Thursday, November 1, 1990 - 1:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. At this time, we will proceed with Prayers.
Speaker: We will proceed with the Order Paper.
Introduction of Visitors.
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Speaker: I have for tabling the report of the Auditor General on the examination of financial statements of the Government of the Yukon for the year ended March 31, 1990.
Are there any further documents for tabling?
Reports of Committees?
Introduction of Bills.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
Bill No. 4: Introduction and First Reading
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I move that Bill No. 4, entitled the Health Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Health and Human Resources that Bill No. 4, entitled Health Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Motion for introduction and first reading of Bill No. 4 agreed to
Speaker: Notices of Motion for the Production of Papers.
Notices of Motion.
Statements by Ministers.
Staff Training and Development
Hon. Ms. Joe: It is the policy of this government to encourage the training and development of staff to increase the capabilities and responsiveness of our workers. Today I will outline a number of initiatives we are taking to this end. The government has steadily increased the range of courses available for skill development for employees at lower and middle levels over the past several years.
The students in the first intake of the management development program are due to graduate this February. There will be 20 to 25 graduates at that time. The second group of students in this two-year program has just begun the second year. More than half of the MDP students are women.
I am very pleased to announce the Yukon Masters of Public Administration program has now commenced. This fall several undergraduate courses are being offered in intensive study format on weekends. Graduate courses begin in April. Considerable time and effort has gone into ensuring that the graduate level courses will meet the needs of Yukon students. This has required considerable Canadianization of the established curriculum from the University of Alaska Southeast in Juneau. In addition, a number of unique Yukon case studies, covering such topics as the Yukon 2000, employment equity, and caribou management, are being developed.
Of the 35 students in the program, 10 full-time students and another 10 part-time students are current YTG employees, sponsored by the government.
This joint venture with Alaska is another step in the growing relationship between that jurisdiction and our own and is consistent with this governments position that there is much to be gained through collaboration with other northern jurisdictions rather than constantly looking to the south for assistance.
The Public Service Commission is currently working to develop a program to assist staff employed at the more senior levels of the clerical and secretarial ranks to develop their talents so that they can progress to positions in administrative and junior-management ranks. We expect to have the program up and running by the end of this fiscal year.
The PSC has researched senior management development programs offered by various institutions across the country.
The Public Service Commission is currently putting together a series of seminars that will take the best elements of some of these programs and tailor them to meet the identified training and development needs of senior managers in the public service of the Yukon Government. The first offerings in this program will begin early next spring.
Part of this governments continuing efforts to be a model employer is taking a sincere interest in developing the talents of our current staff to the greatest degree possible. The initiatives that I have spoken about today are all directed toward that end. Specifically, they support our goals of employment equity, local hire and human resource planning. We firmly believe that a well-trained and efficient public service more effectively delivers the quality programming Yukoners have come to expect.
Mrs. Firth: What can I say. It almost sounds too good to be true.
We on this side of the Legislative Assembly support any initiatives that encourage educational development or the acquiring of more and better skills within the public service. We will be supporting the government with this initiative. But I would hardly go as far as to say that this government is a model employer. I would like to have that on the record for today in conjunction with this ministerial statement. We will be watching to see how the initiatives are being encouraged, what the participation is and, of course, what the costs of this project will be.
Speaker: This then brings us to Question Period.
Question re: Decentralization
Mr. Lang: I would like to lead off with a discussion that has been brought up since we initially sat and that is the question of office space requirements and the overall policy of decentralization.
The government has committed itself to renting 30,000 square feet. This is the size of two football fields. It is a large area. That announcement was made prior to the policy of decentralization being announced. The government has now committed itself to transferring 100 positions from Whitehorse to the rural communities. What I and the public do not understand is why we need so much office space if the decision is to transfer 100 positions.
Mr. Lang: Can the Minister of Government Services tell me why the government is going to rent 30,000 square feet of new office space when they have announced 100 positions are being transferred to the rural communities?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The short answer is that there is no comparison between the 30,000 square feet of office space and decentralization. The 30,000 square feet, sought by tender, is to replace existing space for a department, specifically Renewable Resources, currently located on Burns Road. In decentralization, positions are going to be placed into rural communities on an individual and branch basis during the coming three years.
I remind the Member that this government began from a position of 40,000 less than it ought to have had when the plan was first announced earlier this year. Combining the attempt to meet office space standards and having enough elbow room and adequate space for existing employees, the 30,000 is accommodating the replacement of existing space.
Mr. Lang: It does not add up. We have 100 civil service positions in Whitehorse that are presently occupying in the neighbourhood of 10,000 to 15,000 square feet, but are being transferred out of town. There is a free office for each civil service position being transferred.
What I do not understand is why we are renting 30,000 square feet of new office space. This is the size of the old Yukon Vocational School. The size of the building is 30,000 square feet. That is the size they need for that requirement. If we are transferring 100 positions to the communities, why are we not renting 10,000 to 15,000 less square feet because that square footage is going to be required in the outlying communities for these people to do their work.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Let me repeat for the Member. We are beginning from a shortfall of 40,000 square feet to meet basic space standards for the current number of employees.
We are attempting to provide adequate space, according to office space standards that were introduced into this House back in 1988, through our acquisition of space, on a gradual basis. We are not going to be able to do it overnight. In respect to decentralization, we are transferring, in many instances, a single position; in other instances, a branch of two and three positions. You cannot take the collective total of those positions, multiply by the square feet and say that that is what you have vacated, not at the time that you are trying to make up 40,000 square feet and meet the needs of relocated space. Now I should point out, to be perfectly clear, that in some instances decentralization will in fact reduce the requirement for space in Whitehorse, and this is part of the space plan. Certain office space will be given up. I have indicated to Members previously that we indeed are going to...
Speaker: Order please. Will the Member please conclude his answer.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Yes, I will conclude, Mr. Speaker. We are, as a part of our strategy plan, going to be giving up less-than-adequate space, the more inferior space, and that is part of the plan.
Mr. Lang: The Minister must think that the public is going down the Yukon River in a wheelbarrow. The public document that the Minister refers to, on February 28, 1990, talks about the need...
Speaker: Order please. Will the Member please get to the supplementary question.
Mr. Lang: Yes, I will, Mr. Speaker. A new question?
Question re: Decentralization
Mr. Lang: The public document that was presented to us addressed the need for new development or new space was 23,500 square feet. That is in the document that the Minister tabled in this House. Yet he stands in his place and tells the public that he actually needs 40,000 square feet, which does not add up to the numbers that we have here.
My question to the Minister is this: once again, why are we committing ourselves to 30,000 square feet, 6,500 more square feet than what we were told less than a year ago - eight months ago. Why are we committing ourselves to 30,000 square feet when we have all these offices that are no longer going to be required in Whitehorse because the service is going to be provided in the communities?
It just does not add up. Could he explain to a simple-minded person like myself how he can tell the public that he needs, on their behalf, to rent an additional building the size of the old Yukon College in order to meet space requirements when we are transferring 100 positions throughout the territory?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member is somewhat confused in interpreting the space plan that was tabled in the House.
He refers to the 23,000 square feet that is required. He is correct. That is the Department of Renewable Resources replacement requirement. It is just under 25,000 square feet that is required to relocate the department.
In addition to that, I announced, at the same time that I laid the plan in the House, that we are operating from a shortfall of 40,000 square feet to meet existing requirements. Combined with that, as indicated through a number of the 31 moves, are a number of requirements for space as a result of various program enhancements, that is, additional people employed to carry out new initiatives of the government, additional people acquired as a result of devolution and, as I have said repeatedly, additional square footage required to meet the basic space standards. In sum, 23,000 square feet refers to the Burns Road facility replacement. The additional 7,000, if you will, to meet the 30,000 square feet requirment, is a combination of shortfall for existing programs, enhancements of programs that are ongoing and devolution. The space plan outlines that for the Member.
Mr. Lang: I am not getting very far. The public is going to have to accept the reality that the government is going to be growing in leaps and bounds in Whitehorse and at the same time will be transferring positions outside of Whitehorse.
I would like to direct a question to the Minister of Education. Yesterday I asked the Minister, and he chose not to stand and the Minister of Government Services stood up for him, if he could confirm that the position of municipal advisor was slated to go to...
Speaker: Order please. Would the Member please get to his question.
Mr. Lang: ... Mayo initially. Can the Minister of Education tell us if that is true?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member is asking if something is true. Can the Member clarify for me, so I am not puzzled by his line of questioning both yesterday and beginning today, just what his question is? What does he want to know?
Mr. Lang: We are very concerned about how it was decided upon which positions went to what community. We are concerned about the kind of political involvement of various Members of the Cabinet. There are some allegations being made that some political favouritism was being played.
I would like to ask the Minister of Education, because he is the only one who can answer this, if it is true that he received a letter requesting that the municipal advisor position be sent to Dawson City as opposed to Mayo.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The Minister of Education, as the Member well knows, is not responsible for the Department of Community and Transportation Services, nor the decentralization program.
Every day, Ministers receive representations about one thing or another. As I told the Member yesterday in answer to an identical question, there are dozens of proposals about what positions should go where and in what communities. The Member asks about political interference. Is the Member is suggesting that somehow this is not properly a Cabinet decision? If he is, then we disagree profoundly and I know that he, had he been Minister and had ever considered anything like decentralization, would have had a hand in the decision. The decisions were made by Cabinet. They were announced by Cabinet. The final decisions about what positions went to which community were, based on recommendations from the Public Service, made by Cabinet and by Management Board.
Question re: Decentralization
Mr. Lang: It is the first time in a long time I have seen the Minister of Education speechless and not prepared to answer the question. My concern is this: it is a question of political favouritism, a question of political decisions being made and representation being made to Cabinet by people within the public service who seem to know things more in advance than other people. I am talking about fairness. I am talking about justice. I want to know from the Minister of Education, did he receive a letter that the municipal advisor position not be put in Mayo but that it be put in Dawson City?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member is attempting to seek out how a decision is made. The Premier has indicated to him, and I have indicated to him, that the ultimate decision respecting any decentralization effort is one that is endorsed and, in its final analysis, made by Cabinet. The issue surrounding the municipal advisor position was one that was recommended by me to my Cabinet colleagues. It is a decision endorsed by Cabinet. It is a decision that is spelled out in documents circulated to Members opposite and to the communities. That is the long and the short of it. Decentralization initiatives were numerous in origin. In the final analysis, Cabinet made the final decision and that is it.
Mr. Lang: Fairness is how you treat your employees. The point being is, it seems, and it is obviously true, that some members within the public service got the opportunity to choose the community they were going to and some did not, and I want to know why. Why, for an example, regarding the position of municipal advisor, which was slated to go to Mayo, did the Cabinet, or the Minister of Education, comply with the wishes of one particular employee to be transferred to a different community when, for an example, the ...
Speaker: Would the Member please get to the supplementary question.
Mr. Lang: ...well, I am on my question. Why, for an example, did the career services program staff not know that they were being transferred until three hours prior to the public announcement? My question is: why was there certain treatment for some employees and other treatment for other employees? Do we have first-class employees and second-class employees?
Speaker: Order please.
Mr. Lang: Whoever can answer. Maybe the Member for Renewable Resources.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Now that the Member has touched on the subject of career services, of course I will take responsibility for answering the question. I will answer the entire question by saying that there was no favouritism for any particular employee involved in decentralization. There were a number of factors considered by Cabinet with respect to the decentralization moves, including service delivery requirements, et cetera, and the Cabinet made the final decision on all the positions respecting decentralization. The people at the career services branch were given notice, as were all other employees who may have been affected, given that their positions are slated for transfer next year, or perhaps sooner, and the treatment given to one employee was the same as was given to any other.
Question re: Career services program
Mrs. Firth: My questions are neat and clean and short. Now the clock can start ticking. On October 29, in the Assembly here, the Minister of Education stood up in this House and told us that with respect to the career services program being dismantled, annihilated, or whatever he has done to it, that the CEIC office in Whitehorse has a mandate to provide career counselling service and can provide that to Whitehorse. I spoke to the program director of CEIC in Vancouver, who indicated to me that CEIC was an employment agency, not a career counselling service and that she saw the career services program as a complementary service, and in fact referred people to this branch. She also commented that CEIC had a very good working relationship with the branch.
Why did the Minister say that the mandate of the CEIC was to provide career counselling when in fact that is not its mandate?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The CEIC does include career counselling in its mandate. I am not going to be the stalwart defender of how they deliver on their mandate, but nevertheless they do have a mandate to provide career counselling and that was recognized by the regional director, as much as I am informed with respect to that matter. In terms of making the decision to relocate career services from Whitehorse - not to abandon it or annihilate it or anything of the sort, but to decentralize it - the decision was made that a combination of CEIC and Yukon College was - and incidentally, for the Member for Porter Creek Easts information, the college has four counsellors and not three - the decision was made that because the CEIC and the Yukon College have career counsellors themselves, they could provide service to the Whitehorse area alone, and the decentralized career services, operated through the advanced education branch, can provide a more thorough service to rural Yukon. That was the reason for the decision. I believe that it improves the delivery.
It is obviously true that if we were to be able to add more positions to the system, we could provide an even better service, but in terms of the positions we have, we feel that this would be a better break-out.
Mrs. Firth: Yukon College provides student counselling; the Canada Employment and Immigration Commission at most provides employment counselling. Neither provides career counselling.
Yesterday the Minister said there was consultation with CEIC about programming. Yet, when I spoke to the director, she said there was no consultation, she was simply informed by the Deputy Minister of Education...
Speaker: Order, please. Will the Member please get to the supplementary question.
Mrs. Firth: ...that this was going to take place. I would like to ask the Minister why he said there was consultation when the director is saying that there was not.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am surprised that the Member thinks that consultation means we are going to negotiate with the federal government or CEIC on programs we deliver. Consultation involved the deputy minister and the assistant deputy minister speaking with senior people in CEIC, informing them that the service could be better delivered through a decentralized operation. The discussion that ensued was with respect to what was going to happen territory-wide with respect to service delivery and it was made obvious that there was some...
Speaker: Order please. Will the Member please conclude his answer.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: ...capacity for delivery in Whitehorse and currently none located in rural Yukon and it would be better to decentralize the service to provide a better overall service.
Mrs. Firth: I am very concerned. The Minister stood up to correct the record in this House and he did not do so; in fact he made it worse.
Informing someone of something that is about to happen is not consultation. This is a very serious matter...
Speaker: Order please. Will the Minister please get to the supplementary question.
Mrs. Firth: I am just starting my question. The Minister has said there was consultation and there was not.
I would like to ask the Minister how he can justify to the Yukon public, who require this service, how simply informing CEIC of this change constitutes consultation?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I can only reiterate that it is not the governments intention, in terms of consultation with the federal government or, in particular, CEIC, to seek their concurrence on initiatives we plan to take. However, we did, in the context of arranging a meeting on a number of labour market matters, discuss the issue in early September and I did correct the record to make that clear. We did discuss the decentralization of career services to provide better delivery to the Yukon.
