Monday, March 5, 1990 - 1:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. At this time, we will proceed with Prayers.
Speaker: We will proceed with the Order Paper.
Are there any Returns or Documents for Tabling?
TABLING RETURNS OR DOCUMENTS
Hon. Ms. Joe: I have for tabling a letter to the staff members at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre regarding smoking.
Speaker: Are there any Reports of Committees?
Introduction of Bills.
Are there any Notices of Motion for the Production of Papers?
Notices of Motion.
NOTICES OF MOTION
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I would like to give notice of motion:
THAT this House urges the Government of Yukon to require that all cars and trucks registered in the Yukon have two licence plates.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I would like to give notice of motion:
THAT this House recommends to the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development the appointments of Jean Gordon and Grant Lortie to the Yukon Territorial Water Board for three year terms.
Speaker: Are there any Statements by Ministers?
This then brings us to the Question Period.
Question re: Committee of the Whole, witnesses
Mr. Phelps: I have some questions for the Minister responsible for the Yukon Development Corporation with regard to calling witnesses from the corporation before the Committee of the Whole. I sent a letter up this morning notifying the Minister and the Government House Leader of my intention to ask that witnesses from the Yukon Development Corporation appear before Committee. We hear that the Minister is not going to support my request. Could the Minister tell us right now if he is willing to allow the witnesses to appear before Committee of the Whole?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The item before the House in the estimates will be a $1.00 item for the budget for the Development Corporation, and it is my intention to defend that $1.00 expenditure myself.
Mr. Phelps: We made it very clear as to why we wanted to have the witnesses appear before us. Why is the Minister now saying that he is opposed to having these witnesses appear?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: It is because the expenditure is for me to defend. I am accountable for the $1.00, and I will be the one defending that before the House.
Mr. Phelps: We have the precedent of having officers called before the Committee of the Whole in the past. We have the precedent of officers from the Human Rights Commission being called before Committee of the Whole, as well as officers from Workers Compensation being called before Committee of the Whole. Would the Minister not agree that there has been ample precedent set for having witnesses appear before the Committee?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Well, if the Member wants to talk about precedents, first of all, the Human Rights Commission is in a slightly different category than a Crown corporation in that it is directly accountable to the House whereas, say, a Crown corporation is accountable through a Minister. I would say that the majority of precedents are on the side of the Minister defending a Crown corporations budget, rather than officials from that corporation.
Question re: Committee of the Whole, witnesses
Mr. Phelps: We, on this side, proceed on the principle of the public having the right to know what is going on. I find the new coverup strategy of the Minister to be rather outrageous. Can the Minister tell us why he feels that, at this point in time, these witnesses should not be called when, last year at this time, at the Ministers suggestion, we heard from witnesses from the Yukon Development Corporation, who appeared to discuss what went on up to that point with regard to the running of the Watson Lake sawmills.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Last year, we heard from witnesses with respect to the management of certain questions that were within their purview. As I understand the line of questioning the Member opposite wishes to pursue, it is one he has already laid out in Question Period as to what kind of advice I may or may not have had from corporation officials and what kind of communications I may have given them. A cursory knowledge of our constitutional tradition knows that the advice a Minister gets and the instruction a Minister gives and the conversations between Ministers and officials are privileged. In any event, the accountability for the spending that comes before this House is the Ministers, not the officials.
Mr. Phelps: I am unclear, but I am beginning to get it. Is the Minister saying he is worried about the issue of the Hendersons Corner electrification decision coming up in questions and answers before this House? Is he concerned he might be embarrassed about what the answers might be?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Absolutely not. I am quite determined to support the corporation in the decision it made in that respect. The Member should also know that this is a request for a $1.00 expenditure next year, and I intend to defend that estimate before the House. It is not my officials job to do that.
Mr. Phelps: It is the officials job, however, to come before the House and provide us with factual information with regard to policies of the corporation and what the Energy Corporation has been doing with regard to looking for new energy sources and looking for alternate energy, and looking at what to do with surpluses, should any exist. Those are the kinds of answers to questions we want in the Committee of the Whole discussion of the estimate.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: With respect, I think the Member is quite wrong. The Minister may bring officials before the bar of the House or to assist him on the floor of the House, but it is the Minister who is accountable. The Minister will defend the policies before this House. It is, of course, quite correct that...
Some Hon. Member: (inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I have nothing to hide, especially not from the Member who was advocating one position before an election and now a completely opposite one after the fact. How convenient their memories are.
We have stated our position on the question that interests the Member. If the Member is now indicating he would also like to ask about the strategic decisions and the long-range policies of the corporation, I will certainly be happy to entertain his questions on those subjects when we get to my estimate.
Question re: Committee of the Whole, witnesses
Mr. Phelps: I am rather confused. I find it interesting that last year, under the same kind of request in the budget for a $1.00 expenditure, the Minister was more than willing to call these officials before the bar of the House to answer questions about the operation of the Watson Lake sawmill.
Since that time, he has apparently done a flip-flop with regard to his position on having officials come to answer questions so the public can know what is going on. What has caused his change of heart?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: There is no change of heart at all. Unless the Member suddenly believes Ministers are not accountable - which would be an extraordinary flip-flop for him, since he has attempted to hold me accountable for everything imaginable to do with the corporation - why is he suddenly changing his position and argue that I should not be defending my budget before this House?
In any event, it is a Ministers decision to decide what officials he or she may bring before the House. It is a Ministers decision to decide what officials he or she may bring to the floor to assist him or her in the discussion.
I may propose bringing officials at some time and the House may reject my wishes. The House may make a suggestion with which I may disagree. In any case, the Member has indicated he wishes to move a motion. I have indicated to him what the governments position will be with respect to that motion.
Question re: Health services transfer, union contracts
Mrs. Firth: I have been asking questions about a three-party agreement of nondisclosure, specifically with respect to the terms of reference, salaries and release of contract between the government and the two unions - the Professional Institute of Public Service, and the Public Service Alliance of Canada.
Neither union representative believes the nondisclosure clause covers the specific terms I have listed. The Minister would not take my word for it, but it was publicly confirmed last week by one of the union representatives.
Why is the Minister of Health and Human Resources maintaining this position when the other two parties are not?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I do not really have anything to add to the answer I gave last week. The Member has said in her preamble a fascinating thing. She said that none of the unions say something. She then bases that on the evidence of some statement that she imputed to one of the members.
It is the interpretation of my officials that the three-party agreement covered the matters that we are discussing. In any case, I have said that I will table the document at the conclusion of the negotiations that are now ongoing.
Mrs. Firth: The issue here is no longer the document that I am discussing today. The issue here is the information that the Minister brought to the Legislature. To explain it to him again very clearly, the other two parties are maintaining that they made no such agreement respecting terms of reference of contracts and salary dollars in the negotiations.
I believe those two individuals when they tell me that. The Minister is saying that they have made this agreement. I would like to know he is maintaining that that agreement is there if two of the parties out of the three are saying that they never made such an agreement.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am interested to know who the Member opposite is designating as the official spokesperson for those two parties. In her first preamble, she indicated that she was referring to a public statement by one of the parties.
In any case, I am dependent upon the interpretation of the agreement reached at the table and provided to me by my officials. I have indicated that interpretation before in the House and in a communication to the Member. Our decision as to the disclosure of the document now, which is the information that the Member was originally seeking, remains firm.
Mrs. Firth: Could the Minister provide us the specifics of the nondisclosure agreement in writing? It would specifically cover the particular issue regarding the contracts, the salary dollars and the terms of reference. Can he give us something that substantiates that?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I have already given the Member the advice of my officials and their interpretation of the agreement of the table in writing. I do not think there is anything I can add to that at this point.
Question re: Health services transfer, union contracts
Mrs. Firth: Again, I am very concerned about the information that this Minister has brought forward to the Legislature. I asked him very specifically when I first addressed the issue of nondisclosure. He told us three times that it was an agreement made at the table, that it might be in the minutes or it might be in a briefing document that he had, but that there was definitely an agreement with respect to those two specific items: the salary dollars and terms of reference of the contracts of the people doing the negotiating. The two union representatives are saying that they made no such agreement so I would like to ask the Minister why he is maintaining the position that they did if those two union representatives are saying that they did not. I have spoken with both of them.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The Member says she has spoken with both of them but she has not identified who them are yet. I am dependent upon the advice of my officials, whom I trust to brief me accurately on the conduct of those negotiations. I have given two reasons why, at this moment, I will not table a certain document but why I have indicated to the House that I intend to table it later. The Member may be having a dispute about the facts or about the interpretation about certain facts but nothing she has said is causing us to change our position.
Mrs. Firth: I am simply saying that the Minister maintains that some kind of nondisclosure agreement exists with respect to contracts and terms of reference of the contracts and the salary dollars. The union representatives, who are representing both of the unions that I have previously mentioned, are not aware of any such agreement. Could the Minister give us some documented evidence that there is such a agreement and that those two union representatives either misinterpreted it or are incorrect?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am sorry to appear to be so difficult for the Member but I am fascinated that, since it is my advice that the three parties - the Yukon government being one - have agreed not to discuss the negotiations - the content of the negotiations and the products of the negotiations that are going on - and since the Member has not identified the people who are speaking to her about these very same negotiations, I am somewhat encumbered in my ability to debate the point with her; in any case, it does not change the substantial facts about the negotiations or my commitment to table certain documents at the conclusion of those negotiations.
Mrs. Firth: The Minister knows very well what is being discussed here. It is a very serious matter because the Ministers credibility is in question when he brings information to the House that is questionable. This has been debated and discussed publicly, and one of the individuals names has been mentioned publicly. I do not have to name them here in the Legislature. I am simply asking the Minister that if this nondisclosure agreement exists with respect to the specifics that I have listed, perhaps we could see evidence of it.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: If we did that, we would be violating the basic agreement we are referring to, so that is of course impossible and therefore a quite inappropriate suggestion. I cannot add to the information I gave previously about my reasons for the timing of the disclosure of the information. I want to say, affirmatively, that this Minister always brings to this House information that he believes to be correct and I will support my officials in terms of the information and the interpretation that they have given to the proceeding we are now discussing.
Question re: Na Dli Youth Centre
Mr. Nordling: I also have a question to the Minister of Health and Human Resources that deals with the quality of information being provided, with respect to the young offenders facility. I asked the Minister of Health and Human Resources about damage to the young offenders facility between February 3 and February 19.
On February 27, I received the following response: The only damage done to the Na Dli facility since February 3 was damage to two bedroom doors. These doors have been repaired temporarily and new solid-core doors have been ordered. The new doors have not yet arrived and, therefore, no cost is available at this time.
I understand in a sentencing hearing, the court was told that one young offender alone caused about $1,200 damage on February 14 by kicking out the windows of his room and breaking the doorknob from an interview room door.
Was the Minister aware of that at the time the legislative return was provided?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I believe the return I provided to the Member was accurate. If the Member is now saying the return was false based on some information he has from some other source, I will check it out.
Mr. Nordling: I would invite the Minister to check it out. With respect to the legislative return, is it government policy to order such things as solid-core doors with no idea what the cost of them is going to be?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I doubt very much if there is a documented policy to order solid-core doors without an estimate of cost. I believe the normal process of this government is that the purchasing agent, the Department of Government Services, would be assessing the cost and get the best value for money. Once they have acquired that information, they would proceed with the order.
Mr. Nordling: That is exactly what I would expect. Yet, the Minister declined to put that information in the legislative return.
In another legislative return in response to my question on the breakdown of the costs to repair the facility after the breakout, I specifically asked for the cost to repair the damage done by the young offenders, as opposed to the cost to upgrade the security and the facility.
I got a legislative return back that tells me there was $43,900 spent on physical improvements, including the repair of the damage done by the young offenders. There was no breakdown. We are also told there was an additional $19,000 ...
Speaker: Order please. Would the Member please get to the supplementary question.
Mr. Nordling: ... spent to modify the facility because of staff concerns. How much of this $63,000 is directly attributable to the damage done by the young offenders?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I will have to take that question as notice, too. You can see the problem. The Member demands information right now based on estimates. We give him estimates and, when the final numbers come in, he says No, see, you were wrong; you misled the House. You cannot have it both ways.
If the Member is asking for the final accounting of cost and is prepared to wait until we have that number, we can give it. If he asked for an estimate, or the most current information the Minister has, he must accept that that information is conditional until such time as we get a final accounting. There is no other way we can do it.
Question re: Na Dli Youth Centre
Mr. Nordling: The Minister becomes more insufferable every day when we ask questions about the young offenders facility. He is not being reasonable with us, nor with this House.
Can the Minister confirm that one of the young offenders involved in the January 3 escape has been sent to a secure custody facility in Prince George to serve his sentence?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I understand the Member knows about the disposition from reading the paper. Since the sentencing and destination of young offenders is not a political question, I cannot comment other than to confirm the fact that was identified in the paper.
Mr. Nordling: That is absolutely ridiculous. It is nonsense that the Minister cannot comment. It is his department that decides the policy. On February 19 he gave me a big speech about how Ministers were here to deal with large policy questions, not with the minutiae of the department. It is a large policy question, as to what this government and what we do with young offenders. It was obviously the decision of his department ....
Speaker: Order please. Would the Member please get to the supplementary question?
Mr. Nordling: I would like to ask the Minister if he will answer the question. I would like to know why the young offender was sent outside the territory.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am beginning to think the Member must have flunked law school. If that Member thinks that Ministers make decisions about where young offenders spend their time, he has had a very bad education, not only on the law but in the way governments and young offenders programs operate. This Minister does not make those decisions, and never will. Those decisions are made in respect of the individual case. There is a disposition decided by the courts, and then there is an administration procedure under the Young Offenders Act that decides where young offenders serve their time. It is not a political decision, and for this government it never will be.
Mr. Nordling: Neither is a decision of the court. We built a $3.2 million-plus facility to keep our young offenders in the territory - a secure custody facility. The words of the former Minister were: So that we could keep our young offenders here in the territory.
I would like to ask the Minister what has happened? Why are we not keeping our young offenders here in the territory, as was intended in a large policy decision of this government?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The courts may decide to send any number of our young offenders to some place other than our facility. They may be sent south for treatment. There may be a disposition of some matters that will require young people, for a various number of reasons, to be sent to a facility other than the one in the Yukon. There is a secure custody young offenders facility in the Yukon (1) because we are required to have one by law, but (2) because it serves the very useful purpose of keeping young offenders here.
Most of the young offenders who are sentenced to secure custody will serve their time in the Yukon. There will be some offenders who will not, for a whole range of reasons. I do not want to get into a discussion of individual cases, but there will be, from time to time - for reasons of mental health, security, safety of the staff or any other number of reasons - instances when a young offender may not serve their time in the Yukon.
Question re: Na Dli Youth Centre
Mr. Nordling: We all know that there is a whole range of reasons why a young offender may not serve his time in the Yukon. I would like to ask the Minister if he has taken enough interest in this issue to confirm that the reason this particular young offender was sent out, or any young offender who is sent out of the territory, is not because of inadequacies or lack of programming at the facility we have just built and spent so much money on.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I think that is what is called a leading question.
We believe the facility we have here is a good facility. We believe the program we have is a good program. We understand that every single case will have different needs. Every single person in our secure custody young offenders facility will have a different program. There will be some people whose needs cannot be met by the programs available in the Yukon Territory, for a whole range of reasons. That is the fact. It has been the fact in the past. It will be less so the case in the future, but it remains an inescapable fact.
Question re: Northwestel phone number and billing address list
Mr. Phillips: On February 22, I asked the Minister responsible for the Bureau of Statistics about a letter that the bureau sent Northwestel asking for all Yukoners names and phone numbers as well a list of all Yukoners billing addresses.
The legislative return that the Minister tabled on February 26 only contained half of the information that I asked for. There is no explanation in that return as to why the Government of Yukon wants all Yukoners billing addresses.
Could the Minister answer my question now and tell us why the Bureau of Statistics would need this more detailed, personal information if all it plans to do is carry out random digital dialing surveys? Why would it need someones billing address for that purpose?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: As the legislative return made quite clear, all the information being asked for by the Bureau of Statistics was a computer copy of the telephone book. That is a public document. Most of the addresses in the telephone book are the billing addresses of the telephone subscribers.
The random survey that they will be doing is expedited by them having access to the computer version of the telephone book. We are not talking about secret information. We are not talking about anybody having inappropriate access to that information. We are talking about carrying out the public business in a responsible way with the cooperation of the telephone company.
Mr. Phillips: Here we are again. This Minister has risen in the House to give us a legislative return that contains only half the answer, first of all. Secondly, this Minister does not have his facts straight. The letter that was sent by the Bureau of Statistics says, In addition to the publicly available directory information, we request that the subscribers billing addresses be included.
That is over and above the information on the machine-readable copy. Those are addresses that are not publicly available, in some cases. Why did the Minister not tell us that in the legislative return, because he was asked that question? Why would the department want that information?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The Member opposite, when he was asking this question, was alleging some great kind of terrible conspiracy, some horrible spy caper. The Bureau of Statistics was asking for an electronic copy of the telephone book, something that is basically public information.
The Members questions were answered in the legislative return. If he has further questions, I will take notice of them.
Mr. Phillips: My question was quite clear. It said, I understand the bureau, which is located in the Executive Council Office of this government, has requested by letter from the Northwestel, a list of all Yukoners phone numbers and billing addresses. Can the Minister tell us why the Government of the Yukon would want this information?
He answered to us that it was a machine-readable copy of the Northwestel telephone directory. Over and above that, the bureau asked for, In addition to the publicly available directory information, we request that the subscribers billing addresses be included.
I will table that letter for the information of the Minister. He obviously has not read it. Could the Minister just answer the question? Could he tell us why the government wants the billing addresses of all Yukoners?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I will read the tabled letter very carefully. A few days ago, the Member tabled a letter here about bookkeeping services for child care centres. He did something that I regard as very improper. He tabled only the front page of the letter, not the second page, which contained information relevant to his question.
The Member asks why we would also want the addresses of people who are in the telephone book. I suspect that 99 percent of those addresses are in the phone book. It is public information.
They reason they want the information that is outlined in the legislative return: in order to do a survey, which is towards the service of the public interest and the conduct of public business.
Question re: Northwestel phone number and billing address list
Mr. Phillips: Can the Minister tell us if Northwestel has responded to the letter, and can he confirm that Northwestel has refused the request for the billing addresses?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I have no information score, too. Perhaps Northwestel is communicating with him and perhaps I will have to tell Northwestel that if they want that information, they should go to the Minister responsible.
Question re: Education act
Mr. Devries: I have a question for the Minister of Education. I was slightly alarmed this morning when I read the article in Fridays Whitehorse Star voicing the concern of the Yukon Teachers Associations committee regarding the draft education act, and the deputy ministers response. Can I ask the Minister of Education if it is his position that the legitimate concerns of the Yukon Teachers Association are, to quote his deputy minister, absolute bunk and fear-mongering?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I think the Member should do a little bit of checking around before he begins and ends his research into this matter with a newspaper. I think if the Member were to call the president of the Yukon Teachers Association, the Member might get some indication of what the teachers association is thinking, and certainly what the elected members of the teachers association are thinking, with respect to the process. Clearly, any concerns that are published or even expressed that the teachers have not been fully involved in the process, from the very, very beginning - probably three ago today, would not be speaking the truth. Clearly, the teachers are very much involved in the entire drafting process and in fact have had, on the drafting committee, four out six people participate who are professional members of their association. Those concerns are clearly not true. The gains that the Yukon Teachers Association have made over the course of the drafting process are quite substantial, and I think any communication ought to reflect that, in all fairness.
Mr. Devries: My next question would be: does the Minister deny that the deputy minister referred to the committees letter as absolute bunk and fear-mongering?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The deputy minister responded to a letter that was sent, not signed by anybody - nobody knows who the author is - to the teachers and to media outlets saying that the process has been unfair or that it is only reasonable that there should be no probationary employees among the teachers, or that there should be no professional evaluations of teachers. The deputy minister responded to that. I think that there was a desire to point out, in all fairness, the full scope of the facts surrounding the situation, and I believe the deputy minister did respond accordingly in that respect.
Question re: Medical expenses
Mr. Brewster: My question is to the Minister of Health and Human Resources. Recently I corresponded with the Minister regarding one of my constituents, who was referred to a hospital in Vancouver. When he arrived there he found he had no room in the hospital and had to find his own accommodation in a hotel. Consequently, his hotel and meal expenses were not insured services under the health care plan or the Travel for Medical Treatment Act and he had to pay all of his expenses himself. What I would like the Minister to confirm is that, if this individual required the services of an escort, the hotel and meal expenses of the escort, plus initial incidental expenses would be covered for two days, yet the expenses of the patient would not be covered. Is that true?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The Member is asking me something that may be in the form of an opinion. The Member knows from previous discussions on this point that in the precise case of the Members constituent, the hotel and meals were not paid for. That is not provided for in our program. That has not been provided in the past.
