Monday, October 29, 1990 - 1:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will call the House to order. We will proceed at this time with prayers.
Speaker: We will proceed at this time with the Order Paper.
Introduction of visitors?
Are there any Returns or Documents for tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Speaker: I have for tabling the Annual Report of the Yukon Human Rights Commission for the year ended March 31, 1990.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I have for tabling the Health Transfer Framework Agreement.
Speaker: Are there any Reports of Committees?
Are there any Petitions?
Introduction of Bills.
Notices of Motion for the Production of Papers.
NOTICES OF MOTION FOR THE PRODUCTION OF PAPERS
Mr. Phelps: I give notice of motion
THAT the order of this Assembly be issued for copies of all studies produced by or on behalf of the Yukon Development Corporation and of the Yukon Energy Corporation regarding potential hydro sites in the Yukon.
Speaker: Notices of Motion.
NOTICES OF MOTION
Mr. Phelps: I give notice of the following motion:
THAT it is the opinion of this House that the Yukon Energy Corporation should not pay dividends nor transfer profits to the Yukon Development Corporation, but rather should retain such money for investment in hydro facilities and transmission lines so as to keep down the cost of electrical energy to Yukon consumers.
Mr. Lang: I give notice of motion
THAT it is the opinion of this House that the Department of Renewable Resources should implement a well-managed game program with the objective of increasing the moose and caribou population in game zones 7 and 9.
Mrs. Firth: I give notice of motion
THAT the Department of Health and Human Resources, Yukon, in consultation with the Association for Community Living, the Child Development Centre, the Council for Yukon Indians, Alcohol and Drug Services, and all other agencies familiar with fetal alcohol syndrome and fetal alcohol effects, should develop a job description and advertise immediately for the position of a fetal alcohol syndrome coordinator for Yukon.
Mr. Phillips: I give notice of motion
THAT this House urges the Minister of Tourism to establish a Yukon ambassador at large program for Yukoners who travel outside the Yukon Territory and who wish to promote tourism travel to Yukon.
Mr. Devries: I give notice of motion
THAT it is the opinion of this House that the transfer of control of the forestry resource in the Yukon from the federal government to the territorial government has been held in abeyance since April 1987 because the Government of Yukon has not treated this transfer as a matter of priority and;
THAT this House urges the Government of Yukon to work cooperatively with the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development to reach an agreement on the transfer of this important resource so that the people of the Yukon will have control over forests in the territory in relation to forestry management, timber harvesting, silviculture, economic development proposals and environmental protection.
Speaker: Are there any Statements by Ministers?
Framework agreement governing the health transfer to the Yukon government
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I rise today to inform Members that after many years of negotiations we now have the basis for a health transfer to the government.
Officials of this government, the federal government and the Council for Yukon Indians have signed an agreement on the principles that will form the basis for all future negotiations and on specific areas of transfer.
This signing follows a cooperative three-party process that will continue throughout the remaining negotiations. While this agreement is subject to final ratification by ourselves, the federal government and Council for Yukon Indians, I am confident that we are finally on the way to a transfer.
The transfer will include all program and administrative resources currently used by the medical services branch in the Yukon, and capital funds required to replace Whitehorse General Hospital. The hospital transfer is the first phase of transfer.
Upon approval by the Treasury Board of Canada of the class B estimate for a new Whitehorse hospital, including the approval of a schedule for the release of funds for construction acceptable to the Yukon, the Yukon government will then assume full responsibility for construction. It is possible that construction of the new facility could begin in the spring of 1992, with completion in 1995.
Our policy and this agreement stipulate that all medical services branch staff currently employed by the federal government in Whitehorse or in the communities will be offered comparable positions in the Yukon. It is anticipated that the offers or employment to hospital employees will be made by April 1991. Transfer of the hospital and MSB staff in Whitehorse is scheduled for October 1, 1991.
Phase 2 of the transfer will involve remaining medical services branch responsibilities, including community health programs and the services, related facilities and administration.
Not all programs will be transferred to the Yukon government. Some, such as the community health representatives and the Native alcohol and drug abuse program will be transferred to Yukon First Nations, in all likelihood.
We are naturally tying in with the negotiations for Indian self-government as part of the land claim agreement. With the signing of this agreement we have taken an important step toward a Yukon-controlled quality health care system.
In summary, we will be making an offer to the federal employees of the hospital in the spring. It is anticipated that the transfer of the hospital will come to us in October of next year and the construction of a new hospital will begin in the spring of 1992.
In a parenthetical note, I would like to express the thanks of this government and no doubt all Members of the House, to Brenda Riis, Violet Van Hees, Leo Chasse, Pat Herbert, Linda Martin, Don Trochim, Mike Nevile, Nick Pouchinsky and Doug McArthur for the excellent work these officials have done in completing these negotiations.
Mr. Lang: The transfer of the health services has been a high priority for this side of the House and if anyone looks back in Hansard they can see that we have had numerous debates on the question of the transfer. It is long overdue, especially when one looks at what our sister territory, the Northwest Territories, accomplished a number of years ago. Yet, at the same time, we are in a situation we have just negotiated an agreement to negotiate.
The ministerial statement raises, I think, quite a number of questions - more than what it answers. I have a series of questions to which I would like to ask the Minister to reply.
I will first ask the Minister: in the one paragraph he states, the officials of this government, the federal government and the Council for Yukon Indians have signed an agreement on the principles that will form the basis for all future negotiations in specific areas of transfer.
Is it the position of the Government of the Yukon that the Council for Yukon Indians will have to agree to any future transfers as they come, as far as federal devolution in other areas of government are concerned?
The next question I have is: if the new hospital is agreed upon, and in view of the fact that government budgeting is in such a manner that you have class A and class B, then how is it that the hospital is in the class B estimates of the federal government if the Government of Canada has agreed that such a structure will be built - since it should be in class A?
I would also like to ask the Minister this: is it the position of the Government of the Yukon that they are accepting the transfer of personnel without an ironclad agreement and commitment that a new hospital is to built?
Fourthly, can the Minister assure all Members that the employees transferred to the Yukon government from the Government of Canada will be given comparative benefits to what they now enjoy with the federal government?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I suspect such a long list of questions requiring such a long list of answers might be a bit irregular and, I suspect, we may have to cover some of the ground in Question Period.
To be brief, I can answer the questions and comments of the Member this way: an agreement has never been possible before because we have never had a commitment from the federal hospital for the money to build the new hospital, unlike the situation in the Northwest Territories. We now have such a commitment.
The Member asks if CYIs agreement is necessary on all devolution agreements henceforth. No, that is not the case. As the Member knows, we wanted to proceed in two phases on this agreement, and the federal government preferred to agree as a single package. We achieved a compromise on that point. Because the Council for Yukon Indians has a very significant interest in community health services and the whole question of self-government surrounding land claims, it was necessary and appropriate that they become part of this agreement.
The Member asked about a class A estimate. The final estimates will be made by this government, who will be building the hospital. The federal treasury board will be asked to give formal final approval to transferring the necessary funds, some $45 million for that purpose. That is why the final estimates will be made by us according to the means that are available.
The most significant and important question the Member asks is about the relationship between the hospital funding and the health transfer. It is a very simple relationship. The federal government gives us a cheque for the new hospital. We make an offer to the employees. Those two events are related. If we do not get the financial commitment for the new hospital, we do not make the offer. We believe, on the basis of the agreement we have now reached - and it is not an agreement to reach an agreement; it is an agreement - that the federal government will now, following Treasury Board approval, make the financial commitment to us, following which we will make the offer to the employees. That offer will be based on the discussions we have been holding during the last several months, which will deal with job descriptions, classification, pay, benefits, housing - a whole package - which will be analogous to a collective agreement, although it is not a collective agreement because they are not yet employees. That offer will be made to the employees next spring. Individual employees decide whether they will accept it or not. Those who accept will become our employees as of October 1, 1991.
Speaker: This, then brings us to Question Period.
Question re: Decentralization
Mr. Phelps: I am going to lead off with some questions about decentralization, the policy that was so hastily thrown together and unveiled to the Yukon last week.
I would like the Minister responsible for the Executive Council to tell us why the government has not made stages 2 and 3 public, and when we can expect to receive information about stages 2 and 3 of the decentralization policy?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Mr. Speaker, you will forgive me again, but given the nature of the Members preamble, I will of course have to respond to that. He describes this as a policy that was hastily thrown together, which is of course far from the truth. We have been wrestling with this policy for a long time.
Good intentions have been stated in this House by the party opposite and us for some considerable number of years, and I think this is a very significant step we are making, and with considerable thought. The policy that has been adopted by this government has set a target, which is what was necessary to achieve the policy, of 100 hundred jobs in the next three-year period. It is not possible much in advance of the final development of budgets for those future years to detail in precise terms the positions that will be subject to decentralization in years two and three. The Member will notice that a number of departments have been very well represented in terms of positions for the first year; other departments are not so well represented and we will be instructing departments not represented in the first year, obviously, to be represented in years 2 and 3. That should give the Member some clue as to the kinds of areas that may be subject to transfer.
Mr. Phelps: Is it the intention of the government, then, to address the issue of the global number of employees to be moved from each department from Whitehorse out to the rural communities, and if so, when can we expect to receive that information?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Mr. Speaker, no, we will not be able, in these estimates, to tell the member that X number of people will be moving from department A or Y number of people from department B. What I can tell the Member that in the next two years a similar number of people - some 30 plus positions -, in each of the next two years will be decentralized in order to achieve the target of 100 positions that we have set for this first phase of the decentralization process.
Mr. Phelps: I wonder if, given that he claims that the policy has been very carefully thought out, he could table in this House the cost estimates for each of the stages 1, 2 and 3, and how the cost was arrived at.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I can table the costs, and will be happy to do so, for year 1, but what I am sure will be obvious to the Member is that the final costs for years 2 and 3 will be at least of the order of magnitude of year one, but they will depend absolutely on what positions are finally slated for decentralization. The Member will no doubt be aware that we have a number of proposals before us that we will be deciding in the coming months for the following years decentralization. I would be surprised if we would be in a position to announce those positions for the second year much in advance of the presentation of the budget to this House, because the fact that they have a cost will have to be addressed in the budget.
Question re: Decentralization
Mr. Phelps: In an open letter to Yukon government employees dated October 25, the Minister responsible attached a question and answer sheet regarding Yukon government decentralization. On page 4 of that document, it is stated that the cost the first year of all 39 jobs is about $479,000 and that of this, the one-time capital cost is $225,000.
I look at the list provided to employees and the public of Yukon by the Ministers office, and I look at the first item on that list - Community and Transportation Services communications branch, Carcross, four full-time positions.
Approximately how much of the $225,000 for capital is going to be spent on those four positions in Carcross?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I can take the question given that, in the first instance, the branch referred to is within my ministry and, in the second instance, the issue of space for office workers relating to decentralization would fall principally under the purview of Government Services.
There are no identified capital costs relating to the decentralization of the communications branch within the specific numbers cited by the Leader of the Official Opposition. What is calculated are the anticipated rental costs of expected facilities.
Mr. Phelps: I am sure the Minister is aware I live in Carcross, and I am not aware of any office space available to the government for a fairly significant sized office such as the communications branch. Is there office space available? Where is it and how much is it going to cost? If not, does he not agree with me that to build that office space would cost about $500,000?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Again, I will take the question. I would suggest to the Leader of the Official Opposition that he become a little more informed in his own riding. We are currently in discussions with White Pass for the acquisition of the railroad building.
Mr. Phelps: Is the Minister then saying they intend to renovate the railway depot so it will provide the office space required for this move?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I cannot cite the details of any final arrangement, because they are not in place yet. Discussions and negotiations are currently taking place between the staff of my department and the private sector regarding acquisition of the space. Until those discussions are concluded, I cannot give specifics.
I can assure the Member that space will be available for the decentralized move on that score, and he can be assured of that.
Question re: Decentralization
Mr. Phelps: So we are informed they really do not have any office space available. They are busy negotiating for some that would require extensive renovation. The cost of building 2,000 square feet of office space to government standards in Carcross would be in the neighbourhood of $500,000.
I am concerned about housing as well, because there is no housing available in Carcross. I would expect that the cost of providing staff housing would run at $125,000 per unit for four jobs. Exactly how much of the $225,000 that has been allocated for the entire 39 positions has been allocated for staff housing in Carcross?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Again I will take the question, given that the issue of housing is principally resting with the Yukon Housing Corporation as a lead agency.
It is not assured that the Yukon Housing Corporation will be supplying staff housing in every case. Each community will be recognized for its individual housing capability. In many instances we have staff housing available. In some instances there is private sector housing available to be purchased or rented. Each community has a different case scenario with respect to housing. That is the approach we are taking.
At the same time we are currently reviewing our policies in order that we can support and facilitate decentralized efforts for housing purposes. We will continue those policy reviews in order to provide employees with the most suitable housing available.
Mr. Phelps: We have this carefully thought out policy, in the words of the Minister responsible. We have a price tag of $225,000 for 39 jobs throughout the Yukon, yet they have no clue as to whether or not they are going to have to build office space in Carcross, or if they are going to lease it from White Pass and renovate to a great extent. They have no clue where the housing is coming from and have not even addressed it. Yet, this is a carefully thought out policy.
In view of this, can the Minister responsible for housing and for community affairs tell us how much has been factored into the price for O&M that was given out in the attachment to the Ministers letter? How much of that O&M is attributed to the high cost of providing pump-out services for the water and sewer in the housing, and in the new office space that is going to be required? Could he tell us roughly what has been factored in with regard to that cost?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The Member is huffing and puffing, but I do not think he is going to blow this house down.
The most sensitive question of decentralization is the issue of our employees. It is not possible to have a cookie-cutter policy, or some kind of mechanical formula that gives us a 100 percent position on this, for the following reasons: we have made the decision that incumbents in the position will be offered the chance to move with their position or to other jobs in the Yukon Territory. That means we cannot know for some time in every case about whether or not people are going to choose to move with their position to the community, because they have to talk about these possibilities with their families. If they do not choose to move, there is the possibility that we will be hiring someone from that community who already has their housing needs met. Nor is it necessarily the case, if someone does move, that we will be providing staff housing. The situation in every community is different.
As a result of discussions with employees, employees representatives, the communities affected and our central agency, the one thing that will be sure is that, by the time people go to the communities, there will be a place for them to work, and we will have satisfied their housing needs.
The housing needs are not calculated in terms of these cost estimates for relocation, and we said this at the beginning. The sum we have talked about is part of a global budget for this process. Calculations of estimates for the costs come from various departments, and there is a huge variable in these costs. That variable comes from the decisions made by individual employees on whether they want to move with their positions or choose to take alternate positions within this government. We cannot know the final cost of all those elements, and we will not know the final cost until we know the employees decisions.
I am absolutely certain that, if we were to build housing on the basis that everyone would move, or build office space in advance of the decentralization, we would be criticized by Members opposite for wasting money. We think this is the right approach: putting the employees first, and the communities, and that is the way it will work.
Mr. Phelps: With respect, the issue here has to do with government waste and a complete mismanagement of the money they have been given from Ottawa.
I listened to this dribble from the side opposite. We have a one-time capital cost of $225,000. We are talking about the potential for $1 million for the first four jobs. Surely the Members on the side opposite can do better than that. Surely they can at least come close, not to be out by many hundreds of percent. Would they not agree they could do a little better than this?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: It is going to be a long sitting. I certainly hope the Member opposite is going to do better than this. If he is seriously suggesting that his standard of competence and good management is spending $1 million for every four employees in the territory in order to house them, then I think he is being ridiculous.
The costs we have estimated here are based on the aggregate of the costs we are talking about. They are reasonable estimates. Perhaps the Member opposite has a piece of real estate in mind for us. We are not talking about $1 million to house every four employees in rural Yukon. That is not our experience, and that will not be our practice.
Question re: Decentralization
Mr. Phelps: Again, I ask if we can have a complete breakdown of the estimates that led to the figures provided publicly by the Minister, including the costs for capital and O&M for moving the four positions to Carcross, as well as each and every other position, so we have some idea of what this government intends to spend.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am beginning to think the Member opposite is taking a personal interest on this question in his constituency. In answer to his first question, I have said we will be providing a breakdown in our estimates. I am quite happy to provide him with the information he seeks.
Mr. Phelps: You bet I am taking a personal interest in my constituency. I am asked by people in Carcross where the infrastructure is, where the office space is, and when this government is going to move on water and sewer for Carcross. These are fundamental issues that are tied into the provision of infrastructure and of the office space.
Many times in this House, we have had debates about the problem of adequate housing and the availability of lots and land in Carcross. When are we going to be told about the plans for office space for the four positions in Carcross, and who will be making the announcement?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Normally, announcements about office space would be made by the Minister responsible for Government Services, as would announcements about water, sewer and housing as they are all under the same Minister. But I happen to know and would like to assure the Members constituents in Carcross that the Minister responsible for these three areas has been working very hard on the question of land in Carcross, as well as the other issues the Member mentions. I would be surprised if the Member opposite did not know that.
Question re: Decentralization
Mr. Lang: I want to return to the question of the overall decentralization program: the one the government said has been in the process of being formulated over the last five years, and the denial it was hastily conceived by the side opposite.
I go to the disbandment of the career services branch of the advanced education branch within the Department of Education. I would point out this service has been discussed at some length between all Members of the House. It has provided a much-needed service to over 1,200 Yukoners in a year over many visits to all communities, and it has performed various functions that are very important to people who are being forced to change their jobs, for example as a result of such events as the Elsa mine layoffs. The Minister of Education has said what a great program it has been.
Why has the Minister had such a change of heart? Why has he made the decision to disband this particular program when, in the Ministers own words, it was providing such a valuable service to the public?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The only way to answer the question is, first of all, to deny the service has been disbanded. To decentralize the service is not to disband the service to rural Yukon residents. We have focussed the service to rural areas because, through the offices of Yukon College and Canada Employment and Immigration Commission, there are already career counselling services in the City of Whitehorse.
In order to provide a better service to rural Yukon residents, we thought it would be better to place these services in the communities themselves. Regionally based, they would provide a quicker, more responsive service in the future.
Far from abandoning the service, this particular element of their delivery has been focussed to rural Yukon. The Yukon College and Canada Employment and Immigration Commission will be providing career counselling in the City of Whitehorse.
Mr. Lang: Once again, I refer to the decentralization program that has been so well thought out. It took five years of thinking. The Government Leader said to the public, we are working on this program. Now, the Minister speaks about a program that has been providing a valuable service to the people of the Yukon. He stands in his place today and says it is time to decentralize it. I hearken back to April 10, 1989, when the Minister, in his opening remarks to the budget, stated as follows: Under the advanced education branch, the recently opened Career Services Office will receive $10,000 for furnishings and equipment for its new facility. This office provides a well-used service to the public and is effectively ...
Speaker: Order please. Will the Member please get to the supplementary question.
Mr. Lang: I will play by the same rules as the Government Leader, Mr. Speaker.
... well-used service to the public and is effectively responding ...
Speaker: Order please. I have asked the Member to please get to the supplementary question.
Mr. Lang: Yes, Mr. Speaker.
...this office provides a well-used service to the public and is effectively responding to an important community need for career development information and career counselling.
Why is the Minister disbanding this service that he stated in this House was valuable? All Members also did so at that time, and even last year in debate. Why is he disbanding this particular service?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Before, the Member was simply ignorant. Now, the Member is wrong for other reasons. The service is not being disbanded, as I mentioned already. The service is being relocated to various Yukon communities, all of which will receive enhanced service, as a result of the relocation of the service. The provision of services to the City of Whitehorse, in particular, will be provided by the four counselors at Yukon College, whose mandate it is to provide career counselling.
The Member is wrong when he says the service is being disbanded; the service is not being disbanded. I stand by the commitments we have made in the past to provide for better career counselling in this territory. In my view, this enhances the service. It focusses a bit more on people who need it the most and, consequently, I feel this decentralization initiative is well-conceived and will provide for better service in the territory.
Mr. Lang: If it is not being disbanded, is the Minister telling us the four counselors at Yukon College will have time to accommodate the needs of a minimum of 1,200 people they have to deal with, in one way or another?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: As the career services branch exists right now, it provides for service for people throughout the territory, in every community in the territory. The service provided for by the advanced education branch, after the decentralization move takes place, would be focused on rural Yukon, and the services provided by the four counsellors at Yukon College would be focussed on Whitehorse.
Consequently, we believe this is a sound use of available resources. We do not have the luxury to simply expand the services and allow for duplication in the career counselling field to exist anywhere and, in particular, in Whitehorse. Consequently, we feel all people in the territory, including those in Whitehorse, will continue to be served well, and the people in rural Yukon will be served better than they were in the past.
Question re: Decentralization
Mrs. Firth: I have a question for the Minister of Education with respect to the same issue my colleague from Porter Creek East raised.
Last time we sat in May, we raised concerns with respect to workplace harassment and abuse of authority, and the morale problem in the Department of Education. At that time, the Minister admitted there was a problem, and that he was working with the department to try to alleviate the concerns.
At that time, we also raised with the Minister a particularly unkind and insensitive memo written by him to his deputy minister, making reference to warm bodies within the same department. At that time, we questioned the Minister with respect to the jobs of the employees being in jeopardy. That was five months ago. At that time, the Minister reassured everyone in the House the jobs were not in jeopardy and, therefore, the program was not in jeopardy.
Since decentralization, we find the career services office in advanced education has been eliminated. When was the decision made to eliminate the office and have the career services program as part of decentralization?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I will respond to the preamble first. Last spring I admitted there were concerns expressed by a few people in the advanced education branch respecting the morale. I admitted I had been dealing with them on the matter. The memo referred to was one I had written expressing a desire on my part for top performance by public servants and an expectation of nothing less. In my view, the issues the Member is referring to now are in no way connected to decentralization.
The desire to relocate the service was made in late summer of this year after a thorough analysis of what the college could provide, and what CEIC has a mandate for. The service could be better provided on a decentralized basis than centralized in Whitehorse. There were no aspersions cast upon any person working for the advanced education branch. I am certain they are all doing the best job they can within the framework of their jobs.
Mrs. Firth: The Minister indicated there was a morale problem within the advanced education branch. He never made any reference last May to a few people - he was very general - it was the department. He said he had been working with the department to try to alleviate the concerns.
It is obvious that the union did not recommend that this program be eliminated because they, too, have raised concerns about it. Were there requests from the communities to have the program eliminated?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Member must have just dropped into the Legislature because we have been discussing the fact that this service is not being eliminated, nor abandoned, nor cancelled. In saying that the Member for Porter Creek East was wrong in his assumption, I must also say that the spokesperson for the union is equally wrong, and now say that the Member for Riverdale South is equally wrong. The service is not being abandoned. In fact the service will be enhanced and will be enhanced for rural people. People in rural Yukon have been asking for better services and career counselling for some time. We feel that the first step - which was to provide the service in Whitehorse - was a good first step. It is our intention to provide even a better service by decentralizing this position to communities like Haines Junction, Watson Lake and Mayo.
Mrs. Firth: The Minister did not answer the question so we can only draw the conclusion that the communities did not recommend this program be eliminated, and the union did not recommend this program be eliminated. The Minister has already stated that in his view the service will be enhanced, but he has not stated how the service will be enhanced.
Whose idea was it? Who came up with the idea to eliminate this program in Whitehorse and have it put to three separate positions within the communities? Who initiated that idea?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am very glad the Member has finally come to the conclusion that the program is not being eliminated but is being decentralized to rural Yukon communities.
