Wednesday, April 25, 1989 - 1:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. We will proceed with Prayers.
Speaker: We will proceed with the Order Paper.
Introduction of Visitors.
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS
Ms. Hayden: I would like everyone to join me in welcoming to the House today three young students from Porter Creek Junior Secondary School and Jack Hulland Elementary. They are: Carrie Ann Dillon, and Micha and Katrina Rumscheidt.
Speaker: Are there any Returns or Documents for tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I have a legislative return for tabling.
Speaker: Are there any Reports of Committees?
Petition No. 8
Mr. Nordling: I have for tabling a petition from winter recreational user groups with regard to the proposed Chilkoot Trail National Historic Park. The signatures of almost 850 Yukoners are attached to the petition, along with the signatures of an additional 59 people who are Alaska residents from Skagway.
This petition shows that the management plan for the proposed Chilkoot Trail National Historic Park was adopted by the previous federal Minister of the Environment without adequate prior public consultation with the majority of Yukon residents who utilize the area for winter recreation. Therefore, the undersigned ask the Yukon Legislative Assembly to urge the present federal Minister of the Environment, the hon. Lucien Bouchard, to conduct a public consultation process in Yukon, that will include representatives of winter recreational user groups prior to the management plan for the Chilkoot Trail National Historic Park being proclaimed in law.
Petition No. 7
Clerk: Mr. Speaker and honourable Members of the Assembly, I have had the honour to review a petition, being Petition No. 7 of the First Session of the Twenty-seventh Legislative Assembly as presented by the hon. Member for Whitehorse Porter Creek East on April 24, 1990.
Pursuant to Standing Order 66(1) of the Yukon Legislative Assembly, it is my responsibility to report whether petitions conform to the rules recognized by the House. This petition does not conform with the following respects:
1. The petition is not addressed to the Yukon Legislative Assembly as required by Standing Order 65(1) and Appendix 2 of the Standing Orders;
There was no intended recipient identified on those pages on which signatures appear, and an unsigned attachment to those pages states that the document is an open letter to Yukon parents and other individuals concerned about the quality, range of services and affordability of child services in Yukon
2. The petition is not dated as required by Appendix 2 of the Standing Orders.
Speaker: I must, therefore, rule that Petition No. 7 cannot be received.
Speaker: Introduction of Bills?
Are there any Notices of Motion for the Production of Papers?
Are there any Notices of Motion?
NOTICES OF MOTION
Mr. Nordling: I give notice of the following motion:
THAT it is the opinion of this House that the Yukon government should urge the Government of Canada through the Minister of the Environment to conduct a public consultation process that will allow Yukoners and specifically winter recreational-user groups further input into the management plan for the proposed Chilkoot Trail National Historic Park prior to that plan being implemented.
Speaker: Are there any Statements by Ministers?
Street Cents Initiative: National Consumer Week April 23-29
Hon. Ms. Joe: I rise to note that April 23 to 29 is National Consumer Week. The theme this year is Team Up for a Stronger Marketplace: Consumers, Business and Government.
The purpose of National Consumer Week is to highlight the need for awareness the year-round, and there are three main objectives:
1. To promote fairness, safety and efficiency in the marketplace;
2. To emphasize the marketplace partnership among consumers, government and business;
3. To encourage a higher level of consumer awareness, education and participation in the marketplace.
I would like to expand a bit on the last objective. Consumer awareness and education are vital for the protection of all of us, as well as the world we live in. There is a growing emphasis on environmentally-friendly products, and growing numbers of environmentally-friendly consumers.
It is vital for the future that those growing numbers include children. For that reason, and in recognition of National Consumer Week, the Department of Justices consumer division, and the Department of Education will team up to contribute to an innovative project for young people.
Early on Saturday mornings there is a CBC television program called Street Cents, North Americas first consumer show aimed at young people. It is produced in Halifax and has reached up to one-half million viewers per show. The program is now going into its second season.
Our $5,000 joint contribution to the producers of Street Cents will help ensure that the show will continue to be available to young viewers. The producers have also agreed to provide us with a copy of each show, for use in the classroom.
The Education and Justice departments will be listed at the end of the show, with other participating provinces and the Northwest Territories, as co-producers. The producers have also assured us they will shoot some material for the show in the North, which will help make the program even more relevant to young viewers in the Yukon.
I am pleased that the Department of Education has agreed to team up with Justices consumer division in this worthwhile project. The Street Cents production is a Consumer Week initiative which will benefit our territorys young consumers all year.
Mrs. Firth: We on this side of the Legislature welcome this positive announcement that has been made by the Minister today. I understand that the people who are producing the program Street Cents have offered to do some filming in the Yukon because of the governments participation and we look forward to that and welcome that.
Just last evening I was at a public speaking event where we were talking about young people and the environment and there was a consensus at that event that we had to get closer to the children and encourage them to be better environmentalists and consumers than we perhaps are.
The program itself, Street Cents is on Saturday mornings. I think it is on at 10 a.m. It is a very informative program for children of about 10 to 16 years old. They do some consumer cost comparisons on certain products and talk about the content, quality and food value of those products. That is very encouraging and very good for our young people.
We support the Minister in her initiative and announcement today.
Hon. Ms. Joe: Just for clarification, I did say that there was some commitment to do a shoot in the north; I did not say the Yukon. I would hope though that it would be here.
Speaker: This then brings us to the Question Period.
Question re: Water licences
Mr. Phelps: I have some questions for the Minister of Economic Development, Mines and Small Business today with regard to the uncertainty surrounding the placer mining water licences in Yukon.
As most of us are aware, the placer mining industry is extremely important to our economy. This industry sustained us through the very lean years from 1981-1983. Now, because of the court case involving the Alberta Old Man River dam project, the process for issuing placer mining water licences is up in the air, to say the least.
Can the Minister tell us whether his department has been looking into this issue?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Department of Economic Development has been concerned about what appears to be a greater proliferation of review processes that may affect the placer mining industry in the Yukon. We have taken a position before that there should be a single review process but that it should be thorough and comprehensive. Certainly in the work we had done with the placer industry through the KPMA and various federal agencies through the Implementation Review Committee, we had noted that the problems placer miners face with respect to their relationship with fisheries could be resolved through negotiation and discussion.
The recent interpretation by federal courts of the environmental review process of the Environmental Review Panel guidelines has considerably widened the reach of the ERP process and has made it a very real possibility that all placer projects may be subject to an ERP review as well.
We have indicated to federal authorities - I have done this personally to the federal Minister of Energy - that it was our view that this should be one comprehensive process. At the present time I am only aware that the federal Minister for the Environment is trying to work through federal channels as quickly as he can to address the issue that has resulted from the widening interpretation of ERP.
Mr. Phelps: I am wondering whether or not the Ministers department has been working locally with officials from Northern Affairs with regard to finding a solution to the present problem.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: On a case-by-case basis, yes, whether it is the issue surrounding the Curragh application for a water licence or whether it is the water licences that may be in jeopardy with respect to the placer industry. However, it is obvious to everyone concerned that this is a national problem, or a national situation, and whereas, I think, everyone believes that there ought to be a single, comprehensive review process, I feel that most people again believe that a proliferation of processes that double up on each other and overlap is not desirable. We have been making that case both locally and nationally.
Mr. Phelps: Have the Minister and his department been in contact with the Klondike Placer Miners Association, to discuss an approach to this new problem?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The issue was broached by the KPMA at the mines administrators conference that was held recently in Whitehorse, at which time the hon. Mr. Siddon, I and representatives from the industry were in attendance. Mr. Frank Taylor of the KPMA was very forceful in speaking to the issue. We did give it a general discussion, as to what the various positions of the industry and government were, and we stated our position at that time. I know that Mr. Siddon gave a commitment that he not only understood the issue but would take his newfound knowledge of the KPMAs concerns to Ottawa with him.
Question re: Water licences
Mr. Phelps: My concern is just exactly how this government is getting involved and to what extent it is getting involved in finding a solution for the placer miners in Yukon. Of course, it is an issue that will touch every part of Canada. It is extremely important with regard to this one industry in the Yukon.
My next question is to the Minister responsible for the Executive Council and Intergovernmental Affairs. Has the government made any formal representations to the federal government in Ottawa with regard to finding a solution for the placer miners in Yukon?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I will take the question, because the Member may not have interpreted my comments appropriately. I do not know what the Member means by formal representation. I have taken the opportunity to speak to both Mr. Siddon and Mr. Epp, the federal Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources, with respect to this matter on a number of occasions. I spoke directly to them; I think that means it is a formal representation.
We have indicated, on a number of occasions, both at national forums and local forums, our concern with respect to proliferation or overlapping of review processes and what this means to industry generally and specifically to the placer mining industry. We have diligently worked through the mechanism that was established after the placer mining debate of 1982, 1983 and 1984 with the IRC to resolve the issues locally with respect to the placer industry. Our position cannot be clearer to the federal Ministers. I did communicate it personally at every opportunity that I have had.
Mr. Phelps: I realize that the territorial government has been involved in the past with regard to problems that the industry and governments were having with the water board and the jurisdiction of various branches of the federal government. What we have now is a new problem, the result of judgments in certain cases for large dam projects in the south. The problem has to do with a specific order-in-council that empowers and provides guidelines for the ERP process of Environment Canada.
I am seeking some assurance that this government is trying to work on the specific problem of placer miners and looking at possible amendments to the order-in-council that could go through federal cabinet fairly quickly and would assuage the problems in Yukon.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am referring to the recent interpretation by federal courts of the ERP guidelines quite specifically. The Member is quite correct that the issue did arise as a result of the interpretations with respect to the Old Man River Dam and the Rafferty Alameda Dam projects. It was that subject that took up a good deal of discussion time at the Energy, Mines and Resources Ministers Conference recently. The position was forcefully put by all jurisdictions that, while we did not want to comment on the specifics of those dam projects, because we are not competent to, and while we did feel there should be a single, thorough, comprehensive regulatory process that reviewed environmental concerns about development, we did indicate that the situation was serious enough to require immediate federal attention.
On behalf of the Yukon, I indicated we would very much like to be involved in the drafting of ERP legislation. Mr. Epp assured me that he not only understood the desirability of Yukon involvement, but also that he understood and recognized the predicament of Yukon placer miners, as he has a working knowledge of the placer mining industry in the Yukon.
Speaker: Order please. Would the Minister please conclude his answer.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Yes. Sure. The situation respecting the ERP guidelines was specifically addressed with various federal Ministers and myself.
Mr. Phelps: The Minister can talk around the issue and legislation all he wants, but there is a simple solution to the problem. The wording may take some experts to devise, but the issue is one of clarifying and amending an federal order-in-council.
My specific question is: will this government recommend that the federal government environmental assessment and review guidelines contained in the order-in-council be clarified so that the jurisdiction of the water board will be clear, and the ERP process will not apply to normal size placer mines in the Yukon?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am puzzled by the Members comments; I have not been talking around the issue at all. I was speaking directly to the issue. We want a single regulatory process for all development projects in the Yukon. Certainly I have given very clear representation with respect to the situation with the IRC. We wanted an expedited process for small placer mining operations.
We have expressed that view to the federal Ministers and have expressed a desire to be involved in the ERP guideline rewrite. I cannot understand why the Member would think I was talking around the issue. I have been talking directly to the issue, and I have answered the question.
Question re: Water licences
Mr. Phelps: Will the government make it clear that it was quite happy with the water board as it was functioning just before this case came down, and that it would like to see the water board carry on in the spirit it was acting in prior to this case, and that it would like to see that happen soon so the water licences can be issued and the placer mining industry can get on with its work? The summer is approaching.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The answer is obviously yes. We have been working with the IRC for some time to resolve local problems and to provide for an expeditious process for providing water licensing for the placer mining industry. I do not know where the Member is coming from. Maybe we are getting excited for no apparent reason. If we did not believe in the IRC process, why would we have been involved? We were interested and happy to see that process continue, because we felt that was a process that was resolving the placer industrys concerns in the Yukon.
Mr. Phelps: I am so happy to get the answer yes that I will not follow up with supplementaries on that question.
Question re: Water licences
Mr. Phillips: Recently, the Government of the Yukon intervened in the water board hearings on a proposed water licence on Granite Creek. I believe this is the second time the government has publicly intervened in these types of hearings.
Could the Minister of Renewable Resources tell us if this is a new change in policy?
Hon. Mr. Webster: It is not a change of policy but now that we have the fishery unit in place, and they are reviewing some particular matters like the one the Member brought forward, that may jeopardize the longevity of a particular fish stock, we are naturally quite concerned and we are going to become involved in the process.
Mr. Phillips: If we do not intervene in a particular licence application, are we, as a government, saying we support the applicant?
Hon. Mr. Webster: If there is no intervention from the Department of Renewable Resources, fisheries branch, it is an indication that our department does not feel there is a threat of this development to the fish stocks; therefore, from that particular aspect, we have no problem with that particular development.
Mr. Phillips: Now that we have a fisheries branch that will be taking a more active role in these types of applications, will they ever be appearing in support of an applicant?
Hon. Mr. Webster: That is a hypothetical question when dealing with situations that are not very common. I will think about that.
Question re: Contracts
Mrs. Firth: My question is for the Minister of Government Services. It is an issue I have raised in the House before and it is with respect to contracts that have been tendered and awarded and are subsequently brought back and changed.
I believe the last time we debated this issue we were talking about the Minister removing their spending authorities when it came to signing contracts. I would like to ask the Minister exactly what his departments policy is when it comes to changing or amending the contracts after they have been awarded? What is the process for doing that?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The process is clearly laid out in regulations. A change order is initiated by departmental administration, which of course would precipitate from the job site inspection level. Change orders would be processed and signed.
Mrs. Firth: I believe that Management Board approval is required to make an amendment to a contract, not just a change order. I would like to ask the Minister if that is correct? I would like to also ask how often his department enters into amending or changing contracts that have already been awarded to contractors?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member actually posed two questions. One relates to Management Board authority and the other relates to the frequency of change orders.
On the matter of change orders I will take the question as notice to provide an accurate assessment. Certainly the Member is aware that virtually every project has a change order or two. Depending on size and complexity, some have more than a couple.
On the issue of Management Board authority, the Member is aware that the directive that has been developed over the past year and has passed through the Public Accounts Committee is currently being adopted. As the Member recalls, Management Board approved that directive in principle subject to comments from the Public Accounts Committee. That comment, as the Member recalls, was made during January. The House debated the Public Accounts report on that issue and we are currently putting into practice the terms of that directive.
Mrs. Firth: I am not talking about change orders, which I believe are changes to a contract that has been awarded to someone and which changes things being done to a specific project. I am talking about a contract that has been given to an individual contractor, is brought back and amended, perhaps with part of the contract taken away. I am not talking about change orders. I am talking about amending contracts.
Could the Minister tell us if he is aware of contracts being amended within his department? Does he know whether it happens? Can he tell us the frequency? I will have some more questions that I would like to follow up on.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I appreciate the Member elaborating on the specifics of the question. I cannot tell the Member that I am aware of any contracts being reduced from an original agreement to proceed. In other words, I am not aware that contracts are reduced in scope from an established, original, signed-off authority. I am aware of change orders that take place, because a number of them will surface to my desk, depending upon their required guideline of authority.
Question re: Contracts
Mrs. Firth: My question is to the same Minister, regarding the same matter. Back in February. I asked the Minister for copies of the heating fuel and unleaded gasoline contracts, and all amendments to these contracts, for the last two years. We are talking about contracts that are worth $1 million and almost $2 million: two special contracts.
I have made some interesting observations about the contracts. To be brief and simple, for the information of the House, one contract was amended to delete a run of fuel to the Mayo/Elsa/Keno City area and to add Haines Junction, Destruction Bay, Beaver Creek and Burwash. The other contract was amended to delete Haines Junction, Burwash, Beaver Creek and Destruction Bay, and to add Mayo, Keno, and Elsa. In essence, it was a swap.
Why was this change made? Did it go through the normal policy steps of having Management Board authority?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member cites a contract that I believe goes back approximately a year, to last June or July. I am working strictly from memory and, therefore, will be brief on the subject. I will seek to refresh my memory by getting back to the Member.
The contract the Member cites was a swap arrangement between two suppliers of fuel. That was an arrangement negotiated by my department on the strength of a request by the communities involved. It relates to the simple fact that suppliers in the community whose corporations, if you will, did not get the award for the fuel, simply requested whether there could be some arrangement made so the suppliers in the community could retain the contract. Through those discussions, precipitated by my department, an agreeable arrangement was made and the swap took place. It was by request of the community.
I believe there was an additional question in the Members statement. Yes, to the best of my recollection, the swap received Management Board approval.
Mrs. Firth: This happened two years in a row. The swap took place after the contracts had been awarded, and when that swap took place, a very fundamental principle was undermined: the principle that the low bidder got the contract. In both of these instances, the contract was taken from the low bidder and given to a higher bidder.
Why did the Minister not issue a policy change? Why did this happen two years in a row? Was it the community that made the representation to the Minister or to the government, or was it an individual, or one of the companies?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I do apologize for perhaps not knowing intimate detail. I am working strictly from memory of a contract from approximately 10 or 11 months ago. My recollection is that the request was from the community. Included in the request was one from the municipal council of the community.
I disagree with the other part of the Members question relating to policy and the allegation that a principle or the integrity of the contracting system was undermined. The award was made affecting two low bidders, each of whom had the second lowest bid in alternating communities, who were agreeable to the change; therefore, with their approval, the swap was made. I do not believe there was any integrity undermined on that basis. The bidders involved accepted the change, agreed with the change, and no tendering process was changed.
Mrs. Firth: I do not buy the argument about the memory of the Minister. This happened two years in a row. I asked for this information, so I am sure the Minister did not ignore that and think I would not follow up on it. This contract is up for renewal right now, so the Minister must be dealing with it. I do not buy the story about his memory.
These contracts were given to low bidders. They were changed and given to a higher bidder, which incurred a larger cost to the government.
Will the Minister tell us how much more money the taxpayer had to pay because these contracts were amended, interfered with, which resulted in a higher cost to the taxpayer?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I should remind the Member that my ministerial responsibility has only been a year. I am not familiar with, nor was I involved with the first change referred to by the Member. I am familiar with the swap that took place last year.
I will have to take notice on the question of cost to the government for the swap. I do not recall specifics, and for fear of not providing the Member with accurate information, I would like to get back to the Member, if there was any cost involved. I suspect there was, because I sought Management Board authority for the change.
Again, to debate briefly with the Member in response to her question, I do not believe it is correct to say that the bidding process was jeopardized when the second highest bidder was taken and two areas were exchanged that were supplying the same service, which would protect a more stable supply of that service in those respective communities, with the full approval of the two lowest bidders in both communities involved.
Question re: Chilkoot Trail National Historic Park
Mr. Nordling: The proposed Chilkoot Trail National Historic Park is in British Columbia. However, the vast majority of winter users reside in the Yukon. A grave concern has been expressed - as evidenced by the petition tabled today with almost 850 Yukon signatures on it, and the number of people in the gallery today - as there appears to have been a gap in the consultation process. My understanding is that most of the input into the management plan was from summer users - hikers on the trail.
Yukon users would like to be consulted. Can the Minister of Renewable Resources tell us if the Yukon government made a submission to the preparation of that management plan? If a submission was made, did it include reference to winter users?
Hon. Mr. Webster: There was quite a lengthy consultation process involved in coming up with the final management plan for the Chilkoot area. Our government made a submission to that process a couple of years ago. The Departments of Renewable Resources and Tourism collaborated on an effort with the main viewpoint of attracting visitors.
In addressing the Members specific question of whether that submission addressed winter activities, I can inform him it did not. At that time, the departments thought that would be more appropriately addressed by the various groups that use that park, either in the summer or winter.
Mr. Nordling: In view of the concern of Yukoners, would the Yukon government support a reopening of the consultation process to allow further input from winter user groups?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I can make my views known and put forth that position. I do not know how successful it will be, given the long process of consultation this draft plan went through, but I can do that on behalf of the Yukon public.