We have recently improved the measures in terms of medical escorts. The circumstances in which a medical escort is warranted will oftentimes involve hotels and meal expenses, particularly if it is a parent dealing with a young child, or a senior who is incapacitated. Those are two different circumstances.
I understand the Members constituent was caught in a situation where the scheduled time for their procedure was not as they had originally intended. In circumstances like that, it has not been the tradition of the Yukon Territorial Government to accept the liability or cost consequences of that scheduling change.
Mr. Brewster: Since there is considerable uncertainty whether a patient will receive services as an out-patient, a day patient or an in-patient, and since only the expenses of an in-patient are covered, how does the patient who is referred outside know what expenses they are going to be responsible for?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The Member asks, since there is uncertainty, how can they know what expenses they will be responsible for. Every effort is made by our officials and referring physicians, I am sure, to make clear to patients travelling outside exactly what costs we will be covering. I might note, as we have in this House, that costs in this area are climbing quite extraordinarily.
From my own dealings with these kinds of questions, an effort is usually being made by the attending physician here to clearly establish what the procedures and routine is, in terms of the people being referred outside, whether it is a specialist, hospital, or a combination of people. I also know that, when they arrive onsite, sometimes things happen to see those schedules change for a number of reasons.
If you go to see one specialist where you are intended to have one kind of procedure, you may have something else recommended to you, either further tests or whatever. Our people do a good job in trying to cover the costs for such patients, within limits, and they try to do a good job before people go out in making the procedures predictable. I understand there is no 100 percent certainty. Therefore, there cannot be a 100 percent certainty as to the obligations of the patient themselves.
Mr. Brewster: In the travel medical policy that the Minister sent me, why is there nothing at all explained on what would happen to the patient?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: If the Member is making the point that the particular circumstance of his constituent is not anticipated and described there. I am not sure we could do that. There are dozens of variables.
If that is not the Members point, then I guess he is making a representation for additional information to be contained in such a pamphlet. He will have to communicate with me privately to make it clear what information he would have us put in there that is not already there, and I would take his representation seriously and look at it, upon its receipt.
Question re: Air B.C.
Mr. Lang: With respect to Air B.C., spring is fast approaching. Last fall, when Air B.C. announced they were discontinuing service, the Minister said he was going to do everything he could to encourage Air B.C. to re-establish its air service in the spring.
It is safe to say there is an all-party agreement here that another airline would be very good for competition, as well as being in the long-term, best interests of the consumer.
Could the Minister update the House to tell us whether or not Air B.C. is going to re-establish its service this spring in Yukon?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I have no new information on any decision on the part of Air B.C. The Member will recall that I met with senior officials of Air B.C. last fall; the firm did indicate that, should market conditions improve and should their corporate decision be to resume flights, they would be doing so by approximately June of this year. We are currently in communication with Air B.C. to find out if that is still their corporate position.
Mr. Lang: In correspondence sent back to me on a letter I sent to the Minister last October, he gave a breakdown of the government employee travel on the various airlines - Canadian Airlines versus Air B.C. - and in 1988 there were 1,917 employees who travelled on Canadian Airlines but on Air B.C. there were only 480. In 1989, up to October of that year, 848 travelled on Canadian Airlines, and on Air B.C. there were 211. In other words, there were four trips to one.
In a one-year period, there are approximately 2,300 to 2,400 flights by employees through the government, which is a substantial amount of business. Has the Minister made any commitments with respect to government employees travelling on the various airlines in order that each airline gets a fair share of business?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: There is no deal currently in place with Air B.C. The Member might recall, part of what was taking place last year were those very discussions between the airlines about sharing the available government business, in the form of air travel by employees. It was at about that time that Air B.C. pulled the rug out from under the discussions by announcing their intention to curtail service. Subsequent to that, we had some discussion in early winter of this past year about whether or not they wished to continue the discussions of sharing the available government business. I stand to be corrected, but I believe their position was that they wanted to suspend discussions for a while while their own corporate affairs and policies were undergoing a revamp, and those are the communications we are attempting now to re-establish.
Mr. Lang: Do I take it from the Ministers answer that the Minister is prepared to commit to utilizing that service for a certain amount of government travel?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The short answer is yes. In the discussions we had with Air B.C., we indicated to them that we were quite prepared to negotiate terms and conditions that would be favourable for their airline to continue to fly here. As the Member noted from the letter he cited, there is not that substantial amount of business from the government employees that would make or break any airline - especially if you share it. The business of airlines relies on much higher volumes than what the government can offer.
To conclude, should those discussions resume, yes, we are prepared to re-examine our current policies on aircraft selection to permit Air B.C. to have a fair share of the action.
Speaker: The time for Question Period is now lapsed. We will proceed with Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Speaker: Government Bills.
Bill No. 34: Second Reading
Clerk: Second reading, Bill No. 34, standing in the name of the Hon. Mr. McDonald.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that Bill No. 34, entitled Third Appropriation Act, 1989-90, be now read a second time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Finance that Bill No. 34, entitled Third Appropriation Act, 1989-90, be now read a second time.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There are some fairly simple explanations for this bill, many of which were telegraphed in both the main estimates debate for 1990-91 and also in the Second Appropriation Act, the first supplement, for 1989-90.
The bill requests additional funding in the gross amount of $2,169,000 for the 1989-90 fiscal year. The bulk of the money being requested in the supplementary is for the teacher and auxiliary wage settlement, matters that have previously been spoken about during our debate. The main estimates also reflect transfers between votes, the most significant being in the Department of Health and Human Resources to fund the purchase of equipment for the new mammography unit.
In addition to these, there are a few new requests for recoverable expenditures and other items to which we have found it necessary to allocate funds.
In the recoverable category, the largest single item is $552,000 for the French and aboriginal languages program. Members will know that these funds are wholly recoverable from the federal government.
Among the more significant new expenditure items in this bill is $150,000 for the RCMP contract. This figure is based upon the latest assessment that we have from the federal government; it is one over which we unfortunately have little control.
While $2,169,000 in gross spending authority is being sought, the net impact of the supplementary on our surplus position is about $1.3 million. This result occurs because of the recoveries that I have already mentioned and reductions in expenditures in several departments that will not now require funds previously voted.
That is the general outline for this bill. I am sure Ministers will be more than prepared to answer detailed questions in Committee debate.
Motion agreed to
Clerk: Item No. 2, standing in the name of the hon. Mr. Penniket.
Motion No. 2
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Premier
THAT it is the opinion of the Yukon Legislative Assembly:
1) THAT the recent federal budget cuts are prejudicial and adversely affect northerners, especially women and aboriginal people:
2) THAT northerners have already been disadvantaged by federal budgetary policies such as the dictated formula financing terms;
3) THAT womens organizations are fundamental to the move for true equality in Canada;
4) THAT aboriginal organizations are vital for building the future of aboriginal peoples; and
5) THAT the aboriginal media are an important voice of the first nations of Canada; and
THAT this House urges the Government of Canada to re-examine its budgetary policies with a view towards eliminating their prejudicial effect on northerners.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: As all Members of this House know, the territories have suffered cuts in formula financing cuts, are anticipating the new Conservatives sales tax that will add to the burden of living here, and we are now aware of the latest round of expenditure reductions in the federal budget, which compound the problem and hurt those in the nation, particularly in the north, who are least able to absorb those cuts.
I rise today to speak on this motion, which is of great importance to all of us. It is a motion that addresses the quality of services that we as northern Canadians expect from the federal government.
They are services that we expect from the federal government, not as a special privilege, but as a national contribution consistent with the federation principle of making the level of services and the conditions of people here as close to those of the people in other parts of the country as they can.
The motion addresses the role of the federal government in helping to achieve a condition of equality to which I hope we all aspire.
In the last few days and weeks we have heard federal Finance Minister Mr. Wilson on several platforms defending his budget. He has spoken often of the problem of the national debt and talked about his objective of reducing the deficit. I am sure that his goal of a reduced deficit is one that we all, to differing degrees, share. This government, in its negotiations on the formula financing, indicated that we were willing to carry an equitable share of that burden, never imagining that we would be asked to carry more than our share. I do not think anybody in this House can be pleased about the methods of achieving his objective, especially as it affects some of those in our community least able to weather these financial hardships.
Canadians from all walks of life - the poor, the middle class, small business, women, multicultural groups, aboriginal people - are all protesting that the deficit is being reduced at their expense, this coming, as it does, at a time when we are expecting the seven percent Conservative sales tax, which further erodes our income.
A number of Conservative voices in the country have been calling for reductions in social expenditures. I heard Mr. Michael Walker, of the Fraser Institute, articulating that theme again this weekend, in the media. The Leader of the Opposition in this House, at his last convention, was reported to have said that this government was spending too much on social policy. We have heard in this House, during this debate and this session, almost every single Member opposite call for increased expenditures in some particular area close to their heart. That, I think, sums up the problem for every government and every legislature, in that the demands are always great and the means are always few; that there are many people who advocate, in general, the cutting the social expenditures, but there are very few people who are in favour of particular cuts, especially when they can see the pain that these cuts produced on individuals.
I note that Laurent Thibault, president of the Canadian Manufacturers Association, seems to believe that the government should be cutting still more from its budget. I am sure that he makes his comments from a pretty comfortable position.
We think, as we approach this question, as we have as a government, that the federal government should be looking, as they consider cuts such as we now discussing, at who is benefiting from the economic system in this country and who is suffering.
Perhaps we should be looking at people who are benefiting to pay more of their fair share. That is not the case today.
In 1974, I remember David Lewis ran a national election campaign talking about corporate welfare bums. Later, I remember the hon. John Turner, during the time he was Minister of Finance, arguing that the ills Mr. Lewis had addressed had been eradicated. It is plain they have not.
Projections under the new budgetary regime show that, in 1991, real personal disposable income will go down one percent right across the country, and corporate profits before taxes will go up 12 percent.
When you look at this situation and look at who is being cut in the latest round of cuts - aboriginal organizations, womens centres, the native media - it is hard not to be cynical. It is hard not to believe that the friends of the national government, the people who helped buy them the last election with their massive advertising campaign on free trade, are being rewarded, while the critics, the have-nots, in this country are being punished.
The motion we have before us speaks to the plight of womens organizations and aboriginal groups, in particular. It is particularly appalling these groups are being hit so hard by cuts, especially at this time in the Yukon Territory.
Last week in the newspaper, I read a letter from a person who expressed the view that Canadians ask for too many extras with their pie, and that the country cannot afford it. The point of this writer was we should be grateful we have a pie, when so many do not. There is a lot to that, but we must remind ourselves that, although we do not like to admit it, this is still a land of haves and have-nots, and the aboriginal people and many women go short on bread, let alone pie.
It is a fact that, today in the Yukon Territory, at a time when we are moving toward a resolution over land claims negotiations, that most of the poor people are aboriginal, and most of the aboriginal people are poor.
It is also true in the nation that most of the poor are women. Older women are among the poorest of the lot. Next are single parents, who are disproportionately women in our society. When they talk about the collective wealth of the nation and look at the huge portion of the national wealth controlled by the smallest 20 percent of the nation, and look at the small fraction controlled by the bottom 40 percent of the population, it is often stated by statisticians and observers of this nation that that situation has not changed much in the last couple of generations.
You will often hear stories about the collective wealth of this nation, which include the observation that women still only make two-thirds of the salary of men, whose income and standard of living drop precipitously when a marriage breaks up or who, as I said before, head the vast majority of single-parent families.
It is cold comfort to aboriginal people, whose low incomes and standards of living are, to put it bluntly, a disgrace to this country. A disgrace internationally. And it should be an embarrassment to us when those supporting apartheid in South Africa were responding to their critics in this country by pointing to the condition of aboriginal people. That was a calculated embarrassment, but it was an embarrassment nonetheless.
This budget tells those whose belts are already in the last notch to pull it tighter. I do not want to speak exhaustively on why the groups that have been cut in the last federal budget are worthy of funding. I know that many other Members in this House, particularly my colleagues, are more equipped to do that than I am; but I want to make the point that the cuts in funding to these groups diminish all of us. In essence, the diminishment is felt especially strongly in the north where our communities are small and womens and aboriginal organizations provide services that are perhaps available elsewhere in large southern cities.
For example, it may be easy for some to dismiss the cut in funding to the Victoria Faulkner Womens Centre - 100 percent cut in federal funding, which means they cannot afford to hire a coordinator to run the centre. There may be few MLAs who have ever taken any of the courses they offer there; few MLAs may have ever ordered a book from their library or dropped in for a cup of coffee. But whether we, in this House, know it or not, important work has been going on behind the scenes in places like the Victoria Faulkner Womens Centre and other organizations like it. The quiet support that organizations such as the womens centre offer to women all over the territory has been cherished by its recipients. One woman told us that when the womens centre closes, there would be nowhere downtown where she could nurse and change her baby; when her newborn was downtown and it started wailing, it was a great comfort knowing there was somewhere she could go where she could calm down the baby, have a cup of tea and speak to other women.
These are small things to some people, but to many women they have a great value. This budget, inadvertently perhaps, takes away even these small comforts, which are very important in a small northern community like ours.
The other day, in a debate on another matter, we had a Member referring to his apocryphal constituent, the single parent with two kids. This is the kind of constituent who suffers by this cut; the kind of constituent who also pays taxes and contributes to the national purse.
I doubt if there is any legislature in the country, less than this one, which needs to understand the importance of aboriginal organizations to the political and social development of the Yukon.
Whatever disputes may have occurred from day to day during the life of those organizations between the Members of this House and the leaders of the aboriginal community, it remains a fact that those organization have helped change this territory for the better.
The fact that we are negotiating our land claims agreement with the Council for Yukon Indians speaks for itself. Consider the consequences if funding for such organizations was slashed everywhere except for those few Indian organizations that are already at the negotiating table. Consider the consequences of that. Consider the message that it sends to aboriginal people everywhere in this country.
How does the federal government think that other aboriginal organizations are going to be, one day, in a position where they can assist their people in negotiating land claims if they have no support now? How will they do the research, prepare their legal cases, document their claims, hire negotiators?
As we all know, the land claims process is developmental and social as well as economic. Settlements that benefit all Canadians, that benefit entire communities such as ours are not quick and easy to achieve. In this territory, we have also seen the great importance of the aboriginal media.
For the first time in our history, we are seeing new stories presented without the traditional southern slant or transplanted journalists. Indian issues are now being explained as news rather than as special interest items or as colour pieces at the tag end of a news story. Indian people are being trained in both the print and the visual media.
Let us be honest. Before Nedaa or Dannzha, how many aboriginal young people were being hired by the media in this town? Cutbacks threaten the ability of aboriginal people to get their news out and have it delivered by their people, to have the other side of many important stories to the whole community here. That is essential in a democracy.
Last week when Mr. Gerry Weiner, the Secretary of State, spoke on cutbacks, he suggested that groups affected, womens groups and aboriginal organizations, hunt around for other funding agencies. It was suggested that they should try and earn more money themselves. We are not talking about professional organizations here or Chambers of Commerce, whose members may have access to surplus cash.
What monied constituency anywhere, what monied constituency in the Yukon is going to finance the operation of the womens centre, aboriginal organizations, the aboriginal media? Perhaps, in some way, Mr. Weiners people had some strange cultural throw back to a patriarchal age of old. It was maybe, by implication, suggested to the womens organizations that they go see their husbands or their fathers for this money. Perhaps the aboriginal organizations are supposed to go to God-knows-where, to the great white father of the last century.
The organizations that we are talking about have been funded by the national government to achieve in certain national purposes. You cannot run the CYI with a bake sale, and as far as I know, there are few aboriginal philanthropist organizations eager to help underwrite the native media. John Kim Bell has been doing work raising money in the private sector for aboriginal artists and performers but the kinds of sums involved are tiny compared to the needs of the political, social, cultural and journalistic organizations in this country.
There is no other potential available - and I use this word advisably - patrons or matrons of these organizations other than the national government at this stage of our development. As I said, these kinds of cuts, at a time when so many people in the great centres to the south are doing so well, and according to statistics that have come out nationally and have been commented on by the Auditor General, there are so many people who are magnificently wealthy and there are so many corporations that are magnificently wealthy, and are escaping taxation altogether, it is amazing that we see cuts being applied to those who can least afford them.
There is a danger, with these kinds of cuts, that the perception will go out that the federal government is following its twin angels: that it is rewarding its friends on one shoulder and punishing its enemies on the other.
I have already noted how before-tax profits will go up for corporations while personal disposable income will go down again this year. It is important to note what has been happening in the last few years because the share of the total tax pie, which is being borne by individuals, versus by corporations, has been changing for the worse in recent years.
There will be people in this country, I am sure, who will be bound to note that at a time when the cold war is thawing, there are no cuts for defence spending in this budget, only a freeze. There will be people who will be bound to note that Canadian Security and Intelligence Service, our spy agency - surely, with the easing of East/West tension, an increasingly irrelevant organization - gets an increase of $33 million. I am sure there are a lot of advertising agencies very happy over the $24 million that is going to spent to spread the gospel of the GST.
We should not wonder, then, that people are going to be suspicious when they realize that those organizations that have been cut the most severely are among those that have been most outspoken in the criticism of the national governments agenda, particularly in the social policy field. Rather than address the inequities in the country, it seems the national government is determined to starve its critics.
One other very disturbing aspect of the cuts being made is that they appear to be the proverbial thin edge of the wedge. At this point, the most visible cuts are to what have been labeled discretionary programs: programs for women, aboriginal peoples, youths, multiculturals. The national government party, the Conservatives, have promised so many times in the past not to cut the social programs, which benefit all Canadians. This has been referred to by the Prime Minister as the sacred trust. While this budget does not do so explicitly, it certainly does covertly. The two-year freeze on federal funding under the Established Programs Financing Act, means that the provincial governments will pay an increasingly greater proportion of their own funding for medicare and post-secondary education.
We know what is happening to health care expenditures in the country. We know what the demands are for post-secondary education at a time when we are preparing ourselves to compete in the world economy. These cuts will hurt.
This was a field that was originally occupied by the federal government to guarantee Canadians across this country, wherever they lived, would be ensured a minimum level of medical and educational services. A reasonable person would fear this freeze starts us well on the way to re-establishing have and have-not provinces - perhaps have-not territories, as well.
Coupled with caps on the Canada assistance plan for Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta - something that is being challenged in the courts as unconstitutional - what is foreshadowed is a definite shrinking of the federal responsibility for national programs.
For the north, that is bad news for two reasons. One is that we are more dependent on the federal government for money than are any of the provinces. That is a fact we recognize. We recognize that the formula financing arrangements that were entered into between the territories and the national government were very important and satisfactory for the territories. We supported the initiative by the Drury Commission, set up by the previous Liberal government to have this done. We thank the subsequent Conservative government for implementing them. In this round of negotiations, we even offered to take modest cuts, commensurate with the cuts going to the provinces, so that we could make our contribution to the deficit reduction without hurting the people of the territory, which we argued would have been done by cuts equal to those experienced by the provinces.
Because we are more dependent on the federal government at this point in our history - even though we are reducing that dependency, we are more dependent than anywhere else - we have to be concerned about these changes in federal spending patterns. Freezes or reductions in funding on any national program the Yukon is part of have to be of concern to us.
Second, these services cost more in the Yukon where our small populations and long distances add to the expense. This is particularly so for social programs. The privatization agenda of the national government is apparent, as is its strategy for implementation. They have privatized De Havilland and Air Canada without much protest. The post office will be privatized, Petro Canada will be privatized. More people will be upset at that, but there will be some people who will love it, especially those who end up owning these enterprises - no doubt friends of the national government.
We will then see the privatization of other public services. I do not know what a privatized highway system or education system or health system would be like. I am pretty sure it would not be as good as the one we now have. Once we lose that tradition of public service, that high ideal of public service, if it is sacrificed on that altar of private profit, this country will be a smaller, meaner, greedier place than it has been in the past.
I will not say most of the users of these services provided by the people subject to cuts - aboriginal people, womens organizations, the readers of Dannzha or the listeners to CHON or viewers of Nedaa - for the most part would not be in any position to organize an effective protest against these cuts.
They will probably not be heard in the national media. There will probably not be any editorials on their behalf in the Globe and Mail, and I doubt if the cuts will qualify for the lead item in the national news.
