Wednesday, May 9, 1990 - 1:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. At this time, we will proceed with Prayers.
Speaker: We will proceed with the Order Paper.
Introduction of Visitors.
Are there any Returns or Documents for tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I have for tabling a document, entitled Report of the Test Paper Recycling Program.
Speaker: Are there any Reports of Committees?
Petition No. 8
Hon. Mr. Webster: Following the receipt of Petition No. 8, presented by the Member for Porter Creek West on April 25, 1990, I met with Mr. Chris Gladish, president of the Klondike Snowmobile Association, which sponsored the petition on May 3, 1990.
At that time, I agreed to write to the federal Minister of the Environment, the hon. Lucien Bouchard, to convey the associations interest in obtaining an exemption from the National Parks policy of no private, uncontrolled mechanized access within the historic park boundaries of the Chilkoot Trail National Historic Park.
Speaker: Introduction of Bills.
Are there any Notices of Motion for the Production of Papers?
Notices of Motion.
Are there any Statements by Ministers?
Government Paper Recycling Program
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I would like to inform the House today of the results of the pilot project on paper recycling that was undertaken by the Department of Government Services. This project was created in response to the government commitment to reduce, to reuse and to recycle paper products within government offices and schools. The purpose of the project was to implement and evaluate a pilot collection program for paper in two government offices and one public school, between the period of January 2 and March 31, 1990. The results are very encouraging. The Hicklin Report, which I tabled moments ago, shows that the Yukon government recycling program can indeed operate successfully. We have found that employees are cooperative, and we have found that waste paper produced by government can be recovered and recycled.
As a result of the success of the test program, this government is pleased to announce that a permanent internal government recycling program will be phased in over the next two years. During the phasing-in period, we will develop ways to deal with storage problems, as well as coordination and collection methods. This period will also give staff members the opportunity to become more familiar with the paper recycling process. Existing contracts and new tenders for janitorial services will also be reviewed, in order to reflect this new environmental initiative.
We hope that collection containers can be constructed locally. People working at sheltered workshops, such as Challenge, might be employed to pick up the paper. Other groups, such as the Yukon Conservation Society, municipal governments, local refuse collection companies, the public and private businesses are all quite keen to participate in a good recycling program.
The government is prepared to be a major player in any paper recycling program that is developed in the territory. At the same time there are other environmental initiatives being undertaken by the department and the government: recycled envelopes and recycled cover stock are being used on in-house printing jobs; shredded paper is also being offered to local businesses as a packing material, copiers capable of producing double-sided copies are being introduced into government departments. The department is also currently working with clients and industry to ensure cleaning products purchased for various government agencies meet environmental disposal and occupational health standards.
All these initiatives represent the governments, and specifically the commitment of the Department of Government Services, commitment toward the development and implementation of an effective environmental program.
Mrs. Firth: We recognize and commend the government for their initiatives with this paper recycling process. Perhaps the Minister could address the issue of the furnace at Yukon College. Our understanding was that the furnace was supposed to burn all the shredded paper from this government. Is that not going to happen? Are we going to be heating the college with thousands of pages of shredded Yukon government stationery or are we going to now save it and recycle it?
Otherwise, we welcome the initiative to recycle paper, but there seems to be some kind of contradiction with the big furnace that was built at the college.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I thank the Member for the complimentary gesture to support the general initiative to recycle and reuse paper. Certainly the effort we have undertaken in the past year is a true indication we are committed to the environmental initiative of reducing the quantity that we use and reusing what we can.
The Member raised the issue of the Yukon College furnace. I am quite pleased to tell her it is our intention over the course of the next year, indeed, to apply our paper recycling efforts to pelletizing that stock and using it in the furnace at the college. It is not being done now while the furnace is being refined in its operation. Certainly the issue of using the paper recycling efforts of the government as a heat source is going to be applied down the road.
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS
Mr. Phillips: I would like to apologize to the House. I seem to be suffering from a mild case of spring fever and I missed my cue earlier on Introduction of Visitors.
I would like to call the attention of all Members to a guest who is in the gallery today. His name is Richard Proulx, and he is from Montreal. Richard is here to take part in the youth parliament that is going to take place here this weekend. I would like all Members to welcome Richard to the Yukon.
Speaker: This then brings us to the Question Period.
Question re: Suit against Member
Mr. Phelps: I have some questions for the Government Leader regarding the surprising, but welcome, news that the Deputy Minister of Education intends to sue me and my party for libel. We look forward to the opportunity to bring out all the facts regarding the actions of the individual and of this government, which apparently supports abuse of authority and workplace harassment.
Will the Minister give his assurance that employees will be entitled to give truthful evidence in a court case without fear of reprisal from the deputy minister or this government?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: It is an extraordinary question to suggest that anyone at any time would give anything other than truthful evidence before a court. From the officer of the court opposite, it is quite an amazing proposition. When the matter comes to trial, which is a private matter, the people who appear in the court will be bound by the rules of evidence and obliged to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
Mr. Phelps: The Government Leader neglected to deal with the issue of reprisals. Will he give his assurance that the deputy minister will be instructed that he should not attempt to use his position to prevent employees from coming forward to tell the complete truth in court?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Again, this is quite an odious question. The question is really designed to make an accusation, or a further attack, on the individual and cast aspersions on the character of this deputy minister by suggesting that he would engage in such activity and, as a further odious suggestion, that were he to do so, this government would sanction it. I reject both propositions.
Mr. Phelps: In the event that such influence is exerted by the individual, will the Minister assure us that that would be grounds in his view for dismissal of the person in question?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: This is perhaps not the first time that a Leader of the Opposition in this House has made recommendations about personnel matters to me, in my capacity as First Minister here, or to one of my Cabinet colleagues. I will obviously always listen to any recommendations or representations he has to make, but I do not hope that he will be harbouring any notion that I will be taking this recommendation on a personnel matter any more seriously than some of the ones he has previously made.
Question re: Suit against Member
Mr. Phelps: In view of what has been occurring, and in view of the problems in the department, these are serious questions. I am surprised and somewhat angered by the fact that an employee of this government, the director of legal services, apparently called reporters, asking them to keep cassette tapes and other materials that were made at news conferences by me and the Member for Riverdale South on Monday. I would like to know who gave instructions to this employee to take this action and phone the newspapers.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I did not give any instructions to such employee. There may have been no instructions given, but perhaps the employee, as a good lawyer himself, was making sure that nobody was taking any steps to see any evidence that may be germane to the matter being discussed here made somehow unavailable at the time it is needed.
For the Member opposite to suggest, having made his previous unpleasant suggestions, that now it is somehow improper for a lawyer, even a lawyer in the employ of this government, to want to see evidence maintained that is pertinent to a matter that may go before the courts is yet another strange suggestion.
Mr. Phelps: Will the Government Leader, as head of the government, make enquiries to see whether instructions were given to that individual, and if so, who gave them, and report that back to this House?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Certainly that is the most reasonable question the Member has asked, and I will take notice of that question and advise the House once I have the information.
Mr. Phelps: A few years ago when the self-styled Premier was in the opposition, he was sued by an official in the government, Mr. Pearsons press secretary, for calling that official a bum boy - not really surprising considering the Ministers penchant for using the word anal in the House on numerous occasions.
I know for a fact that in that case the government did not in any way finance the press secretarys lawsuit. I want to know if that precedent will stand. I want the Ministers clear assurance that the lawsuit being threatened by the deputy minister will not be financed by this government.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I will not respond to the preamble about my psychological type or my predilection to certain types of adjectives. I will also not comment on the character of the Member opposite on that score.
I think I have answered that in the first question the Member asked today when I indicated that it is our view that this is a private matter. The allegation of slander by the deputy minister against the Leader of the Official Opposition is a matter about which we would expect to hear outside this House and is not an action that will be sponsored by the government.
Question re: Na Dli Youth Centre, escape
Mr. Lang: I have a question for the same Minister. It has to do with the question of young offenders in the territory. Yesterday I questioned what was taking place in the secure young offenders facility, and the Minister, in one of his responses, inferred everything was in order, both there and in open custody and in any other area where young offenders were being taken care of.
I find the impression left by the Minister a bit confusing as some information has come to my attention that I do not think has been made public. Could the Minister confirm to the House that last week five young offenders escaped from the open custody facility.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: First of all, let me again respond, as I often have to with this Member, to the misleading information in his preamble. The question he asked me yesterday was about the secure custody facility, and I said it had calmed down considerably and had been without incident. He did not ask me about open custody facilities. Yes, it is a matter of record that we have had young people absent without leave from the young offenders open custody facility at 501 Taylor Street.
Mr. Lang: Can you confirm it was five young offenders who escaped from the open custody facility?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I can confirm that a certain number of people have been absent without leave. As of the last information I had, at this moment there are two young men, neither of whom is considered dangerous, who are absent from that facility.
Mr. Lang: I see my information seems to be fairly reliable.
Can the Minister tell this House if one of the young offenders who escaped from open custody was one of the young offenders who was involved in the mass escape out of Na Dli in January?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am bound by law not to provide any information publicly that would lead to the identification of a young offender. Therefore, on those grounds I cannot answer the question in the form in which the Member put it.
Question re: Na Dli Youth Centre, escape
Mr. Lang: I am not asking for any names. I want to find out just exactly what is taking place here. Can the Minister confirm my information that it is true one of the young offenders involved in the mass breakout earlier this year was involved in the escape from the open custody facility here this past week?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Once again, having proper regard for the law, I will take the question as notice for further instructions on the point, for exactly the reasons I have just given.
Mr. Lang: I find it very alarming that there seems to be an ongoing situation where these young people, for one reason or another, are being allowed to escape from young offender facilities, whether they be in open custody or secure custody.
In this particular case, how could five young offenders escape from an open custody facility without any warning to the staff that such a thing was going to take place?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Every situation of this kind is different. There may be cases where there are indications to the staff that young people are planning to leave or absent themselves, but the Member has to understand that in open custody facilities, there may be young people who are going to school every day. They may have great limits on their freedoms but they will have some freedoms and they do, consistent with the philosophy of the open custody program, may be able to come and go for various purposes. They are required to, of course, observe curfews and certain rules. If they respect the rules, they may have a greater amount of freedom.
One of the realities of open custody facilities is that there are, from time to time, and this has always been the case, young people who absent themselves without leave. One of the consequences of them doing that is that often a prosecution will follow and young people may then find themselves in a secure custody facility. In fact, that is quite a common way. I have examined the profile of the cases here for young people, who sometimes originally may not have committed very serious offences at all, but because they continue to run from open custody, have found themselves, unfortunately, in secure custody facilities.
Mr. Lang: It seems very strange to the general public who is watching this situation. It almost seems like a circus. It almost seems like when anyone wants to pack their bags, they almost make an appointment to leave.
Yesterday I asked the Minister about the three young offenders who we sent down to Prince George. If you will recall, I thought it was rather strange that we would be sending our young offenders to Prince George when, at the same time, we have just built a $3.2 million facility, which has in the neighbourhood of 15 staff who work 24 hours a day taking care of the young offenders up there. At the same time, we are sending our young people out to such places as Prince George, away from their families, which in some of these cases, I think, could be of help to them...
Speaker: Order please. Could the Member please get to the supplementary?
Mr. Lang: Yesterday I asked the Minister if he would provide us with the per diem costs of housing these young offenders in Prince George and if he could provide us with those costs. The Minister said he would take notice of that question. Does he have that information with him?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I regret that I do not have this information today. I have asked the department for the information and I hope that I will have it very very shortly.
Question re: Mount Hundere, Tagish Road haulage
Mr. Phelps: I have some questions for the Minister of Community and Transportation Services, with regard to the Mount Hundere project and the issue of using the Tagish Road to haul ore to Skagway.
Can the Minister tell me if there have been any more discussions between his officials and Curragh, with regard to using the Tagish Road for the ore haul?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I would remind the Member that the issue of questions surrounding Mount Hundere are being dealt with through a one-window approach on economic development. My departmental discussions are involved with the working group of the government that is driven by Economic Development.
However, specifically in relation to the Tagish Road question, I have had a number of discussions with departmental officials and with members of the working group. I have written to people from the Carcross area, who have also enquired about the subject. Essentially, I have taken a position where, given the preliminary cost estimates that have been provided for upgrading the road to a standard that would accommodate overload truck use, we are not prepared to support the position of allowing the road for ore haul usage.
However, that should be qualified with a simple fact that, should the proponents of the development choose to haul the ore within standard truck configuration, and within standard load sizes, they could not be prevented from using that road. That is, they would have the same rights as any other truckers who currently use the road.
Mr. Phelps: Much of that road was recently reconstructed, but it is built on sand and silt. It is already deteriorating, just with the present use by small vehicles.
Would the Minister table the estimate of upgrading the road to sustain heavier traffic to give us some idea of the cost, or table the working papers? I would like to know how much it is going to cost to bring that road up to a standard that would withstand heavy and overload traffic.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I have no problem with providing those preliminary numbers to the Member or the House. They are available. I have reviewed them. I can provide them, either privately or in the House.