Clearly this is not the annihilation of the service at all. It is an improved delivery of the service, in my view. Now there will be career counsellors not only in Whitehorse but also in rural Yukon.
Question re: Decentralization
Mr. Phelps: Now we have the Finance Minister in the speechifying mood I have a few questions myself. I hope he does not take too long to answer them because we only have 45 minutes for Question Period and I want to get more than one or two questions in.
The position of the side opposite is that the decentralization policy and program has been in the works for a long time, and they have very carefully prepared and have gotten wonderful estimates.
I direct the attention of the Finance Minister to the statistics he has given everyone in the back of his speech on page 43, and I would like to compare them with the statistics he provided us with in his speech last year on page 39. Under distribution by community, last year operation and maintenance for Carcross was $2,636,000; this year, with decentralization upon us, it has gone down to $940,000. For Dawson City, last year, $7,472,000 for operation and maintenance; with this wonderful decentralization it is $4,900,000.
If you go through the figures you will see they have not anticipated this policy at all. Rather, it is the opposite. In community after community the operation and maintenance attributed to the affected town, city or village, has gone down. I would like to know why, in view of the fact these people say they have a handle on what the cost will be.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Member has made the mistake earlier today, and is making the mistake again, of interpreting statistics without having them explained to him. On page 43 the distribution by community in the O&M and capital estimates, and in particular operation and maintenance, has been factored differently than it was previously because it was determined that to attribute an extra $2 million to Carcross was not being accurate in terms of assessing where the services were being provided. They were provided in the Carcross district, but not in Carcross. What we have done for the actual community of Carcross or Dawson City is factor in those services that are directly attributable to those communities, and factor in the district funding to the territory-wide line item at the bottom. There has been no change in service delivery to rural Yukon.
There has been no decrese in delivery to rural Yukon that will show up in these figures, because there has been no service delivery change in rural Yukon.
Mr. Phelps: This goes to show you just how misleading many of the governments statistics are, and that is the point I will be making later on when I speak in debate on the budget, later on this afternoon.
Can he tell us that Carcross, for example, at $940,000 this year, down from $2,600,0000, that the $940,000 factors in the four jobs that are supposed to be moving to Carcross?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am assuming it does. Let me point out that the statistics that the government is providing are certainly much superior. If the Member wants to go back to the budget books of 1984, these are much superior; they are even superior to last years because the statistics are becoming more and more accurate all the time. There is more and more of an intent to provide better and better information to this Legislature though our budget books. The statistics are not misleading. What is misleading is the Members willful misinterpretation of the statistics.
Mr. Phelps: This is the Ministers speech, his figures, and no explanation contained in the book - none. I want to know if the $940,000 O&M for Carcross factors in the four jobs. I want to know if the Dawson City figures, down from $7,400,000 to $4,900,000, factor in the jobs going to Dawson. Can he tell me?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Member says that there is no explanation at all and one must look to the explanation at the bottom of the page, which does indicate that the highway expenditures are factored in as a proportion of the territory-wide budget, in terms of general explanation.
With respect to the statistics themselves, the point of the budget debate and the budget discussion is that the Members opposite ask questions with respect to detail. If they are going to willfully manipulate the figures - we could have 1500 tables explaining what is going on in the budget and the Members would still misinterpret those tables. Let me tell you, it takes Committee debate - not Question Period but Committee debate - to determine the details of this budget. If Members are going to willfully misrepresent what is in these tables, then that is their decision to make.
Question re: Decentralization
Mr. Phelps: It is this deceptive Minister who did not include the $16 million in the overall expenditure column of his budget when they estimate what that money is going to be spent. It is this deceptive Minister that included $20-odd million of capital as a comparison when they know it is going to lapse, when the previous Finance Minister has said that every year the capital has been lapsing by about $20 million a year. It is in Hansard, I can show it to him.
I want the Minister to tell us and the public of the Yukon how the explanation has been made to those who read this budget speech, because his budget speech last year, the same page, in the same column at the bottom, said includes highway construction and all other expenditures not directly attributable to a community, e.g. generalized government equipment purchases. This year, guess what it says, it says, includes highway construction and all other expenditures not directly attributable to a community, e.g. generalized government equipment purchases.
How does one text differ from the other?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It does not. The budget has been prepared in exactly the same way as it has always been prepared, only better - of course only better, it will always improve. The figures that were put into the budget book - the way we compare figures, the way we budget figures - has been done exactly the same way as it has been done in all the time that I have been in this Legislature. There has been absolutely no deception, absolutely none, with respect to the comparisons that we have provided. And let me tell you that what we have been trying to do is to improve the information in our books so when we define expenditures, when we define an expenditure like Carmacks, Carmacks under the capital side is getting $4,462,000. I would hope that in the future what we could do is explain better that that $4 million is not all going to Carmacks but is going to Robert Campbell Highway construction in the vicinity, so we can better provide information to Members, so we can improve the information to Members and so we do not deceive the Members in any way.
Speaker: Would the Member please conclude his answer.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Members are taking a particular table and trying to wrap a whole ideological speech around it. It will not work because the two cannot compare when we are trying to improve information.
Mr. Phelps: If the Minister is uncomfortable with being called deceptive, perhaps he could give us a straight answer for once.
I asked him two or three questions ago and several times since whether or not the figure for Carcross on page 43 of his speech, $940,000, down from $2.6 million last year, includes the O&M costs of the four employees moving to Carcross. Also, whether or not the Dawson City figure, $4.9 million down from $7.4 million, includes the person years being moved there under the decentralization program.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am going to have to take notice on the question. It is obviously a detailed one. I do not know whether the program is in Carcross or if it is territory-wide. The services have not decreased in rural Yukon.
We try to make the information we provide to the House as accurate as possible. We cannot tell the whole story all in one chart, as the Member is obviously aware. There is every attempt to be as accurate and complete as possible. If Members want to ask a detailed question, I will certainly try to accommodate them.
Mr. Phelps: Obviously it is not a very thought-out program if they have not included the numbers. Perhaps I could ask his partner, the Minister of Community and Transportation Services, whether or not the $940,000 factor into the four jobs being moved to Carcross that they have thought about for so long.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The lethal logic is that, because a particular chart in this book may or may not include the four positions in one line as opposed to another line, it does not say anything about the well thought-out decentralization plan.
It is impossible to tell the whole story about rural service delivery in a single chart. We will do our best, but we cannot be perfect in being able to provide information in one chart. It is not appropriate...
Speaker: Order please. Will the Minister please conclude his answer.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: ...to ask this of us. I am not deceptive at all. I am trying to provide better information all the time. With respect to this chart, we are trying to provide as much information as we can. We cannot tell the whole story.
Speaker: Order please. Would the Member please conclude his answer.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: To the extent that I possibly can, I will try to get any and all information the Member requests.
Question re: Ministerial travel
Mr. Phillips: I have a written question I would like to read into the record. It is to the Hon. Tony Penikett, Minister responsible for the Executive Council Office. I would like to request that the Ministers department provide the House with a breakdown of the cost of ministerial travel for the period of December 1, 1989 through October 25, 1990, by Minister and by trip. Also a breakdown of all publicly funded trips by MLAs. Also a list of all trips funded from departmental budgets.
Question re: Decentralization
Mr. Devries: I will direct this question to the Minister of Renewable Resources as his community was also involved in this move.
In August of this year, the Department of Health and Human Resources centralized, not decentralized, two positions by moving two social service regional supervisors from Watson Lake and Dawson City to Whitehorse. Upon reviewing the recently announced decentralization policy, I noticed neither position is in the present scheme.
Does the Minister know if these two positions will be returned to Watson Lake and Dawson City in this new decentralization policy in the future phase? I am sure he will know, because they say everything is a Cabinet decision.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I can assure the Member opposite that the Health and Human Resources position that was moved from Dawson and Watson Lake into Whitehorse will be replaced with another person year in each of those communities in the form of a social worker.
Mr. Devries: Is giving someone 30 days to find a home and move into Whitehorse an example of the humane tactics of the government in enforcing the decentralizing policy?
Hon. Mr. Webster: From what I understand, that was made in consultation with the individual involved in this move in order to assist him with getting his school-aged children into a school and into new housing.
Mr. Devries: From what I read in the paper, this individual is not very happy about the consultation. In fact, both individuals identify the reason they were moved as being the fact they had spoken out about some of the serious problems within the community. Does this mean that every time some new civil servants who are moved into rural communities speak out about what exists in those communities they are going to be transferred back to Whitehorse?
Hon. Mr. Webster: There has been full consultation with all the Government of Yukon employees on their decentralization moves.
Question re: Robinson subdivision access road
Mr. Phelps: I received several more telephone calls today with regard to the deplorable state of the access road to the Robinson subdivision. The water truck will not travel on the roads and deliver water to the homes in there. There are families there: women and small children. I would ask that the Minister responsible, the Minister for Community and Transportation Services, look into this matter and do something about the condition of the road. Will he do that?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: This is my first awareness of the problem as cited by the Member. I can assure him that my officials will be addressing any problem relating to maintenance of the particular road that may be our responsibility. I would undertake to the Member the very request that he has made. I will look into it.
Mr. Phelps: This is not the first notice I have given the Minister. I mentioned it yesterday afternoon in my speech to a certain motion brought forward by the MLA for Kluane. Obviously the Minister was not listening to our remarks. I knew that from the way he voted, but I hope he will move as quickly as he can on this matter because it is urgent.
Speaker: The time for Question Period is now lapsed. We will proceed to Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
NOTICE OF BUSINESS
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I would like to inform the House that pursuant to Standing Order No. 26, consideration of a motion for an address in reply to the Speech from the Throne shall continue on Monday, November 5, 1990.
Bill No. 16: Second Reading
Clerk: Second Reading, Bill No. 16, standing in the name of the Hon. Mr. McDonald, adjourned debate: Mr. Phelps.
Mr. Phelps: I say that it is always an experience going through a budget prepared by the side opposite. One needs to have the instincts of a detective like Sherlock Holmes to be able to get the true picture that emerges from the rather propagandized material presented by the side opposite.
I have been quoted as saying that the budget this year is deceptive and misleading - even more than it has been in the past. The complaints are not new but the scope of the inaccurate comparisons are a wonder to behold.
I would like to start by reiterating a complaint. The government for this year, on page 6, says that there will be a surplus of almost $16 million. Then the footnote says that that is going to be used up, of course. If that is not an estimate that they are going to use up the $16 million in O&M to finance the RCMP and to finance the wage increases, then the Oxford dictionary ought to perhaps go through all of its definitions, because an estimate is an estimate is an estimate, and an estimated gross budgetary expenditure is an estimated gross budgetary expenditure is an estimated gross budgetary expenditure.
Sorry about the length of the repetitions but they say economics is a dismal science. The writing of these budgets is even more dismal, I am afraid.
What we have is this scenario: an understatement of the expenditures that is deliberate because the Finance Minister and the gang opposite are trying to show that they are being frugal and are trying to point the finger of blame at Ottawa because they are cutting back the transfer payments, recoveries and established program financing.
We have heard this Minister cry wolf, and cry wolf, and cry wolf; he and his Cabinet colleagues saying, The time has come for restraint; we are going to have to cut back; we are going to have to bear the burden. It is not our fault; it is not our fault; it is those rascals down in Ottawa who are picking on us again.
Take a look at page 6 and the financial summary on the income side. At this time last year, in the estimates, the government was anticipating the following monies from the federal government: $11 million under established program financing. What is it getting now? Almost $11 million. It was anticipating $202 million in transfer payments. What is it anticipating now? It is $224 million. It was anticipating recoveries of $79 million. What is it getting now? It is getting $76 million.
The difference is $19 million - $19 million more in these estimates than last years estimates. That is a fact. That is a fact.
I can remember last year all the howling and agony about the transfer payments being only $202 million. We all can remember, because the Minister changed the anticipated transfer payment and speechified and speechified about it.
The fact is, whether comparing apples to apples or oranges to oranges, there is $19 million more flowing from Ottawa to this government. If you add up those three figures, you come to $311 million anticipated revenues from Ottawa that are going to be spent by this government. About $10,000 per man, woman and child in this territory - at a time when the figures for the maritime provinces and Newfoundland hover under $2,000 per capita, with the exception of Newfoundland, which is slightly over $2,000.
Those are the facts. They are not pretty, but they are the facts.
What has happened here? What has happened is that this government is increasing its O&M from the $248 million in the estimates of last year to about $278 million. In fairness, last year they said they would have a raise during the year of $7 million. If you factor that in, it is still from $253 million up to $278 million. That is $25 million more. The entire budget is $25 million more.
They say, We really have to tighten our belts. Cut back. Boy, I have had a tough time and I have a sharp pencil. I will tell you, in this day and age, with hard times on the horizon, if the people who manage most of the companies and corporations in Canada had that kind of sharp pencil, the bankruptcy receiver would be worked right off his feet.
What is happening here is a whopping increase in O&M. That is what is happening. Government has grown. Let us look at page 112.
At the same time, the Minister has been huffing and puffing about restraint and saying, You guys have to bear part of the burden. At the same time, he has cut the capital grants to the municipalities from $9.9 million to $8.8 million. At the same time, the contributions to the resource transportation access program has gone from $2.25 million to $500,000.
What we have is a government that is deliberately misleading the public with regard to its financial situation in order to try to have everyone in the Yukon practice restraint except them. They are the only ones who are not. That is what their figures say.
They are increasing the person years by 117 since this time last year. That is restraint? Restraint is when large companies lay off workers because they have to. Tough times are when one has to roll back hours, not pay overtime and cut back travel - those are tough times. The government here is simply using every means available to it to try and pretend they are spending wisely, to try to cut back with regard to third parties, junior governments and economic programs so that they can get bigger and bigger and spend more and more.
Part of this deception comes from the comparison, and I refer you to page 5 of the budget, of the gross economic forecast - the budgetary forecast for this year - with the estimate for next year. They know and are on the record in this House that they have been lapsing about $20 million per year on the capital side every year they have been in. Last year, $22 million was lapsed. That is supposed to be spent this year and they know it is going to happen again this year. That is a false figure. They throw it out and know they will not spend that money but it kind of looks like they might this time. They know they are going to lapse the money. Their leader is on the record saying the lapsed monies has been between 16 per cent and 20 per cent of the capital budget each and every year, yet they persist in comparing apples to oranges, apples to oranges, apples to oranges, apples to oranges.
The Finance Minister says that I do not know what I am talking about. How about the Auditor General? Does he? Because the Public Accounts show what truly gets spent each year, and we know that there were lapses of over $20 million in the last fiscal year, 1989/90 - 1990/91, rolled over.
