that effect, but toward the end of this winter season, they will be doing some testing.
Mr. Phillips: Can the Minister tell us if the department is going to do any tests on the lake prior to the ice coming off the lake? Is the department going to do any oxygen tests? A lack of oxygen will kill the fish. Will the department do any of those types of tests prior to the ice going off the lake?
Hon. Mr. Webster: Yes. That is the plan. Sometime in the month of March, the department will do some tests on the amount of oxygen in the lake and to see if there is any evidence of winter kill.
Mr. Phillips: What steps is the department taking to restore the lake to its original level? Is the department planning any work for this spring or summer that will see an adequate gate put in where that beaver dam was?
Hon. Mr. Webster: A permanent structure has already been put in place to control the level of the lake, to restore it to its original level. That work was done by the Department of Community and Transportation Services.
Speaker: Time for Question Period is 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 that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
Speaker leaves the Chair
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Chair: I will now call the Committee of the Whole to order.
First of all I would like to welcome the students to the Legislature. We are just going to go into Committee of the Whole. We will now take a break for 15 minutes.
Chair: I will call the House to order.
We will continue debate on Bill No. 19, Department of Health and Human Resources, Juvenile Justice.
Bill No. 19 - First Appropriation Act, 1990-91 - continued
Health and Human Resources - continued
On Juvenile Justice
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Yesterday I took notice of some questions and can respond to some of them during todays discussion, orally. For the others, I am hoping the information will arrive while we are in the House this afternoon for distribution.
I have for distribution the list of contracts requested by the Member for Porter Creek West to January 31, 1990, and will distribute them now.
I have not had a chance to see this list myself so I will not be well prepared for questions. I will take notice of any questions that arise.
Just before we go into the line under Juvenile Justice, let me explain about some of the statistics that we do not have in the health area for 1990. We do not have the capacity yet to produce some of the statistics, particularly in relation to the health care area, and we have been experiencing some difficulty with computer programming, which has resulted in a considerable amount of information being backlogged, or not entered into the system yet.
I would like to mention that these programming problems have been corrected. We have employed a casual worker to catch up on the data entry, but we are still some time away from being completely up-to-date on this question. Rather than put incomplete information forward, the department elected not to put the 1990 information in at all. I would give an undertaking that, as long as I do not appall my officials, at the first supplementary in the year I will provide, as supplement to it, the 1990 information as it is then. I would hope to be able to do that.
The question was asked yesterday about the demand for child care in the city. We do not have a complete answer on that yet as it was to be tabulated in the form requested by the Member for Porter Creek East.
I understand, however, that this morning the staff has received communications from 14 child care centres that report they are at capacity, and some centres report they have recently turned away interested parties. There are six family day homes that are full to capacity and have waiting lists of four to six children. An additional six child care centres report some vacancies - three are rural centres with a total of seven vacancies, and one rural centre is full during part of the week and has only a few part-time vacancies. The remaining three centres are located in Whitehorse; two of them opened in February 1990 and offer specialized programming. The teen parent program has eight children and is able to accommodate more as the program expands. I gather the French language program has vacancies for three children. The remaining centre is experiencing some seasonal fluctuation; they have some vacant spaces. We have information from five family day homes that have one vacancy each and one home has three vacancies because of seasonal fluctuations; one has vacancies as it has just opened, and one rural family day home has two vacancies. It is, of course, not clear from this information, because we have not had a chance to tabulate it yet, how much ahead of the supply is the demand, but I am hoping that, in a legislative return, I will be able to provide more information on that score by the time we begin debating the Child Care Act, which I am sure will be an appropriate time to consider those numbers.
I see a Member wishing to ask me a question. I will take my chair.
Mr. Lang: I will save my debate for the Child Care Act. I would like to have that information tabulated as regards the vacancies within existing day cares; also, I would like verification of how many have closed down or are in the process of closing down. My information is that at least one has given notice to the department that they will be closing down in June of this year because of the lack of participation of children in that day care.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: We can try to provide the information in that form. It would be helpful, if the Member does not want to name the facility publicly, if he would communicate privately to us this information he has. It is at odds with the information I was given today.
Mr. Lang: That is why I find the information given to me interesting. I am led to believe the department was notified that there was such a closure. I will give the information privately to the Minister, and he can check it out. I was told the department was told.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I will look forward to receiving that information from the Member and will check it out. I hope the Member understands that, sometimes, people will say they told the department, although they may have only told one person in the department and not anyone who has been gathering this information.
If I get the name, we can check that out.
On the Juvenile Justice program, as I indicated in the remarks in general debate, in the budget year we are looking at, there will be a continuing emphasis on community level programs in our youth justice system for young people who get into trouble with the law. There will be counselling support groups. They are now available. There will be groups for anger management and counselling for teen sex offenders and for those who are suffering from substance abuse.
As I mentioned before, the work of the community diversion committees will be assisting in helping teens before they become part of the custody system, either open or closed. We have wilderness programs that are particularly designed to reflect the aboriginal lifestyles. Indian people are disproportionately represented in our institutions.
One such program will be provided by the Kwanlin Dun Band, and another one will enable young people to learn guiding skills through a Mayo summer camp program on the Wind River.
The operating expenses are projected to increase by $33,000. I went through some of the explanations for that. This year there is capital that is sharply reduced because of the completion of the secure custody facility.
With that introduction, I will resume my seat and take questions.
Mr. Nordling: Before we get into that, I have a couple of other items that I would like to bring up. The Minister provided us with a list of contracts as of January 31, 1990.
These are contracts where the money has already been committed and spent; the contracts are final and closed. Is that correct? Is this money already spent on contracts? Are any of these contracts that will be continuing? Do we have the money spent as of January 31 or are they commitments that have been closed?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: These are all completed contracts. The money has been spent. There may be cases where the contracts were for greater amounts, but this was the actual money dispersed through the contract.
Mr. Nordling: But they are completed contracts. When we discussed it, I had hoped that the Minister would provide, as some of the other departments did, a list of all the contracts that have been let by the departments, some of which are ongoing. We do not have those contracts. Is it possible to have a listing of those contracts also?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I will take the question under advisement. I do not know what list of contracts there are. Some may be ongoing regarding policy work. I will see what there is. I saw this list just before we came to the House, and I have not had a chance to review it myself.
Mr. Nordling: There is a group of nurses in town called Nursing Options Limited. I think the deputy minister may be familiar with them. They have a contract with Whitehorse General Hospital to supply relief nursing services.
Is the territorial government using them, or does it have any plan to use them during the coming fiscal year?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: We are not using them and as far as I know we have no plans to use them.
Mr. Nordling: I understood the department had used them in the past for relief services at the correctional centre. Can the Minister check that and let me know?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I would assume we would use auxiliaries or casuals for relief services. I understand we are talking about a labour contractor, a firm that has been created largely in response to the contracting out and privatization of jobs at the Whitehorse General Hospital, something with which we strongly disagree, because it contributes to very bad labour relations and is a real disadvantage to the employees and violates what we think are their bargaining rights in their contractual situation.
Our contract with our unit would not even permit us to consider the contracting out of our jobs to such a labour contractor. In fact, I am pretty sure the collective agreement would prohibit it.
Mr. Nordling: I was thinking more along the line of relief for the home makers. The Minister talks about the home makers becoming auxiliaries rather than contractors. As auxiliaries, I would think they would work a regular shift and not weekends and after hours, and it would be permissible to use a private contractor to supplement those services.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The Member and I have a different understanding. Auxiliaries can be on call. They can be an on-call auxiliary, or a seasonal auxiliary, such as the people who work for highways and Renewable Resources in the summer. Under our arrangements, and in a form we introduced for casual workers who felt much abused, auxiliaries now have bargaining rights and benefits. So, even though they may work part-time or be on call they still have certain kinds of benefits according to a collective agreement. Because of the nature of the part time work, there was considerable concern on that score by the union. Part of the reason we would be prepared to convert certain positions to permanent positions inside the public service is a recognition of the fact that if these people were, for all intents and purposes, permanent employees they should not be treated as contractors and should have the benefits that other full time employees have. That is what the conversions in the line we have already cleared were designed to do.
Mr. Nordling: I am prepared to discuss the juvenilejustice branch at this time.
Perhaps in general debate I would like to follow up on questions I asked in Question Period. The Minister tabled four documents with respect to the services provided by Audrey McLaughlin for the young offenders facility and programming. Are those four documents the total report we received from Ms. McLaughlin? The Minister said something in Question Period about Cabinet documents and Cabinet submissions. Has he checked on that? Can he tell us the situation?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I did check on that at the bequest of the Member. The information I gave the Member is correct. There were six documents prepared, two of which were prepared for the previous Minister. They were in the nature of policy submissions to the Minister and Cabinet documents. The other four, which the Member now has in his possession, were part of the package. Finally, it is my recollection that the person in question also conducted some workshops on these issues for the staff of the department.
Mr. Nordling: The documents that were tabled are fairly general and talked about the facility itself in some cases; I would like to ask the Minister about the programming that is in place, the specific programs that are available. We have a copy of Hector MacKenzies report on wilderness programming, but I am talking about the specific programs used in the facility, such as when the kids are punished and when they are not and how the point system works. None of that is in these documents that were prepared by Audrey McLaughlin, and I wondered where that came from?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am sorry. I apologize to the Member that I did not understand before that he was interested in the disciplinary procedures and the points system. I am sure I can provide a legislative return on that in a general way. First of all let me say that the programming provided for the inhabitants of the facility, as I said before in debate, is designed to meet the needs of the individuals. In other words, there is not blanket programming for all the kids, whether they are 13 or 17, whether they are sex offenders or whether they are experiencing violence or whether they have a pattern of drug abuse. There are different programs, which are designed to be individually tailored, and I mentioned some of them. The basic philosophy at the facility in terms of the program is not so much that you receive points or penalties for bad behaviour as that you win points for good behaviour and can win privileges or access to special recreation or other programs by good behaviour in the facility.