There are career counsellors in the City of Whitehorse through Yukon College, or because CEIC, which has a Whitehorse office only, has a mandate to provide career counselling; the service can be provided to Whitehorse through those two organizations.
The service to be provided to rural Yukon will be enhanced because the people who are providing the service will be living in those communities. Consequently, they will be more sensitive to the needs of those communities and will be more immediate to the needs of those communities by their physical location, and will be in a position to speak to not only those in need of counselling but also to the employers about their training needs as well.
I believe this is something very much desired by rural Yukon, and I would put it to the Member that if she can find a significant organization in rural Yukon that believes that it is not in the interests of rural Yukon, I would certainly like to hear her put it forward.
Question re: Alaska Highway corridor study
Mr. Nordling: Last April the Minister of Community and Transportation Services said he expected to receive final recommendations in May with respect to the Alaska Highway corridor study. Can the Minister update us on the status of the study and, specifically, whether or not an implementation plan has been prepared?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The implementation plan respecting the Alaska Highway corridor is a large project to assemble. The Member may or may not have attended, at my invitation, a review of the corridor plan earlier this summer.
At this point, the study proposes a number of suggestions respecting traffic flows, street lights, and other features respecting improved traffic flow and safety on that corridor. Currently, my department is reviewing the recommendations of the plan and assembling an implementation plan, which can only be revealed through the availability of funds.
Mr. Nordling: This implementation plan was to be ready for presentation to the three levels of government by the end of December 1989. We are well over a year behind. Have the other two levels of government been involved in this implementation plan?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I can only make an assumption from my previous knowledge of where the plan was headed. All three levels of government are to be involved in the assembly of an implementation plan, largely because the costs related to any kind of implementation would have to be shared. Particularly and specifically, the federal government would have to be involved on the financial side of it.
The short answer is yes.
Mr. Nordling: I thought this was understood when it was announced in August 1989, and the implementation plan was to be ready in December 1989.
The people of Porter Creek West are concerned about the intersections at Kathleen Road and MacKenzie RV Park to Crestview. Another winter has come, with the accompanying darkness and slippery roads. I would like to take something back from the Minister with respect to time lines on when they may see something done with that area of the highway.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I do not have the specific recommendations at my fingertips for those specific areas of the highway, as cited by the Member. He will recall that the Alaska Highway corridor study was broken into a short, medium and long-term set of proposals, spanning the period from three to 10 years. On the specific question of that particular intersection, I can only undertake to get back to the Member.
Question re: Office accommodation
Mr. Phillips: Regarding the future office space for this rapidly growing government, the government tabled a decentralization policy last week, which would see 100 jobs go out to the communities over the next three years. At the same time, this government is renovating and renting any and all available office space in Whitehorse. We have just rented 30,000 square feet from the new Dakwakada project. As well, we are renovating another 35,399 square feet at the old Yukon College.
Can the Minister of Government Services tell this House why we are expanding so much in Whitehorse if the government is really serious about decentralization?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I do not think the Member could have been present last spring when I tabled the office space plan for the whole government, nor at the time when I tabled the office space strategy, which outlined the intentions of how the government is going to acquire space. Nor could the Member have reviewed the series of proposed moves under that plan, and I doubt the Member paid any attention to why certain space was being acquired. He has probably forgotten that we intend to give up inferior, or less than adequate, space. The Member is probably not aware the government has undertaken quite a number of devolution programs that have incorporated additional employees into the government employee ranks, that we have inherited a considerable measure of overcrowding for employees, and that the space plan that was tabled here, and was presented and discussed, is an organized effort to address employee space needs. It is a job far better done by this government than ever done before.
Mr. Phillips: It is interesting to note that this government, which has such high standards, has all kinds of inferior space rented throughout the City of Whitehorse, and other areas.
Since it has such a well thought out policy on decentralization, could the Minister provide this House with the total real costs for the expanded office space for the outside communities?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: That question was asked earlier today, and it was answered. I will attempt to do it again.
The Member is raising the issue of space. In every case where there is decentralization taking place, Government Services has assessed the available space in those communities. It is continually doing so because, in some cases, those are changing targets, depending on the availability of space in the private sector. In other instances, the government has already acquired space. Those costs have been tabled as part of the decentralization costs. If the Member wants a more specific breakdown, I will have to bring that back for him.
Mr. Phillips: I can thank the Minister for his answer and I can tell the Minister that we do want that information. I am sure that the data to support this move is close at hand and I would like to ask the Minister - since they have already announced the policy the data must be in place - if the Minister could provide the House with that data tomorrow?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I will not give the Member the undertaking that I will table it tomorrow. I will table it when it is available in a form that is final and that I will be pleased with. Members will be quite free to see it then.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now lapsed. We will proceed to Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Addresses in Reply to the Speech from the Throne
Ms. Kassi: I move that the following Address be presented to the Commissioner of the Yukon:
MAY IT PLEASE THE COMMISSIONER:
We, the Members of the Yukon Legislative Assembly, beg leave to offer our humble thanks for the gracious Speech that you have addressed to the House.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Member for Old Crow that the following Address be presented to the Commissioner of the Yukon:
MAY IT PLEASE THE COMMISSIONER:
We, the Members of the Yukon Legislative Assembly, beg leave to offer our humble thanks for the gracious Speech that you have addressed to the House.
Ms. Kassi: It gives me great pleasure to reply to the Speech from the Throne today. On behalf of the Vuntat Gwichin, I think I can say that it is a source of pride to be where we, as a nation, are today, to recognized where we have been and to realize a vision of our tomorrow, in which we all have our own parts to play.
I thank the elders for the advice and the support I have needed and received. I look forward to their continued support to do that which is right for my people. I am happy that our government realizes this also. We are thankful for their understanding and supportive measure in helping all Yukoners play their rightful parts in the Yukon.
I would also like at this time to extend a warm welcome to those government employees, including the new teachers and the RCMP, to our Gwichin homeland.
On behalf of my nation, I would like to thank the government for its responsive nature regarding our concerns for the health of our communities. Old Crow has seen great changes for the better. With the combined program of our government and the Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation, the long-standing sewage problem is being resolved.
The changes are so visible. Six houses in Old Crow now have sewage facilities and running water, out of the survey that was done. Ten more have been contracted out to be completed this winter. The street improvement project has done good things. The extension on the road to the mountain has allowed access to the land for the elders and the children. Our first sweatlodge ceremony was able to be attended by elders because of the road, and the community is very grateful for that. With the general clean-up and the landscaping, Old Crow is looking great. I have no doubt that these improvements will also be reflected in the lives of our people.
I am very happy with this governments decision to implement the changes in legislation allowing the prohibition of alcohol in Old Crow. These changes are much needed and are wanted by the whole community. This request was based on a community consensus in the form of a resolution unanimously passed according to our tribal constitution and with very strong encouragement from our elders. We would expect all Members of this House to support such a request and desire for healing.
The pain and suffering have added a heavy weight to the spirits of my people. We have lost loved ones and we have lost sources of traditional values and cultural knowledge. With the new legislation, we can begin to heal our communities, to gain confidence and self-respect. We can begin again to go forward.
It is exciting to see that the healing process has begun. We have further to go yet, but we are on the right trail and I am certain that we can look to our government to continue to assist us, and other communities, on the path toward health.
We are very pleased also to hear today about the proposed transfer of health care responsibilities to the Yukon. I would like to congratulate the Premier, the Department of Health, and of course the previous Minister of Health, for successfully concluding this long process. During the Health Act consultations, and speaking on behalf of the First Nation communities, I am sure this government will take into consideration the recommendations and concerns of the First Nations. These include the recognition of the traditional healing process and local input regarding the policy of local health care delivery systems.
Health is not only of the body but also of the mind. Yukon College has provided for the new education centre community college campus to be opened shortly. Our own people are building the centre, which will lead to more control of, and participation in, our own education in our village. We are very happy and excited about this.
We are very grateful to both the Department of Education and the Department of Community and Transportation Services for the ongoing employment in my village as well. The repairs to the school roof will continue in the new year.
Also, the new Education Act, which has become Canadas most state-of-the-art legislation, has gone to great lengths to consider First Nation concerns. We, as aboriginal people, can look forward to having a greater voice in the education of our children and in how we view our culture and traditions in the modern society.
It is easy to see that this government has a serious commitment to upgrading the community services from which the quality of all our lives will benefit. We look forward to the governments continuing commitment to assisting community initiatives in the future.
The Gwichin people are happy the Government of Yukon recognizes the concepts of sustainable development and the land use planning process as fundamental to any development proposal in the Yukon. The Gwichin have traditionally used these concepts in an indigenous land use plan, which is thousands of years old and has been passed down from generation to generation. It, too, is based on conservation and preservation. We do live in a finite world and must maintain a global perspective when we develop our own environmental and economic plans. We must not take short term development at the cost of long-term devastation and environmental damage.
We respect the land and we must respect Mother Earth if she is to nurture us and our descendants.
We look forward to the protection of our unique and fragile ecosystems such as the North Slope and the calving grounds of the Porcupine caribou herd within the new Environment Act. We are happy to see that the Cabinet has made a commitment to increase its lobbying efforts on behalf of the wilderness designation in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in protection of the Porcupine calving grounds. I am pleased to see the Ministers will make this a priority agenda in their travels. We are glad our government seeks the linking of economic development goals with high environmental values and the guarantees of consultation and recognition of the concerns of the Gwichin people. This decade must be the turnaround point of our attitudes in everyday living if our world is to survive in the future.
Our government is committed to the preservation of our historical and archaeological heritage, as is reflected in the Historic Resources Act. Indigenous cultures incorporate such heritage in day-to-day culture. I am sure every effort will be made to preserve artifacts and heritage sites, but not at the cost of our culture.
I am happy that this government has indicated it will continue to foster an atmosphere of trust and negotiation in the land claims process, and that it will not take the approach of participating in negotiating by adding an arbitrary deadline to its participation. I am certain we will continue to see the Government of Yukon play its part in the land claims process in a timely, honest and fundamentally just fashion, and to recognize and make available the resources that are necessary to do so.
We are pleased to see the government support the aboriginal positions of self-government and non-extinguishment of aboriginal rights. I am sure we can look to our government to view, with understanding, our desire to ensure the ratification process is done in as cautious and careful a manner as possible. All that is being asked is that in dealing with the individual First Nations all parties act in a manner as though they were dealing with the extinguishment of their personal rights over their own livelihood and culture.
My community commends the government further on its humane, fair and equitable treatment of people as employees. The policy on decentralization is a welcome one for the communities. The position of a part-time interpreter in Old Crow will be of great benefit to the community. Not only recognizing the importance of our languages and enhancing our languages, it will add to the economy of the community, and most importantly it will add a local community voice to government with advice on local and cultural concerns. We look forward to working with a public service that is more representative and has a better delivery of programs by having people within the communities.
It is very nice to see an employer offering real concern and choice to those people in positions that are affected by the decentralization policy. I am sure they will see the needs, the benefit to the communities, and will be able to make a personal choice regarding their possible relocation to where they can make their greatest contribution to good government.
It is also good to see that our government is committed to the needs and concerns of the people and to ensure all Yukoners have equal access and equal opportunity. As a diverse people we must choose our path together in solid partnerships. As a group of individuals we must see each other with respect and respect each others cultures and differences as enriching the whole. Together we will walk many miles and all can contribute.
Mr. Phelps: I am always pleased to follow the Member from Old Crow on these occasions and I am always happy to know that she and her people are pleased with the governments performance, although I thought we would be getting a bit of a negative reaction from Old Crow with only one position being decentralized to there, but if they are happy that is always good to know.
I have already expressed my disappointment about the Speech from the Throne. As I said, there was very little new in it. It really is a disappointment to many Yukoners. It is kind of like unveiling a new car model. Yukoners want a sleek new energy-efficient, powerful model that will take us into the nineties. Instead we get an old tired retread, a battered old gas guzzler, like the Edsel. We can muddle through with it, I suppose, just so long as the O&M, the cost of repairing and maintaining it and buying gas for it, does not send us into financial ruin. But before I get into the negative, let me be positive, as positive as I can.
There are a few positive things contained in this speech. For example, it speaks about completing the Indian land claims and we on this side certainly hope that this will happen. We have been concerned for some time, particularly over the past number of months, because there has been so little progress on land claims and we really hope that things will be up and running again as soon as possible.
The Speech from the Throne addresses the issue of entrenching self-government, the self-government portion of the land claims, in the Constitution. That has always been our partys position. In fact, you may recall yourself, Mr. Speaker, that the entire 1984 agreement was to be entrenched in the Constitution, not just part of it. We feel badly, and have said so openly and publicly, that the position of the federal government has changed and that the self-government agreements contained within the land claims negotiations apparently now cannot be entrenched because of federal government policy. We certainly add our voice to that of this government in saying that we would like to see the entire package entrenched, as was always the position of this government with regard to land claims, the entire land claims package.
I see that a Yukon environment act is promised. We think it is long overdue and we look forward to debating the act in a constructive manner when it finally does appear in this House. Unfortunately that legislation is but a small step in protecting the environment in the Yukon. The federal government still owns most of the land and controls the important areas of jurisdiction in regard to the environment. Without changes to federal laws, the territorial act can do very little to assist us. It is a step; it is a very small step and I think that is understood by certainly most of the people who have taken a keen interest in the issue of an overall environment policy for the Yukon and in this proposed act.
Other positive aspects, from where I sit, include the proposed historic resources act, the long overdue agricultural policy, and the creation of two new hamlets: the Ibex Valley hamlet and the Mount Lorne hamlet on the Carcross Road.
I am also pleased - especially pleased - that the government is finally going to act on my motion regarding the home owners grant. We expect the amendments to be in place in time for residents to be able to deduct the grant at the time they pay their property taxes and not to have to pay the extra money and wait months to have it returned by government with no interest paid on the unconscionable use of their capital.
Finally, we remain encouraged by the emphasis being placed on Yukons children. They are our most important resource and we will support measures designed to better their education, their care and general well-being. We will speak, as we normally do, about the importance of family with regard to children, and ensure that the rights of parents and of families are maintained throughout.
Having said all this, I reiterate - I am sure it is no surprise to the side opposite - that I am, as are many Yukoners, extremely disappointed in the Speech from the Throne, overall - disappointed because there was little that was new in the speech but also, and, more importantly, disappointed because of what is lacking. Overall, we really did not have a sense of a new vision for Yukon, of a new sense of direction, and that is really what this kind of speech is supposed to portray.
I say that particularly on the economic front, we know that the economic diversification program of the government has failed miserably and one gets the impression from this speech that the government has given.
One has to look back at the life of the government and consider the money that has been spent. We tallied that up with the latest figures that are available: in 1985-86, the Public Accounts were for $208,699,000; in 1986-87, $266,513,000; in 1987-88, $278,754,000; in 1988-89, $288,150,000; in 1989-90, $334,000,000; in 1990-91, the estimate is $346,000,000. That adds up to $1,722,000,000. That is a lot of money - an awful lot of money - that has been spent.
When one travels throughout the communities, one has the sense that not very much has changed in that period of time, despite the money that has been spent in such a fashion by this government.
Many of the communities are hurting on the economic front. Many of them, if anything, are more dependent on government. There is not a sense in the small communities that there is much opportunity for small business. One does not get that feeling in Carcross, one goes not get that feeling in Mayo, one does not get that feeling in Pelly, one does not get that feeling in Teslin, and the list goes on.
Hence, there is a new sense of urgency with regard to a policy of decentralizing government positions from Whitehorse to the communities. We support the concept. We have always felt that some jobs moved out to the rural communities would be a positive thing, that such jobs would increase stability, that such jobs would - and in fact will have - a beneficial impact on the social environment in the communities: the community club sports, recreation, the schools. So, of course, we have always been calling for decentralization. I guess our concern is that it has come so late and only after the government pulled in two important jobs, one from Dawson and one from Watson Lake in the Department of Human Resources, as the Speaker, I am sure, will recall.
This seems to be the only idea left in this bankrupt government - bankrupt not in cash yet, but certainly in ideas - the only weapon left in the arsenal with which to try to give some stability and some hope to those who live in the communities regarding the future.
If one looks at the throne speech, and if one considers the policies we have heard, one cannot but be struck by the lack of direction, which is the fault of the political arm of the government.
Think about, for example, the sudden emergence of a decentralization policy. One hundred jobs are to be moved out of Whitehorse to the communities. Yet, just prior to doing this, the same government is increasing office space by leaps and bounds in Whitehorse. We have over 30,000 square feet going into the new convention centre in support of that. We have more than 30,000 square feet being provided for in the renovations of the old Yukon College in Riverdale. There is a concern in the private sector as to what is going to happen when all the empty offices become a reality, because, coupled with the decentralization, we also have the federal government moving into new office space.
One cannot help but be struck by the simple fact that the right arm of this government does not seem to know what the left arm is doing.
Consider the $8,000 program to make all in the Yukon aware of the deleterious effect on the environment of burning fossil fuels. You switch on the radio now and hear someone saying if your car is inefficient, it burns more gas; that is really useful information. If your furnace is inefficient, it burns more fuel. That is really important information. I am glad that it is being communicated at a mere $8,000.
At the same time, there are no new hydro initiatives in the works. Here we have a government that has been doing very little on the supply side to cut down on the use of diesel to generate electricity. In the past five or six years, we have had a government that has been increasing the demand side by installing electrical heat in the Yukon housing projects - a practice they have just stopped - when the hydro capacity in the Yukon cannot possibly meet the demand even on the grid - the grid that links the main generators of hydro electricity together.
The right hand is saying that we must not burn too much gas in our cars and we should make sure we go for a tune-up. The other hand is busy doing things to encourage additional demand for and reliance on diesel-generated electricity. We all know that is one of the least efficient uses of diesel power.
The government used to talk about stopping leakage in the economic system of Yukon. The Government Leader or Premier gave a cute speech years ago in the House - something about a hole in my bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza. Theres a hole in my bucket. We have this same government, in its Yukon 2000 process, getting most of the printing done outside Yukon. All the consultants doing marketing for tourism and so on are based in Vancouver and other southern parts. The government is spending millions of dollars on them. Perhaps the branches should get their acts together.
There is a sense of frustration among those who work for the government about a lack of direction. They do not know where we are going, so they cannot really be expected to pull together. One gets the impression we have a government content simply to be in power. That seems to be what counts. They do not do a hell of a lot. They spend a lot of money putting out any political fires that might spring up.
This is a cynical, manipulative government at a time in our history in Canada when people are increasingly distrustful of government and of politicians in all levels of government, in all places in Canada. Cynical and manipulative. Consider the Watson Lake sawmill. The other side is giggling. Some of them at the sawmill took the actions of the government to heart. There were a few people who thought they were less than perfect on this score. One can recall that the true losses of Hyland were hidden from the public until after the general election and were revealed only then. Yet, the government saw fit to reveal the idea of cutting electrical power rates and did that before they were able to by contract. They certainly announced that decision well in advance of the election call.
We have the hasty sale of the Watson Lake sawmill because of the embarrassment of the government regarding the losses. We have the fact that this hasty sale was entered into negligently and has cost Yukoners - not only taxpayers but businesspeople as well - millions and millions of dollars. Not just on the lost money we can glean from ledgers and court cases, but through lost opportunities in the forest industry where the government has apparently thrown up its hands and walked away because once bitten, twice shy.
The power rate is going up again and the government is going to try to pretend it is because of the GST and is going to spend some money offsetting that small portion of the increase. That is not the reason. The reason power rates are going up is because the parent corporation needs money to sustain all the losses at the sawmill in Watson Lake.
It is going to be interesting to find out where all the millions of dollars in losses have come from. We know there was $8 million in the last books we saw that was paid from the Yukon Energy Corporation to the Yukon Development Corporation in dividend payments. We suspect that a lot more have been paid.
By way of illustration on this point with regard to the cynical, manipulative government, we have the warm bodies memo from the Minister of Education. That was under the glare of what was happening in the Department of Education - the workplace harassment. This memo was to Mr. Workplace Harassment himself, the deputy minister. It is amazing now that the three positions in career counselling have been moved from Whitehorse out to the communities. It is such a wonderful coincidence that those were some of the warm bodies that the Minister apparently referred to in his memo.
We have the increasing sense this has become a closed government - a government that has been hiding the facts surrounding the losses at the Watson Lake sawmill. We are going to court on December 10 in a desperate attempt to pry information loose from the Minister responsible, and from the corporation. The Public Accounts Committee has been stymied in its attempts thus far to delve into the situation as was called for by an amended motion in this House, a motion amended by the Minister responsible.
We have the phony court cases to try to prevent the information from coming out while it is still fresh and while the issue is still in the mind of the public.
We have a government that has said to reporters on several occasions that it was unwilling to tell Yukoners about the plans of the Yukon Energy Corporation for hydro, because they are worried about the not-in-my-backyard syndrome - they can spend thousands of dollars going around asking Yukoners what they want to see from this corporation and get a handle on where the hydro should go or if there should be hydro - yet they will not divulge background information about what kind of hydro sites might make some sense.
We will debating that issue very soon - on Wednesday - because we are going to ask that the Minister responsible table all of that information so that Yukoners can see what their government plans.
We have the situation surrounding the Smith report, which the government held onto for over a year and finally released, only after a rather embarrassing about face when one Minister pirouetted and said, we will give it to you, and then someone unscrewed himself from that position. It took a long-distance telephone call from Newfoundland, I think it was. At least it was not from Sweden, where Mr. Workplace Harassment, the Minister, and his executive assistant went this summer - it was a hasty telephone call from Newfoundland when he said that he thought they could have it but they really cannot - now they have it and it is great.
The economic programs regarding economic diversification have failed. We have become more and more dependent on a growing, more costly government, a government with O&M commitments that are rising by the day, if not by the hour. At the same time, we are concerned about the waste - all the money that has been wasted by this government in the past almost six years. Yukoners know about that: the MV Anna Maria, the Watson Lake sawmill, the Ross River arena, the Belvedere Hotel, the streetscape program - how about the curling rink in Elsa that has never been used or the community club in Elsa that all kinds of money was spent on and then the roof collapsed?
There are lots of examples of waste and I am afraid there will be lots more coming up during this session. We will be focussing on this, of course, in the weeks and months to come. As well, we will be urging the government to try to get its act together and get back into the devolution game - not just with the health transfer, which is long overdue and which sat with nothing being done for months and months and months.
How about forestry? How about developing a careful policy with regard to managing forestry, with regard to allocation of harvest and how the harvest should be calculated for each year, obtaining the devolution of responsibility for forestry from the federal government and using that as one of the cornerstones for economic diversification.
How about if we move ahead and get our act together with regard to some hydro development and not play politics and run scared because to talk about hydro development may scare off some of the environmentalists support that this government is so busy courting, but just do our job and tell us what we can expect with regard to the future and where hydro comes in and what sites have been examined and what sites might go ahead after public consultation.
How about overhauling the wasteful government grant programs over at the One Stop Business grab? How about overhauling those and trying to get some meaningful money out to the private sector, by way of loans. How about making private sector growth a priority, rather than government growth, for a change. That would be kind of nice.