The point is that what they are doing, deliberately, is trying to give the impression that this is a government that is prudent when it is not - a government that has wasted and squandered the peoples money all over the place. It has gotten into horrible ventures, given money to characters who do nothing with the money except find ways to put it directly into their pocket, financed people in businesses and homes who turn around and sell as fast as they can under the law; they put money into the wonderful propositions like the MV Anna Maria, the Watson Lake sawmill, build buildings and create capital projects where the waste is absolutely horrendous. Yukon College was supposed to cost $26 million; it cost over $50 million. He laughs, he says, Oh, oh, oh. Guess what, Mr. Speaker. I am simply quoting what was found by the Public Accounts Committee, which had two NDP, had one Liberal on it and had two Conservative Members on it. That is their unanimous finding. How about the Ross River arena that was supposed to cost $500,000, and we got less than that for $2 million.
Again let us quote the finding of an all-party committee, unanimous, tabled in this Legislature on the public book - we are not supposed to talk about these public books anymore because this is a closed government; this is a government that twists and hides and manipulates and manipulates and manipulates. I am sick and tired of it, and a good many Yukoners are, of the white lies.
It is a spending machine. A machine that gets a bunch of people and turns the hose on and off. It does not matter what direction the hose is facing. As long as the water is flowing through, we do not care if we water the garden or fill up the basement with this water, as long as it is moving. Sometimes they have to get two of them to hold the hose because the pressure is getting too much; the pressure is getting too tough to bear.
Here we have a private sector that is complaining daily about being unable to compete with the government for employees. They cannot match the government, who is content to sit back and let the private sector train people and then scoop them up because everybody in the Yukon knows - everybody in the Yukon knows - that we have two classes of workers in the Yukon. Those who are lucky enough to get on with the government and those who are waiting to. What is this government going to do about it? They have the solution. They have the solution. They are going to squeeze off the private sector and everybody is going to work for the government - no discrimination whatsoever. If they had their way, there would not be a private sector job in the Yukon, or Canada, or quite possibly the world. It is a marvelous, promised land this group is leading us into. They should play us some marching music and dance along in front. Perhaps, like the A&W commercial - ba boom ba boom ba boom ba boom boom. It will be great. We will all dance down to this wonderful world where there is nothing for anybody but government, government, government.
I bet you that nobody realized that this government would be increasing its person years by 117. Nobody realized that when they heard the Minister in charge of Community and Transportation Services utter his dire warnings to the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce: read my lips, read my lips. We are tightening our belt. Gosh, I will tell you, we are only getting $19 million more from down south than we got last year and we are used to bigger increases. Give me a break.
They say no. Well, read their print. Ignore their lips, because their lips go off on their own, but right here, these two pages, tell it all. The big lie. It is deception.
What we need is a carnival barker to help these guys get their message across. Can you see it? Follow us, follow us, follow us, we are concerned about the public purse. We look carefully at the books and try to trim costs wherever possible. A mere $43,000 for a party to open the Yukon College; think nothing of it. A mere $125,000 for a streetscape in Carcross, a streetscape where no one can walk on the sidewalks because they were not built properly; they were poorly designed and are rotting in the ground now. I can remember when those sidewalks were first put in. No one could believe it. There were little old ladies with canes on the buses who were walking down the road - from the tour buses that used to visit Carcross before they obliterated the tourism industry in Carcross - would look at these buses bearing down on them, look at the sidewalk and take their chances with the buses. No one walks on those sidewalks. It would probably cost us $25,000 to get rid of the rest, which are rotten. That is the kind of smart spending we have.
They went to Sweden. It cost $45,000 last year for the boys to go there with their executive assistants and whomever else last year - a little prize for the deputy minister, the Watson Lake sidekick of Mr. Premier, himself, and the person who was finished with the problems in the Department of Education, I guess, as he made arrangements to ship career services to the great beyond as he intimated he would do last year at this time. That is prudent spending.
We have a situation where we are spending $110 million, and more, hiring people to work for this government. Do you know what the income is for this government? It gets, on its own, $60 million. No problem, not to worry, just spend more. Do they want to try to reduce dependency on the federal government? No. All we will do is lever some more money out of them.
What we will do is get CMHC to build the extended care unit. We will get somebody else to build something else. It is not our money. Unfortunately, it is being spent that way, because that is what happens. That is what happens with grants. That is our concern about the grant system that this government loves so much. If you do not have to pay it back and account for it, you waste it. If you do not have to pay it back or account for it, you waste it. I hope that later on today, when we hear the replies to my speech, that the Speaker could give us special permission to turn down the lights, perhaps have a little screen set up there, so that the Ministers on the other side could show us their slides of their trips to the promised land - Norway, Sweden and Denmark - and all the wonderful things they learned while they were there. We would like to get some value for the money. Maybe they could offer to tour the communities, the four or five of them and the rest of them who went. They could perhaps rent the community hall and invite the folks over for a cup of hot chocolate, perhaps, and a little travelogue - the home movies, the homey approach to governing in the Yukon.
The problem is that everybody realizes that this is a government that is growing and growing and growing, and most people realize that there has not been much, if anything, that has changed in the communities. There is no economic diversification.
The Minister over there talked about the furniture manufacturing industry. Well if it is such a good industry, how come the sole proprietor is working for his comrade right beside him - his comrade, the Minister of Community and Transportation Services.
The problem is that their economic programs have been absolutely, incredibly inept, and they fail. It is a government that is long on rhetoric, short on substance. That is of grave concern for me. For example, where in the budget is there any money allocated to resolving the biggest environmental problem that this territory faces, namely, the sewage that pours into the Yukon River from this city every day? Where is the extraordinary funding that is going to be used to conquer that serious problem?
I recall not too long ago a motion being put forward in this House calling for extraordinary funding for Community and Transportation Services to resolve the problem we have with the sewage. I recall that we got unanimous support and I recall the Minister for Finance standing up and raising proper Cain before he was told to shut up by his leader. In that speech, which none of us will ever forget, he said we are going to take it out on the parents who live along the Carcross Road, and the parents who live at Marsh Lake and we are not going to have a school. I will tell you, did he ever get himself into some water he did not want to be in. There were all kinds of letters to the editors in the papers, petitions, and his phone was ringing off the hook. The poor man said: I did not really mean it. They can have their school just as long as it was not one that would involve local labour, local materials, or local contracting companies. You can have your school as long as some Atco trailers can be trucked in here. Then you can have your school because we are concerned about the leakage in the Yukon.
The difficulty one has with all this is that the government is not really giving any indication that it intends to be more frugal. There is no indication that it intends to curb its growth. It is very clear that while there are more income taxes and revenues being generated because of the huge amounts of money being spent, that this is a short-term solution. We have a false economy here. If government slows down - any or all three levels of government slows down - we have trouble.
That, to us, is an extremely serious concern.
I would not want to complete the remarks I might have without saying a few words about decentralization, the policy that has been thought out so carefully over the past five or six years - actually, not really, because it was their big policy back in 1985, but then nobody had thought about it before Yukon 2000. I guess nobody read their propaganda in 1985, or the speeches before that.
One gets the sense that they have not thought this program through. One gets the sense that it is going to cost many, many, many millions of taxpayers dollars to carry out stage 1 of this policy, and that is unfortunate. But because this is a government obsessed with process and which gets ill at the very thought of substance and actually doing things, we have an elaborate smoke and mirrors game, not unlike Yukon 2000, that was produced, written and edited by the gurus opposite, fodder to lead us into the next election and get rid of an embarrassing problem, with virtually everybody, whether it be the Association of Yukon Communities, the Yukon Chamber of Commerce, or individuals who have small businesses throughout the territory.
In Question Period, I raised the distribution-by-community tabulation that one finds at the end of the speech given each year by the Minister of Finance. Last year, of course, it showed these communities operations and maintenance budgets as being much larger than they are this year, despite decentralization. I was told they have changed things and we should know that from reading the material. Well, you cannot see that from the material. What concerns me even more is that I will bet that the extra operation and maintenance costs were not factored into the figures that we have on that chart this year.
The issue, it seems, is fairly straightforward. There is a lot of money being spent by this government, but most of it seems to end up in a growing government, a government growing in leaps and bounds. Most of the money seems to be spent here in Whitehorse. It seems that the communities have been passed right by. I do not think that it is a laughing matter, really, to go, for example, to Teslin and see that there are just no jobs. There is no future for young people there. The only hope is land claims; that is all. It is not a panacea.
You go to Carcross and it is the same thing. You go to Ross River, the same thing. You go to Burwash or Beaver Creek or Carmacks and people are saying, Well, here we are; we live in this community. What is going to happen to our kids? Are they going to have a job in the Yukon, let alone where I live? The answer, sadly, is probably not. Probably not. You talk to people who want to get involved in business and find something they can do, whether it is related to tourism or whatever, and a feeling of real hopelessness comes through. They cannot get anything going, for example, with regard to a hotel in Mayo. Although people have been trying, they have been thwarted in each and every one of their attempts.
If you look at the situation in Teslin: what do you tell people about the future? What is the main economy of that village going to be?
Where is the blueprint? I do not know. I think it is a sad thing. I have the feeling that people in the communities feel they are drowning. A lot of people are moving out of all these communities as their kids get older. They are replaced by young people. It is not a normal kind of evolution. It is an evolution of despair. It is a problem; it is a big problem. I do not know how on earth this government thinks people are going to find work and survive in Carcross. Yet more and more people move back, and more and more people are now on welfare, and there are more and more problems happening: family problems, child abuse, alcohol and drugs. It is on the increase not on the wane. There is no one single reason for it. I know that. There is no one simple, philosophical answer. I know that. But it is one hell of a problem. It is a serious problem. I do not see any kind of salvation on the horizon with regard to what these people are going to do with their lives there.
If you want a future and try to instill in a young person that if they work hard they might be able to do this, this and this, then what do you say to them when they say they want to stay in Carcross. You have to say that there is nothing here. Nothing; nothing here. That, to me, is perhaps the harshest criticism of what government - not just this government but the federal government, too - has been doing. No matter how well intentioned, the welfare rolls are growing. The dependency is increasing. The work ethic is diminishing. The drug and alcohol abuse is increasing. It almost seems as though, in some of the programs we witness, that it is not the kind of thing to be discouraged but to be encouraged.
I feel that there has to be more done in the communities. Decentralizing is one small step, but there has to be a sense of encouraging the private sector and individuals to build businesses, understand the kinds of problems they have and lead the way, not ducking, turning and twisting away because we fear that development might ruin some of our vote; being so careful not to tell anyone about what the Yukon Energy Corporation is really going to do because we will lose some votes if we talk about dams.
We must have a government that will provide incentives for businesses, incentives for mining - that awful word, mining - and incentives for tourism, and one way that this government can do it is through the provision of cheap, electrical energy. They were going around the communities with a policy on that score; what did it say? It said that if there is going to be an industry come there that will use some electricity, they are going to have to pay for all of it. This is interesting, because it is completely contradictory to the arrangements made with Curragh, which gets a wholesale price and has its electrical energy subsidized by consumers across the board. Perhaps they will be shocked when they learn that they will have to pay the entire true cost at the expense of other consumers.
One has this sense, to put it kindly, that there is no direction. The only direction I see is a government grabbing the money and trying to get bigger and spend more. It is a government that scolds organizations on restraint and then practices the exact opposite.
I am sure we will hear from the Minister that the $15,829,000 surplus should not really be considered an estimate because they are not spending it yet or that it is not fair to tag them with the higher costs for RCMP and workers as it is not part of their management responsibility; I do not know what their rationale is.
We know they will say it happened before. That is not good enough. When you were a little kid, did your mom not tell you - and I am speaking to the Finance Minister through you, Mr. Speaker - Two wrongs do not make a right. Was there not some truth in that? Perhaps a little truth?
The way these figures come out alarm me. We raised this last year. We raised the problem with bootlegging the $6.8 million into the surplus side and then saying we would probably spend it on inflationary issues such as wages. They did, almost to the nickel. Now, they are using all this to show they have cut down their spending, and they have not. They know the expenditures this year will not be $371,295,000. It will be about $20 million less. They know that on the gross expenditure side, it is not going to be $356,706,000, it is going to be another $16 million above that. It is going to be $372 million, which would compare quite nicely with $356 million. Or if you take the $22 million they are lapsing almost every year from the forecast, it would be down in the $348 million range.
We will be interested in going through the details of what we have here. I always enjoy it when the Finance Minister or his compatriates on the front bench on the side opposite say, You guys always bug us to spend money. Do you not want us to spend it in your community? If you are not careful we are going to run and tell everybody we do not want to spend money everywhere.
We want them to spend money. We pushed and dragged and kicked these people to try to get some money spent on things we thought were important. How many times did we go after this government for the mammography unit? How many times? How many questions? How many years? That is not excessive. That is not a contradiction in what I am saying about this budget.
How many times did we have to ask, beg, demand, write, put motions forward, to get a 911 number for the Yukon? We still do not have it, but we will continue to demand it, because that is not excessive, not when you consider what is at stake: lives, people, families, kids.
How many times have we asked for the extended care facility? How many questions have we asked in this House? How many letters have been written by this side? We hope it is coming this year, but we do not think that is excessive.
We have got a motion in progress right now from the Member for Riverdale South, who has been pushing this issue for a long, long time, asking for a fetal alcohol syndrome worker. I do not think the people of the Yukon would feel that is excessive. They know there is a problem. They see the problem. That is not excessive. What is excessive? Well, it is excessive to send your land claims negotiator on a $60,000 or so vacation for a year. That is excessive. It is excessive for the front bench and their pals to travel to Sweden at every opportunity - $40,000 here, $40,000 there is excessive. Forty-three grand for a grand opening hullabalu up at the Yukon College - well, is it excessive? Is it worth more to the people of the Yukon than a fetal alcohol syndrome worker? Is it worth more to the people of the Yukon than the cost of a 911 number?
Well, we are here to make those kinds of judgments. We are here to say that we think you can get better value for money by doing certain things. We are not here to say that everything the government does is wrong, but we feel just a little piqued when we have the pretense that the government is going to be spending a lot less than is going to be actually reflected in the public accounts this year, when we know it is malarkey. Their own figures show it is malarkey. Their own testimony before you in this House shows it is malarkey, Mr. Speaker.
We get concerned when the impression is left that the con game is directed at making sure government gets lots and everybody else is cut back and nobody will notice.
There are many, many initiatives in a budget as huge as this one. Three hundred and seventy-eight million dollars; I can remember when I could not even spell that much. And there are many good things in the budget, things people need. A community well in Tagish, I guess we are going to finally get that. Three years in a row, third time lucky. Six hundred grand offered to Carcross two years in a row will probably get the first phase completed this spring sometime. The problem is that that has been used as the excuse for not giving the town a decent curling rink. And so two years, $600,000 plus $600,000, let us see, $1.2 million - and they have been missing out on that. This is a complaint throughout the Yukon because there is a feeling that it is not going to be done until next year because they cannot afford it this year, so it is put over to next year. People are not exactly stupid when it comes to this kind of thing. I still do not understand, in my own mind, the complete reasons behind all this lapsing of money. Part of it, I know, is because of the fact that the government last year wanted to delay the passage of the budget so they could have the whole budget considered as one and the budget got into this House quite late compared to other years. Not to have a better handle on what amounts to approximately $20 million a year on the capital side is a bit scary to me.