Mr. Phelps: I look forward to receiving them. It does not matter to me which way, as long as I can use them as public documents. Is there any intention to negotiate an agreement with Curragh with regard to who would pay for upgrading the road, should there be an overload use of the road?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I can provide a partial answer to that. The reason is that it is premature to take any final, hard position with respect to use of that road. Any arrangement for the transportation of the ore from that property would, again, be negotiated through economic development and through our one-window approach. It would take into context the overall aspects of the project; it would be in relation to other transportation corridors affecting the haul of the mine; it would take into account certain commitments to the community of Watson Lake; it would essentially involve a development agreement; it would be premature to say what terms and conditions the transportation component of that would contain.
The point should also be made in respect of the Tagish Road, because that is what the Member is specifically seeking, that it would be necessary from our point of view that adequate consultation be conducted with residents of the area adjacent to that road in respect of any ore haul use.
Question re: Medical travel
Mr. Nordling: I have a question for the Minister of Health and Human Resources with respect to medical travel.
My understanding is that the medical travel policy or guidelines were last reviewed in March of 1985. No revisions were made under the previous Minister, however, over a year ago in response to my question; the present Minister acknowledged the need for a review.
On March 30, I expressed concern about those less well off being discriminated against, and on April 3, in Committee of the Whole debate at page 175 in Hansard, the Minister indicated that discussions with local physicians would begin and an analysis done in the next few months. On Monday the Minister said work is now ongoing.
Why has the analysis and review been so delayed? What work is going on at this point?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I appreciate the catalogue of interventions and statements made on the subject. We began well over a year ago to start to look at this question and what other jurisdictions are doing: to look at our policy in the area following a number of representations from all sorts of communities of interest - parents of young children being medivaced out, physicians and others. As I said to the Member yesterday, we have prepared an analysis and I have some proposals that are soon to be presented to my colleagues.
I explained to the Member the fact that I am not able to operate unilaterally in that almost every enhancement of this program has very significant costs associated with it.
It is an element in the health program that is already increasing at a far greater rate than our government revenues, and last year, the costs were several times the rate of inflation.
It is, therefore, a matter about which we are thinking very carefully. We do want to deal sensitively and compassionately with the kind of case the Member described yesterday in Question Period. The problem of how to satisfactorily address the costs associated with these remedies is one I still have to discuss with my colleagues. I am sure the question will be resolved within the next month.
Mr. Nordling: One of the problems in this area, which I think was pointed out last year as well, is that of budgeting, as well as rising costs. Last July the government signed a consulting contract for $63,000 with Price-Waterhouse Management to study emergency medical transportation. Is that report complete? If so, what has happened to it and were there any other consultants hired or reports done in this area?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I stand to be corrected on this matter, but I believe that the contract mentioned by the Member was for a study associated with the transportation equipment, air ambulance and other emergency services. I believe, if that report has not yet been made public, it is soon to be, as I think there have been some requests for that information to be made public. I will check that information, but I believe that most of the work done on the policy area of emergency medical travel, assistance for family members, compassionate considerations and the expenses of family members while on medical travel is a different question, which has been largely analyzed and studied by staff of the department rather than by consultants.
Mr. Nordling: Can the Minister give us any time commitment as to when a new policy will be in place? When will he finish discussions and take the budgetary considerations to his colleagues so that I can let my constituents and other interested Yukoners know what is happening?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I believe it is reasonable to anticipate a decision by Cabinet within a month from now, perhaps the first week in June. I cannot forecast conclusions about the budgetary implications of the decision because, given the financial circumstances of the territory, it is extremely unlikely I will be able to do major enhancements to the health program this year. One of the policy considerations may be that we have to make the policy decision for some changes that will take effect at a future date. I do not know that will be the case, but that is one of the options we will have to consider.
I hope a decision will be made public within a month or perhaps a little more. The financial consequences of that decision may cause some delay in the implementation of program changes.
Question re: Aboriginal language support
Ms. Kassi: Due to the recent Assembly of First Nations conference that was held, there have been a lot of frustrations due to the lack of support for aboriginal languages. Since the establishment of the language agreement between the Yukon and the federal government, there has been a lot of support for French language services and programs.
Can the Minister responsible for the Executive Council Office let me know what support there is for aboriginal language services and program development in the Yukon?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I thank the Member for the question. First of all, it is the policy of this government that the services from this government for linguistic minorities in this territory, for both the francophones and the aboriginal community, are intended to be equitable. They will not be identical in form but, in terms of the levels of services, they will be equitable in terms of the needs of the two language communities.
As Members know, the aboriginal language services branch was created along with the bureau of French language services. Each of them has three positions. The responsibility for both services is in the Executive Council Office and the services are funded by an excellent funding agreement from the Government of Canada, Secretary of State, which supports our policy objectives of preservation, enhancement and development of aboriginal languages.
Work is proceeding on a report on the situation of the languages of the First Nations here. We are, with the aboriginal community, doing an assessment of the requirements for Government Services by the different government departments for the aboriginal community. We are looking ahead to the point where we will be recruiting staff in order to provide these services.
Ms. Kassi: I would like to ask, then, what is the governments policy and objectives in terms of the protection of aboriginal languages?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The policy is as it is defined in the Languages Act. We are determined to see the preservation and the promotion and the enhancement of the aboriginal languages of the Yukon people. This is one of, I think, only two legislatures in the country where, by law, Members have a right to address the Assembly in an aboriginal tongue. It is our view that, notwithstanding the fact that most of the aboriginal languages are not written languages here, we are responding to the challenge of providing services in those languages, through the means of the electronic media or those kinds of media. We are trying to do, we hope, innovative policy work in this field in order to see that objective met.
Ms. Kassi: The Minister has stated earlier that the needs of aboriginal languages are being assessed at this point in time. Can he please tell me when this report will be out, or give us the status of this report?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: My understanding is that the report should be available soon. I understand that a draft of it is to be aired or previewed with First Nations, with the Council for Yukon Indians, prior to it being made public and that that should happen very shortly.
Question re: Contracts, fuel
Mrs. Firth: My question is to the Minister of Government Services and it is with respect to the controversial heating fuel contracts.
The contract is up for renewal very soon. Since it has been interfered with for the last two years, the Minister has made an announcement in the House that the process for awarding this contract is going to be changed. Will the change preserve the principle that the low bidder gets the contract?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: That principle is enshrined in our contract regulations. It will not only be preserved, it will be protected.
Mrs. Firth: Will it be fairly applied to all communities where there is a local supplier to bid on a contract?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am not sure I completely understand the question. The Member is seeking what is intended to be a new policy to be introduced in the tendering of fuel contracts in the territory. That policy is currently being finalized. I am not in a position to provide details at this time. If the Member is seeking the information of whether anyone is going to be allowed to bid in any community, the answer is yes. It is going to be an open tendering process.
Mrs. Firth: I would like to ask the Minister if the change in policy will increase the cost of contract awards or will it increase the cost of fuel at the consumer level?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Again, it would be premature of me to speculate what may happen. The Member is fully aware of the past practice of breaking the territory into regions and tendering on the strength of those regions. The low bid practice was applied and it is premature to say that in our intended restructuring of how we are going to seek those bids whether or not there will be any increased cost to the government or to anyone. It is simply premature and is speculation to try to calculate or predict how the bids are going to follow in our restructuring of how we are going to call for those bids.
Question re: West Alaska Highway hamlet status
Mr. Phelps: I have a question for the same Minister in his capacity for Community and Transportation Services with regard to hamlet status.
On April 27, 1990, residents from the area along the Alaska Highway west of Whitehorse delivered a petition to the Minister calling for hamlet status. The petition showed a tremendous majority of residents contacted - 96 out of 110 -were in favour of hamlet status and the residents want a response prior to May 26 when the steering committee is to report back to the residents at a public meeting.
Will the Minister give a formal response to the residents prior to May 26?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I can tell the Member that I will be providing a response well before May 26 as was requested by the group. As a matter of fact, I expect to have that response provided to the co-chairs of the group that came to see me nearly two weeks ahead of that time.
I can tell the Member I have just formalized a final response today, and I am sure it will be in the hands of the co-chairs within a few days.
Mr. Phelps: I would like to compliment the Minister for his fast action on this matter. I would like to know if he sees any difficulties that might delay the establishment of the hamlet for the area beyond this calendar year.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: That is a difficult question to answer, largely because, again, I cannot predict how long certain things will take. The Member is quite familiar with the general process for establishing a hamlet under our existing legislation. He is familiar with the hamlet status that is being sought on the Carcross Road and the process that that community is going through.
I have essentially proposed something quite similar to the Hootalinqua/old-Alaska-Highway-area people, and we will have to go through establishing the guidelines that are going to govern their advisory status as a hamlet group. There will be things like establishing and delineating boundaries, things like establishing procedures for elections, and there will be a need to consult with affected groups and interests in the area, including land claims interests. I cannot predict the extent to which some of these things may slow down the actual resolution of creating the hamlet status, but I have every conviction that it is going to progress quickly. I am quite pleased with the approach taken by the group to date. I have outlined a battle plan, if you will, to proceed from here, and I expect the group to respond in kind.
Question re: Hootalinqua North plan
Mr. Phelps: I have another question for the same Minister with regard to the draft Hootalinqua North plan. The Yukon Conservation Strategy, which was released this week, states on page 15, Plans for the Hootalinqua North and Klondike Valley areas have already been completed.
Will the Minister reassure the residents of Hootalinqua North that this statement is wrong, and that his government and department do not consider the Hootalinqua North plan to have been completed?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: There must be a typo in the document. The Leader of the Official Opposition raises a valid point because he is familiar, as I am, with the sensitive issue of the Hootalinqua North plan. The Member is aware that a document has been filed, and it is a general proposal for the area. It is one that has not met with approval by a number of area residents and it is one I have undertaken to further refine.
I suppose the correct way to let the Leader of the Official Opposition know the status of the plan is: it will receive further refinement from its current stage.
Question re: Watson Lake extended care facility
Mr. Devries: According to a letter I received from the Minister of Health, there have been several meetings about the extended care facility for Watson Lake, which was one of many subjects discussed. The conclusions of these meetings are that a facility is badly needed. Can the Minister tell this House and the people of southern Yukon there will be money budgeted in the 1991-92 estimates to construct such a facility?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Forgive me, but did I hear the Member ask if there would be money put into the estimates for 1991, estimates that have already passed this House? When the Member asked me the question during estimates debate, I said there was no money for that purpose in this years estimates.
Is he asking if there is now something in the estimates that was not there when we discussed them?
Mr. Devries: I asked if there would be money in the 1991-92 estimates for the construction of such a facility.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: With respect, I have no way of knowing that. The 1991-92 estimates are not even being considered by Management Board or Cabinet, much less by this House. I could not make a budget commitment.
In any case, I understand that the extended care facility the Member is advocating in Watson Lake is something that would have to be a product of an agreement with the federal government. As the Member knows, there is no such agreement on that question yet.
Mr. Devries: We have over 100 senior citizens in Watson Lake to consider. I still question the extent of the Ministers so-called feasibility study and ask the Minister if he plans to table the recommendations that were the outcome of the consultation, so that he lives up to the motion that was put forward in this House over a year ago.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The Member wishes to be informed about the basis of this governments conclusions on that question. I am more than happy to provide him with a briefing, whether it is by way of the conclusions of the studies or other information. I think the Member, from his local sources, probably knows very well the kind of considerations and the kind of discussions that have gone on about the prospects for such a facility. If the Member would perhaps be more precise to me in writing about the kind of questions that he wants answered, I will do my level best to respond to them.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now lapsed. We will proceed to Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS
Motion No. 97
Clerk: Item No. 14, standing in the name of Ms. Kassi.
Speaker: Is the hon. Member prepared to proceed with Item No. 14?
Ms. Kassi: Yes, Mr. Speaker.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Member for Old Crow
THAT this House commends the Assembly of First Nations in its leadership role of Canadian aboriginal peoples and in their work to develop a strategy for self-determination.
Ms. Kassi: I feel it is very important to bring forth this motion at this time, to put on the record of this Legislative Assembly information for our people in future generations. A lot of the information that I will be putting forth today is the wisdom of our elders and our leaders across this country.
This past week, during the meeting of the Assembly of First Nations, our elders spoke with much hope. Our leaders and our young people talked about their hopes and aspirations too.
The Assembly of First Nations, an organization that represents approximately 500,000 aboriginal people in Canada, held its 11th annual gathering here in Whitehorse. Our goal was to determine our agenda for the future, through reconciliation of our traditional values. I feel that we have just achieved that.
The first three days our elders met to set the agenda. The elders gave very powerful messages of re-uniting at every level, reviewing our traditions and culture and our languages. The goal was self-determination.
Throughout my presentation today I will pass on some of those comments and messages as I heard them. We have to look back at the many years of abuse by residential schools, churches, religions, and racism in society in general, and begin to reflect and heal. We have to renew our spirituality, which comes from the earth, and to be forever grateful to those who have gone back to the earth, our ancestral grandmothers and grandfathers.