To a certain extent as we all know, in any human institution, such programs can be manipulated by artful youngsters, but the notion of rehabilitation at this young offenders facility is to reward socially acceptable behaviour and to try and indicate to the kids the kind of behaviour that will prepare them for functioning in the community. Even the notion of socially acceptable behaviour is a little problematic since there is a decided cultural bias, depending on your point of view on this question. For that reason, there is an ongoing effort by the department to look at the program through ongoing advice from people in the community in terms of its acceptability and in terms of its success toward achieving the goals we have set out.
I do not know how useful this is in legislative debate, but if the Member is asking what kinds of things win points, what kinds of behaviours will cost you in terms of privileges, I guess I can provide information of that kind. It would be helpful if the Member defined the reason he needed that information.
Mr. Nordling: Perhaps when the Ministers executive assistant gets back to me and we have arranged a tour, I can get that sort of information at the facility. I could discuss with the staff what they do, so it will not be necessary for the Minister to go to all that work. Does the department have a listing of what is available? What is available for counselling for sexual abuse, for anger management, for these sorts of things? In my opinion, there must be some booklet or binder that outlines what is available at the facility for these children, as well as a basic statement of philosophy as to what the facility is trying to accomplish.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: First of all, I understand the Member has already been up to the facility with my staff. I hope he is not contemplating he will be making periodic inspections there. I do not think that would be indicated at all.
In terms of binders or manuals, the Member is probably talking about something like a program or policy manual, which does not exist in the same form as it might if it were a manual for a construction program, for example. In the facility, there is a manual or case file for every young person who goes there, and the young person is given it so they know what is expected of them and what kind of behaviours will get them into trouble, as well as what kind of behaviours will be expected of them.
For the Members benefit, I will go through three types of programs we have in a little more detail, so I can share that with the House.
In my opening statement, I mentioned an anger management program. This was developed by our youth probation services, and it is a six-week program for teenagers that operates depending on the demand. It can be several times a year.
The youths in that program can be referred either directly by the court or by the youth probation worker. In other words, the judge may order the young person take part in such a program. They may also be advised to take part in it by youth probation officers.
A program like this is offered in both open and secure custody, and can also be offered to youths on probation. Normally in a session like that, there would be six to eight youths in the program, and a youth probation officer with training in this field facilitates the sessions. These programs have now been going on for about three years.
The second kind of program is a treatment group for teen sex offenders. It is also facilitated by a youth probation officer, with assistance from and consultation with a psychologist from British Columbia, who is an expert in this field. I believe they have a clinical psychologist, a PhD.
This only operates when there are residents in the facility who warrant this kind of program, and it can be accessed by between four and eight youths. This program began in 1986 and has usually happened at least once a year.
The program people meet weekly throughout the year. If we have guests in our facilities who have this need, they will be part of that program. Again, referral can be from the court, probation officers, and social workers.
In this particular program, parents are encouraged - and indeed expected - to participate, since it is not unusual for there to be a family problem around cases like this.
In respect to substance abuse, there is a group session facilitated by a youth probation officer and an alcohol and drug services counsellor. The group focuses on information and awareness for the initial three weeks, followed by more intense self-help support-group meetings. Ideally, the groups average between six and nine youths. In this case, referrals can come from courts or probation officers, as well as from self-referrals where someone volunteers for this program, or they can be referred by social workers.
This particular program began in 1989. There is a similar program offered for youths in secure custody, while the youths in open custody tend to participate in the community programs.
I hope that gives the Member a little more information about the kind of programs that are available. They are very much driven in the secure custody facility by the people who happen to be there and by the needs of the individuals who happen to be there at any given point in time.
Mr. Nordling: I do not plan to do periodic inspections at the facility. However, I am interested in going back up to see what changes have been made and what improvements have been made to the security for the staff. After the escape there was between $40,000 and $50,000 work done.
In answer to one of my questions in Question Period, the Minister said that if I was really interested in knowing what was going on that I could ask and that the department would be happy to arrange a visit. I tried for the second time to arrange the visit, and I still have not had an answer. I thank the Minister for his explanation of what is going on up there.
The Chief Judge of the Territorial Court expressed concern over the programming and what was available to the young offenders at the facility. What sort of report is being prepared for the Chief Judge? Will that be made available to the opposition?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am going to be careful how I explain this. Our officials believe that there is a real difference provided for in the Young Offenders Act between treatment to which someone can be sent and custody. More comprehensive treatment that may be indicated in some cases is not available in our secure custody facilities. They are not available in most of them in the country.
I can tell the Member that, further to the dictum from the judge, the staff of the department has met with the Chief Territorial Court Judge to advise on our programs. Meetings will be ongoing to keep him apprised of what we are doing.
I have asked for a transcript of the Judges remarks from the bench so that I can study them. I have not yet received it. When I do, I will discuss it with my officials. I do not think that there is any framework in our law or in our traditions for me to have a dialogue about it personally with the judge. I suspect that that would be quite improper.
Officials of our department, the people responsible for this programming, are in an undying dialogue with the judiciary as to exactly what is available and how it is provided to young offenders.
Mr. Nordling: Did the staff prepare a document or a report for the judge that they discussed with him in the meeting?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The judge asked for a report from the bench. I do not know if it was in the nature of a probationary report or what it would be legally. I do not know enough about the court system to know that. I am assuming that what the judge asked for was provided to him. We are talking about ongoing dialogue with the judiciary so that the court can avail itself+++ of the services that are now offered in the territory.
Mr. Nordling: Perhaps the Minister can tell me a little more about the meeting. My impression of what happened at that meeting is the staff presented the judge with some sort of a document outlining the programming in general. They discussed with the judge whether or not it satisfied his concerns, and set up further discussions.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I want to be careful, because I think the remarks of the judge were with respect to one particular case. I have been cautioned there may be some ongoing legal proceedings around that one particular case. I do not want to get into a discussion in the House on what may be happening with that one case.
Whether or not it was arising out of that one comment from the bench or that one case, I do not know; there may have been some intervention by lawyers in between. The officials of the department have met with the Chief Judge of the Territorial Court to keep him apprised of the programing we are offering, and I understand, as a matter of routine, there is a person from our department and from this particular program, present in the court when the young offender matters are being dealt with to answer questions, should the court have any, about the kind of services we are now providing.
Mr. Nordling: That does not answer my question. Specifically, was there a summary, or some document provided, with respect to the services generally available at the facility? My understanding of the comments by the judge, and I may be wrong, is that he was concerned generally about what was available to help rehabilitate the young offenders being held at the facility. I would have hoped the staff would have prepared a summary of what was available to let the judge know what they were doing, and if the judge saw anything lacking, they would look into it.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I would defer to the Members knowledge of the courts any day, but my understanding is different. I have not seen the transcript of the remarks yet, but my understanding is the remarks came in respect to a specific case, and the specific treatment program for services that may be available for a young offender. If the department has now responded to the judge in a brief with respect to that one young offender, I think it would be improper for me to comment. It has not come to my attention. I have not received a copy of it, if there is such a document. There may have been an oral response.
I do know, in respect to the policies and programs generally available - not in respect to that one specific case - that officials have met with the Chief Judge to discuss those programs and services that are available.
Mr. Nordling: I do not want to belabour it, but if the Minister would have carried on with the statement that the officials have met with the judge to discuss programs, and they prepared a document - or they did not prepare a document, they were just verbal meetings - I would have an answer to my question.
I do not want the briefing that was prepared for the one young offender. The Minister has said there is ongoing contact and discussions with the judge. Perhaps if the Minister cannot tell me if there was a general document prepared for the judge, he can just report back sometime in the future to say the staff has met with the judge and he is satisfied that programming is available at the facility. Obviously, this side will never know.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: At some point in the future I can report back on whether or not there was a document prepared for the judge. I would be interested in the views of the Leader of the Official Opposition on this score. My view is that it would be highly improper for me to be the conduit in this House of the information that the judge was satisfied with our program. I am obviously very interested in the opinion of the judge on our program, but it is not the decisive factor in terms of the policy. The judge is not a policy advisor to the government, and we should not treat him as such for this purpose.
The judge, as I understand, expressed a certain opinion from the bench with respect to a case or matter that was before him. In the matter of the court proceeding, our officials are dealing with it. The Member must understand that when our departments are dealing with the courts, they do not come to me for instructions; that would be highly improper. Nor do they run by me the brief that they propose to give to the judge or they will provide to the judge, as I think is most proper, the facts of the situation as they know them. They would not even copy the Minister, and probably not even the deputy minister, in terms of the information they provide to the court.
I guess what the Member is looking for is a statement about the programs we provide. I have given him some of the information. By the time we next come to an estimate in this department I can try to provide something that is more suitable or a more comprehensive to table, if I can. I would be more comfortable doing that with a document from the department than a document that was provided for the court, because I think they are two different arenas and I think it would be better if I gave an undertaking to do one from the department for this House rather than offering to provide a copy of the court document. I do not think it is my business to decide whether they should be copied or how they should be used.