We look forward to going through the budget. We look forward to constructive debate on many of the proposals. I continue to be concerned about comparing apples and oranges. I wish the government would do the right thing and change that comparison and go estimate to estimate and forecast to forecast if it so wishes. The forecast is $22 million again this year as sure as I am standing here.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I would like to begin by offering to the Leader of the Official Opposition two compliments. The first compliment I would like to extend is on behalf of his recognition for good initiatives in the budget. The second compliment I would like to offer to him is for his fine performance. I say that because that is all it was: a fine performance without much substance.
The Leader of the Official Opposition made a number of charges with respect to the budget being deceptive and misleading, that the surplus was not correctly stated and that this is an understatement of expenditure. I have to say to the Member that he is dead wrong. I would submit that the Leader of the Official Opposition is manipulating the numbers, is misstating what they mean, and appears to be entirely misinterpreting what the figures are saying.
In any kind of budget debate, in any kind of budget participation, I am always reminded of numerous occasions when I was involved in small business and I had to deal with budgets, and had to deal with banks. I remember so vividly that any time I went to the bank on behalf of, or representing, my business, immediately some financial analyst took a look at my financial statements, and I would invariably have to try to explain what they meant and they always told me, uh, uh, we are looking for three things: a balanced budget, that your increases are in line with inflation and that you have cash on hand if your revenues do not meet your expenditures.
I take those three simple points and apply them to a government. On the one hand, one takes a look at whether or not one has a balanced budget, whether or not ones expenditure increases are consistent with inflation and where the increases are.
This budget stacks up. It is balanced, with a surplus, there are no tax increases and the expenditure increases are totally consistent with inflation. What better than a AAA credit rating could this government have? It is in line with any corporation or financial analyst that would examine it from a banking point of view.
The Member repeatedly charged that this budget reflects a $19 million increase in transfer payments from the federal government. I would like to tell the Member that he is absolutely wrong on that score. He is comparing apples and oranges. He talks about this budget as reflecting comparisons that are not consistent with each other. That is precisely what the Leader of the Official Opposition has done in his citations surrounding the $19 million.
If you take a look at the budget, you will see that the increase in transfer payments from the 1991 main estimates to the 1992 main estimates is approximately $22 million. You must compare main estimates with main estimates; apples to apples. You do not compare main estimates to estimates. You have a variance of $22 million dollars but that is accounted for in an actual decrease in that number due to the conversion of the transfer programs that had been devolved.
You compare the mains to mains and you have a variance of $22 million. The real figure extended from that is about $10 million because you have incorporated about $12 million in the devolution of the two programs, airports and roads. That is explained in the budget. What it simply amounts to is that if you take into account the money that was formerly under agreement for roads and airports and you reclassify that into your transfer payment, it reduces that $22 million variance down to about $10 million.
I submit to the Member that he has to interpret the figures that exist in the budget on an accurate basis. The reflection in the budget is clear. The overall increase in expenditure from the mains of last year to the mains of this year is just under four percent. On the O&M side the total amounts to a $14 million increase, and on the capital side it amounts to less than a $1 million decrease. Again you have to compare mains to mains or forecast to forecast in order to get accurate analysis, and you do not have the forecast for the one particular year.
What that amounts to is that the O&M increase is less than inflation. You combine that with no tax increases, and combine that with a balanced budget that has a surplus, then you have the three principal factors that in any financial regime would translate into a AAA rating.
I have some difficulty understanding the allegations of the Member when he talks about this massive growth, this expenditure out of control, nothing but a spending machine - those are statements that are not substantiated by what this budget has to offer.
I repeat: it is balanced with a surplus and there are no tax increases, at a time when the federal government is prepared to increase taxes for Yukon people. This government takes a position that Yukon people are taxed enough, and we will bring about a budget that maintains our service level, creates new initiatives, is balanced and retains a surplus for items that we know are still to be spent.
The Member made a major case that the surplus of $15 million is somehow misstated. The explanation the Minister of Finance gave was very clear. The $15 million is specifically for negotiations with the RCMP agreement that has yet to conclude and it is for negotiations for the employees that we have yet to conclude. Are Members suggesting that we should put the commitment we are prepared to accept in negotiations into the budget and accordingly show our total disrespect for the collective bargaining process?
That surplus is there because we anticipate that expenditure. We have our best-guess prediction of what we will require and it is there. That is good budgeting and that still retains, even with that surplus, a balanced budget, because if we spend that money in those negotiations I mentioned, we still have a balanced budget.
The Member will have to come up with something more substantial than a simple allegation that we have overstated our revenue and understated our expenditure. We will go through the budget line by line to substantiate every item.
The Leader of the Opposition charged that on a per capital basis, there is some $12,000 or $13,000 per person being spent through federal transfer payments and that in the provinces it is substantially less, ranging between $1,000 and $2,000. I think, again, the Member is guilty himself of deceptive reasoning, unsound logic and misuse of budget figures. If you take the federal transfer payment in this budget and you divide by the 30,000-odd people in the territory, you only come up with $6,800, or around $7,000 per person.
Yes, on a per capita basis, what we get from the feds is higher than what the provinces receive. It is understandably higher. There are only 30,000 of us. There is an expectation that we will require more help from the rest of the country. If you go back 100 years, there were many provinces that came into Confederation who were given substantial support to enter into Confederation, whether it was in railroad expenditures, or in other forms of transportation, or services provided to the new settlers in various regions. That is an expectation. Are Members saying that they disagree with the $7,000 per capita federal transfer payment that comes to the Yukon? Are they saying it should be less? I think they must be. I think they must be complaining about the amount of the federal transfer payment. They must be suggesting it should be lower. They must. They really must, because they support the GST of their federal counterparts, who are going to be taxing Yukon people even more.
I submit to the Leader of the Official Opposition that he must provide correct analysis when he talks about figures from the budget. The $7,000 is a more accurate figure that reflects per capita spending on the basis of federal transfer payments.
The Member also spoke about a whopping increase in the operation and maintenance budget. Again, if we compared apples to apples, there is no 10 percent increase in the operations budget. At best, there is a 3.9 percent increase from the mains to the mains of this year in comparison to the projected year. It is 3.9 percent.
When inflation is running at six percent, that is a restraint measure we can be proud of. At the same time, we are still maintaining and expanding services, and retaining the civil service to do it. No, we are not just retaining the civil service; according to the Leader of the Official Opposition, we are growing by leaps and bounds, totally out of control. We have increased our employees by 117 persons, and we are just going out of control.
Let us talk about those 117 persons who show up in this budget as being additional from last year.
Where are they? Twelve of them are part of a new program: the French and aboriginal languages services paid for by a federal transfer program.
This government is out of control. There are 20 more teachers in the classrooms. We have hired 20 more teachers. That is terrible? Maybe what the Members are saying is that they do not want an improved complement of teachers in the classrooms. Maybe they are saying we should lay them off; roll some heads.
Where else are some of these people? Of course, 18 people were converted from contracts who were teaching aboriginal languages around the Yukon schools. Out of control? Perhaps the Members are saying those services should be cut. These 117 people have been added on for legitimate program enhancements and devolution growth. Perhaps I should give those four people I acquired through the airports transfer back to the federal government. Perhaps I should not have negotiated an increase in personnel to look after those airports. Perhaps we should not look after the airports; maybe we should shut them down?
The Member for Kluane is scolding me because I am not maintaining a particular airport in his riding. I will take a look at it, bearing in mind the four people I have been able to generate out of a devolution agreement.
The list could continue, but the fundamental point is that Members opposite cannot say this governments growth is out of control when they see 117 new person years in the budget, because there is a legitimate explanation for every one of those. None of those are frivolous; every one of them provides a service; many of them are an enhancement, and a substantial number of them devolved from the federal government in program transfers.
Members have to stand up and be counted. Are they saying we should not have done that? At the same time, we have been able to hold our operation and maintenance budget, our cost for all of this, at a bare 3.9 percent growth, less than inflation and maintain all the other services that we are providing.
Well, I challenge Members to stand up and shout that growth in the government is out of control. Lay it up against the triple A rating that this budget demonstrates, and there is no substance to the charge. The Leader of the Opposition made an allegation that this is a whopping increase in operations and maintenance expenditure, this whopping 3.9 percent increase at a time of restraint. Compared to when Members opposite were in office, the average rate of the O&M expenditure growth was in the magnitude of nine to 12 percent. Every year from 1980 to 1985, growth in O&M expenditure was in the range of nine to 12 percent - every year - and that was at a time when the recession was hitting us the hardest. Growth in their expenditure when they were in office was 10 percent as an average. Growth this year, at a time of legitimate restraint, is less than four percent.
The Leader of the Official Opposition continually referred to growth in government and I have just explained how the 117 persons, who have been identified as growth in this budget, have a legitimate basis at the same time that there is no massive increase in expenditure. Let me point out another statistic. Let me point out a statistic that relates government employees in the Yukon in comparison to all the other employees that exist in all the other sectors, whether it is in tourism, or whether it is in manufacturing or whether it is in the service/hospitality industry or in mining - comparing government employees in proportion to all the other employees. Between 1980 and 1985, the ratio of government employees to all other employees in all other sectors ranged from 19.4 in 1981 and increased regularly to 1985 when it was 22.4 percent.
In other words, during the recession years of 1980 to 1985, government as a proportion of the total workforce rose from 19.4 percent to 22.4 percent. Somebody asked: who was the government then? The government were the Members who are represented on the side opposite: the Progressive Conservative government.
In the period of 1986 until now, the proportion of government employees, in comparison to all other sectors of the economy, dropped in 1987 to 18.9 percent, held in 1988 at 20.1 percent, moved slightly upward in 1989 to 20.9 percent, held consistently around the 20 percent figure in the period of time from 1985 until now, a consistent proportionate government growth of workforce in relation to the rest of the employment sectors.
So where is this growth? Where is this growth they are suggesting is taking place within their government when, in the first five years of the 1980s, the government growth in proportion to the rest of the workforce grew, percentage point by percentage point, from 19.4 percent to 22.4 percent - a three percent growth during their term of office, and a consistent 20 percent average in the last four years.
I think that is the lie, the white lie perpetrated by the Leader of the Opposition, that somehow there is growth here that is out of control and out of hand. It is not so.
The Leader of the Opposition made much ado about the issue of the dependency of this government upon the federal government, a dependency, I believe he was trying to say, that the entire Yukon had on the government. Well, I am not sure what support the Member has for that because, as I have indicated, we have seen, certainly from the workforce point of view, a consistency in the last few years. We saw growth of government in the early part of the 1980s. I suppose what we could say about the early part of the 1980s is that, at a time when they were in office, we had increasing employment levels.
We had increasing numbers of people fleeing the territory in droves. There clearly was a population decline during that time.
Members opposite talk about how this government has not provided any economic support to the communities and how necessary it is to provide assistance to the communities. Members opposite are going to have to start coming down squarely on one side of the fence. You cannot have it both ways. You cannot, on the one hand, say we must assist the communities, and then condemn the decentralization policy as stupid, and as inadequate toward providing a stable economic base to those communities. There is an inconsistency that just does not hold.
The Member talked about the support that is provided somehow being not the right kind of support, it is all grants and does not provide any stability or any certainty. The fact is that those very grants and loans that the Member talks about are really just loans from the Business Development Office. They will have to be paid back. Anything sought from the Business Development Office is in the form of a loan and is available to each and every business, and each and every business can apply for it on the basis of its eligibility and capability. Yes, there is a risk involved in granting those loans to small business. To a large extent, government is often the lender of last resort, so there is risk involved. The fact of the matter is that the risk is not so high. As a rule of thumb, banks lose between two and three percent of the volume of their loans. The risk we take, which is much higher, and our subsequent loss, is 3.5 percent in bad, uncollectable loans. That is not so bad. The underlying point is that that is support that is provided to businesses to support economic interests.
Members opposite say there is no support in this budget, or anywhere by this government for economic development. I say baloney. We have gone more than a country mile to provide economic support to communities, businesses and diversification efforts on an ongoing basis and we always have.
In the last five years, virtually every community in the territory has been assisted with economic development planning. We have provided direct financing to support economic development plans for communities. We have put economic development workers into communities to help them plan, develop and maintain economic bases.
I hope someone from the side opposite can explain something to me. On the one hand they say it is the governments fault that the community is struggling. On the other hand, when the community is helped they say that government should not interfere. Which side of the fence are they on? If they keep coming down on both sides, there could be pain involved.
We have put officers into the communities. We have a $5 million economic development fund that communities, organizations, registered societies, municipalities and businesses can apply for, just on the face of a demonstrated economic development initiative.
Block funding fits into that category with the municipalities. The Member opposite said that block funding was one of the painful exercises the municipalities have to go through in order to support this governments wanton spending plans: on the capital side, it decreases by less than one percent; on the O&M side it increases by 3.9 percent.
Members opposite know that the block funds to municipalities - the infrastructure grants - that are provided to each municipality are something this government holds sacred. They were brought into place by the Minister before me and are religiously supported by me, as well. The block funding is our statement to communities that they will have the authority and the means with which to make their own decisions in their own communities.
The Member says we cut $1 million. I have to let the Member know that the actual cost, the net effect of that cut, which will reveal itself in subsequent discussions at the summit I am holding with the mayors, and which will reveal itself in this budget, is less than $500,000. That is because all the operational grants, all the deficit funding grants, the water and sewer deficit funding, the municipal operating grants, the recreational grants, the transit grants, all of those have been increased by three percent. You add those up, lay them up against the cut, and you have a net cut of less than $500,000. It is not, unfortunately, as brutal as it may seem. The fact is that the municipalities are a junior government. The federal government has taken us to task in cutting our funding. We have fewer dollars for us to be able to maintain our level of services, exercise our right to provide initiatives that the Members opposite keep asking for, as well as members of the public. A sharing of that responsibility is not unreasonable. I explained that to the municipalities and they accepted that as a principle, and we will discuss how to do a final implementation of that reduced funding.
The Leader of the Official Opposition spoke at some length also with respect to his disappointment that there was no money for the Whitehorse sewage lagoon requirements. It would be an impossible task to place into a budget a figure that is incalculable. The Member knows, I am sure, through his association with representatives from the city, that the city still has not chosen the form of upgrading that the Whitehorse sewage system will take. There has been no decision made regarding the level of upgrading, what type of upgrading there will be and at what cost this may happen.
The Member suggests that somehow there is further deception by not having, at this point, complied with a motion of this House. We have complied with the motion of this House. The motion of this House said that the Yukon government will enter into discussions respecting joint funding for the Whitehorse sewage lagoon system. My officials are meeting regularly, on a steering committee, selecting the options by which a sewage system should be put in place. I have met numerous times with the mayor and his council on the subject. I have raised the matter at a national conference of municipal ministers. We have even got a positive statement, if you will, from the federal Environment Minister, Mr. de Cotret, that yes indeed Whitehorse faced a particular dilemma and perhaps there was an avenue for federal assistance.