We have to practice and share our spiritual ways. Before the white man, the Bible was the eagle; the feather of the eagle today represents our values and what we must strive to carry on. The tobacco we give back signifies our gratefulness. We must use these. More people must learn to use our traditional medicines to combat the forces of diseases that are incurable in non-native societies today.
Our rights, the right to use the sweat lodge, to drum, to sing and to dance, to practise our cultural beliefs, to define our way of life, cannot be denied. We follow the natural laws of life that the Creator gave us. Traditionally we respect women in the same way we respect Mother Earth. Women are Mother Earth. They give life. They save life. They have the abilities to nurture and love. They are the centre of existence and must be recognized at all levels. It is time to listen to the women now as it has been prophesied by our people. Women have the same functions as the earth. The water of the earth is the blood of the earth, much like the veins in our body. The underground streams are the veins, the rivers clean themselves every spring and the water represents life and must be kept clean.
If we respect the ways of life in our people and only take what we need from each other and from the earth and give back, we will achieve what we call self-government. The youth can show us things we cannot see. We all have the responsibility to change the life we live if we are not living right. It takes a tremendous effort from each individual to release negative pressures. Our leaders feel that pressure particularly. The forces creating these negative pressures must be released. This is where our values and laws come in: to care, to love, to share and to help one another. We must follow our seven basic laws: observation, respectfulness, humility, truth, honesty, wisdom and compassion.
Self-determination has to take a different direction for our people. We must have the will to see this through to the end.
Our own laws will flow naturally from all this, which will become the basis of our self-governing constitutions. This must be left up to the First Nations to determined.
Our rights to hunt, fish and trap must not be threatened. We will continue to hunt, fish and trap because this is a part of who we are. Our laws of conservation must be followed more closely than ever before and we must work hard to educate people about how to protect the earth. Our elders say that when we take a moose or a caribou we must leave the place where we skin the animal completely clean so that another moose or caribou will never see what is left. We must also take only what is needed. That goes for everybody.
Nations must overlook provincial, territorial and international borders and re-assert control over their jurisdiction. National flags will be raised and respected and international resources will be shared and protected. We must re-establish our own laws, set our own standards, develop our programs and policies and ensure accountability to our own people.
There will probably not be one self-governing model. Each First Nation will develop its own self-governing model, but they will be based on a value system that is similar to all others and stresses the traditional ways. There will also be times when we will allow governments to do certain things but we will work hard to do things for ourselves too. We cannot let governments manage our lives any longer. Self-determination means we will manage ourselves with respect and dignity. Self-determination starts with individuals, families, communities and then nations. Everyone is connected and equal. We must learn from our past anger and frustration and turn that energy into positive control.
Dependence on governments must change. When we use funded programs, we are then expected to live up to other peoples expectations. When we do that, we are more dependent than ever. The Department of Indian Affairs has had that control far too long and it has to change. The amount of $3.2 billion a year is being spent on social suffering of aboriginal people in Canada and it never directly flows to the grass roots people.
First Nations must look seriously at the election process and how we are being represented. We have spent too much time finding fault with our own leaders and progress comes too slow. We should be using clan leaders and hereditary chiefs and we should be designating spokespersons. The election process has fragmented our people too long and too much.
Jealousy is created, and we spend much wasted energy on finding fault with the one we did not vote for. This is not our way. If we continue to find fault with our educated people, they will leave. This has happened many times before. We need those people, and we must encourage them and welcome them back. We must not stand by and allow any more alienation from our resources, which have been replaced by welfare and handouts. We have to plug back into our own renewable resources to be able to achieve self-government. Then, we will go places.
As aboriginal people, we often think we have no power, but we do. We have huge economic power, and we must use it. We need a national aboriginal seat in all levels of governments. Election reform should reflect that. We must use our own people in all levels. We cannot continue to use white consultants and white lawyers. We have to accept responsibility for our own future. We must respect every individuals right to do as she or he pleases, as long as he or she does not hurt anyone else.
All the proceedings at this historic conference of the Assembly of First Nations were aired, unedited, across Canada. This was made possible by our local Northern Native Broadcasting Yukon through CHON radio. Our elders speeches have all been videotaped, and I want to commend the Northern Native Broadcasting for their hard work and dedication to bring all this together as a record of this event. The need for this flow of communication was strongly stressed. Communication is crucial to the healing that must take place in native and non-native communities. Communication is necessary to preserve our languages, which many of us feel are inadequately recognized. Translators and resources for translation must be supported as much for aboriginal languages as for other languages.
Our speeches here in this House are important, and translation for this part of Hansard should be considered for the people back home. First Nations in Canada must work toward independence from government funding. Recent federal budget cuts have shown us, once again, how unreliable governments can be.
Georges Erasmus told delegates to the Assembly of First Nations conference that the $60 million a year that Indian people put into pension plans represents a lot of independence. We all know that the money does not go to assist Indian people and their First Nations, Georges said. He also pointed out that if every Indian in Canada donated $1.00 a month, that would be another $500,000 a year that would go directly to work for aboriginal peoples.
There are plans for a national centre for Indians. When this centre is in place, it will be a place for our people to come together and share our wisdom, concerns and dreams, and it will be a place where we will be able to preserve our culture and our languages.
I commend the Assembly of First Nations for providing such an opportunity for self-determination. The national centre will be a place to renew old friendships and develop new perspectives. As Georges Erasmus has stated, there is no doubt that the First Nations will one day stand beside the federal government as equal nations, with Indian laws based on Indian values and not with the laws of the federal government, that are based on non-Indian values.
A master plan is being developed to re-assert our symbols, develop a national anthem, increase support for and use of aboriginal languages, renew traditional ceremonies and maintain respect for our elders and women.
Action must be taken now to become less dependent upon government. We are all too vulnerable when we are dependent upon government. The beauty of it is that we will not have to spend all our time and money applying for government services and then having to rebudget and spend more of our money reporting back to the government as to how we have spent that money.
Responsibilities will be shared and cultural activities will be highlighted. During the conference, for example, the Carcross dancers performed and so did the Annie Ned Dancers. We feasted together. The women of the Kwanlin Dun Band and the people in Whitehorse put on some very excellent feasts, with a lot of traditional food. Of course we had some Gwitchin fiddling there and a stick gambling demonstration put on by yourself, Mr. Speaker, at which the women beat you.
In conclusion, I would also like to thank the Government of Yukon for its contribution to a very successful conference.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: It is a pleasure for me to speak briefly to this motion, a motion that recognizes the very hard work that the Assembly of First Nations has done on behalf of aboriginal communities and, therefore, I would argue, on behalf of all Canadians. Their work toward developing a strategy for self-determination - we had an opportunity to see that strategy worked out this weekend in our city - will make a lasting contribution, I am sure, to this country.
One of the things that would have struck observors of this assembly this weekend, people who were present at Mt. McIntyre or who had an opportunity to hear the proceedings through the services of CHON-FM, would have been struck by the statement made by the Assembly of First Nations Chief, Georges Erasmus, that self-determination for aboriginal people had to go beyond the legal framework for self-government. That is interesting, because we all know that self-government for aboriginal people has not yet been achieved in the sense that constitutional entrenchment is provided for that end, but it is interesting that the First Nations of this country are already looking beyond the achievement of that yet unattained goal.
Mr. Erasmus said that he had come to the conclusion that if aboriginal people were going to do anything different in the next 10 or 20 years, they were going to have to start bringing forward the resources of the people. They would have to go beyond the experts and the professionals and call more on the chiefs, band counselors and employees and that there had to be a return to the traditional concepts of individual and group responsibility.
One of the reasons why that statement found resonance with me was that it seemed to be very much like the statements emerging from the international aid and development organizations, the non-government ones anyway, one of which has issued a poster I remember seeing that contains the following caption, Give a person a fish and you will feed them for a day, teach a person to fish and you will feed them for life. I hope I am quoting it accurately, but that is the sentiment. I think it is a wonderful expression of the value of self-determination, the import of which I think Yukoners would appreciate and support.
It is, of course, a position that our government has supported on behalf of all Yukoners, aboriginal or non-aboriginal, through the Yukon 2000 process and the extensive consultations we have undertaken. We have reiterated the belief that true change can only come about when the views of all are considered and the skills and resources of all are called upon.
By endorsing Mr. Erasmus comments, I do not mean to imply in any way that the Government of Yukon does not recognize its historic, legal and moral responsibility to the first people of the territory.
I believe that recognition of this responsibility is made manifest by initialing last month the umbrella final agreement of the Yukon Indian land claim. This agreement came after 17 years of negotiation. It represents 17 years of hard work, perseverance and patience, most of all by Yukon Indian people.
I believe this umbrella final agreement will provide a solid foundation for the future, but that foundation is rooted in the past. It represents the traditional attachment and identification that Yukon Indian people have to this land and its resources. It gives Indian people a guaranteed voice in managing these resources in and for the future.
As Members of this House well know, aboriginal people will be full participants in our efforts to build a sustainable economy and a sustainable future for people who call the Yukon their homeland and for those who have chosen to make the territory their home. As our government has stated before, we recognize and support the right of First Nations to their own forms of governments and we believe these rights should be entrenched in the Canadian Constitution. We are committed to working with the First Nations to help them realize this goal.
Even before the entrenchment of self-government rights is achieved, the Yukon government will be making its best efforts, in cooperation with First Nations, to affirm and support the right of self-determination within the territory, just as the Yukon government and all Members of this Assembly continue to assert the right of the whole Yukon to self-determination within Canada. Members of the Legislature have recently finished debating the Child Care Act that has been designed to recognize and support the aspirations of people in the territory, including the First Nations, to child care appropriate to their needs and cultures. As does the Education Act, this law anticipates the self-government agreements and provides for the aboriginal people in this territory to take the responsibilities they wish to assume in this area.
As with other legislation that we have brought before this act, it ensures that Yukon First Nations will have a continuing voice along with other Yukoners on policy questions in this area.
I want to say that we have been encouraged in this approach by the very satisfactory results derived from the child welfare agreement entered into with the Champagne/Aishihik Band, pursuant to the Childrens Act. It is clear that Indian people wish to care for their own, and the Champagne/Aishihik Band has shown they are the best qualified to do so. The results of that program are evident. The number of children coming into care, and families who become clients of our Department of Health and Human Resources, has been significantly reduced since the band assumed its rightful responsibilities in that area.
The Legislature is now considering the Education Act. It reflects several years of consultation on education issues. That consultation includes the study of the joint commission on Indian education, Kwiya. I believe the act responds positively to the commissions recommendations that children have a right to an education appropriate to their culture, appropriate to their needs, and based on genuine equality of opportunity.
It requires cultural instruction in the cultural heritage of the Yukons aboriginal people, and it makes needed reforms to the current system to allow Indian parents a stronger voice in their childrens education. This act also contains provisions for guaranteed representation on school councils and school boards. First Nations can establish local Indian education authorities to act and speak on educational matters. The act also requires the creation of an Indian education commission, whose mandate would be determined by Yukon Indian people.
In listening to the discussions this weekend by chiefs from all across the nation, and listening to the views expressed by the elders at their conference on the eve of the AFN general assembly, I was glad we have taken some steps to facilitate self-determination in the area of justice.
As Members will remember, not so long ago the Minister of Justice in our government spoke movingly of the story of Donald Marshall and the chilling indictment that case is of the way our legal system treats aboriginal people. She also spoke of the lawyers, judges and Indian people who addressed the tribal justice conference held in Whitehorse earlier this year, all of whom echoed the statement that the justice system was not working for Indian people. In recognition of this, the Minister of Justice has funded a study by a coalition of three Indian First Nations - Champagne/Aishihik, Teslin and Old Crow - to develop a basic infrastructure for a tribal justice system here and examine how this system would tie into the much larger system. We are all extremely interested in the practice that is now being resumed in your home community, Mr. Speaker, in terms of the return to the traditional methods of dealing with offenders as a process of diversion.
In my remarks today, I have been talking a bit about what our government has done to support the objectives and purposes articulated by aboriginal people from across the country in their meeting in Whitehorse the past few days. That may seem ironic in the light of Mr. Erasmus comment that Indians must look less to government. However, I think we are removing obstacles to aboriginal self-determination our European culture was so quick to put up. We know it is no good to say we will back off, withdraw, you do what you want and we are no longer responsible. That is no good, because we have already created a climate far different from that which originally existed for Indian people, and we have imposed ourselves in such a way that no aboriginal culture could be replicated intact the way it was 50, 100 or 200 years ago. I suspect that is not possible for any people anywhere in the world.
As a government, we must now create a climate in which Indian people can re-assume the responsibilities they enjoyed in the past, and which were stripped away from them. That is something we are beginning to do. We are beginning to move in the right direction.
As a government, we are willing and happy to work with the First Nations as they re-assume their responsibilities and re-assert their right to self-determination, and we are pleased there is an organization such as the Assembly of First Nations working on behalf of Indian people toward this goal. We commend and congratulate the AFN on the work it has accomplished in the past, and the work it will continue to accomplish in the future.