We have waste; we have a government that is bumbling along, not knowing where it is going; we have money running out. People in the Yukon deserve to know how this government is going to try to do a better job, how this government is exactly going to, once it has tripped and fallen on its duff, pick itself up, brush off the dust from the seat of its pants and tell us how it is going to get moving again to try to make Yukon a place where there is some hope in the economic field in the communities, where we have our economy diversified and where the private sector will once again play a meaningful role with regard to developing our great future.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: It is always interesting to follow the Leader of the Opposition. He has given us much thought-provoking comment in his speech. He has not, as is his wont, given us a prescription or any sense of direction himself, but he has attacked us with all the weapons and energy and force at his disposal. I have to tell him that we are not convinced.
In the last territorial general election, this party campaigned on a platform that included four main planks. Firstly, we wanted to complete land claims negotiations. Secondly, we wanted to implement the economic strategy and the conservation strategy and achieve sustainable development in the Yukon Territory. We wanted to work toward the development of healthy communities with a whole series of initiatives in the health and social services field. Finally, we wanted to provide good government.
The throne speech for the House provides a vivid and dramatic expression of the initiatives we are taking on every one of those specifics. I would argue that we are moving forward effectively to implement the agenda on which we were elected.
The Leader of the Official Opposition describes the agenda as boring, that it is old hat and that he has heard it before. It is not new, he says. I happen to think the agenda that we are implementing and the program in which we are engaged is an exciting one. It is an agenda that the people of the Yukon endorsed at the last election. It is a rare thing in Canadian history for a government seeking its second term to increase its popular vote, but that is what happened in 1989.
The Leader of the Official Opposition suggests that somehow the public wanted a sleek, energy-efficient machine. I do not know what kind of flashy automobile the Member had in mind but I do not think the public wanted a machine at all. They certainly did not want a political machine the like of which governed this territory until 1985. What the people of the Yukon wanted was a group of ordinary citizens who had a clear agenda about making some changes, bringing in certain reforms, improving life for the people of the territory and bringing in for the first time the voice of people who had not been represented in the previous government offices: the voice of aboriginal people, the voice of women, the voice of people who care about the environment, and about whom the Leader of the Official Opposition has just sneered about. Characteristically, the Leader of the Official Opposition one moment says we should have an environment act and the next moment says we should not listen to environmentalist because they might stop us from building dams. All the contradictions of the positions of the Leader of the Official Opposition are bundled up in that little phrase.
I was fascinated by the way he talked about how he shared the governments objective of the constitutional entrenchment of the self-government arrangements. He talks about a change in government position. He is absolutely right. It was a change in the government position from the federal Liberal position to the federal Tory position. I happen to not be convinced by his argument that he is for the Tories when they are doing wonderful, popular things and against them when they are not. In my experience, a Tory is a Tory is a Tory. It is the Tory government that has said it will not entrench the self-government agreements except by way of a First Ministers Conference. It is a Tory Prime Minister who said that there will be no more First Ministers Conferences because Quebec will not attend.
The Leader of the Official Opposition talks about his motion on the home owners grant. Since he has been reading my speeches I am sure he has been reading the comments, questions and speeches I wrote on that subject going back a number of years and it is appropriate we should be applauded for taking an initiative at this time.
The Member talks about the focus on children. There is a focus on children. We are taking a number of initiatives, including child care, to which the party opposite used to be opposed until suddenly having a conversion in the middle of the election campaign last year when they discovered how popular what we were doing was.
The initiatives we took in the Education Act are reforms that would not have been contemplated by the Members opposite. They have been enthusiastically endorsed by the people of this territory. We are going to have our hands full with the Childrens Act. The Childrens Act, since the Member opposite mentioned the protection of families, is severely flawed on that score. It is a piece of legislation we opposed when we were in opposition and has been found wanting by the courts and by people working in the field. We, too, in the life of this Legislature, are going to be addressing that bill. We will be talking about a fundamental difference in our attitudes toward children and the family between these two sides of the House.
The Members opposite were part of this Legislature when that legislation came before this House. I remember that debate very well. We will have a chance to discuss that matter again.
The Member says that what is lacking is a sense of vision. Then he goes on to say the throne speech should have a new vision, a new direction. Are we supposed to have a new direction every year? We go north one year, south the next, east the next and west the next. So we end up going around and around in circles and going nowhere. Is that what the Members opposite are offering? I reject, and this party and this government absolutely reject that approach. We established a direction in our platform before our first term, and we established a direction in our platform in our second term, and we are not changing direction every year. What we are doing is doing what we told the people of the Yukon we would do. We are implementing our platform. It cannot be done overnight. It cannot be done instantly. You cannot create healthy communities after generations of social problems. In four or five years, you cannot diversify a community economy that has been focussed and concentrated on one or two sectors for all their history. You cannot build sustainable development or protect the environment. Not only because we do not have the responsibility for land, but because the Tories have left us no legislative base whatsoever on which to do that. Rather than argue that we have done nothing on the environment, I would point to initiatives in land-use planning or initiatives in terms of purchasing, government services, energy management, environmental health initiatives, environmental initiatives that add up to a very substantial agenda. I am not just talking about the conservation strategy or the Environment Act, but a whole range of things that give a very decided green colour to our agenda.
The Member talks about lack of direction, yet he proposes changing direction. This direction was established, this direction was offered to the public, this direction was mandated by the public and this is the direction we intend to pursue.
The Member talks about hundreds of millions of dollars spent, as if somehow it was thrown onto a bonfire somewhere. The Member says it was. The Member is wrong. This government has put hundreds of millions of dollars into education, hundreds of millions of dollars into transportation, hundreds of millions of dollars into the health of the territory. Many, many dollars have gone into the development of the economy of the territory.
It is true that not every initiative we have undertaken has been successful. Is that a surprise in a country where 50 percent of small businesses go broke in the first five years? Is it a surprise that every effort we have made to bolster the community economies has not been a perfect success? I will tell you what is a surprise: that anybody on the other side who claims to be even handed and fair minded only talks about the negative side, only talks about the problems, and never talks about the big or complete picture, which is a very substantially good record. I want to return to that in a moment.
He says the government is running out of money. That is not the case. We have had cuts and we may have, in real dollar terms, less money available for new initiatives than we did a few years ago. Unlike governments of the Tory stripe everywhere in this country, we are not cutting back social services; we are not contracting out and privatizing government jobs; we are not slashing and burning; we are going to maintain the public services to the people of the territory - not public services we have added on a whim, but public services that have been demanded of us by the citizens of our communities.
The Member says we have no consistency when it comes to office space. Just today I heard the Member opposite talk about how we are going to be moving out of this private sector space into proper space - space which he argued in Question Period should meet government standards. His colleague, the Member on his right hand, the Member for Riverdale North, talked about the space the government is now occupying being substandard. What would they have us do? Continue to operate out of substandard space? Or have us to do the right thing - which I know the Member opposite supports because he said so in Question Period today - and make sure our employees are properly accommodated so they can do their jobs.
He says there are no hydro initiatives. I am not going to satisfy the Members appetite tomorrow, because I know in the course of this session I am going to be able to bring forward the plans of this government on this score. It is interesting that we have built, successfully and under budget, a new hydro project. We can talk about the Mayo one, for example, where we have to address one of the major leakages on the Yukon economy - the imported oil problem. In the community we propose to take off oil, Dawson City, by using the surplus power available from the Mayo Dam, the Member opposite is on record as opposing.
The Member opposite is opposed. The Member for Porter Creek East will have an opportunity to address this during this session, probably several times.
Mr. Lang: (inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I beg the Members pardon. Would the Member care to repeat his last remark?
Mr. Lang: On a point of order, I would like to correct the record here.
Speaker: Point of order to the Member for Porter Creek East.
Mr. Lang: The Member opposite refers to the dam in Elsa. He had better look at the record. The replacement of a number of penstocks in that particular dam was done in order to service the mine in Elsa. All of a sudden, the Minister is standing up to rewrite history.
Speaker: Order please. I find there is no point of order, just a conflict between two Members.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: We just had a wonderful example of how well informed the Member for Porter Creek East is. He said we replaced penstocks. Of course, no penstocks whatsoever were replaced. He is dead wrong, as he often is.
The Member ...
Mr. Lang: What do you call yourself this week?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The Member opposite can call me anything he likes, and I will be happy, in turn, to refer to him as the territorial councillor for Porter Creek East, if that is what he likes.
The Members opposite have a convenient memory on all sorts of things. The Leader of the Official Opposition talked about cynical and manipulative government. He then complains because, in the case of the sawmill, we did not announce the losses for the years operation. That is a fascinating statement, since he says we should have done that before the election. The election was in February, and the year end did not happen until March 31. Somehow, in an entirely novel intervention, we should try to anticipate ...
Some Hon. Members: (inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I clearly hit a nerve. In this case, they do not like the facts.
Let us examine the facts on another subject: power rates. I very clearly heard the Member opposite say we are increasing power rates but are pretending it is because of the GST. On December 31 of this year, a rider instituted by the Public Utilities Board is coming off. The people of rural Yukon will still be paying less for their basic rate of power than they were on April 1, 1987, when we took over the power company. The people in Whitehorse are going to be paying approximately the same.
He now says that, somehow, the GST has no impact. That is fascinating and gets back to my point that a Tory is a Tory is a Tory. He is now denying that the GST has an impact. Perhaps, in his own backhanded way, this is an endorsement of the GST and support for his federal cousins.
The GST is going to cost people seven percent on their power bills. We are doing something to try and moderate the impact for the first quarter of the next year, because there are people - elders and poor people - who are going to be negatively affected. It is a temporary cushion we can provide, but that is all we can do.
The Member opposite talks about phony court cases, and then wants to try them right here on the floor of this House. We all know the validity of the court cases initiated by the Development Corporation will be tested in court, as will the validity of the Member opposites case.
The Member opposite talks about international travel, and he mentions Sweden. We all know what the Member opposites true position is, because he has said it on the record. He is opposed to any international travel, unless he is doing it and is part of the trip. He made that very clear and is being very consistent on that score.
The Member talks about economic record. Let us take a look at the economic record of the territory. I would be very surprised if the Member opposite can tell me of any jurisdiction in the country that has consistently had the same rate of growth as the Yukon Territory has over the last five years. If we do not have the best record of economic development in the last five years, we certainly have one of the best in the country. The majority of the jobs that were created were private sector jobs, not public sector, and that is a matter of record.
There has been significant diversification of the Yukon economy, and it continues, but it will not happen overnight. We will not magically have a southern Ontario, or southern British Columbia, a balanced and diversified economy in the space of two or three years. Everything we are doing in terms of the Yukon 2000 process, the economic strategy, and the implementation of that, will take many years.
The Member talks about cynical and manipulative. I doubt there is anything I have heard that is quite as cynical and manipulative as the Member opposites claim that he and his government somehow arranged for the opening of the mine at Faro. When we talk about the balanced agenda, it is interesting that, on one hand, he says we are to blame for everything that has gone wrong and, somehow, they are to be credited for everything good that has happened. It is wonderful, because I have been through the record. I say to that Member opposite, Humbug. There is not a single agreement in connection with the re-opening of the mine at Faro that has that Members signature, or shows that he had anything to do with negotiating. There is nothing: not the housing package, nor the energy package, nor the transportation package, nor the financial package. There is nothing. He did not even meet the new owners of the mine until we brought them here to the Assembly at the end of the negotiations.
Humbug, Mr. Speaker, humbug.
I am absolutely convinced that if we continue on this way, it will not be very many years until the Leader of the Opposition is going around the territory, God forbid, claiming credit for the Human Rights Act.
I know that the Member for Porter Creek East, who is a man of very right-wing views, but a man of principle, will never support the Human Rights Act, but the Leader of the Opposition has demonstrated a different kind of flexibility, a different kind of creativity, a certain kind of convenient memory. I know that I will live long enough to hear him claim credit for that piece of legislation; I am sure of it.
We all know what the Leader of the Oppositions position is on some of these questions. We have wide reports and many, many calls about his recent statement about heads are going to roll in the public service. It is an interesting thing because it reminds people, of course, what happened when the Conservative government came in in Saskatchewan after there had been a NDP government for a number of years and fired hundreds of civil servants, some of them because they were alleged to be NDPers, which I understand is the claim that the Leader of the Opposition makes about anybody in our public service who perhaps does not hold a Tory card; therefore, they are guilty. In Saskatchewan, as a matter of record, there were some people who were fired simply because they had the same name as former NDP MLAs, even though they were not relatives.
The Member can talk all he wants about the public service, but I know that we in this territory are taking steps to build a much more professional and much more representative public service, one that will serve this territory very well in coming generations, no matter who is in government. This is not a party that required deputy ministers to attend a leadership convention and wear silly hats in violation of the law; it is not a party that did that. This is not a party that vilifies the former leaders principal secretary as has been done to my former principal secretaries; rather, we have appointed that person to very important public boards - certainly as evidence of the ugly patronage that is at work in this government.
I am quite happy to compare my record, the record of our government, with his on that score, on any day. On the public service question, which is central to us now, which is the question of decentralization, we have just been through a Question Period today that is fascinating. After listening to the Member in Question Period, I still do not know if he is for or against it. What is their position on decentralization? It seems to be: it was done too fast but we took too long to do it. We should have taken more time, but we should have done it a long time ago. Well, some of the Members opposite were in government for a good number of years. I know what the perspective in the rural communities is on this question. It is that they did nothing on this subject - nothing during their time in government. I happen to know that because some of those people in the rural communities have accused us of not doing enough in our first term. Even though I believe that we located something like 100 jobs in rural Yukon in our first term, I think that that is fair comment; it is fair comment that we did not do enough. I will accept that criticism, but we have also responded to that criticism by making a very firm commitment to locate 100 jobs in the next three years, and in terms of the percentage of our public service, this is the most significant decentralization initiative taken by any government in the country, and a large number of governments are doing it, whether in Saskatchewan or Manitoba or Ontario - governments of all stripes - but this one is very, very significant.
When I listen to the Leader of the Opposition talk about heads rolling, I can think of nothing more than the Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland, running around going, Off with their heads; off with their heads; off with their heads. Perhaps it should be the Blue Queen, not the Red Queen. His whole speech, I must say, had a distinct sort of Alice-in-Wonderland feel to it; it was sort of schizophrenic, dream-like, arbitrary, but also, as he recommended we do, constantly changing, equivocating all over the map, changing direction every year. Are we going to have a throne speech with a new direction every year, just like he suggested?
He suggested that somehow we should be trimming the bureaucracy - good right-wing stuff - hack the bureaucrats. Well, let us talk about who these bureaucrats are. Let us talk about the people who have been added to the public service. Somehow the Members opposite suggest that these are faceless automatons sitting in offices, twiddling their thumbs, doing nothing. Well, quite the reverse is true. We are talking about the people who are teaching our kids in the schools. We are talking about special education teachers. We are talking about family support workers. We are talking about people who are out there building our roads, educating our kids, looking after the health and social services of our citizens, developing our economy. I am talking about those people; real citizens: taxpaying, thinking, contributing citizens, who enrich the life of the territory, not only at work, but after hours, too.
These are the people who eat in the restaurants, who shop in the stores, who buy tickets to the movies, who contribute very substantially to the local economy. There are an awful lot of merchants in this town who depend on those people. There are a lot of merchants in rural Yukon who like an opportunity to have access to those kinds of payrolls and that kind of purchasing power. That is why we proceeded with the decentralization as we have.
The Member opposite talked in one of his recent public statements about how we have missed a golden opportunity to develop the Yukon economy. Well, I would argue that the record shows that in spite of the things that have not gone well, we have a better record in economic development than any other provincial administration in this country. The economy is diversified. It is strengthening, and hundreds and hundreds of private sector jobs have been created.
There is a recession going on. We will have an opportunity to talk about this during the budget debate. Believe me, we are taking the steps to try to provide the stability that the Yukon economy and the Yukon people desperately want.
The Member opposite has occasionally said that we have taken too long in policy development. That is a fascinating critique since I think the more common critique that we are getting from citizens in the community is that we are trying to do too much too fast; there are too many consultations; they wish we would take more time. In fact, I doubt if any fair critic would talk about this government having a thin or poor or intellectually-impoverished agenda in front of them. In fact quite the opposite is true. This government has been elected to do a very big and complex job.
The Member criticizes devolution. There has been very substantial devolutions in the life of this government, whether you are talking about NCPC, fresh water fisheries, mine safety, B and C airports, interterritorial roads or the health transfer. He then says somehow we should instantly do Forestry.
Now I happen to know that just the personnel questions surrounding the forestry issue will be complex and will take time. The magic midnight transfers, the way that it was done in the Northwest Territories in terms of the hospitals, leave problems for months and years afterwards. We prefer the approach of trying to deal with those problems beforehand rather than later.
In 1985 and in 1989, the people of the Yukon gave us a mandate. That mandate was to settle land claims, to build sustainable development, help foster the creation of healthy communities and provide good government and that is the mandate that we are still respecting, honouring and living by.
The throne speech that we have heard and we are debating now is an expression of that mandate. It is not the mandate such as the Member opposite suggests, of wandering all over the map, changing direction every year just for the sake of being fresh and new and different. It may be, from his point of view, that we are boring and dull, but we have a big job to do. The five people in this Cabinet and the nine people in this caucus and many dozens of people in the public service with leadership roles in the departments are helping us with this the agenda. It is a daunting task. We are not afraid of the task. We think it is a challenging job. It is a challenging job. We have made mistakes but, in the final analysis, I am prepared to put our record against the record of the Members opposite. I am prepared, when the day comes, to have both records judged by the people of the Yukon Territory. I have no doubt what their conclusions would be.
Mr. Lang: I would like to begin by making an observation that the Government Leader, in his haste to rewrite history once again, gave the impression to all Members in this House that prior to his forming a cabinet there had neither been women nor people of native ancestry represented in positions such as the Executive. The record can be checked to see that that is incorrect. If we want to talk about gender balance, we were the first party in the Yukon Territory to have a woman leader. The Member should at least acknowledge that all political parties are doing their best to get representatives from all segments of the population so that this House can be adequately represented. I can say as a Member of this House back in 1976, when there was an electoral boundary commission, there was a stipulation by all Members of this House that there should be redistribution in such a manner to ensure there would be some native representation in this House. All Members of all political stripes supported this. To see the vindictive attack on Members on this side with respect to matters of this kind really leaves a bad taste in everybodys mouth. It is clear it will be a nasty session if this kind of attitude continues by the Government Leader and the front bench.
We are here as duly elected Members to ask questions. The Government Leader has the responsibility to answer those questions and do it well. He must give the information the public needs to assess whether or not the government is functioning in the manner it should.
I would like to begin with some observations I feel are due. I think the government should be commended on the change in the medical travel requirements and the initiatives taken for the purposes of offsetting the costs for those who must travel away from their homes, whether from Yukon or from rural homes to the City of Whitehorse for medical care. This is long overdue and it is fortunate we had this session called at this time. It may have prompted a public declaration being made.
I also want to give the City of Whitehorse some credit, particularly in the area I represent - Porter Creek East and I guess in Porter Creek in general. Over the course of the past year they have made considerable capital investment in that part of the community, such as the installation of water and sewer in some areas. The grassing of the public areas along the roadways has really been a great step in raising the quality of life in that area as has been the paving and installation of curbs and gutters and other projects. The City of Whitehorse deserves much credit, as does this government, as it indirectly does provide a significant amount of money to allow the City of Whitehorse to proceed in that manner.
The other area I would like to touch on is to give credit to a couple of individuals who were honoured here the other day. One is Joe Mason from Dawson City, who was inducted into the hall of fame. I was pleased to see that not only was he inducted into the hall of fame but that it was done in his home community. I know Joe was very proud as was his family. The other is James Fowler, who has put in countless hours in hockey for our youth. It was a step in the right direction to acknowledge his past and continued work in minor hockey. To some degree, he can be credited with some of our young players gaining accreditation either at the university level or in a quest to become a professional hockey player.
I listened to the Speech from the Throne with a great deal of interest and I listened to the Government Leader slapping himself on the back continuously saying how well we were doing as a society. I want to bring up an area from a social point of view I have become very concerned about, regarding law and justice. It has to do with the way our communities are changing. I point especially to Whitehorse but it also affects our other communities.
In the last year we have read about assaults on women who are walking in our communities in the evenings. We have seen this happen not only once or twice but on numerous occasions.
That, to me is a bell-weather of what kind of community we are building, when we see this type of thing happening in our community, when we have women, largely single women, who say to us they are afraid to go out in the evening unaccompanied. It is not the Whitehorse I used to know, it is not the Yukon I used to know. It is important we take a look at our programs and our justice system if this type of action is going to be considered a norm for everyday living. It concerns me very much when I see the lack of respect for the justice system.
I will tell you of a situation that happened in my riding, and my riding is not the only one in which it has been happening. It happened in two or three streets around where I lived, and in other communities as well. It is the question of break and entry by young offenders. We had a rash of break and entries that took place approximately a month and one half ago. Young people as young as 13 and as old as 20 were going into peoples homes and taking things they felt were their just due. I give the RCMP full marks because it did not last long - they were caught. They were apprehended and steps were taken through the court system. I am very concerned with the lack of respect that these young people have for the authorities. One mother went to court and followed the proceedings all the way through. One of the young lads who had broken into her home was wearing a shirt he had stolen from her sons room when he went into the court room. They are smart alecky. They go in chewing gum. There is no respect for the judge. At times, the judge has to intercede and tell the attorney representing these young people to tell their client - 13, 14 or 15 years old - to remove the gum and the smile from his face while he hears the case. What does that tell you? It tells you there is no respect for society. There is no respect for the authorities.
I want to forewarn the Minister of Health and Human Resources that I want to see a good debate over the course of this House and probably during the budget mains with respect to how we are handling young offenders and what changes are going to be implemented in the future in the program to counteract this lack of respect.
The information I have is that young people hit the receiving homes for one reason or another - many times it is not of their own making and I will get to that - and they subsequently graduate to these various crimes. As time goes on, it becomes more and more serious; they advance from break and entry to assault and more serious crimes against society. There is a responsibility on us as government, as representatives of the public at large, to review our programs to see what we can do to try to capture these kids so they can, and maybe will, be rehabilitated, as opposed to accepting the status quo and saying we cannot do anything and send them to the receiving home or Na Dli.
We have a young offenders facility here that on the average takes three to six kids a day. It is costing hundreds of thousands of dollars to run. What is the ultimate outcome? What happens to these kids? Anybody serious is sent outside; we cannot handle them ourselves. This particular facility was supposed to do that but has not.
I want to alert the Minister that I intend to speak on this. Perhaps he can tell us what alteration in programming is going to take place in order that these young people are taught to have some respect for the general public and the authorities. If it continues the way it is going, we are not doing our job; we are ignoring it. It is an easy thing to ignore because there are not a lot of votes out there from those particular people.
Another area I want to touch on where I see substantial social changes taking place in our society is the question of single parents. Over the past month, we have read a number of newspaper articles on violence in the school grounds. There has been some going on, contrary to the attempt to rebut some of the public statements that have been made. In the majority of cases, it boils down to the fact that a lot of these kids are coming from single-parent families.
I have an example. For anybody in this House who is working at a full-time job and is a single parent, I do not have to tell them how difficult it is. I could not imagine being a single parent. I could not imagine going home, after an eight- to 10-hour shift, and cooking for four children, being cheerful, ensuring they get to their soccer games, basketball games, gymnastics, and ensuring they get their homework done, and then pretend this is fun.
We are going to have to reassess our social calendar, as we see it in todays society. We are looking at classes where 50 percent of the children are coming from single-parent families. There is a social revolution that is occurring before our eyes, and I question whether we are addressing it.