Nonetheless, they are important and they are potentially tragic. I do not personally like the direction that our national leaders are taking us with these cuts. I feel for the organizations that are suffering them. I think our community, the Yukon Territory, will be a little less pleasant and worthwhile place to live with the passing of the womens centre, with the passing of the aboriginal media, and I know for a fact that the kind of changes all Members in this House want to make to improve our society, improve justice and equality in our society, will be that much harder without properly financed aboriginal organizations to carry out their leadership role in the process.
Therefore, I urge all Members in the House to support the motion before us.
Ms. Kassi: First of all, I would like to thank the government for bringing forth this motion at such a good time.
There is probably no one in this House today who would not agree that the Yukon is the most beautiful place in Canada. We still have clean air and clean water, fresh lakes; we have many people who hunt, trap and fish and live off the land - aboriginal and non-aboriginal people. We are surrounded with natural beauty, which attracts visitors from around the world. Through shows and documentaries produced by organizations such as Nedaa, Northern Native Broadcasting, we are showing even more people what this Yukon is really like. Northern Native Broadcasting has done many shows that teach about the world. Nedaa has presented the work of many people and reaches into homes of natives and non-natives. These programs that are produced by CHON radio and by Northern Native Broadcastings Nedaa, have contributed a lot to the Yukon in building the cooperation between the non-aboriginal people and the aboriginal people in this territory.
This is something that we know when we live here. This is something you know if you are interested in knowing it, but it appears there are some people in Ottawa who just do not know these kinds of things, these things that are so important to the people in the Yukon Territory.
Northern Native Broadcasting is one of those organizations that is being hurt by these cuts in the new federal budget. So I stand in this House today in support of the struggle of the aboriginal peoples in Canada. This motion must be seen as more than a gesture of support for our people. It must be seen as a crossroads, a time when we let the world know that we will not be silent when the survival of the first nations is threatened.
As it is now, the aboriginal people have a hard time getting employment in many areas. The organization such as Council for Yukon Indians, Skookum Jims Friendship Centre, Northern Native Broadcasting and Dannzha employ a few aboriginal people in the Yukon Territory and they are being drastically cut - some are being cut right out of existence. I want to know why. I need to know why. What are the reasons for this?
These budget cuts have been brutal to our organizations, to the aboriginal, cultural and communications programs in Canada. Aboriginal programs represent a small portion of the overall government budget but will suffer more than 45 percent in cuts.
Aboriginal programs are at risk of being totally gutted by this senseless approach of balancing a budget. The federal government has shown great insensitivity, when more than $15 million dollars can be spent on Canada Day. Can you imagine that? Fifteen million dollars is spent on the celebrations of Canada Day. All that is being spent in one day.
I become very angry that somehow there is no money available for lasting and socially significant programs of the kind supported by aboriginal organizations in this country. Right here, Northern Native Broadcasting is affected by a significant cut to its budget. There is a current 16 percent cut to funding from the Secretary of States northern native broadcast access program, which in dollar figure comes to $272,960 over the next fiscal year.
This is a devastating blow to a program that has already suffered, due to inflationary losses over the past five years, effectively reducing its funding by 24 percent before these latest cuts. This means that since the beginning of the program, they will have lost 41 percent of their original funding. What is the result of all this in human terms? It could mean shorter broadcasting days, staff layoffs, program cutbacks, all this when we are just beginning to get off the ground.
To quote Lantry Vaughan, executive producer of television at NNBY, It is back to simple survival again. Make no mistake about it, we will all continue to fight this attempt to silence the native media. Aboriginal communications has been the way to educate many people, to reach into the homes of people who would otherwise be isolated, either because of language barriers or distance.
Aboriginal broadcasting has brought programming to our people in our own languages. It has talked about things that are important to our people. CHON-FM radio, broadcast throughout the territory, translates news and happenings around the territory in several aboriginal languages. People rely on that in the communities here.
These cuts are an attack on our people. Core funding is badly needed for our organizations like these to exist. Look at what has been presented to us today by this government in Ottawa. The native friendship centre program has been cut entirely. The local Skookum Jim Friendship Centre here is struggling to bring AIDS awareness to the Yukon Territory, to continue with its alcohol and drug awareness programs with very little budget.
They have a coffeepot and a teapot sitting in the front room that is available for people who live in the streets in Whitehorse, who are homeless. They go there every day to get a cup of coffee and maybe a sandwich or some stew and bannock. That friendship centre is vital to this community.
To add insult to injury, national bilingualism programs have benefited to the tune of $11.3 from Weiners take-from-the-weak-and-give-to-the-strong redistribution. Look at these figures. Look at the gain of $8.2 million for language training programs for minorities. Look at the budget for translation services that jumps to $108,000, up $2 million from the last budget. The so-called English/French language promotion gets an extra $1.1 million.
Here in the Yukon, the Franco-Yukonnais Association has worked to support aboriginal language programs as well. There has been a spirit of cooperation that is characteristic of small communities. My first language being Gwichin, I value the French language as well. I am taking lessons to learn that language.
Still, these budget cuts to aboriginal programs are threatening to destroy the face of cooperation here because people in Ottawa do not understand how we do things here in the territory. On top of the direct cuts in funding, the feds are capping the Indian and Northern Affairs budget at five percent, although health, education and the comprehensive claims programs appear to increase by eight percent. The Indian Affairs budget has not kept up with inflation since 1984.
All this would turn even the most confirmed optimist into a cynic, and an angry one at that. I feel a lot of resentment and frustration building here and all across the country. The Ye Sa To budget has been cut. Dannzha is essentially finished except for the fight by the people who work there and the support they receive from others. This is a publication that is read internationally. Its reputation is such that it has become a collectors item because of its full-colour, glossy format. This is a publication that puts about $200,000 into the Yukon economy annually.
Ye Sa To bridges the gap between native and non-native Yukoners, as well. This communications association documents the heritage of the Yukon and increases communication within the territory. The society works to preserve the life stories and knowledge of our elders. So you see how seriously these budget cuts affect our culture. We have been trying to build and sustain pride of the first nations and, now, we are tripping with a backwards fall.
Nationally, the $3.5 million native communications program is being eliminated. This is how it reads as a budget line but, in terms of human impact, this cut is devastating. Our communications programs are being nipped in the bud. How can this be justified? How can supposedly responsible people sit back and watch the alienation of the very communications programs that have given so much hope to our people?
Last year, the Tories cut funds for international aid. This year, the aboriginal people of this country are being pushed beyond the limits into a Third World status. We cannot tolerate this kind of treatment. Aboriginal people in this country have been exploited, hounded with racism, injustice and violations of our cultures and traditions for generations. Now, here in the 1990s, my generation and my parents and my children are being threatened again.
I really wish Nelson Mandela well in his struggle in South Africa. I wish the African National Congress well in their fight for their own land. However, I also want people right here to take a look around, to stop and have a look here. Is our government that much better than the white minority government in Madelas homeland? Are Brian Mulroney and Gerry Weiner any different that Mr. De Klerk, the prime minister of South Africa?
We, the aboriginal peoples in this country, are faced with cultural genocide. Our fight is as significant as the fight of the aboriginals in Australia and the indigenous people in Brazil. It has only been through the work of so many of our organizations that the tide of cultural genocide had begun to turn in recent years, and we need to be able to maintain our lifeline.
We have a right to our languages. We have a right to our traditions. We have a right to the funding that is needed to keep our organizations together. I am angry at these budget cuts, but I am not surprised.
I am not surprised at all. These cuts represent another broken promise, another check to our cultural sovereignty. We have seen it so often before that our patience is really wearing thin. Northern Native Broadcasting, Skookum Jim Friendship Centre, the Council for Yukon Indians, and all these organizations across this country have been working to bridge the no-mans land between aboriginal and non-native groups in Canada. It has taken years to build up a professional reputation of quality work, and that reputation is at risk with these cuts. The work will not continue, and the link between worlds will become tenuous once again.
Every Member in this House has a moral obligation to support this motion in the case of this most recent assault on the very survival of the aboriginal peoples in this country.
Ms. Hayden: I rise in support of the motion, and I wholeheartedly support the statements made by my colleagues. It is my intention to briefly touch on the human dimension of the impact of the budget cuts inflicted on the women of this country.
This budget is a serious setback for women after so many years of struggle, from one generation to the next. Within the lifetime of some of the women who still live in this territory, we have moved from being mens chattels to a position where we can own property, go to school and travel by ourselves - usually without feeling we will be sexually assaulted. We are still running into roadblocks, systemic barriers that confront us every day, especially in the area of employment and political representation.
Agnes McPhail was the first woman elected to the Canadian Parliament. Yukons own Martha Louise Black was the second. Nellie McClung was the focus of the persons case. Now we have Audrey McLaughlin, the first woman to head a political party in Canada, or North America, for that matter. All these women have become symbols of womans competence over the years.
So why, in 1990, are we sitting here confronted by budget cuts that threaten the thread that knits women together across this country? We are once again reminded we cannot for one minute abandon the cause of our own personhood. These budget cuts are a question of empowerment. Whenever there is a tightening of the purse strings, it is women who must pay, women of all races. Whenever there are financial problems or a squeeze in the employment market, it is the women and aboriginal peoples who bear the burden.
In recent history - or more clearly, herstory - we look back on post-war propaganda that showed women as suburban Suzies who happily laid down their wartime work to return home and have the babies that would make the western world strong.
That was the propaganda. The reality was that large numbers of women, who had been recruited to work in munitions factories and other war support industries, became strengthened in their resolve that they could indeed have control over their own future and lives. They had suffered hardship in the Depression. They had been powerless to stop the assault on their homes and families, when husbands, fathers and sons were called to fight in the war. They had found new strength and were not going to let it go.
When the men came home, the women were dispensable, as far as industry was concerned, and that is the trend: when there is a tightening of the budget belt, it is the women who lose.
Womens organizations are reeling with the impact of these cuts. The Victoria Faulkner Womens Centre in Whitehorse will have to close. With a budget of less than $30,000, this centre offers information and services that would cost governments or other agencies much more to provide. Some of you may remember that Victoria Faulkner was a traditional Yukon woman. She was a tireless worker, whose tenacity represents the very principles we must struggle to maintain. She supported herself as secretary to various Yukon commissioners and, typical of most women in their daily lives, never received any recognition until she was asked to lend her name to the Victoria Faulkner Womens Centre.
The womens centre has become a place where every woman is recognized for the individual she is. It is a place where women can expect to find a sympathetic listener and a place where their kids are welcome. That is not usual in our society. The centre supports a library and sponsors programs that deal with issues central to the lives of women. The centre has been an oasis for women since it opened its doors in 1974, some 16 years ago in the then YWCA building.
As the Premier has said, these budget cuts are the thin edge of the wedge. Make no mistake about it. Unless we gather together and fight against this unthinking stroke of the pen, womens groups are all at risk. The Canadian Congress for Learning Opportunities for Women that sponsors the Julie Cruikshank bursary for women returning to learning here in the Yukon, and which promotes education by and for women right across this country, has had its budget cut.
Research organizations and womens publications have been targeted for cuts of up to 100 percent, just as has been the lot of womens centres across the country. As I understand it, the Yukon Status of Women Council is at risk in the year to come.
Last year, the womens program at Secretary of State suffered a $1.8 million cut and, this year, the program is slashed by $1.6 million. That is more than $3 million in just two years. I cannot overstate my sense of disillusionment and my anger at where the cutting has been done. The one branch of government that has supported social action has been so dramatically cut as to be rendered financially powerless.
Just as an attempt is being made to silence aboriginal people by these cuts, so are women being threatened. Without a voice, we are all without power.
Once upon a time, during my lifetime, womens institutes were the foundation of womens action in this country, and feminists were also involved in labour, farm and other issues affecting Canadian society. It has been feminist organizations that have pushed for charter rights for women, equal pay for work of equal value, child care, social reform and the community development necessary for healthy neighbourhoods for women and their families.
I am angry at the insensitivity of a government that cuts programs that are so vital to the very lives of many women in this country, while maintaining a $14 million budget to advertise the goods and services tax. So women, particularly women who are single parents and struggling to make ends meet, are the ones who will pay double - first, to the goods and services tax and, then, through this budget - when they cannot get the services they need.
We have a history of survival. In 1899, a group of cottonmill workers in Montreal typified this history of survival when they fought for wage increases equal to those of male workers.
In Canada in 1990, we are still fighting that battle. There is a sick joke, some sick humour that has been around for most of my life that says, A woman is only a husband away from welfare. I do not find that funny, but unfortunately it is still somewhat true in our country.
Other women have followed those first textile workers, Nellie McClung, Emily Murphy, Idola St. John, Therese Casgrain have all persistently pushed for recognition for equal rights. It was women, Eleanor Roosevelt and others among them, who guided the development of the universal declaration of human rights in 1948.
In 1954, the federal government set up the Womens Bureau of the Department of Labour. The Royal Commission on the Status of Women was in place from 1967 to 1970. The Canadian Advisory Council on the Status of Women was established in 1973. In the same year, the womens program in Secretary of State was set up.
The National Action Committee on the Status of Women came into being in 1976. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1982, guaranteed equal rights to men and women.
Obviously, we cannot rest on past accomplishments. We must continue here at home and internationally to fight for the freedoms and services that are the rights of women. These budget cuts are the thin edge of the wedge, a replay of the past. They are not okay. We cannot condone them.
On behalf of Yukon women, I urge the Government of Canada to re-examine and reconsider its budgetary policies that so adversely affect women and aboriginal people in Canada.
Mr. Joe: Why is it that the people who make less are the people who pay more when there is a problem with money in the federal government? Why is it that the organizations of the aboriginal people in Canada are being asked to take so much responsibility for the budget problems in this country?
Look at other programs that are been cut, human rights programs and other programs that cost so little in terms of what is spent on other things like national birthday parties.
Womens centres across Canada are important to the people they serve just as aboriginal organizations are important to first nations peoples. I am concerned that some of the housing programs that are important to Yukon people will not get the same funding, the spending for social housing has been capped and this will hurt people who have low or fixed incomes.
The legal aid budget has also been capped. People who cannot afford to pay for lawyers will be the most hurt by this.
We have heard what Members in this House have to say about the great cuts in the budget to aboriginal programs and organizations. We have been working for a long time now in Carmacks to build spirit and trust and cooperation between the band and the village. It is the kind of cooperation that will let us get things done that are important to all the people in the area.
These budget cuts hurt the spirit of cooperation. Another promise by the government to the aboriginal people has been broken. I know that we will continue with our work together in Carmacks but I ask why this kind of effort cannot be given the chance to work in other parts of the country too.
We have a motion about literacy on the order paper in this House. I know that these budget cuts will come up again when we debate this motion because communication has so much to do with literacy. Native media have been trying to do something for people who cannot read very well, ad they have been doing well, Mr. Speaker.
It is sad that the federal government does not see this work as important enough to continue support. The organizations that represent aboriginal peoples in Canada have developed programs that work with their people. They know things that others do not know and they want to continue to do their work and deliver their programs.
These budget cuts come at a time when we should be building for the future, not cutting this down.
There is much to be done to show the Government of Canada that we will not accept this position. We cannot accept this decision. We will not accept this decision. The future of too many of our people is at stake. Thank you.
Hon. Ms. Joe: On Wednesday, March 7, native people in the Yukon will be marching for the survival of a culturally-vital organization of all the aboriginal people of the Yukon.
The Department of the Secretary of State is responsible for multiculturalism in Canada and the federal government takes great pride in the many programs offered in this country. Only last week I received in the mail a kit to celebrate March 21 as a day to end racial discrimination in Canada. Yet, at the very same time, this same government is reducing every meaningful program that not only preserves the culture of our native people, but also the programs that share this culture with nonaboriginal people.
In jurisdictions like the Yukon, these programs are extremely important because they impact, one way or another, on nearly every person in the Yukon. The development of land claims in the Yukon is of interest to everyone and the aboriginal media have to be commended for providing all people in the Yukon with day-to-day information on this very important issue, as well as numerous other community issues.
I remember, very early in the 1970s, when the aboriginal people of the Yukon were looking for a way to communicate their needs, their aspirations and their culture with the rest of the Yukon. I remember sitting down with a group of other people to put together a submission and a budget to tell the federal government that we in the Yukon were looking for a way of doing this and asking for funds. I remember receiving a very small grant one year to put out a newspaper called the Firestarter. That was a very short publication and I believe that Frank Lacosse and other people were the editors. That paper evolved into the Yukon Indian News.
The Yukon Indian News was a publication that was very valuable not only to people in the Yukon, to other cultures, but to the rest of Canada to let the rest of the people know the kinds of things that were happening here in the Yukon. As time went by, the publication was then called Dan Sha, and you could see a lot of important things happening as a result of those publications. It is a problem now because the federal government is saying they cannot do it any more. We work toward having something that is so important to all cultures, and then all of a sudden we are told that it is not important any more. I cannot accept that; I cannot accept it at all.
I remember also in the early 1970s putting together a budget and a submission to the Secretary of State to start an organization called the Yukon Association of Non-Status Indians. It was our position at that time to make not only Yukoners aware but the rest of Canadians aware of the many discriminations facing aboriginal people because of certain things that caused them to be non-status Indians. We have seen a lot of progress made over the last two decades. We have seen what happened to Section 12(1)(b) of the Indian Act where many Indian women lost their status through many discriminatory situations. We have also seen Bill C-31, which rectified that, but the problems are still there. Because something happens to be improved and because some discriminations are done away with does not mean the problems are not still there.
I believe these cutbacks to the native communications society, aboriginal associations, friendship centres and political organizations will virtually paralyze any development the aboriginal people have been able to contribute, not only to the Yukon but also to Canadian society.
I also experience some dismay when I note that native language development will suffer severe cutbacks. On a positive note, I understand French language development will not be touched, but on the negative side the native language development program will suffer serious deficiencies. Is the federal government telling us that the French language is more important than the native language? Who knows? In the Yukon, it is the native people who are in most need of language assistance, yet this program will be cut.
These cutbacks may not only be seen as affecting native people; in the north, the cutbacks affect everyone in the Yukon because aboriginal people play a very large role in the development of the Yukon.
These cutbacks, along with the decrease in formula financing, as well as the Conservative sales tax, have left the average Yukoner, particularly native people and women, with a huge burden that somehow or other does not seem quite fair. Cutbacks to the womens program funding is very serious. Both sides of this House have been very concerned about the problems of women in the Yukon. The recent Montreal killings and the even more recent sexist remark by Mr. Crosbie have left us with plenty of evidence that womens programming is essential to improving the quality of life for women.
Because we do not have the funds available to us that the provinces have, it has been recognized that the Secretary of State has a certain responsibility to fund the local womens centre. The Secretary of State program was established because the 1948 universal Declaration of Human Rights, signed by the United Nations and Canada, proclaimed the following as a right: motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. Following this, Canada signed the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women in 1981. The Convention states that discrimination against women shall mean any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex, which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition or enjoyment exercised by women.
This is irrespective of their marital status, on a basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms, on the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field. This recent round of funding cuts will limit womens ability to operate knowledgeably in these fields. Cutting funding will not cut the need for the services the womens centre offers, such as information on womens concerns and a lending hand on legal, medical, social and educational employment, housing and child care assistance.
The cuts were supposedly to save money and reduce the deficit. However, these cuts will cost the government more in the long run because we have been offering services to women for pennies that would cost the government hundreds of thousands of dollars to offer themselves. For example, killing the womens centre will mean an increase in police and health services, since women will lose an avenue to access services to end family violence.
Canada has signed many national and international declarations of support for women. On paper, it looks like Canada is a world leader in achieving equality for women. That reputation is on the line, and continued action, such as these cuts, will give Canada a dismal reputation here and internationally.
I was so dismayed when I found out about the cuts that, on February 28, I wrote a letter to the Minister responsible for the Secretary of State, Mr. Gerry Weiner. I asked him to seriously consider the budget cuts he was proposing and to not discourage Canadian women from taking their rightful role in government decision making.
The centre has provided a much-needed program for women in the Yukon. It has lived up to, and far exceeded, the expectations the community, as well as the federal government, have provided. For this, they have been penalized.
The cuts to this centre, as well as the cuts to Skookum Jim Friendship Centre, will leave a huge gap in services to those people who cannot afford services these groups can provide to them. Who will fill these needs? No one will, for there is no one else prepared to do this at the price these groups have.
The issue of funding cuts to the Yukon and across Canada have been so important we have seen it on Nedaa on Saturday night. I understand there will be something on Focus North tonight. There will be a phone-in on CHON-FM on March 6 at 1:00 p.m. I understand there will be a rally on March 7, as well as a fundraiser and weiner roast on March 10 at the Ice Palace - which really fits the cause.