Mr. Nordling: From my point of view, there appears to be a gap in the consultation process. Granted, the federal government will argue it was a long and involved consultation process and provide evidence of that. In view of the position they will probably take, would the Yukon government consider hearing the input from winter user groups and approaching the federal government with that input?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I do not want to make a decision on that matter at this time. I will take it under advisement. Obviously, the matter will be dealt with in the next two weeks as a result of the petition being tabled today, as well as the motion.
Question re: Mental health facility
Mr. Lang: I would like to move to an area that has been discussed in the House since we began sitting, as well as among the general public for the last couple of weeks. It has to do with those people who are suffering from mental illness.
As we know, the public has become more aware that these people are out on the street, in many cases without friends. They are defenceless and in many cases have nowhere to go. A major area of concern has been expressed by the Canadian Mental Health Association, Yukon Division is that there is no residential home for the people who could benefit from such a facility, a facility, I might add, that has been discussed at least at the administrative level since perhaps as early as 1983, if not before. The need has been around for quite some time.
The Minister of Health and Human Resources has continuously stated that he supports the facility, yet it is the direct responsibility of the federal government. Can the Minister tell this House today if this has always been the position of the Government of Yukon?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I do not think I can add to the answers I have previously given on this question. If the Member looks in the phone book, in the blue pages, he will find that mental health services are delivered by the federal government. I cannot add to the information I have provided him with already about what this government is prepared to do, both in terms of the capital and the operating costs of the facility. I cannot add to the answers I have already given about our desire to see such a facility built. I cannot add to the information I have already given in the House about our resolve that the federal government appropriately contribute its share of the costs of such a facility.
Mr. Lang: We have a real people issue out there. I realize it will not win or lose an election, but I do realize that there are a number of people who are very much in need of such a facility. I think it is sad that we are in a situation where the two governments are taking this kind of an approach - especially the Government of Yukon. I want to ask the Minister of Health and Human Resources again the first question I asked, because he did not answer it. I asked if it has always been the position of the Government of Yukon that the responsibility for providing such a facility has been the direct and legal responsibility of the federal government?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: First of all, let me say that the Member is wrong in the previous question when he says most mental health patients have no place to go. That is not true. It is adding to his long list of his incorrect statements on this question - and many others.
The Member asked me if it has always been the case of the territorial government not taking responsibility. He said the need for the facility was first identified in 1983. I do not know what the position of the territorial government was in 1983. I would be extremely surprised if it is the position being advanced by the Member for Porter Creek East today, but I do know that the position of this government has been that we are prepared to make a very substantial contribution to the operation of this facility, notwithstanding our firm belief that mental health services at this point are the responsibility of the federal government.
Mr. Lang: I am a little confused at the position the Minister now takes as a government that the responsibility for this very much needed facility is that of the Government of Canada.
I would like to table for all Members, if I could, a memo, dated March 11, 1985, between the then programs medical officer for the Yukon region and the director of mental health services, Yukon region. It states it very clearly under mandates and coordination, and I quote; Responsibility for chronic care facilities and services is acknowledged by the territorial government representatives and is also assumed in the provinces in some measure by private agencies, such as associations of ex-mental patients and the Canadian Mental Health Association.
I would like to ask the Minister: in view of the fact that representatives of the territorial government obviously made it very clear that the responsibility for chronic care facilities and services was theirs, why has the government changed from its 1985 position?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The Member quotes from a document that he did not table and which I have not read. He is then asking me to comment on it. To state the obvious, it is a document that refers to a time before this government took office. It does not change at all the fact that is plain to anyone who looks in the telephone book, reads the blue pages, looks in the white pages, as to the responsibility for mental health services in the territory. I will obviously have a look with interest at the document that perhaps he has obtained from federal government. I would be interested in advance of their position that they have no responsibility in this area. We have a substantial difference of opinion. The real difference between the federal government and the territorial government on this is that we have made some offer to contribute to resolving the problem, whereas the federal government has done nothing.
Response re: Contracts
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I would like to take the opportunity to provide some information to the Member for Porter Creek East, who previously raised with me a question in Question Period on contract guidelines for municipalities. Mr. Speaker, if you recall, the Member was inquiring why it appeared that my department was hiring a consultant to do some additional work that appeared to have already have done. I was able to check, and I can advise the Member that my department did produce a document called Contract Guidelines for Municipalities in late 1988. That was presented to the municipalities. It was received quite well; however, municipalities requested that actual sample documents that could be used by municipalities be drafted. It was the express recommendation of my department not to reinvent the wheel; however, some additional work was undertaken by my department.
Mrs. Firth: Why did he not just write him a letter instead of up and giving a speech in Question Period?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member did ask the question in Question Period and I am just concluding my response. I am pleased to tell the Member that we have retained a consultant by the name of David Percy to do some additional research work on the required documents that municipalities want. We expect this report to be completed sometime this summer and municipalities will be provided with their request for tender documents.
Question re: Education Act
Mr. Devries: I have a question for the Minister of Education. I spent most of the last evening reviewing the Education Act. I even dreamt about it. Thank God it was not a nightmare. I see many minor changes in the text and a few major changes. It is my understanding that we will be starting to debate this act, possibly beginning next week. Does the Minister have a tentative date of when he hopes to have second reading and move the act into Committee of the Whole, give or take?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I read the Members news release to the media today with great interest, and I am looking forward, with great delight, to debating these points that the Member makes, as I always do.
As I have indicated to the Opposition House Leader, it is our intention to debate the legislation on Monday, in second reading, and when that is finished, we will proceed to Committee if there is no other work in Committee with respect to other bills. I believe I have communicated that to the Opposition House Leader on a couple of occasions before.
Mr. Devries: Has the Minister instructed his department to get copies of the bill out to the rural area schools and school committees and to the general public, so that they have an opportunity to review the act and get back to us?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The consultation process for the Education Act has been four years in the making. There have been multi rounds of consultation with the public, with special groups and with interested groups in the education community itself. There have been position papers and draft acts in the public domain. Clearly this act, along with other acts, will be communicated to the public as quickly as possible, but anyone who suggests that they do not have an understanding or knowledge of what is basically in this act would not be telling the truth. Clearly, there has been tremendous opportunity to deal with this act, this legislation, in principle form and in specific form in the past. Maybe Members on the front bench of the Opposition have not been doing their homework, but nevertheless the opportunity has been there to review the provisions of this act in detail. There will be no excuse for being unable to debate this at the appropriate time in the Legislature.
Mr. Devries: I was not arguing whether or not the Minister had done any consultation. I am basically talking about this last copy of the act. There are one or two policy changes in there, and there are considerable changes in the wording of the text. Mind you, many of them have improved.
There are teachers with legitimate concerns. There are concerns in the area of elections and discipline. Maybe they were addressed to the satisfaction of the public in this latest edition, and maybe they were not.
Are there acts being rushed over to the various schools and school committees right now so when we start debating it we can expect input from the general public?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: We have probably two or three tractor trailer loads worth of written input from the public over the last few years. There has been a tremendous amount of work done with the public with hundreds and hundreds of meetings, thousands and thousands of people, tens of thousands of hours of consultation on the act. There has been every single opportunity to go over every single policy issue in this act on numerous occasions.
This act, - as the Member will note if he reads it at some point - has been communicated before in draft form. The basic principles and policies remain unchanged from the draft act. The items we have communicated publicly with respect to those changes are available to the public for their information.
Speaker: Order please. Would the Minister please conclude his answer.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The act itself is available for the public. We have made every effort to print many copies so all people can be aware of it. The bottom line is that the public knows what is in this act and I would submit that the public supports the act.
Speaker: Time for Question Period has now lapsed. We will proceed with the Order Paper.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Mr. Phillips: On behalf of the House Leaders, I request unanimous consent for the withdrawal of Motions for the Production of Papers No. 2 and No. 6 from the Order Paper.
Speaker: Is there unanimous consent?
All Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: Unanimous consent has been granted. The Chair would order the Clerk to drop those motions listed from the Order Paper.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: On behalf of the House Leaders, I request unanimous consent for Motions Other Than Government Motions to be called in the following order: Motion No. 83, which is Item No. 8; Motion No. 69, which is Item No. 4; Motion No. 85, which is Item No. 10 and Motion No. 87, which is Item No. 12.
Speaker: Is there unanimous consent?
All Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: Unanimous consent has been granted.
MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS
Clerk: Item No. 8, standing in the name of Mr. Joe.
Speaker: Is the hon. Member prepared to proceed with Item No. 8?
Mr. Joe: Yes, Mr. Speaker.
Motion No. 83
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Member for Tatchun
THAT this House congratulate the Council for Yukon Indians, federal and Yukon negotiators for the Yukon Indian land claim on their success in achieving a negotiated umbrella final agreement.
Mr. Joe: I am pleased to bring forward this motion, both as a chief of the Selkirk first nation, and as a Member of this government.
The umbrella final agreement, reached on the first day of this month, is a symbol of the spirit of goodwill of everyone who signed it. Over the next two years, as we go ahead with band-by-band negotiations, that spirit will be tested from time to time. At the core of all the coming talks, however, will be the knowledge that this is the agreement that gives us back the right to decide our own future.
I do not want to cloud the sense of celebration that has come with the UFA, but I do want to say that I feel very strongly that, although this agreement cannot undo things that have been wrong in the past, it is a bridge to the future. We will build stronger communities.
Land claim agreements will bring about certainty of land and resource ownership. They will mean better management of fish and wildlife natural resources. A land claim settlement will also help our young people develop a sense of direction. They will know that the land is theirs, and they will learn more and more about the traditional ways.
Yukon first nations will continue to cooperate and to build for the future during the band-by-band negotiations. We will also continue to watch to make sure that promises made today will be carried out tomorrow.
I am asking my friends here in this House to support the motion I have introduced.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: For obvious reasons, I would like to join in the debate of the motion presented by my colleague and friend, the Member for Tatchun. I want to do so because I think it is important at this moment, even before the process is finally complete and even before the details of the agreement that has been reached are all public, because even though the work that has been done is not evident to everybody, I think it is a good thing for this House to do. I think it is important for us, as leaders in our community, to pay tribute to the work of negotiators who have brought us this far in the long and very difficult process of settling the claims of Yukon aboriginal people.
There will be, in the coming months, many opportunities for this House to debate the specifics of the settlement. Still, we must recognize that there is a lot of work to be done in reaching the final agreements with each of the first nations.
I would like to join our friend, the Member for Tatchun, in complimenting the negotiators, because I think their work has not always been appreciated, not always been recognized, and I think has been far more demanding than many citizens realize.
Negotiating an agreement like this involves many sacrifices for the participants, many evening recreational opportunities lost, many weekends with families missed, many more pleasant social occasions having to be abandoned because they were away from their homes and on the road in some community or other, dealing with these very basic questions about the future of the Yukon Territory.
I think I would also like to take a moment to put the agreement we now have in some kind of context. We know that the very first treaties signed between aboriginal people and the British government, in what we now call Canada, go back to 1725. We know that, following the Treaty of Paris, the Royal Proclamation of 1763, which acknowledges the aboriginal rights and sovereignty of North American Indian people, is a profound document, a foundation document for the claims with which we are dealing today.
We know that the last treaty ever signed with people in British Columbia was signed in 1854 before Canada ever formally came into being in 1867 with the British North America Act. We know that an important document in the history of the Yukon claim and the question of Yukon aboriginal rights is the Ruperts Land Transfer of 1870 - an Imperial Order-in-Council that transferred the land we now call the Yukon from British to Canadian domain.
We know that Manitoba treaties were signed in the 1870s. We know, as a result of well-known events in our territory, the mounted police arrived in the Yukon in 1896 to carry out their good work. They carried with them specific instructions not to offer Indian people here a treaty, nor to inform them of their rights under the royal proclamation. People in this area also know full well that in 1902 Chief Jim Boss of Lake Laberge requested a treaty on behalf of his people and was refused.
We know that in 1923, Treaty No. 11, that included, for awhile, the southeastern tip of the Yukon was signed. We know there are a number of other important events in this issue leading to the signing in 1971 of the Alaska Land Claims Settlement, an event that was very instructive for the people in this part of the world.
The situation in terms of the existence of aboriginal title in Canadian law was addressed in the Calder case of 1973, and even though the case was lost on a technicality before the supreme court, there were important statements made at that time about the status of aboriginal title. It was in 1973 as well that the Yukon Native Brotherhood presented their statements of grievances, Together Today for Our Children Tomorrow, to Prime Minister Trudeau. There was a new federal policy established that year on the claims and the appointment of the first federal chief land claims negotiator. There have been several since then.
It was also in 1973 that the Yukon Native Brotherhood and the Yukon Association of Non Status Indians created the Council for Yukon Indians in order to negotiate the claims.
A number of very important land claims agreements have taken place in this country since the Council for Yukon Indians began negotiating. The most important is perhaps the James Bay Agreements of northern Quebec, affecting the Inuit and the Cree in that area.
In 1981, there was a new claims policy stated in the publication In All Fairness. In 1982 we had the Constitution Act, which entrenched aboriginal treaty rights for the first time. We had, in 1983, the section 35(3) of the Constitutional Amendment Proclamation defining treaty rights. In 1983, as well, we had the Penner Report, which called for constitutional entrenchment of Indian self-government. In 1984, we had a breakdown at the land claims talks in the Yukon Territory.
In 1984, the Inuvialuit Final Agreement was reached. In 1985 the federal government, through the then Minister, David Crombie, agreed conceptually to go back to the table for the Yukon claim, although we have to wait for the completion of the Coolican Report, which called for revisions in federal policy in questions like the extinguishment of aboriginal rights and conditions of settlement. We had in 1986 a new federal comprehensive claims policy, and then in 1987 a Yukon specific mandate, allowing our negotiators to really get down to work. In 1988 and 1989, most of the negotiations resulted in the signing of a framework agreement, and in 1990 they have reached the umbrella final agreement negotiations and scheduled agreements towards final agreements with each of the bands.
I cite the record here only to indicate what most Members already know and that is that we have been involved in a very long, historic process, but one that will create arrangements that will I think last, as far as we can be concerned, forever - or a very long, long time.
While we have not finished the job, as there is much to do, I think it is worthwhile to pay tribute to the people who have reached this point in negotiations.
I want to name among the people to whom I would want to pay tribute: Elijah Smith, Joe Jacquot, Daniel Johnston, who was chair of CYI for much of the period, Harry Allen, who was chair of CYI before he went on to an important position with the Assembly of First Nations, David Joe, who has been with the process from the beginning, Mike Smith, present chair of the CYI, Vic Mitander, their negotiator, and Judy Gingell.
On the federal side, we are going back to the federal Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs, Jean Chretien, who appointed a negotiator by the name of R.B. Hutchinson, federal Minister Judd Buchanan, who had Mr. Digby Hunt as his representative in this work. In 1976, the then federal Minister, Warren Allmand, appointed negotiator John Naysmith. In 1977, we had Minister Hugh Falkner, who appointed a chief negotiator named Maurice Aked. In 1979, we had Mr. Jake Epp, and his chief negotiator was Mr. Bob Holmes. In 1980, we had Minister John Munro, and his chief negotiator Dennis OConnor, who played an important role in negotiations as a former Yukoner.
In 1984, the Mulroney government appointed David Crombie as Ministero. He played a key role in seeing the negotiations started. I think Mr. Bill McKnight, who succeeded him as Minister, played a very important part in seeing a lot of progress during his time. He was not in the job long enough to sign the agreements of which he was very much a part, but Mr. Cadieux signed the framework agreeement and continued the process.
I want to, of course, pay proper tribute to Mike Whittington, who has been the chief negotiator for the federal government in recent years, and his deputy, Tim Koepke, who is a Yukoner, and who started off as part of our negotiating team and then was press-ganged, or expropriated, by the federal government to its side of the table.
Most recently, I want to pay tribute to the Minister, Tom Siddon, who, although new to the process, has had the rare political good fortune of being able to see two sets of negotiations on two sides of the border, north of 60 agreements that have been finalized during his time in office.
When I look at the number of people in the Yukon government who, over the years, have been involved in claims negotiations, it is an incredible list and involves some quite remarkable people. I fear that I would exhaust your patience if I were to read the names of the literally dozens of people from the Yukon government who have been involved. I would, at this time of extending compliments, like to name some of the people who have been part of the land claims secretariat and then name some of the leaders from some of the departments, who have also been involved, rather than name them all.
Of course, in the years that we have been involved in this task, the Yukon government has been represented by the gentleman who now serves as the Leader of the Opposition of this House, Willard Phelps, who devoted much time and considerable energy - and no doubt some hair - to the process.
Barry Stuart, who may regret it now, was persuaded by me that a couple of years absence from his much-loved bench would be very important for the future of the territory. He is leaving the process shortly, but I want to say in tribute to Mr. Stuart that I do not think we could have reached these agreements without him. I think he has brought a first class mind, extraordinary creativity, great patience and an incredible energy to this task. I want to put a real proper tribute to the work that he has done. I sincerely believe that we would not have reached this stage without him.
Chris Knight, who was borrowed temporarily from the Department of Community and Transportation Services some time ago, has now become the chief negotiator in the process. Tim McTiernan, who began his involvement in the claims process when he was with the Department of Renewable Resources, is someone who contributed initially as part of his time and found it a more consuming process that he ever imagined, and is now of course assistant deputy minister in the Executive Council Office, coordinating both the negotiations and the process of beginning implementation of the agreements we have.
There are a number of other people who have contributed to the process over the years, some who are no longer with it but who played an important role. Among them are Karen Hougen-Bell, Gerald Isaac, Wolf Riedel, Arnold Hedstrom, Rob McWilliam, Fred Privett, Gerry Piper, Ella LeGresley, Brian Wooten, Tim Koepke, Eric Woodhouse, Gordon Michener, Steven Horn, Karyn Armour, Stephen Fuller, John Olnyk, Doug McArthur, John Lawson, as well as support staff, including: Jill Doyle, Lynn Black, Leah Deforest, Madelaine Kennedy amd Jolita Krumins. A number of these people have made real contributions.
I will not try to name all of the people from all of the departments that were involved because a lot of work from a lot of different agencies in the territorial government has gone into reaching getting us to this stage.
I do want to pay tribute to the work of Charles Sanderson, Marc Tremblay, Linda Engels, along with Ray Hayes and Leo Chassey. They have made some real contributions, as have, of course, many of the staff in the Department of Community and Transportation Services, lead by Roger Graham. Bill Klasson and all of his people, particularly the policy people, have made an enormous contribution, and I think from the point of view of Renewable Resources, some of the people like Tim McTiernan and John Olnyk have practically become lost souls, in terms of having disappeared from the department to become devoted almost entirely to the lands claims process.
There are literally dozens of people in that department who have contributed, as is the case in the Department of the Executive Council Office, Economic Development, Education, Health and Human Resources, Tourism and Justice. There were a large number of people, among them: Jo Thompson, Bob Francis, Tom Ullyett, Jeff Hunston, John Spicer, and many more whose names I will not read into the record because it would take too long. On behalf of the government, I did want to extend to them our thanks and compliments.
At this stage, I do not want to spend a lot of time dealing with the substance of the claim. There will be many opportunities to do that in debate at later stages.
The negotiations in which we have been involved have been characterized by a process of cooperative negotiations and community-based negotiations, with a lot of public access, a lot of flexibility and public participation. We have reached agreements on preimplementation and implementation that are innovative; we have been recognized and respected as a full and separate party; we have a basis for addressing self-government claims and, we hope, ultimately resolving the question of self-government. We do have a constitutional obligation to negotiate self-government agreements, and it is this governments view that those agreements reached will be constitutionally entrenched very soon.
Everybody knows that the important features of this claim are innovative. The retention of aboriginal title on settlement lands is very important, as is the conservation of wildlife and the elements that do that, including the wildlife restoration trusts, special management areas, the sustainable development principles, and the fact that we will have comprehensive wildlife management, local and public control, and conflict resolution procedures. It is a very appropriate sharing of power in terms of the management of public lands, the integrity of settlement lands to be protected, and the development of financial security for the aboriginal people here.
When we do come to debate the contents of this agreement, I will have opportunities to argue that this is a balanced package for all parties. I will have an opportunity to again explain to those citizens who may not understand that we have not been doing this out of the goodness of our heart but because we, as a government, have a legal obligation to negotiate this process. This is a point that has been made by others before. I would make a point that was made by the Leader of the Official Opposition some years ago that the choice between a negotiated agreement and a court-based one is obvious. The opportunity for us to participate in forging these agreements is infinitely preferable to the alternative, which was to have the courts hand down a solution to this problem, which may not have been acceptable to anybody living here in the Yukon.