I do not believe buying day cares with taxpayers money is going to solve the problem. I have no problem in assisting and helping a single parent or spouse who wants to go out to work and lead a professional life, or upgrade their credentials. However, I think there is another role we should be looking at that is just as important. We should be looking within our government resources and how we could distribute it. That role is the parent who would like to stay home.
Not just here in the Yukon, but across Canada and North America, the emphasis is to provide day care so the single parent can go to work, and must go to work. At the same time, the most important job we have as parents is raising our children. That is the most important job we can have as a parent. We cannot do that if we are not spending some time at home. I do not understand how we can expect the single mother with two children to maintain a family life by getting up at 6:00 in the morning, getting the kids ready for school and herself ready for work, coming home at 5:30 and having to cook.
We have to start looking at how we can offset and implement a program within our existing resources that will allow those single parents who wish to stay home to do so with enough financial resources. That is not being done.
On the same subject, I believe when these divorces are taking place and these people are separated, at least one spouse is getting off too lightly. It has to be expected that if a spouse leaves and he or she is the major wage earner they should be paying a good portion of the cost of raising those children. In many cases, that is not happening. When you take a look at the cost of raising a child today, you think you have a good deal at Woolco when you get runners for $50 because they were on sale. Anyone raising children today knows how expensive it is. In many cases, the spouse who has left pays something, but I think it is minimal compared to the actual cost. The justice system is going to have to look at that, if it goes that far and a judgment has to be made.
I want to make some observations on what is happening to our community on the proliferation of buildings. I just spoke about parents and kids who are in some very tough straits. I wonder where government planning is going when I heard last spring that $300,000 was awarded to look for a community centre downtown. I believe there was no city consultation on that. All of a sudden, there was a grant for that particular endeavour.
I believe these people intend well, but I question what we are doing when we have an arts centre in the process of being built up the hill, a convention centre coming in downtown, and various other facilities being built in the City of Whitehorse. Now, we are looking at yet another structure. I feel we should look more intensely at the questions being raised by people looking at insurmountable problems unless we, as government, are prepared to work with them. I do not necessarily think building another building is going to solve the problem. It may make a politician feel good to cut a ribbon somewhere, or eat a cake, but are we really addressing the problems out there?
With respect to the question of wildlife, I know the Minister heard me this morning. I put on a motion to address the serious problems in game zones 7 and 9. We have raised this concern continually over the past six years. The concern is that particular area is being decimated. The moose and caribou populations are to the point where we are on a draw now in that area. It used to be a 10-day open season. Those that can be regulated are no longer hunting in that area.
I submit the Minister and government have not done their job in that area. I feel strongly that the results of this inaction, and of the Minister of Renewable Resources not being prepared to face his obligations because of what he deemed to be environmental flack, are that we have a situation where the majority of hunters in the Whitehorse area have to go elsewhere. I had the opportunity to go into the Ross River area this year. We flew in on our hunting trip and ran across four other hunting parties in the space of three days. All those hunters were from Whitehorse.
I can sympathize with the people of Ross River when they see this influx of traffic in their small community going out and hunting in what they think, to some degree, is their own preserve. Not only did that area suffer the onslaught of Whitehorse hunters but, also with the community of Faro back in production, there are that many more hunters going into the North Canol, Ross River, north lakes and Pelly Lakes area. In part, I believe it is the inaction of the government that has caused that.
As a person who does enjoy the wildlife and goes hunting once a year, I would prefer not having to go 300 to 350 miles away from home. I would prefer to be able to go within 50 to 100 miles of Whitehorse and feel quite satisfied that I will not run into other people, because that is one of the major reasons I go out. I do not want to see a telephone, nor do I want to see other people. Secondly, I want to feel I have a fair chance at a fair chase for game. That is not happening anymore. All the platitudes are being said. All the political posturing is being done yet, at the same time, there is no action.
I do know the Minister is going to be receiving some sort of recommendation on game zones 7 and 9. I want to alert him it will be my intention, as the critic in that area, to pursue that with a great deal of zeal over the course of this session if the government chooses not to enact a comprehensive game management program.
If it is not enacted, there will be a problem throughout the territory. In smaller communities, there will be more anti-Whitehorse feelings than there are now, as they see these people coming into their community. It is not fair to the rural communities, and it is not fair to those who happen to live in Whitehorse. I realize the side opposite plays the Whitehorse versus the rural community song very well. As a representative of Whitehorse constituents, who in part live up here because of their enjoyment of the outdoors, I believe they have a right to be able to go out and hunt in close proximity to their home. If they are not able to do that, we are not doing our job as game managers.
The question of land disposition is another area of concern. I have had a number of situations develop where I have had people come to me because they cannot get land. I believe the land disposition policy for the purpose of agricultural land has to change. I do not believe the government is exercising its prerogative when it permits an application that has been vetted and asks an Indian band to make the decision on whether that land should be awarded, whether it be the Tatchun Indian Band or the Teslin Indian Band. I have no problem with other interests being consulted, but I do not believe the government should take that position.
One case comes to mind - and it is a constituency question, and I want to alert the Minister of Community and Transportation Services he is getting a letter on it - is that an Indian band should be able to block a transfer of land if it meets all the criteria that the government has laid out. The government has to reassess its policy. When this is done, and the government takes that position, there are real hard feelings between individuals on the social side, where they blame the Indian people for the fact they cannot get a piece of land.
I submit to this House that that is not right. If the government does not want to release a piece of property, then say so and give the reasons why, but do not blame it on a third party. It is a total abrogation of ones responsibility when you do that. On top of that, it is not good for our community. In this example about the people who have come to me, do you think they are happy when they are told the Indian people will not let them have their land? They are not happy, and do you know who they are mad at? They are mad at the Indian people, and that does nothing for the social relations in our community.
As an MLA, there is another area of major concern to me, which has to do with the feelings within the public service and the politicization of it. There is a real feeling within the public service that they do not have the right to freedom of expression. There is a reason I say that. A couple of weeks ago, within our riding, we decided to do a phone poll of our constituents. The idea was not partisan. The call was on the behalf of the MLA, asking if they have any outstanding problems they would like me, as the Member, to raise in the House.
I had a number of supporters who said they would like to have done it, but they were working for the government and did not feel comfortable calling and giving their name. As a member of the public service, they could be identified as one of Danny Langs supporters.
There was an individual in business who is directly reliant on government for his work. He said he would prefer not to call. Those are just two people, but there were others as well. In talking to the public service, there are many who are concerned about what the government is doing within the public service. I know many of them, and they are good people.
There is an atmosphere of fear and intimidation. As an MLA phoning within the public service, I do not have as many problems as the Members for Hootalinqua or Watson Lake. The City of Whitehorse takes a lot of those responsibilities, being a larger municipality. When I phone, as soon as they find out who is calling, I find they are very reserved in what they are prepared to speak to me about - if they are prepared to speak to me. In some cases, I am led to believe there are orders you do not talk to anybody unless they are from the Executive Council Office.
If that is correct, and if that is the policy direction of the government, that means we as MLAs have fewer rights than an individual citizen. That is an area that myself, as well as many members of the public, are very concerned about.
I want to move on to some other comments that were made by the Government Leader. It is too bad we cannot have a national podium, because I listened with a great deal of interest as he pronounced to the general public how he is the great economic guru of Canada, of how he is the leading edge of economics for all of Canada, and of how our growth rate has grown over the past years since he took office.
The Minister has not stood up and said there is over $600 million per year spent in the Yukon Territory by government - that is municipal, territorial and federal. The Minister stands in his place and says he can take full responsibility for this growth within the territory. Right now, we are the most fortunate place in North America and the world from a financial point of view and as far as transfer payments are concerned. Right now, it figures out to over $20,000 being spent by government per man, woman and child.
The Minister says how difficult it is to govern. He has had a bucket that has been full every year - so full there are so many consultants now in town they have their own organization. They cannot get into the trough to wallow deep enough in it and get enough out of it at any given time. Even now, with the idea of leakage, a great deal of that is going to people in Vancouver and to various other firms outside of Yukon, because Yukoners do not have the qualifications, nor the ability, to understand how to spend this vast volume of money.
The point this side is making, and this is where I challenge the government opposite, is what investments have we made that will return something to the taxpayers for that $1.7 billion spent - not million but billion dollars - in just six years? I am not talking about the Piers McDonald memorial curling arena, the one that will never see ice nor a rock. I imagine it will turn into a warehouse or maybe a horse shed, or it could be a home for the Minister when he decides to retire. It might be large enough. I am not talking about that. I am talking about how we have invested $1.7 billion, and what we have that is going to encourage further private investment. By private investment I mean people, and I am talking about generating an industry.
No, what we have is a forestry industry in Watson Lake that is a total flat tire. We have the Government Leader standing up and talking about how he was so pleased and proud to introduce us to Mr. Frame from Curragh Resources. I notice that, in the same breath, he did not talk about T.F. Properties and how pleased and proud he would have been to introduce us to this individual who had done such a good job on his behalf, and who just happened to sign all the legal documents but forgot what his name was and did not know he existed.
He also forgets the question of Curragh, and we all know the reason Curragh was put together: in good part, because of Mr. Nielsen and the steps the Government of Canada took, through the Government of the Yukon Territory, in order to get that mine going.
So, in deference to rewriting history, I would like to ask that the next time the Government Leader talks about Curragh Resources and how he started the mine, if he would stand in his place and acknowledge, or just even touch on - because you would not give those terrible, terrible Tories in Ottawa any credit - how Mr. Nielsen maybe did have something to do with it, although I realize you could probably have done it yourself, with no help.
Actually, it is very fortunate the Government of Canada was involved in that, because it is working. If it had been done on the same initiative Watson Lake Forest Products was done on, one would have to wonder how it would have turned out with Tony Timber running the mine at Curragh Resources.
The point that we are making on this side of the floor is we have had a window of opportunity I think is going to very difficult to repeat, quite frankly, as far as access to what could be called free money.
The question we are asking is how we are spending and investing that money. I think the government has the responsibility to tell the people in the territory how that money has been invested and how it will bear a return to them.
The area I caution the government on regards the buildings being built and the commitments being made. These are not capital commitments. They are O&M commitments on an ongoing basis, and the clock cannot be turned back. I say to the side opposite that they must look at this very closely, because the end result will be that we will not be able to pay for it if we do not find something to provide the government with tax dollars to pay for the operations and maintenance. Right now, we cannot see that happening.
The Speech from the Throne was derelict in the question of the sewage treatment plan for the City of Whitehorse. We have given it platitudes in the Legislature, or smoke and mirrors, if you like. We are talking about an Environmental Act and yet every day we have a situation right here that is creating the worst environmental mess we can imagine right outside these windows. At the same time, I note that the Minister of Community and Transportation Services is saying to the City of Whitehorse that he may or may not help offset costs. The City of Whitehorse is now wondering who is going to pay for it. It seems to me this should be a higher priority than it presently is. The public expects us to meet our environmental obligations. It is a very real problem out there. I want to tell the government now that we will be pursuing this subject over the course of this session. We want to ascertain just exactly how firm a commitment the government has to resolving that problem in conjunction with the City of Whitehorse.
Another area that concerns me is the question of financial cutbacks to municipalities. I will be examining that budget closely, because I do not believe there should be cutbacks to municipalities. If there must be cutbacks in the government, there are other areas where this can be done. I do not think the junior levels of government should be the ones hit if there are to be cutbacks. The government talks about cutbacks over the course of this last year from the Government of Canada. If the media looks closely...
Speaker: Order, please. I would like to remind the Member that he has three minutes to conclude.
Mr. Lang: ...they will find that the Government of Yukon got an additional $4 million over and above the previous year. There was an increase in funds, not a decrease. Unfortunately, the Minister keeps trying to intimate that the big bad federal government is not helping him out the way it should.
I want to conclude by stating that the Government of Yukon is going to have to accept responsibility for its actions. I think the public is sick and tired of hearing the Government Leader and the front bench blame Ottawa for everything and that any financial problems are due to Ottawa not giving them enough money. We have white elephants all through the territory for which this government is responsible. We can start with Watson Lake and work our way up. In Watson Lake there are at least $13 million of expenditures by the government. You can go all the way up to Elsa with the Piers McDonald memorial curling rink, which sits empty and idle as he had the foresight to build a building where nobody was going to be. This is going to be a good session. I hope the government can account for its actions.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I thank the Members opposite for their applause, although I think it is premature. I have not spoken yet.
It is a pleasure to speak to the throne speech at a time when the Yukon economy is currently one of the healthiest in the country. Generally speaking, the governments financial position is among the healthiest in the country. It comes at a time when there is a clear vision for the economy embodied in the Yukon Economic Strategy, its goals and action plan determined through extensive consultation with the Yukon public. It comes at a time when there is a clear vision for the protection of the environment, embodied through the document, Yukon Conservation Strategy, also a product of extensive consultation with Yukoners throughout the territory.
It comes at a time when there is a clear vision for education embodied in the Education Act, which is also a product of extensive consultation with Yukoners. It comes at a time when our programs for health and social services are amongst the most progressive and extensive in the entire country.
The message of the throne speech rings true, because it is the result of a Yukon consensus and extensive consultation with Yukon people. If it sounds as though Members have heard it before, it is because this is what the people have been saying for the last few years, and what they are continuing to say.
The Government of Yukon has gone a considerable distance to meet the major obligations of our era, including the completing of the Indian land claim agreement. In some respects, equally important, it is treating Yukon Indian people as territorial citizens in a practical sense. It was always a surprise to me, being a new Minister of Community and Transportation Services back in 1985, that members of the department who were responsible for dealing with community governments and meeting the needs of the Yukon public had never entered some of the Yukon communities in their entire lives, neither professionally nor even on their vacations. They had never gone into communities, such as Pelly Crossing. They had never gone into the Indian side of the communities of Teslin or Mayo, because they had never been asked to. That was another world, the world of Indian Affairs. It was not the responsibility of the Yukon government. I am proud to be a Member of the government that changed that view.
There was a time when members of the same department regarded the citizens of Elsa in the same light. There was a time when they felt that the citizens of Elsa - hardworking, mining people - were not deserving of any care and attention by the Yukon government. There was a time when the people of Elsa could simply fend for themselves, no matter what they paid in taxes or where they lived in that community. If they are lucky enough not to be around to hear the comments by Members opposite, they would be rolling over in their graves if they heard the kind of snide, sneering remarks that come from Members opposite about the obviously belated but serious attempts to redress the wrongs that had been wreaked by the previous Conservative government on that community.
There will be accounting for such projects. There has been accounting for such projects as the Elsa curling rink. I will say to the people who are now returning to Elsa and working there that I will never apologize for sticking up for that community when the government ignored it.
We have gone the distance to improve much of the basic services in all Yukon communities. In some cases, the services were no better than you would find in Third World countries. We have been spending the last five years improving the infrastructure of each and every one of those communities. There is not a single community that has been left out. We have improved the infrastructure for the lives and vitality of those communities, as well as increased their prospects for the future economic development and social vitality.
That is a government that puts its money where its mouth is when it comes to making a commitment to rural Yukon and to all communities of this territory.
We talked about the City of Whitehorse and the tremendous investment that this government has put into this city to improve the fortunes of the capital city of the territory that far outstrip that of the predecessor government that was sitting in this Legislature. In 1985, with capital funding, with myriads of strings attached, the City of Whitehorse would not even have reached $1 million. Five years later, the block fund alone, with no strings attached, is well over $5 million. You cannot account for that by inflationary increases. That will not compute. This government has provided tremendous commitment, never mind the total dollar volume spent, but as a percentage of the total budget, the total commitment outstrips that of the previous government.
The major objective of the government, as outlined in the Speech from the Throne, is the encouragement of sustainable economic development in this territory, not because it is considered to be a quick fix, but because in the long term it provided for a mix of economic activity that would cushion the boom and bust cycle of the past, something we bounced back and forth between prior to 1985 and to a certain extent still do suffer from.
There was also the desire to have Yukoners control the Yukon economy for the benefit of Yukoners. Yukon people were also interested in development that was compatible with the size and lifestyle of their communities. They wanted more community control and gradual economic development that was lasting.
The Yukon 2000 process indicated that the lead role for establishing new businesses and industries that may diversify and strengthen the various regional economies of this territory rest with business. The government has planned for, encouraged and provided support for infrastructure. It directly assists where necessary. The Government of Yukon has been doing exactly that.
The Government of Yukon has given economic development a very high priority in this territory and can legitimately take some credit for the very strong and vital economy that we have today.
In stark dollar terms, one cannot really tell how much of a commitment it is, even though it is triple the investment that was made by the previous government. The fact remains that the Government of Yukon now is prepared to take more risks to ensure that the economic vitality of this government is ensured than the previous government ever was. It does take risks. It takes risks because in many respects when the Government of Yukon lends money to a private sector venture it is the lender of last resort. It sometimes provides resources or loan funding to ventures that are located in small and distant communities. It sometimes involves supporting Yukoners who want to participate often for the very first time in the economy - first business starts.
It often involves the funding of persons who have historically had difficulty finding conventional financing. Quite often, because it involves diversifying the economy, it often involves supporting issues that are not yet tried and true. It involves being sensitive to general community priorities that may be at odds with conventional business ethics. That is, some people do not want to earn a dollar at any cost; they want their rural lifestyle respected and they want their environment respected.
The Government of Yukon has done that in the last few years as a lender of last resort, in a high risk environment. It has done so with a very good track record for incurred losses. A loan fund like the business development fund can expect a five to eight percent loss rate due to the higher risk nature of the loans it makes. So far, out of the over $7 million invested in Yukon businesses, the fund has only experienced a three and one half percent loss rate. I would submit that that is careful but well-targeted investment in Yukon businesses.
There are a lot of other things the Government of Yukon has done besides the simple loan funding panacea that the opposition often calls for. It established a business incentive policy. It has arranged construction scheduling to encourage local businesses to participate in government construction. They have guided local purchasing policies to encourage local businesses to participate. It has done a number of things, including improving the tendering procedures for things like the oil supply contract. I do not need to remind the Member for Riverdale South that she regarded that as being a bad move, but nevertheless it was something that the Government of Yukon was prepared to do - yet another thing to help rural economies.
Since Yukon 2000, we have assisted Yukon communities to develop community economic development plans. We have further assisted Indian bands in communities to employ economic development workers. We have located and already decentralized business development offices in every region of the territory and are trying now to locate officers in even some of the smaller communities to provide the very necessary business support to encourage the local economies to grow.
We have established the community development fund, which the leader of the official opposition has concluded is a grant giveaway, I think, a wasteful grant program, which is perhaps one of the most effective means of encouraging community economic development initiatives that has ever been tried and tested by a Yukon government. Through block funding, we have given communities much greater control of the development of their infrastructure and established such things as the resource transportation access program, something I am sure that the Members opposite regard as being another wasteful grant program, but necessarily a very big boost to various reasonable economic enterprises that are and will be the mainstay of a diversified rural economy.
We have also supported diversification of the mining sector because, as some Members might know if they have taken the trouble to identify where our wealth lies in the mining sector, so that we can have mineral resource development in all regions of the Yukon and consider the development of a more diverse range of mineral products. Today we are very dependent, as the Members will know, on lead and zinc, two mineral commodities, and consequently somewhat vulnerable to price shifts for that particular mineral. We have consequently supported many mineral development projects, at the prospecting stage as well as the exploration stage, and now at the development stage, in both our efforts to support the development of the expanded Faro operation, the Mt. Hundere operation and the Elsa mine.
We have also supported the development of alternative energy sources, so that there can be a wider range of fuel sources in all areas of the territory. They include such things as wood chips and water power, the Fraser micro-hydro plant, wood-chip heating plants in Whitehorse and elsewhere.
There is decentralization and there is diversification in that particular sector. There is diversification and decentralization in the sector of renewable resources. We now have some projects that are under way, which are providing not only for the local economy but are also providing very significantly for the export economy. A significant example would be the Arctic char farming, salmon roe caviar processing, salmon specialty products, fish plants, game farming, fur enhancement programs, sod farming, northern seed stock development, berry processing, greenhouse food production, hydroponics, wood-chippers, fruit processing, bottled water: these are all examples of successfully diversified economic ventures.
There has also been considerable effort to diversify the manufacturing sector and there has been discussion in this House about our efforts to encourage furniture manufacturing, in the past, through government purchasing power, to encouraging the manufacture of pottery, local clothing design and manufacture and even, a nice small project, the production of collector dolls.
There is tremendous support for diversification within the tourism sector. And there have been many projects supported through the Department of Economic Development, in particular. I will not steal the thunder of the Minister of Tourism, but in economic development alone there are projects to increase not only the availability of hotel space in many communities in the territory but also the improvement of sites such as museums and various cultural attractions and special events. There has also been considerable diversification in the service sector but I will not continue on this because I think that the point has been made.
There has also been progress, good progress, on the Northern Accord on Oil and Gas, which will ultimately permit this government and this Legislature to express a Yukon position on a northern oil and gas policy, and to ultimately take responsibility for the management of oil and gas, to the extent that it happens in the future.
The Speech from the Throne also comes at a time when education has just experienced a fairly significant change in focus and direction in the past year, with the introduction of the new Education Act, which in many respects, thanks to the people who had the insight and the imagination to put the various pieces together, will be pathfinder legislation for this country and will, I am sure, serve us well into the next century.
There are interesting and fascinating curriculum development projects in the department now that will serve our students well in the coming years. There are fairly interesting moves being made currently in the field of literacy programming to encourage all people of the territory to take full advantage of what the economy has to offer and what society has to offer.
I support the goals that are embodied in the Speech from the Throne. I support the actions of the government so far. Like the Premier, I am aware of those areas where the government needs to work harder. I am aware of those areas that require improvement, but I think, in comparison to other governments, in comparison to neighbouring jurisdictions, the economy and the viability and health of this territory stand second to none.
I have just given you my high-road speech. I was going to start off with my low-road speech, but then the Member for Porter Creek East disappointed me and did not do enough to provoke me, and I was quite deflated by his speech. I found a couple of portions at the beginning interesting.
Mr. Lang: Let us talk about the Elsa memorial curling rink.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Some of the remarks made by the Leader of the Official Opposition, the Member, who we will now refer to as do-not-do-as-I-do; do-as-I-say, are fascinating, to say the least. The Member has high standards for this government with respect to rural economic development, and I think even made a comment in the media recently that the communities in the Yukon were poorly treated. This is an example of do-not-do-as-I-do - when he was Government Leader, the rural communities were particularly poorly treated - do-as-I-say-now, which is to set a new standard.
The Member for Porter Creek East is having difficulty understanding what is being said. It would help if the Member for Porter Creek East actually had enough staying power to sit and listen for just a few minutes at a time so that I could complete a sentence.
The Members opposite are taking credit for the re-opening of the Curragh mine, a patently false proposition. The Member for Porter Creek East has expressed an interest in the government side stating that the federal government, through the offices of Mr. Nielsen, had a role in opening the Faro mine, and I will say unabashedly that the gentleman did have a very significant role to play in re-opening the Faro mine.
Mr. Phelps: Hear, hear. We agree.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: As a matter of fact, the federal government did play a role in re-opening the Faro mine. What I disagree with is the proposition that the Yukon Conservative government had a role to play in re-opening the Faro mine. That is obviously a false proposition. The groundwork was not in place when we took office in 1985. A buyer had not been found in 1985. Government funding measures and programs were not in place in 1985. Road agreements, housing agreements, none of these things had even been developed or even thought about in 1985. The Yukon Progressive government of pre-1985 had been fumbling with the Cyprus Anvil operation in Faro for years and had not managed to do one thing to get that mine open.