Mr. Nordling: That would be acceptable. I am not asking the Minister for a court document and I do not want to even imply that. Obviously, his staff prepared something and met with the judge and are going to do that on an ongoing basis. It would be convenient for me as critic to have a copy of that summary, and it may be very useful for the Minister himself and for the staff of the young offenders facility itself to have a summary of what is available. I am just asking the Minister to go back and check with the staff to see if there is such a document and, if there is and it is not a court document, could it be made available?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I have said that I do not know if there is a document or not, but what I have done, which I think is the best way to respond to the Members interest, is to give him an undertaking that I will provide a statement to the House of the kind of program framework and the kind of program particulars we have to provide information similar to that which would probably be required by the court but which would satisfy the interest of the Member and hopefully all Members in this House as to the nature and character of the programs that are carried out in our young offenders facility.
On Operation and Maintenance
On Program Management
Hon. Mr. Penikett: This, as I said, provides the management and the administration of the program. This is where the policy direction for the program is developed. It participates in the management of this program, the coordination of this program, with the other activities of the juvenile justice branch of government. Obviously, as the Members know, an activity that has attracted a fair amount of attention this past year and in in the new year is the operation of the new secure custody facility. The programming there, the training that will be going on, the continuing work to make sure that our program is culturally sensitive, the expansion of the community-based diversion and youth crime-prevention activities and the implementation of the young offenders information system: all are carried out under this line. There are no person years associated with this line; in fact, it would be difficult to get a person year for $17,000. The change from $122,000 to $17,000 is due to moving the two person years, the assistant deputy minister and the secretary - the former director of the juvenile justice program is now the assistant deputy minister and that person year has moved to that position in the organization chart. That is the major reason for the reduction shown here.
Mr. Nordling: Is the new assistant deputy ministers former position going to be filled? Will we see another person year coming in anywhere?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Right now, the supervisors of the closed and open custody facilities report directly to the ADM, as do the directors of the social services program. They report directly to the ADM. There is no director. I am not saying there will never be a director again but, right now, we are operating directly from supervisor to ADM. That is the organizational structure.
Program Management in the amount of $17,000 agreed to
On Community and Court Services
Community and Court Services in the amount of $627,000 agreed to
On Residential Rehabilitation
Residential Rehabilitation in the amount of $2,240,000 agreed to
Operation and Maintenance in the amount of $2,884,000 agreed to
On Equipment - Operational
Equipment - Operational in the amount of $34,000 agreed to
On Young Offenders Facility
Young Offenders Facility in the amount of $17,000 agreed to
Capital in the amount of $51,000 agreed to
On Allotments and Person Year Establishment
Allotments and Person Year Establishment agreed to
Chair: Are there any questions on the yellow pages?
Juvenile Justice in the amount of $2,935,000 agreed to
On Regional Services
Chair: Is there any general debate?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I would just summarize some of the information I gave in the opening statement. The services provided in this program were previously included in the Family and Childrens Services budget. Following a successful pilot project, Regional Services is now providing counselling services through a contract in Faro, Mayo and Dawson City. As you know, that is being done through Family Services. They are generally available two days a week on a bimonthly basis. Dawson City and Mayo will be coming onstream in terms of this counselling service early in the new fiscal year.
We have hired three social worker trainers. They are providing on-the-job training for three aboriginal trainees in Old Crow, Carmacks and Ross River. The successful positive-employment position we had in Mayo was used as a model for that.
I talked about the Mayo pilot project, and where we are going on that. We anticipate other communities will wish to move in a similar direction. One has already strongly indicated it wishes to.
I mentioned earlier that the operation and maintenance portion of the Regional Services budget is increased by $114,000, although there were no increases in total person years. There is an increase of $124,000 in the personnel allotment, and that is a result of the merit increases and the addition of the three previously-mentioned social worker trainers.
The decrease of $41,000 in the Other allotment is mainly attributable to the relocation of contract services to contribution agreements - in other words, contribution agreements such as the ones we make with Family and Childrens Services, and groups like that.
Transfer payments increased by $63,000. That is a reflection of the reallocation of contract services and is partly due to the anticipated increase in the contribution to community groups, such as the Dawson shelter, the Champagne/Aishihik Social Services Society.
The major capital expenditure within Regional Services is the Safe Homes in Rural Yukon. While we implemented the program for the first time in the last fiscal year, it will continue at $125,000. We have reached a contribution payment with the organization in Watson Lake. That will provide $45,000 operating subsidy for them. We are also entertaining applications from Old Crow, Teslin, Mayo and Faro.
On Operation and Maintenance
On Program Management
Mr. Nordling: The Minister may have covered some of it in the general debate. Which programs are included in the lines that give the seven percent increase in Program Management and the six percent increase in Family and Children Services?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: A large part of the money is for staff. There are 24.2 person years here. Pretty well all of the people working in the rural Yukon, with the exception of the staff at McDonald Lodge, are included in this budget. That is most of the money here.
The increase in the personnel allotment is a result of merit increases and the addition of the three social work trainers.
Mr. Nordling: Which line does the three social work trainers come under? Is it under Family and Children Services or Program Management? The Program Management budget has increased by seven percent. Family and Children Services has increased by six percent. Which line contains which personnel increases?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The three trainers are under the Program Management line. The Member asked how we can explain the six percent increase in Family and Children Services. There are three main reasons for that increase. Firstly, there is an increase in the number of children in care. Secondly, there is an increase in the family counselling program. Thirdly, the new family violence has additional money in this line.
Mr. Nordling: How much is allocated for the family violence program in that line?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Could the Member ask another question while the staff is checking that question for me?
Mr. Nordling: That was my very last question.
Program Management in the amount of $1,444,000 agreed to
On Family and Children Services
Family and Children Services in the amount of $722,000 agreed to
On Social Services
Social Services in the amount of $964,000 agreed to
On Juvenile Justice Services
Mr. Phillips: In the contracts provided by the Minister there is one to wilderness summer camp, Mayo. I understand that is the young offender summer camp that we run. The $47,500 seems to be rather a high price to me. Why is that so high? Is that for a three-month period in one year?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I will have to take the question as notice. I was not aware there was $47,000 spent on that. It seems to me if you have a number of kids out for the summer under supervision learning guiding - I do not know how long the period would be - that that would not necessarily be out of line at all. I will provide a written response.
Mr. Phillips: I would like the Minister to bring that information back. I would suggest that $47,000 is an extremely high amount to run a summer camp for three months. Outfitters go into the bush all summer long, and it does not cost them $47,000 for the whole crew, equipment and food. It is pretty expensive for a bush camp. We are not talking about an expensive hotel; we are talking about tents and food, and teaching wilderness basics. The $47,000 is pretty extravagant.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: When you are talking about people in custody you are talking about a very high staff-to-young-offender ratio. You are not talking about one supervisor for 10 kids. You are talking about paying staff, providing horses and camps and all these things. I said I will provide a legislative return, but I am sure when you are talking about supervised training you are talking about a pretty high staff-to-offender ratio for obvious security reasons.
Mr. Phillips: Can the Minister bring back the staff/offender ratio they use in that particular camp. I am interested to know the duration, which months it takes place in and the number of flights they use in a summer to fly these kids in and out. Do they fly them in at the beginning and out at the end, or is there a continuous exchange of kids coming in and out of the camp?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I want to go on record supporting this camp entirely. I would indicate to Members that I believe the money spent is not extravagant, and the money is spent in a way that is appropriate for the individuals taking advantage of this service.
The individuals are flown into a site in the Wind River area, and the horses are brought in to the site by guides. The person managing the program, as well as the assistants, teaches bush skills to the offenders, who are entirely native in this instance. They were charged with the responsibility of building a couple of cabins over the past year, which improved their skills tremendously, along with their self-sufficiency skills. The course has been supported by literally every person in Mayo. It has taken young offenders from Pelly Crossing, Mayo and Dawson to my knowledge, who are referred by the courts. The behaviour of these young offenders has proven to be quite reformed when they come out of the bush.
They are more independent and more self-sufficient. Many of them go in for alcohol-related offences. They come out and, in most cases, are able to stay off alcohol for a considerable period of time.
I believe the people who run this course do so on a very efficient budget. I do not believe it is extravagant. I am looking forward to whatever information the Minister can provide, but I want to be clearly on record as supporting this program and the money spent.
Mr. Phillips: The Minister seems to be really sensitive about this one. I want to go on the record that I support such camps, too. When I see a figure of $47,000 for a summer camp, as a Member of the Opposition I have a responsibility to ask how many people are there and how long the camp lasts. That is a reasonable request. To me, it seems a bit extravagant. I have been involved with organizing several summer camps, and none of them cost $47,000.
Does this $47,000 include all the airfares in and out of the camps for all the youths who have to go to this camp, as well as all the supplies that have to be brought in?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I do not know, but I will find out.
Mr. Phillips: Could the Minister provide us with that information? I am also specifically seeking information on a flight that was taken on August 10 last year, where individuals went into the camp and were working around the camp for that period of time. Did the Government of the Yukon pay for that trip, or was that a trip that was paid for by someone else? People specifically went into that camp, individuals involved in that camp, but the information I have is that one person from outside the Yukon and one other government worker flew in at that time and were not doing much with the camp. In fact, they were hunting moose. Did the taxpayers pay for a moose hunting trip?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: It is a reasonable question. The Member will have to give me more facts. He is alleging that, on August 10, a government employee went in at government expense on a charter on a moose hunting trip to Wind River. Is that the allegation?