Mahsi Cho. Zzunee.
Mr. Phelps: Firstly, I would like to thank the Member for Old Crow for bringing this motion forward today.
I was particularly pleased to see the role that was given the elders to play in this important meeting of First Nations. I am sure I shared with all Yukoners a sense of pride to know that our elders would be playing a fairly lead role in giving input to the session and setting agendas. I know that Percy Henry was given the lead role, and I would like to pay a tribute to him at this time as an old friend and a wise leader.
He has been working for many, many years for his people. I worked with him on land claims, on the COPE claim, and on the many sessions we had negotiating the Porcupine caribou management agreement. The respect shown our Indian elders and those who came here from across Canada is welcome and touching. I know the entire session benefited from this. The respect shown by native people across Canada to Indian people here is certainly implied by the way the conference was held and the fact it was held here. Most Canadians are aware that our Indian people are the ones who really, through negotiating with the federal Crown and through the production of their statement in the early 1970s, Together Today for Our Children Tomorrow, introduced the nation into a new era with regard to relationships between First Nations, the Canadian government and provincial governments as well.
It is important to pay tribute to the leaders of the AFN and, of course, Mr. Erasmus from the Northwest Territories. Harry Allen has played a prominent role in the Indian movement for approximately 20 years or so. I can recall that he was one of the first negotiators in our land claims back in 1973 or 1974. I recall him running for, and being successful in, becoming chairman for the Council for Yukon Indians. From there he went on to become one of the leaders in the Assembly of First Nations. He has been in that post for some time and has played a lead role in the sessions. I think all of us who read about and heard parts of the session on the radio heard the message of the need for more self-reliance. That message came through loud and clear and was welcomed by all except perhaps a few bureaucrats in the Department of Indian Affairs.
I know the festivities were enjoyed, which is not surprising. It is always welcome to see the cultural events that are staged by the various First Nations in Yukon. I must say I was surprised to hear the Member for Old Crow is apparently now able to beat Mr. Speaker at stick gambling. I hope this does not mean Mr. Speaker is losing his touch. Perhaps he just had an off day.
We are very pleased to support the motion. The Government Leader has made it very clear that, for a considerable number of years, the Government of Yukon has been very much involved in negotiating land claims and developing methods of allowing Indian people a greater sense of determination in various aspects of their lives. Many of the programs we now have, such as the program regarding the Champagne/Aishihik Band, did not suddenly start in 1985 but were being negotiated and developed when Mr. Philipsen was Minister. I recall many discussions in the early 1980s about this trend.
The developments that have continued and accelerated in some ways in recent years are welcome. I agree with the Government Leader that it is important that Indian people, as part of their self-determination, be given a greater role to play in government and in those things that affect us all. One cannot protect an important culture by having it shoved away and becoming a solitude. It is important that all cultures be protected by active participation in the many new laws, programs and so on that, directly or indirectly, can impinge upon a culture.
I am pleased to say, from this side, that we support the motion. Thank you.
Motion No. 97 agreed to
Speaker: May I have your further pleasure?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair and the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Government House Leader that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Speaker leaves the Chair
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order. We will have a brief recess.
Chair: I will now call the Committee to order.
Bill No. 29 - Education Act - continued
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I would suggest we return to clause 38, the duties of students, to clear up an outstanding amendment.
On Clause 38
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Yesterday the Member for Watson Lake indicated a desire to move an amendment to state that clause 38(a), which is to respect the rights of others, was insufficient to capture, in his mind, the need for students to respect the office of teacher. This is buttressed by an argument from the Leader of the Official Opposition that because judges in a court, and Speakers in the Legislature were to be treated with respect by virtue of the office they held, that the relationship between children and a teacher in a classroom is a similar circumstance. This amendment was designed to ensure teachers received respect from students.
I have given the matter some thought and I am afraid I cannot agree with the argument put forward. I will tell you why.
Firstly, I think we all agree that you cannot legislate true feelings of respect. Demanding respect is an oxymoron. True respect has to be earned. I think we will agree about that. We are talking about respect in the sense it is used as a word in the amendment - the respect for an office. We are presumably meaning one should be civil, polite or courteous to the person holding the office. It does not necessarily imply anything deeper than that.
At this point, it is important to note that students have a duty to obey school rules, which may include being polite.
These school rules are to be developed locally, which is, I believe, what the public wanted in the consultation process. It is also what is called for in the three acts of Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia. There is no provision in any of those three acts that is equivalent to mandating respect for the office of teacher. What they all do is what this act does - students are duty-bound to obey the rules.
If respect in this instance means being polite, or not inflicting verbal abuse, or even worse, teachers do have that right. That is in clause 167, as we said yesterday. Clause 167 is unique in itself in territorial and provincial legislation in western Canada.
The drafting committee, for its part, considered at length the desirability of having what they referred to as a niceness clause. That is, students should be nice to teachers and to other students, teachers should be nice to other teachers and principals, principals should be nice to students and teachers; if everyone was nice to each other, then the whole system would run smoothly. I do not think there is any doubt about that, but the problem with that is that it is something that could not be enforced and would consequently have no practical effect.
The bottom line was that respect would not come from a single clause in the act that asserts that students will have respect for the office of teacher, but that respect will come from students in a family situation, going to school every day, having parents and teachers in that community who are teaching that child and who are also taking ownership for the education system. They consequently will have respect for the system and will impute that respect to students. The students would then carry that respect for the system and individuals forward to teachers.
Another problem identified was the interpretation of the word respect under these circumstances. It would be tremendously subjective. The rights on their part are identified and respect for their rights is identified. But the word respect, in this particular circumstance and in this particular context, is much more complicated and much more subjective.
In clause 38(a), respect for rights means one would honour the rights of all people within the school system. This can be enforced. As I understand it, the general rule of thumb is that you legislate what you can enforce.
With respect to the argument yesterday that one should show respect for the office, there was an example cited that one shows respect for the judge and the office of judge, and one shows respect for the Speaker and the office of Speaker. This caused me to immediately consider what legislation had to say about that. We are talking about legislation here. What did the legislation that created the institution say?
The Territorial Court Act does not refer to legislating respect for judges, nor does the Legislative Assembly Act mandate respect for the Speaker. In the case of respect for judges, I would presume that respect comes from the code of professional conduct that lawyers inflict on themselves. In essence, one could draw the analogy of mandating that there should be school rules and people shall live by the school rules in the legislation.
Respect for the Speaker is not mandated in the Legislative Assembly Act, either; we all know that. This act only makes reference to the Standing Orders by which we will govern ourselves as Members of this House. I had not checked to see whether or not there is a rule in the Standing Orders that states one shall have respect for the Speaker or for the office of Speaker. I do not believe it exists. Nevertheless, we do have respect for the Speaker.
As I indicated before, the Provinces of Saskatchewan, Alberta and B.C. do not have a like provision in their legislation, but they do have a provision that says students will be duty-bound to follow school rules, which is like the legislation we are proposing here.
Consequently, it is my belief that the act, as we have it now, is sufficient for the reasons I cited. The respect for the rights of others is a more enforceable provision. A combination of clauses 38 and 167, which is itself unique, is sufficient to ensure that the rights of teachers are respected. There is provision that school rules shall be adopted and students are bound to follow the rules.
Finally, respect, as it is used in the amendment, is really a courteousness or civility or politeness toward an office. Respect comes from the authority inherent in the office and also comes from the school rules to the extent the school rules will dictate. Real respect is something else. That comes from a sense of community/parental/student respect for the system itself. If it is to be sought then in that case it has to be earned.
I believe that the act is sufficient to cover the points mentioned. Consequently, there is no need to move an amendment to this section.
Mr. Lang: I want to raise my objection to the position taken by the government. I would think it would have looked at the amendment as a friendly amendment, one that reflects a concern raised by a number of Members in the House with respect to the lack of discipline in our schools and suggests an outline to students that they should teach their teachers with respect.
I do not understand how the Minister believes that respecting the rights of others automatically translates into treating the teaching staff with respect. There is little comfort to the teaching staff if that is the position of the government and the Minister hangs his hat on clause 167 that says a teacher cannot get beat up. That would make me feel real good if I were a member of the teaching staff. The Member looks quizzical and I would refer him to clause 167 where it states: Every teacher has the right to be treated in a fair and reasonable manner free from physical and other abuse. I am assuming that one should not be able to suffer from attack when in a school setting.
I have to go on record saying I am amazed at the position taken by the government. I guess the Minister feels he has done so much work on his act that nobody, but nobody, has any right to question any section in this act, nor bring any amendments forward to this act, because he has done such a perfect job.
When the teaching staff finds out you and your party have gone against a very simple amendment, yet very meaningful amendment, that says every student shall treat teachers with respect - and you do not feel it is necessary in the legislation when outlining the duties of students - I would say there are going to be quite a few members of the teaching staff who are going to be disappointed in the position taken by the government.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Under normal circumstances, I might be inclined to forgive the Member for not understanding the arguments I made. The fact the Member left the Chambers in the middle of my arguments and missed half of them makes me feel a little less charitable toward him.
I believe the argument put forward addressed the issues that were put forward yesterday. I believe the arguments put forward indicate there is a need to treat people courteously, fairly, and in a reasonable manner within the school system. I expressed the concern about the use of the definition of the word respect, as used in this act and the proposed amendment. I explained that. The Member has not addressed that yet; perhaps he does not want to.
The Member has taken a very narrow view of clause 167, which he interprets as being the right of a teacher to be free of being beaten up, or presumably something particularly violent or horrific. The clause states teachers shall be treated in a fair and reasonable manner; they will also be free from physical abuse. That includes not being beaten up, as well as not being bitten, scratched, having chairs thrown at them, and all sundry things children sometimes feel they want to do, from time to time. It also says other abuse, which includes verbal abuse and being told where to go in vile, insulting ways.
I submit that the Members charge that the government is not listening is unfair. Firstly, we have only just started the act and have already accepted an amendment from the side opposite that we did not think was essential to the meaning of the act. It is unfair because a great deal of thought has been put into it overnight, reviewing the exact case that was put forward by the Members and trying to ascertain whether or not this is a sound provision in this legislation. I gave the results of that review to the Members. I am sorry the Member did not hear it all. I think he heard enough of it to accept that there was a great deal of thought put into the amendment being put forward.
As much as I would like to accommodate the Members opposite, I do not think it would be right to do that. Consequently, I can only say that I cannot vote for the amendment.
Mr. Phelps: What disturbs me to some extent with regard to the argument the Minister made in defence of not being willing to go along with the proposed amendment is that he said that the respect for the office of judge or the judiciary by people in the legal profession stems from a code of conduct for members of the bar. Again, the respect afforded to the office of Speaker in Legislatures is, I take it, in his view, a practice, precedent or code that has been established over time regarding conduct of people who are fortunate enough to be elected as MLAs or parliamentarians.
What I find rather problematic with this line of reasoning is simply that I am surprised that the Minister would consider this analogous to children in the classroom in that students somehow have a professional code of conduct that has been established over time or has been established by members of the student body and that they are a professional category with rigid rules of conduct.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: With all due respect, I was not the one who initiated the analogy between the judge in a court and the Speaker in the Legislature. I presume the Member was aware there was nothing in legislation that mandated lawyers to respect judges or MLAs to respect the Speaker. Given that, I tried to put the best face on the analogy by stating that, in the case of the Legislative Assembly Act, it referred basically to the rules that would be established by the assembly to conduct its affairs. The Member probably knows the Territorial Court Act better than I, but there is a code of conduct by which lawyers operate with respect to their relationship with other lawyers and judges.
What I am doing is stating that, if we can use this analogy, in a school situation, we mandated that there should be rules, established by parents, which students are duty-bound to obey. These rules can include rules of behaviour by students. I pointed out that this aspect of the legislation can be seen to be analogous in the sense that, while we do not mandate behaviour, quite often other rules that are referred to in legislation, or the right to develop rules, do, to an extent, mandate behaviour.
I indicated that, in the three acts of Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia, from which we have drawn some of our precedents, there is no mandate that there should be respect for teachers but they do state, as we basically do here, that there should be rules students should obey. That was the only point I was making with respect to the analogy the Member was bringing forward.
Mr. Phelps: I do not wish to drag it out as we are rapidly approaching the point at which we can agree to disagree and have a vote on the amendment, but clause 38 is there to mandate certain rules of universal application to all schools.
I do not see how the duty to show respect for teachers would not be essential to the operation of all schools. Why would it not show up in clause 38? The Minister seems to say that the school committees or parents will devise rules for their individual schools and the implication is that there will be some who do not feel that children should show respect for their teachers. I do not buy that argument.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Again, the point to be made here is that I was not making this the sole case for stating there should not be respect for the office of teacher in the act. I said there were other good reasons, and I cited the reasons why this amendment should not be put forward. One of them is the subjectivity of this particular word in this context. Everywhere else, and including in this act, if there is precision to be drawn in school rules on codes of conduct then that precision is drawn in school rules and not in legislation.