As a matter of fact, my first responsibility in the Department of Community and Transportation Services, after having had the reins of responsibility turned over from the Conservative government, was to shut down the community of Faro, wind up the operations of the town, put the town under administration because, in the minds of the people who worked in the government, there was no hope of re-opening that particular mine. The proposition that the Yukon Conservatives had anything to do at all with the re-opening of that mine is patently false.
At least one Member opposite has said that the economic programs of this government are, in his words, a total bust. I am going to have to ask the Member to explain his vision of our economic programs during the main estimates and supplementary debates. I would like to know where this Member was over the last three or four years when these programs were being developed very openly and at the request of the Yukon public. Where was he when these programs were available and being taken advantage of by private sector entrepreneurs in the communities and showing good results in many areas of the territory and sectors of the economy. The Member has a great deal of explaining to do.
Many of the other comments made by the Members of the Opposition were negative and poor rhetoric at best. I am sure we will all get an opportunity to discuss their issues further. This governments record on providing information and being open to debate on every detail is well proven. We are ready to defend our programs and our direction.
I would like to conclude by saying that while we know there is a great distance to go before we can rest, we know at the same time that significant progress has been made on the goals established by the public through consultation and adopted by this government.
Mr. Brewster: I thought I had just heard the Speech from the Throne. We heard about all the glowing things that have been done in it the other day. I am tired of hearing about the Faro mine. We have been flogging that old horse for too long; it is getting a little tired. They forgot to mention that the five-year agreement giving them the money to do these things was signed by the Conservative government when it was in power.
I also noticed that the Minister did not mention decentralization much. I wonder why. At least it has finally been included in the Speech from the Throne - if you can call it decentralization. It is apparent to me that there has been pressure from people demanding that the government rush into this policy. The government has panicked, and I really hope they have thought it through more than it seems.
In our briefing on decentralization, there appeared to be no idea of how phase 2 or 3 were going to work, and no projected costs had been made. Questions asked that could not be answered received the same old tired line: I will get back to you. No one has gotten back to us. I went through my file and I have letters dated back to May 4 that have received no answers from Ministers. I guess if they do not feel they have to answer to the public, why should they feel obligated to answer the Members of the Legislative Assembly.
The decentralization plan, as I understand it, states there will be an agent in each community. All the big towns that have liquor vendors now have three territorial agents as every person working there is one. I presume this means that if there is a territorial agent placed in these communities, the Liquor Corporation will reduce their staff. That means another local person is moved out and an agent is put in.
They just got through putting in a computer system that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. They have cameras to take pictures. I expect this new agent will travel up and down the highways and take these cameras with him. If he does not, there is not much point in having him on the road, because a drivers licence cannot be sold without the picture, so they are still going to have to come back there. If he is just going up to sell renewals, we already have that, so we have not gained anything there.
One of the people at the Haines Junction weigh scale resigned and the department decided not to renew that job so we close at twelve oclock. We are not gaining a thing. They are letting local people go and bringing other people in. This weigh scale is one of the most important in the Yukon. It controls the Haines Highway and tells people whether that road is blocked or not. These are people who lived and had homes in Haines Junction who are not going to be there.
I see where they are going to put translators in and I do not have a problem with this. Why are they going to put a translator in Beaver Creek and not in Burwash, where it is central among the three band areas; why at the far end where they have to travel 200 miles to the other end?
Just before I came in, the senior citizens informed me the program where they used to get one cord of wood cut by correction inmates has been stopped to save money. Yet we are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to build offices and homes for a decentralization program. It says very little for this or any other government when the whole economy of a small economy must expect civil servants to be put in to keep the economy going. That is not the answer. Civil servants are welcome. They help in the community, in the the clubs, they buy groceries and everything else, but they are not the answer. We have to have employment for our young people. They do not get it in the civil service. I have had to write and defend local people because someone else who had come from somewhere else got the job. The answer was that he had a Yukon drivers licence. I can get one in four minutes. Does that make me a resident? We had to fight to get these people on. I had to go through this every year and this government continues to say they are doing a wonderful job.
I will be putting the Minister of Community and Transportation Services on warning that there are a lot of unanswered questions about the airport at Haines Junction. I want answers and I want them in the House.
I was also told there was no such thing as a plan for the White River airport. I will prove before this session is out there was a plan and I will produce it in this House. I might point out that the Kluane Land Management Area agrees that there must be an airport there.
It will be very interesting to see how much of this decentralization money is budgeted and what it really involves, and how it will effect the federal employees being transferred. Are they going to be the people being told to move?
All the experts across Canada, far brighter than most of us in this House, are screaming, saying that the trouble with the economy in Canada is too much government, too much red tape, cut government out. I am not the only one saying this. There are people five times smarter than I saying this, saying our whole economy is being caused trouble by this. What do we do in the Yukon? We build our government bigger. Do not say we are not. We are decentralizing. We are getting all this floor space in the new hotel complex, we are remodeling the new Yukon College. If we are not putting people in these places what do we have them for?
I would like to point something out to the Minister of Tourism when he claimed to the Member for Riverdale North that he did not have any money so he could not do a proper study. Let us put it this way. The whole questionnaire was done by volunteers. The people who travelled the country filled in the actual forms. It was not done on a $100,000 computer. It was done by the lodge people and did not cost very much except for printing. One thing about it was that they gave their opinion freely because they were not being pressured into telling how much money they spent on this trip or what wage bracket they are in at home. That is not any of the damn business of the government. Everywhere I go, this is the same complaint. I went to one campground with a milepost thing and they showed me what the federal/territorial government were doing and asked if they had to fill those in. I said yes, right in the wastepaper basket, get rid of it, it is not their business. They said they had just come up for a holiday and did not want all their life put on a form. What are you going to do with a $100,000 if you do not get these figures and facts?
I do not see any great move on tourism in the Kluane area, which desperately needs it. The small placer miners are closing down and the lodges are hanging on by their teeth. We are losing more people every year. We are going to lose a lot more next year when those 65 foot buses come along and take those people right through. There will be no more lunch stops. When that happens some of them are going to go out of business.
I really wonder when politicians will smarten up. Surely, people have told them this summer, and told us all, that it is time for all of us to smarten up, not stand up and brag about what we did.
People have had it with government and with the way we are all acting. One person said to me today at breakfast, when are government and politicians going to get their heads out of the sand and start listening to the people? It is about time we started doing that.
Before I close, I would mention one of the letters I never received, and that is the one on the policy of the buffalo and who is paying for the hay that was destroyed. Nobody had the decency to answer that letter. I will be pursuing that.
Our critic for Renewable Resources mentioned game zones 7 and 9. I was very surprised when I talked to a person today and reported I had seen six elk, two of which were yearlings. This is the first time I have ever seen yearlings on that highway. He said, they are all getting killed. He said, last year we had nine, and we ended up with two. The rest were killed when they were babies. They were not killed by guns or people, but by the predators in there. You had better face that fact of life. If we do not do something in game zones 7 and 9, the critic is quite correct. We will go into other areas and cause hard hunting in those areas, and they will be like game zones 7 and 9 before very long.
Hon. Ms. Joe: I would like to thank the people of Whitehorse North Centre for their support over the last eight years. I feel very fortunate to have had the support that is so generously offered by constituents of my riding. It has been those individuals who have provided encouragement to me, as a Member of this House and government, as well as their cooperation in ensuring their concerns are heard and met.
I feel very privileged to be a part of this government that has been elected to provide the direction that Yukon people have been asking for. The goals of this government have been fairly reflected by the priorities of Yukon people. I know that this government has made good progress in reaching goals of a land claims agreement, building a sustainable economy, building healthy communities, and our commitment to good government.
In the Department of Justice, we have taken on a new challenge of working toward a justice system that will be more reflective of community needs, particularly in our efforts regarding aboriginal justice in the Yukon. Because of the high number of those people who end up in the court system, we have started to listen to the communities and their needs in the justice system, and we are working toward this goal through a number of different initiatives.
I had the opportunity last week to attend a conference that was put on by the RCMP with regard to aboriginal policing. Since I have been the Minister of Justice, I have travelled to every single community in the territory to talk to groups and individuals, and to visit the Indian bands and other community groups, to talk about the kinds of things we can do to improve the system in the Yukon.
It is not an easy job, and it will never be. When you are dealing with the criminal justice system, there are many things that have to be resolved and have to be improved. One of the things I have seen is the working relationship that is being developed between the communities, and especially the aboriginal people, and the RCMP. Things that were told to me were things I would not have heard about 10 years ago in regard to how things were happening.
The commitment by the RCMP, and by the two individuals the RCMP have here in the Yukon, have been of great benefit to me as the Minister of Justice in trying to work toward an improvement in the working relationship. It is starting.
For the first time in history the RCMP held a cross-cultural workshop and for the first time used aboriginal people of the Yukon. This was never done before. I attended one many years ago, probably about 15 years ago, and at that time my feeling was they were not really listening to what the aboriginal people were saying and were not really telling the true story about what the problems were. At that time, they were telling the history of Yukon people, but not understanding what the cultures really were and the kind of things that used to happen many years ago. They realized that, in order to try to understand the people of the Yukon, they had to deal with Yukon people who had been here and understand situations.
We are continuing to work with the CATCO project, which is a joint initiative between the Champagne-Aishihik First Nation, as well as Teslin and Old Crow First Nations, to look at all aspects of justice in the communities, including the present court systems to policing and how this can be changed to better reflect the needs of the community. They are looking closely at how these changes can be made under the systems that are presently in place and, then, to see if we can build on a system that is culturally, traditionally and more appropriately adaptable to the aboriginal people in the Yukon.
I have seen some of the changes that have taken place as a result of the many conferences that have been held in the Yukon in regard to aboriginal justice. I have seen the commitment from the people involved in trying to do something about it. There are many things that have to be changed in order to make the system more effective. The Member for Porter Creek East has talked about the laws and justice in the Yukon, and how there seems to be a lack of respect for it. It is not just the young people who have a lack of respect for justice; it is people of all ages.
We have to develop a respect for each other before the respect is all around. We have to develop this respect for the justice system, as well as for the individuals who end up in the justice system. This is very important.
I attended the federal/provincial/territorial conference of Ministers of Justice and Attorneys General earlier this year, and I recommended that a national conference be held on aboriginal justice and recommended that it take place in the Yukon. At that time I received a commitment from the federal Minister of Justice, Kim Campbell, that we will have a conference on aboriginal justice held in the Yukon. My only hope is that we have it very soon. At that time it was agreed that you cannot tell the aboriginal people what it is they need in aboriginal justice or tribal justice, or native policing or whatever. What you have to do is listen to those people who have been through the system and who try to improve on it.
The correctional system in the Yukon has been investing in many programs for the safe, secure and humane control of inmates while assisting those individuals in making personal social adjustments back into the community. A 12-bed adult residential centre has continued to be operated by the Salvation Army and provides a hostel-type environment for low-risk sentenced inmates from the correctional centre where they are encouraged to seek work and participate in other social activities that will assist them in making personal social adjustments in the community.
The Whitehorse Correctional Centre, with the assistance of aboriginal organizations and individuals, has introduced cultural and spiritual programs for the inmates. They regularly host solstice feasts at the centre, which are well attended by both inmates and their families. When an inmate ends up in jail, very often society forgets they are there.
I have had the opportunity to meet with people who work in our facilities. I have had the opportunity to meet with the people who are in there. I have seen some good changes - changes I did not see a year ago. Things were happening that were not only a benefit to the inmates but to the families who care for them. I attended the solstice feast and saw something I had not seen before. That was the involvement of the families of those individuals who were in there. The people who worked in the jail recognized that they had to have this contact with families and friends outside, so at the solstice feast they invited families and friends to come and enjoy this feast with them. At that time the people from the outside provided the food and prepared it for the feast. Everything was done in a traditional manner. I saw it as being much more effective than anything I had seen in the jails before, and I was encouraged by that because there was commitment by the people who worked there and from some individuals in the facility to try to deal with some of the problems. We all know that the facility itself is not the answer to all the problems. We have a long way to go to improving the system. I do not think that will happen in my time, because it will never be perfect unless we do not have people in those institutes. It takes a great deal of commitment from everyone in order to improve upon that.
The Inmate Society has been very active and recently held a car wash at Grizzly Esso. They donated proceeds to the Child Development Centre in the amount of $510. I would like to take this time to personally thank those individuals who took the time to have their cars washed and make a contribution to this very worthwhile cause.
The centre has a number of programs designed to bring more opportunities to those people presently incarcerated to look toward a new life and a new future once released into the community. One of these is called the New Beginnings program and has been developed by the Council for Yukon Indians. It is an alcohol self-awareness and self-confidence development program. It has proven to be a challenging experience for the inmates.
This program is always full. There is never a time that they have very few people there. It is something that has been offered by aboriginal Yukon people, not only to the aboriginal people who are incarcerated, but to any inmate wishing to take advantage of it. It is the first time in my life I have heard from inmates that things are improving in this facility and in the way in which they are being dealt with.
Another program is the Plato System. This is a computer-based program that is self-instructional and a self-paced learning program that includes basic literacy, math, lifeskills and other programs. This system is located at two other locations, Skookum Jim Friendship Centre and the Yukon Literacy Council. The inmates who wish to participate can continue with the program at one of the alternate locations once they are released so their education can continue.
I would like to mention the amount of work that has gone into the work camp programs that have been successfully placed in Teslin for two fiscal years. It has been relocated to the community of Carmacks and continues to enjoy very strong community support there.
I want to tell you a little about what these inmates have been able to accomplish through their work camp program and the work they do right here in Whitehorse. The cross-country ski trail at Mount McIntyre, which is rated as second to best in Canada, was only last year upgraded and improved by work provided by the inmates. The Member for Kluane has talked about the wood program in that there was a decrease in the amount they were giving to senior citizens. I do not know about that decrease in the contribution they were making to senior citizens. There is a commitment from the inmates to make sure services that are not provided anywhere else can be provided through the society by the donation of wood. I will definitely check into the comment made.
Since relocating to Carmacks this year, the inmates have provided brushing in ditches, renovating the Catholic Church rectory, as well as village clean-up and landscaping. They were able to move the Little Salmon First Nation Day Care Centre by removing and replacing the fences and the big-toy playground. The individuals responsible for organizing and coordinating the efforts of the inmates deserve recognition for their hard work. I have found out that the commitment by some of the staff at the facility has been very worthwhile in providing a lot of things that could not be done elsewhere. They are trying to bring about the knowledge of the kind of things that the inmates can involve themselves in once they are released, especially the work that is being done in the carpentry shop where the inmate has the opportunity to learn a skill in carpentry that may further allow that individual to continue and possibly to take a course in carpentry. In some cases that has been the case, and the people who work with those inmates are committed to doing a very good job.
The family violence prevention unit initiatives were expanded in the 1989/90 year with the unit locating to a storefront operation to better meet the needs of the community. This unit has been very active in providing services for the assaultive husbands program and developing support groups for victims of family violence. They also provide anger management for anyone in the community who expresses an interest. They are actively involved in assisting rural communities by holding workshops to organize support groups for victims. There has been wide interest expressed in the rural community for assaultive persons groups and the unit is working on putting a package together to meet these requests. The unit, in conjunction with the Department of Education and Health and Human Resources, is putting together materials for teenagers and violence to be used in the schools.
There has been some comment here from the Member for Porter Creek East in regard to the assaults on women in the Yukon and how we would like not to see these become the norm. I agree with that comment. I believe that anybody who walks down the street of Whitehorse should be able to do so safely. The very fact is that we could not change persons attitudes, but we can certainly help by trying to provide the information to those individuals so they can deal with those things that occur. It is my hope that, through some of the programs that our departments have had available to citizens of the Yukon, we can deal with a lot of those situations. I can only hope that things in the Yukon will improve, because I would like to be able to walk down the street in safety as much as the Member from Porter Creek East.
The family violence prevention unit is one of the participants for the information crisis line that is operated out of the Womens Directorate. In addition to these services, the family violence prevention unit ensures the availability of resources and refers family violence victims and offenders that are either court-ordered or otherwise to other community-based programs. All of these programs, along with the crime prevention program, the prison liaison officer and the native courtworker program are working toward ensuring that the Yukon can look to the future to happy and healthier communities.
In the Womens Directorate, an interdepartmental working group on family violence was established in 1989. This group was established to develop a policy and coordinate and plan government activities and initiatives about family violence in the Yukon. This group is chaired by the Womens Directorate and was given a mandate to help to develop a public awareness campaign on family violence that was launched in April of 1990.
A family violence conference was held in the spring of 1990, which drew 125 delegates, of which over 70 were from rural communities. In response to the requests of delegates and guests at the conference, a community newsletter was compiled and produced as a joint project of the Womens Directorate and the Yukon Advisory Council on Womens Issues. The first issue of this newsletter was distributed in June 1990. The second issue will be available in early November.
The development of an identifier, Respect Makes the Circle Strong, is to be used in all governmental public awareness materials regarding family violence and pins and buttons displaying this identifier have been distributed throughout the territory. This pin, with the logo, has been distributed to other groups outside the territory and I have been asked several times by other jurisdictions to provide more information with regard to how we have been able to put together some of our programs. I think that in a smaller jurisdiction things that you do are more easily recognized and that more people are aware of them. I have been told by many jurisdictions that, more than anything else, our pin with the logo on it has struck them more emotionally and meant more than anything else they have seen, because we are working toward the word respect in that circle.
A Yukon directory of services and resources in the area of family violence has been produced and 100 copies have been distributed to helpers throughout the territory.
Fourteen radio spots and print ads have been produced to run over three six-week campaigns, and further, at the request of the Womens Directorate, Northwestel provided the back page of the Yukon telephone directory, free of charge, to advertise telephone numbers of services and resources in the area of family violence. I would like, at this time, to thank Northwestel for allowing us to do that.
An information line of sexual assault and family violence was set up in May 1990. It is funded by the Womens Directorate and staffed by the family violence prevention unit of the Department of Justice.
The Womens Directorate has sponsored community workshops in Watson Lake and Whitehorse on recovery of incest survivors, facilitated by Maureen McIlvoy, a professional consultant from Vancouver. I had the opportunity to meet her. I had the opportunity to sit down in a group of about 60 individuals from Whitehorse to watch one of the films they have available. You could feel the sadness and hurt in the room that has occurred as a result of family incest. The problem is very big.
The Womens Directorate has also distributed a number of publications on family violence issues to the rural communities.
With all of these efforts, there have been more calls coming in all the time from communities as well as groups and individuals seeking help.
With the assistance provided to the Yukon Indian Womens Association from the Womens Directorate, a new trainers program has been received with lots of support from the communities. I had the opportunity to be a part of a graduation celebration from one of these classes of training for trainers to go back into the communities. I have started to see a change in attitude and direction people are going. I have seen commitment from aboriginal people in the Yukon to start working with the problems they are having in the communities. No longer are they saying let the government do this or that. They have made the commitment to start working with the people within the communities to try to help better a very serious problem.
Aboriginal people who have suffered substance abuse in one form or another are experiencing much more success in their healing process, as I mentioned. More and more people are realizing the devastation of alcohol and drugs. But aboriginal communities are healing and good things are happening.
During my community tours this summer, I met with First Nations that are filled with hope for a bright future and positive things are happening.
But, as I said before, we still have a long way to go. There is much more that has to be done.
During the Oka crisis this summer, many people were faced with the hopelessness that is so prevalent in aboriginal communities. It is a frightening situation when people get so fed up with negotiating, so tired of talking, and so disillusioned with the courts that they resort to violence. While I can never support violence, I feel there must be some peaceful resolutions to the frustrations of aboriginal people all over this country. This crisis has brought the plight of the aboriginal people of Canada to the publics attention. The lack of the federal governments response to the concerns of native people is no longer acceptable. This government has shown its commitment to aboriginal people, and we will continue with this commitment.
The Member for Hootalinqua recently made headlines in our local newspaper with his promise to the employees of this government that, if he were elected, heads would roll. His accusation that employees being hired by this government are all NDP supporters is nonsense. We do have a lot of supporters in this government. We also have supporters of the Tory party in this government. We have hired a lot of people, and we have hired some really good people to help us run this government. For that, I thank those people who have put in long hours to help us do the kinds of things we have committed ourselves to doing.
Our current policy is to hire locally in all cases, unless the government is convinced that outside hire is absolutely necessary in a particular case. In 1989-90, 98.2 percent of all positions with the Yukon government were local hire. The bulk of outside hires for the year were engineers and specialized educators.
Our Public Service Commission has also developed an employment equity policy that is held as an example in many jurisdictions in Canada. This employment equity policy will enable us to establish a workforce that is more representative of the Yukons population, and will ensure fairness in employment opportunities. This policy is based on research of other public and private employment equity programs across Canada, and on extensive consultation with organizations representing target groups, YTG employee unions and departmental managers. The employment equity policy requires the Public Service Commission to prepare an annual report on results of employment equity planning, which will be tabled in the House.
This government will continue to provide training opportunities for aboriginal people through the native training corps, assist departments in making job accommodations for workers with disabilities, and reduce employment barriers to women. This is a long-term goal, but one we have been working toward for several years. The employment equity branch also provides for outreach services, employment counselling and resume preparation.
With the appointment of several female assistant deputy ministers, and a substantial increase in female senior managers, we have been able to open doors for women that were previously closed. Such appointments will provide role models to other women, and provide promotional opportunities previously denied because of systemic barriers. The Women in Government group is working in cooperation with the Public Service Commission to develop recommendations to address the corporate concerns of women.
New initiatives in the training and development area will contribute to the many new opportunities for the employees of this government. The training of employees to acquire new skills that will enhance their performance abilities has been dramatically increased. In 1988-89, 167 employees were trained. In 1989-90, 1,386 employees received training. This training is provided by courses offered by the Public Service Commission, or by courses offered outside the public service, either through the Yukon College or other institutions. During the spring of 1988, PSC researched and developed a two-year management development program delivered by Yukon College to meet the needs of management. In February, 1989, the first program accepted 50 applicants, and 50 percent of those applicants were women.
This government is committed to the fair and equitable treatment of its employees. This is evident in the treatment of employees throughout the decentralization process. Any affected employee of the decentralization process will have several options available to ensure they will be treated as fairly as possible.
The employee assistance and health promotion program is engaged in developing and promoting wellness in the workplace for the government employees that will emphasize health promotion activities. Many of their programs include wellness courses for Whitehorse and rural areas, noon hour health information sessions, a health promotion library, and a wellness newsletter. In September of this year a work force survey was conducted that will produce a statistical picture of the Yukon Government work force. This data will be analyzed to assist departments as well as their government in developing a human resource planning program, ensuring that our employees can look forward to a bright future.
The Workers Compensation Board will be constructing a building with an occupancy date of October 1991. The Workers Compensation Board will be going out to tender in November for the construction of an office building to house all operations of the corporation. The construction of this building is seen as a way of investing in a local economy. The building will be constructed using local materials and local employment.
I would like to say at this time that I have been proud to be a part of this government. It has been an honour for me to do the kinds of things that I have been able to do as a Member of Cabinet and as a Member of this government. There are many things people have said today that contradict the kind of things we have said we have done. I have heard many statements from individuals in the communities, and we hear the same kind of concerns as the Members opposite. We also hear some very good things about the kinds of things we have done. We have listened and we have acted. I would like to thank the Premier for having the foresight to develop and implement the kinds of things we have promised Yukoners we would do.