I think the claim is on the forefront of these kinds of settlements. It is innovative. I quote George Erasmus, Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, who was quoted in an Ottawa paper as saying, We finally have a breakthough where aboriginal title is now recognized, and I think that is just one of the unique features of this claim.
In closing, as much as we all want this process to be complete, as much as we all want to finish this important work, we still have local first nation final agreements to negotiate, and the negotiators from all our parties will need our collective support and the support of the elected leadership of all levels of government and the citizens of the Yukon in order to reach the agreements we want to reach. We have come a long way in the journey but the journey is not over. It is, I think, not only an incredibly demanding but also an incredibly rewarding process. I really and truly do believe that not only the aboriginal people but the territory as a whole will be better off as a result of the work that has been done.
Ms. Kassi: I am in sort of a difficult position in this House today. On one hand I am a Member of the government whose principle of social democracy I firmly believe in, and on the other hand I also have a commitment to the aboriginal people of the Yukon and I must express my concern about some aspects of the umbrella final agreement.
My concerns are based on matters of historical record. France assumed sovereignty in Canada in 1680. When the English took over in 1763 the British North America Act of 1867 was soon followed by the Imperial Order in Canada and that brought the Yukon and Northwest Territories into confederation in 1870.
Treaties were signed with many first nations across Canada in the subsequent years respecting the legal obligation of the government to compensate Indians before settlers invaded aboriginal lands. There were no treaties signed in the Yukon, however. Our current land claim is an accumulation of history, legal obligation and hope for the future.
During the gold rush, thousands of outsiders came to the Yukon and literally helped themselves. There was little, if any, respect for traditional lands.
In 1902, Chief Jim Boss of Lake Laberge asked for a treaty and was refused by the federal government. As long ago as 1923, aboriginal land in the Yukon was referred to as land set aside. There were no reserves. The tax-exempt status of Canadian reserves did not apply in the Yukon. It took until the late 1970s for a moratorium on taxes to be cleared here.
When the federal government proposed abolishing the Indian Act in 1969 there was a rush of consciousness-raising among the Indian people. The Yukon Native Brotherhood was formed and all bands were represented. In 1971 the Yukon Association of Non-status Indians was formed, again with representation from all communities. It was also in the 1970s that the Yukon Native Brotherhood recognized the need to negotiate a treaty in the Yukon so that aboriginal peoples would regain control over their lands, resources and their lives.
The 1973, the supreme court decision recognizing the aboriginal rights of the Nishka First Nation in the Nass Valley was a cause for celebration.
Here at home, Elijah Smith and others presented their hopes for the future, Together Today for Our Children Tomorrow, to Prime Minister Trudeau.
In July of 1973, negotiations began, but the work was darkened by some Yukoners who formed the Peoples Land Committee Against the Land Claims. The struggle for justice in our own land continues. The Council for Yukon Indians was formed in 1973, and its sole mandate was to negotiate and settle a Yukon land claim. Joe Jacquot was the first president of CYI.
The federal government continued to try to control the aboriginal peoples by claiming its right to decide who beneficiaries should be; our elders, Angela Sydney and Annie Ned, spoke out against it. These women have quiet power and strength; they said, No. Indian people should have the right to determine who their people are. We must not abandon our daughters who have married outside the Indian community.
Then, in 1982, the First Ministers Conference on the Constitution recognized some aboriginal rights and protections. In 1984, an agreement in principle was signed here in the Yukon. This was actually 76 agreements between CYI, the federal government and the Yukon government. A special general assembly was called with five seated delegates from each band. The federal government required that 10 out of 12 of the bands should sign, but only eight bands said yes.
This 1984 agreement did not include non-status Indians. It called for a loss of rights and title, and it did not give the aboriginal peoples hunting and fishing guarantees. We all know that the membership said no to that agreement in principle at that time.
In 1985, the Coolican Report recommended that a new policy should not require that aboriginal people surrender total rights, and that our Constitution has so recently recognized and affirmed. We therefore recommend that blanket extinguishment of aboriginal rights no longer be a precondition of settlement. Still, the 1987 federal comprehensive land claims policy called for extinguishment of aboriginal rights.
In 1987, the Yukons specific mandate passed by the federal government allowed the Yukon government to negotiate a land claim agreement that protects aboriginal rights. At the CYI general assembly in July of 1988 in Little Salmon, its membership recommended that aboriginal rights and titles be reaffirmed and that self-government be entrenched and that a special general assembly be held to determine ratification requirements.
In 1988, the settlement subagreements were reached, and in 1989, the agreement in principle was signed with March 31, 1990, set as the deadline for signing the umbrella agreement, which brings us to the motion before us today.
I want to congratulate the negotiators as well. They have worked very very hard. A lot of them are not with us today. I would like to make mention of the previous chiefs of my nation, the Vuntat Gwichin, who have contributed very much and have dedicated a lot of their lives to reaching this land claims agreement. Those people I would like to mention are previous chiefs: Chief Charlie Abel, who is not with us anymore; Peter Lord; John Joe Kay, Johnny Abel and Alice Frost. Those are the previous chiefs of the Vuntat Gwichin Tribe who have contributed a great deal to the agreements.
The umbrella final agreement does represent a huge win for most of the aboriginal people, since the aboriginal rights and titles were guaranteed, even if it is only on retained lands. Having said that, the self-government issue is outstanding. Indian people believe firmly that self-government is part of aboriginal rights and titles guaranteed in the British North America Act and in the 1870 Imperial Order, but the Constitution Act of 1982 protects all agreements in the umbrella final agreement with the exception of self-government.
I cannot over emphasize my concern about this. Self-government is going to be covered by its own legislation, we are told, but let us look at recent history: promises made to first nations and promises broken.
The James Bay Cree are currently in negotiations to annul their old agreements. This is due to difficulties they are facing to get the federal government to implement the agreements they have reached.
The Inuvialuit are also thinking about court actions. We can also learn a lot from aboriginal peoples in Alaska who gave up just about everything for a cash settlement that dwindled away very quickly. The aboriginal peoples in Alaska now have to suffer because of losing their rights to subsistence hunting.
The future of our children is in the land, and it is in self-government. In the coming band-by-band negotiations, we will be looking at the allocation of land and money, and the future of CYI itself.
I am heartened by a change from the federal comprehensive land claims policy in our umbrella final agreement that calls for the retention of aboriginal title on settlement lands. In the words of Georges Erasmus, We finally have a breakthrough where the original title is now recognized, as our Government Leader had also stated earlier.
For the first time in Canada, in any treaty or modern land claim settlement, a comprehensive extinguishment of aboriginal title is not a part of the settlement. Governments acquire certainty on all non-settlement lands, while aboriginal people retain their aboriginal title on settlement lands.
There is also a provision for the development of financial security for future aboriginal generations. The financial agreement creates the ability for each band, through a beneficiary corporation, to invest and use the comprehensive fund free from taxation if it is used to achieve educational, cultural and social objectives. These are unique features of our umbrella agreement.
Still, Yukon first nations, independently and together with the Council for Yukon Indians, must maintain a watchful eye. The promises of this agreement must not be compromised. We have to see that they are followed through.
Changes of government in the future must live up to these agreements. The integrity of this agreement depends on the willingness of the government to live up to its commitments.
We have a long way to go. The umbrella final agreement still has to be ratified by Yukons aboriginal people in the upcoming assembly of CYI. As promised, and as I stated, we will be watching. We will have a watchful eye to see that these agreements are implemented.
Hon. Ms. Joe: This motion personally allows me a great deal of pleasure in being able to address my sincere congratulations to some very dedicated and committed individuals in the communities in what was a long road to the negotiation of a final land claims agreement.
While there has been little fanfare or visible excitement and celebration, this occasion is one that deserves a great deal of rejoicing. There are so many people in the Yukon who spent many years, and have literally devoted their lives, ensuring our own aboriginal people were served with a fair and equitable settlement. Each and every one of these people deserves our own personal appreciation and congratulations on achieving what has been a very elusive agreement.
This process has been brought to its knees many times during the last 17 years. There have been a variety of roadblocks and, sometimes, even ill will toward First Nations. This brought a great deal of sadness to myself and many Yukoners, who feel a true commitment to ensuring the aboriginal people of the Yukon participate equally in the growth and development of the Yukon.
Mr. Speaker, you and many others will recall my involvement with the Yukon Association of Non-status Indians from 1971 to 1978 or 1979. At that time, a great deal of work was done in regard to a land claim settlement and where the aboriginal people of the Yukon were going from there.
The Yukon association was set up to deal with those individuals who had lost their status through some discriminatory section of the act, or for the sole purpose of not even being registered at the time of their birth because they lived so far in the bush and were not able to do so. Many Indian women lost their status through marriage to people outside the bands who were not status Indians, although they may have been Indian people. They were individuals who had lost their status because they worked for the federal government and wanted to be able to take advantage of the northern allowance. There were many aboriginal people who lost their status because they wanted to own a business or they wanted to send their children to residential schools.
At the time, there was a division that was created by the discriminatory sections of the Indian Act, and it caused differences between those Indians who held status as an Indian and people who did not. I recall a great deal of concern and a great deal of sadness that was created between those two groups of people at that time. I remember the hard work that went into the preparation of trying to make sure that non-status Indian people were a part of any land claim settlement, when it should come to that.
Many things happened during that time that did create divisions in families; for instance, between a brother and sister or even a sister and a sister, or even parents and their children, because some of them were status Indian and some were not. Right down to the fact that at the time that the aboriginal people of the Yukon were starting to talk about land claims, non-status Indian people were not allowed into those meetings because they were closed, closed to their brothers and sisters, to their daughters and sons. That did create a great deal of sadness, but I think in the end, when the differences were dealt with and worked out, that it made for a closer group of people. I think that I would like to, at this time, commend a lot of those individuals who, in the early days of the Yukon Association of Non-status Indians, worked so hard to make sure that those individuals were accepted as beneficiaries of the lands claims in the Yukon. I think they deserve to be commended, and because I was a part of that executive, I want to make sure that this is mentioned here in the House.
It was not only the differences between the two Indian groups in the Yukon. Many other situations caused a great deal of sadness and hostility and alienation. A thing comes to mind, that I do not think I will ever forget: I attended part of a meeting because I heard that they were going to be discussing land claims. I found that when I got to that meeting - and I was very new to the situation in the Yukon in regard to land claims or organization - there was a Society for Northern Land Research, which was headed by a Mr. Dan Lang, who is now the Member for Porter Creek East. The things that were brought up at that meeting were things that I could not believe in that day and age. In a letter to the federal Minister of Indian Affairs at that time, he wrote, as the president, Our society is totally opposed to the concept of aboriginal rights and its implications. Whether these claims are legal, pragmatic, or moral, they are totally against the idea of democracy and the belief in equality.
I bring that up today because I want people to know that there was a great deal of hostility among the Indian people and the white people of the territory.
It was not just something like this, it was something that grew and grew. It surprised me; it really did. Indian people have put up with racism all their lives. When I was growing up, I had to sit in the back seat of a theatre in Chilliwack. In this day and age when you see something like this happening you do not believe it is true. It continued to happen as years went by. I remember I attended a meeting in Porter Creek being held by two MLAs. At that meeting there was a lot of discussion about whether Indian people really had any title to any claim in the Yukon. The discussions between those two individuals and the people sitting there were exactly the same kinds of things I heard when I went into a meeting for the Society for Northern Land Research. The same kind of things were being said. The situation and discussion got so hot and heavy - he smiles and agrees with me, he agrees with everything said at that time and he agrees with it today - and the feelings got so bad that one individual who had an adopted Indian child stood up and said, I disagree with that; there is no way my adopted Indian child is going to have any entitlement to any land claim in the Yukon." That was the kind of thing being developed and taught. It was not that long ago.
When I came out of that meeting that night, a reporter from one of the newspapers said to me, The only thing missing tonight was the burning cross. I agreed with him. That was true.
The feeling among the people in the Yukon got very bad. Indian people were also reacting in the same manner because they were not exactly sure about what would happen. It was a long hard road that Indian people had to follow. So many individuals at that time had worked so hard to try to put things into perspective so they could try to settle a land claim in the Yukon. It has taken 17 years to do that. It is just now beginning, because each and every band is going to have to ratify that settlement. I believe all those bands are ready to do that.
Another thing I have to mention - I do not forget these things because they stay in my mind forever - was in the election in 1982 when there was a new interest in the New Democratic Party in the Yukon because the Premier had done a very good job of letting people know there was a new party, it was progressing, and there were certain things we believed in that we believed all Yukoners believed in. The ad that came out at that time really disturbed me. It was the first year I had run in anything except an Indian organization. At that time I was trying to convince people in my riding to vote for me.
There was a full page ad at the time signed by 12 Yukoners. What that ad said was, do not vote for these people who are listed - that is not what it said but that is what it meant - because they agree with land claims and have been involved with land claims in the past. What was basically meant was do not vote for the NDP because they agree there should a settlement for Indian people in the Yukon and we 12, as Yukoners, do not agree with that.
To this day, I remember my reaction that night. I remember it because it was the first night I could not go out and campaign because I was angry. I could not believe it, and this was almost ten years after the Society for Northern Land Research was formed and they were doing all their anti-Indian stuff.
The next night that I went out, I was surprised because there were so many people who did not agree with that kind of an ad and it restored my faith in my fellow human beings and, as a matter of fact, I was able to pick up a few votes that night as a result of the ad. So it did not work.
I wanted to bring up that history because despite the good things that are happening today we should not forget some of those bad things.
In the early years of these negotiations, it was evident that, other than the first nations, few people had the political will to bring about the settlement. I have mentioned briefly some of those things.
I know that the last five years have brought a new and strong surge of commitment to bring this process to a final settlement. The surge of commitment in the midst of adversity was led by this government, and in particular a Premier who provided his and this governments full committment and cooperation to the Yukon First Nations and to the federal govenrment. I would personnally like to thank the Premier for his leadership and political will. It has sustained us all through this complex and endless process throughout the past five years. I thought that period would never end.
The communities in the Yukon, in their unending patience, have set an example about what it means to sacrifice in order to ensure development that would truly reflect a fair system that would take into account the needs of all people. All of these communities deserve our special congratulations. I know that often there has been total frustration with governments and the apparent lack of interest in their needs. Now we all see the light. The tunnel is finally coming to an end for the communities and their leaders. They can be satisfied that they can now move forward with the satisfaction of knowing that they have had an opportunity to participate in a process that is reflective of their community needs.
There have been many individuals who have worked long and hard, committing much more than many of us will ever know. These people will probably never be known to the average Yukoner. Each of us in this House certainly knows who some of these individuals are and I would like to thank them, not just for myself, but for my children and my grandchildren who will long enjoy the benefits of this spirit of cooperation between all Yukoners that will result from this particular land claims agreement. The Premier has listed a number of those people, and I add my commendation to that list as well. But I am sure what we need is a sort of hall of fame for all those individuals. If we did, I am sure it would cover the walls of a very large building.
For now, I would just like to let all of those individuals know that I appreciate all their hard work and dedication.
The signing of the umbrella final agreement was quiet. It was signed with a great deal of dignity and satisfaction. This in itself is a very loud message that each and every one of us should note carefully. Although the days of inequality and unfairness to the aboriginal people of the Yukon are not yet over, we all want to go on with our lives together with dignity, satisfied that we have completed a very long process that will bring many changes, but most importantly, will bring a true sense of fairness to every single person in the territory. Thank you.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I would like to express my unqualified support for this motion. I want to thank the Member for Tatchun for bringing it forward so I could express some of my views on this matter.
I think all of us in this Assembly recognize the historic significance of initialing the umbrella final agreement to the Yukon Indian land claim. Those people who have worked toward this goal for 17 years, some of them very difficult years, are deserving of our congratulations and admiration.
While attention was focused on the principals to the negotiations and their chief negotiators during the final days in Ottawa, I found my thoughts turning to the people in the Yukon communities who had sacrificed their time, dedicated their efforts and committed their hopes to the claims negotiations process. Their sacrifice, dedication and commitment have made the umbrella agreement possible. The same will be asked of them again in negotiations toward final agreements for each first nation.
With that in mind, I would like to thank and congratulate the chiefs, councillors, band managers, negotiators, mappers and enrolment people for their efforts and offer them my support and encouragement in the negotiations to come. In particular, I would like to thank the people of Klondike, whose leadership and hard work have laid the groundwork for a final Yukon claims settlement that will make the Yukon a better place for us all.
Congratulations to the Dawson Indian Band, to Chief Angie Joseph, to councillors Doreen Olsen, George Mason, John Semple and Ronald Johnson, and band manager Margie Kormandy, negotiator Stevie Taylor, mapper Reg Stenstrom, and to other members, including Louise Drugan and Dolores Anderson.
First nations self-government is an important part of the Yukon land claim, and these people are developing the skills and providing the advice to their negotiators that will make it work.
Negotiating sessions held in the communities, in cooperative rather than adversarial negotiations, have helped to develop the trust that will be needed to make the final claim settlement work. It has also helped to make people living in the communities more aware of the process and how the settlement will help to build better communities.
With the support of band elders and members, and with the cooperation of the non-aboriginal people of the Klondike, I am confident the Dawson Indian Band will reach a first nations final agreement that will be a model social contract between the Yukons two predominant cultures.
In addition to congratulating the individuals of the Dawson Indian Band for their part in reaching an umbrella final agreement, I would like to express my appreciation for the efforts of staff in Renewable Resources and Tourism. As Minister of Renewable Resources, I am delighted with several features of the settlement that break new ground, and thankful for the dedication and hard work of people who have made this possible, particularly in the policy, and fish and wildlife branches of the government.
First among these is the fact that conservation is recognized as a first principle of the wildlife subagreement. The claim commits both the government and aboriginal people to management practices that conserve Yukon fish and wildlife. When this claim is finalized and becomes part of the Canadian Constitution, Yukon wildlife will enjoy constitutional protection, a first in this country.
The second feature of the wildlife agreement is a commitment to greater public involvement in Yukon fish and wildlife management. The Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board, which has been established as an example of how wildlife will be managed post-land claims, has given the public far more say in decisions than ever before.
Likewise at the community level, the Na-Cho Nyak Dun/Mayo Regional Resource Council preimplementation has demonstrated to Mayo area residents that they can work together to manage renewable resources in their area.
In all negotiation areas in which department and staff have been involved, solid agreements have resulted, such as the development assessment process, water policy and the heritage subagreement.
In conclusion, I express my thanks and congratulations to all who have been involved in the land claims process and extend my good wishes and support to those who will continue the negotiations.
Mr. Phillips: I rise in support of this motion. It has been 17 long years since the land claims process began and countless hours of negotiations that have led to the signing of the umbrella final agreement.
I have lived in the Yukon for over 42 years. Almost half my life I have experienced the Yukon land claim agreement: 17 years this agreement has been going on. It reminds me of a story I told some people about the day I went to Selkirk Street Elementary School and spent a couple of hours with the children there. I asked them what they would like to do when they grew up. I guess it was a sort of a sign of the times when one young Indian boy said to me that one of the things he wanted to be when he grew up was a land claims negotiator - not a fireman, policeman or trapper, or anything, it was a land claims negotiator. That sends a signal to all of us that it has been going on for far too long.
I know that land claims negotiators are very credible people, and very experienced and valuable people to have, but I hope the Yukon does not have a lot of use for them in the future. I hope the Yukon land claims negotiators can use their experience in other areas to help other groups attain final settlements. I hope it does not become a permanent job in the territory.
More time is now required to arrive at the individual band final agreements, but the current progress in leading to an overall settlement is certainly encouraging.
I look forward to reviewing the provisions of the umbrella final agreement and urge the government to put out as much information as they possibly can to the general public so all Yukoners will better understand the kind of settlement the parties to the agreement are striving for.
Yukoners, both beneficiaries and non beneficiaries, would like to see the Yukon land claim brought to a successful conclusion in the not too distant future. Their patience today has been commendable and I want to personally thank the land claims negotiators of all three parties for the work they have done.