We have not a clue yet as to how we are going to fund it. It would be most inappropriate for a particular line item to say that it is going to be $5 million or $3 million or $2 million for a potentially expensive project that we do not know the price of, and especially since our approach is to try to share the cost of it at three levels.
The Member says we should enter a dollar in the budget. The explanation has been provided and it is quite obvious.
The Leader of the Opposition in his remarks made reference to the various initiatives that have been announced by this government at different times that encouraged local economic support. One of those support measures, if you will, related to the local manufacture of furniture. He made some callous remarks about the only person making furniture having given up that job and entered some other occupation, namely around my office. Well that is not a fair statement at all and I am disappointed he made it. As usual, the Leader of the Opposition is wrong in his information. In fact he is wrong on two counts.
My assistant was never the proprietor of the only shop in town. There are at least several other businesses manufacturing furniture in the Yukon. In any event, my assistant is no longer the owner of that business, which is still in place. The Member may not have been able to realize it but businesses do get bought and sold.
Speaker: Order please. I would like to remind the Member that he has three minutes to conclude.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Three minutes? I am sorry, Mr. Speaker, with respect, I will conclude.
I think, concerning the Members comments respecting the economy, this government has a more than impressive record of support to communities, businesses and bands throughout the Yukon on a number of initiatives, not the least of which is the decentralization effort. I think it is important to note that in addition to the encouragement of local manufactures, such as furniture manufacturers, this government has gone a country mile in encouraging local suppliers to sell to the government and has encouraged local contractors to participate in work for the government.
This budget reflects $450,000 in a single line item respecting the business incentive program, the rebate system for goods manufactured locally. The business incentive program, which was announced in detail just less than a year ago, outlined our encouragement to the local economy. It encouraged the local hiring of people. Those are support measures for the local economy. We encourage local materials in our construction. We encourage local employment in our jobs. We provide that kind of economic support in addition to numerous other support programs to allow communities and businesses to diversify. So it is a totally erroneous suggestion that this government has not provided adequate support and again I find their position totally confusing, which is that on the one hand we should not interfere and that on the other hand we should do it all.
Given that my time is nearly concluded, I will have to wrap up my comments on another occasion.
Suffice it to say that this budget, in my opinion, is an excellent budget that reflects excellent expenditure plans - especially so, given that it contains not only a surplus, but is balanced and comes along with no tax increases to any Yukon people again, for about the fourth time in a row.
Mr. Devries: Last weekend I had the opportunity to attend the Yukon Chamber of Commerce annual meeting in Watson Lake. One of the presentations there was by Rolf Hougen. He talked about the Canadian national debt. I think most of us have heard the same speech. He talks about every man, woman and child being in debt for $17,000 as far as the deficit goes. Every man, woman and child. It actually takes $125 a week for each family of four just to pay the interest on the national debt. It is important that we get a perspective on the national debt. It is probably one of the most serious problems facing Canada today.
We can say there seems to be a dispute between one side and the other side on the amount of money that the government and Ottawa contributes to the Yukon, the $7,000 or the $10,000. We have to realize that no matter whether it is $7,000 or $10,000, every one of those dollars is being printed and not a dollar that already exists.
Another interesting thing that came up is the trip to Sweden when they went to examine the Swedish education system. It is no news that Sweden has the second highest rate of teenage suicide in the world. There are traumatic social problems developing within their youth. They have literally destroyed the traditional social structure of the family. Is this what we are looking for to introduce into the Yukon?
Another interesting point came up yesterday when the Minister responsible for the Yukon Development Corporation was talking about the Mayo dam. I did not want to bring this up, but I am going to have to keep bringing it up because it does not sit well with me, especially when I see a picture of the timbers that were never paid for on the front of the Workers Compensation Board annual report. The people that manufactured them were never paid because as near as I can tell, those are timbers from the Watson Lake mill and that is the Mayo dam. Someone paid the bills but the people who initially made the materials did not get paid.
It really bothers me when the project is overseen by YDC and, at the same time, the mill that was supposed to be paying these people was under 50 percent ownership by YDC. People can argue whether it is fifteen or 35 percent but, as far as I am concerned, if the Indian Development Corporation did not pay a nickel for something, it still belongs to YDC. Shieldings never paid a nickel for it either, so I guess that makes it 100 percent ownership. We can argue that until we are blue in the face, and it would do no good.
Another thing the Minister did not talk about in the discussion of the Yukon Energy Corporation - and this would come under economic development - was whether there was any potential power project to take place in Watson Lake. I know that the Yukon Energy Corporation experimented with a thermal power plant at the sawmill, but things did go wrong there. We spent close to $800,000 refurbishing that power house, and recently it was appraised by the receivers at $15,000. Somewhere there were poor decisions made, although we have to give people credit for trying at times.
I think the Minister responsible for YDC can understand why some of my constituents are a little upset about this. In the last three weeks, one local resident declared bankruptcy; it was one of the truckers, and much of the problem hinged around the forest industry in Watson Lake.
I see some new initiatives developing in Watson Lake and the attitude is becoming more positive. People see a light at the end of the tunnel. In time, the mill issue will go away and it is hoped that something will happen with the mill in the near future. The mill issue is not going to die until the Minister speeds up the process on full disclosure on what actually happened there.
In the area of education, there are certainly some positive initiatives taking place. I find the budget vague in several areas, especially in the area of O&M for Yukon College. Is everything listed under advanced education related to Yukon College? I will be pursuing this later. Under public schools we see the native teachers education program. We all know this program is taking place at Yukon College. How much does it really take to run Yukon College?
Again we come to the person years. During his speech, it seemed that the Minister of Community and Transportation Services was playing games with the person years. At one time it seemed that some of the person years were created when contracts were changed to person years. By the same token how many new contracts were issued? How many more? Are there another 50 government employees hidden in new contracts that were issued this year? We do not know.
It is unclear to me exactly what the South Highway School cost. Was it $1,411,000 with another $100,000 added this year? Does that mean there was a $100,000 cost overrun or what? I will be talking about that when we get into the budget.
In the education O&M, we see an overall eight percent increase, of which program delivery is the largest component. I would suspect with the wage negotiations going on with the YTA that we are going to see a considerable percentage increase in program delivery once this contract has been completed.
I am sure - and we can only project this - that we are going to see a considerable increase in the transportation facilities component, due to unforeseen higher fuel prices, so we can possibly project a pretty good supplementary coming up there.
There are some very valid concerns presently being raised by teachers in respect to the contract negotiations. We hope that the blackout surrounding these negotiations will be lifted by the time we debate the Education budget.
I found the discussions interesting yesterday regarding Mendenhall. As the Minister is well aware, we had a similar situation in the Liard subdivision, which is the Speakers riding. A road in the Liard subdivision was rebuilt at no cost at all to the residents there, so the suspicions start coming up: do MLAs from one side or the other get different treatment?
In the budget I do not see any money specifically designated for the Campbell Highway. Originally I had thought there was some and then when I started looking, it looked to me like it was all going to be put between Faro and Carmacks again. I think the Minister has to realize that it is almost a crisis situation; some work must be done on the Campbell Highway between Watson Lake and at least the Mt. Hundere turnoff.
I see some money budgeted for the first Frances bridge, although I thought it was the Tuchitua Bridge that they were having all the trouble with, but possibly both bridges are in poor shape. I do not know.
The Minister was talking about local products, and I will have to get back to the high school siding issue. I must admit that, from a distance, it does not look too bad. It is the same with the siding on the new residence here for the students. I would dispute whether or not it is local when the taxpayer is paying to haul this stuff up from Prince George, ship it all the way through Watson Lake, right past the mill in Watson Lake, all the way to Whitehorse, and have it planed here. I think that if you had it stop in Watson Lake, I could have planed that stuff with three guys in about five hours. I do not see how planing a piece of lumber in the Yukon makes it local. I guess we have to give the government credit for trying, but I do not believe that the way that was done was a terribly wise use of money.
I am sure that if any of us had a home and put that siding on it, I do not think we would be paying the bill to the contractor, because if you look at it closely, there are a lot of defects in that siding.
It does not look too bad from a distance though. I really appreciate the new face-lift a lot of the schools in the Yukon got this year. The Watson Lake school looks real nice, the elementary school. I hope the paint was locally produced. Locally purchased, let us put it that way.
On the Yukon Housing side, when Yukon Housing commits itself to buying a building in a turn-key operation, possibly my biggest fear is that some people who are extending credit toward these companies that are building these buildings, assume that there is kind of a guarantee that the government is going to look after them, and I think this really has to be clarified. It is very similar to what we ran into in Watson Lake where people assumed, just because the government was involved in the sawmill, that the money was going to be forthcoming. I must admit I was guilty of that myself because people would ask me if I thought we were ever going to get paid, and I would tell them that I did not see how they could go wrong; there is a limitless supply of money there or that is what it seems like. Overall in my critic areas, there are some large increases in spending and I see very few cuts to offset them, so it will be interesting during debate to see where this new money is coming from. I really cannot believe that all this stuff can exist on paper without possibly an additional $10 or $19 million coming from the feds somewhere along the line. That is just about all I have to say.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I was surprised the Member finished so quickly. I expected he was going to elaborate on some of his concerns in his critic areas. No doubt, he will do that later. As I was listening to the Member speak, I was reminded of a moment a few weeks ago when I was reading the Globe and Mail, looking at some of the candidates who were running in the Ontario provincial election and I noticed that there was a Mr. John Devries there running for the NDP. I hope the Member will not mind, but that took me back a bit. The Member also mentioned Sweden. The Members comments are interesting, because I can recall back in junior high school, which is really more than 30 years ago, having a social studies teacher, who I gather was a fierce advocate of the Social Credit, telling us about Sweden in our social studies course.
Teachers are not like this nowadays, but in those days teachers did not always give you information on the basis of strict adherence to fact. At least that was not my experience.
I remember the three characteristics of Swedish society were, according to the social studies teacher, that they had a socialist government, they believed in free love, and they all committed suicide all the time.
It was interesting that in my first occasion to visit that remarkable country some years ago, I had occasion to ask some of the first Swedes I met if all three of these things that were alleged to be their national characteristics were true. An interesting discussion followed about the kind of prejudices, and the kind of jingoism and stereotypes that operate internationally. One had to admit that, like people, countries have reputations abroad that are sometimes removed from the truth.
This was confirmed for me in the discussion I had with someone at the Circumpolar Health Conference recently. We had a chance to review the United Nations statistics on the World Health Organization numbers. We commented on the data on the Scandinavian countries about the suicide rate. It was interesting that the conclusion of this person was that the real difference between the Scandinavian rate of suicide and other nations was that Sweden, Norway and Finland keep more accurate records than do other nations, and that is the difference, not the suicide rate. There is obviously a difference of opinion there.
It is interesting also, I note the offer of the Member to plane wood for us, to go into the milling business in Watson Lake. I hope the Member will understand if I thank him for his offer, but given the experience last time we accepted such an offer from the people of Watson Lake, we might want to think very carefully about it before we proceed.
Having responded briefly to the notable parts of the speech of the Member for Watson Lake, I would like to say something about the speech of the Leader of the Official Opposition. While he seemed to enter the House with a certain amount of energy today, following his open line show with my colleague, the Minister of Finance - who, I might say, seemed to do very well in the debate, and I congratulate him for that - I would note that the Leader of the Official Opposition has made essentially the same speech about every budget we have presented.
He has said substantially the same things year after year and probably will continue to do so until the last syllable of recorded time. The fact that he repeats himself - which is essential to successful political communication - does not make anything he says true, accurate or convincing. It does perhaps probably indicate nothing more than a certain poverty of imagination.
If you analyze what the Member has been saying for the last several years in this and every other budget debate, he has not only been comparing apples and oranges, which he has been accused of, but at times he is comparing even pomegranates and potatoes.
His thesis seems to be that we should have massive social spending cuts. We have to get tough. We have to get Tory. We have to get real and businesslike and cut all that social spending, all that waste, all that flab, all that inefficiency. Then he and his colleagues come in here and they want money for this, that and the other thing in their constituencies for programs.
On the economic front they want us to take more initiatives and give incentives to the private sector. They want us to take some risks to stimulate the economy. But every time we do they kick the hell out of us for doing it. They say we are interfering in the economy and not leaving the private sector alone, we are not respecting the sanctity of the marketplace and we should leave it alone - do not touch it; it aint broke.
There is a remarkable consistency in the speech year after year in that it contains the same contradictions year after year. It is the same smoke and mirrors. It is sometimes said that where there is smoke, there is fire. In this case, behind the smoke, there is just more smoke.
The Leader of the Official Opposition is not stupid; in fact, quite the opposite. He is a very bright fellow but he does not make a logical or consistent argument. He simply repeats himself, year after year, in the hope that somehow his words, through repetition, will manifest themselves and become reality.
The Leader of the Opposition accuses me of repeating myself. That is the problem. I regret that, but every year when I hear his speech, I feel forced, essentially, to try, as an act of Christian compassion, to bring him back to the true path, and to see the world as it was made and not as he would wish it.
I am in favour of this budget. This budget not only manages to meet many of the demands that citizens have made upon this government for increased and improved services but it is also fiscally responsible. It meets the requirements of the increased fiscal discipline that is necessary. I further believe that we in the Yukon have reason to consider ourselves fortunate in this sense, that while much of the rest of the country, particularly central Canada, is, if not entering a recession, in a recession, the indications are that the Yukon economy continues to grow, albeit slowly. I think we can thank the recent years of not only balanced budgets, of the economic initiatives we have taken, but also the very substantial investment we have made into the Yukon economy and the comparably stable situation that we have been in for the last several years.
However, that stability places certain real shocks to our system. We have a narrowly based economy that is vulnerable to external forces and among those external forces that are going to have a profound effect on it are the GST and the changes in the formula.
Now forget for a minute whether or not there are cuts, which there are but which the Leader of the Opposition disputes. Let me just mention the changes, the perversity element, whereby if our economy improves and the tax revenues go up, the formula is cut by more than the increases in our revenue - something that gives a powerful disincentive to the kind of program that we are pursuing.
I want to come back to that. I know that Members opposite are feeling particularly sensitive these days. I understand that. Any criticism of the federal government for doing things like unilaterally amending our formula financing agreement is uncalled for. They somehow feel there is some kind of proprietary interest in this money. Somehow it is their prerogative. It has almost been hinted at that somehow it was a gift from their friends in Ottawa and should only be spent by them. Somehow it was not public money, but some kind of Tory money.
This government quite naturally does not share this view. We believe that public funds flowing from the people of Canada, through formula financing, to the people of the Yukon Territory, are recognition of the economic realities here, of our sparse population, of our great territory, of the huge infrastructure needs, of the acknowledgement of the value to Canada as a whole, that is the Yukon, of our presence here. We believe the money is to be used for Yukoners, and that is exactly what we do with it. We build infrastructure, provide programs and services comparable to those enjoyed by other Canadians, to create jobs. That is what we are doing in our budgets and have been doing in our budgets.