Mr. Phelps: Can we assume that clause 38(a), which is about as vague as one could possibly come up with if one were to go to a desert island and dream for about a month, is one says that the standards and precision will vary from rule to rule as to exactly what constitutes the rights of others, and constitutes respect for those rights?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There is a unique provision in the legislation here in clause 167 that says teachers should be treated in a fair and reasonable manner. We cannot mandate every single situation that may arise within the classroom. When a teacher tells children to go to their desk the students should all be at their desks within three seconds. Some other teacher may regard that as being somewhat different. There are a variety of interpretations of the word respect that would cause some concern. We are at the stage where we will disagree, but I believe that the arguments that I have put forward are sufficient.
Mr. Phelps: What the Minister has failed to address, perhaps inadvertently, in his response is the argument I put forward in my last occasion to speak. That was that clause 38(a) reads as follows: Respect the rights of others. He seems to think respect the rights of others is somehow narrow, precise and easily enforced, whereas treating teachers with respect is not. The difference between these two, the precision of the one and the vagueness of the other, eludes me entirely.
Chair: Division has been called. Pursuant to Standing Order 44.1(5), it is my duty to ring the bells for Division.
All those in favour, please rise.
Chair: All those opposed, please rise.
Amendment to Clause 38 negatived
Clause 38 agreed to
On Clause 66 - continued
Clause 66 agreed to
On Clause 67
Clause 67 agreed to
On Clause 68
Mr. Devries: I have a question on the guaranteed representation. One thing we ran into when we had appointed people at the school committee meetings was that they would occasionally send in an alternate. One of the problems we ran into was the alternate was not sworn to the oath of secrecy, similar to what the regular school committee members had to swear to.
Would the people the Minister appoints under the guaranteed representation swear to this oath of secrecy? Would they have the option of sending an alternate to the school board meetings?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: All members on the school committee, board or council must sign and agree to the same oath. In the band-by-band negotiations, which will determine the selection and guaranteed representation clause, anyone who sits on a school committee, board or council, has access to information and participants will be required to meet the same obligations as any other member, whether or not they are an alternate.
Mr. Lang: I would restrict this to the City of Whitehorse, since I am a Member for this area. Are we looking at a situation where half the membership of a board would have to run for election, and the other half would be appointed?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: First, I think that is an unlikely prospect in the City of Whitehorse. I cannot speculate more than that. It will be a matter for negotiation as to which of the schools would have guaranteed representation and what the character of the guaranteed representation would be.
The method of determination as to who would be appointed, it is also anticipated, will be negotiated as well. It may well be that in some communities, persons would be elected, perhaps in some by the band council. I have no way of knowing what various bands are going to do on this question. I have heard many different stories about many different proposals.
I think there is a need in the band-by-band negotiations to determine what exactly is of concern to First Nations in any particular community and to determine whether or not concerns can be satisfied in areas other than guaranteed representation. Not everything one does has to be resolved through guaranteed representation. But where I would expect it to become an issue is where there is a sizable proportion of native students in a particular school. I would expect that in those schools the local First Nations would have a desire to seek some guaranteed representation, presumably at least proportional to the number of native students in the school. I cannot tell the Member how it would turn out in the end. It would just be pure speculation at this point.
Mr. Lang: Is the Minister telling the House that in some areas there would be fully elected school boards and in other areas there would not? Would it be at the discretion of the bands in the area as to whether they want representation by election or strictly by appointment?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It would be our preference that all persons who join a school committee be elected by parents. I know for a fact that there are two bands in the territory, neither of which is in Whitehorse, that have expressed a preference that they not be elected but be appointed by the band council.
I am not sure how those negotiations are going to pan out because they are tripartite negotiations. I cannot anticipate what the negotiations will be. That is all I can say at this point.
Clause 68 agreed to
Chair: Does the Committee want me to read the whole number on each clause or just the subclause number as I have been doing? You can stop me as I go.
On Clause 69
Clause 69 agreed to
On Clause 70
Clause 70 agreed to
On Clause 71
Mr. Lang: I am not clear what incorporation does for a school council. Is this for the legal protection of the members of the board? What is the purpose?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It allows the board to act like a corporation. There are various provisions that protect the board, but I think the purpose is that the board has the option to act as a corporate entity. It can enter into agreements by itself without going through central government. If one marries this with the clause about being free from some of the strictures of the Financial Administration Act, it means that if a board wants to dispose of a particular asset, they do not have to go through the board of survey. It would be like other school boards.
Clause 71 agreed to
On Clause 72
Clause 72 agreed to
On Clause 73
Clause 73 agreed to
On Clause 74
Clause 74 agreed to
On Clause 75
Clause 75 agreed to
On Clause 76
Clause 76 agreed to
On Clause 77
Clause 77 agreed to
On Clause 78
Mr. Lang: On this section about the election of school boards, I would like the Minister to clearly explain how this system is going to work for the designation of school boards and how it relates to advisory school committees at the school level. Basically, I would like to know how the system is going to work.
Number two, does clause 72 - within 90 days ... the Minister shall conduct a vote of the electors resident in the attendance area - mean that we are going to have a full election throughout the Yukon within 90 days of the passage of the act?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: To make it easier for everyone, perhaps I could refer Members to the handout I provided about elections. It demonstrates what will happen with respect to an election, starting with a school committee. The school committee has to have a meeting to decide whether or not it wants to resolve to become a school council or not.
If it decides to remain a school committee and seek an exemption, it continues as a school committee. If it decides to become a school council, as it points out here, there is a resolution by the school committee to the Minister regarding the date of change to school council, no later than six months from the proclamation.
Once it decides it is going to become a school council, there is a discretion, in clause 69(7), to appoint this committee as a council or to arrange for the election of the members of the council. Once you have been a council for a year, the members on the council can resolve, or electors in the attendance area can resolve, by a 20 percent petition, to call a vote. The vote of the attendance area will determine whether or not it will proceed to a board. The resolution of a council or a vote of electors can cause a vote to be taken. If that vote is 50 percent plus one, you become a board; the Minister is obliged to create a school board.
That is the route that is taken. With respect to the amalgamation boards, which is the issue the Member brought forward yesterday, boards can resolve to amalgamate if they wish. It is also the discretion of the Minister and government to amalgamate boards, with the exception that they cannot amalgamate either a French language board or a Catholic school board into the regular public school board. That is the only restriction. The Minister cannot do that. The Minister can amalgamate others for the purposes of administrative convenience or good common sense.
To amalgamate boards against their will, or amalgamate a council with a board against the councils will, comes at a political cost. I would presume the Minister would want to seek the views of the council before doing any such thing.
The combining of councils, and boards and councils, does allow for complicated situations to become arranged so there can technically be a single board for Whitehorse. Even though there may be a couple of boards spring up, the government can still combine boards for administrative convenience.
That is how the elections are run and how one would anticipate things to proceed. The act is flexible enough to accommodate the fact that some people may not want to proceed as quickly as others. One school may decide that a school committee is just fine for them; they like it; it is a great relationship; they do not want anything more than this; they want to stay as they are. A council may not wish to go to a board. A council may decide its responsibilities are fine; they do not want anything more than that; they do not want to go any further.
For those people who want to aggressively pursue full boards, the vehicle is there, but they do have to run the gauntlet of a vote between council and board, in order to achieve that final step.
Mr. Lang: To take it one step further, let us deal with the hypothetical situation where each school has decided that they are councils, and the decision is made by the Minister, or the electorate, that there shall be one board.
How does the Jack Hulland School, for example, maintain its representation and input, as far as the school itself is concerned?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: If councils decide to become boards, or if they are mandated to become boards by any other means, and they move from council to board, the result is the creation of advisory councils struck for each school within the board framework. The legislation mandates that all policy can only be effected after consultation with the council, which is much different from what it is now.
We have school committees, for example, which are there to advise us. We can choose to consult with them or not. Under a board, they must consult. The test for consultation is, by jurisprudence, a good deal more strict than one would immediately think. I think I have it here. The Member asked a question some time ago about consultation and what it meant from a legal perspective.
I cannot find it here. Consultation does mean the persons being consulted must be aware of the full implications of the policy being developed. They must have reasonable time to review the policy. They must be given an opportunity to respond. It does not mean you have to follow their advice, nor do you have to consult a multitude of times. The test, according to cases that have taken place in the past, is more severe than simply writing a letter and expecting that that is sufficient. The school board, on all policy matters affecting the schools, must consult with each parental advisory committee within its jurisdiction. That would be the role of parents with respect to a single school.
Within the board itself there would be basically a public vote. In the case of Whitehorse, theoretically, everybody could come from Porter Creek or Hillcrest, if the people in Porter Creek, Hillcrest, Riverdale and downtown decided those were the best people for the job. Once the people are elected as a board they have to consult with the parental advisory committee, so that would have to be established for each school and be within the mandate of the board.
Clause 78 agreed to
On Clause 79
Clause 79 agreed to
On Clause 80
Clause 80 agreed to
On Clause 81
Clause 81 agreed to
On Clause 82
Mr. Devries: I have some questions on the qualifications of electors. In the enumeration process I understand that the elections for the school board would be held in conjunction with a municipal election. Would there be two enumeration processes where someone can qualify for the municipal election but not for the school board elections? I believe the residency requirement for a school board election is going to be three months and I believe it is either six months or a year for the municipal election. There is going to be mass confusion and people will be wondering whether they can vote on one and not on the other. This could also create a problem for the people running the election, the assistant returning officers, et cetera.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The purpose of running the elections concurrent with municipal elections was not to make it easier for the enumerators. That would be very difficult to do as the guidelines are different. It is very difficult to blend them so that they are perfectly consistent. Another point to make, obviously, is that everyone who votes in a municipal election can vote in the school election, but everyone who votes in the school election cannot necessarily vote in the municipal election. There are a large number of people in the Yukon who never vote in the municipal elections because they do not live in a municipality. Clearly, the enumeration would have to be specifically for the boards.
The three month residency rule is there if the elector has a child in school. The feeling was that it is very difficult to prevent people from coming in to a school expecting to vote when they have a child in the school and they have only lived in the territory for nine or 10 months and they do not meet the territorial residency requirements.
I should point out, too, that in municipal elections, the municipal administrations are responsible for enumeration. We are talking about enumerations here that are done through the office of the Chief Electoral Officer of the Yukon. So in this case, there would be two enumerations. But the enumerations do not necessarily have to happen every election.
The reasons they are to coincide is simply to highlight the fact that there are school boards and that there is a time of year for people to come out and vote. A three year term of office for school boards is considered to be a reasonable term. Rather than having elections going on more frequently than three years, the thinking was that when people go out to vote and there are campaigns and so on, they should happen all at the same time in the one year. As much as we tried, it was very difficult - given who runs the elections and who the electorate is - to save money on enumerations.
Mr. Devries: It may be here and I just missed it, but I understand here that the soonest a school council can become a board would be 1993. If a school council decided to become a board the following year, would the election not take place until 1996, in conjunction with municipal elections? There could be some problems with the possibility of two or even one year terms here.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There is no way of defining exactly when school councils become school boards. There may be a school council that decided to become a school board, or a group of parents, or the electorate in 1998, quite out of sync with municipal elections. In those cases, there will be an initial election to cause the first board to be elected. From then on, their elections would follow the pattern of every three years, the same cycle as the municipal elections.
Mr. Devries: A voter is restricted to being a Canadian citizen. The appointees that have guaranteed representation would definitely be Canadian citizens.
I realize we are just talking about the School Act. For Yukon College, are all the appointees supposed to be Canadian citizens? There are some other areas, for instance, the tribunal. Do they all have to be Canadian citizens?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I do not believe there is anything in the College Act that restricts who can be appointed to the board of governors of Yukon College. I will have to check, but I do not remember any.
Clause 82 agreed to
On Clause 83
Clause 83 agreed to
On Clause 84
Clause 84 agreed to
On Clause 85
Clause 85 agreed to
On Clause 86
Clause 86 agreed to
On Clause 87
Clause 87 agreed to
On Clause 88
Clause 88 agreed to
On Clause 89
Clause 89 agreed to
On Clause 90
Clause 90 agreed to
On Clause 91
Mr. Devries: We are looking for five candidates in the nomination process. If just four came forward, is this where an appointee would possibly drop into the fifth spot? It would not be necessary to hold any elections, because the four would automatically get in, but would the fifth spot be filled through an appointee position, or would they just leave it vacant?
Later, it talks about vacancies, but it seems to pertain to resignations and not an initial shortage.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: One might regard vacancies as resignations only, but it does not say resignations. A vacancy can be a vacancy for any reason.
Clause 91 agreed to
On Clause 92
Clause 92 agreed to
On Clause 93
Clause 93 agreed to
On Clause 94
Clause 94 agreed to
On Clause 95
Clause 95 agreed to
On Clause 96
Clause 96 agreed to
On Clause 97
Clause 97 agreed to
On Clause 98
Clause 98 agreed to
On Clause 99
Mr. Devries: Basically there will be a mail-in ballot. There will be no advance polls at all? This is strictly a mail-in ballot if someone was sure they could not be at the election?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I believe the Member is correct.