For many non-native people in the Yukon this process has been extremely long and frustrating. It must be a lot more frustrating for the native people who are trying to achieve a final agreement. I think they can feel a lot better today that we have reached this final umbrella agreement and a lot more optimistic we will be reaching a final agreement in the very near future.
Ms. Hayden: Land claim negotiators are indeed to be congratulated on their success in achieving a negotiated umbrella final agreement. There is, I believe, cause for rejoicing by Yukon Indian peoples and non-Indian people of the Yukon at the signing of the UFA after 17 long years of negotiation.
Times are changing. I remember very clearly, as will some other Members of this House, what it was like in the 1950s and on into the 1960s for Yukon Indian peoples. Just last year, we had the horrors of residential school life brought home to every one of us, through a Nedaa documentary - a whole generation of Indian people has struggled and grown to adulthood without having their parents around, without learning about the traditions of their people and without being allowed to speak their own languages.
Some of us have vivid memories about what Yukon life was like. We are all the product of a racist society that said there are first-, second- and even third-class citizens. Indian people were not allowed to vote. Indian people were not allowed to enjoy a meal in a restaurant. Indian people were not allowed to raise their children according to the laws and traditions of their old ways.
Now it is the children and the grandchildren of the people who faced monumental change in their lives who have worked so hard to bring about this umbrella final agreement. Time will move on again so that generations in the future will benefit from the sacrifices of their ancestors.
I remember the document Together Today for Our Children Tomorrow, crafted by Chief Elijah Smith and others of the Yukon Native Brotherhood. He must be very proud of his people today.
I want to tell you that I am filled with admiration for the Indian women of this territory. They are the foundation of new life for their people, as chiefs, administrators, social workers, mothers, daughters and elders. They are leading Yukon first nations on the long journey of renewal: renewal of self-esteem, pride, accomplishment and a better life. Land claims is an issue of social justice more than anything else.
Times are changing. We can no longer stand by, witnessing injustice, and hope that a conspiracy of silence will make the inequities of society go away. Land claims is an issue of empowerment, an empowerment of self-determination that belonged to the aboriginal peoples of the Yukon to begin with.
The people of the Haida nation have a saying that we do not inherit this land from our parents; we borrow it from our children. I believe all Yukon people are learning to live by these words of wisdom.
When Europeans arrived in this land, their purpose, for the most part, was to take. The time to give back is long overdue. The last 17 years of land claims negotiations have shown the determination of most Yukon people to do just that and so the legal obligation will be fulfilled. Let us not, however, deny our obligation as individuals to continue to push toward a society of equals, where justice and opportunity can belong to each and every one of us, regardless of race.
I join my colleagues in congratulating all the negotiators for their achievement of an umbrella final agreement. More than that, however, I pay tribute to the work of the behind-the-scenes people, who have also made this agreement possible. Thank you.
Mr. Nordling: Some Yukoners may think this motion is premature, and it is true we do not know the contents of the umbrella final agreement and cannot comment on the specifics of that agreement as yet. However, given the history of the land claims process as outlined by both the Government Leader and the Member for Old Crow, to have negotiated an umbrella final agreement merits congratulations for that achievement alone. For that reason I support this motion.
Like the mover of the motion, the Member for Tatchun, I would like to go a little further and express some hope with regard to what is contained in the umbrella final agreement.
Like the Member for Tatchun, I hope this agreement will result in stronger communities and give young people a sense of direction and purpose. In our travels throughout the territory as part of the task force on suicide, the Member for Watson Lake and I were told that one of the areas that needed improvement was the general health of the community. This led to long discussions on how to improve the general health of the communities. Most of the solutions were based on economic renewal. It is my hope the umbrella final agreement will provide economic renewal for the aboriginal peoples in order to provide meaningful employment and a sense of purpose.
It is also my hope that the non monetary elements of the umbrella final agreement will provide young people with a sense of belonging and allow them to develop a proud sense of their history and traditions. With a greater degree of financial independence and a greater measure of control over their own destiny, I believe Yukon aboriginal peoples can overcome the serious social problems and the dismal economic position in which they now find themselves.
I hope the land claims process will proceed to final agreement with each band in the near future so that this renewal can begin: a renewal which will benefit not only the aboriginal peoples of the Yukon, but all Yukoners.
Mr. Devries: It is a pleasure to rise and speak in favour of this motion today. I have a fairly short speech here, but I was just sitting here thinking that it was not too many years after we emigrated to Canada that we lived several miles from the Six Nations Reserve near Brandford, Ontario. As a six or seven year old, I remember going to Oshweken. The Six Nations Reserve had operated in a self-government context for several years at that time. Oshwegan seemed to be the centre of the cultural activity there. The Lone Rangers partner, Jay Silverheels was there. It stands out as a highlight of my life when I was a kid, meeting a real movie star, who was a true Iroquois Mohawk Indian.
Yukoners have waited a long time for this land claim to be settled. Although we are not done yet, we have completed another important stage in this resolution of the land claims. We see a section of a new Education Act that has an area reserved for the implementation of this new agreement. I will leave it to the Minister of Education to elaborate on that a little. I am sure he will, and I do not want to steal his lines.
I am positive people will look back on the land claims and point to this agreement as being a key to the Yukons future. On behalf of all the constituents of Watson Lake, many of whom will benefit from the successful completion of land claims, I congratulate CYI, the territorial and federal negotiators. We see a light at the end of the tunnel, and I look forward to the successful conclusion of these individual band agreements.
Mrs. Firth: I rise today to speak in support of this motion. I would like to thank the Member for Tatchun for bringing the motion forward to the Legislative Assembly and giving all Members an opportunity to express their ideas, opinions and feelings about this particularly emotional and compassionate issue.
The wording of the motion congratulating the Council for Yukon Indians, the federal and Yukon negotiations, for the umbrella agreement is interesting. The practice and art of negotiation is something non-Indian people seem to take for granted. I want my comments to reflect my particular admiration for the Council for Yukon Indians and the Indian people themselves who, I know, do not have a practice in their culture of, or put a great of stress on, negotiating things. They are not usually people who are in a confrontational position.
I want my comments to reflect the tremendous struggle I think the Indian people have come through. At many times, they have had limited human resources, limited financial resources, and have had their ups and downs within the politics of their own organizations. They have been struggling to try to educate their young people so they could handle the negotiation process and come with more people who were educated and had the skills to carry on that process. They were struggling with social problems and issues, and family issues.
To me, the signing of the umbrella final agreement indicates it should be a great day of celebration for the Indian people, because they made it through the whole process, despite all those adversarial positions that presented themselves to the Indian people.
They demonstrated their strength and, all the while they came through that process, they maintained their pride and dignity. Sometimes we, in the non-Indian community, take that sort of thing for granted. We have to give recognition to the tremendous steps and efforts that have been made by the Indian people.
It is difficult to debate the motion in any full concept when we are not privileged to the particulars of the umbrella agreement. Therefore, I feel at a disadvantage in talking to any of the specifics. I simply want to say that our position has been that we agree with the Government Leader when he talks about the Indian people achieving true equality and becoming self-sufficient and independent with their settlement.
It has always been my belief that I would like to see the Indian people far more independent with their own businesses. Some of the bands have already started that. They are training their own young people, running their own businesses and becoming very self-sufficient. I think that is an objective and a goal of the Indian people. I hope the territorial government will continue to provide the same kind of training and educational support systems as they have been providing in the past.
To adequately represent the constituents of Riverdale South I would look forward to an opportunity to perhaps speak again to this particular issue once the details of the umbrella agreement are made public and we have an opportunity to examine them and get some feedback from the non-Indian community as well as the Indian community. I think all Members of the Legislature will want to have discussions with respect to the details and specifics of the agreement.
I would like to extend to all the people mentioned in the motion - and, as other Members have said, there are too many to mention them all - my sincere congratulations. I recognize that a lot of hours, hard work, tears, anguish and some happy times have gone into this negotiating process that has taken so long and so much time.
I want to extend my congratulations to the Indian people, particularly, and encourage them to carry on. I have enjoyed some of the recollections that the Member for Old Crow has brought forward in the House this afternoon and also the Member for Whitehorse North Centre. They were very personal presentations and that helps us, as part of the non-Indian community, understand some of the feelings and turmoil that these people have been going through with the long ongoing process.
Once again, I thank the Member for Tatchun for presenting the motion. I extend my congratulations and thanks on behalf of the constituents I represent to all of the individuals who have participated in this extremely significant negotiating process.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I have a few words as well to contribute to the support of the motion today. I, like some other Members, am of two minds about the agreement and the period of negotiation that has been experienced by the Yukon for many years. This is largely because I come from an area of Canada that has not seen the active presence of aboriginal people for many years. Unlike the Member for Watson Lake, while living in southern Ontario and growing up there, the presence of aboriginal people was, at least to my knowledge, not visible in my community. If it had not been for the teaching of Canadian history, including aboriginal history, in the schools where we learned of the proud history of the Algonquian, the Huron and the Iroquois nations, there would have been nothing in the experience of my childhood to suggest that there was a native presence in North America, or at least my part of it in southern Ontario, based on the experience we had as children in these communities. Clearly, it means then that the need to strike a place for native people that they have held for millennia is something that is imperative for our generation of Canadians in this part of the country.
There have been many years of negotiation in the Yukon. There have been many sacrifices at the personal level that various Members have referred to. There are literally hundreds of complex issues that are addressed in the negotiating process and the final agreements. There have been many issues of fundamental interest to all people in the territory. All people are obviously affected by the negotiations and the final agreements. There have been many meetings in all communities. We know of the existence of a series of negotiators over the years. There is even a negotiator in the Legislature today who I am sure spent a great deal of time working through the issues.
There has obviously been a fair amount of effort that has been put into the final agreement, but so much has been at stake. Clearly, the people for whom the negotiations were dedicated had the most at stake in the process: social justice for aboriginal people. We often spend a little too long bemoaning the difficulty and not enough on the object of the negotiations, which was to achieve the social justice that native people were in danger of losing without a firm and solid commitment by other Canadians to ensure that native people can strike the place for themselves they deserve.
I think it is also important to note that negotiations do not give native people the right to self-government. It does not give them the right to something they have not had. They have exercised self-government and self-determination without the benefit, or otherwise, of other cultures for thousands of years. It is something, however, that the agreement affirms and re-affirms, which I think is an important feature of this agreement and will be detailed in band final agreements.
In terms of what the native people have had at stake in these negotiations, it has been no less than their heritage, their culture, their language and their traditions, and basically their future, as a community and as a cultural entity. Clearly, I think the claims agreement affirms the right of aboriginal peoples in the territory to maintain their culture in the modern context.
The agreement makes reference to everything from land and resource management issues to wildlife management issues, financial compensation, even the features of the self-government agreements, the most important of which, in my opinion, not surprisingly, is education.
I will take the Member for Watson Lake up on responding to how the Education Act responds to this challenge when we debate the Education Act more closely later on in the sitting.
What has characterized these negotiations and the most recent set of negotiations and what makes them so unique and particularly laudable, is the cooperative approach that has been taken by the negotiators to come to a final agreement. I believe that the negotiations have been characterized as being less adversarial. I think that that has been an important feature of the negotiating process, which may be not quite in the tradition of the Anglo-Saxon - which is to beat heads and try to come to a conclusion - and perhaps more in the traditions of aboriginal peoples themselves, which is to act in a cooperative manner for the greater good of everyone.
The negotiations have been community based and I think that that has allowed for all people to trust the negotiating process better and also to consider it to be more relevant to the lives of people in the communities.
The fact that the negotiations have allowed public access and, in some respects, public participation, I think is a unique and special feature of the process. I think that without it, the process could not have had the support of the vast majority of native people in this territory.
I think that one special feature, as well, is the flexibility of the final agreement. Like many Yukon communities, different communities will have different priorities and want to do different things. I think that the flexibility that it allows, in terms of ensuring that different bands can meet different priorities is a feature that I think has ensured the future of this agreement and also ensures a longer term community support.
I believe the features of implementation and preimplementation are essential to making sure the final agreement is effective and supported by community people. There is a great deal to do in the final agreement in putting the various provisions into place. The references to preimplementation, both in training and resource management are essential features to ensure the agreement is acceptable to Yukon people.
The most important feature is the self-government portion of the land claim agreement. That is a unique and important feature of the agreement for Yukoners. Especially so, given the character of Yukoners desire and self-determination. That has been the most valuable feature for the people in my riding who have been on a search for local self-determination for many years. The negotiating process has been a catalyst for their desires and concerns. Consequently, this has allowed the community, both the band and the village council, to reach out and come together to act in unison to take control over their own lives. The fact the people of Mayo are so in touch with their own community future is something we owe in large part to land claims negotiations. There has not always been such a close relationship in that community in the past. What they have now is not only a mature relationship, but also one that will be better for the whole community for generations to come.
I would like to thank every one of the negotiators who have been named in the Legislature. I would like to thank the Chiefs of the Na-Cho Nyak Dun Band who have contributed so much time and energy to the process over the years. I have had the opportunity to sit in late night meetings with various band negotiators in their homes in Mayo discussing the concepts of land claims itself and the various features of land claim agreements.
Land claim negotiations and the affirmation of native rights have been at the forefront of their thinking for many years, long before the initiative was first taken in the early 1970s to begin negotiations. It has been part of their lives from birth. Clearly, they and the elders of the Mayo community should be particularly thanked for their effort. While I do believe the land claim agreement is good for all people of the territory, I must say that it is for the native people that the negotiations took place. It is for the native people to take full advantage and benefit of the provisions of the agreement. I hope the goodwill of both the first nations and the governments of the Yukon in the future, and the spirit that is espoused in the final agreement can be maintained so there is social justice in this community for many generations to come.
Mr. Phelps: I would like to join with others who have thanked the Member for Tatchun for bringing this motion forward. In speaking to the motion, as has been said by several other speakers, we have not had a chance to examine and evaluate the umbrella agreement itself. However, we are speaking about the various individuals who have worked in good faith, strenuously and hard, in order to achieve a milestone in the journey toward a fair and just settlement of land claims in Yukon. I am going to support that aspect of the motion and the motion itself.
In listening to all the speeches that have gone before mine, I could not help but reflect just how much of my adult life has been, in some way, intertwined with the land claim process, which has been going on for 17 years. Before that, there was a lot of work being done by people many of us knew very well in developing positions and concepts with regard to the legal notion of aboriginal rights. I am thinking of all the work that went into developing Yukon Native Brotherhood and YANSI; I am thinking of the goodwill that accompanied the Minister of the day, Mr. Chretien, who can take some personal credit for persuading Mr. Trudeau back in 1973 to accept the document of Yukon Native Brotherhood, Together Today for our Children Tomorrow when it was presented to the Prime Minister on February 14, 1973. It was presented by Elijah Smith. It was endorsed by YANSI and, shortly after, Mr. Trudeau accepted a responsibility to negotiate aboriginal rights claims in Canada. Those two organizations which, at that time, represented the status and non-status Indians of the territory, joined together as the Council for Yukon Indians.
It was a new concept to most Canadians, a practically new concept to most lawyers. I went through law school without ever hearing mention of the cases that are now so well known: the early cases involving aboriginal rights in North America. There was a lot of debate about the concept itself - its rightness, wrongness, and so forth - in the early days of the acceptance of the notion and the determination to negotiate. Our Indian people can take a lot of credit for getting the process going for themselves as well as Indian people across Canada.
That was the result of the work done in putting together Together Today for Our Children Tomorrow. I, as many know, was briefly in politics in 1974/75, when I represented Riverdale, as it then was. In the process of the election campaign, I had given several speeches in support of the fair and just settlement of aboriginal rights in the Yukon. At that time, it was in the early thinking, I guess, of most of us. In 1974, it was decided that some Yukoners would be allowed to sit in on some of the negotiations and provide some advice. In 1974, George Shaw from Dawson City was appointed by the Commissioner-of-the-day to be involved in the process, and shortly after that, I was elected by the Legislative Assembly-of-the-day to represent the Legislative Assembly in the talks. At that time, the first federal negotiator had been appointed, a Mr. Hutchinson. He was a lawyer from Victoria - a busy lawyer from Victoria - and he considered this to be but a part-time job. It was his notion that there would be absolutely no problem in wrapping the agreement up in about one year.
I can recall the first time I attended a negotiating session and arriving there and at first not really being accepted by the other parties. At that time Elijah Smith was chairman of the Council for Yukon Indians and Johnny Johns, whom I had known most of my life, and Joe Jacquot and Harry Allen and Dave Joe and Mike Smith, I can remember vividly as being involved in the process. All of us at that meeting had a few things to say and it seemed that there was not much direction to negotiations. It was about that time that Hutchinson was busy preparing an agreement that he thought he would bring up here at Rendezvous of 1975 and present it and that it would be accepted immediately by the Indian people. We would then have a victory party and that would be the end of negotiations. When he did come, he briefed me and Mr. Shaw for about 15 minutes for a fast read - what did we think? Well, we were not too sure. Then he went and presented it as a fait accompli to the Council for Yukon Indians and was, I think, somewhat amazed, shocked and very humbled by the outcry and rage that was expressed by the CYI negotiators and by Elijah Smith in particular. Of course, it was not long after that that this particular negotiator resigned and his place was taken by Digby Hunt.
In the meantime, I had left my brief political career, and it was about a year or two later that I got involved again, in a different capacity, when I was appointed by the Legislative Assembly to be their representative on the Alaska Highway Natural Gas Pipeline Inquiry. That was headed by Judge Lysyk , then Dean Lysyk, from the University of British Columbia Law School, and Edie Bohmer was the representative appointed on the behalf of the Yukon Indian people by CYI. We were given a three-month period in which to complete a socio-economic evaluation of this huge pipeline that was being proposed by Foothills.
By that time the players had all changed. Elijah Smith had left as the chair of CYI. We had Dr. Naysmith negotiating. I believe the primary role on behalf of the Legislative Assembly at that time was taken by Ken McKinnon, and Harry Allen was still involved; he was not yet chair.
I recall, in the very heavy workload we had, trying to get this report together and hearing witnesses throughout the Yukon, being somewhat amazed by the rapid progress we were told had been made by Naysmith. He said they were on the verge of a settlement. All they could show us at the time were the 34 principles they had all agreed upon, but completion was just around the corner. Even then, we were naive enough to believe that was possible. Acceptance of the position as expressed by the federal negotiator at that time was reflected in the report if one reads it.
As everyone knows, the process broke down once again. The chair of CYI was replaced by Harry Allen. After about a year of no negotiations, we started off again in 1979. I was asked by the newly elected Assembly and by the Commissioner, who was still head of the government, to act as negotiator for a short period of time.
As I began that job, it became my concern that Yukoners be represented at the table as a third party, because it seemed to me the federal government was not much interested in the details of how people lived in the Yukon, the interaction of people, and the balance of powers in the fragile societies we have in our small communities. One of the first things I was asked to do was to try to make sure we were effectively a third party at negotiations. We tried to do that in perhaps a rather short time. We made some success.
From that time on as the talks progressed, and after a period of time we finally got a federal negotiator who really, truly had an understanding of the Yukon, Dennis OConnor, and as the government resource people in the various departments impacted by land claims became more and more involved - and like Mr. Penikett, I would not even try to list all the people who worked very hard and brought fresh ideas to the process - it became more and more evident that the involvement of the Government of Yukon was essential in order to ensure we could all live together in a cooperative framework. It was sketched out and called the one-government system. It was changed to be called the cooperative government system, and so on, but it is definitely a model that was being developed then and has evolved since. It is unique in land claim negotiation history; it is unique because of the notion of cooperation at the local level. The notion that the Indian bands as first nations and the provincial government can work things out and, in a cooperative fashion, govern the local aspects of life in a province or territory.
A lot of the work and a lot of the thinking was done by an individual who ought to be mentioned, Professor Elliot, who is now a professor of constitutional and aboriginal law at Dalhousie.
He is a gentleman who was raised in the Yukon and was involved for a brief time early on in the land claims secretariat in the Yukon, and who has developed many of the concepts and framework under which the negotiations took place.