The budget we are debating today is focussed on the real priorities of this government: settling land claims, building a foundation of increased economic growth and stability, contributing to healthy communities, providing good government. As a government we have always been clear with the people of the Yukon as to what our agenda is. It is worth repeating because it is: completing land claims, building sustainable economy, creating healthy communities, and ensuring good government to the extent we can.
The 1991-92 main estimates must also reflect economic realities and the rigors of these times we are in. The combined O&M and capital spending is up 3.9 percent, when you compare main estimates to main estimates. Compare this with the projected inflation rate, which is more than six percent, and that means that this budget, in real dollar terms, is scaled down, has effectively been cut. Our challenge has been to do this in a way that does not take away from the services that Yukoners need. Despite the practical reduction in the federal grant, our capital spending is only one percent down for the 1991 mains. This means that virtually all major projects are proceeding as planned.
The jobs that flow to Yukon through these projects are important to Yukoners, our economy and our society and they must be maintained.
I am going to mention some of the initiatives for which I, as a Minister, am responsible and proud.
In the area of health, we are allocating $150,000 toward a health investment fund. This fund will be available to agencies, organizations and community groups for use in health, social planning or development, health promotion, illness, dysfunction, disease and injury prevention. The key word to be considered here is investment as we hope that the preventive work funded by this initiative will eventually save the government money by resulting in lower health care costs. As health care costs spiral all over this country, we cannot afford not to strongly emphasize a preventive approach and set aside some money for an investment in this area.
In line with this investment in this area of prevention is the $160,000 budgeted for the operation of the mammography unit at the hospital so that women are better able to ascertain their health situation at an earlier time.
It is interesting to hear the Leader of the Official Opposition today on the subject of mammography as, even though this is the first time in my recollection he has ever spoken on the subject, he seemed to almost claim today that it was his or his partys idea. I know very well it was the initiative of my predecessor, the Hon. Margaret Joe. The fact we have taken the time we have to put it in place is simply due to a certain prudence in trying to fully establish what the costs of this service would be.
I would note we are a jurisdiction of some 30,000 or 31,000 people. For the record, it is a vast minority of jurisdictions in this country that provide such a service. In fact there are few communities of this size anywhere in Canada where the service is available.
Similarly, we are contributing several thousands of dollars to the Skookum Jim AIDS awareness program as part of a joint funding arrangement with the federal government. I think everyone in this House knows of the devastation and waste of life that results from this disease. It cannot be overestimated. We believe it is essential that programs such as this continue.
In passing, I might mention that the Yukon AIDS program and the Twin Cinemas are co-sponsoring a showing of Longtime Companion, a movie which has received excellent reviews for the compassionate manner in which it shows the effects of AIDS on families and communities. That showing is Sunday at 1:00 p.m. Admission is only $1. I would urge all Members of the House to attend.
In the Executive Council Office, there is, as a result of the languages agreement with the federal government and the funding the Secretary of State has provided as a result of that agreement and the passage of the Languages Act in this House, an oral history of language preservation program and a community initiatives program. We had had $200,000 and $100,000 allocated to them respectively. These programs will help preserve and promote Yukon Indian languages, and we believe that this is a job that has to be done now if it is to be effective. Also the territorial agent and interpreter service will be initiated with interpreter positions situated in eight rural communities as well as in Whitehorse. The Executive Council Office is contributing $475,000 toward this program and a further $300,000 for capital expenses that is being contributed through another department.
I just might mention, in passing, that the Member for Kluane the other day indicated surprise that we were not locating an interpreter for the community of Burwash Landing. I do not know whether the Member opposite is aware, but of course the majority of people in Beaver Creek speak a different dialect than do the people in Burwash Landing. They are Tanana speakers. The Member opposite says it is 12, but he obviously has not been there very recently. There are more than 12 members of my own indirect family in Beaver Creek than he says. That is something I would want to make clear to him. Upper Tanana is one of the traditional aboriginal languages of this territory, and I believe that language is entitled to receive services and protection as are the other aboriginal languages in the territory. If the Member opposite disagrees, I would be pleased to hear him say so. I would not be pleased, but I would be interested to hear him say so.
There are many similar initiatives contained in this budget, of which I believe this government can take some pride. Decentralization, about which there has already been much discussion - the policy the Leader of the Opposition describes as a stupid policy - is, I believe, a policy that is very significant for rural Yukon - very significant in terms of fairness to those communities, in terms of the distribution of government jobs, very significant to rural communities in terms of the economic stimulus to those communities and very significant to those communities in terms of the improved access to the services of this government by the people of those communities that this policy will provide.
There are many similar initiatives contained in this budget, and I will not go into all of them. A very important allocation in terms of my departmental responsibility is the budget for land claims. I believe that those expenditures are a very substantial and very important investment in developing not only a stable economy but a stable society in the future for the territory.
Now it is almost predictable, like the broken record; we will hear the Members of the Opposition moan and groan and accuse us profligacy and waste. They seem to have this strange notion that only card-carrying Conservatives have mortgages, only card-carrying Conservatives have bank accounts and only Members opposite are capable of balancing a cheque book. I think that even though that is the mythology of the side opposite, nothing in Canadian history or even Yukon history would provide them with empirical evidence of that.
This is, of course, the party that is lead by the leader who has talked about cutting social spending and laying off public servants and cutting back. He is on public record as doing so. It is the same party that is consistently asking us for more services - more services and improved services.
I find it fascinating that we just heard the Member for Watson Lake talk about the program increases in education. That means program deliveries, teachers, and I wonder if he is really asking that we cut teachers. He is the Education critic. Is he asking that we cut special education instructors? The workers who grade the roads in the summer or plow the roads in the winter - is he asking for cuts there?
It is interesting that the Member talks about dictating to communities. Sometime I could give a speech on that subject. I would be happy to compare our record with the record of his colleagues, and the colleague to his immediate left, because I believe our record on that score is exemplary in ending the dictatorship and going to community empowerment and having a much more democratic situation than existed when we took office. That will be debate for another occasion. If I got into that too much, Mr. Speaker, you would probably rule me out of order.
I want to know during the course of this budget debate if the Members opposite, who called for cuts and additions at the same time, are in support of the person years that are necessary to properly operate an extended care facility? Are they in favour of the special education teachers? Are they in favour of more teachers in the classroom or not? Are they in favour of increasing employment in rural communities? Are they in favour of the aboriginal language interpreter program or not? I think we look forward to hearing from them on this debate because they cannot, year after year, session after session, speak out of both sides of their mouths. They tell their constituents they are fighting for more and more, and then accuse the government of having budget increases and spending and growing like crazy, when we respond to requests from communities.
This territory has not had significant tax increases in years. We are one of the few jurisdictions that has not. We have been able to hold the tax rate steady because we have managed prudently. The Members opposite, during the debate on the throne speech were somehow suggesting this territory is about to face massive electrical rate increases because of some wastrel way in which we were behaving. The Leader of the Official Opposition even referred to our use of the Development Corporation and the Energy Corporation as a cash cow. That is fascinating, because the statement, nice bit of rhetoric that it is, is completely at variance with the facts. When we took over NCPC on April 1, 1987, the agreement with the federal government required that we could not lower rates; we had to keep the rates stable for two years. It is a matter of record that as soon as we could, we lowered the rates quite substantially. Even with the increases, even with the GST being added on January 1, 1991, rates will be lower than they were when we took over NCPC. The rates will be lower in the communities.
Like a broken record, the Member opposite has said we have used the Development Corporation and the Energy Corporation as a cash cow. Let the Member show us one place in any page for any budget in the last three years of this House where this government has taken any money out of this corporation. He cannot, because we have not. We have done exactly the opposite; we have put money into them. I am saying the Yukon government has not taken a penny out the Development Corporation or Energy Corporation, and the Member knows this.
There are a lot of assertions made by the Member opposite, including one about something about how there is no money set aside for the capital commission, which is not true. On page 111 of the main estimates there is the same provision as last year. The Leader of the Official Opposition has talked about an additional $20 million. If he said it, he was wrong.
The Leader of the Official Opposition has previously said something about how we got $20 million extra as a result of the formula from the federal government. Let us dissect the transfer payments. The increase in the transfer payment from the 1990-91 mains to the 1991-92 mains is approximately $27 million. This is not, as is explained, a real increase, because $12 million of this is merely a reclassification of recoveries received from the MOT airports and territorial roads programs, which were transferred from the federal government to us. That is devolution.
If the previous formula had continued, we would have received something like a $20 million increase. As it is, we received something like $10 million. This is about three percent of our budget, which is less than the rate of inflation. Therefore, in real terms, it is a cut.
Throughout these budgets every year the Leader of the Official Opposition and his friends tell us that the territorial government is growing even larger and is becoming more and more dependent upon the federal government. We are not. That is not true. The Leader of the Official Opposition can say it as many times as he likes. He can hold his breath and stamp his foot and it still will not be true.
If we were to maintain the current level of service, the governments budget would grow just on the basis of inflation. Over the years since we have been in office, five years, dependency has decreased quite considerably. I know facts are very painful, but if he refers to page 48 of the budget address, the excellent address from my colleague, the Minister of Finance, he will see a bar chart, which shows that in 1985-86 the percentage of the federal transfer as a percentage of our budgetary income was 61.6 percent. The federal transfer as a percentage of our budgetary income in 1991-92 is projected at 56.3 percent. The trend line has been consistently going down every year we have been in office. The trend line is down. That is what the facts are.
The poor Member for Porter Creek East, who does not demonstrate his numeracy very often, is giggling - with embarrassment no doubt. The Member for Porter Creek East says he is glad we are in charge, and so are the majority of people in the Yukon.
I want to make one point to the Member who is saying we are not doing enough to develop the economy and that we are becoming more dependent. That is that the Conservatives here want us to become less dependent, but the federal Tories want us to become even more dependent, because what they have done in the new formula financing arrangement is make economic development the kind of economic development that would be damn hard because every tax dollar increase we get through economic initiatives would reduce our tax yield by $1.40.
In other words, the federal Conservatives seem to be at odds with the local Conservatives in this respect. It means they are going to make it very hard to reduce our dependence through economic development.
Members opposite have talked about the increase in government, the big bloated government that is growing. They do not like what I am saying but the fact is that in the year that the Tories last won an election, the percentage of territorial employees as a total percentage of the workforce was 21.7 percent. It was less than that last year under an NDP government.
They heckle because they do not like the facts.
As the Member for Faro pointed out, very accurately, if you look at this budget objectively, if you look at the financial circumstances of the territory, this is the only government in the country today that is carrying an accumulated surplus: no tax increases, a balanced budget and reduced spending.
I have got friends, big friends in the NDP, who probably regard that as fiscally conservative. They might even say that it is outrageously fiscally conservative, but the one thing it aint is profligate, nor wastrel, nor irresponsible, and it does not matter how many times the Member opposite says it, he will never make it true.
They talk about person years. Let us talk about person years, just for a little bit, because I want to find out in the course of this budget debate where these guys are coming from. The Leader of the Opposition says heads will roll when he comes to power, rolling down the hill - 20 more teachers, off with their heads there are 20 more teachers are in this budget; 18 language instructors.
Mr. Phelps: Point of order, Mr. Speaker.
Speaker: Order please. Point of order to the Opposition Leader.
Mr. Phelps: Will the speaker kindly bring forward the time, place and witnesses that will verify his statement? I did not make those statements.
Speaker: Order please. I find there is no point of order but there is conflict between two Members.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The Member opposite was reliably reported by a reporter of the Yukon News at a meeting in my constituency and said what I just quoted him as saying.
I want to get to the point. He talks about the 100 person years. There are 20 new teachers, 18 language instructors who were being paid before and who are being given recognition as person years, rather than the uncertain status they had before - off with their heads. Twelve new language interpreters in rural communities - off with their heads, the Tories say. Five new occupational health and safety people to protect workers health - off with their heads. Four new people to do airports and marine branch in the constituency of the Member for Kluane - off with their heads. Heads rolling down the road, blood all over the ground, and we are going to have a happier and a better Yukon as a result of that. Phooey.
As the Member opposite knows, as a result of this governments activities and some good fortune and cooperation of the federal government, cooperation with the private sector, there are thousands of new private-sector jobs in this territory as a result of our initiatives. The Member opposite talked about what we could do for Teslin. I remember an initiative we took in Teslin and it topped that. He talks about cheap electrical energy. As the engine of economic development, all the other consumers are going to pay but you are going to have that. But interestingly enough, everywhere I went in the territory recently, fellow Conservatives of his were attacking us because they said the federal government, the federal Conservatives, had made a deal with Faro which did exactly that. One more contradiction. It was interesting as he went through what we should be doing, the initiatives we should be taking, he did not have a single mention of a single real idea other than the cheap power for industry at other peoples expense.
The Member says do not be cautious. But every time we show an inch of incaution, every time we take a little bit of risk, we are hammered by the Members opposite. They want it both ways.
The Member for Watson Lake and the Member for Porter Creek East want to talk about the sawmill. Well I will be happy to talk about the sawmill anytime. We did that because the people of Watson Lake, the people in his constituency, begged us to do something because their community was in trouble. We took some risks, but we knew that this government could not run a sawmill so we had private managers. We had people like the Member opposite who said they knew what they were doing to run it: expert consultants. They ran it and they lost money. We lost money, the people in charge of it lost money. But I will never apologize for anyone for responding to that communitys plea. They begged us: the Chamber of Commerce, the mayor, the people who worked there, the truckers he is talking about. They begged us to do something. And we did one of the few, one of the only few, things we could have done in that community and we have been vilified by the Members opposite ever since.
There will be a day of reckoning on that one day. I am not afraid of the day of reckoning. I am not ashamed of what we did because as I stack up the record, as I look at the hundreds of jobs we created, the dozens of businesses, the communities like Faro, the communities like Elsa, the communities like Watson Lake that we tried to help, I will never apologize for that, I will never feel any shame for that. Not everything went right. Not everything went the way we planned it but I do not believe in the Tory approach which is do-nothing, do-not-interfere except as a kind of cheap criticism.
We have heard the same speech from the Leader of the Opposition every year on the budget now. We have never heard any plan, any specific prescription. The closest he came today was to say cheap power for industry. All residential consumers in this territory, I gather, should be subsidizing industry. The most extreme version of that project was one that was floated by the previous government a few years ago, which was to have an aluminum smelter here. I happen to know that in order to make it viable would require power less than a cent a kilowatt. A massive subsidy would have to be provided by everybody else in the territory, the 30,000 people here in the territory. I happen to know that that proposition, that idea, that kind of development mentality has been absolutely rejected by Yukoners from one corner of this territory to another.
The Leader of the Opposition will go out and thump at that method of development. I will take him on and debate him in every community in this territory. I will be happy to do so because I am absolutely confident that given an opportunity, given a chance, given a voice, given an opportunity to make a choice, the people of the territory will choose our way, our financial agenda and our economic program over his.