Mr. Phillips: The information I have is that, on August 10 last year, a party arrived at the lake and was moose hunting. They were the same party that is running the camp here. They used the horses and all the equipment. There was one individual from Ontario, and another individual from Mayo, who was a government employee. Did those individuals pay for their own trip, or was that trip partly or totally paid for by the taxpayers as part of the cost of this camp or any other cost the Government of Yukon may pay in transporting two people to and from that camp? I am not accusing the government of doing that. Someone suggested to me they felt that is what happened. I am asking if it did happen. Would the Minister confirm who paid for the trip on August 10? Will the Minister bring that information back to the House?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I have already said twice that I will. I will say it again. Yes, I will investigate that, find the facts and bring them back to the House. I will check into that, find out the facts and bring them back to the House.
Juvenile Justice in the amount of $29,000 agreed to
Operation and Maintenance in the amount of $3,159,000 agreed to
On Group Homes:
On Construction and Renovation
Construction and Renovation in the amount of $24,000 agreed to
On Equipment Replacement
Equipment Replacement in the amount of $8,000 agreed to
On Safe Homes in Rural Yukon
Safe Homes in Rural Yukon in the amount of $125,000 agreed to
On McDonald Lodge: Seniors Services Equipment
Macdonald Lodge: Seniors Services Equipment in the amount of $10,000 agreed to
Capital in the amount of $167,000 agreed to
On Allotments and Person Year Establishment
Allotments and Person Year Establishment agreed to
Chair: Are there any questions on the yellow, green or pink pages?
Regional Services in the amount of $3,326,000 agreed to
On Schedule A
On Health and Human Resources
On Operation and Maintenance
Operation and Maintenance in the amount of $54,428,000 agreed to
Capital in the amount of $4,470,000 agreed to
Health and Human Resources agreed to
Chair: General debate.
Hon. Ms. Joe: I am please to present today the Department of Justice combined operation and maintenance capital budget for the 1990-91 fiscal year. In the next fiscal year the department is undergoing a small reorganization. The old consumer, corporate and labour affairs branch has been combined with the public administrator and chief coroner branch and the lands title branch, to form a new branch, known as justice services. This branch deals primarily with providing services to the public and effectively combines all of these areas into one program. This new program is headed by an assistant deputy minister and in keeping with the governments affirmative action policy, a woman has been hired for this senior management position.
The total operation and maintenance budget is $21,094,000 and the total capital budget is $110,000. I shall present a brief overview of each branch and their programs, starting with the administration branch.
The administration branch comprises the deputy ministers office and the finance and administration branch. The program is also responsible for providing awards to victims under the Compensation for Victims of Crime Act, for the cost associated with recruitment of the judiciary, and for nongeneric training costs for the department. Within the training activity, funds have been allotted to allow for cross-cultural training for those persons who sit on the many boards and committees affiliated with the department and who show an interest in taking it. Salaries for the program are $531,000. Operation costs are $215,000. The transfer payment to the Workers Compensation Board for administrative for the victims of crime program is $120,000 and capital costs are $3,000.
Under the court services branch, person years establishment in the territorial court increased by two person years. A new deputy clerk position has been created, which will enhance the efficiency of the territorial court, and an administrative support position to assist in the clerical operations of the registry has also been added.
The federal government continues to cost share the native courtworker program and to provide full funding in the area of victim witness support. Under the Attorney General, two branches from this program have been transferred to the justice services program, as previously mentioned. These are the land titles registry and the public administrator and chief coroner office.
During this fiscal year, the program will continue to provide funding for an articling law student and will also continue to provide for training of community- and Whitehorse-based coroners.
A standard increase has been provided to the legal services society for the operation of the legal aid program in the Yukon.
Under justice services, this branch is now comprised of consumer services, corporate affairs, labour services, occupational health and safety and mine safety, the public administrator and chief coroner office and the land titles registry.
These main estimates were prepared prior to the signing of the agreement with the federal government for the devolution of the mine safety program, so they contain the salary for those two employees who were transferred.
I have already reported that the agreement has been signed and the full cost of the program, as outlined in the agreement, will be transferred to the government through the formula financing agreement.
Under Solicitor General, this fiscal year sees the splitting of the Yukon work camps into a separate activity. Previously incorporated into the institutional facilities activity, this split is in keeping with the departments desire to separate the two facilities and adheres to the recommended direction for offender custody as outlined in the facilities planning study completed in the current fiscal year.
The family violence protection unit is in the process of moving, or has already moved, outside the Philipsen Law Centre and it continues to develop programs to support and assist offenders and victims of family violence in order to decrease the incidences and lessen the impact of such violence on the individual and community.
Community outreach programs encourage public awareness about matters related to family violence. Funds are allotted to continue to assist CYI and band councils in developing a system of tribal justice within the Yukon. This project encourages community participation in the justice system and recognizes advantages of the community in resolving disputes through traditional tribal customs.
Under Policy and Planning, funding continues to be provided for the public legal education projects and to assist YPLEA in the operation of the law line. This project continues to provide a valuable service to the public.
The Human Rights Commission program continues to provide block funding to the Human Rights Commission and funds for the human rights adjudication board. The grant to the Commission is $253,000, which recognizes an increase over last year to allow for increased public education and training. Adjudication costs continue to be funded at $42,000.
I had not previously told this to the Member for Riverdale South, but I would like to add that we made prior arrangements to have the Human Rights Commission appear on Wednesday night, not knowing what time we would be debating this budget. So, they will be here on Wednesday evening.
Mrs. Firth: I want to thank the Minister for the advance copy she gave me of her budget notes and also for the organization chart. I want to confirm that we are expecting the Human Rights Commission on Wednesday evening, so we can put over that portion of the budget until then.
I have some general questions I would like to ask and some general discussion before I move on to the line-by-line items. In general debate, I want to get some indication from the Minister as to what direction the department is moving in. I will not be specific about amounts in general debate; I recognize it is easier if we do that when we get to the line-by-line items.
The first thing I would like to bring up with the Minister is the appointment of the deputy minister as an adviser on constitutional issues. There was a press release about a week ago, on February 19 or so, announcing that the deputy minister, Mr. Bill Byers, was going to be appointed as the constitutional adviser to the Yukon government.
He would be on leave from his position as deputy minister of Justice. Vicki Hancock, the assistant deputy minister of Justice would become the acting deputy. Could the Minister of Justice tell me approximately how long this absence is going to be? Is it a secondment, or is it a reappointment?
Hon. Ms. Joe: That position is a secondment. We are expecting the term to be for six months; however, that will depend upon which way the discussions go. I cannot say that that is a definite time. It depends upon what is done in that six-month time frame.
Mrs. Firth: That is a fairly lengthy time for the deputy minister to be away and for the assistant deputy minister to have to carry the load. Will there be any other casual persons employed to help in the interim? There is no criticism about the capabilities of the acting deputy minister.
Six months is just a long time. My concern is whether or not the department has the necessary person power to operate efficiently so as not to create backlogs.
Hon. Ms. Joe: Things will not always run as smoothly as we would like in every department. With the reorganization and the appointment of the assistant deputy minister, we felt that things would be run a little more smoothly. However, something did come up. We have had to rearrange the responsibilities of two individuals in the Department of Justice.
For now, each individual will have more responsibilities. We hope that we do not overwork them. They are both very capable people. That is the status right now.
Mrs. Firth: Could the Minister provide me with an organization chart indicating those two individuals and what their added responsibilities are? I would like to understand who is going to be responsible for what in the interim. Could the Minister give an indication with a positive nod of her head? She has indicated yes. I look forward to getting that at a later date.
I would like follow up on the appointment of the deputy minister to this constitutional advisory job. The press release said that the term would be until the end of June. Will this person be going to Ottawa or will he be staying here when he is doing this job?
Hon. Ms. Joe: The Minister responsible, the Premier, could more accurately give the travel plans for that person. He will be based in Whitehorse, and travel will take him out of the territory from time to time.
Mrs. Firth: My concern was whether or not he would be readily accessible. He will be more so if he is here in Whitehorse.
Can the Minister confirm that the deputy minister will return to his position as Deputy Minister of Justice once this secondment is completed?
Hon. Ms. Joe: That is certainly my understanding. I cannot say anything more than that.
Mrs. Firth: I will follow up about some of the technical details of this secondment with the Minister responsible.
We have had discussion with respect to some of the legislation she has brought forward, in particular the Miscellaneous Statutes Law Amendments Act. The one presented most recently to the House had a proposal in it, and the government has started to change the language to reflect he/she in existing legislation rather than just he.
Is the Minister going to carry on in that direction? Why does she feel, as the individual responsible for the operations of the department, that that is necessary in light of the Interpretation Act, which contains a clause addressing that concern?
Hon. Ms. Joe: We are striving to make our legislation consistent. As we go through new legislation, or into other legislation, we want to include the definition of gender. We have been lobbied by womens groups, and other groups, with regard to that legislation. The Interpretation Act, as mentioned, does have a definition. It is our concern now to have legislation that does include proper terms as understood by womens groups. That is our intention. We are looking at new legislation now that does include the term. Any new legislation introduced down the road will have those terms included.