I ought to pay tribute to two other people who were involved in the time leading up to the most recent rounds of negotiations in YTG. In doing that, I do not mean to detract from the literally tens and hundreds of others who were involved. One is Gordon Steele, who spent a large part of his early adult life in Ottawa when they were negotiating. He was away for the birth of many of his kids. He has a tremendous knowledge and background with regard to the process leading up to 1984.
The other is John MacGillivray, who was employed by the Government of Yukon as negotiator in helping me with many issues in the Yukon claim, and who took the lead role in resolving the COPE claim and all the problems we were having in the Yukon with that particular claim, which had the potential of impacting very negatively on the rights of Yukon Indians and Yukoners.
As I recall, the process is one that is part of lifes experience, I guess. All the people who worked so hard lived together, travelled together, got to know each other fairly intimately, no matter who they were representing or working for. There were friendships developed by all the participants that, I am sure, will last a lifetime.
It is a process that anybody involved in will remember and reflect on. In talking to the negotiator who is just leaving, Barry Stuart, it does not take very long for an afternoon to go by in just talking about some aspects of negotiations, some of the problems and some of the people, characters and spiritual leaders of the Indian people. That kind of relationship exists between most of the players over the years. I hope someday that we have some reunion so we can hash over stuff that would be boring to anybody not involved in the process.
I am very pleased the talks are back on the rails. I regret the 1984 agreement in principle, which was signed, did not come to pass. There have been some losses and gains since. At that time, self-government, as it was set forth in the agreement, would have been entrenched.
However, the new umbrella agreement has moved even more towards flexibility, which is something I think all the negotiators wanted to see develop but only became really possible once the federal position was changed as a result of the Coolican hearings and changes to the cabinets instructions to the federal negotiating team.
I think one has to recognize the very strong emotional content, particularly on the part of Indian people, with regard to the claim. One has to pay tribute to all the people who worked so hard and I am sorry many of them are not here to see developing now some certainty with regard to the rights, the heritage and the cultural protection of Indian people in the Yukon.
There is a long way to go, which has been said by many here. There are a lot of hurdles to jump and bridges to cross. There is no question that issues exit such as overlapping claims from other jurisdictions, the issue of ratification by Yukon Indian people, the problems surrounding aspects of self-government, which encompasses a lot of things, and there are a lot of complicated issues to address. There will have to be a lot of good will, faith and trust but I am convinced we will finally see the settlement that will lend certainty to all those goals and cherished principles that Yukoners share. I am convinced that we will see the claim itself in place and working. I am convinced that we will see more self-reliance within the bands. I am convinced that we will see Indian people as full partners in the future and I think there will be a day, it may be 20 or 30 years from now, when all Yukoners will be proud, not just of the agreement, but also of the way we have all faced the challenge and developed in a cooperative fashion.
Speaker: The Member will close debate if he now speaks. Does any other Member wish to be heard?
Mr. Joe: I am pleased to have the general support of this House for this motion.
It is important to support the people who have carried on the job of bringing together this umbrella final agreement.
As I said when I introduced this motion, this is the agreement that gives us back the right to decide our own future.
Without the commitment of the people of the Council for Yukon Indians, within the Yukon government and even at the federal government level, I am sure we would not have managed to reach this umbrella agreement. I personally appreciate the work of all the people involved. This motion is a way for us all to formally recognize their effort. Thank you.
Motion No. 83 agreed to
Clerk: Item No. 4, standing in the name of the hon. Ms. Hayden.
Speaker: Is the hon. Member prepared to proceed with Item No. 4?
Ms. Hayden: Yes, Mr. Speaker.
Motion No. 69
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Member for Whitehorse South Centre
THAT it is the opinion that this House that illiteracy in the Yukon is a serious problem, and;
THAT in recognition of International Literacy Year, this House commend the efforts of Project Wordpower in its work to increase literacy in the Yukon.
Ms. Hayden: I want to ask everyone here today to take a look around and notice all the reading material we have here in the House. There are books on the table, there are legislative returns, Order Papers, motions, speech notes, Hansard. There are so many different things to be read. Now imagine having all this material around, day after day, and not being able to read it. Imagine pretending to understand what someone shows you, because you are embarrassed to let anyone know that you cannot read. I have some personal understanding of what that must mean to people, given the visual impairment that I have.
Not being able to read is often equated to stupidity. If you cannot read, you believe other people will think you are stupid.
You do not tell. You continue to struggle, to pretend. For some people, the facade works for a lifetime. Others are caught in their attempt to hide their problem. Imagine living under this kind of strain. The 1986 census shows that, by the age of 15, over three million Canadians had less than a grade 9 education. That same year, almost 11 percent of Yukoners over the age of 15 had less than grade 9. I believe, from later stats I have seen, that grade has gone up.
For many people, grade 9 represents a fantasy world of achievement beyond their grasp. These people are called functionally illiterate by the professionals. They cannot read and write well enough to function to their full potential in our print-oriented world. Imagine, if you can, some of the problems you would face if you could not read. Want to travel? You cannot read a bus schedule, or an airline ticket, or the TV monitor in the airport. Want to eat in a restaurant? You cannot read the menu. Want to know what is happening in town? You cannot read coming events or the rest of the newspaper. Want to watch TV? You cannot read the schedule. In a strange place, you would not be able to read a road map or street signs. The list is unending and, yet, people do manage; they learn to cope.
Let me tell you about a fellow we knew in our first years here in the Yukon. He was a wild and wonderful fellow who lived by his wits and, I suspect, just a shade outside the law. I suspect he did not follow the rules and regulations of his business, that he did not file an income tax return and did not get a business licence. I eventually learned he had never learned to read or write. He could not even sign his name.
His spouse was only minimally literate, and they simply did not bother sending their children to school. Sadly, these children grew up not able to read or write, either. Therein lies another tragedy of his illiteracy. It was perpetuated, passed on to the next generation.
Another person I knew just a few years ago in a small B.C. community had lived for 35 years without being able to read or write. She was a survivor of a violent relationship, fearful for her children, yet active in the anti-poverty movement in British Columbia. She did all her work at home. Determined to make a better life for herself and her children, she admitted she could not read, asked for help, and was provided with a personal tutor by a program similar to Project Wordpower. I watched her self-empowerment and her sense of self-esteem grow, and her effectiveness increase. My admiration for that woman has always been unbounded.
However, hers is not an uncommon story. The Canadian Congress for Learning Opportunities for Women, of which there is a Yukon branch, has studied the relationship between illiteracy and poverty in womens lives. They have found that only 25 percent of functionally-illiterate women are in the paid labour force nationally, compared with 50 percent of women as a whole. They have found that half of all female-headed families live below the poverty line, and that the rate of illiteracy in this group is much higher than the national average.
They have found that jobs available to women with poor reading and writing skills are traditionally the lowest paid jobs, such as domestic work and sewing machine operation. They have found that the average woman of any educational status who works full-time makes only 68 percent of what the average man makes, but that women with less than a grade 8 education make, on average, only 59 percent of what men earn.
Then, along comes a group like the Yukon Literacy Council, and a program like Project Wordpower is set up. You finally discover there is help. There are people out there who not only care enough to help, but know how to help. Project Wordpower tutors work on a one-to-one basis. Adults who have never learned to read finally have a non-threatening way to learn. There is no loss of self-esteem. The hiding is over.
The worry that one of your children might ask you to read a bedtime story is over. Better still, you offer to read stories.
The technical facts are that the Yukon Literacy Council is a registered, non-profit society. It is a voluntary organization and has a constitution. Its mandate is to lobby on behalf of people who cannot read, to raise public awareness about the problem of literacy, sponsor projects, undertake studies of illiteracy and develop high-interest, Yukon-related learning materials for adults.
The Yukon Literacy Council cares and works for Yukoners who are functionally illiterate. Those Yukoners are all around us. In fact, 19 percent of the population over 15 years of age in the communities has less than a grade 9 education.
In the small country of Barbados, a country that proudly celebrates its people ascendancy from slavery, a country of some 250,000 people, who are neither very rich nor very poor, have a 99 percent literacy rate. I do not know where we missed the mark, but compared to the success of this tiny Caribbean country, the Canadian literacy rate is abominable and the Yukon rate is not much better.
The coming new Education Act will be more responsive to the needs of students in the Yukon in the future. Right now we are trying to catch up. Our education system has been redesigned to be more responsible to the cultural and linguistic differences in the Yukon. We have learned that we cannot live with a southern model education system.
Project Wordpower in Whitehorse and in Watson Lake, and the Shakwak Project READ in Haines Junction are responding to a widespread need. By supporting this motion today we are showing our support for the volunteers and staff who make all this happen.
This is International Literacy Year. As the months progress we must all do what we can to see that the new readers and the reading students get our support.
I commend the efforts of Project Wordpower and the Yukon Literacy Council in its work to increasing literacy in the Yukon.
Mr. Joe: I want to support this motion.
I believe that the work of Project Wordpower, a program run by the Yukon Literacy Council, is important for the people here.
We have a high rate of illiteracy in the Yukon. Many adults cannot read but they want to learn. It is hard to ask people to teach you how to read and the tutors at Project Wordpower are there to help.
There are Project Wordpower programs in Watson Lake and Whitehorse. The Shakwak Project READ in Haines Junction is also there to help adults learn to read.
In Pelly Crossing, we have a very good school where the children are taught many traditional activities by elders and other people in the community. This gives the children confidence. It helps them understand who they are and it shows them some of the ways of their people.
Knowing how to read is also important for people to feel good about themselves.
That is what is really important about the Yukon Literacy Council and programs like Project Wordpower - they help people gain confidence in their abilities to do other things, not just read.
I want to personally tell the volunteers and staff of the Yukon Literacy Council that they are doing a great job.
I support the motion before us today.
Mr. Devries: It gives me a great deal of pleasure also to rise to speak in support of this motion today. It was with interest that I listened to the Member for Whitehorse South Centres statistics. I remember several years ago, when I heard these statistics on the radio, my wife and I became slightly upset because I do not think it is any great news to anybody but I am a grade 9 dropout myself. My wife was a grade 8 dropout. I have a brother in Ontario who is also a grade 8 dropout and he runs the family dairy farm there. I think possibly we are in these statistics. I do not want to belittle the cause. I realize there is a great need for literacy, but I feel that possibly the figures are slightly inflated.
I just think of my brother. He runs a dairy farm and probably grosses approximately a million dollars a year. He uses ovary transplants and artificial insemination for the breeding of his cattle. He does the artificial insemination himself. These are all things he has picked up. He learned how to do these things through mail-order courses. I really question anyone who would consider him illiterate.
As a Dutch immigrant, I would like to share with you some of the more humorous moments of our first years in Canada. When my parents first stepped off the boat in Montreal in May, 1947, they had a translation book with them that translated Dutch into English. My family was immediately quarantined from the others as my sister had the mumps. Using the translation book, my father spent a whole week trying to find out why no one could communicate with him. Finally someone managed to explain to him that the reason was they were in Quebec and French was spoken there - not English.
Another time, about six months later in Hamilton, Ontario, the gas bill collector came to the door. My mother answered. He spent a considerable amount of time trying to explain to her that she should pay the gas bill. Finally he asked her if he could see her bill. In Dutch, a bill is your thigh. She chased him down the driveway with her broom.
In Holland, soap is referred to as soda. We tried washing dishes with baking soda, cream soda, and you name it.
My father got a job at the Stelco Steel Company in Hamilton, Ontario. He worked with a lot of Scottish and Welsh people. He could not believe it when the foreman told him that he could understand him better than he could understand the Scots and Welshmen whom dad thought spoke English.
Once these stories passed through my mind, I realized the hardship the illiterate must go through. This would be further compounded by the fact that many of the people we are talking about now can neither read nor write. My parents only had to deal with English as a second language problem.
I used to be the local fur receiver for the trappers association and often had people come in who could only sign their name with an x. I guess it was pretty pointless for them to sign a document anyway because they could not read what they were signing; they had to rely on my honesty and integrity about what I had written on the piece of paper.
I lost faith in our system when I saw the abuse of the illiterate during elections, when I saw people herded by the van loads to the polling stations when they were told by the driver how to vote, and they did not really realize what it was all about. It just depends upon who gets to the door first on election day.
My heart wept for the people who have not had the opportunity to read my favorite book, which I am sure many of you have read, The Yearling. I weep for the people who never had the opportunity to share with Jody, the character in this book, as we manage to share the joys and aspirations and the grief in the life of that little yearling.
I grieve for the people who do not have the opportunity to read the message of peace and hope in Gods word. In Watson Lake we have a Project Wordpower worker, who has been doing an excellent job, although she is presently on maternity leave. She indicated to me a version of the same old story, that more funding would be great. Since I had to write this speech, I telephoned Project Wordpower in Whitehorse here several times, and every time I get an answer; it is just an answering machine, so I am sure they need more funding. Just recently I had a memo cross my desk saying that money, roughly a million dollars, has been allocated for illiteracy.
I guess we all have to realize that we are living in a time of government cutbacks and, more and more, the special needs and interest groups are going to have to rely on volunteers to meet their goals and objectives. I am not certain of what is happening in other communities but would like to congratulate the efforts of the volunteers in Watson Lake. They presently have six learners matched up with volunteer tutors. These learners average in age from 16 to 65, and some of them do not even know the alphabet. Another has English as a second language. There are more people in town who have a need in this area and increased awareness is needed to encourage these people to come forward, so that they too can learn to read and write. This will help them to participate and understand more fully the changes and challenges that take place every day in the Yukon.
Through the efforts of Project Wordpower, people will be able to make better and wiser decisions that affect their everyday lives. I thank the Member for Whitehorse South Centre for bringing forward the motion and support her and commend Project Wordpower and its workers and volunteers for their tremendous effort to correct this often neglected problem. Thank you.
Hon. Mr. Webster: Literacy is a serious problem in the Yukon. Many Yukoners lack the basic literacy skills to get a decent job, allow them to enjoy a good book, or to participate fully in the democratic process.
As a legislative Member of the government, I have become ever more conscious of the importance of the written word. Our laws are in print. It is not very often they are expressed orally. Our legislation policies, guidelines by which we govern, are all expressed in written form. It is in increasingly clear English here in the Yukon, thanks to the efforts of our Minister of Justice, but still in symbols that are essentially meaningless to those who do not have a command of the written language.
People without a command of the language have very little to say, very little control and very little power in the political process. The regulations governing our commerce, which set out the legal relationship between buyers and sellers, are written. This means the illiterate person is far more likely to lose out as a consumer. If you do not know your rights as a tenant, which are expressed in written laws, you may find yourself evicted, unlike your neighbour in the apartment next door, who can read.
While a lot of our day-to-day communications with one another are conducted orally, when we are on friendly terms, when things get tense and matters are in dispute, when one person stands to gain, and another to lose, language reverts to written form, to laws, regulations and codes that make the illiterate person the loser.
A person who lacks the one skill of literacy is at a distinct disadvantage in our society. Ironically, illiteracy, which may predispose people to low wages and poor housing, also tends to limit their access to programs that are designed to deal with those problems. Literacy is a first step toward empowerment. The command over the written word gives a person the basic tool needed to understand their rights, to acquire a range of skills that will put them in control of their lives and help them reach their potential in life.
For these reasons, I support the designation of 1990 as International Literacy Year. The more aware we are of a problem, the faster we can come to terms with it.
I applaud the efforts of the Yukon Literacy Council and their Project Wordpower. I have been especially impressed by their efforts to increase public awareness of the importance of literacy.
In closing, I wish them well in their continuing efforts to combat literacy.
Hon. Ms. Joe: There is a serious problem of illiteracy in our very rich and prosperous country; however, this problem is not just in certain parts of Canada, but is even in our own backyard here in the Yukon.
There are some residents in the Yukon who are very concerned about this problem and have worked toward doing something about it. These individuals have banded together to form the Yukon Literacy Council and, with their commitment and concern for this issue, will take our jurisdiction closer to the realization of total literacy.
Every Member of this House needs to commend the many volunteers of Project Wordpower, as well as all those members of the Yukon Literacy Council, on their very hard work and dedication to all Yukoners who have need of these special services.
Through its Project Wordpower and support of this government, the Yukon Literacy Council has been able to provide the one-to-one literacy tutoring services for many Yukon residents. It is through the public awareness activities of the Yukon Literacy Council that we have seen an increase in the interest of those adults who require literacy services and support.
I would encourage all Members of this House to show their support for the Yukon Literacy Council by attending and participating in the many special events the council holds in the communities, events such as the spelling bees which, while fun, can also give us an idea of what it is like not to be able to read or write.
We have a lot of issues yet that need to be addressed in the whole area of illiteracy programming and services. However, with the support of the community, the many volunteers, special programs like Project Wordpower, and the support of this House, we can look forward to having the lowest illiteracy rate in Canada.
Mrs. Firth: I rise today to again thank the Member for Whitehorse South Centre for bringing this motion forward, and, of course, to support the motion and give recognition to International Literacy Year, and, as well, to commend and congratulate the people who work at Project Wordpower. A lot of them are volunteers and they are also working with limited resources, both financial and human.
I would like to begin by telling the Members of the Legislature that the first time I was exposed to an individual who was illiterate was when I came to the Yukon as a newly-graduated registered nurse. I took my nurses training in a very large city and came to Whitehorse. I went in to see one of the patients and asked them to sign the consent form for a surgical procedure. The person sat, looked at me with a confused look, and then became very embarrassed. Having never been exposed to an individual who could not read or write, and would not admit they could not read nor write, I had no idea what the problem was. It took me a few minutes to ask a few more questions before I found the individual could not read or write. At that time they indicated to me they were prepared to put an x on the paper where their name was supposed to go, and asked if that would be all right. I was not asked to read it or explain the procedure. I was just asked to show where the x was to go. As a young person who took for granted the fact I could read and write I was extremely shocked, quite saddened, and started to feel very sorry for this individual. I proceeded to go into a great lengthy explanation of what was involved on this consent form, all along knowing deep in my heart that the person still had no better understanding of what I was asking them to put their mark on. It was a very complicated consent form.
I have always been aware of that particular instance. It was one of those things you never forget. I have always had an admiration for people who will admit they cannot read or write and will do everything they can. First they have to admit that to themselves. They become very undignified having to tell someone else they cannot read or write and asking for help. They are very embarrassed and do not feel a great deal of pride in their accomplishments, and feel worthless.
Any organization that offers to help those people and encourages people to enhance their self respect and dignity has to be commended, particularly when they are doing it on a voluntary basis.
I have been doing some research on this particular issue. I have been looking at the Southam Literacy Report. The Members opposite may be familiar with that, it is called Broken Words - Why Five Million Canadians are Illiterate.
It has a simple test in it, a quotation about the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It states section 15 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and then it has a question as to which of the two statements below best summarize the section. I do not want to put all the Members to a test this afternoon, but it was interesting to see that only 39 percent of the people surveyed were able to answer the question correctly, which was a test case that proved that just because you could read words did not necessarily mean that you comprehended them and understood what they meant. That has been a progressive step that has been taken in the whole area of literacy in enhancing and refining the definition of literacy, because I think it used to be just accepted that people who could not read or write were illiterate.
Literacy itself is defined as an ability to read, write and comprehend and use those skills in day-to-day situations. I think that has been a very positive step for people who find themselves in this kind of predicament and with this kind of handicap. People in the professions refer to illiteracy as a crippling handicap because people are sometimes almost totally incapacitated in their day-to-day activities. The Member for Whitehorse South Centre has said today, imagine being in this Legislature and seeing all of these books and papers and signs on the streets, trying to buy groceries, reading labels and not being able to really read what you are buying, where you are going, what you are doing. It must indeed be a crippling handicap for people.
The jury is still out on what determines functional illiteracy, according to the Southam Literacy Report. They present some interesting statistics and I think, as it is not very long, that it is worth mentioning for the information of all the Members. The panel of representative Canadians decided which reading tasks ordinary adults should be able to answer correctly, just to get by in todays society. I will read a few of them out. It says, Are you functionally illiterate? You probably are if you cannot 1) read and understand the right dosage from an ordinary bottle of cough syrup.
It says that there are 10 percent of adults in Canada who cannot do that.
The second point is: Can you read from six road signs and pick out which one warns of a traffic light ahead? Thirteen percent of the population cannot do that.
The third one: Figure out the change from $3 if you ordered a soup and sandwich. Thirty-three percent cannot do that.