Clause 99 agreed to
On Clause 100
Clause 100 agreed to
On Clause 101
Clause 101 agreed to
On Clause 102
Clause 102 agreed to
On Clause 103
Mr. Devries: On a point of clarification, with the very high number of B.C. students in Watson Lake who vote in the local elections, what is the situation with the B.C. parents? In a sense, they are part of the attendance area. I believe that is through an agreement with the B.C. government and is funded accordingly. What is the situation as far as them having an opportunity to vote?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: An attendance area does not preclude incorporating an area such as Lower Post. The reason we allowed that to happen was to accommodate Lower Post. A historical situation has arisen over many years whereby we get services from British Columbia for which we pay nothing. It is basically an unwritten agreement.
In return, we allow students from Lower Post to come to Watson Lake High. We also allow students from Atlin and that area to come to the residence and be given a preference at the student residence. In return, we get a great deal, in terms of services provided: access to the B.C. ministry officials, departmental officials, and the curriculum - and we do not pay for it. We pay for the books, but we do not pay for the development.
We do get a benefit, and there is an agreement that we will continue to share a few services, as is eminently practical along the border between B.C. and Yukon. It is basically an arrangement between friends that benefits us both.
Clause 103 agreed to
On Clause 104
Clause 104 agreed to
On Clause 105
Clause 105 agreed to
On Clause 106
Clause 106 agreed to
On Clause 107
Clause 107 agreed to
On Clause 108
Clause 108 agreed to
On Clause 109
Clause 109 agreed to
On Clause 110
Clause 110 agreed to
On Clause 111
Clause 111 agreed to
On Clause 112
Mr. Lang: On the question of school committees, why was there no further delineation than what is there about the responsibilities of the school committee, similar to what is in the old legislation?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The duties of the school committee are essentially the same: they advise. The only difference is the determination of professional days. The committee under the new school act, and the committee under the old School Act, are essentially advisory in nature. They perform whatever duties the Minister consigns to them. There is no real change.
Clause 112 agreed to
On Clause 113
Clause 113 agreed to
On Clause 114
Clause 114 agreed to
On Clause 115
Clause 115 agreed to
On Clause 116
Mr. Lang: One of the responsibilities of the school board is to select staff. Is it envisaged you would see the school board interviewing staff, and this type of thing?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Yes. They could delegate that back if they did not want to do it, under an agreement. They are mandated to select staff and perform all the employer functions that the Department of Education and Public Service Commission do right now.
They would be constrained by the terms of this act with respect to how they do that and by the collective agreement. They are not free agents in this matter. They must adhere to the provisions of the act and the collective agreement.
Mr. Lang: I just want to point out as an area of concern that so much time is going to be required by a member of a school board. It will be very time consuming, judging by the responsibilities that are outlined here, if the members are going to be involved to the extent the Minister has said they would be. You may find fewer and fewer people may be prepared to volunteer for this type of position when they realize the time demands that are going to be placed on them.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I now understand what the Member is saying. The school board has these powers, just as the Minister has these powers for the ministerial schools, but the Minister does not exercise these powers. The Minister delegates, in the case of schools without boards, to the department and to superintendents. The school board delegates these to a director and the director delegates them, if the school board is of sufficient size, to others.
It would not be expected that the school boards themselves that actually perform all the functions of clause 116 and onwards: maintain, repair, furnish and keep in good order all the real and personal property. One would not expect the members physically to maintain the furniture and equipment. This would be delegated.
Mr. Lang: Are the advisory committees in the case of, for example, Whitehorse schools, ad hoc advisory committees for each school, when you have gone to the next step of having a school board that encompasses five or six schools? I wonder which section refers to those representative bodies of the actual school that would carry on their authorities. Is the Minister following what I am saying?
The Minister indicated that if there was a decision taken that there were to be a school board for the City of Whitehorse in the public school system, in each school there would be an advisory committee or council. I am wondering what authority it would have in relation to the school board, and where is it?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It would be like a school committee is now. I can check for the exact clause number in the break, but there must be the equivalent of a school committee for all schools within a boards jurisdiction.
They are an advisory committee to the board. The board, unlike school committees now, must consult with those advisory committees.
If you want to take a break, I can find the exact clause.
Chair: The Committee will take a break.
Deputy Chair: I call the Committee back to order.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: When we left at the break, I was to come back with information on the numbering of a clause that referred to a parental advisory committee for each school and each school board. I draw the attention of the Members to clause 116(p) on page 56, which basically establishes a parental advisory group. I do not want to call it a school committee because that would be confused with a school committee. Essentially it is the same thing.
In clause 120, the board would be obligated to consider the advice provided by that group or committee.
Mr. Lang: This particular body is not elected, it is strictly a body appointed by the board. Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The assumption is that it is elected; I am assuming it is elected.
Mr. Lang: In the two sections the school board shall establish a parent advisory group for every school operated by it when it operates more than one school and make rules for the operation of the groups and then if we go further, the school board shall consider any advice provided to it by any parent advisory group established by it. There is no question; it is not intimated through the language used there that it is elected. It is strictly an ad hoc committee appointed by the board.
If it were to be elected, you would have to determine how it was going to be elected. Would it follow the rules as outlined by the school council or school board?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There is no difference. My assumption is that it is elected and the Member is assuming they may not be elected.
Mr. Lang: The Minister refers to school committees. In clause 80, there is a heading, election of school committees. There is no heading or authorization in this act that indicates it has to be by election, which is what confused me when we talked about the advisory role of the committee.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Member may have a point. Consequently, I will have to take notice on the point he is making. There is no time to consider this now, but perhaps when we come back tomorrow we will have had an opportunity to go into this a little further. I assume he is talking about a group that is elected by parents whose children attend the school.
Chair: Does this mean we stand over this clause until tomorrow?
Clause 116 stood over
On Clause 117
Mr. Lang: What is going to happen when you create these boards? If a school was to be built, will the government transfer the dollars to the school board to construct the school, or does the Government of the Yukon Territory construct it and transfer the building over after it is completed?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: For projects like the construction of a school, the government would construct it and turn it over to the school board. For the existing schools, the school board would be responsible for maintenance when the school board has taken control of the building.
Clause 117 agreed to
On Clause 118
Clause 118 agreed to
On Clause 119
Clause 119 agreed to
On Clause 120
Clause 120 agreed to
On Clause 121
Clause 121 agreed to
On Clause 122
Clause 122 agreed to
On Clause 123
Clause 123 agreed to
On Clause 124
Mr. Devries: In regard to the director, my understanding is that the director can be a principal. Would a principal be paid in excess of his regular salary if he is the director of a school board?
I am referring to clause 124, which talks about the director. It states the director can be a principal or a teacher. Since he is part of the school board, does he get paid in excess of his regular salary for the portion that pertains to his duties as a director?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The director works for the school board. He is not a member. The director may be a director in his or her own right depending on the size of the school board. If it is very small, it might be the principal. There may be extra pay for a few more duties. It depends on what the director is responsible for doing. If, for example, he or she is the director of one very small school with one small school board, I would presume the directors duties would be minimally more than those involved in being the principal. It may entail extra cost and it may not. If he or she is the director of, say, a Whitehorse school board, I would presume the director would receive pay equivalent to that of a superintendent, which may or may not be as much as that of a principal in the Yukon school system.
There is a fairly wide range of salaries for principals within the system, based on experience and education. The directors pay, I presume, would match the directors duties.
Mr. Devries: Is that included in the financial implications related to this bill? I cannot seem to find anything pertaining to that additional cost.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The financial implications of the act carry us for the first three years. The costs associated with the act very much depend on how many school boards there will be and what the character of the school boards will be. If there is only one school board and it is in Whitehorse and, for the sake of argument, the government transfers to the school board one superintendent to act as director, there would be no additional costs associated with a director being appointed to the school board for the school board and the system.
Say there is only one school board in the system three or four years from now, and it is in Old Crow. Say the director hired has fewer years and experience in education than the incumbent principal. It may result that the director, even for the enhanced duties, may be paid less than the current principal. It is a possibility. A lot depends on whether or not there are school boards, what the character of the school boards are and who is in the jobs, to determine whether or not there would be any extra costs associated with the appointment of director.
Mr. Devries: The Minister caught me there. I do not quite understand it. If it were not the principal, but a teacher who does not have as many years as the principal, they would not get paid as much as the principal but, once they become director, I have to assume they are going to be getting paid slightly more than they were, so there is an additional cost. Otherwise, I do not think anybody would want to be the director, even if you get paid a little more for it.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Let me put it this way without identifying any individual salaries in the system. There is a school in the territory right now where, if a new principal is hired and chosen by a school committee or council, who is fresh out of teachers college and has only one years experience, the difference in salary range would be approximately $25,000.
Theoretically, you could have a person who comes in as a director who has fewer years of experience, because teachers and principals are paid on a salary grid based on years of experience and education.
The more education, the longer you have been teaching, the more experience you have, the higher you get paid. For sake of argument, say the principal in Old Crow, with 10 years of experience and a masters degree in education is at a certain level of the salary grid, fairly high up. That principal leaves the system. The next principal comes in and is the director because they have moved to a school board. That principal comes in with a bachelor of education, three years of experience, and is paid a surcharge for being a director. It is possible that the principal, as director, can receive less pay than the principal who has more years of experience and education.
Mr. Phelps: The issue is whether or not there is an incremental cost, so it would cost more to have directors who happen to be principals than it would if the directors did not happen to be principals. That is the issue. With the greatest of respect for the answer given, I think it sidesteps the question unfairly. The point is that one has to compare X school with whatever principal in a given year, and the cost with the principal being a director and the cost with the principal not being a director. That is the comparison that has to be drawn to fairly answer the question, and that is the question that was asked by the Member for Watson Lake. There will be an incremental cost, surely, if a principal, in additional to his or her duties as principal, takes on the additional duties of a director.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: With all due respect to the Member who just pulled his nose out of the paper and spoke, if one were to put it in the context of one principal being promoted to having the additional responsibility of director, that principal would receive an increase in pay.
But the question was put in the context of the overall cost associated with directorships and the identification of these costs in the summary sheet in terms of the financial implications of the act. I am pointing out to the Member that it is very difficult to associate any costs with the addition of directorships because we cannot be sure that they will be any school boards with any directors.
Also, based on the practical situation, even if there were a directorship or two, there may not be any additional costs at all because, as I was pointing out, if there were a school board in Whitehorse and it entailed the addition of a director, and it would be natural to expect the transfer of a superintendent from the Department of Education to service the school board, there would theoretically be no additional costs in practice as a result of the addition of that school board. I was pointing out, in response to the context of the question the Member posed, the difficulty in assessing costs associated with the directorships.
Mr. Devries: This is still not clear to me. Basically I am asking if the director is being paid to be a director or not?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: If they assume the responsibilities one can assume they would receive more pay.
Clause 124 agreed to
On Clause 125
Clause 125 agreed to
On Clause 126
Clause 126 agreed to
On Clause 127
Clause 127 agreed to
On Clause 128
Clause 128 agreed to
On Clause 129
Clause 129 agreed to
On Clause 130
Clause 130 agreed to
On Clause 131
Clause 131 agreed to
On Clause 132
Clause 132 agreed to
On Clause 133
Clause 133 agreed to
On Clause 134
Clause 134 agreed to
On Clause 135
Clause 135 agreed to
On Clause 136
Clause 136 agreed to
On Clause 137
Clause 137 agreed to
On Clause 138
Clause 138 agreed to
On Clause 139
Clause 139 agreed to
On Clause 140
Clause 140 agreed to
On Clause 141
Clause 141 agreed to
On Clause 142
Clause 142 agreed to
On Clause 143
Clause 143 agreed to
On Clause 144
Clause 144 agreed to
On Clause 145
Clause 145 agreed to
On Clause 146
Clause 146 agreed to
On Clause 147
Clause 147 agreed to
On Clause 148
Mr. Devries: Presently, the annual meeting is held in May, and these are being moved to September or October. Am I correct? This is so they can hold the election-type decisions on whether they want to be a school board or council, et cetera, at the same time as the annual meeting is going on. Right now, the annual report by the school committee is in May. Is that right?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The annual meeting for school committees coming together has been in the spring. The annual meeting for individual schools would be in September, the beginning of the school year. I am glad the Member stood up, though, because I almost let this clause go by, and I had an amendment for this particular spot.
There is an oversight in this particular article, and I refer to the situation where the meeting takes place and there is a transfer from an old school committee, council or board, from one to the next. As it points out in clause 148(1), it is in September.
Where there is a changeover of responsibility from one committee to the next, and where a chair for the committee has not been chosen, this allows the chair from the previous committee to chair, or alternatively, electors at the meeting can select their own chair. Basically that is what it means.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move
THAT Bill No. 29, entitled Education Act, be amended in clause 148 at page 64 by
(i) adding the following new subclause:
(3) The chair or designate of the school board, council or school committee shall chair the annual meeting unless the electors at the meeting elect another person to chair the annual meeting.