Mr. Lang: I listened with a great deal of interest to what the Government Leader had to present to the House. I really cannot say he came up with anything new. In fact, I think it is safe to say that if we grabbed the speech from four years ago and read it verbatim into the record and compared it to what was said today, it would probably closely resemble it. There are a lot of things in the budget that the Minister is announcing again, like the extended care facility. He has changed the name, but he gets to announce that today. I gather he will be announcing at a later date the water and sewer program for Carcross, which we voted for the third time this year.
Further to that, there are other programs we have had the opportunity of voting for year in and year out. Very little, if anything, is being done, but it allows the Minister to stand and huff and puff his way through, pretending he is the greatest guy since sliced bread and he can have the political advantage of announcing the same program year in and year out.
If that is not misleading the public I do not know what is. When we voted for the extended care facility three years ago there was a common feeling among all Members of the House it was a program long overdue and very much needed. I do not know if the Member recalls but I brought in a situation I still have in my constituency, where the woman still stays at home and should be in an extended care facility. Now we are talking about maybe going to tender in April.
For him to make the allegation that this side of the floor is opposed to everything the government has said is totally unfounded. His attitude that we should not even have the right to question the government, or him, on how they spend the money of the public, is nothing short of arrogance.
One of the reasons for having this Legislature is as a forum to account to the public. I see the Minister nodding his head yet, when we ask about Watson Lake, for example, and the $11 million or $13 million - we still do not really know how much it is - the Minister takes exception and feels we should not have the right to ask how or why that money was spent. I find it especially interesting that he is not willing to take any responsibility for it because he contracted it out to the private sector. But when it comes to Curragh Resources, he has claimed the responsibility for opening that mine at least 15 times since it began.
There was very little criticism when the final arrangements were made. We have said the government was involved in finishing off a number of the transactions. We have said the federal government put the arrangements through the Government of Canada through the Lassonde Report and the work of Erik Nielsen. So for him to impute to the Members of this House that some things that have been good for the territory have not been acknowledged is incorrect. We have not criticized the deal for Faro and the opening of the mine. I take exception to the huffing and puffing from my colleague for Whitehorse West when he vilifies and tries to intimidate anyone who speaks on anything and does not agree with him.
The Minister says this is nonsense. I am here to tell you that that is not the case. He basically tells us we are wrong and will not tolerate any view that does agree with his own.
I want to go through a number of things with regard to the budget I think are really going to be advantageous to the community. From a constituency point of view, I am very pleased to see the new Porter Creek school budgeted for. It is long overdue. Jack Hulland School is overflowing and, for Members information, we have had to put two portables in place to meet the demands on that particular school. I will be asking, over the course of this session, whether or not the school is going ahead this year. I will be expecting, as a Member of this House, that that school will be tendered for construction this year. It is long overdue and should be built.
The new visitor reception centre for Whitehorse was discussed last year and there was some money budgeted for it.
Little has happened, but I see there is money in the budget for that. I do not know what plans the Minister has for that particular visitor reception centre, but I wonder if we have to spend as much money as they are planning for that particular complex. I was hoping to see an alternative brought forward in conjunction with the Transportation Museum to see whether or not something could be added to the old structure, and the old structure further refurbished. We would like to see whether or not that could be the site for the visitor reception centre, in conjunction with the Transportation Museum. There are a number of very positive things there. The land is available, as far as I understand. I think it is in a very good spot along the Alaska Highway and it will draw travellers passing by Whitehorse. They may stop if they see the visitor reception centre rather than having to go out of their way and come down either the South Access or the Two Mile Hill.
I feel quite strongly that the Minister should be seeing whether or not an option could be explored there as opposed to going for a separate facility. At the same time, there may be a possibility that we may not have to spend as much money, and perhaps get as nice, if not a nicer reception centre area. It does bring people into the Transportation Museum and it gives them an opportunity to view a little of our history while they find out what Whitehorse can provide, and what the Yukon can provide if they decide to stay an extra day or couple of days.
I am pleased to see that some initiative is being taken. I hope the Minister takes my comments in the manner I am presenting them and gives them serious consideration.
I spoke of the extended care facility earlier. It is long, long overdue. I am pleased to see that money is in the budget once again. I understand from questions answered during Question Period that the Minister hopes to have it tendered early this spring. The days are passing by and the quicker it is done the better off we, in Yukon, will be. As we all know, our extended families are staying longer, living longer, and subsequently this type of facility is needed. It is needed today, not tomorrow.
Another area that we want to commend the government on, and I would like to think that the Minister of Health and Human Resources would have given my colleague, the Member for Riverdale South, some credit for is the mammography unit. We are so pleased to see that it has been budgeted for. I have to say that we were becoming very suspicious about the commitment that the government had to this particular unit when we found out that it was sitting at the Whitehorse General Hospital for months in a cardboard box. It was passing strange that as soon as the media found out that it was sitting in the aisle in the Whitehorse General Hospital, that day it was moved and sequestered in some corner, I presume, so the public could not see what a useful purpose this particular machine was put to on behalf of the women of the territory.
That is an area that I intend to pursue and I am sure my colleague, the Member for Riverdale South, will be pursuing, with the Minister of Health, so that he makes every effort to get that particular machine functioning and meeting the needs that all of us in this Chamber agree will be of benefit, preventing future health problems.
I want to say that there are a number of other areas that we feel the government can take some credit for and one is in upgrading our communities and their infrastructure in many respects, both native and non-native. We think and know that the money that was negotiated from the Government of Canada was in good part justified, that our rural communities needed financial assistance in order to reach a certain standard of living and increase their quality of living to a standard similar to that of our southern counterparts in Canada. I think, in some good part, in many of the communities, we have done that, both native and non-native.
The Minister talked about the native teacher training program and our position and whether or not we support any of these programs on behalf of the Indian people. Well, I happen to have been a Member on the government side when, for example, the initial support for the Indian languages program came in. I happen to have been in this government when the question of a teacher training program came in and it came in primarily at the request of the native people of the territory. We do support a teacher training program. It would be my preference, quite frankly, that that particular program be made available to all Yukoners who are interested in becoming teachers. I do not subscribe, totally, to the notion that it should be strictly there for Indian people; it should be there for Yukoners. I guess that is where we differ philosophically.
The Minister for Health and Human Resources would probably stand in his place and say that I am anti-Indian when I say that and that is the unfortunate thing about the debate, when we start talking about native and non-native issues and what certain things are going to certain groups. If things happen to go to the native community, the side opposite always take the position that we are against the Indians, instead of dealing with the issue, of whether or not what is being done is proper and is right for the Indian people and for the public interest at large.
Quite frankly, as a member of the public, and I am saying this publicly to the Members across the way, there is a growing resentment in the general populace that any time there is any issue dealing with the general Indian population, if one raises a question about it, the Government Leader or the front bench jumps and says you are anti-Indian.
I want to say to the side opposite that the attitude being displayed by the party opposite is creating intolerance within our community. It is creating an animosity that has never been there to the extent it is today. The other day, I raised the question about land transfers, and people getting land and how to get land. I am talking about ordinary Yukoners, about white Yukoners, white Yukoners who have spent years here, who have raised their families here, and in many cases have no right to get land. In many cases, this is being blamed on the Indian people.
I do not think that is right. That is not right at all. It is a total abrogation of responsibility by the Government of the Yukon Territory. That is not enhancing the social fabric of our community. I will ask all Members, especially Members of the government, that they re-assess programs and policies of that kind. I ask Mr. Speaker to use the weight of his office. I ask the Member for Tatchun. I ask the Members of Indian ancestry in this House to put some pressure on the government to stop blaming the Indian people for inaction in areas such as this. Quite frankly, it is going to boil over. If this continues, the general populace is going to say, Enough is enough is enough.
The government has to be seen to be fair, and perceived to be fair in dealing with everybody on an equal basis. In many cases, that impression is not being left with the general public at all.
As a Yukoner, I am concerned. I live here. I raise my family here. I want my kids to be Canadians. I want them to stand at attention when our national anthem is played. First and foremost they are Canadians. Secondly, they are Yukoners, and thirdly, they will say, Yes, I happen to be of native ancestry, or Scottish ancestry.
It concerns me that we, as Canadians, are getting our priorities wrong. When we hear the Member for Old Crow talking about how proud she is to be a Member of the First Nations, yet she never stands to say how proud she is to be a Canadian. That concerns me, because it tells us something about our country. We have the most beautiful country in the world, bar none. The most beautiful country in the world. We, as Canadians, collectively and individually, seem to be intent on tearing it apart. From the French/English question, on the Indian versus non-Indian question, on the provincial versus federal issues. We, as Canadians, cannot seem to find a compromise that we are satisfied with. We have the highest standard of living, bar none - even compared with many parts of the United States of America, I am sure.
Compare family by family, individual by individual, and you look at the opportunities we have in our country, the standard of living and social network, yet we do not seem to be satisfied. We are not satisfied to accept some of the responsibilities that we have as individual Canadians and citizens. It bothers me in this little Yukon where we live - and most of us in these Chambers have spent most our lives here - to see the smoldering resentment that is building in our communities.
I want to go on to another area of concern and that is how the government plays the rural communities versus Whitehorse. We asked about decentralization. It was a legitimate question of how a program will be enhanced and better delivered in another communities. The reply we get is an accusation that we are opposed to rural communities, instead of just saying that their policy is this or that and can be justified. We are getting the same old political rhetoric. They say that Danny Lang is opposed to Watson Lake. All my relatives live there, but apparently I hate Watson Lake because I have asked whether a program or position would be better in Watson Lake or in Mayo.
The attitude that is exhibited by the bullying Government Leader is one of, How could you even question or have the audacity to stand in this House and question my authority, because I have made myself king. He is the man who would be king. You have to do everything I tell you to do, otherwise I will go in the Executive wing and I will have a tantrum. We all know his private image is much different from his public image and general business conduct. Most of the side opposite is looking down, not wanting to acknowledge this, but it is kind of embarrassing to witness the leader of ones region throwing a tantrum, and it would be too embarrassing to discuss this.
The point I feel very strongly about is that the government is looking at the Legislature as a waste of time. They really do not have any public accountability. Let us consider when the Member for Kluane brought in the motion on Mendenhall.
The attitude exhibited by the side opposite was that the MLA for Kluane really did not know what he was talking about, although he just happens to be the MLA and spends a lot of time with those people, and his thoughts really have no consequence. It was like talking to a brick wall.
When you listen to the MLA for Faro, who is now the Minister of Community and Transportation Services, standing up and saying he knew better than the MLA for Kluane and the people in Mendenhall. That is basically what it was. That was the essence of that debate.
The authority of the side opposite came through, eight to seven; there was no question about the vote. I was quite surprised that that particular debate symbolizes how the side opposite has grown complacent and arrogant in the everyday running of the government.
The budget presented in this House was not questioned as to whether or not finances should be spent. The essence of what we will debate over the days to come will be over whether or not the money is being well spent and well invested. That is our argument. We do not believe that the side opposite is putting in either the time or the effort to ensure the decisions they are making, although well intended I hope, are necessarily going to bear the results of what the objective of the various expenditures have been. It bothers me.
The one that symbolizes the bumbling in many areas of government is the building of the Elsa/Piers McDonald memorial curling rink. We have a fine facility up there, yet it will never see ice. If it does, it will be on a very limited scale. What concerns me is the question of responsibility. I will be asking the Minister during the course of debate if he was made aware by management, verbally or otherwise, three or five months prior to the closure of that mine, that there was a strong possibility that the mine would close down. My understanding is that he was. If he was, then why did we proceed with the building of the curling rink?
I realize it was in his riding and I guess he thought it had to go because it was in his riding but, for the life of me, that to me is not accountability nor responsibility when it comes to being the government, even when it is in your own riding.
The Minister of Finance has said he has not misrepresented the question of the budget. Now, over the past six months we have had the Minister of Finance time in and time out make public declarations that everybody had to tighten their belt. The one thing we did not note when he said everybody had to tighten their belt, is that he did not tell the public that it did not include his, but that it was everybody else.
Last year we saw a major tax increase come in under the guise of a licence fee increase on the question of our vehicle licence fees. At that time, the Minister of everything, the Minister of Finance, stood in his place and talked about how the federal government was cutting back on everything. I quote: The reason it would be wrong is because the diminished debility or formula agreement to fund from general revenue things that ought to be covered by a fee for service. Given the fact of the formula money provided to the Yukon, that the Yukon receivers seem to want to cut, it would be wrong to use those funds to replace a fee. The debate went on, and on January 24, 1990 when we felt that the fees that were being levied for our licensing should stay the way they were, the Minister, in his place, stood there and said that they were being cut back from Ottawa and they were going to have a very serious problem with financing. That was one of the justifications for voting down the motion. So have heart. Here we are a year later and we have a budget before us and we have the government of Canada, those big big dirty Tories - a Tory is a Tory is a Tory as the Government Leader would say - that just gave the government of the Yukon an additional $19 million.
The Minister of Community and Transportation is shaking his head. Well then, send it back if you do not like it. I mean, you cannot have it both ways, surely, surely, surely.
The Minister of Finance has a responsibility to be honest with the public. He keeps talking about a cutback. Then he talks about the formula financing agreement and how they got cut back. The first I heard about it was the other day; I did not know that we did not have a signed agreement, that we do not have a government-to-government agreement.
We are in a situation now where the Government of Canada can do whatever it wants. That is the first I have heard of it. I should alert the Minister of Finance that it is an area we intend to pursue in order to find out what exactly the position of the government is and how long we are going to go without an agreement. Quite frankly, it makes us very vulnerable if the Government of Canada have decided in its wisdom to make major cuts. Mr. Wilson, as was reported in the news at a meeting with the provinces and business organizations, indicated that there are going to have to be further financial cuts and with no agreement we are very vulnerable, extremely vulnerable, if the Government starts to look north and says, hold it, you guys are going to contribute to this like anyone else. If that is the case and if that happens, the Government of Yukon can bear full responsibility for not getting an agreement and not getting it signed, because that is in part what they are paid to do. They are not paid to just run down the federal Tories on one hand and then spend their money with the other hand. Their job is to ensure there is as much security for the Yukon populace as they can.
The other area of the budget that I am going to be pursuing is that I will want to know exactly how much as been transferred from the Ministry of Transport, in respect to the transfer of the Arctic B and C airports: how much money was allocated and how much money was spent this past year on the Arctic B and C airports, and how much will be programed to be spent next year?
Also, I am alerting the Minister of Community and Transportation Services - I hope he is paying attention - that I will want to know exactly how much money has been transferred, vis-a-vis the Dempster Highway and other roads that the government has taken on, and I will want to know how much money is being projected to be spent on the roads this forthcoming year from those agreements.
There is another area that I will be pursuing. I will want to know, from the Minister of Health of Human Resources - and I hope that some Members from the side opposite get this information to him, so that he cannot say that he did not hear it and then will not have the information when we get on to the main estimates - I will want to know exactly what has happened with the chronic care list, what steps he is taking to try to ensure that there are some guidelines for that program. I will want to know from the Minister of Health and Human Resources, who huffs and puffs and talks about good management for the past year since taking over the portfolio, about how he is going to be keeping health costs under control.