The next one: Sign your name in the correct spot on a social insurance card. Eleven percent of Canadians cannot do that.
Circle the expiry date on a drivers licence. Six percent cannot do that.
Answer four questions about a meeting arrangement, including the date, time and people involved. Between 15 and 17 percent cannot.
The last one is: Circle the long-distance calls on a telephone bill. Twenty-nine percent of Canadians cannot do that.
I think those are very alarming figures and statistics and that, of course, confirms the figure of five million Canadians that are considered to be illiterate today.
There have been some other interesting studies done with respect to literacy and illiteracy. I guess it was about two or three years ago that the Canadian Business Task Force of Literacy released a report that they had worked on for some three years. The report estimated the cost of illiteracy in Canada and although their figures were estimates, they estimated it to be as high as $10 billion a year. That is a tremendous burden on the Canadian people. They also noted that 65 percent of the inmates in federal penitentiaries were functionally illiterate. Illiteracy costs Canadian business, alone, more than $4 million annually, through such expenses as industrial accidents that are caused by workers who cannot read safety instructions.
The report also mentioned the attitudes toward illiteracy and particularly that some of the business leaders and other organizations felt that the fight against illiteracy was a worthwhile fight but still had the attitude that it was a low-priority charity. I think that reflects the comments that some of the Members have made here in the Legislature this afternoon, that Project Wordpower works on the basis of volunteers, that they do not have a lot of money. They do not have a lot of financial resources.
They have a recording machine to answer because there cannot be someone there all the time and yet they spread themselves very thin all over the territory and the City of Whitehorse trying to help people and trying to find other people who can be trained as tutors to assist people who are illiterate.
One of the issues with respect to illiteracy that is becoming more prevalent now is about young people now graduating from high school, even those at the grade 12 level and not high school dropouts. An alarming number of them are illiterate. They have been able to cleverly hide their lack of reading skills and lack of understanding and have been able to get by and get through school and yet are considered functionally illiterate. I think that is something we must address as legislators.
I noticed that the Member for Whitehorse South Centre made some comments that perhaps the Education Act would help address that issue but I think there are more things that have to be done within the education system and within society so that we recognize that the problem is there and not bury, hide and ignore it. We must confront it and deal with it or all the help from Project Wordpower and the other worthy organizations that work in this area is not going to reduce those statistics and five million dollar figure.
I have not been able to get any real factual statistics as to the numbers of individuals in Yukon who are illiterate. I think there are many people we do not know about who will not come forward. I think we could do much as legislators and Members of this Assembly in our own constituencies to be aware of the signs and of the problem. We must have open minds and look for that problem in our own constituencies. I think in a very positive way we can help those people. If we cannot, we can direct them to agencies for help.
I think this is a very positive motion. It is the kind of issue we should be discussing and tackling head on. I would like to tell the Member for Whitehorse South Centre that if she has any specific projects in mind - I know the Member for Whitehorse North Centre has invited us to go to the Project Wordpower activities, I have participated in some of those and they are very worthwhile - or any specific initiative that she would like our assistance on, I think it would be a very positive direction and I would like to support and give assistance to that kind of initiative.
I do not want to go on much longer. I would like to give other Members the opportunity to give their opinions on this issue.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I would like to extend support to this motion. Project Wordpower should be commended for its efforts, and we should all recognize the importance around us of the problem we are addressing when we talk about illiteracy in our society. The simple fact that it is recognized as the international literacy year is evidence of increasing awareness of the seriousness of the problem in the 21st century.
To me, illiteracy is something quite special. I have a profound sympathy for the problems of illiterate people. I say that because of some of the experiences I have been involved in over the years. I remember my first exposure to illiteracy as a young child. Growing up in rural Saskatchewan, I was asked at a neighbours farm to read a letter, and then translate it. I must have been eight or nine years old at the time. I thought I was a pretty good reader, and read the letter. Because of the cultural background and language knowledge of the farmers involved, I had to translate into Ukrainian what it meant. I never understood that. I thought the neighbour was checking out the extent to which I could read and the extent to which I knew my Ukrainian. It did not register on that occasion. It always puzzled me. At the time, I was quite honoured that I was asked to do that. It only became evident a year or two later, as I matured and gained a better understanding of what was taking place, of what I had been dealing with. In subsequent years of my upbringing, I became quite involved with a number of neighbours in providing reading and translation services to neighbouring farmers, because that was the nature of the time.
A number of people, 20 and 30 years ago, were recent immigrants to the country. At the time, a number of people in rural Saskatchewan did not have an educational background that provided or afforded them the ability to read and write. It was something I grew up with and became very familiar with because of the nature of the environment. It gave me a certain respect for the ability to recognize and understand the written word.
As time grew on I began to recognize more and more that too many people did not have these skills. I suppose in a way it guided or propelled me into a teaching career simply because of that exposure as a child and teenager, which to enabled me to provide some assistance to people who could not read and who could not write.
Later, as a teacher, the exposure to illiteracy was often a profound experience. I recall teaching a night class of English as a second language to new Canadians in a northern B.C. mining town. I remember how rewarding the occasion was when students gained a mastery of the written word, increased their competence in the spoken word, and improved their recognition for the functional use of that understanding. In terms of what other Members have spoken about, it wasthe ability to read and recognize signs, the ability to interpret invoicing and the ability to understand all the written materials that abound around us all the time. I am not sure if that is truly an illiteracy experience in the case of a second language, but there have also been many occasions where I had been in situations where people would not admit to not knowing how to read or to write. Members have spoken about the admiration they have for people who will admit this. This admiration is well deserved. If ever one is involved intimately with a family where a key parental member is unable to read or to write and who is not prepared to admit or face up to that, the experience can be gut wrenching until that person is willing to admit or address it. It is not something that is easy to admit to, that you cannot read, you cannot write, that your children are better educated and more capable and proficient in language use than you are.
An insensitive person can add a lot of agony to that situation. If you cannot easily discern or recognize an individual who is handicapped with the inability to read and to write and to apply any knowledge or recognition of those skills, you can create considerable agony for that person by not recognizing it and putting more pressure and demands on those individuals.
I guess I have often felt that it is inexcusable that illiteracy should exist at all in our country, in our territory or even in the western world, one could say. It just does not seem to fit that, with our state of technology and our ability to deal with a range of problems that, 50 years ago, could not have been dealt with, still have illiteracy problems; but it does and I am sure, as Members have indicated, we have all had the experience and we all will do our small part to alleviate that problem. I think that is a positive attitude. I think it is a necessary attitude to help in dealing with the problem. I think also that we can all do more in our own personal way to become more aware and more sensitive to the problem: recognizing people who have the handicap, making them feel more comfortable about having it, helping them deal with how to eliminate it. I think it is part of our own awareness, as adults, as legislators or as citizens of the country we love to help those people who do not have the skills that we take for granted.
Members previously speaking also addressed the very undesirable statistics related to illiteracy. There seems to be some question or perhaps some dispute about whether the statistics are accurate. I do not wish to quarrel with the statistics. I think the simple fact that we recognize that illiteracy is a problem in our society today is an admission that we have not done an adequate job, overall, to address it. I believe, quite sincerely, that many steps have been taken and that much help is being provided and that eventually we will eradicate it entirely. The steps that are taken by volunteers and the steps that are taken by government will all help toward the elimination of the problem.
I am sure the Minister of Education will enunciate a number of programs and other forms of assistance that are being provided to help with the problem. Certainly a group like Project Wordpower is indeed to be commended.
They have the sensitivity, they have the awareness, and they are providing the dedication that is so crucial to a person who has an literacy problem. It takes an understanding person to recognize it, deal with it, and help eliminate it. We all belong to that category and should continue to do our part.
Mr. Nordling: I am pleased to stand today and speak very briefly in favour of this motion. Like the speaker before me, I am anxious to hear the Minister of Education enunciate the number of programs that are being carried on, and I hope to hear of a major assault on illiteracy in the Yukon.
That major assault can start with Project Wordpower. They should be commended for their efforts to date.
Illiteracy is not only a serious problem in the Yukon, it is a serious problem across Canada. I have a copy of a speech made a couple of years ago in the Senate by the hon. Joyce Fairbairn on illiteracy in Canada. I will quote just a few of her comments to illustrate the problem that, although it has been recognized, I am not sure how much progress has been made.
One in five Canadians: for them, words have no meaning. Four million adult Canadians cannot read or write well enough to function adequately in our society. One million more cannot read or write at all. Seventy percent of the illiterate population in Canada was born here in Canada; 40 percent of those people are under the age of 45. Sixty percent of the Canadian illiterate population are unemployed. Illiteracy average for federal penitentiaries is 50 percent; in some institutions, as high as 80 percent.
Saddest of all, she says, illiteracy often starts with little children who are questioning and interested, and whose first efforts of learning are obstructed by the barrier of illiterate parents, and the cycle begins again on another generation.
This was also pointed out by the mover of the motion. The Senator goes on to talk about how traditional education methods have failed this group, and that the key to achieving success in fighting illiteracy is public awareness.
She also points out that Canada trails significantly behind other western countries such as the United States and Britain.
Well into her speech, which was quite long, I will quote, Hon. Senators may have noticed that I have not yet indulged in that favourite Canadian pastime of saying that the government must solve the problem. Then she quotes from a submission to the House of Commons Committee on Labour, Employment and Immigration and I quote, If the government tries to deliver literacy programs directly, you will write off an enormous number of resources that are available in this country. That is precisely because this is a community issue, a public issue affecting every Canadian. The resources required to deal with illiteracy are Canadians. That is where Project Wordpower comes in. It is Yukoners dealing with illiteracy. What they need from government is support and what they have had in the past is a real struggle.
Back in 1987, the Yukon Literacy Council, through Project Wordpower, was making an effort to take literacy outside of the City of Whitehorse, to where the greatest need is, into the communities. What they submitted was a supplementary funding proposal for community visits and a community pilot project to be undertaken September 30 to March 31, 1988. Attached to that were some Yukon statistics. They are taken from a 1981 census so they are not really up to date. They are also included in the brochure that the Yukon Literacy Council has put out. What is frightening is the percentage of the native population who have less than a grade 8 education. According to the 1981 consensus, 35 percent of natives over 15 and not attending school have less than a grade 8 education. The percentage for non-native Yukoners over 15 and not attending school was eight percent. This illustrates that there is a serious need in the territory and a serious need outside the City of Whitehorse.
Some Members have talked about how effective schools are. Schools are one area we could include when we discuss literacy, and whether or not they are doing their job, but today the real concern is people over 15 years old who are not attending school.
I talked to the former coordinator of Project Wordpower, Eleanor Millard, who is now in the Northwest Territories working on literacy programs.
She was struggling for funding. I suggested that as a last resort she approach even the Department of Economic Development, which seemed to have money through the EDA, a considerable percentage of it federally funded, in order to get money because literacy is important for the economy of the territory. Perhaps the new, amalgamated community development fund will allow applications for money for literacy programs in the communities to assist them to grow and develop.
I wish to let others speak so I will conclude by saying Project Wordpower is very worthwhile and I hope they get a copy of this debate and bring it to the various government agencies, perhaps each and every one of them, to assist them in their funding. They can do the job, they just need assistance. Like the Member for Watson Lake, I have phoned Project Wordpower on several occasions and have had my call answered by a machine, not a staff member. I am sure they can use our support and funding for such a worthwhile effort.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am pleased to be able to enter discussion this afternoon on a very important public policy issue before us. The task for reducing illiteracy, as some Members have pointed out, is one that requires a variety of responses, both directly from government and by community members. Clearly, it is a problem that, while we do not have specific statistics on the extent in the Yukon, it is nevertheless an acknowledged problem that requires a full addressing and an act of commitment by the government to reduce it.
Literacy, in particular, and education, in general, do provide one very important element to the lives of people and without it these lives are much poorer. It provides freedom for people to make choices about their lives they would not otherwise be able to do. If you begin your adult life without a functional ability to read and write, your options in society are substantially reduced. Consequently, your sense of self-worth is compromised. Literacy and education empower people to do things.
The problem is acknowledged to be world-wide. Consequently, there was the action by the international community to cause this year to be International Literacy Year. It is a problem that is faced in rural Saskatchewan; it is a problem that is faced in the inner cities of North America and Canada; it is a problem that is faced in Whitehorse; and it is a problem that is faced in literally every rural community of the territory.
It is a problem acknowledged by the Government of Yukon. It is acknowledged that financial resources should be dedicated to resolving the difficulties of the illiterate in our society.
One or two Members mentioned that it requires more money, and I would be the first to say that, as a priority item, literacy requires more funding.
Some Members have said it requires a greater understanding of what the problem entails so a single narrow approach is not used to address the problem. As many Members have mentioned, people begin life, go through school, have bad experiences, do not graduate through the school system and do not gain a measure of literacy that allows them to fully function in society. Quite often, therefore, these same people have great anxiety of going back to college to take formal literacy programs. Quite often, these people are working, primarily in labour jobs, and support families. Consequently, it is very difficult for them to go full-time to a school, even if they felt comfortable with that.
Quite often, these people feel most comfortable dealing with education in their own kitchens. Quite often, people feel most comfortable trying to resolve their own illiteracy with support that is not done through an authority figure, like a teacher. Quite often, people feel most comfortable in a friendly environment with people who are not a threat to them. That is the role of the voluntary tutor at Project Wordpower.
Quite appropriately the Yukon Literacy Council and Project Wordpower have been given significant recognition for assisting in reducing the illiteracy rate in the Yukon by organizing volunteer tutors to teach people in non-threatening environments how to read and write.
Project Wordpower has had difficult beginnings. Initially it was funded through the Secretary of State for approximately $50,000 to initiate this one-to-one literacy training with volunteer tutors in Whitehorse. The Secretary of State cut their funding after the first year and Project Wordpower came to the Yukon government looking for support. It was certainly within our mandate to provide that support and we clearly delivered support to the Yukon Literacy Council for well over $100,000. We have supported them and have even increased that financial support this year quite substantially. That support is necessary. The work of Project Wordpower is necessary. Expansion into rural Yukon is also necessary to be able to capture the full scope of the literacy training that needs to be done.
Even more money would allow Project Wordpower and the Yukon Literacy Council to do even greater things, but we have to balance the interests of many needs even within the literacy field and provide support for other mechanisms to support literacy training.
Consequently, we have substantially increased our financial commitment in other areas within literacy training. It is interesting to note that the government now spends over $1 million dedicated to literacy training in the Yukon right now.
It is appropriate to state that the government has taken great strides to improve services and reduce literacy in the territory. In the last year or two the initiative called Community Literacy Leadership, which was a project to teach trainers in communities, along with the support of IBM in the provision of computers and software, provided a very valuable service in terms of making use of computer programming to assist those who were training to be teachers as well as those who were looking to increase their literacy skills.
That led, obviously, to the program and the joint initiative between the Department of Education and the Secretary of State, which was announced recently, with the two new computer-assisted learning projects in Ross River and Whitehorse. That clearly was an appropriate experimental approach initially, and now it is a regular service Yukoners will receive in many communities.
Speaker: Order, please. The time being 5:30 p.m., I will now leave the Chair until 7:30 p.m. this evening.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Government House Leader that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
Speaker leaves the Chair
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Chair: I will now call the Committee of the Whole to order.
We will proceed with Bill No. 20.
Bill No. 20 - Mental Health Act - continued
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I regret the late commencement, but it was occasioned by having an excellent but late meal in the constituency of our colleague opposite. As excellent as the meal was, the restaurant was not accommodating our return to this place as quickly as we would have liked. The problem was especially compounded by the fact that the entire caucus was in the same place.
On Clause 28 - continued
Hon. Mr. Penikett: We are on clause 28. If we could bring the appropriate furniture to this place and have the advisors here, I can proceed to move the amendment to clause 28 for which I have given notice.
Before I actually move the amendment, I did want to indicate, as I think we mentioned yesterday, the role of the Mental Health Review Board is extended by this act and there are a number of principles in terms of the representation here that are important. What we have though is a problem, as I indicated, in respect to the way it is drafted without amendment, in that members of the board would be able to choose their own alternates, and that is without precedent. What we want to do is make it clear that the alternates also actually have to be appointed by order-in-council.
I will just go through the clause itself and then talk about the clause as it is amended. The membership is designed to allow for a physician and lawyer to be present at all hearings, plus members at large. The membership includes two physicians nominated by the Yukon Medical Association. The amendment would allow alternates to be appointed by the same process. There would be two lawyers nominated by the Yukon Law Society, with the alternates appointed by the Commissioner in Executive Council, and four other persons, a minimum of one of whom must be an aboriginal person.
Alternates are contemplated for the physicians and lawyers to ensure that one of each is available to form a quorum with four other members of the public.
Appointments will be for four years, with initial appointments staggered to ensure expiry dates do not happen all at once. The Commissioner in Executive Council is to appoint a chair and two vice-chairs. This board is important enough to be appointed by Cabinet, rather than just by ministerial appointment.
If the chair is not present, either vice-chair may act in his or her stead. Three members make a quorum, one of whom must be a physician and one of whom must be one of the members. In general, the matters before the board will be decided by a majority decision. If there is a tie vote, the chair or the vice-chair will break the tie.
Accordingly, I would like to move the actual amendment, in order to facilitate debate, if I could.
I would move
THAT Bill No. 20, entitled Mental Health Act, be amended in clause 28 at page 18 by deleting the whole of clause 28 and substituting for it the following:
28.(1) There shall be a Mental Health Review Board, consisting of the following members, who shall be appointed by the Commissioner in Executive Council:
(a) two persons, and alternates to act in their place in the event of their inability to act for any reason, from among physicians nominated by the Yukon Medical Association,
(b) two persons and alternates to act in their place in the event of their inability to act for any reason, from among members of the Law Society of Yukon nominated by the Law Society, and
(c) four other persons, at least one of whom shall be an aboriginal person, nominated by the Commissioner in Executive Council.
(2) Males and females must be equally represented in the members appointed to the board.
(3) Appointments shall be for a maximum of three years and shall, on initial formation of the board, be so staggered as to establish a rotation.
(4) The Commissioner in Executive Council shall appoint from among the members of the board a chair and two vice-chairs.
(5) The chair is the chief executive officer of the board and shall supervise and direct the work of the board and preside at the meetings of the board.
(6) If the chair is unable at any time for any reason to exercise the powers and duties of that office, one of the vice-chairs may act in the chairs place."
(7) Three members of the board are a quorum but there must be present one member who is a physician, another who is appointed under paragraph (1)(c), and either the chair or a vice-chair.
(8) Every matter before the board shall be determined by the opinion of a majority of the members present, and where the members are divided equally in their opinion, the opinion of the chair shall prevail."
I would move, then, to provide a copy to the table of the amendment.
I had previously given notice of the amendment. I would indicated in the original draft of the amendment there was at least one typo and I have corrected that typo in the version of the amendment that I have just read out.
Chair: Is there any debate on the amendment?
Mr. Nordling: Just to clarify what the amendment does: what the Commission in Executive Council will be doing then is appointing, in fact, four physicians, two of whom will be on the board, two of whom will be alternates. Any one of those four will be able to attend meetings on behalf of their group. Not more than two, though, will be able to attend the same meeting.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: It is contemplated that the full members - the two lawyers and the two doctors who are full members - would be the members of the Mental Health Review Board for the purposes of making decisions.
In a case where both of the lawyers, say, were unavoidably detained - January in Whitehorse or August, anywhere in the territory - there would be a first alternate and a second alternate and they would fill in. The idea is that there would be no hearing without at least the chair being represented, and a lawyer, a doctor and a lay person from the board.
Mr. Nordling: So, as I said, we are really appointing four members of the Law Society. The other question I have on the amendment is in clause 28(4). It is the common practice that the Commissioner in Executive Council appoints from the members a chair and a vice-chair of such a board. I wonder, however, if there was consideration in this act for leaving out that provision and allowing the board to choose its own chair and vice-chair, just to avoid any hint whatsoever of political interference or political influence on the board.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: It is not a question of political inference contemplated, but I think it is contemplated here that the cabinet-of-the-day, whoever that is, will want to appoint people whose judgment and impartiality, in which they have confidence, and also to appoint, in this case, vice-chairs who can adequately substitute for the chair in his or her absence. There is also a sense that the body we are talking about creating should not only be balanced in terms of the presence of physicians and lawyers, but also should be balanced as best we can, not only between men and women but also between urban and rural representation. One is assuming any government of the future would want the perspective of a broad range of opinion, and also people who are capable of dealing with such matters free of any kind of bias, not only political but obviously religious or other.