(ii) renumbering subclauses (3) and (4) as subclauses (4) and (5); and
(iii) adding, after the word meeting where it appears in paragraph 4(a) as renumbered, the following expression: if the electors at the annual meeting so choose.
The purpose of this new subclause is to allow the electors at the meeting, if they wish, to choose their own chairperson.
Amendment to Clause 148 agreed to
Clause 148 agreed to as amended
On Clause 149
Clause 149 agreed to
On Clause 150
Clause 150 agreed to
On Clause 151
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I have one last amendment and this is the last one in the entire act I will put forward, I swear. This is as a result of an ambiguity identified in clause 151(e). The clause refers to an employee of the school board or council in which the employee is a first year member. The issue is not whether or not the person should be allowed to be a member of the school board or council; the issue is the identification of the person as an employee. Technically, they are not employees of the school board. Technically, they work in the school operated by the school board and are technically employees of the Government of Yukon.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: So what I would like to do is move
THAT Bill No. 29, entitled Education Act, be amended in clause 151 at page 65 by deleting paragraph 1(e) and substituting for it the following:
(e) is employed in a school operated by the school board or council for which the person is a trustee or member.
I just want to qualify that the body of the act basically states that they are not employees of the school board but of the Government of Yukon although certain employer functions have been transferred to the school board. I want to make it clear that these people are employees in the school board and not of the school board.
Chair: Is there any discussion on the amendment?
Amendment to Clause 151 agreed to
Clause 151 agreed to as amended
On Clause 152
Clause 152 agreed to
On Clause 153
Clause 153 agreed to
On Clause 154
Clause 154 agreed to
On Clause 155
Clause 155 agreed to
On Clause 156
Clause 156 agreed to
On Clause 157
Mr. Devries: The cost the Minister is anticipating in developing this appeal tribunal is $55,000. Is he anticipating there would be 40 days of the tribunal sitting and listening to appeals? Is he anticipating there will be a lot of appeals?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The short answer is: yes. I must qualify that by stating we have absolutely no experience with this form of appeal tribunal. It is impossible to say how much activity there will be or how quickly the business will be dispatched by the appeal body. It is a guess. That is all I can say. If I am not mistaken, it is very much a guesstimate.
Mr. Lang: My concern is with the ministerial responsibilities. It is very seldom you see legislation where the final word is not of the Minister of the day. I had met with their officials. I was supposed to be given copies of legislation where the ministerial decision could be overruled by an appeal procedure other than the courts. I do not recall ever seeing that before. Could the Minister provide me with copies of that legislation to justify it?
In essence, it is fine to have an appeal process, but we are taking the final ministerial decision making away from the Legislature and giving it to another body other than a court. Incidentally, the individual still has the right to go to court after that decision is made.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The appeals can go to court in any case, no matter what, here or anywhere else. The purpose of the appeal tribunal with respect to individual education plans is to allow parents, as individuals, and others - the act states even the school council itself - to have the ability to run through an independent review and not simply sit and fester in frustration, where they cannot do anything about something they feel so strongly about.
Technically, in most cases, the decisions of the Minister are routinely made by the administration.
As a matter of practical fact, the decisions the tribunal will be overturning, if they do overturn them, will be decisions made by a school-based assessment team, by department officials or people who are delegated to perform certain work by the Minister. In the employment of teachers now, there are boards currently in place much like the boards we are setting up here. They do make decisions, irrespective of the personal wishes of the Minister. In a sense, it does not diminishes the accountability of the Minister; it diminishes the final authority of the Minister in very specific instances; never with respect to policy matters, always with respect to individual circumstance of an individual child, with the exception of the local curriculum.
As an example, the development of local curriculum can only be carried out in accordance with the budget limits the government and legislators set out for the development of local curriculum. If the Legislature votes a budget in the main estimates that puts a cap of $20,000 on local curriculum development, then that is as far as the appeal tribunal can rule. It cannot demand more be spent beyond what is budgeted.
The purpose of the appeal, and I admit it is a new concept in the education system with respect to individual cases, is to ensure that individual parents frustration levels do not cause them to feel disenfranchised from the system. They will know that at least there is an independent process by which their issues can be aired. They may not get what they want but they will at least get an opportunity to, in a non-threatening way as opposed to the courts to many people...
Chair: Order, please. The time being 5:30 p.m., Committee of the Whole will recess until 7:30 p.m.
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order.
We will continue with Bill No. 29. We are on clause 157.
Mr. Lang: The Minister rambled on prior to the recess, which is totally unlike him. I asked him: in what other education act is there this kind of tribunal that can override ministerial authority? I was told by his officials that they thought perhaps it was the New Brunswick act. They told me they would provide me with a copy of that act and, like so many other things, it got lost in the shuffle and I never received the information.
Perhaps the Minister could refresh everyones memory, along with mine.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Ontario is a good example of a jurisdiction that has provisions for an appeal tribunal, such as this, that can override everyones decisions. If the Member wants a complete listing, I can come back with the information.
Mr. Devries: I thought when the Minister made his speech in the second reading, he indicated that with this educational tribunal the Yukon would be taking the lead nationally. I kind of wonder why we could not have also have done the same with the motion on respect for teachers.
I have one other question with regard to this. I guess there would be nine members on this educational appeal tribunal, with a secretary, et cetera. We are looking at a total of 11 people. Will we be able to find 11 people who will be able to make themselves available 40 days a year? As far as hearings go, I have just noticed, there only needs to be the chair and two people. I guess that possibly answers the question.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am glad the Member answered his own question because I could not detect what it was.
The remarks about the respect for teachers would not make us leading; I think it would make us different.
With respect to the education appeal tribunal, as I indicated before, there is really no way of knowing how many sitting days there will be for such a review process. We have projected 40 sitting days - we have not budgeted for anything. The point of the financial costing was to give a projection of what the costs might be but, as I indicated before, it is a pure guesstimate. I have absolutely no way of knowing, at this point, what the actual costs would be. We anticipate that it would probably be in the neighbourhood of 40 days, depending on the level of activity. That is probably assuming a little more activity than usual. We will be trying it on for size.
Mr. Lang: I would ask the Minister if he could provide me with copies of the particular sections from the act relevant to this type of body that is set up in Ontario and any other sections of any other acts across the country that have this type of tribunal because I would like to compare what we have here to what is there.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I will.
Clause 157 agreed to
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Clause 158 agreed to
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Clause 159 agreed to
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Clause 160 agreed to
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On Clause 164
Clause 164 agreed to
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Clause 165 agreed to
On Clause 166
Clause 166 agreed to
On Clause 167
Clause 167 agreed to
On Clause 168
Mr. Phelps: It is not a big deal. I am just wondering why subclause 168(l) is not under clause 167, the rights of teachers. Clause 168 refers to duties of teachers. Clause 167 refers to rights of teachers. Clause 168(l) speaks to a right rather than a duty. Why is it under clause 168, rather than clause 167?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I would like to thank the Member for that question. Clause 167, the rights of teachers, was added largely to be sure everyone understood what the basic rights were. The wording for rights in 168(l) is not stipulated in the classic sense of a right. It is the opportunity, if there is the wish to participate in the preparation of a school plan, but it is not a right of each teacher in the legal sense. I am not sure why it is specifically referred to as a right. It is not a duty. There is the opportunity, if they wish, to participate in the preparation of a school plan.
Clause 168 agreed to
On Clause 169
Clause 169 agreed to
On Clause 170
Clause 170 agreed to
On Clause 171
Clause 171 agreed to
On Clause 172
Clause 172 agreed to
On Clause 173
Mr. Devries: There are some overlapping concerns in this area between clause 173 and clause 197, I believe. Basically, it pertains to the probation of the teacher. My understanding is when a teacher originally hires on with the Department of Education they are on probation for two years. If they were transferred to another authority, are they on a further two year probation with the board?
I believe it picks up on this again later when it talks about boards. Originally, when they hire on with the Department of Education, they are on probation for two years. When they get transferred to a school board, that school board would put them back on probation for another year, or am I incorrect?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: They do not go onto probation again if they are transferred from a school board to a ministerial school. I will have to check again. I think it is in the section on transfers. I will have to check the question for the Members.
Mr. Devries: In my thinking about a case where a teacher had been stationed in Whitehorse for possibly a considerable amount of time and then was transferred to a rural community and there was a school board in the community, that board would have to determine if the teacher were adequate for the job. There should be a years probation. I do not think the teacher should have moved to the community at a lower rate of pay, but I think there should be an option for the teacher to move back to Whitehorse if the teaching was unsatisfactory in the rural community. Teaching in rural communities is quite different from that in a large urban centre like Whitehorse. An example is Old Crow. Not all teachers would have the qualifications to handle teaching a largely aboriginal student body.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Let me see if I have the Members representation clear. Is he saying that there should be a probationary period and if the person has completed one probationary period and is transferred to another school board or ministerial school there should be another probationary period?
Mr. Devries: If the transfer was from a large urban school in Whitehorse to a small rural, I think there should be something in place. I do not think the teacher should be fired but perhaps have the option to return to Whitehorse if the year of teaching in the rural school was deemed to be unsatisfactory.
Mrs. Firth: What is the relationship between the probationary time for teachers and the transferring of teachers? There is nothing in the legislation that addresses what happens to the probationary period if a teacher transfers to another jurisdiction or school. If a teacher starts in Whitehorse, is six months into their two-year probationary period, and then is transferred to Watson Lake, do they start the probationary period all over again, or are they still six months into their two-year probationary period?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The probationary period is for a two year period only. I thought the Member was referring to a situation where a person completed their probation, moved from a school board to a ministerial school, and whether or not they would have to go through another period of probation. No matter where they are, they have to complete two years. My understanding is they do not have to go through another period of probation. I will check that to be sure.
Mrs. Firth: Essentially, then, you are saying that, once a teacher is hired, after two years they can transfer anywhere and not have to go through another probationary period.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: That is right.
Clause 173 agreed to
On Clause 174
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On Clause 182
Mr. Devries: I do not know. I have a little problem with this concept because I quit a job to become a politician. When I am through with this, or if I do not get elected the next time around, I have to go and look for a job. Why should a teacher be any different?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The concept here, of course, as stated, is that there is a granting of leave for one term of office. The reason for that is that in many communities teachers are community leaders and they are also people with careers in that community and have every intention of staying. It is quite conceivable, even probable, that these people would like to serve their community without necessarily saying, potentially, goodbye to the career that they have staked in that particular community in that school. The concept here is to allow those persons to be offered an opportunity to serve their community, if the electorate so wish, and receive leave without pay. If they are elected, then they are allowed to serve one term as a elected official and may return to the teaching force after the term is up.
Mr. Phillips: I have to disagree with the Minister in this particular case. I got elected and had a business of my own when I started. It was quite a good business. It took me 12 years to build it up and nobody is going to guarantee me that when I finish with politics I can go right back into my business and pick up where I left off. I took the opportunity to run for office and I did not ask for any guarantees for a job afterwards. I think that it is unfair to be guaranteeing teachers - or anybody, for that matter - a job afterwards.
Mrs. Firth: I agree.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: As a person who has also come out of the private sector, I am an example, I guess, of a person who has done the opposite. According to the collective agreement that I was operating under, I was entitled to leave without pay for the period of office, which should be the case for teachers too.
Mr. Lang: How does this relate to the provision in the Legislative Assembly Act where there is a certain period of time that an ex-member, if he or she decides not to run again or is defeated, gets X amount of dollars as remuneration as they find their way back into some other way of making a living?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I believe the provision is one-quarter of the basic, or three months of the MLAs basic pay.
Mr. Lang: So they would be entitled to that as well? The purpose of that particular section was debated on the premise that you were here. There was discussion in Rules, Elections and Privileges that was based on the premise that when one has finished with their political career there is a period of adjustment. Obviously in this case there is no period of adjustment.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I was on the Standing Committee of Rules, Elections and Privileges and I recall the argument from the Member for Tatchun at the time, Mr. Tracey, was that this was severance pay provided for by the Legislative Assembly Act and not UI. He took great exception to the idea that Members who walked into this job, who continued a job because they were working while an MLA, should have to forfeit the severance. My understanding at the time was that the purpose of this was severance and not UI.
Mr. Devries: I cannot support this. When I was a kid I thought politicians did not get paid at all. I thought you did it for your country. It does not make sense to me. I could be working - well I could not be working at the sawmill right now - I could if it were still running. It is pretty hard to make sense out of that one.
I would have had a very tough year working at the sawmill. I was making more money when the sawmill was running than I am now. I ran because I felt that I could contribute something to Watson Lake. I do not expect the people of Watson Lake to be holding a job for me in Watson Lake if I finish my term and do not get re-elected. If I do get re-elected, that is fine too.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I do not know how to respond or what more I can say. Some Members will obviously be leaving office by choice or otherwise and they are going to be walking into a job, perhaps as a result of a collective agreement provision such as mine was. I, unfortunately, will not be walking into a job as it turns out now, but there will be some who will be carrying on with a business and there will be some who will have no business and no job.