Mrs. Firth: I have expressed the position that we have no problem with new legislation being drafted to identify the correct he/she gender language, or non-sexist language, in the legislation. However, we do have a clause in the Interpretation Act that reads, under equality of male and female persons, 4.(2) For the purpose of ensuring the equality of status of female and male persons in respect of rights and obligations under enactments, in an enactment an expression that imports a male person includes a female person and an expression that imports a female person imports a male person, unless the enactment in which the expression occurs expressly excludes the operation of this section.
None of the bills exclude the operation of that section, so at a time when we are looking at more fiscally responsible expenditure of funds, I would like to say to the Minister that to have a lawyer or draftsperson going through all of our legislation to make these changes when we have a clause already covering it would not seem to be a responsible expenditure of funds, and the services of that person could be better or more responsibly utilized either drafting new legislation, or in some other capacity in the department.
I make that representation quite strongly. The womens groups that the Minister has referred to would not expect us to spend our money unwisely, and would understand we had a clause in the Interpretation Act to cover it, and would be quite prepared to accept that our legal services and resources could be better spent in new areas.
It is a constructive suggestion I bring to the Minister and ask she give it a very strong consideration.
Hon. Ms. Joe: I thank the Member for her representation. I remember sitting in the Opposition a number of years ago and asking the same question about nonsexist terms in the act. I remember the Government Leader at that time responding to us and citing the Interpretations Act. I do take her suggestions very seriously. We do have a concern in regard to how we spend our money. We do not have individuals who are looking through the legislation on a steady basis. When we do make changes to and introduce new pieces of legislation we will consider those terms at that time.
Mrs. Firth: The Minister is not quite right with her comment. As I understood from the Miscellaneous Statutes Law Act amendment, we were starting at A with our statutes. We had started three or four acts at A and were going all the way through, and someone was going to be given the specific task of making those changes to legislation. That is what I am asking the Minister to reconsider. We have perhaps done four of them - the Access to Information Act and a couple others starting with A that do not immediately come to mind. That is where I am asking the Minister to look at a possibly cost-saving measure by directing the services of that legal person to some other area, as opposed to doing this. In the days we are flush again and have a surplus of legal staff with nothing else to do, we could perhaps look at that. In a time when we are looking at an efficient expenditure of funds, I make the recommendation to the Minister that she not follow up with that and continue on with the two volumes of legislation.
I want to move on to another general question. I asked the Minister a question during Question Period with respect to the devolution of the Attorney General office. At that time, the Minister indicated to me it was a top priority.
What has happened in the last three years or so since the previous Minister indicated the transfer was almost imminent? After I hear what the Minister has to say, I will have some follow-up comments.
Hon. Ms. Joe: As I mentioned in Question Period, there have been ongoing discussions. Each and every time the deputy minister or one of the other officials from the department travels to Ottawa, there is a meeting with federal officials in regard to the Attorney General transfer.
We are prepared to begin formal negotiations and are only waiting for the authority to come from the Minister for his officials to do that. As the Member knows, we now have a new federal Minister of Justice, and that is what we are waiting for. Discussions will continue in regard to that. As I said, there have been no formal negotiations proceeded with. We are prepared to do that. We await the approval of the Minister of Justice so his officials can proceed with that.
Mrs. Firth: I had understood from the previous Minister this was almost in the process of happening. A lot of time has passed, and probably a couple of federal Ministers of Justice. It gives me a good opportunity to extend my congratulations to the new federal Minister of Justice, Kim Campbell. Her appointment to that position is outstanding. She is an outstanding politician and woman, and she will make all Canadian women proud of her performance in that job.
The Minister indicates they are going to start negotiating again. I would like to express our concern to her. My understanding is that if the territory had responsibility for the Attorney General office, the Minister could issue some guidelines to the Crown prosecutors on what types of sentences to seek for offences such as drunk driving.
I confirmed with provincial Ministers that this, in fact, can happen. That is the reason why I think it is fairly important that we look at proceeding with this transfer. I am sure the Minister is aware of the public outrage that was expressed at the last incident when a young woman was killed on the highway by a drunk driver. The public was fairly offended and outraged at the sentence given in that circumstance. I think this gives the government an opportunity to indicate that they have a high priority and that something is important to them and means something very serious to them. If they have the devolution of the Attorney General office, they can set some guidelines as to what they are going to take very seriously and what kind of guidelines and direction they may give when it comes to the delivery of justice in the Yukon Territory. I think it is a very important issue.
Hon. Ms. Joe: The Member is absolutely correct in the statements she has made with regard to the possibilities. I have certainly had to listen to a lot of individuals who have been very disturbed at some of the sentencing in regard not only to the matter she mentioned but in other areas as well. Of course, at this time there is certainly nothing I can do as the Minister of Justice, or there would be a problem of a conflict or interference of the judiciary. We certainly would like to be able to come back to the House at some time and talk about the negotiations and how they are proceeding, but at this point the discussions are still going on. I am hoping that we will be able to start formally negotiating certain aspects of the transfer. I would suggest that the kind of things that have been discussed already are things that, of course, would be taken into account under any kind of formal negotiations.
I would like, at this time, to congratulate the new federal Minister of Justice. I do not know her personally, but I certainly have taken the time to find out more about her and I think it was a very good choice.
Mrs. Firth: I make this representation to the Minister after doing some considerable checking into it, and I recognize the concern she expresses about interfering with the justice system. As I understand it, the only times politicians are accused of interference are when it comes to specifically suggesting whether or not a prosecution should be proceeded with, whether or not to prosecute. So I am not asking that the government or politicians in any way get involved in that aspect. I am simply saying that, should we have the responsibility for the Attorney Generals office, we can set some guidelines and give some direction to the Crown prosecutors as to having tougher sentences for offences like drinking and driving, sexual abuse and some of the other concerns that have been raised, I am sure, with the Minister and me.
This Minister has been the Minister for a year now; does she have any goals or objectives with respect to this specific issue that she would like to try to achieve in a year or two years? I am not trying to pin her down to any time lines. Does she have any goals or objectives as a Minister of Justice as to how she would see the Attorney Generals office devolution coming to the Government of Yukon?
Hon. Ms. Joe: The Member is asking for very specific information about the role that I see the Attorney General playing in any transfer. I have not been a part of any discussions with regard to how we would do that with anybody else other than people in my department. I think that the year of being the Minister responsible for Justice here in the Yukon has been a very good year with regard to the kinds of things that we are able to do. Certainly it takes a long time to learn each and every branch of the department. I have been specifically dealing with certain things that become issues or certain things that we would like to see achieved because certainly, in every branch of the government, there are certain things that we would like to be able to do. There has been a lot of criticism in regard to courts; there has been a lot of criticism in regard to our correctional facilities; there have been a lot of representations made to us in regard to tribal justice; so there are a number of areas at which we have been looking, a number of things we have looked at changing in regard to making things a lot more accessible.
In terms of the Attorney General branch, I do not have a specific plan about the kinds of things that we would like to achieve once a transfer has been made. It is a priority with me. I would like to be able to come to this House, as I said a short while ago, to talk about a fast transfer. I remember the former Minister of Justice talking about the very same thing. Sometimes it appears that we wonder whether these things will ever happen, but discussions continue to go on. When I decide, after a lot of consideration, advice and discussions with my department about the possibilities of the Attorney General, I will be pleased to discuss it with the Member at some future time.
Mrs. Firth: I would like the Minister to take the representation seriously and I know she does. It is going to be a bit difficult for her to be without her deputy minister for six months, because I would imagine she would rely very heavily on his advice and his capable services to assist in that kind of representation to the federal government. Will the Minister be corresponding soon with the new federal Minister and making representation to her with respect to the devolution of the office of the Attorney General?
Hon. Ms. Joe: It is my intention to correspond with the new Minister and talk with her about concerns that we have here in the Yukon and about things that are ongoing. I will be of course meeting with her at the next Ministers of Justice meeting sometime in the next few months. Certainly, there was ongoing correspondence with the former Minister of Justice and there will be with the new Minister as well. I will be indicating to her the kinds of concerns we have and the kinds of things that we would like to do. I will talk about what our priorities are.
Mrs. Firth: I would like to ask the Minister, in a general sense, if there have been any other new initiatives within the department. In the briefing notes that I received, most of the programs are carrying on from previous years. I know the Minister made an announcement some time ago about the six correctional inspectors that were appointed. I know there were some. Are these six new additional positions? Is that a brand new initiative? Is there any other new initiative within the Department of Justice, other than the reorganization? Is any new service provided to the public in the context of the delivery of justice that is of a real benefit to the Yukon public?
Hon. Ms. Joe: There are some problems that we are looking at very seriously. We know that within the Whitehorse Correctional Centre right now there is a mixture of inmates, which is creating a problem. The jail is not sufficient to accommodate the kind of population that is there. They change dorms around to accommodate the people.
Three jail inspectors were appointed under the former Minister of Justice. We found that one person was not available because he had moved back to Old Crow. One of the others was not able to perform some of her responsibilities. Consequently, Father Dawes was very burdened with a lot of the things that were happening.
We chose to appoint six additional jail inspectors. We do not intend to use them as a group. However, we may use them from time to time, depending upon their availability. We may use them if we receive complaints from inmates or if we receive concerns by the staff. We are looking at trying to improve what is already in existence.
Some people have very good ideas on what could be available at the correctional centre. Some individuals at the centre need counselling for their problems. Those problems could range anywhere from alcoholism to other tragedies. I have received a couple of letters from inmates who had contemplated suicide.
We were able to establish a person year in the centre, a psychiatric nurse, to do some counselling and any other service that she might be able to provide. She will look at increasing the kinds of programs that are available to the centre. We are listening to the inmates and the people who work there to find out what they would like to see to improve the centre.