The federal government certainly has its priorities mixed up and contradictory. We will remember March 21, 1990, as the year the Yukon has felt the most discrimination from the federal government. The theme the federal government shows for this day, the day to end racial discrimination in Canada, is: Together We are Better. Better at what?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I will be brief. I would like to continue a theme I pursued last week with respect to the federal budgetary policy that is being plied in this budget, the announcements made in December with respect to the territorial formula funding, and in response to comments made by federal spokespersons over the course of the last year with respect to what was eligible for cuts and what was not.
Last week, many Members in the Legislature eloquently expressed concern about federal budgetary policy, largely because we were and are concerned about budgets and the federal/northern fiscal arrangements not being fair. We were concerned about the federal deficit, which we indicated on numerous occasions. In saying that, we were also concerned about exactly how that federal deficit should be handled and who should pay, and in what manner.
Last week, I indicated that the Yukon government was more than prepared to pay its share as a contributor to Canadian society.
We were concerned and made the case, I think convincingly, that the cost to northerners, the cost to Yukoners, is much greater proportionally than it is to other Canadians in the country. We mentioned that when taxes are uniformly applied across the country, like the general sales tax, like the telecommunications tax, like the airline ticket tax, high cost of living, regional economies fare worse than do others.
We mentioned that the formula arrangement, which inflicts a per capita cost on Yukoners of over $300, is far worse than the cuts of $116 per person that were levelled in this recent federal budget. We were concerned about the program restraints and the program offloading that the federal government has initiated, which has caused Yukoners to bear a greater proportion of the costs of meeting the federal deficit than other Canadians.
I think what we have taken note of is that this is unfair to northerners in particular, and we have to get the message to all Canadians, and in particular to the federal government, that it is not acceptable. Now we can obviously see that the squeeze is on, not only to northern Canadians, but also to those people who can least afford the cuts.
We have had discussion this afternoon in the Legislature about how the social contract, which is being developed between the federal government and all governments and aboriginal people and the women in our society and others who have not been full and equal partners, has been damaged by recent federal fiscal policies. We have taken note that the initiatives in the last budget pinpoint those people who are at the lowest end of the social contract currently and who need, in the interests of fairness and equality, to be enfranchised - to be empowered, as one Member put it - that is something that cannot come when there are significant and pointed cuts to federal program spending that is meant to support them - cuts to the Department of Indian Affairs, cuts to support for womens centres, cuts to communications societies that are in particular spokespeople for native people in this country.
There are significant cuts to the Council for Yukon Indians to a magnitude that the federal government would never contemplate inflicting on itself. There are cuts to the aboriginal language program, which this Legislature has taken great stalk in supporting, because aboriginal languages are of particular interest to Yukoners. The cuts to the French language programs were not, thankfully, applied to the same extent.
There are other elements of this budget that, I am sure, we will have an opportunity to discuss in the future. I would like to point out one further area as I realize that so much as been said already. For the fourth consecutive budget in a row, funding cuts to training have been applied. This time it has been done consciously to ensure that the federal program spending is cut for those people who require training to become enfranchised, to express themselves fully in a free society. Funding in this area has once again been unabashedly cut.
I can only express my absolute dismay about this course of events. These cuts will be implemented at the same time that we are hearing the supposed echoes of support for training and education from the mouths of federal spokespeople. This is the long-term tragedy that this country must face. It will take a long and thorough commitment to education and training to ensure that there is fairness and equality in this country.
I support this motion. I urge all Members, at any opportunity, to express to our federal counterparts, that while we have a desire to match revenues with expenditures, to balance budgets, that any exercise in budgetary expenditures or a reduction in expenditures must have the principle of fairness applied.
It must recognize that if there is to be a social contract in this country, which calls everyone equal, the budgetary policies of government must reflect that. All governments must be true to their word in that respect. We must urge the federal government to consider actions such as this, because they are not fair. They ultimately will do great damage to the future of this country.
Mr. Phelps: I would like to thank the Government Leader for bringing the motion forward. I must say that I was a bit surprised that the mover changed because it had been brought forward originally for our consideration on Wednesday by the Member for Whitehorse South Centre.
We are, on this side, in support of the motion. I would like to say that I am very pleased and proud that we, on this side, speak out against federal policies, no matter which party is in power at the time, when federal policies, in our view, discriminate against Yukoners or northerners, or when we feel that the policies are not acceptable in principle or are simply seen as unfair. In the past, we have spoken out clearly and strongly and adamantly against such policies as the Meech Lake Accord, the GST, the tax on communications and the list goes on.
I listened with interest to the Government Leader, particularly to what he had to say about the organizations that are affected so greatly by the cuts. We, on this side, agree with those on the opposite side with regard to the value of the work being done on behalf of Yukoners and behalf of all cultures here, on behalf of the desire to achieve equality and gender equality as well.
We agree that the work done on behalf of Yukoners in the past has been, to quote him, These organizations have helped change the territory for the better. I was dismayed when I first heard about the 100 percent cuts being made. They appear to be, and are in fact, severe and callous. We agree that these cuts will have a prejudicial effect on northerners and we agree that the government should re-examine its budgetary policies, with a view toward eliminating the prejudicial effect on northerners.
I do not wish to get in to a long and philosophical debate about where cuts might be increased to make up for restoring at least the major part of the core funding for these organizations. There is no question that we do disagree, in principle, with some of the suggestions offered from the other side with regard to where and how such cuts ought to be effected.
As this is a motion that calls for unanimity with regard to supporting it, as we anticipate, and indeed expect, that this motion and the debates on the motion will be forwarded to the federal government, and in particular to the Minister of Finance, I will keep my remarks brief.
Suffice it to say that, on principle, we fully support the motion as it is worded and we would certainly hope that it is not too late for some changes - substantial changes - to be made with regard to the cuts that affect these organizations. We are concerned about the rather devastating impact the cuts will have on those Yukoners who rely on the services provided by these organizations, and particularly the impact it will have on some of the people who really have come to rely on these organizations in their day-to-day lives.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: Order please. I would like to inform the House that Motion No. 79, standing in the name of the Member for Whitehorse South Centre, will be removed from the Order Paper as it is very similar in intent and subject matter to Motion No. 80, which was debated and decided on by the House this afternoon.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House now 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 now resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
Speaker leaves the Chair
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Chair: The Committee of the Whole will now come to order. We will take a 15 minute recess.
Chair: I will call Committee to order. We will begin the Department of Renewable Resources.
Bill No. 19 - First Appropriation Act, 1990-91 - continued
Department of Renewable Resources
Hon. Mr. Webster: I am pleased to outline the O&M estimates for the Department of Renewable Resources. The estimates call for the department to spend close to $11 million in the next fiscal year. There is a 12 percent increase in spending forecasted for the current year.
With this increase, however, we will be undertaking some major new initiatives. In keeping with this governments desire for a fair settlement of land claims, we are planning to spend slightly more than $1 million toward fulfilling our commitments under the agreement in principle.
There is $600,000 associated with the implementation of the land claims agreement. Specifically, this will be used to establish local, renewable resource councils called for in the agreement in principle. All we are projecting to spend on the pre-implementation is $600,000 in these estimates.
Please note however, that as pre-implementation may take as long as three years, not all this money will be spent in the next fiscal year. Consequently, the unexpended funds will be carried forward into subsequent years.
The estimates contain $25,000 to cover this governments initial contribution to the Yukon Fish and Wildlife Enhancement Trust Fund. Hon. Members will recall that the agreement in principle provides for this fund, which will make a valuable contribution to conserving and enhancing fish and wildlife populations in the territory. Each party to the land claims negotiations will be contributing an equal share to the $3 million fund.
The remaining $200,000 in the estimates is for strategic planning. It will be used for the detailed analytical work needed to complete band-by-band negotiations. This will include detailed negotiations on the renewable resource aspects of the 13 agreements that will make up the umbrella final agreement.
Increased work on land claims in the coming fiscal year will be met through the addition of two person years to the department. These are three-year term positions.
Another major commitment of this government is the protection of the Yukons environment, a resource important to the economic, social and cultural wellbeing of Yukoners.
During the next fiscal year, we plan to make substantial progress developing the territorys first environmental protection act and regulations and establishing an environmental protection program comparable to those found in the provinces.
This budget reflects this commitment with the increased resources proposed to the departments environmental protection unit. Two new staff will be hired to work with the environmental protection coordinator to develop and implement a comprehensive program for protecting the Yukons environment.
This program will provide for the licensing, inspecting and enforcing of environmental regulations on herbicides and pesticides, waste management and disposal and the use of toxic chemicals. During the next fiscal year, this government, in cooperation with the Council for Yukon Indians and the federal government, will begin work on land use planning for the northern Yukon.
There will be $459,000 included in the O&M estimates for initial research and data collection for our north Yukon plan as well as the land use plan for the Kluane region.
These funds are totally recoverable from the federal government.
Before concluding my remarks on new initiatives for the 1990-91 fiscal year, I want to point out the funding proposed for the deputy conservation officer program. I know hon. Members opposite have been interested in reactivating the auxiliary conservation program offered a few years ago. I believe that this new program will meet with their approval. It includes several improvements over the previous program. There is $11,000 available in the estimates to establish the new program.
In terms of ongoing programs, we are proposing to increase the funding available for trapper education to $38,000 in the next fiscal year. The $16,000 increase in this years spending will provide for greater emphasis on humane trapping. We will also continue to provide assistance to community and non-profit groups that want to undertake projects that demonstrate the conservation of our resources.
There will be $50,000 available for projects funded under the fish initiatives for sustainable harvest, the FISH fund; $100,000 for projects under the Yukon conservation strategy demonstration project fund. In addition, $10,000 is proposed for a demonstration project that my department is involved in with Curragh Resources. Curragh is expanding its mining operation by developing two open-pit mines on the Vangorda Plateau. The area that is being developed is located within the route that the local fannin sheep herd uses for migrating from their winter range to their summer range on Mount Mye.
Funding will allow us to take certain measures to mitigate the potentially harmful effects of the Curragh expansion to protect the sheep herd. This project is an excellent example of how the public and private sectors can work together to develop our economy by protecting the wildlife population important to the people of Faro and the Yukon.
I have highlighted my departments new initiatives and some of its ongoing programs. I would also like to outline the capital initiatives proposed for the Department of Renewable Resources, particularly those that are new this year.
I spoke about the departments O&M estimates. I pointed out our commitments toward protecting the Yukons environment. The capital estimates before the House also reflect this commitment. The Yukon is involved in developing the Yukon conservation strategy. I have stressed the importance of education and changing our attitudes about the environment and how we treat it.
We have recognized this need in these estimates, and we are proposing to spend $30,000 for public education on environmental protection.
This funding will be used to design and implement an education program on the issues and alternatives involved in conserving the Yukons resources and protecting its environment.
As I have mentioned, this initiative is consistent with the development of the Yukon conservation strategy, as well as with our efforts to prepare the territorys first comprehensive environmental protection act.
Through these capital estimates, the department is also proposing to take other steps to conserve and protect resources important to the territory and its people. There is $30,000 included to develop a management plan for the Thirty Mile section of the Yukon River.
This management plan is necessary for Thirty Mile to be accepted as a Canadian Heritage River. I am sure honourable Members appreciate that such a designation will give national recognition to the recreational, historic and cultural significance of this river corridor.
We are also planning to take a significant step toward establishing the territorys first ecological nature preserve under the Parks Act. There is $35,000 contained in the estimates for a legal survey of the Cold River Springs. This survey will facilitate the block land transfer from the federal government for the ecological nature preserve. The cost of this survey will be recovered from the Nature Conservancy of Canada, which is working with the government on this project.
The government is also proposing to continue efforts to protect the Yukons first territorial park on Herschel Island. These estimates contain $309,000 for joint work with the heritage branch of the Department of Tourism. The funding will allow my department, in consultation with the Inuvialuit, to complete work on a plan to properly manage the park and protect its resources. The heritage branch will be continuing work on stabilizing and restoring historic buildings on the island. As honourable Members are aware, this expenditure is fully recoverable under the Inuvialuit final agreement.
In the area of agriculture, we plan to spend $95,000 to complete studies on determining the forage productivity and carrying capacity of Yukon grazing lands. This work will help ensure conservation and wise use of the Yukons range land. It will reduce the risk of overgrazing and desertification of our native ranges. It also supports our efforts to build a self-sufficient, economically viable agriculture industry in the Yukon.
In 1990-91, the Department of Renewable Resources plans to continue the trap exchange program offered in past years. This program was set up to help ease the financial burden trappers face in exchanging their current inventory of traps for more humane ones. Through its continuation, the government recognizes a need to provide financial assistance to this important renewable resource industry to offset the threat posed by the anti-fur movement.
As in past years, the department will be carrying out work to keep our campgrounds in good shape for the enjoyment of visitors and residents. This coming year, we are proposing to upgrade the Yukon River campground and the campgrounds at Watson Lake and Johnson Lake. The total cost of this rehabilitative work is estimated at $275,000.
In keeping with the expansion of our self-registration program in territorial campgrounds, we have provided $45,000 in these estimates to construct self-registration booths for several campgrounds.
We also plan to spend $115,000 to replace damaged or obsolete equipment, such as tables, outhouses, garbage cans, wood boxes and signs in several territorial campgrounds and day-use areas.
In preparation for the coming anniversary of the Alaska Highway, we will be concentrating on improving equipment in campgrounds and day-use areas along this highway.
The capital estimates also contain a proposed expenditure of $50,000 for establishing a revolving inventory of prefabricated campground equipment such as picnic tables, fire rings, outhouses and picnic shelters. This will enable us to meet future equipment needs quickly and efficiently.
In total, the capital estimates for the Department of Renewable Resources call for an expenditure of almost $1.1 million in the next fiscal year. This is a decrease of $702,000 from the estimates forecast for 1989-90 and reflects the governments commitment to sound financial management in the wake of reduced funding under the formula financing agreement.
However, despite the proposed reduction in capital spending, the projects I have outlined for Members will enhance our efforts, conserve our resources and protect our environment.
Mr. Lang: I want to make a couple of overall observations about the department. My comments go to the top management within the department, as well as to the political arm of government. I want to express extreme disappointment. In the opening remarks by the Minister, he never once mentioned the serious problem we are facing in game zones 7 and 9, as well as in other parts of the territory.
In the debate last year, game zone 11 came into question by the Member for Watson Lake: what was happening to the game population in that area. I strongly feel the first mandate the Department of Renewable Resources has is to manage our wildlife. Every time they have a public meeting, all I see the department doing is coming out and recommending more regulations to the sport hunters. I never see the game department coming out and saying, these are steps we are going to take for the purpose of management and to try to enhance and increase the herd populations in the various areas that, in some cases, have been over harvested by sports hunters but, in most cases in good part, they have been over harvested by the large number of predators.
The department is dodging its responsibilities and is not meeting them in this particular area. As a taxpayer and a representative here, it bothers me. Last year, we gave an eight percent increase. This year, it is a 12 percent increase. That is 20 percent in two years. The only thing the game department has come forward with is more regulations to be enforced upon a segment of our population. At the same time, the reality of the situation is that one-third of our hunting population is under no regulation at all. Subsequently, the conservation officers are in a real conundrum when trying to enforce these regulations.
At the same time, we do not seem to have any clear political will to say there is a responsibility on behalf of the Department of Renewable Resources to take the necessary management and political decisions, which the Minister is responsible to make, in order to ensure we can try to get these particular game populations up to acceptable levels.
I have already indicated, from this side, that we are more than prepared to support the government in these particular areas. I do not understand why the Minister is shirking his responsibilities. I am led to believe that the game branch or the game board will now set up a subcommittee of some kind to go around and discuss the possibilities of some predator control in game zones 7 and 9. Now, another year has gone by. If we do not take steps within the next month, within the next three weeks, we are going to see a further decrease in our game populations, especially in game zones 7 and 9.
The game department must be very proud of that, if that is what they are going to continue as their policy - to make sure that the residents of Porter Creek East or the residents of Hootalinqua will not be able to hunt and we will make damn sure they are not allowed to hunt. I am here to tell you there are a lot of people who live in the territory because that forms a basis of getting their food for the winter and it also forms a basis of their recreation. All Members in this House represent people who pursue this type of lifestyle; yet we have a game branch, a Department of Renewable Resources, that we are continuing to fund, that we are generously funding I might add - when I take a look at the increases, they are generous increases - and I do not disagree with the increases as long as we are doing the job we are supposed to be doing. I suggest to the Minister that we are not doing the job, we are obviously not doing the job; yet, you go to a public meeting where there are representatives of the game branch - and I take my hats off to these people; these people are civil servants and they are saying, We are going to have to bring in, for example, in game zone 5 the fact that you cannot hunt with a vehicle on any new roads. This is our proposed new policy.
My question is why?
I do not have a problem if a herd of animals is being adversely affected with permit hunts or this kind of thing. I fully understand that and I think the general public does, but when I heard the Ministers opening remarks, he never once referred to game zones 7 and 9, which affect a lot of people in the area.
The Minister is looking disgusted - I am disgusted with the Minister, quite frankly. He has his hands out like this. Maybe it is time he started to assume his responsibilities. On top of that, in the last budget debate, the Member for Riverdale North asked the Minister if he would look into the question of control of birds and work with the Department of Indian Affairs.
There was no mention in the opening presentation about habitat. We could do things with our habitat that would increase the population of the animals in the area. There was no mention of that at all. I guess that maybe it is not politically attractive.
This side is very very concerned about these areas. The Minister of Renewable Resources had better start considering this a priority. It really concerns me when I see this type of presentation being made, and not one mention is made of this being a problem. Yet, we have raised it in every session that we have had in Question Period and in debate on the budget. The Minister continues to turn his back on it. I do not understand why.
He knows he will get support. He knows he will get accolades from this side. If he is prepared to take on the responsibility, he will not get criticism from this side. I can assure him of that. However, he continues to ignore it, and the decision has merely been made that we have a problem in game zones 7 and 9. We many find out next year that the government may start a program. They may.
They may be able to make a political decision because they will have checked with everybody. Then it will probably take us five to 10 years to recover. Every year that goes by is a black mark against the department. The department people know that they have a problem. They are not stupid. These people are paid to be able to deal with it. They have looked around and know what is out there.
Yet, we talk about education programs. They talk about $30,000 for this and $30,000 for that. At the same time, we are ignoring the actual mandate of the Department of Renewable Resources. The recreational sports hunter is getting tired of more regulations being put on them when the Department of Renewable Resources is not doing its part and is not taking its responsibilities seriously.
The Department of Renewable Resources, in the program that they put in place in the Finlayson, was very successful. I do not understand, with the success that we have had, with the obvious political support that the department has from our side, why we are not taking steps in an area that is so vital to the territory.
With game zones 7 and 9 effectively blocked to the Yukon population for hunting, it is no wonder that the government is receiving criticism from the people in Ross River or in Faro who are saying that they are getting a lot of Whitehorse hunters. Has anybody ever told them why Whitehorse hunters are going there? Hunters do not want to travel 200 or 300 miles if they can travel five or 50 miles, with the possibility of success.
Therefore, the government is not only ignoring a very real biological problem in game zones 7 and 9, it is putting more pressure in other areas that will adversely affect the harvest in those areas. The Minister will then say that he has to put through a permit system on that area because of the dirty hunters who were out there.
With the government not confronting the problem and taking steps to alleviate the situation, it is putting so much more pressure on some of the other hunting areas that it is creating bad feelings in some of the smaller communities. I can understand that. And, most important, it will have an effect on the harvest on those populations.
I want to register my serious concern in respect to an issue I hope the Minister is now in a position to speak to, since he forgot to speak to it in his opening remarks.
Hon. Mr. Webster: About eight minutes ago, the Member suggested I was all disgusted and throwing my arms up in the air. It was not a motion of disgust. It was one of exasperation and not being able to speak to all the subjects the Member brought up. Besides the predator control in game zones 7 and 9, he also talked about controlled burns and road closures for hunting purposes in game zone 5, and a number of other subjects. I guess that is the reason I threw up my hands. We will just take one subject at a time. The opening remarks of the Member opposite were dominated to some degree by the possibility of introducing predator controls in game zones 7 and 9.
From the very beginning, I want to make it clear I am not shirking my responsibilities, as the Member has put it. I am not turning my back on the situation. As the Member suggests, I do not find the department is very proud of the fact we are preventing people in his riding of Porter Creek East from hunting. We have brought some measures into play as a first step that have restricted the hunters in those game zones in an effort to bring back game populations. At this time, we should be taking a look to see if the moose populations have rebounded as a result of that action. That is an assumption the Member opposite is making, which is not necessarily true.
Game populations are not decreasing in that area. I do not think you can make a blanket statement like that. We have heard conflicting reports about the availability of game in that area. Many have been that populations are increasing as a result of restricting hunting in that area and only allowing 20 permits.