The Minister has indicated that he was taking certain steps and it will be interesting to see exactly what steps he has taken. I would like to see them outlined so we can have an idea of what is going to happen with our health services.
I have another area of concern. I want to talk about the budget in general and how we are spending the money. The side opposite talks about economic diversification. There is a common feeling in the House that we all agree with the principle of economic diversification. We may argue how and why, but we have to look at the results of what we are doing. We have to look at the past five years to see the historical aspect of how we spent our money, and look five or 10 years ahead to where we are going.
The Member for Riverdale North made some very valid points the other day, and the side opposite should take a hard look at what he said. When you take a look at the community of Mayo, or take the community of Haines Junction, or Watson Lake, and see what we have done to successfully diversify the economies of those communities, in most of those cases, including Whitehorse, I have to really ask what have we accomplished with an expenditure of $1.7 billion over five years. What economic diversification have we accomplished in those communities?
Other than more government, what have we done to provide the people of Old Crow with a vehicle or mechanism for some development - whatever development they would like to undertake.
The Member for Old Crow stands in her place, smiles sweetly, accepts all the money from the various levels of government and tries to get as much money as she can from the government, and then she will drive to a meeting to oppose oil and gas development. She does not walk; she does not go by dog team.
The Member for Old Crow asks what I did for Old Crow while I was in the government. I happened to be very instrumental, and worked with the people from Old Crow, in replacing the school that burned down.
Do not give me this anti-Old Crow bit. I am asking some questions of the MLA for Old Crow. The MLA for Old Crow just had an article in the newspaper not too long ago talking about how she does not feel the people should be that well educated. It really makes you wonder what kind of priorities the MLA for Old Crow has for the people of Old Crow and the people of the Yukon.
Unless the article was wrong. I will get the article, and during the education debate, I will get the Member for Old Crow to explain to us why she made those comments. She can justify, why, if she felt that way, we are putting an extension campus in Old Crow. It does not add up. It is the Member for Old Crows position, in conjunction with the government, to oppose any oil and gas development. At the same time she is the first one to drive to a meeting instead of walking. Or she flies. There is a Member with principles. It sounds like we are dealing with Alice in Wonderland. I am saying to the Member for Old Crow and the side opposite that there is a responsibility on all of us. It is not a gimme, gimme world out there. Every time the Member for Old Crow stands up it is to say thank you to the government because she just keeps getting given all this stuff.
We have a responsibility to the people of Old Crow but we also have a responsibility to the people of Porter Creek as they have contributed something as well to the territory as a whole, too.
I will get that article for the Member for Old Crow. She better read it and I am sure we will have a really interesting debate in the area of education because if that is the attitude of the Member for Old Crow and the NDP, I think the public have a right to know what they have in store for the years ahead for the young people in our education system.
The budget we are presenting here is $370 million. Of this, $60 million is raised locally. The balance comes from the Government of Canada. That leaves $310 million being contributed, either directly or indirectly, through recoveries, transfer payments or the financial formula agreement, by the people of Canada.
The Government Leader, at whom I was laughing as he was explaining his voodoo economics, explained to us how we were becoming less dependent on the Government of Canada. I am just so pleased he is not in charge of my personal bank account. All I can say is that I hope for the longevity of my colleague, the Member for Whitehorse West and his family, when he was expressing to this House how he justifies the financial management of this government and how he explained how we were becoming less dependent on the Government of Canada, that he does not run his own personal budget the same way he does the budget for the people of the territory.
I have just been shown something very interesting, which shows how we justify our transfer and how we compare ourselves in 1991-92. He has a graph. You can justify or rationalize anything anyway you want. I get a kick out of the fact that the gross revenues from the Yukon Housing Corporation and Yukon Liquor Corporation are included in this justification.
We know what the Yukon Housing Corporation is. We know it is a vehicle to access government financing for social and all the other housing programs. We are now going to see the extended care facility being built under the auspices of the Yukon Housing Corporation, because then we can suck a little more money out of those dirty southerners, those dirty Canadians, to help pay for our extended care facility.
One has to really question the justification brought forward by the Government Leader. He puts the rents into the social housing, but he does not show the other side of the ledger in here.
I humbly apologize to the Government Leader and hope he does not take umbrage at my comments, and I hope he does not hold it against me. If I ever decide to get out of politics and get a government job, I hope he will protect me so that the Minister of Education, or the deputy minister, cannot fire me if I get into a program. I hope there will be enough generosity exhibited by my dear colleague, the Member for Whitehorse West, enough Christian principles to ensure that everybody is dealt with fairly.
Just as I raised today, some people get to pick which community they are going to go to, and other people were just told that their heads would roll.
Speaker: I would like to remind the Member he has three minutes to conclude.
Mr. Lang: The Member for Porter Creek West said I could take his place. I am on a roll here; I am on a roll. I am enjoying this. I am starting to get into this. I know the side opposite is, too.
I want to talk about the budget, about the humane treatment that we have for our public servants. When you think of the Minister of Education who stood in his place and, in his best manner and we took it that way, said that nobodys job was in jeopardy. But six months later, a new idea under the guise of NDP concept of fairness and justice: we shall decentralize those people we do not like. Yeah. We do not fire them. They can have another job in the civil service like, you know, you could become a secretary. You could move over there. But that is the humane side of the NDP. They know how to treat their employees. Their compassion is beyond belief, fully exhibited by the bullying tactics of the Minister of Education who tries to do it in such a deceptive manner. Quite frankly, I would have more respect for him if he was upfront about it. If you do not like somebody and you are going to fire them, you are going fire them. Stand up and say it.
When the Government Leader let a couple of deputy ministers go the first time he came into power, he was upfront about it. You cannot argue with that. You might not agree, but to do it under the guise of fairness, justice and equity. That is deceptive. That is the only way to describe it. Deceptive decentralization.
I guess my point on the budget is this: I will conclude by saying that we feel that the money could be better spent in many areas of the budget. I hope that is the argument the side opposite will listen to.
I look forward to the debate in the forthcoming weeks. We will be looking for information. We expect cooperation from the side opposite.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I am pleased to take this opportunity to respond to the Budget Address. It is rare in this day and age, anywhere in North America, to have an opportunity to speak to a balanced budget - a budget that imposes no tax increase. It is also rare to be able to speak to a budget that does not cut services to its citizens. It is rare to be dealing with a budget that ensures our government will conduct its business and programs in a fiscally sound manner. It is remarkable that this government has been able to deliver this budget at a time when the federal government has hit us with major reductions to the formula finance agreement.
This year, as in the past, we have budgeted a modest annual budget surplus. The sum of $15 million sounds like a lot of money now, but increases to the RCMP police agreement costs, two years worth of wage settlements and the normal contingencies to allow for supplementaries have to be considered. It is prudent to budget these funds as a surplus rather than commit them.
Although the 1991-92 budget shows a modest growth of 3.9 percent over the 1990-91 estimates, it is actually down by about the same percentage from what we expect to spend in the current budget year.
As it has been for the last several years, the rate of growth in our budget is less than the Yukons annual rate of inflation, which, at four percent, is less than the national average.
You may recall the debate a couple of years ago on the concerns raised by the Chamber of Commerce that we were spending too much money in our Capital and O&M budgets and that this was inevitably going to lead to an overheated economy and have a dramatic effect on our rate of inflation here in Yukon. They predicted that there would be a dramatic rise in our inflation rate. Obviously, that has not happened.
It is notable that we have been able to provide the range of services to our constituents that we have at such budgetary levels despite the fact that the population of the Yukon has grown quite dramatically in recent years.
This budget, once again, strikes a stable balance between the resources we have available to us and meeting the needs of the Yukon people. The delivery of Yukon government services is being done more efficiently and more effectively than ever before. By carefully refocussing our resources, we are able to offer a greater range of services to Yukoners.
Through the negotiation of agreements with the federal government we have taken on new responsibilities and additional personnel along with financial resources to fund these new services. An example from one of my departments was the addition of five new people and the establishment of a freshwater fisheries section in Renewable Resources a year or so ago.
An example from the budget of this year is found in the area of French and Aboriginal language services. With the solid funding negotiated for this program with a continuing commitment to maintain and improve services in these areas, we have been able to add 14 people to the government payroll to deliver these services as term employees.
I might add these people will not be piled into a government office in Whitehorse. They will be providing these much-demanded services to people in the rural communities.
The direction set by this budget meshed perfectly with the goals elaborated in the throne speech. The budget puts people and resources to work to complete the Yukon Indian land claims, to build a more sustainable economy, to invest in our communities in improving our health, and it is, as a balanced and fair budget, testimony to our commitment to good government.
The governments commitment to these goals is just as evident in the departmental budgets for which I am responsible as it is in all of our efforts. I would like to take a few moments to highlight some of the features of the Renewable Resources and Tourism budgets.
In Renewable Resources, as a support for decentralization efforts that have already been underway for some time, our capital program calls for $10,000 to start work on a Renewable Resources compound in Faro to support the work of the conservation officer who is assigned to that community. The compound facility will consolidate the Renewable Resources presence in Faro.
For the Members opposite who are interested in tracking the person year growth in government and decentralization, this was a new position funded in part by the fisheries transfer. As Members know, the conservation officers act as enforcement officers for the Fisheries Act.
Also in our capital program, funding of $73,000 has been identified for park management alternatives and plans for the proposed Carcross dunes territorial park, a proposed Kusawa Lake park and for the lazulite deposit in north Yukon. The focus of the coming years work on the first two projects will be on public consultation.
Also contributing to economic diversification and development of the Yukons tourism potential is $131,000 invested in the wildlife viewing program. This is the first of a two-year program. This program is aimed at improving wildlife viewing opportunities for both visitors and local residents. A viewing point for the Takhini elk herd is one such example.
Tourism surveys have shown that our visitors put a very high value on opportunities to view wildlife. We believe that sites that make this possible will encourage tourists to stay longer and increase the Yukons appeal as a destination.
Again, for Opposition Members who are keeping tabs, we are seeking approval to hire one person, on a two-year term, to coordinate this infrastructure development program. Mr. Speaker, if they are being fair, they would also note this on their economic diversification score card as well.
A total of $100,000 is earmarked in this budget to begin implementation of the outdoor recreation sites and corridors assistance plan implementation. Once again, this will provide opportunities for both visitors and residents, in this case, recreational opportunities. With the 1992 anniversary of construction of the Alaska Highway, priority is being placed on sites adjacent to it. This is another one for the tourism economic diversification score card.
One of the reasons we have been able to do more as a government despite reductions in budget growth, is partnerships. For example, $261,000 that we will be spending in the coming year for the Faro sheep mitigation project, for the Liard Valley moose and caribou habitat study, and for wildlife habitat assessment protection is all being made possible by contributions from Wildlife Habitat Canada, a non-profit foundation which has contributed to other habitat programs in the Yukon. It has, in fact, paid the tab for several of the people working in our habitat section of fish and wildlife.
The establishment of the Coal River Springs Ecological Reserve earlier this year was another example of a partnership project, in that case with the Nature Conservancy of Canada and Foothills Pipe Lines.
The priority given to land claims is also reflected in the Department of Renewable Resources budget, with additional funding of approximately $670,000 identified for 1991-92. Again, for the scorekeepers on the side opposite, this includes funding for two people to assist in the implementation of a land claims agreement.
I look forward to further elaborating on the Renewable Resources spending plans in my introduction to the budget estimates.
In tourism, over $2 million has been identified for the construction of a Yukon visitor reception centre on the Alaska Highway near the Whitehorse airport. This will be a showcase for the entire Yukon, which I hope to see complemented by the City of Whitehorse, and the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce Visitor Centre, located downtown.
Members will also note the increased funding available to the museums of the territory subsequent to the adoption of the new Yukon museums policy. A total of $1,289,000 is allocated for all museums programs. I remind Members that much of this flows to the museums in our communities that encourage tourists to linger, thus strengthening local economies.
One final tourism expenditure that I will mention before speaking to the commitment of this budget to my riding, is an increase in the signs interpretive sites budget. It almost doubles in the coming year, from $85,000 to $150,000.
Much of this will be devoted to improved interpretive signage along the Alaska Highway, once again, in preparation for the 1992 anniversary.
As was the case with the Department of Renewable Resources, I will have more to say about the Tourism budget when I introduce my estimates.
Turning to my constituency, the Klondike, over $3 million is budgeted, mostly for infrastructure and government building improvements. As is often the case under our government, the largest single government expenditure in my home community of Dawson City is the $876,000 that goes directly to the city for block funding. In the old days, funding to communities went up and down like a yo-yo, depending upon the whims of the Minister of Municipal Services. Since we have been in government, the municipalities have received large, straightforward allotments annually for municipal councils to budget as they see fit.
Another big ticket item for the Klondike riding is the $160,000 allotted to development of the Klondike valley waste disposal site and $30,000 earmarked to help establish a Klondike valley fire department to serve areas outside of Dawson City. Both of these are tangible evidence of our commitment to healthy communities. There is over $300,000 tagged for land development in the Dawson area, including the stage 3 expansion of the Callison industrial subdivision. There is $120,000 budgeted for the McDonald Lodge equipment replacement.
Less obvious in the budget figures, but clear from the information released in the announcement of this governments increased commitment to decentralization, are several new positions that will be established in Dawson. Within this budget year are five positions: an education psychologist from the public schools branch of the Department of Education, a municipal advisor from the Department of Community and Transportation Services, an Inuvialuit final agreement biologist position and a clerical support person from the Department of Renewable Resources, as well as a secretary for the rural business and community development office manager, who will be established in Dawson City.
Of course, as there have been increases in enrollment at Robert Service School, additional teachers and assistants have been assigned to maintain the excellent student/teacher ratios that characterize the Yukons education system.
One feature of this budget highlighted in achieving our goal of providing good government is that of decentralization. These opportunities presented themselves in 1985, and this government has placed more of its employees in the communities outside of Whitehorse. In my community of Dawson City, for example, we had placed a building inspector, an economic development officer, a recreation consultant, a heavy-duty mechanic, a regional superintendent of education, and additional Renewable Resources staff in my community. However, when it became clear that this approach alone was not guaranteeing us a public service that was representative of the urban/rural split of our population, an advisory committee on decentralization was established with a mandate to explore options for a more aggressive decentralization program. That committees report was tabled in this Legislature last week.
I am not finished. I am just anticipating you calling an end to the day, Mr. Speaker.
Speaking to our decentralization initiative, the Opposition has been scathing in its criticism. I just heard the Member for Porter Creek East mention that we were not humane, our government showed no compassion in placing these employees outside of Whitehorse. There were a lot of concerns raised by the Member for Riverdale South that this is going to be too expensive.
Speaker: Our time being 5:30, this House now stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. Monday next.
The House adjourned at 5:30 p.m.
The following Sessional Paper was tabled November 1, 1990:
Report of the Auditor General on the examination of the financial statements of the Government of Yukon for the year ended March 31, 1990 (Speaker-Johnston)