A facility study was done on the jail. It covered a number of areas, including programs at the facility. We have a draft report that cannot be tabled at this time. It will be a working document for the future plans of the facility.
We are looking at the improvement of programs, specifically for native inmates. There is the problem that a large population of the centre are native. Discussions that I have had indicate that things are not improving. They may have improved in a small way, but not so that it is really noticeable.
We are looking at the possibility of improving some kind of aboriginal justice program. I cannot say specifically what that is because it is not for us to say what we want; we have different groups lobbying with regard to what they want to do. People in the communities and in Whitehorse are talking about native policing, and we do not know exactly what it is they want to do. Every time you make necessary changes there has to be consultation with the individuals involved and the people providing the service now. We have groups that have been practicing some kind of tribal justice in their communities, mostly in the prevention area. That is another priority with us.
Because of the reorganization of the department we have been able to move certain programs and branches around to help us be more effective. We know consumer and corporate affairs, included under justice services, almost acted as an ombudsman service where individuals with complaints were going because we did not have that service available.
We are always looking at the improvement of programs we have, whether or not it requires a change or reallocation of money in the program. It may require a change in legislation to do something, and we would do it.
The justice of the peace program has a higher profile now than it has had in the past. There is a training program that is either developed or in the process of being developed to accommodate that need. The list of priorities in the department is always there, although it is not costing us any extra money.
The department is aware of the kind of things we need to do in order to improve it. As the Member knows, we could not spend any more money for new things. Our priorities are just being changed and reorganized within the department.
Mrs. Firth: I appreciate the comments the Minister makes about the correctional centre and the concerns in corrections, particularly with respect to the number of Indian inmates and the recidivism rate.
The Minister made reference to a facility study and said it was a working document. Does the government anticipate that becoming a document the public or Opposition would have access to at some time or another? Specifically, how much did it cost to have the facility study done, and who did it?
Hon. Ms. Joe: It was done by a firm from Vancouver. It cost $25,000. The firm was APRA, but we are not sure what those letters stand for. I can get that information at the next break and bring it back.
Mrs. Firth: I would appreciate that. The Minister has also made reference to an aboriginal justice program, something that may be started at the corrections centre. I have been looking at the annual report of the Department of Justice; there have been some programs established to assist with the cultural differences some of the inmates have. The former Minister talked about the mobile work camps being very beneficial, as well as the community work programs and native spiritual service program, with the sweat lodges, and the native awareness programming.
The prison liaison officer position was created. Is that position actively filled? Could the Minister tell us if there has been any evaluation done of noticeable improvements since that position was created?
Hon. Ms. Joe: The prison liaison person is still there. She is an employee of the Council for Yukon Indians; they contract her services from us. I met with her two or three times in the last year in regard to the kind of things she is involved in. She works very closely with the inmates and brings the concerns of the inmates, not just to CYI, but also works effectively within the centre. I believe that, as a result of her being there, there will be recommendations to change certain things in the system. As a matter of fact, we were talking about some of the necessary things that could possibly be done in regard to some of the programs or some of the things that are available there. There has not been an evaluation of that program so far, but I think it is a very good idea. I think the person involved has been given a very big responsibility and I know that, for a few months, I was getting a lot of individual calls from inmates - very often they were calling me at home because they are allowed to make calls outside of the centre - and each and every time I referred them to the liaison person because I did not feel it was my responsibility to become involved in anything personal going on between an inmate and someone else.
So, she does have a very big responsibility and I believe her services are quite effective. I am not sure what the future plans are with regard to her employment; I think it will continue.
I have just received the name of the firm. It is: Advanced Planning and Research for Architecture.
Mrs. Firth: That is simply an architectural firm, so it is looking at just the physical facility, not the programming, is that correct?
Hon. Ms. Joe: It is an architectural firm but certainly is involved in the planning area. There has been considerable research done in regard to that.
Phase 1 was completed on October 23, 1989. It consisted of a review of all relevant material and studies that have been completed in the last five years in the development of a model for corrections to assess current and historical relationships between justice, populations, offences and incarceration rates in the Yukon.
Phase 2 addressed the development of a role statement for the Whitehorse Correctional Centre. A planning report will discuss the various options for the Whitehorse Correctional Centre and establish a role for WCC in both the short and long term to be completed by January 15. That was done.
Phase 3 will examine a number of rural options that exist to support the correction and law enforcement branch to be completed by January 19. That has been completed.
Mrs. Firth: I thank the Minister for that information. It is unfortunate that it is still a working document. That information would be very helpful to me as the Justice critic in proposing some solutions or alternatives to the Minister. I look forward to the government giving some reconsideration to that document being made available, not only to us as Opposition Members, but to other groups within the justice system.
The Minister indicated that the department may be looking at some new kind of program for aboriginal justice. Is a consultant presently working on that? Has the Minister contracted it out? Is it being done internally? What exactly is happening with it?
Hon. Ms. Joe: A person was responsible for all the issues on tribal justice and related programs. There has been no person working just on that. Because of the nature of the concerns we have, we might have to look sometime for somebody to act as a sort of coordinator. That is not something that is being currently done. Because of the different aboriginal groups making representation to us and because of the things that we are involved in, we have to have a coordinated program so that we are not duplicating some things.
Neither do we want to proceed with a whole program that is not coordinated. There are so many different groups talking about doing different things. The conference held a few weeks ago was part of the tribal justice system, as many people see it, and a chance for individuals to get together. We look at the information that comes out of that, and what communities and individuals are looking at, and how they are tied together. In order to do that we have to make sure we have one person responsible for it. We do not have such a person, and an individual in the department has been given that responsibility on top of many others.
We also have to consider that a land claims settlement will determine the kind of things some of the bands will be able to take advantage of. We have to consider that as well. We do not want to take away from what they would anticipate doing as a result of a final settlement.
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order. We will continue with general debate on the Department of Justice.
Mrs. Firth: I would like to ask the Minister of Justice one more question about the Whitehorse Correctional Centre. The former Minister of Justice was talking about accreditation. Can the Minister tell us the status of that? As far as I am aware, it has never been an accredited facility. Are they looking at it becoming an accredited facility or not?
Hon. Ms. Joe: I believe that has been put on hold. We have been doing a study, and there have been all sorts of other things involved. Some time down the road when things improve, we can look toward accreditation for that facility.
Mrs. Firth: I am pleased to hear that. Having an accredited facility does not necessarily make it a better facility. I remember having discussions with the previous Minister. He seemed to be fairly anxious to move in that direction. At that time, I exercised some caution with respect to the potential financial implications. It usually costs a lot more money when a facility is accredited. I have first-hand experience with the hospital. I do not think that is a great priority, particularly if it is going to incur additional expenses. I agree with the Minister that, some time in the future, we may want to have a look at it.
I have one more general question about the JP program. Do we have a full complement of JPs? Are there any communities without JPs?
Hon. Ms. Joe: There have been no appointments of JPs since 1986, nor have I received any request from the Judicial Council in regard to appointments. I do know the Chief Judge has been in contact with many individuals in communities as he has held court and has spread the word around that we are looking for JPs. I believe Old Crow is the only community that does not have a JP.
Mrs. Firth: I have one final comment before I turn the floor and general debate over to my colleagues. I just noticed in this evenings Whitehorse Star that there is an official announcement on the appointment of the new judge, Mr. Faulkner. I would like to welcome him back to the Yukon and say we are glad to see him. As the critic for Justice, I am glad to see the second judge position filled, and we will continue to work on the third judge position.
I believe some of my colleagues may have some questions in general debate.
Hon. Ms. Joe: I would like to mention, too, that I was not able to make it to the swearing-in ceremony for the new judge, but certainly I am relieved that we now have a second judge here in the Yukon. I can assure the House that scheduling court cases was not in jeopardy because of that situation. At a time when we have the information, we have a list of available dates for trials when the judges can be available, and that information might be useful to the Member for Riverdale South.
Mr. Phelps: I, too, would like to welcome back the new judge. He was here quite a long time ago; I was still in active practice when he spent his year or so in the Yukon working with the firm that is now Cable, Veale. I am sure he will do a good job as judge here.
I have a couple of questions about the outstanding item - an old motion that we had in this House with regard to the public inquiry and Operation Falcon. I am wondering if there is anything new on that issue?
Hon. Ms. Joe: I have just finished reading the book and found it quite interesting. We finally did get a letter from the federal Minister in regard to the inquiry. We actually kept on top of the issue, and we are waiting for a response from him as to what the federal government was going to do. They informed us that they would not hold an inquiry. I have asked my department for a list of options on how we would form an inquiry and the cost associated with each option. I believe I have a memo on my desk regarding those options, which I have not looked at yet, but certainly we are looking at the cost of each and every one, as well as what we would find out from the inquiry. That is the information I have to date.
Mr. Phelps: One of my concerns has to do with some of the people who were found not guilty in the course of the trial. A government official had this court cost paid by the government, but none of the others got any kind of compensation, although the trials, tribulations and the cost of them hiring counsel was pretty substantial.
I am a bit concerned about dragging this issue out and putting the same participants through the legal jeopardy of having to give evidence, hire lawyers and all the costs and trauma associated with that. We have a situation in which the investigative reporting provides a fair amount of insight.