As the Member knows, and I brought to his attention in the House on January 29, the whole matter of game management related to game zones 7 and 9. The subcommittee of the Wildlife Management Board is concluding its work on this matter. They have met with a number of groups who have an interest in this matter. They will be bringing forth a recommendation to me in the near future. I have already indicated it may be in April of this year. From that, we will outline a course of action.
Mr. Lang: I never heard such a stupid comment in my life. I beg your forgiveness for the terminology I am using. He says the game population is depleting, yet, at the same time, he brings in regulations that allow 20 permits in game zones 7 and 9. Is the Minister telling us that the game population is growing to the point we might get 21 permits next year?
The Minister talks about being exasperated. This side is exasperated, and I am telling you what a lot of people out there are thinking. Do not shoot the messenger. I am conveying to you the underlying feeling of the general public out there. They have no problem in having some restrictions being put on them as hunters but, at the same time, other steps should still be taken. That is their point.
I would like the Minister to do this, then. He is in charge of Renewable Resources and, if the wildlife is a priority as he is indicating it is, would he table for us the moose and caribou populations in those areas for the last four years? The Minister stands in his place and seems to be very confident that everything is fine. We may not even have to do any predator control. But I would like to see that information and have it provided to the general public.
Perhaps, if there has been any aerial reconnaissance, could he also give us an indication of what they feel the grizzly populations in the areas are, as well as the wolf populations, and whether they are increasing in numbers?
Hon. Mr. Webster: The Member asked if we had any proof that big game populations, the moose population in particular, are declining or are on the upswing. No, we do not at this time, but I suggest to him that it is quite possible that, by introducing restrictive hunting measures, the moose population has rebounded in the last two years as a result of that action, and we will know for certain when we conduct our moose survey of that area this winter. Once we have that information, we will have a good idea as to what the moose populations are and then, from that, implement the necessary predator control measures if necessary.
Mr. Lang: Is the Minister telling us that, with the present policy, he is satisfied with it? You could say the game populations are adequate if the position of the Department of Renewable Resources is that all it is going to allow for the next foreseeable future is 20 permits, as far as the moose population is concerned. If that is the position of the department, then we should be told. Is that the position of the department?
Hon. Mr. Webster: No, that is not the position of the department. Its position, at this time, is one of a measured and managed long-term predator control program. It is hoped that that particular strategy will bring the moose populations back up to a level where we can meet the needs of the various users in the territory.
Mr. Lang: I would like to go back for a minute. He said I could not stand in my place and say that the game has been depleted in that area. I will tell you why I make that statement. First of all, I thought the government had a little bit of credibility, and the department in particular, when it brought forward the regulations saying it should be a permit area and that the moose population was in trouble and this further regulation had to be imposed upon the public. I took it that there was a lack of moose for the purposes of harvesting. Now, the department is recommending that there be no permits for caribou hunting. Right? So, we are doing well. There is no depletion of the herd, but we are going to come in and tell you, the hunter, you the terrible person who lives in the Yukon and sees hunting as part of your recreation, you will not be able to hunt in that area because we are managing it so well. But we cannot tell you whether or not the population is depleting. How can the Minister stand in his place and say that? After we vote $9 million or $10 million for that department, the Minister cannot stand in his place and give us a rough idea what the moose population is per square mile?
I can tell you this: first of all, I took at face value what the Minister said when he brought in the regulations for the permits. I also speak to people who do a lot of skidooing in the area. They are very familiar with it and have been skidooing there for years.
They keep coming back and saying they cannot believe the lack of moose in habitat where they have normally seen them in years past.
They may be stupid. I understand it is a constituent out there. They are just paying the bill for this department and going about doing their work, thinking the Department of Renewable Resources is just managing the resource. They are coming back with a message, and I speak to them on a very informal basis. It is not scientific. They tell me their concerns about that particular area and the lack of a population.
What really concerns me is the Minister telling us he cannot stand in his place and provide us with at least the statistics for the past four years of what the moose population is doing in game zones 7 and 9, as well as the caribou population.
Hon. Mr. Webster: Let us divide it into two categories: caribou and moose. It is true that evidence suggests the the caribou population of the five splinter herds there are not recovering. They are not growing in size. They are having difficulties sustaining their numbers. That is the reason for the recent recommendation put forward to restrict hunting caribou there.
As far as the moose go, we recognize the moose population in game zones 7 and 9 was not healthy a couple of years ago, and introduced the first measure of a possible few to help the moose population recover. As we all know, that was the introduction of restrictions and only allowing so many hunting permits.
Over the last two years, this has been in place. It is quite possible the moose population has recovered as a result of that measure. The Member opposite says, in discussions with some of his constituents, there is evidence that suggests the moose have not recovered. I have heard accounts from other people, one being a big game outfitter, who say they have, that there are quite a lot of moose in that area now. We will not know for certain until this winter when we do conduct a moose survey in that area to find out where we stand.
Mr. Lang: The Minister has still not answered my question. Is he telling us he is not in a position to give us a rough moose count for game zones 7 and 9 on a per square kilometre basis, or however you want to do it, for the last three years?
Is he saying it has already been done?
Hon. Mr. Webster: Yes, they were counted as part of the big game management plan done for that area, but not at a level that would enable us to confidently suggest that predator control measures should be introduced. We do not have a very good survey done, giving us enough detailed information on that matter.
Mr. Lang: Could I so humbly ask the Minister, who has been in charge of this department for a year, if he has any plans to do a real comprehensive survey, so he knows what he is speaking of if he finds time in his busy schedule to go to a public meeting to address the question of why game zones 7 and 9 have been so badly mismanaged?
Hon. Mr. Webster: Again, I take exception to the misconception of the Member that it is badly managed. I have already indicated once in this debate that we do plan to do a moose survey in game zones 7 and 9 in the winter, and it is budgeted right here in this budget. As far as finding some time to attend a public meeting in my busy schedule to find out what the people are talking about, I was at the public meeting held a week or two ago, hosted by the Yukon Wildlife Management Board, at which time they had a public forum for members of the public to come forward with any concern at all. For the Members benefit, because I know he was not there, the subject of predator control in game zones 7 and 9, or the health of the moose populations, was not raised.
Mr. Lang: I am fully aware it was not raised. The impression that has been left with some members of the public is that the government has a handle on it and there are certain steps going to be taken with it. I was under the impression there was a strong possibility that predator control would be put into place this coming spring.
What concerns me now is I was always led to believe that most moose surveys were done in the winter, like in November, December and January. Why would they be leaving it until later this year?
Hon. Mr. Webster: Later on this year is indeed the winter. It is the 1990-91 fiscal year. That is when the moose survey will be done. The Member is quite correct. That is traditionally when they have been done. I did not suggest that it would be done this winter of 1989-90.
Mr. Lang: Is the Minister telling us that no decision will be made on the possibility of some predator control program being implemented prior to the end of 1990-91?
Hon. Mr. Webster: Again, the Member knows that traditionally, predator control programs are undertaken in March/April. March/April 1991 would be the first time such measures would be introduced.
Mr. Lang: I would appreciate it if the Minister could give us whatever information he has on the moose population count in game zones 7 and 9 for the past three years.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I can do that.
Mr. Lang: Were any moose surveys done at all in game zones 7 and 9 this past year?
Hon. Mr. Webster: No.
Mr. Lang: Could the Minister tell us why not?
Hon. Mr. Webster: We are actually completing a cycle of moose surveys in all areas of the territory. This previous year, the money was allocated to the Dawson area. This completes the one cycle of studies. We are now focusing on areas that need immediate attention. That is why, in this years budget, it will be directed to game zones 7 and 9.
Mr. Brewster: I am a little confused. For the short time that I was a Minister and before I was, the Conservatives put in a program to study the moose. We spent hundreds of thousands of dollars. I pleaded with the former Minister to carry this on and finish it. He did not do it.
During that program it was determined, as I remember, that the calves killed by grizzly bear were around 50 percent. The calves killed by wolves were around 22 percent. Animals killed by residents were around 10 percent. Now, all of a sudden, is the Minister trying to tell me that the same biologists, I assume, have come out with completely different statistics?
Are they saying that we blew all that money and these guys do not even know what they are talking about? Is that what the Minister is telling me?
Hon. Mr. Webster: The Member is quite correct in the results of the studies that were undertaken years ago in that area. He has the ratio of animals taken by these predators correct.
As a result of the large take of moose calves, particularly by the grizzly population, hunting arrangements for hunting grizzly bears were made more liberal. The next biggest predator was wolf. That is usually the most high profile part of the predator program. Apart from encouraging trappers, outfitters and hunters to take wolves, which is not very successful, we would have to implement some measures to control the populations that are not very popular.
The Member opposite suggests we do not have the guts to do it. I want to make sure that, before we do it, we have some information that tells us very clearly that that is what is required to help the moose populations to recover.
Mr. Brewster: In the first place, I talked to the same biologist that you have and I am amazed that it has been completely turned around. I presume there is political manipulation here. Number one, when you want to move out a band of wolves, you cannot expect the trappers to do the original thing, because it has to be done quickly. Therefore, the government has to do it, and it has to be done with helicopters. We have proved this with the Finlayson caribou herd. Nobody can dispute that. I have even seen letters of congratulations, and have them on file, from people who have no use for this, saying that we had proved our point that getting rid of the wolves increased the herd. You cannot argue that.
The only way you are going to get the trappers to go in there is after you have got rid of the original bunch and slowed them down. Why are we going around saying you have not got this proof when we spent hundreds of thousands of dollars and we have the tables and we have proved what was going on? I do not understand what they are doing.
If you want the trappers to do it, give them $500 and they will get them. Do not give them $200 and say you are going to take the hide or something. That is stupidity.
I would like to ask the Minister what his view is. Does he really believe that no predator control should be in place at all? Is this what he is telling me?
Hon. Mr. Webster: No. In response to the Members question, no, that is not my belief at all. We know that predator control programs, particularly for wolf, work; we know they are a valuable tool in management of all the species in an area. We have proven that with Finlayson. There was not a great deal of objection to removing wolves from that area. People see that as a viable tool in the whole long-term management of big game populations for an area.
Before we undertook that measure in the Ross River area to help the Finlayson caribou herd, there was a lot of work undertaken, which provided us with a lot of information, so that we could make definite decisions as to the number of wolves to be taken and over what period of time so as not to harm that population. Obviously, the results of that program show that it has worked successfully.
We are at the point now where, over that four or five year period when we had that aspect of predator control in that area, we saw that the herd recovered to a very healthy level. Our next plan is to remove wolves from that area.
Mr. Brewster: I am not arguing that when you bring your game up, then your wolves will increase also, but you will find before you are through that you will have to take a certain percentage of wolves out because they will not have to hunt as hard now, therefore the females will not abort their young ones, therefore you are having more because they have more food and they are stronger. It is a proven fact and has been proven all over the place in Alaska and everywhere else. I am amazed to hear the Minister say the department is doing that.
There is also the program on buffalo - I will not call them wood buffalo because I do not think they are; I think I can prove that when the time comes. On the other hand, should wolf predatation become a factor in threatening the establishment of a valuable herd of wild buffalo; selective predator control must be implemented. In other words, the animals that are brought into the country are really of no benefit to the country if we are going to protect the wolves, but we are not worried about looking after the meat the people live on. Is that what the Minister is telling me?
Webster: I am sorry; could I ask the Member to repeat his question? I did not hear it.
Mr. Brewster: Maybe we should turn the microphones up so he can hear. Maybe he does not want to hear.
I said that it is quite apparent you really do not want to agree with predator control.
Chair: Mr. Brewster, could you address the Minister through the Chair.
Mr. Brewster: Yes, I am, but I have to look at him because, apparently, he cannot hear me. He cannot hear me, so I have to face him.
Chair: You are still using the term you.
Mr. Brewster: It says you do not agree on predator control. On the other hand, you put, Should wolf predation become a factor in threatening the establishment of a viable wild herd of buffalo, selective predator control would be used. In other words, what we are telling him, you are prepared to look after the animals you brought into the country, and which cost us hundreds of thousands of dollars, but you are not prepared to turn around and take action to control the predators of the moose and caribou, which are the stock animals the people in this area live on.
Hon. Mr. Webster: Unfortunately, the Members line of questioning is based on a false assumption. Somehow, he has it in his mind that we are not going to introduce predator control, if it is necessary, to help with the recovery of the moose population in game zones 7 and 9. I never once mentioned that. I have already indicated in my response to a previous question that predator control obviously works; it has worked for the Finlayson caribou herd, and I do not see why it could not be used in game zones 7 and 9, if it is necessary, for the recovery of moose.
Mr. Lang: I am at a bit of a loss here. The Minister seems to be wanting to speak out of both sides of his mouth. In view of the fact game zones 7 and 9 are having problems, which the Minister has already admitted by bringing in new regulations for permit hunts, and knowing there was a problem there, is it the position of the government that he has to have a very thorough comprehensive survey done in order to justify the implementation of a predator control program in his mind? Is that what he is telling the House?
Hon. Mr. Webster: No, not to justify a predator control program. It is to justify the extent of that program. In other words, we need to get some hardcore information so we can accurately determine what measures have to be taken and to what extent those measures have to be taken. It was very much the same case with the Finlayson caribou herd.
Mr. Lang: Why were there no surveys done this past year, if that is the position of the government? Why are we waiting another year, with the full knowledge of the problems that game zones 7 and 9 have at the present time?
Hon. Mr. Webster: That is a good question. Obviously, we knew a couple of years ago that the population of the moose was in trouble there, hence the introduction of restrictive hunting measures. At this time, we also thought it was important to finish our complete cycle of moose surveys in all areas of the territory. We continue with our program that finished off the territorys cycle by completing the one in the Dawson area.
In the winter of 1990-91 we will be doing the moose survey in this critical area of game zones 7 and 9.
Mr. Lang: Was it the biologists of the Department of Renewable Resources who recommended you do the survey in Dawson City, or did the department recommend you do a thorough review of game zones 7 and 9 this past winter?
Hon. Mr. Webster: The recommendation of the department was to complete the cycle for this current fiscal year.
Mr. Lang: Has the department ever recommended in the past couple of years that there should be a predator control program implemented in game zones 7 and 9?
Hon. Mr. Webster: No.
Mr. Lang: A little earlier the Minister said that one of the steps that he took that would alleviate the problem of the moose population was the liberalization of the grizzly hunting restrictions. Has that been successful? How many grizzles were taken out of game zones 7 and 9 this past year in comparison to the three previous years?
Hon. Mr. Webster: We could provide that information later on in this debate.
Mr. Lang: The Minister, in his defence to some of the questions that were posed, said that that was one of the steps he had taken. Was the harvest of grizzles significantly increased in those areas?
Hon. Mr. Webster: It did help matters, but I really will not know until we get those number compiled. I will have them available for tonight.
Mr. Lang: This is the third time this issue has been raised with the Minister. Although it was not on the agenda to be discussed at the game management board meeting, it was raised and debated at some length at the previous meeting, at which the Minister was not in attendance. I happened to have been at that meeting.
I would like the Minister to take a little more interest in this matter. I am disappointed that the Minister could not let us know exactly if the alleviation of the regulations on the harvest of grizzles was successful. If the Minister was serious about monitoring the situation, he should have been able to give us that information instead of having to look around for help from his colleagues. He should have been able to say there was or was not a substantial increase in the grizzly take. The Minister had better start taking his portfolios responsibilities seriously. If one was interested in what was happening in game zones 7 and 9, this information could be gotten through general conversation with his staff. It should be taken into consideration if decisions have to be made.
Can the Minister tell us if some areas, other than game zones 7 and 9, are being threatened? Should we be looking at more permits or restrictions in other areas because of the decreasing game populations?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I would like to respond to the Members allegations that I am not taking my responsibilities seriously. Just a couple of weeks ago, I met with the chair of the subcommittee of the Yukon Wildlife Management Board in my office. He gave me a call, and I agreed to meet with him to discuss this very problem and to find out how they were proceeding with meeting with all the special interest groups in regard to this matter. I am pleased to inform the Member that discussions are going well. They expect to make some recommendations to me early next month. I know that the measures for the harvest of grizzly bears have had some positive benefit. I do not know if it is substantial or significant; I will get back to him on that.
If other areas in the territory are experiencing the same problems with the moose populations that would necessitate a decrease in permits, they have not come forward to the Yukon Wildlife Management Board for its consideration and recommendations.
Mr. Lang: I am asking about the information the department has for the process of review, and whether or not we are in a situation where we are seeing a decrease in our moose or caribou populations in other parts of the territory. The Minister should have that information at his fingertips.
Hon. Mr. Webster: As a result of the surveys of moose that have been done over the last few years, we do have information that suggests the health of the population of various areas of the territory. I can make that information available.
Mr. Lang: I am sorry, I did not hear that last part. Did he say there are serious problems?
Hon. Mr. Webster: No, I said, as a result of our surveys we conducted the last two years in all areas of the territory, we have good knowledge of the populations of moose. I can make that information available to the Member.
Mr. Lang: As far as hunting areas are concerned, I know the one area that is being discussed is the question of further restrictions on the taking of grizzlies in the Aishihik/Long Lake area in the Haines Junction area.
Is the moose population in that particular area healthy? How could you bring in this further restriction on grizzly bears if the moose population needs to be revitalized?
Hon. Mr. Webster: In the area the Member cites, there are indications in some areas, particularly toward game zone 5, that the moose numbers are low, hence the restriction that was put into place last year in a few areas of game zone 5. Generally speaking, the moose populations in the territory are fairly healthy.
Mr. Lang: The Minister did not answer my question. In the area we are speaking of, where there is a recommendation to further restrict the take of grizzly bears in the Aishihik/Long Lake area, within the information being provided for the Ministers perusal, has there been a survey done on the moose population to review the health of the moose and caribou to see how it relates to the grizzly bear populations?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I am going to have to come back with more detailed information on that matter for the Member.
Mr. Phillips: I have a general question on wildlife inventory. It relates to the current land claim that is going to be settled. The Minister of Renewable Resources may not be able to answer this. It may fall into the Government Leaders bailiwick.
The nature of the claim and the setting aside of various lands is going to involve us having more data on wildlife populations - what is in an area, what is not in an area, and the health of the wildlife in the area. Are we receiving any funds from the federal government to do these inventories? It is as a result of land claims that we are going to inherit more costs of doing these ongoing inventories to determine basic needs levels and harvest levels in certain areas.
In a lot of areas of the Yukon, we would not necessarily have to worry ourselves about it, because there are not a lot of pressures. To set the quotas and to set up the land claims package and the wildlife management boards that are going to be set up, and to manage them properly, we are going to have to have this information.
Are we going to have to wait until we sign the final agreement before we get some money from the feds? Are we even asking the feds for money to do this? Does the government have an estimate of how much it is going to cost, on an annual basis, to keep accurate inventories so we can manage wildlife in a reasonable manner?
Hon. Mr. Webster: The Member is correct in that we will have to do a lot more with respect to inventories for big game populations, for the reasons he has cited. We have allocated some money this fiscal year for three areas in the territory to begin initial work on taking inventories. We are approaching the federal government for money for this work because we feel it is essential. We will, as the Member points out, have to have this information available so that we can enter into an agreement that will work; we do consider that to be part of the implementation costs of the land claims agreement and we have made representations to the federal government to that effect.
Mr. Phillips: The concern I had is that we are looking at roughly a March 31 deadline, I believe, for the umbrella agreement, and shortly thereafter various bands, the Old Crow band being one of the first, will probably be coming to a final settlement. We have to have this data gathered before we can sign the final settlement, to know what we are actually looking at in the total picture. It is almost too late now to get that data information for Old Crow before they sign some time this summer.
I am wondering when this is going to happen. Does the Minister have any idea from the federal government that they are prepared to help pay for some of this? Have you just started negotiations with them or did you start a long time ago? What is the status of the negotiations and what kind of figures are we looking at?
Hon. Mr. Webster: As the Member knows, the land claims secretariat is handling these negotiations, dealing with all aspects of the agreement, including the fish and game aspects.
With respect to how much money we are looking at to do a thorough review and inventory for all areas of the territory, I really do not know how much it is going to cost or what period of time it will take, but it is something that has been under negotiation for quite a while. It is not something new we brought to the table. We felt all along that the federal government should be taking an equal share in this responsibility, and hence provide an equal amount of funding.
Mr. Phillips: The concern I have as I listen today to the Minister saying they are not going to implement anything in zones 7 and 9 just yet, other than harvest controls is that there is no predator control program until we have the information and the data. My concern is that there are many other areas that might have to end up with controls. For instance, once you start settling, say, the Mayo claim or the Ross River claim, or something like that, you are going to have to have the information because already some people are claiming that there is a shortage of moose in some areas of the North Canol Road or other areas and that the pressure is too great in those areas.