Mr. Nordling: I understand what the Minister is saying. Can we read into that that he is saying the board, as appointed, is not as competent or as capable of exercising the same degree of judgment as the cabinet-of-the-day to select someone who is responsible and can make the proper decisions under the circumstances.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: As a democrat, I find it slightly worrisome the notion that an appointed board has better judgment than an elected cabinet. That seems to be an undemocratic idea. One has to understand the relationship with any body that is appointed by cabinet, that constitutionally they are subordinate to cabinet. If cabinet, as cabinets do everywhere in the Commonwealth, wishes to choose a presiding officer in such a body, that is appropriate.
There are good reasons, and I am not just speaking for this government but for future governments, that they may well want to, in terms of the appointments of chairs and vice-chairs, consider questions of gender balance or regional representation, or other considerations, which are what I would call appropriate, small p political considerations.
Mr. Nordling: That does clear it up for me that the government has decided it wants that clause in so it has some measure of control.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I think the Member is being deliberately obtuse on this point. The government is not interested in control here. The government is interested in making sure that it, in a body it has created and is responsible for and which is an important piece of legislation, has people in leadership in the body in whom it has confidence. That is quite appropriate in any such body. The national government does not have the Supreme Court of Canada elect the Chief Justice. The national government does not have the Senate select the leadership of the Senate.
In fact, there is a proper role for the executive here. The executive is accountable to the Legislature for decisions it makes here, but the limits on executive power that it has given itself here are much greater than most cabinets would permit in that the cabinet is proposing to limit itself in terms of the gender composition and nominees. It is not saying, for example, as some legislation does - it is common in Britain - that where there are two persons to be appointed, the nominating body such as the Law Society has to nominate twice as many people as there are posts. That is, interestingly enough, even in the case that the British government is going to be going through in recommending to the Crown an Archbishop of Canterbury. In that case, the nomination process requires that there shall be at least two nominees so that the Crown and the cabinet have a choice. We have absolutely limited ourselves here by saying that from the Medical Association and the Law Society, there are two people nominated, and, as long as we have a gender balance, they will be appointed.
Amendment to Clause 28 agreed to
Clause 28 agreed to as amended
On Clause 29
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Before we proceed to clause 30, I should briefly explain the provisions of clause 30. This makes clear that the board shall, (a), review the circumstances of all involuntary admissions, and renewals of involuntary admissions, within seven days of the receipt of certificates. From the earlier provisions of clause 13(6), the certificate is sent forthwith or immediately from the physician to the board. Also (b), applications to transfer an involuntary patient normally resident in the Yukon to a hospital in another province. Members will recall the previous clause we discussed that in was 24(2). These provide they must be reviewed within 48 hours of receipt of notification by the board. Finally, (c), applications to treat a patient without consent within 72 hours of receipt of the application, which is provided for in clause 23(5).
Clause 29 agreed to
On Clause 30
Clause 30 agreed to
On Clause 31
Hon. Mr. Penikett: This clause deals with applications before the board, and (1) deals with an application being requested to the board to review a certificate of involuntary admission, to review a physicians belief that a person is not competent, or to authorize and specify psychiatric treatment. Subclause (2) describes the persons who can make an application to the board and, as the language of the clause says, that is any person having a substantial interest in the subject matter.
I would point out to the lawyers in the House that we are relying for the definition of substantial on civil law, on which I am told there is much case law. Subclause (3) indicates where a review is requested for a certificate of renewal under clause 16, or return under clause 27, the board must review within seven days of receipt of the application.
Once again, I would point out that that is the maximum time delay allowed.
Subclause (4) describes those considered to be parties to the application: the applicant, the patient, the physician, and the person in charge of the patients hospital. Subclause (5) allows the board to add, as a party to the application, any person they consider to have a substantial interest, substantial being referred to in subclause (2).
Clause 31 agreed to
On Clause 32
Hon. Mr. Penikett: This clause ensures written notice is given to all those who should receive it.
Clause 32 agreed to
On Clause 33
Hon. Mr. Penikett: This section on hearings is a linking clause that ensures that it is understood that a review by the board in clause 30(2) or clause 31 is understood to be a proceeding and that all proceedings are required hearings under clause 32. Also in subclause (2), every party is entitled to be represented by counsel or an agent, and in subclause (3) that every party shall be given an opportunity to examine documents and electronic reportings that will be presented before the hearing, and subclause (4) says that every party may present evidence and question witnesses but the board may control the scope of the cross examination to prevent duplication of questioning.
Clause 33 agreed to
On Clause 34
Clause 34 agreed to
On Clause 35
Hon. Mr. Penikett: This clause gives the board the powers to compel attendance of witnesses and to examine them under oath. It gives them the right to compel the production of documents and to inspect them. I am sure Members will understand the importance of this if the board is to carry out its mandate. Assuming, as it does, a role which is presently carried out by the courts in the Yukon Territory. Subclause (2) allows the board to accept evidence through affidavits.
Clause 35 agreed to
On Clause 36
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I just had my attention called to a typographical error here. Can I ask the Chair to rule whether the word boards in the second line of clause 36(1), which should read board not boards, can be read as a typo or whether the Chair will require me to move a substantial amendment?
Chair: Does the Committee agree that it is a typo?
All Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: It is agreed.
Clause 36 agreed to
On Clause 37
Clause 37 agreed to
On Clause 38
Clause 38 agreed to
On Clause 39
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Clause 39 just makes it clear that involuntary patients are entitled to be represented by counsel or agent and the proceedings may be adjourned for up to eight clear days, to allow for representation for the patient. Patients may, of course, apply for legal aid, which can be a controversial consideration, I know, given the concerns in this House provided for cost. We think, however, that it is a reasonable version. I also understand the concern of the Member for Porter Creek West here, there being so many lawyers who are members or alternates in this board, that there may be times of the year when it would be difficult to get enough lawyers to represent all the parties before the matter. Let us assume the bar will be sufficiently large soon to be able to take care of this problem.
Clause 39 agreed to
On Clause 40
Hon. Mr. Penikett: On clause 40(1), I do think it is important. I appreciate the Members evident wish to expedite the matter tonight but I do want to say something about this clause because it is an extremely important part of the bill, dealing as it does with the protection and preservation of the human civil rights of patients.
This clause does reaffirm the patients rights not to be discriminated against because of mental illness and to be treated in a reasonable fashion. They are listed in detail in subsections (2) and (3): the entitlement to security of person, to request that all records pertaining to any proceedings be taken under the act with respect to the patient and be placed in a sealed, confidential file. This is partly because the hearings in court are a matter of public record and this is not true of the Mental Health Review Board. It deals with the question of privacy that the Member for Riverdale South was asking about yesterday. Patients, of course, may not want these matters to become, for obvious reasons, public.
Under section 58 in the regulations, the proceedings before the Mental Health Review Board will be dealt with and the hearings will be private. We talked about providing this. Only parties entitled to be present will be present.
I indicated that we have, for reasons I described the day before yesterday, an amendment to offer here that clarifies the rights of patients in respect to the languages that they could use. With your consent, I would move that amendment now and speak to it, if I may.
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I would move that Bill No. 20, entitled Mental Health Act, be amended in clause 40, at page 22, by adding immediately after subclause 40(1) the following:
(1.1) Everyone who is required to inform a person of their rights under this Act or who is required to provide a person with a service under this Act shall ensure, to the extent that it is practicable to do so, that the person is advised of their rights or receives the service in the language in which the person is most proficient.
(1.2) Subsection (1.1) binds the Government of the Yukon."
We did discuss the need for this briefly in general debate, but I just want to elaborate. Our original concern was with cases that have been brought to our attention of elderly aboriginal people - cases we do know about - who found themselves institutionalized, perhaps because of their inability to communicate in the language of the physician or care giver. We were assured that the Languages Act, which has been passed by this House and is law in the Yukon Territory, would have been binding or effective on the care givers under this act because they would essentially have been agents of the Yukon Territory.
Subsequently, the concern was indicated to us based on cases outside of this jurisdiction with a reasonable probability that such cases could occur in the future of people from another part of the world, who had perhaps not yet acquired sufficient English or French language skills, who might in a time of confusion or stress be caught up in a proceeding or be required to give consent to a form of treatment under this act.
We want the emphasis of this act to be on patients rights. We want to be sure that informed consent is, where practical, given in the language in which the person is most proficient. Most Eastern European countries are represented in our population. If we had someone who was essentially a unilingual Serbian speaker or only spoke Polish, for example, we would like to be able to find someone in this community who could translate. There may be some other times where there may be only one or two people in the community who speak that language, and there are obvious practical limits as to how far we can go on this, but the clause does say where practical an effort shall be made to establish informed consent.
Mr. Lang: We appreciate the amendment and we are going to support it.
I would just like to make a comment about clause 41 and 42, which have to do with the right of the patient and the right to be informed as well as the confidentiality of a patients records. I would like to commend the drafters of these particular sections. They are very well done. We cannot find any areas in there, quite frankly, that we could bring to the attention of the government for revision.
I think we have gone as far as we possibly can in the English language to ensure the patients rights are protected. This is a very serious matter and we are pleased to see legislation on it. I would like to tell the Minister now that we are prepared to support those particular sections.
Chair: Is there any further debate on the amendment?
Amendment to Clause 40 agreed to
Clause 40 agreed to as amended
On Clause 41
Mr. Nordling: Back when we discussed clause 8(2)(a), the right of the person taken into custody to have the written statement made by the peace officer, the Minister was going to check into the timing of when that statement could be received. We decided we would bring it up again in respect to clause 41. That was the clause the Minister said would guarantee that the person taken into custody would have the right to a copy of that written copy. I would like to hear more from the Minister on that.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Let me explain first that I am absolutely dependent upon the best legal advice available to me at this moment on this question; therefore, I will convey that to the Member.
Clause 41, which is the right to be informed, says the person or the person and their nearest relative or recognized substitute is guaranteed information and copies of recommendations or orders, and the details are described in subclause (2).
I am advised that the right to be informed reinforces the duty of a peace officer detaining a person, and the duty of the person receiving a person detained under this act. For example, yesterday we talked about the example of the nurse in a rural community. This is set out in clause 9. Clause 41 elaborates on the rights a person has on detention, guaranteed by clause 10 of the Charter.
It must be recognized that, in the context of civil commitment, and particularly in cases of emergency admission, a persons mental state may make it impractical to provide him or her with a copy of the order or recommendation that led to their apprehension immediately after the person is apprehended. This was a point to which the Member conceded in our discussion yesterday, that the person may not be in a mind to receive the information. The Member was concerned about the situation where they were able to, and should get it as early as possible.
It should be noted that it may be impossible to contact the persons relative or guardian at the time of the persons apprehension. Clause 41(1)(a) provides, in words virtually identical to clause 10(a) of the Charter, that the person detained must be advised of the reason for their apprehension promptly upon being detained. The courts have ruled that promptly means immediately.
Furthermore, the absence of a time period in clause 41(1)(b) does not mean there can be unjustified delay in making a copy of the recommendation or order available either to the person apprehended or the relative or guardian. The courts have made it clear that this information must be given to the person detained as soon as the person is capable of dealing with it.
Similarly, the information is to be given to the next friend of the detained person as soon as that person is available.
Clause 41 agreed to
On Clause 42
Clause 42 agreed to
On Clause 43
Hon. Mr. Penikett: This section deals with the right to review records. It should be explained briefly. The principle behind this section is that individuals have the right to review the records. However, there are some limitations in case there is some protection required for the patient. This is an issue I dealt with briefly with the Member for Riverdale South a day or two ago. Sometimes the information on the record may be damaging to the self-esteem of the person or hazardous to a member of the family of the person. Therefore, it is possible for the administrative officer of the hospital to appeal to the Mental Health Review Board in order that they can protect some of the information on the file. Within seven days of receiving application to withhold the information, the Mental Health Review Board must review the clinical record and inform the chief administrative officer of the decision. The individual requiring access to their file can also make an application to the board prior to the board making its decision. When a person is entitled to see their records they are also entitled to request corrections of information in the clinical record or to request that a statement of disagreement be attached to the record if the change is not made, and to request that the change or disagreement is sent to other parties who may have seen the record.
Clause 43 agreed to
On Clause 44
Hon. Mr. Penikett: This describes the circumstances under which information may be disclosed to a court. They are described under this section.
Clause 44 agreed to
On Clause 45
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The Leader of the Official Opposition has made observations in the House before that may cause me to be concerned that, for him, this clause may be controversial. I want him to know that we have considered the matter and believe it is appropriate that legal services are made available for a person in this situation, if they are not able to obtain them for themselves. It is not a criminal matter, of course, but it is a matter that may be fundamental to the patients life, if not their liberty.
Mr. Nordling: I would like to hear a little more from the Minister on the background of clause 45. I see it is the Executive Council Member may make available, rather than must make available or should make available. How does the Minister relate it to clause 39, where an involuntary patient may choose to have legal representation and apply under legal aid?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: We are saying may here, because that is the proper drafting language, and it is to make clear that people who can afford their own lawyers, or legal services, will pay for them. From time to time, there will no doubt be indigent people, or people in need, and this provides the ability for the Minister to provide for legal services to such patients in their appearances before the Mental Health Review Board, or an appeal to the court.
Mr. Nordling: Is the Minister saying this clause is allowing the Executive Council Member to pay for legal services, or to decide, for an involuntary patient who is not competent to choose, that under clause 39 they should be represented?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: In the capacity of Minister of Health, not as Minister of Justice, this is to enable the Minister to make sure legal services are available to people who have been judged, or whose competence is in question. Someone who has been judged not competent may not have the ability to take legal advice, and we want to give the ability to the Minister to make sure they have it.
Mr. Nordling: The Department of Health and Human Resources would take care of the fee for the legal services provided, but it would not be referred to legal aid or taken out of that persons bank account.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The Member has suggested mutually exclusive propositions. We contemplated some kind of negotiations with legal aid to provide for people with this kind of need.
Clause 45 agreed to
On Clause 46
Hon. Mr. Penikett: This clause provides for temporary protection of estates. This clause links the Mental Health Act to the necessary estate protection services available. A process is described to allow the estate of the individual who requires estate protection to access that protection for the length of time necessary. We hope it is made clear here that it is the attending physicians responsibility to complete an evaluation of the patients ability to manage their estate, and to complete a certificate for estate protection.
The content of the certificate is described. It is also the physicians responsibility to ensure the certificate is cancelled when it is no longer required.
I would just mention that this is the clause that is based on clause 36 of the Ontario act and replaces clause 10 of the present act. It is anticipated that this clause will likely be amended or repealed when the adult guardianship act is introduced. That is a piece of legislation that is in preparation now. I do not know exactly when it will come to the House but it will likely supersede the provisions of this clause. It should also be noted that this section does not deal with the estates of Yukon first nations governed by the Indian Act because the Indian Act provisions dealing with the estates of mentally disordered persons will continue to govern the administration of the estates of those persons.
Clause 46 agreed to
On Clause 47
Clause 47 agreed to
On Clause 48
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I regret to advise, as I did in general debate, that there is a typographical error in this clause. The references to clause 46 in the first line should be referenced to clause 47. I believe the chair had acceded to my request that this be noted as a typo.
Mr. Nordling: With respect to clause 48, I have just a quick question. We are talking about a person who contravenes sections 42 or section 46 being guilty of an offence. Is there a provision anywhere, for example, a contravention of clause 9, when the peace officer shall promptly inform the person about where they are being taken to be examined. If that section is contravened, is there any penalty for that?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am advised that the Members question really leads to the question of the remedies and there are, I understand, remedies provided for, which are dealt with - provisions of section 24, I think it is, of the Charter - and civil remedies that may be for false imprisonment or for any of those things. This act, of course, is not felt to need to deal with those remedies, since they are general in their application.
Clause 48 agreed to
On Clause 49
Clause 49 agreed to
On Clause 50
Clause 50 agreed to
On Clause 51
Clause 51 agreed to
On Clause 52
Clause 52 agreed to
On Clause 53
Clause 53 agreed to
On the Preamble
Preamble agreed to
Title agreed to
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I move that you report Bill No. 20, Mental Health Act, out of Committee with amendments.
Motion agreed to
Chair: Due to the public interest on the Child Care Act does the Committee wish to continue without a break?
Mr. Lang: Agreed.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Disagreed.
Mr. Lang: As you can see there are quite a number of the public anxious to hear what the Government Leader has to say with respect to a subject that touches a lot of people.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: As we have just finished the Mental Health Act the Minister requires a few minutes to get papers together and this side does request a short break in order for that to happen.
Chair: The Committee will take a 10 minute break.
Chair: I will now call the Committee of the Whole to order.
We will continue with debate on Bill No. 77, entitled Child Care Act.
Bill No. 77 - Child Care Act
Hon. Mr. Penikett: It may be useful just to briefly review the progress on this important piece of legislation up to this point.
Members will recall that the green paper, which contained the eight principles of child care, the green paper entitled Lets Talk About Child Care in the Yukon, was released in the spring of 1988. The eight principles contained in that document referred to quality, parental choice, accessibility, affordability, comprehensive service, government responsibility, accountability and the issue of non-profit versus profit.
There was a consultation panel ably led by the present Member for Whitehorse South Centre - a process that was begun by our colleague, the Minister of Justice. The consultation panel heard from every community. They heard from over 350 individuals and 35 organizations. In the fall of 1988, the panel presented its report; We Care: Yukoners Talk About Child Care. That report provided a basis for everything that has come together since then.
The government followed in January 1989 with its child care strategy, entitled, Working Together. One of the things that was identified in that process was the need for new legislation.
The legislation that was currently in effect was difficult to administer and had not been enforced in all its particulars. In many respects it was seen to be inadequate to the needs of the day. Consultation that summer, the summer of 1989, on the legislation continued, and over 70 individuals and groups were heard from in that process.
In January of this year we tabled Bill No. 77, the bill that is before the House now. The bill contains the following features: child care services will be expanded to cover children 12 and under and children 16 and under having special needs. The children having special needs provision was an improvement, we thought, in the legislation, one that was necessary and one that was articulated throughout the territory; one that we were pleased to respond to. It was also recommended in the consultation that ensued that programs be expanded to include preschool programs, school-age programs and child development services, as well as cover family day homes and child care centres, both of which had been addressed in the old legislation.
It was recommended that a new child care board be established and that this board be selected from persons nominated by Yukon first nations, child care groups, licensed child care services and parents. The board will advise the Minister on all aspects of child care and will act as an independent appeal body for licensing and subsidy decisions made by the department. The enforcement provisions have been strengthened so that government officials can ensure compliance with the act and regulations. That was a very strongly articulated need because the purpose, of course, of such legislation - child care - is premised, fundamentally, on the security, safety and care of children and the ability to see the requirements of the legislation were met was seen as absolutely essential.
Everywhere throughout the consultation process, people said that they wanted quality care. They wanted standards that ensured a safe environment for their children. They wanted standards that promote and stimulate healthy development of children. There was demand for programming support, for culturally-appropriate programming, for age-appropriate programming, for programming that addressed the individual needs of the child, and there was, as I said before, a well-articulated demand for support for programs for children with special needs.
In that process, we heard articulated the demand for quality care for children of all ages: infants, preschoolers and school-age children. I think it can be said that the cornerstone of the proposed act is the principle of equality.
The consultations said we must redefine the role of the Day Care Services Board. The Legislature, as all Members know, has previously debated and unanimously passed a motion on the new board structure. It is an advisory body to cabinet that also includes appeal functions from decisions made by officials working in this field.
The act before the House incorporates these changes. During consultation on the legislation, family day home numbers were, as everybody knows, the subject of considerable debate. I want all Members to know that the family day home numbers were arrived at after careful and detailed consideration of all the factors.