Has the Minister considered having some fair-minded and independent person look at the situation to assess whether or not there might be some kind of recommendation to recompense some of these people for part or all of their legal fees? Is there a quasi-ombudsman role that can be filled by someone on a one-time basis to look at it and make some recommendations about what can be done to remedy the situation?
Hon. Ms. Joe: The Member recognizes that these were all federal charges. I have not had a chance to go over the options that were recommended to me on the kind of things that we can do.
It would be a very difficult task to include some of those individuals in a large inquiry because of the restrictions on whether or not they decide to appear. Another suggestion was made that we have someone go over the proceedings, which would take a very long time. It was a lengthy trial and so much was involved.
I cannot make any commitment with regard to compensating those individuals at this time. It would be taken into consideration in any inquiry held. I believe it is incumbent upon me to report to the House what our decision would be. I will take many things into consideration. When we make a decision, it is not a decision made by me alone. I have the options and will be taking them to Cabinet. I am not sure if it is on the agenda for this week or next week.
Mr. Phelps: My concern is that we do not place all these people in jeopardy and make them hire a hundred lawyers again. Could somebody be appointed to operate as a quasi ombudsman to review the voluminous evidence surrounding the case and make recommendations that might apply to the way the investigation was conducted on the part of officials of this government, and the way some of the accused were treated, whether or not they were treated fairly and whether or not there ought to be any kind of, aside from practical, steps made with regard to training investigative officers in this government or whether there is any kind of remedy that ought to be considered for any of the people? It is not that they were charged and tried, it is all the other things that happened to their businesses and their lifestyles for a good many years because of the manner in which the investigation was carried on and the kind of restriction placed on their businesses.
Hon. Ms. Joe: The suggestions made by the Leader of the Official Opposition are good and certainly will be taken into consideration when we deal with the options presented to me. I will certainly take his recommendations very seriously.
Mrs. Firth: If no one else has any questions in general debate, I am prepared to proceed to the programs and line-by-line.
On Operation and Maintenance
On Deputy Minister
Mrs. Firth: In a general sense on administration, is this the area the judges salaries are? If so, in what line are judges salaries?
Hon. Ms. Joe: They are in Court Services.
The $199,000 in the Deputy Minister line item is comprised of $155,000 for salary for the deputy minister and an executive assistance. Operation costs for the office total $44,000, and are comprised of travel for the deputys attendance at various federal, provincial and territorial meetings and police contract negotiations meetings, registration and membership fees, telephone and office supplies.
Deputy Minister in the amount of $199,000 agreed to
On Finance and Administration
Hon. Ms. Joe: This provides administrative and support services to all members of the department. This is comprised of a finance unit, a personnel unit and a data administration unit. Total salaries for these three units are $376,000. The operations costs for the office total $97,000, $57,000 of which is the centralized cost of the departments photocopiers and supplies. The balance is comprised of recruitment costs for term positions, advertising costs, telephones, systems maintenance and supplies, and office supplies.
Finance and Administration in the amount of $473,000 agreed to
On Compensation for Victims of Crime
Hon. Ms. Joe: This activity provides for awards to qualified applicants to compensate for injuries or death caused by the criminal actions of others. This program is administered by the Workers Compensation Board and is 75 percent funded by the federal Department of Justice.
In the 1988-89 fiscal year, 18 awards were granted to applicants.
Compensation for Victims of Crime in the amount of $120,000 agreed to
On Judicial Recruitment
Hon. Ms. Joe: This activity provides for vote authority to incur costs associated with the recruitment of the judiciary. In the last fiscal year, one judge was hired to replace Judge Ilnicki. The incumbent commenced his duties yesterday.
Mrs. Firth: Does the Minister get money from this particular line for deputy judges, or does that come under Court Services, as well?
Hon. Ms. Joe: That comes under Court Services.
Judicial Recruitment in the amount of $1.00 agreed to
On Training and Development
Hon. Ms. Joe: This activity provides for departmentally specific training. It is comprised of training costs for loss control and occupational health and safety officers, corrections officers, and continuing legal education training for legal staff. It also provides for cross-cultural training for boards and committee members, and training for correctional officers involved in the operation of satellite work camps.
Mrs. Firth: Who provides the cross-cultural training sessions?
Hon. Ms. Joe: It is done in a couple of different ways. It is provided by a course that is sometimes offered by PSC or by a person by the name of Neil McDonald, who PSC also uses sometimes and who is also used by Justice.
Mrs. Firth: Could the Minister tell us: I have been to cross-cultural training programs. Is it still sort of a group session where employees of federal and territorial governments can attend, and other individuals who are interested? There is one coordinator who looks after having a variety of people come to make their presentations and so on, and it is a relatively flexible and interacting kind of session?
Hon. Ms. Joe: The Member is correct. Most of the workshops are relatively flexible. They are conducted sometimes by an individual, sometimes by more than one individual. The Yukon Indian Womens Association has provided a workshop, and I think who they use depends on the circumstances. The Indian Womens Association is available whenever necessary. They have certainly changed the workshops over the years. I remember attending one way back in 1981, which told me nothing except statistics. There was not the kind of interaction that they have now in the workshops.
Training and Development in the amount of $74,000 agreed to
Operation and Maintenance in the amount of $866,00 agreed to
On Cash Register Replacement
Mrs. Firth: The capital of $3,000 requested is to provide for the replacement of a cash register in the department. There are two cash registers in the department - one in the corporate affairs registry and the other in the court registry. Money is budgeted to replace either of these two machines should it be required.
Cash Register Replacement in the amount of $3,000 agreed to
Capital in the amount of $3,000 agreed to
On Allotments and Person Year Establishment
Mrs. Firth: The Capital Personnel and Other item - is that just the $3,000 for the cash register, for the 100 percent increase? I see the Minister nodding her head. That is the only question I have.
Allotments and Person Year Establishment agreed to
Administration in the amount of $869,000 agreed to
On Court Services
Mrs. Firth: In a general sense, could the Minister tell me under what line the judges salaries are paid, recruitment costs for deputy judges, and so on? Does that come under the large item of Territorial Court?
Hon. Ms. Joe: The deputy judges come under Territorial Court. Was she asking for judges salaries and recruitment costs?
Mrs. Firth: The judges salaries. Recruitment costs come, I believe, in the program we just finished - judicial recruitment. If we recruited deputy judges and paid their salaries and the salaries of the judges, would this come under the Territorial Court line within this program?
Hon. Ms. Joe: Yes, they would.
On Operation and Maintenance
On Program Director
Hon. Mrs. Joe: This activity is comprised of a salary for the director of court services and his secretary, totalling $114,300, operation expenses of the directors office totalling $30,000 and the court reporting contract totalling $350,000. The operations expense for the office include an amount in this fiscal year for branch documentation development; this is to provide for the preparation of a procedures manual for the registry. There is currently no such manual, and it would assist greatly in the training of new staff.
The court reporting contract is signed for a three-year period and commenced in the 1989-90 fiscal year. The contract was publicly tendered and awarded to J.G. Moore & Associates, who have provided the service for a number of years.
Program Director in the amount of $494,000 agreed to
On Supreme Court
Hon. Ms. Joe: The salaries for the Supreme Court provides the bulk of the expenditures of this activity. The total $219,400 includes the clerk of the Supreme Court, the deputy clerk, the law librarian, the secretary of the Supreme Court judge and a counter clerk.
The operations expenses for the registry total $47,500, an increase of $1,100 over last year. The increase is projected in the area of telephone expenses. Other expenses included in this amount are the honoraria paid to expert and lay witnesses involved in Supreme Court trials, office supplies, transcripts, cleaning and repair of court clothes, and postage.
The law library expenses are found in this activity, and they total $48,000. This provides for no increase over the last fiscal year. This expense is to provide for subscriptions, texts and periodicals to maintain an adequate library. The library is accessed by both the legal fraternity and the public, and it is open five days a week.
Supreme Court in the amount of $315,000 agreed to
On Territorial Court
Hon. Ms. Joe: This activity is comprised of the Territorial Court salaries and operations cost, the judiciary salaries and expenses, the justice of the peace honoraria and sitting fees, and the Judicial Council expenses.
The Territorial Court salaries total $561,400. They are comprised of six court clerks: one in Dawson City, one in Watson Lake and four in Whitehorse. It also includes three clerk typists, the secretary to the Territorial Court judge, the trial schedule coordinator, court funds clerk, registry manager and counter person.
The bulk of the operations expenses is comprised of the travel for the court circuit sittings in communities and rental expenses for the facilities. The court circuit travels six times per year to Carcross, Pelly Crossing, Dawson, Mayo, Faro, Ross River, Haines Junction, Old Crow, Teslin and Watson Lake.
Honoraria expenses are provided to pay both expert and lay witnesses involved in Territorial Court proceedings plus their travel and accommodation expenses at government travel rates. A budget is also provided for the cost of psychiatric assessments of offenders, supplies, postage and telephone expenses.
Judiciary salaries amount to $309,800. The corresponding expenses provide for travel to conferences, workshops, membership fees, clothing allowance for court clothes and telephone expenses. An amount for the periodic hire of deputy judges is also provided. The total budget for judicial expenses is $36,400.
Justice of the peace sitting fees are estimated at $30,000 per year. Honoraria are estimated at $10,800 per year. That is a total budget of $40,800. Justice of the peace expenses provide for two justice of the peace conferences each year. Mileage, air fare and accommodation costs are paid for justices of the peace to attend. The cost of putting on the conference includes manuals, binders, materials and Criminal Codes for each justice of the peace. An allowance for the cleaning of court clothes is also provided.