I think we are going to have to have something in place, and rather quickly, or else the Minister is going to use the same excuse he is using for zones 7 and 9, that all we can do is cut back the harvest by Yukoners who can be controlled and we will wait another two or three years until we can get the necessary funding.
I think we should be making it perfectly clear to the federal government that this land claims settlement is going to have, I think, serious financial implications with respect to gathering wildlife inventory, because that is just the way we have designed it. We are going to have to have a very good handle on what we have out there so as to manage it. That costs a lot of money, and you cannot just do an inventory this year and not in ongoing years. It just does not work that way in the wild. You have to keep a fairly regimented ongoing system of inventories - maybe not every year but at least every second or third year; the biologists have the system worked out.
I think we have to get moving on this now, not wait until it is holding up the final settlements simply because we do not have the information we need.
I would have thought, if we are as close as we think we are to a land claims settlement, we would have been arguing tooth and nail that we get money for inventories now so that when we are ready to implement this thing in the next six to eight months we would be able to implement it because we would have the information, and not have to put it off for another year.
I am sure the Old Crow people and other bands will be upset if we tell them that we cannot implement the wildlife part of a settlement until we have the proper inventories, and we cannot do the proper inventories until next November when we can do the proper counts. That is all I am saying. We should get off the mark and get going. When we are ready to go for the final settlement, we will have the information that we need.
The wildlife aspect - the hunting and fishing aspect - is extremely important to the native population. That is what they want to get settled first so that they know where they stand on it. It is something that we should be moving on rather quickly.
Hon. Mr. Webster: All I can do is reassure the Member that the federal government is aware of our position. A lot of work has to be done in a very short period of time. It does cost a lot of money. It is certainly not within our ability to collect all that harvest information ourselves. We cannot do it.
Mr. Phillips: I agree. That is what I am saying.
Hon. Mr. Webster: The federal government recognizes that and will be making its contribution.
Mr. Lang: The Minister has told us that this is a priority with the government. Perhaps he could ask the deputy minister exactly what recommendations the department has put forward to the land claims department. Perhaps he should find out what these inventories will cost the territory or the federal government, regardless of who pays for them.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I do not know what the bill is for conducting all these inventories and studies at this time.
Mr. Lang: If this is a priority, I do not understand how the Minister can say that he does not know. Is the Minister telling us that the Department of Renewable Resources has not put an estimate together of what these inventories will cost?
Hon. Mr. Webster: We have some past experience to rely on. We know, for example, what it has cost the Government of Yukon over the last several years to conduct all the moose surveys in the territory. We are now talking about an integrated management plan that requires detailed information on the health of all species. We are talking about a very thorough process that will cost a lot of money. I do not have, at this time, an accurate estimate of how much it is going to cost.
Mr. Lang: The Minister is telling us that no cost estimates have been put forward by the Department of Renewable Resources for the inventories required to implement the land claims settlement; is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Webster: The extent of the contribution by the Department of Renewable Resources in this whole process is providing information about what is required. We are making the people who are handling the implementations aware of what has to be done. We do not have our estimate of what it is going to cost.
Mr. Lang: Why not? Who can give the projection of costs if the Department of Renewable Resources does not?
Hon. Mr. Webster: It is our intention, as one department in this process, to bring forward some estimate about the cost. Right now, we have assigned our staff to other matters dealing with the land claims process.
Mr. Lang: I thought the cost of the total claim had been submitted to Ottawa for consideration, as far as the implementation costs were concerned.
Were the implementation costs of the claim not presented in total for what the federal government is going to be committed to?
Hon. Mr. Webster: There have been some projections made, but we do not have an exact amount.
Mr. Lang: For the purposes of the inventory, could he give us a projection?
Hon. Mr. Webster: We can provide the Member with a rough projection of the costs involved.
Mr. Lang: I am going to move on to another item, unless other Members have something else they would like to bring in to this.
I would like to go on to another area of concern. I understand the Department of Renewable Resources is planning a student camp this coming year. I do not believe the Minister mentioned it on the operation and maintenance side of the budget. What are the plans of the government in this regard?
Hon. Mr. Webster: We budgeted $45,000 this year for the operation of this camp. That money is budgeted for procuring some equipment to start up this camp, as well as the administration cost and daily operating cost, et cetera. We intend to have the camp established, in place and operating the first week of July.
Mr. Lang: Who asked the department to put on such a camp?
Hon. Mr. Webster: This has a bit of a history, going back a couple of years when the Fish and Game Association came up with an idea for a conservation camp and offered $10,000 for the Government of Yukon to match it. Since then, the Government of Yukon has come up with a different camp that involves a number of different groups in an advisory capacity to design a program that will benefit Yukon youngsters between the ages of 12 and 15, and to give them a broad knowledge of the conservation in the territory.
Mr. Lang: The Minister did not answer my question. Who asked the department to put on such a camp? Whose request was it?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I would have to say it was an initiative of the Government of the Yukon in response to providing people with more information about conservation matters in the territory. It is part of an overall education program, the same as Project Wild.
Mr. Lang: I was wondering if anyone in the public asked for such a camp to be put on by the government. The Minister is telling me it is a government-initiated program, with no request from an organization or individual. Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I do not think it was a request of any specific organization. In developing the Yukon conservation strategy and in discussions with Yukoners on the select committee, suggestions were made that we should be thinking of introducing a number of programs whereby the youth of our territory could gain some knowledge on a variety of topics associated with renewable resources, everything from hunting to agriculture to fishing. From those ideas, this proposal for the conservation camp came forth.
Mr. Lang: The Minister is aware the Fish and Game Association put this camp on for the first time last year. I understand it was fairly successful. Why is the government going ahead with such a program when the Fish and Game Association intends to be running a camp as well in this forthcoming year?
Hon. Mr. Webster: There are different goals for each organization. I would not think this conservation camp would duplicate the one already in effect by the Fish and Game Association.
Mr. Lang: Could I ask the Minister this: is he prepared to help finance the Fish and Game Associations camp, which was quite successful last year, in the same way it was financed last year?
Hon. Mr. Webster: We do not have money budgeted for that purpose this year.
Mr. Lang: No wonder you do not have any money for it; you took $45,000 to start your own camp. I do not understand, for the life of me, why the government is getting involved in an area of this kind - when you have an organization such as the Fish and Game Association who, through volunteers, at very little expense to the government, has been prepared to put a program on, which meets many of the goals the Minister is citing. Is the Minister telling us that the Fish and Game Association did not meet the goals of the government so now the taxpayers are forced to spend $45,000?
Hon. Mr. Webster: As I indicated earlier, I think this is a much broader mandate with different goals from the Fish and Game Association. For example, there is an advisory committee established associated with this camp to advise us on the nature of the operation and the extent of the program. So, besides the Fish and Game Association, we have other organizations who are contributing to this process, which I imagine was not available to them previously.
I think this conservation camp, under the advice of the conservation action team, meets the objectives of several organizations in the territory.
Mr. Lang: Could the Minister tell us why he did not provide any financing to help offset the costs of the Fish and Game Association, which he helped finance last year?
Hon. Mr. Webster: As far as I am aware, the Fish and Game Association did not request any money for that purpose this year.
Mr. Lang: Neither did the Fish and Game Association know that the government was going to start their own camp until fairly recently. For one, I have to say for the record that I really object to $45,000 being put into this area. First of all, an organization, for a very small contribution from YTG, was putting on a very similar camp in many respects; now, all of a sudden, we have big government coming in with paid staff involved so it will be well over $45,000 when this thing is all finished. At the same time, very few children throughout the territory will benefit from such a camp.
Is the Minister telling me that he is going to have 700 kids attending this thing? There are volunteer organizations during the summer that put on various camps. There is the bible camp, and the Yukon Fish and Game Association and other associations conduct functions for students for the summer months. For the life of me, I do not understand why the government is getting involved in a $45,000 project that includes buying equipment. The Yukon Fish and Game Association spent a substantial amount of money on equipment for last year and for subsequent years. I can predict that after this year the Yukon Fish and Game Association does not hold another camp; I will bet you.
First of all, they will be in competition with the government. Secondly, their financing is very limited and they are a volunteer organization. Successfully, the government, in its wisdom, will tell the public that it is stupid, that the government can do it better. It is a shame to take the credit that was going to a very well-accepted, well-intentioned volunteer organization. I will lay it on the line that the year following this one, I will be very surprised if the Yukon Fish and Game Association will hold a camp.
The Minister will then be asking for $50,000, $60,000 or $70,000 to run basically the same camp. For what? Will it make someone in the civil service feel better? I do not understand it.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I have already given the Member the reasons for the introduction of this conservation camp. The Member should know that the Yukon Fish and Game Association was well aware of our intentions to establish a camp with a mandate that is much broader than the camp offered by the Yukon Fish and Game Association.
This is going to be a mobile camp. It will not be a stationary one. It will travel throughout the territory. We hope people from around the territory will be able to take part in its activities over a two- or three-week period. This camp is quite different than the one being offered by the Yukon Fish and Game Association.
Mr. Lang: I understand the Yukon Fish and Game camp held last year was fairly successful. All schools were involved, any student who was in that age group could apply, and whoever applied was seriously considered. The cost for the student was minimal. With the Minister, I guess what is bigger is better, especially if it is somebody elses money. Why not? We will splash $45,000 around, and it will be plush; we will be paying staff to take care of this type of a program, and you should if you are a government. More than anything else, my concern is that you are snuffing out any incentive to the volunteers to be involved.
Is there no other place this $45,000 could be spent, for example, on wildlife inventories, which are very important? I see the Minister shaking his head. This is the Minister who, this past year, told us game zones 7 and 9 were in a lot of trouble, never did anything, and cannot give us any statistics to back up any of the regulations he has brought in. He is shaking his head and looking exasperated again.
There is a lot of public out there starting to get exasperated with the Minister and his lack of knowledge of the department, to begin with, and his lack of a perception of what should be done out there.
If it was his $45,000, and if he knew there was another organization holding a similar camp, would he spend his own $45,000 to be in competition with it? I can tell the Minister right now, he would not.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I beg to differ with the Member opposite. I would spend this $45,000. I am talking about my own money - it is my own money, and it is your money, too. It is for a good purpose.
It is a completely different program from the one offered by the Yukon Fish and Game Association. That camp did not go on for a great period of time last year and, yes, they did contact all the schools. They had two or three students from each school involved. This is an entirely different situation. It is a mobile camp that is going to go around the territory and will get 10 or 15 students from each community involved for a two-week period throughout the summer months.
There are a lot of people who are looking forward to seeing this youth camp put into effect and successful. The people on the advisory committee represent a variety of organizations: for example, the Council for Yukon Indians, the Yukon Livestock and Agricultural Association, the Tourism Industry, Yukon Fish and Game Association, the trapping association, the outfitting association and the Yukon Chamber of Mines.
It is a completely different initiative; I support it a hundred percent and it is well worth the $45,000.
Mr. Lang: It is very difficult to believe this government, when it talks about cuts, and talks about how difficult it is to manage the government now that it has to be accountable for the money when they bring in programs of this kind. I have to say that I really have to differ with the Minister when I know that there is another program, very similar in nature, not much different, open to all the kids in the territory that was done by a volunteer organization. Yet the Minister comes in and, because of the largesse of government, because of his ability to spend somebody elses $45,000, he can be a great guy when he goes to Dawson City and talks to his constituents. Ten of them will be able to go for a two week summer camp yet at the same time he is effectively going to put another summer camp out of business. That is exactly what is going to happen. Just wait. It is going to happen. The Minister can stand in his place and be very proud of himself. I do not understand how you think the philosophy of the one camp is that much different from the camp the Minister is providing. Is that what the Minister telling us? Other than the fact that it is not mobile, could the Minister tell us what the difference in the program is?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I have already mentioned the difference. It has a much broader mandate. It has the involvement of several Yukon-wide organizations, all with an interest in conservation. I really object to the Member opposite carrying on this line of questioning, insinuating that this new initiative has no merit and is a waste of money and that we should be looking at other places to cut money if we are really concerned about it. He is making a wrong assumption as well that this is going to put an end to the Fish and Game Associations initiative. They already have $10,000 of their own money, the same as they did last year; they know that they can apply to the conservation strategy project for funding. We have $100,000 in that fund this year for that very purpose, and I would welcome an application for it. Incidentally, that was made known, very clearly, in my introductory remarks. So, I think the Member is all wet on this. He is making a lot of assumptions and is not giving it a chance.
Mr. Lang: I am sorry I did not bow before the Minister and bow three times so I could even question any of the things he was bringing forward to the House. I have every right to question what the Minister is doing and how he is doing it.
In his opening remarks, he never even said they were doing this. I was the one who raised the question, because I happen to be knowledgeable about the subject. I happened to be at a public meeting the Minister did not attend. The Minister was obviously too busy. I am raising some concerns that were raised with me, and I personally agree. I have a lot of problems with $45,000 being spent this way if we are looking at having to cut back in various areas of government in the next couple of years.
We have the Minister of Finance standing up and telling us how rough it is. Earlier today, we had the king standing up and telling the people in the territory how difficult it was because of the federal cuts. Then, we have the Minister setting up a program in competition with an organization that already has a similar program. It was just initiated this past year. Given a couple more years, it would have been very successful. The first one was a success. Given some financing, it would have been very successful in the forthcoming year, and it would have taken the onus off the government.
But, oh no, big government has to get involved and run everything. Pretty soon, they are going to be providing everybody with a toothbrush.
In view of the time, I move we have a recess until 7:30 p.m.
Hon. Mr. Webster: We have a few minutes until 5:30, which is the traditional time we break. I would like to take a moment to respond.
Yes, the Member does have a right to question the budget, and he certainly is exercising that right. I am prepared to stand here all night and defend the merits of this camp. It is $45,000 well spent, and I am prepared to let the Member exercise his right to question it even more.
Mr. Lang: Thank you. My constituents will be very happy about that.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I have never indicated otherwise. I have to respond to the Member when he is making wrong assumptions, which I have already pointed out on a couple of occasions. One assumption is that this means the death of the camp provided by the Fish and Game Association; that is not a true one. That should be brought to his attention.
Chair: We will now recess until 7:30 p.m.
Chair: I will now call the Committee to order. Is there further general debate on the Department of Renewable Resources?
Mr. Brewster: The department put out a policy paper on parks. I agreed with it in most ways. However, I am very concerned about, although the select committee on renewable resources was used, the fact that multi-purpose parks were requested and that has not been mentioned. We all agreed, at the hearings, that this was a situation that most people in the Yukon agreed upon.
Hon. Mr. Webster: It was mentioned in the parks policy that there is definitely a possibility of having parks designated as multi-use. I do not know to what extent it was highlighted, but it certainly was there.
Mr. Brewster: It is one of our main recommendations. All the people we talked to should account for something.
Hon. Mr. Webster: It definitely has accounted for something. It is written in this draft policy paper. That possibility can be considered.
Mr. Brewster: It was there, but it was there in very small lettering. It was hidden, and I was not the only one concerned. The Yukon Chamber of Mines also questioned the fact that it did not show up in the policy. Things can be put in small print on the bottom of a policy like that, and no one will ever see it. It seems that must have been the idea here.
Mr. Lang: I would like to go on to another area. I understand the game board recommended to the Minister that there be no licensing required for future beneficiaries of an Indian land claim, and I wonder if the government has made a decision on that? If they have not, when will a decision be made?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I just received a recommendation from the Wildlife Management Board today. It is a major request and will have to be discussed by Cabinet. I think it is important to point out though that, in the long run, in the interests of conservation of our wildlife populations, which is a principle that all three parties at the negotiating table agree upon, there is going to have to be some system in place where we know just how many people out there are taking advantage of hunting and fishing and just what their harvest is. We will certainly need that information to base management programs on. So, it may not be an existing licensing system as we know it today - which has been a source of problems for the Indian people.
Mr. Lang: At the present time, are most of the population that we know will become beneficiaries of an Indian land claim getting licences now?
Hon. Mr. Webster: Those who actually angle sport fish, is that who we are talking about? I really could not answer that. We have no idea exactly how many Indian people are actively sport fishing.
Mr. Lang: Is this going to apply also to hunting licences, or are we just speaking of sport fishing in the recommendation? All I going by is the newspaper reports.
Hon. Mr. Webster: As the resolution reads, it will apply to fish and wildlife, as well as waterfowl.
Mr. Lang: That is fairly complete. It is a question of wildlife, which is an area we have always had direct jurisdiction over. From the perspective of the game branch, if beneficiaries are not required to buy a licence, how many licences will we be selling?
Hon. Mr. Webster: This is a matter for discussion at the land claims table at this time. As I say, all three parties would have to agree to a system whereby we are aware exactly who is fishing or hunting and what their harvest is. We are going to need that information to properly manage the resource.
Mr. Lang: Is the Minister telling us that if a decision is made that hunting licences are not required, another alternative program will have to be put into place in lieu of that before a decision is made to do away with the licensing?
Hon. Mr. Webster: That is what I am saying.
Mr. Lang: If you do not have licensing, will the non-beneficiaries still have to be licensed?
Hon. Mr. Webster: Yes, they will.
Mr. Lang: I do not understand the options that are available to the Minister. I would think they are that you are licensed or not licensed. Are you talking about some voluntary system again?
Hon. Mr. Webster: That is one option to be considered. The voluntary system is working out with some degree of success right now with respect to harvesting of big game. That could be used for fish, as well.
Mr. Lang: How is the voluntary system working? If it is working well there, then perhaps we should look at implementing it across the territory.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I think I need some clarification from the Member opposite as to exactly what he is looking for here.
Mr. Lang: The Minister said a little earlier that the voluntary licensing that has been requested in the past has worked well - I thought that was what he said - as far as the Indian people were concerned. My question is: could he just update us and tell us what he has to substantiate that?
Hon. Mr. Webster: It is not voluntary licensing that has been in place for the last couple of years, it is voluntary reporting of the harvest done by the Indian people of the territory. It has worked well for big game animals. That is an option that can be considered for fish as well.
Mr. Lang: Then you are saying that licensing would not be required and all they would have to do will be to report voluntarily any kill? Is that what he is saying?
Hon. Mr. Webster: That is correct. It is the contention of the aboriginal people that they do not require licences. Right now, there is a requirement under the federal act that they have licences; they just do not have to pay for them. Consequently, as a result of that, some Indian people have been charged this past year with not having a licence, even though they are issued free. We are saying that one option to be considered is, if through the land claims negotiation process there is a decision made to not require them to have licences, this may be one option. In other words, what is really important here is obtaining the information as to how many people are hunting and fishing and what their harvest is, because we need that information so that we can properly manage the resource.
Mr. Lang: I am a little confused about this. When the land claims was finished, I thought everybody was going to effectively be treated the same, as far as government was concerned.
Would it be the position of the government that no licences would be required for non beneficiaries as well, and all we would have to do is report if we were successful in harvesting a certain animal? Is that what the Minister is indicating?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I would not think that would be an option for the non aboriginal people of the territory. The licensing system would still be in place for the non-aboriginal people.
Mr. Lang: I can see this is going to take a lot of very serious consideration by the government if there is going to be any equitable resolution to this. If they go too far one way or the other, there are going to be really hard feelings within the community. More importantly, I can see some very difficult situations arising for the game branch in managing the wildlife.
With quite a number of people, more and more are saying, why should we report to the game branch because, when we do, we find out they are going to put more regulations into force. I have had people say that to me. You are really in a difficult situation. Once again, it goes back to the initial comments I made in respect to the Minister managing game zones 7 and 9, and throughout the territory, so we have adequate harvesting numbers available for the general public so they can see this being managed properly.
As I indicated in Question Period some time ago, we are concerned that is not happening. It is not just us. It is people speaking to us about it. I know the Minister indicated he went to a public meeting the other evening. Unfortunately, I could not be there because I had other commitments. I do know that game zones 7 and 9 were not raised. The Minister was not at the meeting the year before when it was raised and when considerable debate took place, to the point I know the Wildlife Management Board recommended to the Minister that certain actions take place. I am afraid we are losing a lot of time as the Minister is trying to make up his mind in that particular area.
I would like to move on to another area, the question of the forestry transfer. Last April, the Minister indicated to us that the forestry transfer should take place in about a year and a half. He indicated that, for devolution, he was looking at September and October to have a definitive position by the Government of the Yukon Territory. In mid-1990, the transfer would actually evolve.
The other day, we were very surprised to hear the Minister did not know what had happened in the Northwest Territories. Obviously, we are going to follow the general principles outlined in that particular transfer to some degree.
Why did the Minister know nothing about the transfer? Why would he tell us on April 20, 1989, that we would expect to have a firm position by the government in September or October? It would appear to all in the House we hit him by surprise in the Question Period about two weeks ago when we asked him questions and he could not answer any of them.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I am trying to collect my thoughts on where to start and which one of the three questions to respond to.