The question might be asked rhetorically, why are the numbers in the act? The simple fact is that they define in the act what a family day home is. The numbers for child care centres are based on different factors. They deal with space, staff availability, group size and ages of children, and recognize that every centre is different and that there is an almost infinite variety of possible different shapes and sizes of centres, that the maximum numbers may vary from child care centre to centre, and the act outlines the maximum numbers for family day homes, defining their operations as does all provincial legislation.
Family day homes offer a different service. They offer a home like environment and usually have only one or two staff. They deal with smaller numbers of children than do child care centres. They are, of course, concerned also with safety in an emergency, with flexibility and, as is the government, with ensuring quality care.
It is our belief that the act achieves the best possible balance. Consultations said that standards should be monitored and enforced and that is proposed to be done in this act. This act ensures the safety and accountability of services to parents, community and government.
Consultation said that the government needs to commit funds to support the new services, support to expand and increase the quality of present services, support to assist parents with costs, support for stay-at-home parents, support for special needs, and support for school-age programs. The act provides a framework for funding programs outlined in the child care strategy, which was itself a product of wide consultation. The act ensures the accountability of the government to the citizens, the accountability for quality care.
With those brief introductory remarks, I will resume my place and entertain questions from Members present.
Mr. Lang: I rise in my place as the longest sitting Member in the House. I have to say of all the issues I have had to deal with in this Legislature, this particular bill has generated the most phone calls that I have received on any one issue.
I have to say I am very surprised that the bill is causing the consternation that it has, the very real concerns people are starting to express when taxpayers, people like you and me, pay thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars, to go through a consultation process to bring forward a bill for our consideration.
I would have thought that if the consultation process had been done properly, and those most affected by legislation such as this had been listened to, we would not be in the situation we see here this evening.
Applause from gallery
Mr. Lang: In the speech the Minister of Health and Human Resources gave last January, he stated how he had been so involved in the first Day Care Act being passed in this House. I was part of the government at that time. We brought forward an act that had consensus. There was some debate in the House, but it did not cause consternation or the prospect of confrontation down the road.
I want to put our position on the record, as a party and as Members of caucus. There are very simple principles we believe in. Uppermost in our minds is the principle of parental choice.
Applause from gallery
Chair: I would like to ask the members in the gallery not to participate in the proceedings of the House. I would like to ask the Member to continue.
Mr. Lang: I am doing my best.
Along with the right of the parent to choose, just as importantly is the freedom to choose. Uppermost in our minds, as far as this principle is concerned, is the question of quality. That is a concern for all of us as legislators but, more importantly, a concern to the parents who use those facilities and, especially, the children.
This leads me to another area that is of absolute importance to those parents who are utilizing day care facilities, and that is the question of affordability and the question of accessibility. I want to expand a little further on that, and I think the other side shares the same view.
Our major concern is for those who cannot afford it, assistance being provided, in good part, for those single parents who have to use those services in order to be able to provide for their families. In some cases, we question whether or not we are doing enough in those particular circumstances.
There are principles in the legislation we support. The Minister referred to the question of the board and the responsibility of that board, as proposed in the legislation. It was the Member for Riverdale South who put the motion on the floor here for debate, and it was unanimously approved by all Members in the House.
When we go through the legislation, there are a number of areas in this particular section of the bill we are going to be questioning. Primarily, that is the question of the authority being vested with a director and how that is going to affect those day cares that are presently operating, and how judiciously that authority will be exercised.
I have a real fear, in view of what has transpired, that there would appear to be a major animosity between those in charge, who are being paid by the taxpayers, the administration of this government, being in an almost confrontation mode with those family day care operators.
That is why we will be asking, and we want the assurances of the government in this forum, that the broad authority that is being requested in this legislation will be exercised very judiciously and watched very carefully. Because if it is not, I can assure all Members that this will be a major issue on an ongoing basis. I also want to say that there is no reason, if it is done properly, that there has to be an issue in the days and years to come. I, for one, hope there is not.
The other area in the legislation before us that is going to be of some concern is the question of the childs age. I think it is safe to say that there is a concern by parents as well as those operating day homes of how that is going to affect their operations and exactly what age should be included in that section.
Another area that is going to be under scrutiny is not included in the legislation but is in the proposed regulations that nobody has had the opportunity to see, and that is the requirement for qualifications. That is of major concern to this side of the House and I hope to the other side. We must not put ourselves in a situation where we are asking for such qualifications that many of the people who are involved in family day home programs cannot continue in that type of a business and lifestyle.
When my children were going to day care, at the family day home they were in, the woman who was operating that small business perhaps had a grade 12 education. She was capable; I felt comfortable and I knew that my children were being provided for. I want to caution the government, when they get into the area of qualifications, that they are not exceeding what is being requested by a mother.
There is another question outstanding. That is the governments intention to implement after school day care. It is sheer coincidence, and I do not know if many in the public are aware of this, that the government has tabled a motion that will be debated, I presume, at some time during our sitting, discussing the question of after school day care throughout the territory. It is going to be an area of consternation for many people, especially for those who are using the family day services. When they realize what the implications of this bill are going to be, if they cannot afford to send their children to the family day homes and are forced to use the government-provided school day care, they are going to be very upset. There are a lot of parents who do not want their children in an institution like a school from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at night. This goes back to that fundamental principle about which we spoke earlier - the fundamental principle of parental choice.
Another question that is going to have to be answered by the government during the course of this session is: how far are we, the taxpayers of Yukon, going to go? Are we going to the extent that we are purchasing day cares? Are we getting into the business of day care? These are questions that the government is going to have to answer.
The major outstanding area of concern to those parents who are presently using family day home services is the question of the staff/children ratio included in the bill. I have to say I share the concern expressed by many parents here in the last number of days and it begs the question: why is this specific ratio included in the legislation while anything else to do with day care left up to the whim of cabinet? I submit that what is good for the goose is good for the gander.
The Minister has received numerous letters on the question of day care. I might add they are well thought-out letters, not strident positions put one way or another, but letters written by very concerned parents; parents who have taken the time to read the legislation, to think about the legislation, and not only offer their opinion on the legislation, but go so far as to go forward with the section-by-section recommendations that the government consider some change. I want to commend those people who have done that. As legislators we all know how much time and effort goes into that type of work. It is very labour intensive with very few thanks.
The area of major concern is clause 7, the staff ratio for the number of children permitted in a family day home business. As an MLA, this issue before us is the one issue I have received the most phone calls on, yet at the same time I have never ever had one constituent come up to me and ask that the legislation that is presently in place for the family day homes be changed. I have not had one complaint, one way or the other.
I ask other MLAs to rise in their place later on during this debate and tell us if they have received any complaints from constituents on this matter. I ask the House why we are making these substantial changes, especially when you take a look at the principles that the Minister of Health and Human Resources referred to in Working Together - A Child Care Strategy for the Yukon that the government side has adopted.
It is interesting to note that, under child care policy principles, they have accepted the principle of parental choice: the well-being of children is the parents responsibility; the choice of child care is a parental responsibility. We support that.
We also support the principle that the government has also said they support, and it states, Into the 1990s, support or facilitate the development of family day homes in association with licensed child care centres.
If that principle is accepted by all sides of this House, I submit the legislation before us is flawed. When the government hears the witnesses that will be before the bar of the House tomorrow, and the evidence that is going to be provided to all Members, I hope they will seriously reconsider some clauses of the bill. If that is done, then I can say to the side opposite that our side will give full support to the governments initiative.
I want to go a little further into the question of clause 7 and its implications. The implications are far-reaching for those parents who are using the family day homes. First of all, with the numbers that are being proposed in the legislation, we are going to see parents faced with the very real proposition that their children will not be able to attend the same day care together. Nobody in this House can tell me that, with that particular fact now brought to our attention, we can pass this bill, with all honesty, if those implications are facing parents using those facilities.
A concern has been expressed in this House by both sides of kids being at home without care, in some quarters referred to as latchkey children. With the proposed staff ratio, we are going to find the family day homes are going to be taking very few, if any, after school children.
My question is: what happens to those children? Do we want to be a Legislature that with full knowledge passes a bill that is going to cause children to have to go home after school and not have any supervision at all? I do not think so. I would like to think not.
I realize the side opposite has difficulty accepting and dealing with this, but it is the question of affordability. Family day home operators have made it very clear in most cases that if this legislation is passed they will undoubtedly have to raise their rates. Why are we bringing in a piece of legislation that is going to cause parents to have to pay more, especially when we are looking at a period of obvious inflation and a situation where the pay package of the spouses is purchasing less. Yet we are looking at a bill where we have been told in no uncertain terms that there is going to be increased cost to the parent.
It disturbs me. I want to go back to those who are in charge of administering this act. I heard the response from the administration when they were asked what was going to happen if they have to pay more. The impression left with the listener was that they really did not care. I do not believe that to be the case. I know it would not be the case if they were utilizing those services.
Another area that really concerns us is that we legislators should be wanting to do everything we can to not only encourage the people involved in the day care area to provide the spaces being provided now, but to look at providing more spaces down the road.
Ironically, the government said that was one of their prime objectives, yet we are told by those involved in this type of business that if the bill is passed the way it now stands, we are going to have some family day homes closing down. If that happens, what happens to those children, and what do those parents do?
I want to raise with you what we feel is of major importance, and that is the direction the government is going in. We see a significant limiting factor on the family day home operations as a result of this bill. There has to be a reason for it. We hope we are not bringing in legislation because someone has written it for us and we are supposed to pass it.
What is the long-term objective of the government? Is it to institutionalize day care? Is it the objective of the government that the government will take the responsibility of the parent and take responsibility for children from 7:45 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. or 5:30 p.m., and say, we know better, we will do the job for you, because we have a lot more experience, and we have a degree?
I hope that is not the objective. If it is, we have a serious situation as to what we as Canadians and Yukoners want for our society.
Because if that is the long-term objective, then we have just taken away the principle that the government and this side has espoused and that is the parents right to choose. Just as important, the responsibility lies with the parent.
It is the families of this country that built this country. If we are bringing in legislation and policies to intentionally further distend the family than it is today, then I submit to everyone here today that that is wrong. That is the simple message that is being conveyed by people who are phoning into the talk shows, people who are writing letters to the various Members of this House. They are conveying the deepest feelings and emotions that can be conveyed and that is of being a parent worried about what is going to happen to their child.
It is my sincere hope that the side opposite will listen to the witnesses that will be appearing tomorrow afternoon, be there with an open mind and be prepared to consider some significant changes to the bill before us. As I said earlier, if the side opposite is prepared to listen with an open mind, we are more than prepared to have them bring in amendments. We would prefer them to bring in amendments so that they can be dealt with in a logical, expeditious and, most importantly, fair manner.
In view of the consternation that has been expressed by members of the public, primarily those parents of children attending family day homes, I want to ask the Minister what plans he has for these children. What is he going to tell these parents when there are fewer spaces available in those family day homes for their children?
Applause from gallery
Chair: I would like to again ask the visitors in the gallery not to participate in the proceedings of the House.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I listened with great interest to the long speech of the Member opposite. It contained many points to which I would like to respond. The first thing I would observe in respect to the rules for family day homes is that it is obvious that the Member opposite does not know that in some respects the provisions in this act before the House are more liberal than the provisions in the act passed by the government of which he was part.
He appears not to know that this act provides for a maximum of up to eight full time children as compared to a maximum of six children in the family day home, which was the rule under the act of the previous government - the act we are now operating under. It is a source of great regret to me that the Member opposite, the critic for this portfolio, does not know this important provision of the legislation passed by the government of which he was part and of which he was a Minister.
As the Member dealt with a great number of issues, let me deal with some of his points as he made them: first of all, the issue of parental choice. It is a very important issue, an issue which is addressed and central to the discussions, the consultation and the legislation before us, an issue that this government has addressed in a very important reform, in terms of parental choice, by changing social assistance legislation so that the single parents the Member opposite spoke about will have now, for the first time under this government, a real choice between putting their kids in family day homes, child care centres or having sufficient incomes to be able to stay home and provide primary care for those children in their own homes. That is a reform and an improvement made by this government. It is a major reform for a problem that existed for years under the previous administration and which they refused to address.
Let me deal further with the question of parental choice. We believe that parental choice is best accomplished by assisting in the development of services that meet the needs of parents within safe standards, rather than relaxing those standards to the point where young children are at risk.
I want to return to that point. That act before us supports options, including child development services, preschool programs, school-age programs and optional licensing of family day homes caring for fewer than four children, as well as child care centres and regular family day homes. Under this act, family day homes can care for an extra four school-aged children, with an extra care giver. The government supports services, through startup grants, operation and maintenance grants, wage enhancement grants and subsidies for low-income families - speaking to the question of affordability, a question to which I would like to return.
The accountability that all legislation in our democratic system requires, that public funds must be used in this area for providing safe, quality services, and the transfer that we are proposing, which is possible under this act, can be achieved to communities as long as those principles are observed.
Let us not forget for a moment that even though we are talking about the care of children, one of the most precious questions for any human society, a question that is of prime importance to government - any government - we are talking about care outside of the family. We are talking about standards and licences for businesses, which operate as businesses and which must, by law, be licensed, and for which therefore the government, when it comes to the care of children, the business of caring for children, must set standards. The government has an obligation to take reasonable steps to ensure the safety of children.
The Member asks why family day home numbers are included in the act while child care numbers are not. As I said, the numbers define the family day homes and assume one care giver.
The limits are maximum limits that are in the present act, even though the limits in our act are higher than the present act, and in the legislation of most Canadian jurisdictions. That, too, is a point to which I wish to return.
Infant spaces and care givers own children are critical factors in determining maximum numbers, and maximum numbers for day care centres are determined by other factors - space, child/staff ratios - and are unique to each day care.
The Member asks why the family day home numbers are not more flexible. The maximum numbers are felt to be as unrestrictive and as flexible as possible, while still maintaining the quality of service and the safety of children. I take the Members point in this that he, too, is concerned about both the quality and safety of children in any licensed facility.
A family-like atmosphere is kept by limiting the number of children cared for in a family day home. The ratios in this act are similar, or slightly less restrictive, than those in place for child care centres. In a family day home, staff could look after eight two-year-olds; for example, in a child care centre, one staff is required for every six two-year-olds. The Member asks why a family day home cannot have more school-aged children. We shall debate this further, but it is our view that allowing more than 12 children in a family day home is crossing the line into a child care centre status. With 12 children, the child/staff ratio would be six to one, ensuring that all children would receive adequate care.
The question is asked: will the act reduce the number of children that can be cared for in a family day home? Under the Child Care Act, children cared for less than three hours are not included in the numbers. This means the maximum number of children cared for at any one time in a family day home was uncontrollable, resulting in potentially unsafe situations. You do not have to think very hard to consider the situation. In a case of a large number of children and one care giver, if one child falls down, gets burned, has an accident of some kind and has to be rushed to the hospital, trying to get a large number of children dressed in the winter and into a car and into a hospital while one child is injured is clearly not a safe situation.
An operator can choose to fill the maximum allowable numbers with a combination of full- or part-time children who share spaces, as long as the maximum numbers are not exceeded. In the act, all children will count, regardless of their status, ensuring the child/staff ratios remain consistent. Consequently, at any point, we believe the maximum numbers in the act should not be exceeded. We believe the optional licensing provision in the legislation also encourages the creation of more, not fewer, spaces.
The Member wonders how the numbers were arrived at and suggests there was some kind of arbitrary process involving someone with a university degree but no knowledge, sensitivity or compassion. The numbers were arrived at during the consultation process and it was very strongly articulated everywhere we went that no more than four infants should be looked after by a care giver. The child/staff ratio and group size has been identified as a critical factor in the care of children and early childhood development. Child/staff ratios affect the rates of interaction between children and care givers and among children themselves. A group of mixed ages raises special safety concerns and an increased need for supervision.
The family day home operator has a choice of the age or mix of children they wish to care for. You might ask why an extra staff member is required for school age children. The age mix of children can present difficulties and result in inadequate supervision in a family day home. The child/staff ratio is reduced to one to six to ensure that all children receive adequate care.
We know that operators may wish to use students or neighbors or adults looking for part-time work and we know that overhead costs are low in family day homes and the capital and operating costs can be subsidized through various grant programs in this strategy.
The Member suggests that there will be some adverse impacts on infant spaces. We believe that the new numbers proposed in this act allow for at least the number of spaces presently provided. Family day homes have the choice of remaining at the current number of six or going to eight preschool children. The higher subsidy rates and the operation and maintenance grants reflect increased costs of caring for infants and a reduction may occur if the family day home has an infant of their own, of course. In the consultation, there was support for family care givers own preschool children. This could affect, we understand, approximately three family day homes. We believe that optional licensing for small family day homes will promote access to the subsidy and the creation of new spaces.
I cannot table this document now, but I will do so at the first opportunity, perhaps tomorrow, but as evidence of the liberal nature of the standards being proposed in this act, I want to tell Members what the standards are in other jurisdictions in this country. I ask Members to pay careful attention to this because this has been the subject of debate in other jurisdictions, a subject of careful study and a matter of deep reflection by governments of all political stripes everywhere in Canada.
I want to tell them what the comparable numbers are. We are proposing maximum limits for family day homes of eight if none of the children are under 18 months. The comparable number for British Columbia for the maximum is five. The maximum number in Alberta for an identical situation is six. The maximum number in Saskatchewan is five. The maximum number in Manitoba is five. The maximum number in Ontario is five. The maximum number in Quebec is four. In New Brunswick the maximum number is five or six, depending on the mix. In Nova Scotia the maximum number is seven. In Prince Edward Island the maximum number is seven. In the Northwest Territories the maximum number is six if all are preschoolers.
The highest and most liberal standard in Canada is that proposed in this act. That is a maximum of eight.
I want to pick up on just a couple of other points the Member raises on the question of age. Throughout the consultation there was 98 percent agreement that the age of 12 should be the upper limit. That was consistent with the generally held view that children of 12 can look after themselves. It was consistent with other pieces of legislation such as the Young Offenders Act and the Young Persons Offences Act. The age of an infant of 18 months was agreed by 90 percent of the people in consultation because professionals tell us that is the age of mobility. Under the present day care legislation the age is 18 months.
The Member talks about affordability. Under the present legislation the maximum full time is six. As I mentioned under the new legislation for family day homes the maximum is eight. The old Conservative standard was six and the new standard we are proposing is eight. The only way we believe the costs will increase is that for those centres that take a large number of part-time care kids and want to replace that portion of their revenues due to the maximum of 12, including school age children. We believe that most family day homes will not be affected.
On the question of affordability, we believe the subsidy programs we have assisting low-income families for child care costs, the operation and maintenance grants we make to child care centres and family day homes assist with day-to-day operating costs, the capital programs provide enhanced funding to licenced programs, again to assist with costs, and the wage enhancement program helps us there, too. The subsidy program was expanded last year to include more parents. I want to remind the Member when he talks about the legislation brought in under the previous government that I moved the first motion in this House for the first funding.
The first standards that were brought in by the previous government were not met with any funding; funding in 1978, not too many years ago, for child care in this territory was zero. I am very proud of the fact that we have had a major improvement in the assistance to child care programming and that this government is proposing to spend $9 million over the course of four years to double number of spaces: child care spaces, special needs spaces, family day home spaces, spaces all over the territory, because we believe that is a need that must be met.
Given the hour, I would move that you report progress on Bill No. 77.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that Mr. Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Motion agreed to
Speaker resumes the Chair
Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
May the House have a report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole?
Ms. Kassi: The Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 20, the Mental Health Act, and directed me to report the same with amendment. Further, the Committee has considered Bill No. 77, Child Care Act, and directed me to report progress on same.
Speaker: You have heard the report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Government House Leader that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: This House now stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. tomorrow.
The House adjourned at 9:30 p.m.
The following Legislative Return was tabled April 25, 1990:
Proposal Development Fund Application by Canadian Mental Health Association - Yukon Division, to Yukon Housing Corporation for Supportive/Independent Living: Psychiatrically Disabled project (Byblow)
Oral, Hansard, p. 1489
The following Filed Document was tabled April 25, 1990:
Government of Canada memo dated March 11, 1985, to Dr. George Walker, Programs Medical Officer, Yukon Region, from J.P. Kehoe, Director, Mental Health Services, Yukon Region, re Review of Domicilary and Program Needs for Chronic Mental Patients (Lang)