The Judicial Council has a budget this fiscal year to provide for the costs associated with investigations. A total budget of $5,000 is provided for this purpose.
Mrs. Firth: Does the Minister have an identification of money in this line for the sabbatical salary for the land claims negotiator? How much is it?
Hon. Ms. Joe: In the big book we have a salary of $89,000 with benefits of 12 percent of $89,000. That is the salary for the third judge.
Mrs. Firth: Will the third judge position, which is presently vacant because of the now land claims negotiator/judge who is going to be taking a sabbatical, be paying for the sabbatical out of that $89,000? How much will that payment be?
Hon. Ms. Joe: It will come out of the $89,000 and will be 70 percent of that amount.
Mrs. Firth: Could the Minister tell me how much there is here for deputy judges? She said there was an amount set aside.
Hon. Ms. Joe: We have the amount of $17,200.
Mrs. Firth: Did the Minister say $17,000?
I recognize the tight financial position the government is in and how they are desperately looking for money. I would like to propose an amendment to the estimates at this time.
Mrs. Firth: I move
THAT the estimates pertaining to Bill No. 19, entitled First Appropriation Act, 1990-91, be amended in Vote 8, Court Services, by reducing the line item Territorial Court on page 242 by $62,300, and that the clauses and schedules of the bill be changed accordingly.
That represents the calculation of the figure for the sabbatical for the third judge position that is presently being kept open for the land claims negotiator. I feel that perhaps the Minister of Health could better utilize those resources in his department for the mammography unit, or for some other program that has to be provided. Perhaps the Minister of Community and Transportation Services can use it for the provision of the 911 emergency services, which are both very good services to the public.
Hon. Ms. Joe: I cannot agree to the proposed change.
Chair: Order please. I would like to read the proposed amendment to the estimates moved by Mrs. Firth:
THAT the estimates pertaining to Bill No. 19, entitled First Appropriation Act, 1990-91, be amended in Vote 8, Department of Justice, Court Services, by reducing the line item Territorial Court on page 242 by $62,300, and that the clauses and schedules of the bill be changed accordingly.
Is there discussion on this amendment?
Hon. Ms. Joe: I would like to speak against that motion. I do not think it is necessary at this time to proceed with something that has already been put into the budget book. I believe a lot of discussion has gone into what we have provided here today. I understand Members across the House are looking for a number of other expenditures with regard to certain things they would like provided to them. It is not my intention to vote in favour of such a motion.
Mrs. Firth: I know the Members opposite have been making some charges about the requests we on this side have been making when it comes to expenditure of funds. I believe one Minister got up and said it would cost as much as $7 million worth for suggestions we had brought forward. I made a commitment I would assist the government in finding the money, should they need extra funds. It is a matter of realigning priorities and looking at what the priorities are, as opposed to the amount of money that is in the general revenues. The government side is always saying we have these fiscal restraints, we have this tight money position now.
As the Member for Whitehorse South Centre said, it becomes a matter of priorities and choices that have to be made. In making those choices, the government has to set priorities. On this side, we feel this would be low on our list of priorities, and that things like the mammography unit and the 911 emergency service would be high on the list of priorities, because those are services that are delivered to the public that enhance their quality of life.
The individual we are talking about has been amply compensated by the government. We have no argument with his leave, should that be necessary after an arrangement has been made, but we are expressing some objection to the fact that leave is being paid for by the taxpayer.
Chair: Question has been called.
Mr. Phillips: I would like to say a few words about this.
Chair: The Chair has neglected to ask, Are you prepared for the question, so Mr. Phillips may continue.
Mr. Phillips: I would like to make a few comments. I have some concerns over this particular arrangement the government has made. The suggestion by the Member for Riverdale South of realigning priorities and spending the money where it is most needed is a good one.
I have always questioned the fact the individual involved is entitled to the sabbatical. When you leave a job and have been gone from it for five years, it is a far cry from needing a sabbatical to take a break from the bench. One of the reasons for that sabbatical is to give judges a break. I suggest to Yukoners that this individual has had a very well-paid break as the senior land claims negotiator. If we give this individual his sabbatical, do we have to go back through history and look at every judge who ever worked for five or more years for the Government of the Yukon and pay him money, as well? I suggest the government is stretching it to its limit.
The individual involved has made over $700,000 in the past four or five years, plus his expenses. The other day, I raised the question of extending the hours of the Handy Bus for the handicapped children in my riding. The Government Leader told us he had to make some tough decisions and budget cuts. I would suggest that rather than paying $62,000 to someone who just made $700,000 over the last four years, some of that money could be allocated to these handicapped children who cannot get out on the weekends because of the limited hours of the Handy Bus.
This is supposed to be a government that cares and has priorities. I would suggest that, in this particular case, their priorities are reversed. They are rewarding someone for something that was not written in his original contract, but extending it. It now is $700,000 plus $62,000. There are a great many Yukoners out there who are extremely concerned we are doing this kind of thing. On the one hand, we have had the Minister of Finance stand up time after time and tell us we are in a time of restraint and have to cut back.
Now, we are going to give someone who made $700,000 in the last four years another $62,000 to take a year off. One of the things he is going to do is write a book. He has already received a $10,000 grant for writing the book, as well. That is a little excessive. Somebody wrote their own ticket.
The Minister should give very serious consideration to this motion the Member for Riverdale South put forward. There are a lot of people out there who are very concerned about what the government is doing in this regard. Someone who has left a job for four years has removed themselves from that sabbatical. It is stretching it to the utmost limits to say he needs a break from the bench, and that we should pay him. That money is to give them a break from the bench and give them an opportunity to gather, or find themselves, as he said.
I would suggest that he has been paid $700,000 and probably has enough money saved to take the holiday and does not need another $62,000 for a holiday paid for by the taxpayer of the Yukon. I would suggest to the Minister responsible that they should turn that money into extending the hours of the Handy Bus.
Mr. Lang: I thought the side opposite would be more than happy to stand up and justify this to the taxpayer of the territory. The Member who just spoke made it very clear that we do not see this money as a sabbatical from the bench. That is the most important principle that has to be discussed. The Minister is trying to slide this off as a normal course of events because of the terms of reference for judges. It is not.
The fact remains this particular individual has done a job on behalf of the Government of the Yukon Territory, and only time will tell whether he has done a good job. He has been paid well for it - over $700,000 plus expenses. I have in my riding single mothers barely making rent, and we are going to pass that amount of money without any mention from the side opposite, other than the fact they feel it is justified?
Every Member in this House represents people who are barely making it, can barely make the fuel, the rent and the food to the end of the month. The majority of the Members in this House are going to stand here and justify $62,300 to a member of the public who has been paid over $700,000 plus expenses to write a book, and who has been paid $10,000 by the Government of Canada to do it?
We should be real proud of ourselves. This is called highway robbery. This is indecent. This is an attack on the public purse beyond the call of decency. Is the side opposite going to pay for it? Are they going to ask that lady out there, who is barely making it on a single wage with two children, by herself, to pay her taxes so this guy can enjoy himself on the French Riviera?
Shame, shame how we can stand up here as politicians and say what is right and what is wrong. Yet, at the same time, the Minister of Health and Human Resources can deny the Member of Riverdale North the representation of having the Handy Bus service extended by an hour. Because of financial commitments, the Minister of Health stands in his place prudently and says, We must be prudent with the governments money, the taxpayers dollars.
It is indecent. The Members opposite should be ashamed of themselves.
Hon. Ms. Joe: The Member for Porter Creek East has cited many individuals out there who have suffered many hardships. Certainly, each and every one of us in this House know who those individuals are. We have had to deal with them. For the record, I would like to say this government has taken a lot of those serious problems into consideration, and many things have been done.
Some Hon. Member: (inaudible)
Little sir echo is busy again.
We have taken our job very seriously, we have responded to many needs out there, and we have spent a lot of money trying to improve a lot of programs. The fact we are providing a sabbatical for judges is not just a whim; it is something that was taken into consideration. There was a lot of discussion in regard to it many years ago. It was not something that happened out of the blue.
Other judges who have been sitting on the bench for a number of years will be able to take advantage of it. Discussions occurred in the interviews regarding individuals who had applied for that position.
This government has gone on record in improving many things for Yukoners, starting with home care. There was the increase in social assistance rates. There were programs introduced, such as LEOP. Much thought has gone into providing necessary things for Yukoners.
They have taken upon themselves to attack a single person, not considering the kind of thought that has gone into providing other judges in the future with the same kind of benefit. The side opposite continues to harp on this sabbatical, and I suspect that they will continue to do so.
They have talked about other expenditures that they were not in favour off. They are all on record.
Chair: Order please. Since it is 5:30, according to Standing Order 2(5), the Chair will rise and report.
Speaker resumes the Chair
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. May the House have the report from the Chair of the Committee of the Whole.
Chair: Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 19, First Appropriation Act, 1990-91 and directs me to report progress on same.
Speaker: You have heard the report from the Chair of the Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
The time being 5:30, the House now stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. tomorrow.
The House adjourned at 5:32 p.m.
The following Legislative Returns were tabled February 27, 1990:
New furniture for Na Dli Youth Centre (Penikett)
Oral, Hansard, p. 1190
Na Dli Youth Centre - damage and costs since February 3 (Penikett)
Oral, Hansard, p. 1190
Request by Bureau of Statistics for machine readable copy of current NorthwesTel telephone directory information (Penikett)
Oral, Hansard, p. 1266