Generally speaking, the devolution of forestry from the federal to the territorial government would probably take place over the period of the next year and a half. One of the necessary steps in that process is for the Government of the Yukon to put forward some forestry legislation regulations. We are going through that process right now, and I assume we will be releasing two policy papers dealing with economic development factors related to the forestry industry, and dealing with various management principles involved in forestry in the Yukon, for public comment about that process.
That process will put us in a good position to start drafting the legislation and the regulations.
Another aspect of the forestry transfer is that we are working with the federal government right now on taking a look at their operation as it exists at this time in the territory, taking a look at their personnel, taking a look at their budget, taking a look at their assets - because we will be acquiring those assets and person years in the transfer.
Another exercise we are going through in preparation for the devolution is looking at the experience of the Northwest Territories. I admit I was not fully briefed on the extent of their responsibilities in the territories; it took place in 1987 and included both fire suppression and management responsibilities of the resource. We have learned that about 95 percent of their budget - possibly $25 million - has been allocated in the Northwest Territories to fire training, fire suppression, and only five percent to the actual management aspect of it. That is because they do not have a large commercial forestry potential, at this time anyway, in the Northwest Territories, which is quite different from our situation here.
Another thing that is quite different from the Northwest Territories experience, and one we hope to see happen here, is that we want to see more responsibilities transferred at the same time, including the responsibility for management of water resources here in the territory.
Basically, we can acquire all the responsibilities and roles undertaken now by the resource management officers throughout the territory. So, a number of situations in our position on the devolution of forestry from the federal government to the territorial government are unique or different from the Northwest Territories situation. It is going to involve, as I have pointed out, a lot of work in a variety of areas: legislation, regulations, determining what an appropriate budget should be for both management and fire suppression responsibilities, and it is going to be quite a detailed exercise for the next year and a half.
Mr. Lang: I have to say that I appreciate admitting to the House that he was not fully briefed on the situation. We were quite surprised to find him in that situation. I do not understand him underlining the exercise that has to be gone through with personnel and the assessing of the assets. I thought a good portion of that was done in 1988 and 1989. My understanding is that there were active discussions going on between, primarily, the Public Service Commission, members of the Department of Renewable Resources and the federal Department of Forestry. Is that not correct?
Hon. Mr. Webster: That is true. A lot of work has already been done in taking a look at the assets presently owned by the federal government. We are now attaching a value to those assets as part of the consideration of the negotiations for the transfer of funds for operation of this management responsibility.
Mr. Lang: Almost a year ago, on April 20, the Minister said they had money set aside for contract work in preparation of information for those negotiations. Could the Minister tell us who did the contract work for the department, and what type of work did he or she do on behalf of the department?
Hon. Mr. Webster: We contracted an individual who had a variety of experience in dealing with forestry matters, one in particular being a devolution of responsibility to the Northwest Territories. We contracted him to do some work on putting together the two position papers I spoke of earlier, which, as I think I also mentioned earlier, we are about to release for public comment.
Mr. Lang: When can we expect them to be released for public comment?
Hon. Mr. Webster: They are about to go to Cabinet within the next month. I expect that they will be out shortly after that.
Mr. Devries: In developing these management papers, has the Minister been talking to the people in the forestry business, people like Netta and John DesRosiers in Watson Lake, Canus Forest Products, Yukon Pacific, et cetera? Has he gotten their feeling on what should be in this?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I personally have not been in contact with these people. I imagine the consultants who prepared these two papers have. As soon as they are prepared for public release, they will be the first people notified about the release of the papers, and we will then be inviting their comments.
Mr. Devries: The other day I was talking to the people at the forestry office in Watson Lake. They indicated that they have heard neither a peek nor a boo from anyone regarding devolution since the election. They heard some talk prior to the election, but they have heard nothing in almost a year.
The Minister tabled a silviculture study last April or May. It seemed to indicate the timeliness in getting some silviculture work done. I realize that the Minister would want the money from the federal government. Still, by the same token, if some of this was done this summer, I am sure that it would save the government a lot of money down the road.
The report really seemed to stress that a lot of brush is taking over in areas where some planting should be done. If the Minister does the planting a couple of years down the road, he will have to brush the whole area before he does the planting. That will increase the cost substantially.
We have to realize that there is a bit of a panic to get these trees growing again. Some planting should be done this summer even if we have to take it out of our own budget, or it will cost us more money down the road.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I anticipate that the federal government is already doing something in this area. Silviculture is its responsibility. The Member brings up a good point about negotiations. Those things will have to be considered when the time comes to transfer the management of that resource. The cost in the initial years will have to be considered to do the necessary work.
Mr. Lang: I would like to know what the Ministers and the governments position is on transporting and exporting of logs that have been milled outside the territory.
Hon. Mr. Webster: It has been a long-standing policy of this government to not endorse or condone the export of raw logs from the territory for processing outside.
Mr. Lang: Has the government ever approved a contract where logs are exported outside the territory in the last three or four years?
Hon. Mr. Webster: The government has not given its approval in the last three or four years for the export of logs. I do not know how much effect that would have on the federal government to issue the final verdict.
Mr. Lang: Could the Minister tell us if the export of raw logs is occurring at the present time?
Hon. Mr. Webster: At this time there is no application before the federal government for the export of raw logs, that we are aware of.
Mr. Lang: I did not ask if there were any applications. I asked if there was anybody in business who was presently doing that.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I am not certain if there is someone who is operating on that basis but perhaps the Member from Watson Lake could help me out on that.
Mr. Devries: Presently, there are raw logs being exported, only they are run through a machine that knocks a few chunks of bark off here and there. From that point, it seems like the policy is, since they have a little bit of bark knocked off of them, they are considered a manufactured product, in a roundabout way. Yet, depending on where they are, for trucking purposes they are considered an unmanufactured product. It depends upon whatever is convenient. The Minister can see that he is going to have to develop a policy on this.
My understanding is that in B.C. there were several long-standing contracts. They raised the stumpage rates on non-manufactured logs to the point where it basically became uneconomical to export them. As much as it has been creating some employment in Watson Lake, the general feeling among the people is that they do not like to see these jobs exported from the Yukon and they would prefer to see the logs processed in the Yukon. It is mostly done through the Liard Indian Band and Canus Forest Products. They are kind of working together on that project.
Hon. Mr. Webster: On a matter of interest, are they claiming that with such little work done on these logs, that they are going to be suitable for log-pole construction - is that how they get around it?
Mr. Devries: Yes, they are basically just run through the machine. When the machine was in good shape it kind of made the log look like a peeled log. The machine has deteriorated to the point where it is hard to tell the peeled log from the raw log, at this point. These logs are exported to Turkey; it is Turkish money that is being invested in this process.
Mr. Lang: I would have thought that if the government was getting involved in policy it would know things such as this because they are important to the forestry industry and to just exactly what was taking place in that particular area.
Is there selective logging going to be taking place in the Quiet Lake/Sidney Creek area, along the South Canol?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I understand that there have been some applications for some selective harvesting in that area but they still have to be reviewed by forestry.
Mr. Devries: At the present time, with the large timber block that Yukon Pacific Forest Products has, when they cut a tree down they are supposed to replant it, but at present, in the small blocks that the Canus Forest Products are logging, my understanding is that for every cubic metre they log, they put $2 into a fund that goes to silviculture. I think it is important that when the government develops its policy, it makes sure that this fund will be adequate to reforest those small blocks also. What is happening now is that there is very little control in the small blocks.
The Liard block is very well laid out, and there is definitely a good silviculture program being established there. The concern being raised is regarding the smaller blocks and small operators.
I would like the Minister to assure me this is going to be looked at.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I am sure that will be brought to our attention when we issue the policy statements for public comment.
Mr. Lang: My understanding is that the forestry transfer will be similar to the hospital transfer, that less and less capital money has been spent over the last few years in the area of forestry in anticipation of an imminent transfer. Subsequently, a lot of equipment - trucks and various other things - are in the process of being worn out. I am concerned we may have missed the window of opportunity for the purpose of devolution where the equipment that would have been transferred to us would have been in good condition, plus we would have been able to get the necessary financing to keep it up under the agreement.
I find it difficult to believe we are going to be able to successfully transfer these particular responsibilities now in view of the major financial crunch the Government of Canada is under, unless we take them on less-than-advantageous terms for the Government of the Yukon Territory.
I think we are spending a lot of money in the various departments on devolution. Over the last number of years, hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent doing studies and for personnel, along with all the dollars allocated throughout the departments and the time and effort that is not even accounted for. Yet, we have very little to show for it.
I can appreciate the Minister not being totally briefed on it, because not much is taking place surrounding the transfer. When we get right down to the crunch, it is going to be very difficult.
I wanted to express my concern that there is always time to fish or cut bait. I think we cut bait and did not fish when we should have been.
I want to move on, unless the Minister has a comment to make.
Hon. Mr. Webster: The Member is quite right. I have heard the same stories that the federal government is letting some of their assets deteriorate, and that is one thing we are going to take a very close look at to see if the assets we will assume under this transfer are real and have any value. If they do not, that will be taken into account in our negotiations when we determine a fair price, as well as the amount of money received from the federal government for assuming that responsibility.
All along, our concern has been that no cutbacks take place in any program that is about to be devolved from the federal to the territorial government. We made that quite clear as a basic principle. If cutbacks by the federal government do occur, we see that as a violation of our agreement.
It is also one of the reasons we are looking closely at the situation in the Northwest Territories, with respect to the devolution of forestry responsibilities. We want to see if they had enough money in their agreement with the federal government. We are going to take a very close look at the value of the assets, as well as the real cost for fire suppression.
I have also heard stories they have been cutting back there and not showing the true costs. That is definitely something we will be looking closely at to ensure that, if we do assume responsibility for a resource, in this case forestry, we are sure we have sufficient funds to do the job properly and to manage the resource properly. That is our bottom line.
Mr. Lang: Do we have anybody seconded from federal forestry, similar to what they did with the health transfer in the Northwest Territories? They seconded, I understand, somebody from Health and Welfare Canada who was very familiar with the system and worked on behalf of the Northwest Territories so that he or she was negotiating on behalf of the NWT and could give a fair assessment of conditions and what the government could expect in the transfer. My understanding that a secondment through forestry was offered to the Government of the Yukon Territory about a year ago or a little more than a year ago, but that offer was turned down. Is that true?
Hon. Mr. Webster: That possibility of acquiring somebody from the federal government, seconding a person to work on the transfer, was discussed about a year ago. In the end the individual did not want to move from Ottawa to the Yukon.
Mr. Lang: What I do not understand is that we are negotiating for a transfer the inner workings of which no one in the government, to my knowledge, is familiar with, other than on the periphery. It would seem to me to be very advantageous to have somebody who is very knowledgeable about the assets and the responsibility we are going to acquire. My question to the Minister is: who do we have on staff negotiating on our behalf who is knowledgeable about these things and has the ability to advise our top management as well as himself on the accuracy of the information that is being provided to make the final decision?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I am informed that we do have someone in our department who is quite familiar with all matters to be discussed in devolution.
Mr. Lang: Did that individual work for the federal forestry department?
Hon. Mr. Webster: No, he worked for the Ontario government.
Mr. Lang: I just want to go to another area of concern and that is the question of the elk herd out at Cracker Creek. My understanding is that there were 12 new animals put in the herd last year. There is a study under way. Last year, we knew there was a very poor success rate with newborn calves. The Minister, during debate at that time, could not tell me the reason for that. Did they come up with anything, such as predators, and if it was predators why there was not a better success rate for the cows?
Hon. Mr. Webster: Those 12 elk released last year went behind the Braeburn area and the department does not have any explanation as to why they did not make it.
Mr. Lang: Is that herd off by itself, then? Is it not with the initial herd that is presently being studied?
Hon. Mr. Webster: These animals were part of the Hutshi herd, not the Takhini elk herd.
Mr. Lang: I take it we do not know why the success rate with the Hutshi herd is so poor and we are just studying the Takhini herd. Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Webster: All our work and research is focusing on the Takhini herd. These elk were part of the Hutshi herd, and we just do not have a good explanation as to why those 12 did not make it.
Mr. Lang: Did all those 12 animals die? I was under the impression that a number of the newborn calves died and that only one newborn calf had made it. The Minister is giving the impression that all 12 died. Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Webster: There is a little confusion here on the herds of elk. Twelve adults were taken from Mike Penners farm to go with the Hutshi herd. They are fine and are radio collared.
The calves that were killed, we suspect by predators, were part of the elk that were with the Takhini herd.
Mr. Lang: It is very interesting that we are all getting briefed at the same time, including the Minister. The calves he is referring to are not animals released from Penners herd, but are animals from the wild. Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Webster: That is correct.
Mr. Lang: As far as our future in the area of elk in the wild is concerned, it is interesting that just west of Watson Lake in the Cheka Valley, less than 10 years ago, the Government of British Columbia released 120 elk. There are now over 700 elk in that area. That area has been very well managed by the B.C. Department of Wildlife, as far as predators are concerned.
It is a different area as far as the Hutshi and Takhini Valley are concerned, but it is interesting the elk would do so well there in such a short period of time. It may be something we could learn from the British Columbia government.
I would like to move on to another area. This past year, we voted $170,000 in the policy and planning for three person years. As the reason for this, the Minister said he would be tabling a new wildlife act this session. Will the Minister be tabling that act during the course of this session?
Hon. Mr. Webster: No, we will not be tabling a wildlife act this session.
Mr. Lang: The justification that the Minister gave us for spending $170,000 for strategic planning for the department was that, in good part, there would be a new wildlife act. What were these people doing if we are not going to see a new wildlife act?
Hon. Mr. Webster: They were preparing all the policy background for that act. I want to point out to the Member that the drafting of the new wildlife act is complete and in the Justice department and they are presently working on regulations. It is the intention of the Wildlife Management Board, the subcommittee of that board, to take a White Paper dealing with the new wildlife act to the communities for public consultation, for some input.
Mr. Lang: Then I take it that during the course of this session you will either have a White Paper or a green paper and they are normally tabled in the Legislature. Will that be tabled here prior to it going out for public review?
Hon. Mr. Webster: Yes, that is our intention.
Mr. Lang: I would like to move to another area, if I could, and that is the question of the land use area that the Minister discussed at the beginning of the discussion of the mains. It is the question of land use. I believe, last year, representation was made to the Minister that if there was going to be any land use studies made after Kluane, maybe the Watson Lake area should be looked at because of the obvious pressures in that particular area, regarding timber and things of that nature.
I notice the Minister referred to the Old Crow area. Can the Minister tell us what is happening in the Old Crow area that makes it a higher priority than Watson Lake? I am talking now about industrial development. It would make sense to me to be concentrating our efforts in areas that are seeing a fair amount of development, as opposed to areas that perhaps are not and could be done in another year or two years later.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I expect he has some interest in this response as well. Of course there is potential for development in all areas of the territory right now. We see a potential for mines, oil and gas exploration, logging and explorations in all parts of the territory. In addition, though, in the potential for economic development in the Beaufort area and on the North Slope, there is a matter there concerning wildlife management, which is of particular interest to the Inuvialuit, who of course have a great interest in that whole area. It was also a matter that, generally speaking, was of high interest for the Council for Yukon Indians, as one of the three partners involved in the Yukon land use process. The federal government, as well, saw it as a priority. They have some interests there, as well. They recently created the North Yukon Park and, based on that amount of interest, all three parties came to an agreement that the North Slope should be looked at next.
Mr. Lang: Is that going to be strictly confined to the North Slope?
Hon. Mr. Webster: No, not just the North Slope, but that is one major part of it. I would say north of the Ogilvie Mountains. For example, it would include the Eagle Plains area.
Mr. Lang: I would like to move on to another area, the question of all-terrain vehicles. Could the Minister update us with respect to where the government is on that particular question?
Hon. Mr. Webster: That matter will be addressed in the new wildlife act. It is also a matter of general concern with regard to access to areas for hunting. The wildlife management board considers that particular item to be worthy of some regulations when the new wildlife act comes out for public comment.
Mr. Lang: Does the Minister have a policy paper on this?
Hon. Mr. Webster: No.
Mr. Lang: Back in April, the Minister indicated to us there was a draft form of a policy on the question of all-terrain vehicles and the options. Why does he not have at least a copy of the options available? If he does not, why not?
I ask this because, on April 24, Mr. Webster stated the situation will be addressed by the Wildlife Management Board in a paper that is now in draft form. That was April 24, 1989. He said that that would be presented to it for consideration in September. It is now March, so what happened to it?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I am not aware of any policy that is being developed with respect to access to hunting areas by four-wheel-drive vehicles. I will have to research that more thoroughly and come back to the Member with the information.
Mr. Lang: I am familiar with one report that was done. Maybe the deputy minister could tell the Minister. The Minister does not seem to know much, so he asks his deputy minister. Maybe he could ask the deputy minister on my behalf: was another report done this fall on the question of access in to new areas as far as roads are concerned, and did it not address to some degree the question of all-terrain vehicles?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I believe it was done by somebody within the department.
As I say, we will have to research that question and bring back the information in a legislative return.
Mr. Lang: I take a little exception here. Every time I ask a question, we get about a three minute pause as the Minister has to ask the deputy minister what is happening in the department, number one. Number two, we are told that, on April 24, a draft document was being circulated; in September of this past year, it was supposed to be made available to the Wildlife Management Board. I happen to have attended a fish and game meeting where officials from the Department of Renewable Resources did appear and did discuss a number of items, including the question of access to new areas. My understanding is that there had been some work on that particular document, of which I just saw the cover, as there were some questions about all-terrain vehicles. What I do not understand is why would the Minister tell us, back on April 24, 1989, that they were addressing this very major key policy question, and then a year later stand up in this House and say he does not know anything about it and has to go back to his department
This is of major political consequence to people in the territory who own them, those who are in the business of providing services to these types of vehicles, whether they be skidoos or four-wheelers, and so on; then the Minister stands in his place and says he does not know, that he has to go back to get a legislative return.
I would appreciate the Minister making a commitment to me that, for the purpose of the next budget, he would at least peruse the debate of the budget so he can come back at least half prepared as far as questions are concerned. I am not hitting him with new questions. I am just going through the Votes and Proceedings of last year.
This side of the House is amazed. Perhaps the thing to do is get the deputy minister to answer the questions rather than using the third person system - who is the Minister and who is the messenger?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I recall there being some discussion on options to be considered for permitting access into previously untouched areas, or areas that previously had no access, for example, such as the case of a road being put through under the RTAP program to a new mine site, or something. There were some options discussed as to what would be the most effective way to permit access to the mine by the miners but, at the same time, not create uncontrolled access by hunters to take advantage of animals that had previously been living in the wild. At this time, my memory has failed me and I do not recall if there was a policy paper developed on it. I have offered to check that information out for the Member and come back.
Mr. Lang: Will the Minister provide us with a copy of that paper?
Hon. Mr. Webster: Yes.
Mr. Lang: I would like to move on to another area, the question of controlled burns. It was raised by my colleague, the Member for Riverdale North. I know it has been raised by other interest groups, and it is called habitat management.
We had a debate last session about it. The Minister indicated to us that he was going to be discussing with Indian Affairs whether the department would be able to begin some more controlled burns. There had been some in the past. Could the Minister update us on how the discussions have gone and what results he has?
Hon. Mr. Webster: The deputy minister and I had a meeting in early June of last year with Keith Kepke and Joe Ganske to discuss cooperative arrangement with DIAND forestry officials for prescribed burns in a variety of areas of the territory. We suggested the Department of Renewable Resources identify a couple of areas within a variety of regions in the territory for possible prescribed burning activity.
We took this approach because, unlike a few years ago, we did not want to concentrate on just one or two areas of the Yukon in case we had an exceptionally poor season for rain. All the activity planned would then be rained out.
That has been our approach. The federal government made a commitment to work cooperatively with us. We will be doing some prescribed burning this year.
Mr. Lang: We are very pleased to hear that. Could the Minister identify the areas he is speaking of? How much money has been allocated for that purpose?
Hon. Mr. Webster: We have $10,000 budgeted for it at this time. We have not identified all the areas because we are waiting for some feedback from the Yukon Outfitters Association and other interested parties as to what they believe are the preferred areas.
Chair: The Committee will now take a 15 minute recess.
Chair: I will call Committee of the Whole to order.
Mr. Brewster: I find this fire burning issue very interesting. I do not understand why we could not have looked back to when we were in government, because I sat at a meeting in Burwash where the Northern Affairs people were there and, not only that, we burned the brush; we burned all of the big areas for the sheep and there did not seem to be any problems. Now I hear the Minister saying they have to get permission and everything else. I guess they did not do their homework and look backwards. It is not a new issue. It has been done here before and it proved very, very successful.