Hon. Mr. Webster: It is my pleasure to respond to the throne speech.
I strongly endorse the four goals that shape our agenda for the 1990s, including: Indian land claims; building a sustainable economy; investing in healthy communities, and ensuring good government.
It is interesting to note that these four goals are remarkably consistent with the themes of previous throne speeches while we have been in government. We are continuing to work together with people from all over the Yukon to build a better future.
Our government, unlike some others in the country, does not rely on the whimsical whims of public opinion polls to determine our agenda. We have charted a course and we are sticking to it. The federal Conservative government may cut the Yukons formula financing agreement or saddle us with the Conservative sales tax, also known as the goods and services tax, which is the latest in the series of unfair Tory taxes. We will continue at the pace our resources allow to make progress towards our goals.
The umbrella final agreement of the Yukon Indian land claims initialed earlier this year is an historic step in recognizing our moral and legal obligations to the aboriginal people of the Yukon. We have made more progress to this end in the last six years than in the previous 11. The Government of Yukon is committed to working with the Government of Canada, the Council for Yukon Indians and each of the Yukon First Nations to settle a just aboriginal claim. This settlement will lead to benefits for all people of the territory.
A comprehensive land agreement will mean an end to uncertainty about the status of lands and resources. It will mean new economic opportunities for Yukon First Nations, which will strengthen the Yukon economy as a whole. After all, the profits of any Yukon First Nations businesses are far more likely to stay here in the Yukon than those of the multi-nationals.
Through land claims agreement, true partnerships for the management of resources, will be forged. As the Minister of Renewable Resources I have a growing appreciation for the effectiveness of bodies such as the Porcupine Caribou Management Board and the Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board. These boards are similar to the models called for in the claims agreement. They bring together non-native people and people from the First Nations to consider the problems facing wildlife and to advise on management regulations and plans before they become law. Because the boards have a mandate to consult with people, government gets better regulations and people get laws they can understand and support. These boards have helped to develop a climate of cooperation in the management of these resources. It is cooperation that will strengthen with ratification of the final agreement and full implementation of the Fish and Wildlife Management Board.
This opportunity for shared input into resource management will exist at the community level through the renewable resource councils, which will be established as part of each first nation final agreement. Both aboriginal and non-aboriginal people in rural communities will participate on these councils, exercising some real control over local resource management.
The land claims settlement is only one means of giving people more control over their lives. The Yukon Economic and Conservation Strategies, which guide this governments responsible development of our economy and resources, were not developed in ivory tower isolation. People from all over the territory came together to discuss the Yukons economic future not long after the New Democrats formed the government. People from different communities and different cultures sat down together, many for the first time, to share their visions of the Yukon and to work out an economic strategy for the territory.
With the consensus that emerged, it was clear that Yukoners do not want to put all their eggs in one basket. They cannot see a pipeline or Beaufort Sea oil as a pinnacle for economic aspirations. They saw a Yukon that continued to value the contribution of established industries, such as mining. They saw a Yukon that recognized the importance of protecting our wilderness and heritage for future generations. They saw a Yukon less dependent on imports from outside, more capable of making and growing the products we need to live here.
Under the overall direction of the Yukon Economic Strategy, we are continuing to progress in each of these areas. Although mining remains subject to the ups and downs of gold metal prices, off-road fuel rebates, stable energy charges, programs such as the prospector assistance program and RTAP, as well as greatly-improved transportation links, have helped to create a stable environment for this industry, as well as for others.
For example, in 1989 alone, $11.7 million was invested in the Klondike and Campbell Highways, the primary shipping and supply corridors for the Yukon mining industry. As I have already mentioned, this government has made significant progress toward settlement of the Yukon Indian land claim, a settlement that will finally clarify the status of land and resources. This will help the mining industry and other economic and community interests plan for the future.
The Yukon means wilderness to many people. Some of us have made our homes here because of the big untamed backyard. Access to wilderness is not only an appealing feature of life in the Yukon, but is very significant economically. Yukon aboriginal people and others, particularly in rural communities, rely heavily on subsistence harvest of game. Trapping is an important contribution to rural economies, and the wilderness attracts tourists from all over the world to one of the last unspoiled places on the planet.
It was as clear to us in 1985 as it may be to some of our hardest critics today that it is not possible to keep treating the wilderness as an unending resource, as if there will always be more over the next hill. The Yukon Conservation Strategy, which was released earlier this year, is a guide to the wide use of our resources. One of the major commitments in this strategy is the development of made-in-Yukon laws to protect our environment. I was gratified, but not surprised, by support for a Yukon environment act, which I heard last month from people all over the territory. I look forward to tabling a first draft of environmental legislation later this session. Although not all the pieces needed for an effective environment act are currently within our jurisdiction, the act will be drafted to present a clear vision of the straightforward and comprehensive legislation we eventually want to have.
The Member for Porter Creek East mentioned in his speech his concern about the problem we have right outside our doorstep here, that being the lack of sewage treatment for the City of Whitehorse, and the poor condition of the Yukon River. I would like to inform the Member I heard this concern expressed in almost every community on my tour to receive public input to the draft Yukon environment act, everywhere from Carcross to Carmacks.
There are some real concerns there about sewage treatment as well as concerns about the quality of water. We can no longer take for granted that we will always be blessed with a clear, clean supply of water.
Earlier this spring, the Minister of Community and Transportation Services made a commitment to assist with funding for all communities in the Yukon to address sewage treatment concerns. I am sure he will remark on that further later this evening.
Over the past six years, the Yukon has greatly improved its capacity to manage our wildlife resources. We have more conservation officers, better inventories of our wildlife resources and more public involvement in management decisions. We have a brand new fisheries section that has six times the resources to devote to fisheries compared with what the federal government spent. We have put more resources into better wilderness resource management, and I think we will see the results of this in a recovery plan for the moose and caribou in game zone 7 and 9.
The Yukon trap exchange program and contributions to humane trap research are helping to counter the international anti-fur lobby.
Wilderness, of course, is not our only heritage. Although aboriginal Yukoners have tread softly on the land for thousands of years, there are still some traces of their passage. Other Yukoners have left more evidence of their past activities.
This fall, a final round of consultation on the Yukon Historic Resources Act will be completed. The act will be introduced later on in this session. Once proclaimed, Yukoners, whether municipalities, First Nations or individuals, will, for the first time, have real tools to ensure the physical record of our past is preserved. Like wilderness, our historical heritage contributes to our sense of identity. For that reason, I do not believe that any Yukoner can look upon the ruins of the S.S. Tutshi without feeling a profound sense of loss.
The Yukon Conservation Strategy and the initiatives that stem from it are laying solid foundations for future economic development. That does not mean that we have been idle until new laws and policies are in place. Thousands of person hours have gone into completing heritage, natural feature and recreational feature inventories. A parks policy is near completion. This is all ground work for present and future parks, recreation areas and tourism opportunities. Two Yukon parks have been established. Our campgrounds are favoured accommodations for highway travelers. Dozens of new tourism businesses have been established here in the Yukon over the last six years. Many have expanded.
The community directed streetscape program, now administered under the community development fund, has made the communities more attractive places to visit. Regional tourism development plans for areas such as Kluane, for example, have been developed by community people working with experts in our tourism development branch. These plans have helped communities and regions to capitalize on their tourism strengths and maximize their tourism appeal.
All these efforts to preserve our natural attractions and develop our tourism appeal have been complemented by an aggressive tourism marketing program.
The Yukon has been the catalyst for several new cooperative marketing programs in recent years. Building from the base of the Alaska cooperative marketing program established by the previous government, the Yukon has parlayed modest marketing dollars into programs that have a significant impact on the tourism marketplace. Tourism North was launched last fall in cooperation with British Columbia and Alaska. It was designed to develop better awareness of the northwest corner of North America as a tourist destination, particularly among RV travellers.
Our newest marketing program, Destination Yukon, will promote the Yukon as a unique and distinct destination in its own right and not just a stop on the road to Alaska. I want to mention we will be doing this through Destination Yukon. We will promote the Yukon in its entirety, as a whole, offering a variety of tours throughout the territory, not favoring one particular region such as the Klondike or Kluane.
In Riverdale South there is a new tourist attraction developed there this past year - in a good part thanks to my friend opposite, the Member from Riverdale North - the fishway. It is a very popular attraction, attracting in the neighborhood of 20,000 people. Yes, that will be included in Destination Yukon, I am very pleased to say.
For every dollar invested in a program by the Yukon government, four dollars is being contributed by private sector partners, ranging from Yukon wilderness operators, cruise and tour lines, to Canadian Airlines. Despite a general downward trend in North American tourism over the past several years, I am pleased to note that Yukon tourism has held its own or has shown modest growth. Now I know I am going to get some debate on that from the side opposite. I know the critic on the opposite side for tourism is always suggesting that we should be doing a lot more, that I, as a minister, am not really contributing very much to the health of the industry..
Speaker: Order. The time being 5:30 p.m., I will now leave the chair until 7:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will call the House to order.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I will continue from where I left off rather than start over.
I was anticipating some possible criticism from the Opposition critic for Tourism, and I am sure I will hear it. It is no accident that he is following me in this lineup in replies to the Speech from the Throne. I will not get a chance to rebutt some of the criticisms. There has been one already this afternoon where the Member for Kluane said I criticized the Members questionnaire because there was not enough money to do it properly, or something to that effect. To set the record straight, I want to read exactly what I did say as quoted accurately by the Yukon News in the Wednesday, October 24, 1990 edition. I quote, I do not want to be critical of the survey but he (Phillips) is not in the position to spend a lot of money to do a thorough survey. It is difficult to get accurate and comprehensive information from a one-page questionnaire.
I know that has been interpreted as saying that you cannot get a proper study done unless you spend lots of money, but that is the way it goes. We expect Destination Yukon will help offset the negative consequences of the Tory goods and services tax and the increase in fuel prices. The only effective defence against harmful economic factors that are beyond our control is a strong tourism marketing offence.
In other areas this government has encouraged or supported economic development that is compatible with a healthy environment. It was this government that established an agricultural branch about which we will be releasing a formal agricultural policy in this session. More vegetable crops are being produced in the Yukon now than at any other time since the gold rush. Several years of demonstration crops have helped to identify varieties and cultivation methods that are especially suited to Yukon conditions.
Farming is now well established in the Yukon. There is a game farm policy. The government elk herd, managed by Danny Nowlan, t is contributing animals to both the wild herd and local elk farms. I expect later this decade that Yukon game farms will be capable of supplying meat to market.
Sustainable development is not a buzz word for this government. It is a long-established goal. We know where we want to go as a government and as a people. We have a strategy to get ourselves there and in dozens of ways we are progressing toward that goal.
In the area of investing in healthy communities I am pleased to see our government continuing the excellent record that has been established over the last six years. In my home town of Dawson City, we have managed to establish a safe home. We have recently built a Yukon housing 13-plex for single parents. We provide support for day cares, in both O&M expenses and capital. Just last week a new day care opened in Dawson City, run by the Dawson Indian band. We have also built a community school complex to replace the old Robert Service School, which was falling apart.
These may be white elephants to the Member for Porter Creek East but I can tell you that they are very much appreciated by all the residents of Klondike.
There has been a lot of talk about decentralization, both in Question Period and in the Speech from the Throne. I want to make it clear that this is not something this government has just started on today as a result of the Speech from the Throne last Thursday. It has been going on for the last few years. The Department of Renewable Resources just this year established a Faro office. We have placed a habitat biologist in Watson Lake. Over the past few years, in Dawson City, we have made several initiatives in the area of decentralization. We placed an economic development officer, a superintendent of education and a secretary in Dawson City. We have a recreation consultant and a building inspector in Dawson City. We replaced a heavy duty mechanic who was taken from Dawson City and relocated to Whitehorse by the previous Tory administration. We have added additional Renewable Resources staff at the regional office in Dawson City. So, we have made a number of positive gains in the area of decentralization in my community alone over the last four or five years.
It is our plan now to introduce another 100 positions in rural Yukon from Whitehorse. This government I think has made an honest attempt to further that cause.
As I listened to the Commissioner read the Speech from the Throne last Thursday, I could not help reflecting on the great changes in attitude that have taken place in the Yukon over the last five or six years. I cannot help remembering the days of the Conservative government, which preceded those six years, the days when some of the Members opposite occupied seats on this side of the House and some of my colleagues sat in the Opposition. A frequent response to calls for government consultation at that time was that we would probably get a chance at the end of our term. The governing Conservatives of the day saw democracy only at election time.
The idea of asking people for their comments on government initiatives was considered radical and dangerous by Conservatives in government. What was radical and subversive to a Conservative government just six years ago is now something that people quite rightfully take for granted. Democracy should be an everyday matter, not something that is dusted off every four years. You only have to look to Ottawa and the federal Conservative government to be reminded what Tory democracy at election time means.
But good government requires more than just listening to people. Good government requires a vision, a clear picture of a better world than we inhabit today. I believe that this government has a vision that is now shared by most Yukoners, a vision that was elaborated on once again in the Speech from the Throne: a vision of a territory in which we all come to terms with the settlement of the Yukon Indian land claim; a territory that has a diversified, broad enough economic base, not to be devastated by a fall in world metal prices or the closure of a mine; a territory that has a plan for the development of a stable economy, a strategy for the conservation of our natural resources and a commitment to a strong education system to foster development of our most important resource of all, people, regardless of where they live in the territory.
I believe that we inhabit a better Yukon today than we did six years ago. I believe that the Yukon, which we and other hardworking Yukoners all around the territory are building, is a good place in which to live. It is a good place to raise and educate children. It is a good place in which to work and yes, a good place in which to retire.
I am proud to be part of a progressive and positive government that has set clear goals and is working with all the people in the territory to achieve it.
Mr. Phillips: In preparing my reply to the Speech from the Throne, I was struck by the fact that I had heard it all before, that there was very little in this speech that was new. I decided to dig into the files and pull out some old speeches to see if my suspicion was correct. What I would like to do now is take all Members back a few years to one of the first throne speeches given by this government when it said at that time, in March of 1986, that it had five goals, not four like today. Somewhere along the line we have lost one of the goals.
The government of March 1986 said that job creation and economic diversification were a very high priority. Let us look at those two areas for a moment. In the past few years this government has had more money to spend per capita than virtually any other government in Canada. We have sent about $1.7 billion - billion - that is right, I said billion - for 25,000 to 30,000. That is in five years. Let us look at the economy. Specifically let us look at where we were in 1985 and 1986 and where we are today.
Then, we were dependent upon three major industries, mining, tourism and, God forbid, government spending. The mining industry had just been through some troubled times then and was just getting back on its feet. Tourism was making marginal increases and government was the mainstay of the Whitehorse economy. The government at that time, for those of you in this House who have short memories, is the same government that is here today. They said they were going to do great things to make us less dependent upon government spending. In their words, and I quote from the throne speech of 1986, Last fall I described a vision of far better economic future, and our economy is more diversified, more stable, more self-sufficient, and more locally controlled.
Let us look at some of the regions of the Yukon in a report card form to see where this government comes out. First of all I would like to start with the more positive ones: Dawson City, and I know we have an extremely sensitive Minister of Tourism, so I hope he takes this in the context intended. I would like to give this government a C for Dawson City. Even though it has received many benefits, a lot of the credit has to go to Parks Canada and the business people of Dawson who have done an excellent job of making that city a success.
Whitehorse: The government gets a C+ here. Because of its rapid growth over the last five years, it has forced us to rent every square inch in this town with plans to build and rent more. The problem here is that we did not really create a lot of new industry; most of that has been developed just to support government growth.
In Faro the government gets a D. Not because it did not do anything in Faro, but because it continually tries to pretend that it was the party that totally saved the mine, all alone.
It continues to be dishonest with the Yukon people in that regard when it takes the credit for the mine and conveniently forgets to tell the public that a considerable amount of work was done by the previous Yukon government, that the federal government provided some $50 million in support, and that almost all the money we spend in the Yukon comes from the federal government.
Let us now look at some of the areas of the Yukon that are not as economically diversified as we would like them to be; for examples, Old Crow. What has changed in Old Crow today that would make the people there more self-sufficient? Not a lot. In 1986, the mainstay of the employment was government spending, and I believe it is the same today. We heard the Member for Old Crow today thank the government time and time again for all the government buildings and things it has done in Old Crow, but she did not talk of any new industry.
Old Crow may not be the best example here, because many of the people in the village are pleased with their current lifestyle and do not want to see a lot of development or changes, so let us look a little further south. How about the Kluane region? Is it more diversified today, and are there more jobs in that region than there were five years ago? I am not talking about government jobs. I am talking about new business, new industry and manufacturing. I do not think so. This is one area where the Government of the Yukon has let us down badly, and I give them an F on Kluane.
Mr. Speaker, your riding is another interesting one. Other than straight government spending, what new industry do you have in the area of Teslin? Not very much, I am afraid. Teslin was on the highway before this government took power and benefited from the Alaska Highway in 1986. Not much has changed today. There are not very many new initiatives in the community of Teslin.
Ross River is part of your riding, as well. I believe it faces many of the same economic problems today that it faced in 1986. Again, I remind Members in this House that this is after this government has spent $1.7 billion. Where did it all go? The government gets an F in your riding, Mr. Speaker.
Watson Lake was a priority of this government in the past few years. Unfortunately, the concern for the Watson Lake residents was not genuine. It was strictly politically motivated, and it went all wrong.
They thought they could buy the Watson Lake seat at any cost and it certainly did cost. It cost millions of dollars, hundreds of jobs, and left many small Watson Lake businesses picking up the pieces of Tony Peniketts mistake. It was a classic example of economic diversification gone sour. It destroyed the lumber industry in Watson Lake for the time being and it is not over yet. The only light at the end of the tunnel is the recent announcement about Mt. Hundere and I suppose that shortly the Minister of mines will be rising to his feet to try to convince us that he took out his trusty little pick and shovel and discovered that mine himself. This government gets the lowest mark possible for Watson Lake.
I guess, after $1.7 billion, we have to look at this governments goals and what they have accomplished. I would suggest to you that they did not make the grade. The fastest growing industry in Yukon today seems to be the government. Is that a positive thing for the future of the Yukon?
The government has had some successes but they are small, not enough, I am afraid, to sustain us if our funding were significantly cut back by Ottawa, and I am sure that one day that will happen. If Faro were to shut down tomorrow, would things be much different than in 1985? If the high prices of gas, the GST and the value of the Canadian dollar cause the number of tourists to drop, would we be diversified enough to survive the down times?
These are all serious questions that we have to ask ourselves in this Legislature. Again, we spent $1.7 billion in the last five years. Have we spent the money in the most effective way, to ensure a healthy future for all Yukoners? I am afraid that the answer is no. We have not spent this money wisely; in fact, Mr. Peniketts government has squandered millions of dollars of Yukon taxpayers future foolishly. Mr. Peniketts government said, in March 1986, and I quote, We believe the key is economic diversification, both by sector and by region, that is sensitive to the needs and aspirations of our various communities.
That did not happen.
As well, in that same throne speech of Mr. Peniketts, he stated, As diversification broadens and stabilizes our economic base, we will become increasingly self-sufficient. That also has not happened.
As you see, Mr. Peniketts long term goals for economic diversification have floundered.
The second goal of Mr. Peniketts was long-term employment, which should be closely tied to economic diversification. Since the economic diversification failed, so has this governments plan of long-term employment. In 1986, unemployment in Yukon was one of the highest in Canada at 13 percent. In 1987, it stayed at 13 percent, despite heavy government spending. In 1988, it started to drop to 12 percent and, again in 1989, it moved in the right direction and was lower still at 11 percent. This was a good sign but, in my view, it did not drop comparably with the massive government spending.
Here we are today. Mr. Peniketts own statistics tell us that, in March of this year, unemployment has risen again to sit at 12 percent. Members on the other side tell us we have the best economy in Canada. What about the unemployment rate? Is that not somehow tied to a healthy economy? They have not addressed that issue.
Members of Mr. Peniketts government have to seriously ask themselves if they are satisfied. They have to ask themselves if they are happy with a one percent drop in unemployment for a $1.7 billion expenditure over five years. I am sure, Mr. Speaker, you would not be happy with those figures, and so we should not be. It is shameful that we have spent this much money and have so little to show for it.
I would like to move into another area where this government has made many promises, and that is devolution.
Five years have gone by and what do we have? A couple of years ago we received the Department of Fisheries, and I believe this has been a positive move on behalf of the government. I think it is working out to the Yukoners benefit. Mine safety is another positive move but it is a very small department. No one expected any problems with that and expected to get it rather quickly.
The Yukon Power Corporation devolving to us could have been a very positive move by the government, but instead we have watched Mr. Peniketts government turn it into a disaster. I believe the total mismanagement of the corporation by Mr. Peniketts government has led us right into the energy crisis we are facing today in the Yukon.
On the one hand, we have a Minister of Community and Transportation Services throwing a switch on a very small hydro project at Fraser and telling us that we all have to rid ourselves of those dirty environment-harming emissions from diesels and at the same time, the Yukon Energy Corporation is firing up the huge diesel plants in a Whitehorse facility, because we simply did not do any long-range planning. Usually those huge plants are fired up in the middle of winter to take some of the extra load, but I see they are already running today. It is my understanding that all the flurry of activity at the last minute is to try and make up for the shortfall of hydro-generated electricity we now face. The Yukon Energy Corporation is in a panic to have us all conserve energy. Announcements seem to be coming out daily on another mini hydro project. None of these seem to be following any kind of long-range plan.
Hydro prices are going up and a reliable supply of power is going down. I do not know if I can recall a time other than many years ago that we had so many outages and power bumps damaging all kinds of electrical equipment. It seems that the system is running full out and there is no backup anymore.
This shortfall in power itself impedes development. If there is no adequate supply of power, new industry will not establish itself here. I will be exploring this issue later on in this session.
What has happened to the imminent transfer of the Department of Forestry? It was imminent three or four years ago. What about the transfer of health services? We heard today that something is finally going to happen. I hope so, because the lack of uncertainty on this front is creating severe morale problems at Whitehorse General Hospital. Mr. Penikett has to shoulder the blame for this lack of action.
I would like to talk about the future of oil and gas in the Yukon. Yukoners and industry are receiving mixed messages from this government in this regard. On one hand the government says in the 1986 throne speech, and I quote, Hon. Members, despite the current drop in oil prices, petroleum production from the Beaufort Sea remains a bright prospect.
Again, in this latest throne speech the government says, Significant progress was made towards the Northern Accord on Oil and Gas with the federal government. With this accord the Yukon will gain the ability to develop and manage its oil and gas resources, including participation in Yukons offshore. It will enable the Yukon to exercise its authority off our northern coast.
There are mixed messages going out from this government. Those statements are contrary to the position taken by the Member for Old Crow who says they will not tolerate any development in north Yukon and Alaska. I can understand the concern from the Member for Old Crow, but these contrary messages from two Members in the government party are unsettling, to say the least, to the oil and gas industry. Who is speaking for the government in this case?
I would like to move to an area where I have a great interest, and that is the issue of the environment. The government-of-the-day gets a better mark here, but this area, too, has some serious blemishes. It is nice to see that all Members of this House have now become champions of the environment. I guess the main criticism I have is why it has taken six years for this government to act? Maybe because the side opposite did not consider it an important issue until the public told them it was.