The point of this provision is basically as I have stated: teachers play a very significant role in community life. They definitely regard their jobs as careers and quite often have dedicated themselves to our communities. The issue here is that because we have control of this particular situation, we should allow these people to participate in public life if the electorate so wish and allow them, without forcing them, to decide as to whether or not they want to continue their teaching career.
I cannot add more than that. It is a concept I do support. I feel it would enhance or improve the choice of the electorate at election time. I feel it is a good provision.
Mrs. Firth: I am not going to get into a big squabble about this particular clause, but I do want to put my position on the record. I remember when we were discussing the draft legislation. I had representation made to me by other public servants who do not share this privilege. This is special for teachers. There is nothing in the Public Service Commission Act that states that any other people who work for the government are able to take advantage of this kind of privilege. I even had teachers come up to me and say they did not think this was correct. It was because they did not want to be treated differently than other public servants and be perceived to be given special privileges.
I want to put the position on the record that no one else who works for the public service is guaranteed that if they run for one term of office are on leave and, when they decide not to seek political office again, they have the same job to come back to. A perfect example would be someone who is in a very high-paying job with government, someone who had worked their way up through the rank and file and were in the position of director or assistant deputy minister, and wanted to take time off to run for political office. They have to resign from their position when they are elected. They do not have the privilege of coming back after one term, and having their job held open for them.
If the side opposite wants to create this special privilege for teachers, they can force the clause through with their numbers. It creates an inequity.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The act before us is the Education Act. We are referring to employees hired under the Education Act. One might make the argument there is a qualitative difference between teachers and others, given the new arms-length relationship the government will have with teachers. Even if one did not accept that particular position, it would be fair to say the consequences of broadening the provision are being contemplated and studied. There may be the opportunity to debate this issue once again.
Mrs. Firth: You are creating a privileged class of people. Everyone is supposed to be equal, according to your philosophy.
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On Clause 187
Mr. Devries: I just would like to make sure that 187 is put in in bold type.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Yes, I am hoping we do not have to write an amendment for that, if the Clerk so allows.
Clause 187 agreed to
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On Clause 196
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On Clause 197
Mr. Devries: Apparently the teachers association had some concerns in regard to this one. They had asked for a mutual agreement by the YTA and the Executive Council on who the board members would be and if they were not happy with that, that they could take it to the Supreme Court, I believe.
Originally, they had asked to have the staff relations board formed with the YTA and the executive council. They understood the Minister had addressed this. Why was this not followed up?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: This is exactly the same as the provision in the current School Act. In these circumstances, the Yukon only uses the services of the Canada Labour Relations Board because that is the only thing that makes sense. We cannot fund the operations of a board such as this without incurring tremendous expense. Historically, we have always used the Canada Labour Relations Board by agreement with it. As it stands, the situation is that in practice the government will continue using the Canada Labour Relations Board unless they want to spend a packet of money to replace it. Because the situation as it currently exists has worked well for a long time, and the legislation as it currently exists has caused no trouble, to my knowledge, there was a feeling there should not be any change to what is happening.
Mr. Devries: I am reading from a letter the Minister wrote to the YTA and he says he understands the concern of the YTA about the situation should a future Yukon government choose to deviate from existing practice, and that he will instruct the deputy minister to raise with the drafting committee the issue of having a Yukon staff relations board appointed by mutual agreement of the YTA and Commissioner in Executive Council, if the existing agreement with the CLRB is breached.
It seems that the Minister did not address this. I do not know if it was a big deal with the YTA or not, but the Minister did give assurances he would address it. Why did he not?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: We can stand this section over and I will reinforce my understanding of what has been agreed to before we clear this section before we proceed any further.
Chair: Does the Committee agree?
Some Members: Agreed.
Chair: Clause 197 will be stood over.
Clause 197 stood over
On Clause 198
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On Clause 269
Mr. Devries: I had not checked with my colleagues. I do not know if any of them have any problems with this strike clause. I have none myself.
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On Clause 307
Mr. Devries: On clause 307 I said carried, but I had not turned the page over. Is this the area where one of the amendments changed the reading, or not? It was one of the earlier amendments on private schools. It is basically at clause 307(i). I thought possibly there would be a contradiction. I mean 307(l). It is okay. It would be accredited. It is okay. Clear.
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On Clause 313
Mr. Devries: Is this a normal clause out of regular school board acts or is this something extraordinary?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: This is a normal clause in the acts. In Alberta, for example, it makes the trustees personally liable for improper use of money that has been borrowed, so there are some more provisions. In fact, you will notice that the current act does anticipate school boards, too, even though it would be very difficult to establish one under the current act. It does, however, speak to school boards. Clause 285 of the current act has a similar provision.
Mr. Devries: I think, just a few motions back, I believe, there was a clause that gives authority to a school board to borrow money. What does the school board use as collateral - anticipated money from the government? If they should rescind on this loan, does that mean that the trustees of that school board have to pay it?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: No. It means if they are personally liable for misappropriated funds or for illegally contracting liability on behalf of the school board.
Clause 313 agreed to
On Clause 314
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On Clause 315
Mr. Devries: Looking through this I did not see anything where the government would possibly supply legal counsel if there were a problem with regard to the operations of school boards, et cetera. Is this automatically assumed? Do they have to hire their own legal counsel? I have run into that in a case I am sure the Minister is aware of that I do not want to talk about. I phoned the department that morning and they told me I had no legal counsel. Later that afternoon I found out I would have legal counsel and it was a misunderstanding within the department. It created a lot of tension for myself that day. I think it should be clearly written down.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Yes. The Member will appreciate that there have not been a lot of cases where school committees have been investigated. The policy is to support school committees, as the Member found out later that afternoon, after I discovered what the preliminary decision by the department had been. I am aware of what that put the Member through and can appreciate it.
Right now, as I understand it, there is nothing in legislation that allows anybody working for or on behalf of the government to receive legal counsel. There is a policy of the government that allows people to receive counsel at government expense. That policy would apply to these persons as well. I would be hesitant to make an exception for one group and put it into legislation. That certainly would be a government-wide decision to make.
Mr. Devries: I guess we can clear that. It is a timely question considering what is going on upstairs right now.
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Hon. Mr. McDonald: May I suggest we take a break? I may be able to deal with one of the two items we held over regarding the Teacher Staff Relations Board. The other matter respecting the election of advisory bodies for school boards is something we will not be ready to deal with until tomorrow. If there is an amendment, I will have to speak to my colleagues about that possibility.
If we take a break now, it would allow me the opportunity to check this other matter out.
Chair: Is the Committee agreed?
We will take a short recess.
Chair: I will call Committee of the Whole to order.
On Clause 116 - continued
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Clause 116, on page 56, referred to the choice of the parent advisory group for every school that is operated by it when there is more than one school within an education area. The Member for Porter Creek East made the case that there was the opportunity for the school board to determine the membership of a school advisory body on the basis of appointment rather than election. I had assumed all along that it would be by election and I think everyone else associated with the act assumed that too. To make it clear, I take the Members point that it must be by election.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move
THAT Bill No. 29, entitled Education Act, be amended in clause 116 at page 56 by adding in paragraph 1(p) after the expression make rules for the the following expression: election and.
The effect of this amendment is to ensure that the determination of the parent advisory group be only undertaken by election.
It is clear that the school boards must have parent advisory groups and that they must be by election. The actual rules for the election will be determined by the school board, as the rules for school committees are determined by the Department of Education.
This ensures that these groups will be determined by election, as was anticipated. I believe that will accommodate the interests expressly stated by the Member for Porter Creek East, and will ensure that the democratic process is true right to the limits of the act.
Mr. Lang: It is still not as clear as the Minister says it is. It says if requested by the parents. If it is required by law, should it not state that the school board shall establish a parent advisory group for every school operated by it when it operates more than one school, and make rules for the election and operation of the groups? It is still discretionary. They could say that not enough parents requested it, so one could just be appointed.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: In speaking to the lawyer, my understanding is that parents here means if any parents request a parent advisory group, this group shall proceed, just as the situation is now for school committees.
Even though school committees are called for in the current act and are elected - there is one community that does not have a school committee because no parent has asked for it. According to the lawyers, if any parent, even one, asks for a school committee, there will be elections held for that school advisory group.
That is my reading of this.
Chair: Is there any discussion on the amendment?
Amendment to Clause 116 agreed to
Clause 116 agreed to as amended
On Clause 197 - continued
Hon. Mr. McDonald: In returning to clause 197, I was reminded of the process by which we came to arrive at this particular conclusion. As Members know, the Yukon Teacher Staff Relations Board is appointed under the current act by Cabinet. That has always been fiction, because the Cabinet has always chosen, by practical necessity, the Canadian Labour Relations Board. By practical necessity, I mean the cost of setting up and operating such a board, and performing its duties, would be tremendously expensive for the amount of traffic it receives.
During the discussions with the YTA, in particular, the case was made that in the future there may be a hostile government that may not like teachers or the teachers union. If this hostile government came along and decided not to choose the Canada Labour Relations Board, that could be bad news for the YTA. There were no objections at any time for CLRB acting on behalf of the government.
Firstly, it was pointed out that the CLRB did not feel easy about changing the rules of the game or legislation in any way because they felt the situation that had occurred to date had been good and they saw no reason to change. It was pointed out to the YTA that there had been at least two governments in the last 17 years, neither of which could be classified as being hostile, at least to my knowledge, as far as this is concerned. Because it had worked well to date, there was no reason to change the provisions of this act. The practical reality would be the government would always continue to use the CLRB because that was basically a free service for the Yukon government and had always been considered fair and impartial to everyone concerned. At the end of the drafting committee stage, the YTA basically accepted that the status quo was acceptable to them and it could continue.
There really is not an alternative as far as a home grown labour relations board is concerned, given the cost, and given the fact very few cases are ever brought before it. That is how we left it. That is why it is currently as it is.
Clause 197 agreed to
Chair: We will go to the preamble on the first page.
Mr. Devries: In the preamble, I had to look up the word aesthetic in the dictionary. The word artistic would more clearly indicate what the government is trying to say and would go along with the governments mandate to put things in simple, everyday terms.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It has always been reasonably clear to me. Perhaps that does not mean much but, to me, the phrase aesthetic potential of all students refers to the students potential to recognize beauty. That is a little different from the word artistic, which is to train the student in the creation of art. The words have different connotations; it is a semantic difference. I personally like the word aesthetic. No one has complained about it to my knowledge. I know they have gone over this preamble dozens of times.
Preamble agreed to
Title agreed to
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that Bill No. 29, entitled Education Act, be moved out of Committee, with amendment.
Motion agreed to
Bill No. 30 - Teaching Profession Act
Chair: Is there any general debate?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: As Members will remember, the teaching profession provisions section had, at one time, been part of the draft education act. There was a request that the Teaching Profession Act and the Education Act be brought together in the one large Education Act.
There was a request by the Yukon Teachers Association recently, during the consultation process after the draft education act was released, to separate the two in order that the Teaching Profession Act can have a separate status as an act and be likened to the Legal Profession Act and the acts governing the Medical Association.
We acquiesced to that request. Consequently, we now have the Teaching Profession Act. The objective is to recognize the Yukon Teachers Association and its objectives and powers, and the various other provisions, bylaws and disciplinary provisions in the act. This is very similar to the Legal Profession Act, in that it recognizes the teaching profession as a profession and as a self-regulating profession.
Mr. Devries: Basically I had to go by the response of teachers. Many of the rural teachers had not seen the latest version, although I understand there are very few changes from the draft act. Just from reading it, I have no problems with it. Due to the fact I did not get any response from the teachers, I feel I can deem it as read.
Chair: Is there unanimous consent to deem this act as having been read?
All Hon. Members: Agreed.
On Clauses 1 to 20
Clauses 1 to 20 agreed to
Chair: I deem this act to have been read.
Title agreed to
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that Bill No. 30, entitled Teaching Profession Act, be moved out of Committee without amendment.
Motion agreed to
Chair: What is your further pleasure?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There are only two items remaining in Committee as I understand it: the income tax amendments and the Workers Compensation Act amendments. The Income Tax Amendments will require an official from the Department of Finance to be here because of the complexity of that particular bill. There are a number of things Members may want to ask that do not pertain specifically to the bill but respect income tax law. I am not competent to answer those questions myself. I would recommend, given that the Minister responsible for the Workers Compensation Act would like to have time to prepare for the amendments, that we ask Mr. Speaker to resume his Chair.
I move that the Speaker do now resume his 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: Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 29, Education Act, and directed me to report the same with amendments. Further, Committee has considered Bill No. 30, Teaching Profession Act, and directed me to report the same without amendment.
Speaker: You have heard the report of the Chair of Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Government 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 9:14 p.m.
The following Sessional Paper was tabled May 9, 1990:
Report on the Test Paper Recycling Program (Byblow)