Mr. Lang: I am wondering if the Minister could describe the area they have identified for the purpose of burns? Who is going to pay the amount of money over $10,000? Ten thousand dollars is not going to go a long way for burning more than one area.
Hon. Mr. Webster: We have no difficulties in providing the locations where some of these burns will take place. The amount of $10,000 is what we have budgeted primarily for this purpose; we are also expecting some money from Northern Affairs.
Mr. Lang: Could the Minister tell us the areas that are designated and that they have been identified for the purpose of burns? He has just told us they had been in discussions with Northern Affairs and that the department had identified, over the course of this past area, the area for the burns; could he tell us where it is?
Hon. Mr. Webster: Before the break, I mentioned to the Member that the department has, in its inventory, areas that we think are suitable areas for habitat improvement, in which prescribed burns will be welcome, but we are seeking input from the Yukon Outfitters Association as to the exact locations and we have not received that information as yet. When we do have that information, I will be glad to pass it along to the Member opposite.
Mr. Lang: I am not exactly pinpointing; I just want to know the areas that we are looking at.
Hon. Mr. Webster: As I indicated earlier when starting off discussion on this topic, we are looking at two or three areas in several different regions in the territory. In other words, in each region where forestry has established a fire-suppression unit, we are looking at two or three areas, so there are many.
Mr. Lang: I am not asking exactly where. I realize that the Yukon has regions and I recognize there are various forestry offices throughout the territory. I do know that we are only voting $10,000. Ten thousand dollars is not going to go a long way if you are telling me that we are going to be doing three burns in three different regions throughout the territory. I would like to know, for the record, what areas we are seriously considering for these burns, subject to some consultation with the outfitters association?
Hon. Mr. Webster: One area we have identified is various locations in the Ruby Range, on the east side of Kluane Lake. That is one particular region. To identify areas in all regions in the territory, I will have to come back with information.
Mr. Devries: Last year, after the successful sheep hunt that the government donated to the Foundation for North American Wild Sheep, did the foundation not come up with any money for sheep range enhancement? Normally, they have come up with $10,00 to $15,000 for sheep range enhancement projects and I do not notice anything in there this year. Did they not come up with anything after we gave them that marvelous hunt?
Hon. Mr. Webster: The money that was raised through offering the hunt at the auction will be used for purposes of improving sheep habitat.
Mr. Lang: Is that not done through controlled burns?
Hon. Mr. Webster: Yes. That is one way of doing it.
Mr. Lang: Is that over and above the $10,000 that the department has identified for controlled burns?
Hon. Mr. Webster: No. None of that $10,000 is from the fund that has been set aside for that purpose.
Mr. Lang: How much of that money, as a result of the auction, is going toward controlled burns?
Hon. Mr. Webster: None this year will go toward controlled burns.
Mr. Lang: Where are we spending that money this year?
Hon. Mr. Webster: We have not identified any areas where the money will be spent, but we will be meeting this year with members of FNAWS to talk about a variety of projects that will be funded through that money.
Mr. Lang: Is the Minister telling this House that we are not in receipt of that money?
Hon. Mr. Webster: No. We are not in receipt of that money. It is in a special fund established by FNAWS for us to tap into.
Mr. Lang: My understanding is that these controlled burns generally take place in April or early May. Is it the governments intention to have these burns take place in April?
Hon. Mr. Webster: The Member is correct. It usually does happen in the early part of the year using crews that are well experienced at fighting fires. Naturally, it depends upon when conditions are ideal.
Mr. Lang: I hope that we would do them when conditions are ideal. Conditions are ideal in late March, April and early May. I do not understand why we have not identified the areas so that we can coordinate with DIAND to put all the resources together to do this.
One Member has indicated that we should be doing it in six weeks from now. Can the Minister tell us who has to give their input prior to him making a decision? Is it just the Yukon Outfitters Association or are others involved as well?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I just asked the outfitters association for their input. I should point out that, although it is traditionally the early spring for these prescribed burns, there have been some in the past that were not done under ideal conditions. As a result, they were failures, and the work was all for naught. It is very important the conditions are right, and that is why we have identified a number of areas in each region of the territory for this work to be done in.
Mr. Lang: I am not going to pursue this much further. I expect to see an outline of the areas that have been identified for this purpose. In order to get the ideal situations, the month of April has been the best month in past years for this purpose. My concern now is time.
How much does the Minister expect the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development to provide for this program?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I can come back with that information.
Mr. Lang: I would like to move on to the area of the Jakes Corner goat transplant program. Would the Minister update us with respect to that program? Has the herd increased and, if so, by how many?
Hon. Mr. Webster: There have been two surveys taken of the Mount White goat herd this past year, one in the early spring and one in November. The results are not encouraging. In 1988, there were seven goats perceived on the ground: two females, three adults and three kids. This year, their numbers have been reduced. It is unfortunate that no kids were seen.
Mr. Lang: How many are left, then? We had seven in 1988; how many do we have in 1989?
Hon. Mr. Webster: In one of the two surveys this year, there was one goat seen alone and one group of five.
Mr. Lang: What is the departments information on it? Are we looking strictly at nature, or have they been illegally harvested?
Hon. Mr. Webster: We do not have any evidence that it is illegal harvesting; I am sorry, I could not hear the Member, so we really cannot give a definitive answer on that.
Mr. Lang: I think it is sad that this program is obviously not working, because a lot of time and effort was put in by the members of the Fish and Game Association at that time and the game department. I would ask the Minister this: the suggestion was put to the Minister about the idea of placing a saltlick within a short distance of the road so that perhaps the travelling public could view these goats. What work has the Minister done over the course of this year on that? We might as well see them before they are all gone.
Hon. Mr. Webster: We have not done anything with respect to providing a saltlick in that area, but we have considered it as a possible program for FNAWS to become involved with as a partner and use some of the money from that fund we spoke about recently. In other words, we are considering transplanting goats there to increase the size of the herd and make it more viable and, in the process of doing so, provide the artificial saltlick.
Mr. Lang: I did not quite understand that. Is the government considering transplanting some more goats there itself?
Hon. Mr. Webster: Yes we are, using funds from that fund established by FNAWS.
Mr. Lang: Would that be this year?
Hon. Mr. Webster: We intend to raise the matter of putting this plan into action with FNAWS this year. Assuming that we are able to tap into the fund, it is possible that we could start the work this year.
Mr. Lang: I want to say that we would be very much in favour of this. It would be a shame to see this herd totally depleted. Maybe there were not enough animals there to increase the herd; I guess all sorts of suppositions could be made with respect to the health of the herd. I would make representation that, in conjunction with that, there should be some thought of putting a lick up on the side of the mountain there, within view of the travelling public. I think it would be very advantageous to our tourism industry and to people locally. When I travel by there, I always stop to see if I can see anything; unfortunately, the number of times I have stopped I have not seen anything. If a saltlick was created, I think there is a possibility that we might get an opportunity to see these animals.
Mr. Phillips: When they did the survey of the goats at Mount White, they said there were five in one group. Did they determine the sex of the five in that group?
Hon. Mr. Webster: On the first survey, the weather conditions were not ideal so they could not determine the sex of the animals. On the survey conducted in early December, the conditions were ideal at that time and two goats and one stone sheep ewe were observed and three areas of tracks were seen.
Mr. Phillips: I would like to express my disappointment with how the department has handled the Mount White goat transplant. It was an excellent project in the beginning and had great potential. We talked about having animals accessible to the road so people can actually see them. It had great potential. The area used to have goats, so it is not as if they cannot live there.
I have to express strong disappointment with the fact that shortly after the transplant happened and this government took office, there was very little funding made available for surveys. The biologist who was involved with it was concerned, and he used to fly over Mount White on his way to other projects just to have a look at it, because there was no real money in the budget.
It is unfortunate that we went to all the expense and all the trouble to transplant those goats there. Then, for one reason or another, we let them die. We could have monitored the project a little better. Most of goats that were put there had radio collars. We could have followed them. Instead we did not. Priorities went in another direction.
This government has to be held responsible for the failure of that project. I also suggest that two flights a year are not enough to monitor that goat herd. Some would say that the winter is not the right time to look for white goats. In early winter, in November, when they are rutting would be a good time. If we had taken some time while they had the radio collars on, we could have determined the area of the mountain where they were breeding in the fall and when they were having their kids in the spring. It would have been a good way to monitor the goats.
They say that they only found five or six animals, but there could possibly be more. Other surveys have been done where five were found one time and then 10 or 12 the next time. They could still be on the mountain.
I am really disappointed that more attention has not been paid to this. After all, every report from Tourism tells us that the tourists want to see more wild animals. It was a good demonstration project of taking goats from an area like the Kluane Game Sanctuary and establishing them in another area where goats used to be. It seems to be that it turned out to be more of a propaganda thing that the Government of Yukon did to gain all kinds of great accolades. Then they forgot all about it and moved on to other things.
In the future, the government should do a little more follow-up. It should get serious. If it is really serious about a project, it should find out exactly what these animals are doing. It is almost like the elk that we brought into the territory. We brought them here and then just cut them loose. Now, 30 years later, we are trying to determine what happened to the elk.
I hope this new endeavour of putting goats on the mountain that the government is trying to get into with FNAWS gets a little more involved than just dumping the goats on the mountain and then forgetting them. That is what we did this time; we put them there and forgot about them.
If the project has failed, it is partly a result of this governments lack of monitoring, in not discovering what happened. I would be hard pressed to support any other relocation project if the government was going to adopt the same kind of attitude where the animals would be moved to an area and then forgotten about. Two flights a year over top of the herd is not monitoring them.
Six or eight radio collars were put on those goats; there may have been more. Those radio collars cost $400 or $500 apiece. Yet, we put them on the animals, turn them loose and only looked for them a couple of times over a three or four year period. The intent was not to put the radio collars on in the beginning and then just check them once. The intent was to put the radio collars on the goats and then monitor them on a regular basis.
Someone within the department, maybe the Minister himself, decided that this is not a priority. We have no money to monitor these goats. That is unfortunate. We discovered that the largest billy goat died shortly after.
We did not even know that until almost a year later, when we found the bones at a foot of a cliff where they dropped the billy goat off. We could have done a better job than just turning these animals loose in a new area and forget all about them.
Hon. Mr. Webster: The 12 goats were introduced to the area of Mount White in 1983-84. The Member is correct that one goat did die shortly thereafter. I do not want to get into a debate on whether it was still the side opposites government or our government. They were all equipped with radio transmitters. Besides the one that died, over the course of a life span of the transmitters, all the animals are doing well. That takes us up to 1987-88. They are doing well. They were observed in 1988 from the ground, and there were seven goats, of which two were collared females and two were unmarked adults, obviously new, and three kids.
The Members raised this as a concern in April. We did two flight surveys to see how the herd was doing, one in June and one in December. December may not have been the best time. It is quite possible we missed some of these goats on the survey and they are still doing well. We cannot tell from the radio collars as the transmitters no longer work. Maybe they have moved off the mountain and have changed their location from Mount White. We do not know.
It is important we establish new ranges for our wildlife to inhabit. If, at the same time, we can make it interesting for Yukoners and tourists to get an opportunity to see our wildlife, so much the better.
Mr. Devries: In the area around Rancheria Lodge, around Wind Lake and Goat Lake, there used to be a lot of goats. There has been no hunting season there for several years. Does the Minister know if that herd population has picked up? Have any surveys been done in the last year or so on those herds?
Hon. Mr. Webster: To the best of my knowledge, no surveys on goats have been done in that area.
Mr. Devries: Do they intend to do any in the near future to see if the hunting ban has helped increase the herds in that area?
Hon. Mr. Webster: When we get to that line item in the budget, we will have that information available.
Mr. Lang: I want to move on to the buffalo. I have never really had an accounting on the dollars. How much money has been spent on the program? How much money is proposed to be spent in this forthcoming year?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I do not have the information on exactly how much it has cost us to transplant the bison to the territory. It is considerable. I will have to bring that information back. It is probably one of the few questions that has not yet been asked, researched and answered in the form of a legislative return. I am also curious but shall not take up the challenge of the Member opposite to hazard a guess for fear of being way off.
Mr. Lang: Could the Minister perhaps tell us, then, how much is proposed to be spent this year?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I am just getting that information now. It would help if these details could be raised when we come to the line items in the budget as opposed to general debate. If the Member cares to wait for a second, I can provide it now.
I can tell the Member meanwhile that the estimated cost of bringing the bison to the Yukon this year is $10,000; this will be borne by the Canadian Wildlife Service, which, of course, cooperates with the Government of Yukon in the bison recovery project. Those costs include the capture of elk in the national park, veterinary inspections for various diseases, and individual markings of bison.
Mr. Lang: Other costs included by the government in the project is the maintenance of these animals once they arrive here. That was one of the questions I asked of the Minister.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I provided in an earlier legislative return some information dealing with that; for example, the average cost of hay and saltlick blocks in each of the last three years for the compound was $13,500.
Mr. Brewster: For the Ministers information, in the six years it cost $540,600, so it is going to cost $600,000. Has the Minister ever seen this document before?
Hon. Mr. Webster: Yes, I have seen that document. I have read that document and in fact I provided it for the Members information but I am sorry, I do not remember the detail as to the total cost over the last six years for this program.
Mr. Brewster: It is strange. On February 14, I asked if the Minister would produce any information or documents he had on the buffalo - and I will not call them wood buffalo because I am quite convinced they are not. I have six different studies here, which contradict what was said in your study here, and you never even bothered to table them. Why was this not tabled in the House?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I am sorry; I thought I did table that in the February 14 legislative return.
Mr. Brewster: The Minister did not table this on February 14. This one, incidentally, comes from Alberta. He tabled a document, a legislative review only; the Minister did not table any documents with that legislative report, period. This one came from Alberta.
I asked him why this parcel here was not tabled. It was done in February of 1989 - it is over a year old - and has never been tabled in the House. Why?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I do not know why it was not tabled in the House. I honestly thought I had already tabled it in the last session.
Mr. Brewster: I also asked at the time if the Minister would check before he brought in any more buffalo to the area - if he would check and see if they had any information contradicting what they have. The Minister has never replied to me. I have here one document, two documents, three documents, four documents, five documents. I would like to know if this government has those documents.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I would appreciate the Member telling me what documents he has so we know if we have them in our library. The discussion was on February 14. The legislative return I tabled in response to those questions provided a full answer to the Member, as well as some documentation and evidence that suggests the wood bison is a separate subspecies of the American plains bison. I had not heard from him since, so I imagined he accepted that information.
When the Government of Yukon signed this contract in 1984, on July 5, with the Government of Canada to reintroduce the wood bison to the Yukon, the Government of Yukon agreed to the very first clause of that agreement, which says, whereas Canada and Yukon jointly recognize the wood bison to be an endangered subspecies in Canada...
Mr. Brewster: If this is true, then I wonder why Environment Canada, which is National Parks of Canada, is going to have a $60,000 study to see if there is such a thing as a pure wood bison this year.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I do not have the answer to that question. In the legislative return, there were a number of studies cited of research already completed confirming the validity of the subspecies of the wood bison, as recognized by the Government of Yukon in signing an agreement on July 5, 1984.
Mr. Brewster: In other words, I am presuming we are saying National Parks of Canada is just wasting $60,000 because the Yukon already has the answer.
Mr. Lang: Is the Minister or his department aware of the Department of Environment doing a study, because it is becoming more of a question as to whether there is a subspecies referred to as the wood bison?
Hon. Mr. Webster: No, there has never been an indication in this government that we are prepared to spend money to reaffirm the fact that is stated in the document, signed by this government in 1984, that the wood bison is a duly recognized subspecies.
After this line of questioning, I am beginning to wonder if the Member for Kluane would rather not see us continue with this bison recovery project, only because he does not feel the animals are a real subspecies. They are wood bison.
Mr. Brewster: I will get a kick for this one. I do not have a great problem with the bison being brought in. I feel this government has led the people of the Yukon down a blind lane to get the money to do this study. For instance, the status report on endangered wildlife in Canada recommended the status for wood buffalo as threatened. They are not even endangered. This was done by the Ministers committee.
Hon. Mr. Webster: In order to get to the point of signing an agreement with the Government of Canada, the previous Conservative government had to come to the conclusion that yes, this was a recognized and valid subspecies.
The Member now says he takes exception to all the false information that was brought forward to convince the Yukon public and the Department of Renewable Resources to enter into this agreement with the Government of Canada to recover the wood bison.
Mr. Lang: The point that is being made is the Government of Yukon was told by the Government of Canada that there was an endangered species, the wood bison. The Government of Yukon of that day accepted those facts as they were presented. My colleague, the Member for Kluane, is pointing out that there is more of a debate over whether or not these animals are actually a subspecies and if they are endangered.
I was very surprised to hear the Minister say, prior to responding to the Member for Kluane, that he was not aware there is a major study underway by the Department of the Environment to verify if this subspecies does exist.
If these question marks are being put into place by the Government of Canada, and we are led to believe some of the top authorities are beginning to question the information of earlier days, the question that comes to mind is, why are we bringing in more animals with this question outstanding? Also of concern to us is what we are going to be doing with them. The animals are leaving their original destination, moving down and becoming a hazard on the highways.
We feel there needs to be a second look in view of the information the Member for Kluane has been providing. We ask questions of the department through the Minister, and we get one side of the story. We are not getting the full story when we are finding out from other sources these question marks exist.
I do not understand why the game department has not been upfront with us when these questions have been asked.
Hon. Mr. Webster: The Member suggests the government should be taking a second look. Obviously, it did not take a very good first look when it entered into this agreement with the Government of Canada back in 1984. The legislative return clearly states that the current research on the systematics of North American bison has confirmed validity of the subspecies status for wood bison. They cite the study and the year. The western wildlife director supports the scientific opinion, and agree that wood bison and plains bison are to be treated as separate subspecies. The National Museum and Canadian Park System, which is part of Environment Canada, and the Canadian Wildlife Service also recognize the wood bison as a distinct subspecies, and the Yukon wood bison from Elk Island National Park as being representative of that subspecies.
I take that as authoritative evidence, suggesting the wood bison is a distinct subspecies. I personally do not think it needs a second look. We are going to proceed with this recovery plan for wood bison.
Mr. Brewster: I will just read one little bit - I am not going to table this. They claim that 37 wood buffalo, which formed the founding stock for the MBS - Mackenzie Basin Sanctuary - and the EINP - Elk Island National Park - herds captured a significant part of the genetic diversity of wood bison is completely unacceptable. This is written by a professor, a veteran of environmental science at the faculty of environmental design, University of Calgary, Alberta.
Mr. Lang: I wonder if the Minister could tell us which authority he was quoting with respect to what he stated earlier?
Hon. Mr. Webster: Van Zeo de Jong, 1986.
Mr. Lang: I am a little concerned about the position the Minister is taking in view of the fact that my colleague, the Member for Kluane, is providing some new information of which the Minister was not aware - the fact that the Government of Canada has allocated $60,000 to reopen the whole question of whether these animals are endangered. The principle behind the agreement signed in 1984 was that these animals were an endangered species, and a legitimate subspecies. What I do not understand is that, if that question is being asked by the same authorities and the same people who provided the advice to those who signed the agreement back in 1984, would it not be wise to sit back and ask what they are doing and why, as opposed to saying they are satisfied? Obviously, some people on the federal side are not satisfied any longer. It is either that or they have an extra $60,000 to spend on something that perhaps could be spent elsewhere.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I guess it is the federal government doing another study on something because clearly some parts of the federal government, and I have already named them - the Nash Museum, the Canadian Park Service, the Canadian Wildlife Service - recognize wood bison as a distinct subspecies.
Mr. Brewster: The Minister mentioned that Van Zeo de Jong was the one he took information from. Well, here in this report it says, moreover, the salvaged wood bison from the Narling River are probably also hybrids. That is his quote in 1986.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that the Chair report progress on Bill No. 19.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Motion agreed to
Speaker resumes the Chair
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. May the House have a report from the Chair of the Committee of the Whole?
Ms. Kassi: The Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 19, entitled First Appropriation Act, 1990-91, and directed me to report progress on same.
Speaker: You have heard the report from the Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I move that the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Community and Transportation Services that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: This House now stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. tomorrow.
The House adjourned at 9:30 p.m.
The following Sessional Paper was tabled February 5, 1990:
Memo dated March 2, 1990, from Minister of Justice to Staff Members, W.C.C. re smoking provisions at Whitehorse Correctional Centre (M. Joe)
The following Filed Document was tabled February 5, 1990:
Letter dated February 9, 1990, from Bureau of Statistics to Northwestel re Request for Telephone Directory information in machine readable format (Penikett)