I am pleased that finally something is being done. On the positive side we have a very effective team of people working on the storage of dangerous waste. Recycling has become front and centre in Yukon and so it should, but it is not without its problems. Recycling is not as easy as it sounds. Everything is not recyclable and some products are very expensive to recycle. I visited the local recycling depot, and I applaud the job the group is doing despite some problems they have encountered. I hope to address those problems in this sitting.
I believe the government has failed miserably in some areas when it comes to the environment. They speak out of both sides of their mouths and their actions do not reflect their words. Let me give you a couple of examples. For years now the City of Whitehorse has been pumping raw sewage into the Yukon River and everyone knows it. Plans are in the works on the city side to, it is hoped, deal with those problems. This probably is the single most serious environmental problem in the Yukon Territory. Where is the Yukon Government on this issue? Are they leading the way to find a solution? We passed a motion in this Legislature that asked them to do that. I should also remind all Members opposite that they supported it. Here, their actions have not reflected their words. In fact, they are too busy trying to find ways to get out of paying anything extra to solve this problem. They are fiddling while Rome burns. This is coming from a government that is concerned about the environment?
Another issue that makes my blood boil is the way this government ran the lumber mill at Watson Lake. I said this before and I will say it again: if anyone, anywhere, had devastated that timber in the Watson Lake area the way this government did, they would be in jail today. They would not let people get away with that anywhere else in North America. You are talking about cutting down 200 year old trees, prize trees, that you and I will never see again in our lifetime and in our childrens lifetime.
Through this governments total mismanagement of this operation, 50 percent of this prime timber was lost and the beetles and the antique mill destroyed the rest. Hundreds of thousands of beautiful, 200 year old trees were cut down without one single tree being planted in a reforestation plan. There was a small experimental plot but they did not plant that where they cut down all the trees; they just put up a little experimental plot in somebodys backyard.
I ask you: is this a government that is concerned about the environment? Where were they then, when it was damn the torpedoes and cut the trees down? The leftover logs of the mill are heavily infested with beetles and we all know that. Now this government is allowing those logs from that mill to be shipped to every corner of Yukon to be sold for firewood. What effect will this have on other areas of the Yukon? Will this mean the importation of those particular beetles? I know they are indigenous to the Yukon but will this be spreading them moreso to other areas of the Yukon, for the future?
One of the biggest bonfires that has ever taken place happened in Watson Lake on the weekend, when this governments mill burned all the leftover logs that were rotted and were too poor to sell as firewood. This is a tragic way to dispose of timber that took 200 years to produce and cost millions of dollars of Yukon taxpayers money.
I would like to ask all Yukoners if these are actions of a government that is really concerned about the environment. I do not think so. This government owes each and every one of us an apology for that and especially the people of Watson Lake.
What has been done on the anti-littering campaign in the Yukon? This is another motion that we passed in this House. I believe the government has just played lip service to this motion. Some things have been positive, like the program to allow groups to clean sections of the highways. I think that program could be expanded to allow groups to carry out the program in the months of year when there is no snow on the ground. Groups could be encouraged to sponsor a section of the highway and they could clean a section of the highway year-round.
Very little has been done on anti-litter programs in Yukon schools. On this one, I am tired of waiting for the Minister of Renewable Resources to act, so I have some suggestions for him that I am going to make during this session. I will make them in a non-political, positive way, and I hope the Minister considers them in that vein. Areas surrounding our schools are scattered with litter and the government should be taking action to correct that problem.
During this session, I also hope to ask the government to look at the possibility of container legislation.
In most areas of Canada, it is already in place. This type of legislation is one way to make the anti-litter programs pay.
This past summer, I attended meetings on the economy and the environment, and I was pleased with the changes the Council on the Economy and the Environment made in involving the industry sectors, such as mining. I thank the Minister of Economic Development on that issue, for all the meetings were constructive other than the lecture by the native leader, Bill Wilson. A lot of people did not appreciate his racist comments at that seminar. In the future, the government should be more selective in its guest speakers.
I would like to talk about tourism and its future in the Yukon. I believe we are perched on the edge of what could be the best decade in Yukons history for tourism. We have several major events planned for the 90s, from the Alaska Highway celebration to the 100th anniversary of the gold rush.
This past summer, I conducted a small survey of tourists who visited Yukon and had an excellent response. I recently released findings from that survey, and they showed some interesting things. Unfortunately, they did not make the Minister of Tourism very happy, but I understand he is a sensitive guy, and I should have considered that when I released the results from the survey.
I was struck by the logic of the Minister of Tourism when he was pouting and said the study we did is probably not good enough because it did not cost a lot of money - not for what it found, and not for what useful information it provided, but just for the simple fact it did not cost $100,000, so it is not a useful survey.
I owe the Minister an apology, because it did not cost a lot of money. It was done by Yukoners who volunteered to participate in the survey. Maybe we should have spent $20,000 or $30,000 or maybe even $100,000, and it would then have had more validity in the Ministers eyes.
I do not accept the Ministers philosophy that the more it cost, the better it is. No wonder this government has wasted so much money with an attitude like that. I will get into the results of the survey a little later in the session, but I would like to now correct something for the record.
In his haste to defend his actions, the Minister of Tourism did not do his homework, something he has accused others of. His guilty conscience must have gotten the best of him at the time, and he flew off the handle, half-cocked. He stated at the press conference that my figures were all wrong.
First of all, I never once talked about the number of tourists who visited each area of the territory. Our survey did not even look at that. We looked at the satisfaction of the tourists who visited various areas of the territory. I should correct the record on some statements made by the Minister when he stated the use of the Kathleen Lake campground increased by 59 percent this summer over last. I got these figures today from Parks Canada, so I think the figures are fairly reliable. They were not given to me over the phone, but faxed to me.
The Minister was a bit off in his estimate. The Minister said it had increased by 59 percent. The real figure is 8.6 percent. He is off just a wee bit.
There were 1,406 people at the Kathleen Lake campground last year, compared to 1,621 people this year and I do not care what kind of math you are using, you do not get 59 per cent.
The minister said at the same time that Sheep Mountain doubled from last year to this year. Well, again the Ministers figures were a little bit off. The real figure is 9.2 per cent, not 50 per cent; 9.2 per cent. It had 31,052 people in 1989, 33,824 people in 1990. I do not mind doing the homework for the Minister but I would appreciate it if he gets his facts straight when he makes statements like that. As I said before, I plan to share the results of the survey with the Minister and obviously he needs the help and I look forward to discussing it with him later in the House.
Although I said earlier that we have a golden future in tourism, I do believe that there are some dark clouds on the horizon. I am speaking of the recent increase in the price of petroleum, the impending GST and the rising value of the Canadian dollar. One of these issues alone could have a severe impact on tourism in the Yukon. All of these issues together could be devastating. I will be looking forward in this session to hearing from the Minister on what he plans to do to help offset these negative effects.
I will be looking forward to hearing this governments plans on something we have talked about for a long, long, long, long time, and that is the Whitehorse waterfront development. This is an announcement this government has made that is several years old and nothing has happened. We are approaching the decade where tourism will really be big in the territory and I think it is something that probably should have been in place and it looks like now if it is built, it will be built near the middle or the end of the 1990s, if at all.
I was pleased to read in the throne speech that work will proceed on the new visitor reception centre.
I am interested to know how much input local businesses had in suggesting the layout and design of that facility. I also hope the Department of Tourism is consulting people in the industry on the services to be offered in this new facility. I will be asking questions during this session about the Celebration 92 project and the new Yukon territorial government program, Destination Yukon. In the case of the latter, I have asked the Minister by letter to provide me with information on the tendering process for the $700,000 expenditure. I hope the Minister will be forthcoming with that information so we can debate the issue in the Legislature.
I would like to comment on some other issues that were raised in the throne speech this fall. I am pleased to see the government continues to have land claims as a priority. I understand all parties are now getting back to the table after a summer break. The recent Sparrow decision in B.C. may have opened up a Pandoras box, and I only hope all parties will negotiate in good faith so we can reach a quick resolution to the land claim issue. The uncertainty we now face is not good for anyone in the Yukon, native or non-native.
The other area I have not touched on yet is the plan by this government to have a look at current electoral boundaries. This will be a very controversial issue, but the rapid growth of Yukon and, in particular, Whitehorse and surrounding areas, make it necessary to look at the new riding distribution. The case in British Columbia raises the concern of a constitution challenge that could take place if we do not address this issue here.
In closing, I would like to review the four goals this government has set for itself and make a comment on each one of those goals.
Completing land claims: This is an issue they were going to solve shortly after being elected five and one-half years ago. I ask Yukoners if you really believe we are that much closer. Many things have happened in the past couple of years, but we appear to be reaching another stalemate in negotiations.
If a sustainable economy is government growth, we can consider this one very successful. But as far as diversifying the economy, we are just as far away as we were in 1985-86.
On the subject of investing in healthy communities, I would suggest that this goal is incorrect. It should read investing in unhealthy communities, because what they have not done is invest in unhealthy communities throughout the territory such as Teslin, Ross River, Carcross, Carmacks and Pelly. There is no economic diversification in any of those communities.
Ensuring good government is the last goal. All I have to do is ask you and all Yukoners if this government has planned well for the future. After spending $1.7 billion in five years, what do we have in place other than more government growth and government spending. I do not think this government has done a good job. We have a long way to go.
Ms. Hayden: As I begin, I want to acknowledge the continuing interest and support of my constituents in Whitehorse South Centre. Along with the Member for Whitehorse North Centre, it is a pleasure to represent the people of downtown Whitehorse, the very heart of our city, and I am proud to be one of its representatives.
I also want to congratulate one of my constituents, who recently was awarded the Order of Canada. I am speaking of Mr. Charlie Taylor, a man who has lived his life in and for the Yukon Territory.
I, too, want to comment on the Speech from the Throne delivered in this House last week, and it seems I heartily disagree with the Member for Whitehorse Riverdale North. When I responded to the budget last session, I said that I was pleased to be associated with a government that emphasized the importance of social and environmental programs for this territory, and so it is now. I am once again proud to be part of a government that has accomplished so much on behalf of the people of the Yukon, and plans to follow through with its ongoing commitments.
Some of what I have to say has been said before, but I believe it bears repeating. Let us look at what has been done.
We set out four major themes of government, even before New Democrats were first elected to a majority position in this Legislature, and we have built on these themes for the betterment of the Yukon and Yukon people. New Democrats made a commitment to good government, and we have made public consultation a standard procedure. We have asked for opinions, and we have responded to what has been said.
We promised to make government staff training accessible to communities when this is possible, and this is a project that is now being piloted in three communities. We made a commitment to employment equity, and a program to bridge the gap between the number of women in clerical and supervisory positions. That program will begin in 1991.
Our commitment to training and promoting women in the public service has seen an increase from 11 percent to over 28 percent of management positions filled by women. In February 1989, 47 percent of participants of the management development program were women. By September 1989, 60 percent of participants were women. The employment equity branch has also conducted a workforce profile project, to help departments develop realistic plans to have a workforce that is representative of our general population. An implementation committee of union and senior management representatives will guide the implementation of this program.
The concept of employment equity is not popular with everyone, nor could it be. This is not necessarily an easy time for young white males in our society, but it will be made more palatable if they understand what employment equity is all about. It is natural for people who were raised to expect that the world was their oyster, to feel dismayed and perhaps even betrayed when they learn that someone else may be getting the pearl. They are going to feel uncomfortable and some are going to feel upset. I can only ask for tolerance and the opportunity to build on the sense of fairness of everyone who will be affected by employment equity principles.
History tells us that although it may appear that the pendulum swings in dramatic shifts, it will settle on a middle ground and we and our children will all live in a more equitable society as a result of programs like this. Good government is government that serves all of its constituents, not just a few. Let us not forget that public service employees are our constituents, too. The decentralization program is one that will benefit communities and because of the thoughtful way in which it is being conducted, it will also give public servants options they may not have had before.
Because of the care and time taken to develop the decentralization policy, it can be smoothly implemented. This government made a commitment to decentralization in the Yukon Economic Strategy in 1988. Some Members opposite are on record as saying that it is a policy that is long overdue. I am pleased they are in support of this initiative by this government, whose long-term goal is fairness to rural Yukon.
I am pleased that Members opposite support this measure that will contribute to stable economies in smaller Yukon communities, improve the delivery of government programs and services to rural Yukoners and support the desire expressed by Yukon people during the Yukon 2000 consultations to be able to work and live in their own communities.
That large group of Whitehorse merchants and business people know very well that as the rural communities go, so goes Whitehorse. When rural economies are good, business is good in Whitehorse in terms of services that can be delivered to clients and customers in rural Yukon. In the long term Whitehorse will benefit by decentralization and other diversification programs that stimulate prosperity throughout the Yukon.
Our history tells us this: when the mine in Faro closed, the Whitehorse economy slumped. We felt it here when Elsa shut down. By the same token, the economy of the whole territory was buoyed up when this government negotiated the re-opening of Faro and brought renewed life to the town. Government and private industry working together is a powerful recipe for economic success. Let us not forget that it is the New Democrats of this territory following through on our commitment to work with Yukoners to build a healthy economic future that has championed this kind of partnership.
I repeat that I am proud of what has been accomplished. I agree, there is always room for more to be done, but as we raise the expectations of people in terms of what is truly possible, so we add to the list of possibilities. We are, without a doubt, a forward-thinking and a forward-looking society. The programs, policies and commitments of this government have empowered the people of the Yukon.
Even the petitions presented to this Legislature are a sign that all of us, each and every one of us, the people of the Yukon have come to believe in the power of the individual to be heard. No one signs a petition she believes will go nowhere. This kind of empowerment is what this government is all about.
Never again will any government in this territory be able to govern by decree or with a hidden agenda. This government has shown that fairness is possible and individual action is a power in itself.
Many of the problems of the federal Conservatives are based on the fact that they appear not to listen. They are unresponsive.
In an era of instant communication, we want to be heard. We all want to be heard. Let us not forget that power truly does come from the people. People are tired of governments that can only follow the corporate agenda.
This government has proven that we can have a solid social and environmental agenda - an agenda of the people - and still have a balanced budget.
Our commitment to healthy communities has resulted in an exciting new Child Care Act. We have undertaken family violence prevention initiatives that are the beginning of a future for many families in the Yukon. Money for extended care services has been approved by this Legislature and the Health and Social Services Council created in March of this year will help in the coordination of health and social programs.
The new Education Act is banner legislation for our schools. Our act is a model for educators right across this country. Its innovative approach to students, parents, teachers and communities is second to none anywhere in Canada.
The health transfer announced by the Premier earlier today is another step toward the empowerment of the people of the Yukon. We will be hearing more of this in the days and years to come.
I remain committed to my constituents in Whitehorse South Centre in ensuring the delivery of fair social housing programs and the practice of fair policies. I am also personally committed to the development of more neighborhood parks and play areas for families in Whitehorse South Centre. It is important that the downtown core of Whitehorse be maintained as a viable place for Whitehorse families to live.
Yes, there is a lot to be done, but a major accomplishment of this government has been to open up avenues of choice and empowerment. When we, the people of the Yukon, see that commitments can and are being fulfilled we ask, What is next? If it is possible to implement the Champagne-Aishihik child welfare project, perhaps there are other areas where communities can be empowered to act on behalf of the individuals who live there. Parks, housing, education, child care, community programs, environmental programs and economic development - people can make things happen. This government is paving the way for all of this.
We have contributed to the diversification of the economy. This is something that cannot be done without some risk taking, as every business person knows. The economic development fund and community development fund are just two of the ways that government programs are in partnership with private industry, individuals and non-profit groups.
Entrepreneurs and small businesses benefit through the business development fund and many communities, including Whitehorse, have tapped into the community development fund. Equipment from government surplus goes to community organizations like the Salvation Army and child care centres. Seniors in Whitehorse organizing the Line of Life program have shown how a community group, using its own initiative and lots of hard work, can tap into government funds to provide a needed community service.
Government support for the Child Development Centre is another demonstration of a people-oriented social attitude that has grown into a solid community program. As we move toward more healthy communities, we are all trying to deal with the old Yukon ethic of hard work, hard drinking and hard living that leads to hard death and the problems left for our children and our grandchildren.
I doubt that I need to remind you of the effect that alcohol has had on most Yukon families and most Yukon communities. We are working together for our children and grandchildren, and this government is in the centre of this push for the healthy future of Yukon people.
On a happier note, a group in Whitehorse has received $45,000 from the community development fund to fund a study for a downtown community centre. This is a centre that may be used by many groups: seniors, teens, arts and music groups, recreational groups, and others. This is the kind of project that draws communities together. This is the kind of project that builds healthy neighbourhoods, enhances community life and builds a better downtown core. We should not forget that keeping people in the downtown core makes it a safer place to be.
There are also broader accomplishments that are in place to address this governments commitment to build a sustainable Yukon economy. There has been funding for the agricultural industry, and I personally know of several people who started with a dream and have managed to build a viable agricultural business in the Yukon. I am sure it is true for many people.
We have taken over responsibility for freshwater fish. We have worked with the Yukon Chamber of Commerce and the Yukon Federation of Labour to strengthen Buy Yukon. The Destination Yukon program was launched in October this year, and this is an important tool for wilderness operators, along with adventure travel development. The Council on the Economy and the Environment was formed in November last year to review progress of commitments made in the Yukon Economic Strategy and the Yukon Conservation Strategy. The new environment act will go through another round of consultation before coming to the Legislature in the spring.
The Yukon Conservation Strategy demonstration projects fund is a major government funding program for environmental education and demonstration projects. This government set up and managed the first trap replacement program in Canada. We support the fur industry lobby and contribute to the Fur Institute of Canada and the Indigenous Survival International, and our wildlife officials are active on the FIC board, the humane trap development committee and the committee drafting a fur strategy for Canadian wildlife ministers.
I think that when we look honestly at the record we can see the commitments made have not been all hollow promises. Our government believes in the future of the Yukon and in solid planning for the future of our territory. The Speech from the Throne outlined the four major goals of this government. So much has been accomplished, some has been planned and some is on the table before us now. However we look at it, our agenda of economic and environmental responsibility and social development continues. We will continue to work for and with all of the people of the Yukon to build a foundation of a solid Yukon for the future.
Mr. Nordling: Speeches from the Throne are much more exciting right after an election when a new party takes over or a mandate is renewed. In this case, the election is long over, and the next election will be quite a while from now. Because of that, this throne speech can best be described as a government going through the motions, and going through the motions without much enthusiasm. In fact, the only items mentioned in this throne speech that have not been mentioned in previous throne speeches are the policy on decentralization, which is being handled like a hot potato that the government was forced to pick and does not want to handle, and the mention of electoral boundaries, the commitment in that regard being only to bring proposals to the Assembly for review. I would bet that nothing substantial will be accomplished in either area before the next election.
Having made those comments, I will give the throne speech the further attention it deserves and try not to mention it again, except to perhaps endorse the commentary by Mary Shiell in the Yukon News, Friday, October 26. For those who did not see it, and for those who only read Hansard, I will quote the final two lines, All in all, the Speech from the Throne was certainly no screamer, but the children could have endured it: no violence, no profanity. Overall rating? Do not rent the video. As for the book, pack a copy in your car emergency kit in case you find yourself stranded in a ditch with no sleeping pills some cold winter night.
What will be much more indicative of the direction the government will be taking in the next year is the budget that will be introduced tomorrow.
Therefore, I would like to conclude with a word on behalf of the people of Porter Creek West. They are hard-working Yukoners and are not adverse to making a full contribution to this territory. What they ask and expect in return is only that the government act responsibly and efficiently. The record of the government has not been that great in the hiring and firing of government employees and its spending habits. What my constituents would like to see is some concrete evidence that this government is serious about limiting excessive outright grants, giveaways, and generally limiting its direct involvement in private enterprise. There is also the perception that millions and millions of dollars are being spent on outside consultants for unnecessary studies. With recession and federal cutbacks being talked about, there is concern about capital expenditures, such as expensive recreational facilities that will cost thousands of dollars to operate and maintain. These are the things that concern Yukoners, along with the issue of health care and education for our children.
The Speech from the Throne was not clear on these issues and I hope the budget speech tomorrow will address these concerns.
As a final comment, I see that the editor of the Whitehorse Star in todays paper must have had a copy of my remarks. He has used stronger words than I, for example, describing the Watson Lake sawmill experience as an ugly, depressing debacle. However, the concerns expressed are essentially the same. To me this indicates that it is not only the people of Porter Creek West, but a Yukon-wide concern, and that despite the self-praise that we heard from the other side, the government must clean up its act and be more efficient before the territory is in real trouble and government employees are being asked to work a four day week.
Mr. Joe: It is good to be back in this House and begin another session of business. I would like to take a few minutes at this time to reply to the Speech from the Throne.
Last week, we all heard about the continuing of this governments work following four goals: completing land claims, building the economy, investing in healthy communities and good government. After many years of hard work, negotiations will continue with each of the First Nations in the Yukon. These talks are the next step after the umbrella final agreement was signed early this year.
Given the state of the relationship between aboriginal peoples and governments in the rest of Canada, I am proud to be part of a government that believes in the justice of a land claim. The government in Yukon has accepted its legal and moral obligations to the First Nations in this territory. This government has not worked to extinguish aboriginal rights. Instead, they have worked to affirm and define these rights as they apply to settlement lands.
With the committed leadership of this government, the Council for Yukon Indians and First Nations in the Yukon, I am sure we can all come to an agreement to finalize the negotiations ahead of us.
The Yukon Conservation Strategy along with the Yukon Economic Strategy and the coming environment act will help the Yukon move through this decade and into the next century with programs and policies of sound economic development that will not harm the environment.
The new Education Act is another example of a major accomplishment of this government and one that is part of the long-term plan for the future of the Yukon. Child care is part of this plan for healthy communities and so are family violence prevention policies and programs.
We are all building toward the future of this territory. We will not have a strong future if we do not work today for the years ahead.
This government is preparing for tomorrow. We have implemented employment equity, increased the minimum wage and made improvements to the fair wage schedule. We brought in human rights legislation, the community development fund, the business development fund and made health care insurance free.
We worked with First Nations on major projects like the Champagne-Aishihik child welfare program and we led the way in native teacher training, the aboriginal language bureau, heritage restoration and employment equity.
There is so much more work to continue.
My hope is that this session of the Legislature will be one of respect and that the people of the Yukon are made the most important concern in all of our discussions.
Mr. Devries: I appreciate the opportunity to be able to respond to the throne speech at this time. This is only the second time I have been able to participate in this ritual.
The past session has been an interesting and educational exercise for myself, both rewarding and often frustrating. It has been rewarding in that I have been able to bring the concerns of all Watson Lake people to this Legislature. The educational part has been to realize that, once elected, I represent the views of those who elected me, as well as being asked to represent the concerns of all the constituents in my riding.
As I looked over my first reply to the throne speech, I could not help but notice I had mentioned the appreciation for the governments attempt to boost our local economy in Watson Lake. Most of the people I represent appreciate the Minister of Economic Developments departments roads to resources program and the fact they are helping fund the road up to the Mt. Hundere project. We appreciate the fact they supported the Mt. Hundere water licence application.
As far as the Minister of Education goes, we appreciate the new high school and gym, and we are going to have the grand opening on November 16. I challenge the Members opposite to a game of basketball. There are several there who look like they could use a little bit of exercise. There are probably a few on this side, too.
With this new high school coming, if it had not been for the Mt. Hundere project and the extra people who are moving into Watson Lake, I and the Minister of Education would have been in trouble. I spearheaded getting this school going in the first place, and we would have ended up with a school and no students.
I can really thank free enterprise for their endeavour to make Watson Lake a prosperous community again, through the Mt. Hundere project. Another thing in the school, which many people may not be aware of, is an in-school store business program, an innovation developed by local staff. It is the pride of our school. I thank for the Minister for allowing this to go ahead. Often I wonder, with the disputes I have often had with the deputy minister, why he is doing all of these things, and I think he is just trying to satisfy my wish list, just to help me keep my mouth shut.
I thank God that there are one or two Ministers who seem to have some vision in this government. I commend the Minister of Community and Transportation Services for the fast-tracking of the Alaska realignment in my riding. I think I should also thank my colleague here, the Member for Kluane, because I feel that it was his suggestion to fast-track some of this by not rebuilding the complete road, but just widening it out here and there in the corners, and improving it a little, and possibly the Minister took his suggestions to task. It definitely makes it easier for me to make it to Whitehorse in one piece and get a chance to stand up here and criticize the government once in a while. Although I must say that during my last trip through there, that section was very slippery and there was a government vehicle laying upside down in the ditch.
In the riding, an appreciation still exists for the governments involvement in the sawmill, to a limited amount. However, in retrospect, we must look back to see what we have learned from this venture, to prevent other communities and future government from drifting into similar situations. When Hyland first opened, the competition stopped local businessmen from proceeding with their plans to operate a mill that would have been called Ptarmigan Timber. Ptarmigan Timber later proceeded to bid on a contract against Hyland, and lost. They could not compete with a subsidized organization. Later Hyland discovered that with its antique equipment it was incapable of meeting the tolerances required and subsequently subcontracted the cutting of this product to Ptarmigan Timber. This arrangement was carried over by the new owners, Yukon Pacific, and eventually Ptarmigan Timber was left with an unpaid bill of $70,000, which, subsequently, forced them out of business for the past year.
Frontier Lumber a small operation also cut back, unable to compete with a subsidized operation, unable to secure a reliable timber lease that is presently operating on a very limited scale. Canus Forest Products got a little timber here and there and finally left town due to the lack of a secure timber supply. Canus Forest Products also left an incredible mess in the forest. This is due to a lack of a forestry policy and the fact that the Yukon is not in charge of this valuable resource. The big question I am asking this government today is if it had not got into the sawmill business, would we have a viable forest industry in Watson Lake today? The opinions vary, but most feel there would be a forest industry, however on a slightly more limited sustainable scale. I am not referring to right now. If you refer to a limited scale of what we have right now, we would have nothing. This would be on what the projections were for the Shieldings mill.
Realistically, this government initiative has put the Yukons forest resource on hold for the past year.
I have talked to several individuals from the federal government about the forest transfer and they say they have not heard from this government since the last election, even though this House has attempted to convey that proceedings are underway. Recently, a federal civil service worker contacted me and asked me if I knew what was going on. Upon checking with the deputy Minister of Renewable Resources, he indicated they were waiting for a response from the feds. I suppose that until our great leader starts some negotiations somewhere, we are at a stalemate.
I ask this Government Leader how he can preach sustainable development and have an environmental strategy when he does not even have control of the resources he is trying to protect?
In the area of the environment, I would suggest this government is so limited in vision and leadership, it cannot do two things at the same time.
If we look at the litter act, you can throw garbage on the Campbell Highway from Watson Lake to Ross River, and it does not matter. From Ross River to Carmacks, you are not allowed to throw garbage on the highway. If you take the litter act to task in the courts, the only place you cannot throw garbage is on the pavement. If it rolls in the ditch, the litter act does not define the right-of-way of the highway, so we do not have a litter act. We have had it this way for five years, and this government talks about being good with environmental issues.
One thing that really stood out for me in the throne speech, and in listening to the Members opposite, is so much of what they say is dedicated to stressing all the great things this government has done. There has never been any doubt in my mind the government has done some great things, but when you do great things, they usually speak for themselves. You do not have to stand there and pat yourself on the back.
To me, when someone stands up and brags about all the good things they have done, it means that, deep down in their hearts, they know they have failed and are just trying to justify being there.
A quick poll in Watson Lake shows support for the existing government down from the last election. I guess we could say that, looking across the country, the trend today is to vote governments out of office.
On leadership, the poll in Watson Lake would show Penikett running neck and neck with Brian Mulroney. Presently, we have three empty stores in the town of Watson Lake. When the Penikett government was elected, we had no empty stores in Watson Lake. One night after the throne speech, when the Yukon Chamber of Commerce was in Watson Lake, the sky was lit up as thousands of cords of wood were being burned at the Watson Lake sawmill. This wood was bought with taxpayers money, somewhere in the neighbourhood of $500 for every man, woman and child in the Yukon.
Some of this wood had not even been paid for. Yukon residents were not permitted to haul it away to heat their homes. In everyones eyes, this mill still belongs to YDC, of which our Government Leader is the head honcho. Last fall, he stood before this House and said, I and I alone am responsible for what the YDC does.
On decentralization, just over a year ago, south regional and north regional supervisors were established in the communities of Watson Lake and Dawson City.
These people were put there so they would know what was going on. When they saw all the problems in the areas of child abuse and incest, et cetera, they tried to tell the government, but it did not have it on its agenda at that time. One of these people resigned in frustration. The other was recently given one month to get his butt into Whitehorse. Is this decentralization? It sounds more like the decentralization without the de to me.
The Government Leader wants to keep his employees where he can control them, rather than listen to the needs of rural Yukon. We need supervisors out there who join the troops in the trenches, instead of sitting in their ivory tower here in Whitehorse. We hope the new social services needs committee that has been established will have the guts to speak out in regard to the needs that exist in the north and south region, although I must mention that Watson Lake is not represented on that board. I suspect I know why that happened, but I do not want to get into that now.
During this session, there will be many questions with regard to the implementation of the new education act. There are already signs of this government hesitating to keep the commitment made to the teachers. One of the key elements in an education system is to have the teachers feel like partners in that system. The teachers are getting very nervous.
During the session, I will be asking about the forestry transfer and having this department stationed in Watson Lake. There will be questions about housing needs and the ongoing bureaucracy about trying to get adequate maintenance done on these houses.
I leafed through the last five throne speeches last week, and I could not help but notice a pattern.
I found that very seldom were the goals and objectives being dealt with before another speech would come along with a load of new ideas to squander consulting fees on and go nowhere. Whatever happened to the concept of following through?
The throne speech pats the government on the back for supporting mining. We have several mines operating in the Yukon, and yet you can look through the entire speech and not once does it mention exploration. How can mines carry on if there is no exploration? A mine is going to run out of ore. You need exploration.
The last comment I would like to make is designed to give us something to really think about. I want people to really think about this. Who is the Minister in charge of the crown corporation that potentially blocked the Public Accounts Committees mandate to review the matter relating to the Hyland Forest Products with a last minute court case, which ironically has not been before the court? Some may say this is an unfair question, but is it really different than the memorandum suggesting students send peace art to Brian Mulroney in regard to the Oka crisis?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I thoroughly enjoyed the comments of the last speaker. I am sure that it was not intentional, but I believe when he was talking about the roads to resources program he was talking about the resource transportation access program, which is run by Community and Transportation Services. It does give me reason to think that my department is not adequately advertising these good programs. Perhaps they should consider reducing the amount spent on the program if it is not deriving that benefit of recognition.
Nevertheless, I do not wish to dwell on a single point. Like others before me I wish to speak in reply to the Speech from the Throne for a couple of principal reasons. I would like very much to reinforce the positive and productive record of this government as was outlined in the throne speech.
While I do not propose to enumerate all of the activities of the government, I certainly want to raise a number of them, at least in part to reflect comments by Members opposite. In that context, I would like to refute a number of statements made by Members opposite about actual events and occurrences that are reflective of government activities.
As the throne speech did articulate and as many of my colleagues and Members opposite have stated, there have been many achievements by the government. I think it is a very fair statement that this government is indeed committed to its election agenda. While that agenda is not yet finished, it definitely is very impressively moving forward.
I think, as the Member for Watson Lake just said, a record of anyone, including government, ought to speak for itself, and I think that is a test that this government would be quite prepared to submit itself to. The throne speech speaks to the priorities of this government, the priorities as we have identified them, as we have reflected the priorities of the people of the Yukon to be, whether in land claims or whether in building healthy communities or whether in building sustainable development or whether in simply ensuring good government.
Those priorities have stood the test of time to date and, I for one, along with my colleagues, would be quite prepared to stand on that record in days to come. I do not profess to speak to every positive and good initiative of the government but a number of them do come to mind. I think over the period of the past five years, not just the past 18 months, and I think of some of the very impressive changes that have taken place.
I think of the devolution of authority to municipalities with the funding to carry out the increased responsibility. I think of the impressive record in the improvement of health services. I think of the very impressive record in the construction of highways and in the maintenance of the highways. I think most particularly of the revamping of the Education Act and, I say quite humbly to all Members, that I am proud of that record. I am quite comfortable in saying to you Mr. Speaker that that record is a substantial contribution to the quality of life of all Yukon people, whether in the communities, in the very rural parts of the Yukon or whether here in Whitehorse. There has been commitment, there has been effort, there has been success and it is our intention that should continue.
I think the changes that other speakers on both sides of the House have spelled out support that. I think the changes that we have seen over the past while are clearly a response to what Yukon people have sought for years. In those past five years, contrary to what is suggested by some Members opposite, I think we have seen some real attention to rural communities and not at the expense of Whitehorse and not just for the sake of spending money but for the real reasons of creating jobs, of improving infrastructure and of improving services to people. It has been done successfully, it has been done repeatedly and it has been done consistently and to the best ability that we can with the available funds, and we will continue to do that.
Some have suggested that it is at the expense of Whitehorse that some of the rural communities are seeing improved services. Well, I do not see in Beaver Creek a $50 million college facility. I do not see in Mayo a $7 million arts centre. It is not, as has been suggested by some Members, that it is at the expense of Whitehorse.
Mr. Lang: What about the curling rink? Surely you could add onto it.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I disagree with Members opposite when they suggest that the rural communities have not been adequately served. I think they have been reasonably well served, and they will continue to be reasonably well served by this government.
Mr. Phillips: Talk about a diversified economy.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I think those communities have seen the kind of support from this government that they have never seen before. The Member suggests that I should talk about diversified economy. I come from a community where a diversified economy is the order of the day. At the same time that we are making efforts, whether with our infrastructure monies, whether with our resource support monies or whether with our decentralization initiatives, we are speaking to the decentralization as well as the diversification of those communities and their ability to sustain themselves, and their ability to maintain some stability in what they do to continue a reasonable livelihood. Diversification goes hand-in-hand with decentralization.
When I heard some of the statements that were being made, both in Question Period and in debates that followed, I have to agree with the Premier. I do not think I know for sure whether or not the Members opposite support decentralization. We heard an attack during Question Period about the need for government space. We heard an attack about an alleged contradiction in the acquisition of space, that somehow by this government showing a responsible attitude, showing that it has a planning approach toward acquiring office space, that somehow that reflects a contradiction, on top of which is decentralization, and I say, Hogwash.
I wonder if Members opposite are offended that they have not supported decentralization until now and are now upset that it is another case of the government getting one on them.
For an Opposition whose first order of business, as soon as they get into power, is going to be to roll heads, I have to ask a very blunt question. The Members opposite are so concerned about the maintenance of the office space we have. I have pointed out to Members by tabling documents and in Question Period and in ministerial statements and in statements during budget the various justifications we have for the office space strategy and the planning we have undertaken. We have a multitude of reasons as to why we are doing what we are doing and why we are being so methodical. It is not a big creation of additional space. Members seem to think that the minute you acquire a new space when you might be giving up the old space, somehow that is an increase. It does not always work that way.
By the space plan that I tabled to Members last spring of the infamous 31 moves of the time, Members know the specific plans for the branches, departments and the rest of government as to where they are going to go and what space they will acquire and what space will be given up.
There is not even a suggestion that there is unnecessary, unreasonable or wanton growth in the demands for space. I have tabled this for Members. They need only go back to the documents and look. We have been taking on a considerable number of programs from the federal government. We have gained a number of programs that require additional space.
It is not six positions. It is considerably more than that. We have enhanced a number of programs. Even the issue of devolving programs requires additional bodies to negotiate those agreements. What are the Members suggesting? Are they suggesting we should abandon space in order to reduce demands? What are they proposing we abandon? Are they suggesting we give up the waste management initiative? Do I give the B and C airports back to the federal government? Is that what the Members are suggesting?
I am not sure what they are trying to tell me. Are they suggesting we drop the programs that address family violence that Members speak so passionately about that are very real and serious for this government? What are Members suggesting?
I am not sure if Members are serious when they suggest they do not know where the bodies are being housed. Are Members such good employers, because we know they will roll heads, that they will allow crowded quarters and substandard space for accommodation for their employees? Is this what we are saying? Are we going to give mine safety back to the federal government, something we pride ourselves on having? I am not sure what Members are suggesting.
Members opposite seem to be raising some money issue and I certainly would not be the first person to suggest that their track record on the wise expenditure of public funds is to create aspirin and wine accounts for themselves. That cannot be forgotten. So when wise expenditure of funds comes into play, I think this government has managed its funds very wisely and to the greatest benefit.
The two Members for Riverdale will probably recall my explanation to the Chamber of Commerce. One of the priorities this government faces is reduced expenditures and funding because of various cutbacks. It is very critical to us that that we use our funds even more wisely that we have in the past.
When I ran a hotel, it was a fundamental principle that you tried to get the best bang for your buck. That is a story that is repetitive even in government circles. Members went to an extreme length to criticize the suggestion that this government use its need for space to leverage economic opportunity in the community of Whitehorse. It seems to me I recall a Member or two who actually challenged the decision of the government to rent space, and add to it an additional objective of levering some improved benefit to the community of Whitehorse. Members disagreed with that; I did not. I said that if we need space, we need good space for our employees, we need substantial space. We will move out of sub-standard space and will get something more for that. We will get the best bang for our buck. When the concept of a convention centre came up, Members stood in the House and said Sinful, disgraceful, flaunting with the tendering process. They challenged every aspect they could imagine. The fact of the matter is we now have a letter of intent to acquire space that will vault a convention centre into the Whitehorse community - a $40 million project that Members could not support. That is getting the best bang for your buck. When you get a major international hotel chain wrapped into the tourist industry in this town and create increased employment as a spinoff, and Members suggest that is not diversification somehow.
Members opposite took time this afternoon to challenge the entire issue of decentralization, particularly on the basis of space, on the basis of housing, and basically on the principle that decentralization somehow is an uncertain and bad thing. On one hand in respect to decentralization, Members suggest our efforts have taken too long to be put into place. We have talked about this for a long time and finally we are coming to it. In the next breath they criticize us for moving too quickly, but I doubt they would have slowed it down.
They say that somehow they would have slowed it down, that somehow they would have done it some other way. I am not sure they know themselves what they would do. On the issue of decentralization, they are going to have to decide whether they are for it or against it, and on which side of the fence they are going to come down, not with one foot on either side. That can be painful.
The issue of decentralization is one very close to my heart. Having come from a rural community, as do some Members opposite, I can be particularly understanding when it comes to recognizing the importance of a payroll in a small community. One single payroll in a community of 300 or 400 people makes a big difference. A single paycheque goes a long way. When we are talking about decentralization, we are not necessarily saying that there will be a wholesale movement of people from Whitehorse offices into the rural communities, who will instantly require housing and massive new office space.
I expect that a good number of people will be hired from those communities, who may well have their own housing, who may well have roots in that community, and who may choose to construct. The burden of providing the housing will not necessarily be solely on the government.
As I indicated this afternoon in Question Period, we have done a preliminary survey of office space needs in the communities. In virtually every community, we can accommodate the decentralization initiatives. That is with planning, foresight and thinking ahead.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Byblow: It would be cruel of me to suggest the movement of the Chambers to another community. I am sure that would not be fair, even though, I guess, historically, at one time we were in another community.
I would submit to Members that their comments this afternoon reflected a number of contradictions and a number of confused understandings of things. I heard the Leader of the Official Opposition at one point talk about how the communities need assistance. I do not disagree; communities do need assistance. But then I think back to my colleague, the critic for Government Services and the cruel attack she made during the last sitting of the House, about fuel contracts. I find a real contradiction in those positions. On the one hand, we have an admission that communities do need support and help and on the other hand we hear other Members of their caucus suggesting that where we want to help a community, such as in the fuel contract swap, that it should not be done. I have a real difficulty understanding that contradiction. On the other hand, the Member raised, repeatedly through the summer, back in the spring, the entire issue surrounding the tendering of the contracts with the South Highway School. What the Member was saying publicly was that we should have broken the rules of the tendering process in order to have awarded it to a particular local contractor. On the one hand, she suggested that we should abide by the tendering process; on the other hand the Member suggested we should break it. It is that simple and that clear and that is a very serious contradiction.
Members opposite spent considerable time talking about some assumed wastage of public funds. They cranked up some numbers in the billions and, of course, they talked about the expenditures of this government and somehow they would do things differently.
Again I have to put the question to Members opposite: what are they proposing that we should be cutting? Are they saying that we should cut our water and sewer projects in the communities? Are Members suggesting that I stop the water delivery, the water intake project in Carcross? Oh, I know what the Members would want; they would want this government to cut the block funding because they prefer that block funding should not exist and that they should make the decisions on the communities single-handedly. Well, I do not think that we believe that. We believe that block funding should be in place, that it should be in the communities hands to allocate at their discretion, and that we should not direct project by project as has been the past practice.
The Member for Kluane said earlier today that he was tired of hearing about who opened the mine at Faro. I have to tell the Member in total humility that I, too, am tired of always having to correct the record. I have never heard such a series of contradictions as I have heard about Faro. To be perfectly blunt, I have found some of the statements regarding Faro a bit offensive.
Somehow, there is the nonsense being perpetrated by Members opposite that the previous Conservative government - federal or perhaps territorial - had the only thing to do with re-opening Faro. Somehow, the previous territorial or federal Conservative government single-handedly re-opened Faro. I say that is not true. I can say this to the Members because I was there at the time the bottom fell out of metal prices and Dome Petroleum gave up the ghost. I was there when the stripping program was put in place. The stripping program was a loan arrangement from the federal government. I was there when the Lassonde rationalization plan was being assembled. I was there when this government came to office, and there was not a buyer on the street in May 1985. I was on the phone with the Premier at the time in discussions about possible sale arrangements for the mine.
To put things in their correct perspective, it was a combination of federal and territorial effort of this government that put the package together that saw Faro re-open.
Members opposite and the federal government did not put the NCPC power deal in place. Neither Members opposite nor the federal government struck the financial arrangements regarding any acquisition of assets of buildings in Faro to create cashflow for the mine in the fall of 1985. Neither Members opposite nor the federal government arranged the transportation deal with Alaska. As I recall, the Alaskans were not even talking to us then because they were so mad with the previous Conservative government of the territory.
Those are the facts. This government can take credit, but it will take that credit in conjunction with recognition of assistance from the federal government. That is what has been said, and that is in the record.
It should also be said there were a lot of people involved who dedicated a lot of time and effort to the assembly of the deal that ultimately saw the re-opening of Faro. There was a lot of midnight oil burned for several tough months. It was led by this Premier, who criss-crossed Canada to help put the deal together - as well as internationally - to help secure the market for the product. Yes, Mr. Nielsen participated; yes, the federal government participated, but this government led the way. The record should show that, without this government, the federal government would not have opened Faro, and that is a fact. So there.
Some Hon. Members: (inaudible)
Speaker: Order please, would you let the Minister continue.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Since Members are inciting me to comment on the Watson Lake sawmill, I will do so briefly, just to correct the record. However much Members opposite would like to lay the entire blame for everything that went wrong on this government, the fact is that mill was run by private sector managers throughout, and that is a fact. The Member talked about logs being sold. That is a fact. Who managed the mill? Was it this government? Was it this administration?
I am sure the Member for Watson Lake would be more than pleased to fill his colleagues in on the private-sector management. The Members also suggested that somehow the government sold the logs. The fact is that the court-appointed receiver sold the logs. I am sure the Members would like to hang everything on the government but look at the facts. I told Members I would be brief on the subject. We are dealing with it in Public Accounts and we are dealing with it in the courts. I am prepared to debate the issue at any time Members want to raise it, but my time is prime for my constituency when I am on my feet in the House and I have not spoken about my constituency yet.
However, prior to speaking about my constituency there is something I do wish to raise that Members spoke about earlier today. They talked about the Speech from the Throne as not being anything new and that there was no direction. Again I could not disagree more. In fact, I suggest to you that my disagreement is in fact said by Members opposite.
In one breath they say the speech was boring, the issues are boring, but in the next breath they turn around and they compliment all the positive initiatives. They talk about the progress in land claims. They compliment the hamlet development that is taking place. They compliment the environment act. They compliment the home owners grant initiative - all of those things that speak to good government, that speak to the development of sustainable economy. They talk about healthy communities. They talk about land claims. There is progress. There is help. There is success. I cannot understand how Members do not see a direction or can say that there is nothing taking place. I have indicated in my opening remarks that I was proud to be part of the initiatives that have taken place, particularly in the last 18 months, and certainly in whatever measure of support in the previous several years.
I would say that the direction of this government is very clear, that it is priorized and that it is anything but directionless.
Perhaps I could be permitted a moment or two to briefly touch on some comments about my riding. Members may have noticed that my riding, the community of Faro, was not slated in any specific decentralization initiative in year 1 of the first phase. It is perhaps fortunate the community of Faro was able to procure several positions in the last couple of years, which were relocated to the community. I speak of the conservation officer who the Minister of Renewable Resources mentioned; I speak of a couple of Highways positions that were decentralized to that community a while back; I think of the Government Services worker who now operates out of the community. In that respect, Faro has received some efforts at decentralization.
It is an interesting situation in my community. Our problems are totally unlike typical problems of other communities. Faros problems are problems of success. There is no housing. There is no space. There are limited options for expansion. All the trailers that were moved out at one time are relocated back into the community and in full use. Every available lot that was in use in the past is again in use. Every accommodation that was in use is again in use, and we are short of space. At this time, decentralization would not work.
We have many things to deal with, and they are problems related to burgeoning growth and economic activity blossoming in that town. You cannot rent a commercial space. There is none available. Any space that comes onstream is immediately gobbled up by another small business that comes onstream.
Those are healthy problems, but they are problems, nevertheless. The municipal council is struggling with its next development for creating some housing and creating some available space. Certainly the effort is not reduced at all by the demands of continuing growth by the mine in that community. Certainly the problems of my community, as related to growth, are a much healthier set of problems than the kind of problems that we faced in 1983, 1984 and 1985.
Recently I held a public meeting with over 70 people attending where the principal issue was housing. I believe after housing the next issue was banking, so that reflects the nature of the community dilemma caused by the associated problems of growth, of development, of need for expansion, of need for tighter control on that economy, on that growth.
Speaker: Order please. The time being 9:30 p.m., pursuant to Standing Order 2(6) this House now stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. tomorrow.
The House adjourned at 9:30 p.m.
The following Sessional Papers were tabled October 29, 1990:
Yukon Human Rights Commission Report on Activities, Year ended March 31, 1990 (Speaker - Johnston)
Canada/Yukon/Council for Yukon Indians Health Transfer Framework Agreement (Penikett)