Tuesday, November 6, 1990 - 1:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. At this time, we will proceed with Prayers.
Speaker: We will proceed with the Order Paper.
Are there any Introduction of Visitors?
Are there any Reports or Documents for Tabling?
Reports of Committees?
Introduction of Bills?
Are there any Notices of Motion for the Production of Papers?
Are there any Notices of Motion?
Are there any Statements by Ministers?
This then brings us to Question Period.
Question re: Watson Lake sawmill
Mr. Phelps: I have some questions for the Minister responsible for the Yukon Development Corporation with regard to the heavy losses of the Watson Lake sawmill.
Earlier this year, in August, the Yukon Development Corporation released figures for the period up to March of this year and at that time they stated that Hyland Forest Products had lost $8 million and, in addition, there was a $2.9 million reserve for loss on investments with regard to Yukon Pacific Forest Products. When I look at the accounts for Yukon Development Corporation under public accounts, page 125 for the record, it states there that the corporation received $5.4 million in proceeds from the purchaser, Yukon Pacific, and that the long-term receivables now have a value of $556,000.
Would the Minister not then agree that the write-off in regard to Yukon Pacific is really $4.8 million and that the total loss, according to the books, up until and including March, 1990, is $8 million lost in Hyland and $4.8 million written off for Yukon Pacific, for a total of, up to that point in time, of $12.8 million?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: It is a somewhat unusual question for Question Period and since the Member is inviting me to argue accounting theory, or accountants interpretation, I am going to have to decline to do that. But given the wrongful assertions the Member has made in the past on this subject, I would want to take notice of any questions that he asks, in reference to the documents that he has asked about, and particularly whether I would agree with his interpretation of the facts, because so far on this question I have not agreed with almost any of his interpretations of any of the facts in this question.
Mr. Phelps: We are simply trying to get at the facts as bit by bit more and more is revealed through time about the tragic losses of the Watson Lake sawmill. I note that according to the books...
Speaker: Order please. Would the Member please get to the supplementary question.
Mr. Phelps: ...yes, according to the books they have not written off the $298,000 that is due the corporation or from the Indian consortium that had purchased shares in Yukon Pacific. Can the Minister tell us whether or not this is a realistic account receivable of the corporation or does he intend to write off the $298,000 for shares purchased by 7716 Yukon Ltd., owned by the Yukon Indian Development Corporation and the Liard Band and the Kaska Council?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The Member invites me to comment on the realism of the situation. Again, without reference to our financial officers of the corporation, I think I would hesitate to give a definitive and final response to that question. I think I know where the Member is going, and I think I can understand the arguments he is making, but again, since this may refer to well-established accounting practices. I can only assume that we are in accordance with those.
The Member opposite is snickering. We hire very highly paid professionals to prepare the financial statements. I know the Auditor General has not found the statements wanting in any way; therefore, I will want to check with our officers as to their opinion of the assertion made by the Leader of the Opposition.
Mr. Phelps: I notice, too, that they have not written off the power house assets. They still show on the books as $565,000. Would the Minister not agree that most of that is going to have to be written off as well?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Again, as to the exact nature of the write-off, as the result of the fire and other unfortunate events there, I will come back with the precise and professional information. Suffice to say that we have faith in the potential for that fuel source from the waste wood there, as an electrical source for the community and the areas around, but of course as the Member opposite will know full well, such a development depends absolutely on a stable forestry operation.
Question re: Watson lake sawmill
Mr. Phelps: In addition to the $4.8 million that had been written off by March of last year, and the $300,000 that is owed to the corporation by the Indian consortium for worthless shares and is yet to be written off, and the $565,000 that shows as an asset on the books because the power plant has not yet been written off, does the Minister expect to recover any of the $400,000 that was loaned to the receiver/manager of the operation?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The Member knows our position in terms of the claimants on that question. I would have to, again, out of an abundance of caution, take that question as notice and make sure that I am fully advised of the latest discussions with the receiver before I give a final commitment on that question. I will take it as notice and report back.
Mr. Phelps: The Minister certainly is cautious when it comes to the Watson Lake sawmill.
Can the Minister tell us how much has been paid to lawyers for the various legal actions surrounding the sawmill and where we can find those figures in the public account?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Is the Member seriously asking me, without notice, in violation of the rules of this House to commit, by memory, the names of the lawyers and the amounts that have been paid to each lawyer in the course of this action? Or is he asking me if I will undertake to bring that information back to the House?
Mr. Phelps: I would like to have the information one way or another. I just cannot find it in the public accounts. Where is it to be found?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: If the Member is asking me if I will come back to the House with the kind of information that no Minister can possibly be expected to provide off the top of his head, but is normal to be pursued by a written question and a written answer, then I will be happy to do that.
Question re: Watson Lake sawmill
Mr. Phelps: Will the Minister tell us who was paying these little expenses? Is it Yukon Development Corporation, or the Government of Yukon on behalf of the Development Corporation?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am assuming any actions in which the Development Corporation is directly involved, for which it is incurring legal expenses, are being paid for by the Development Corporation.
Question re: School, South Alaska Highway
Mrs. Firth: When we last sat on May 10, 1990, the Minister of Government Services said he would be delighted to table the contract with Atco with respect to the South Highway school, and that he was quite prepared to table it. Yet, he did not table it. He tabled a proposal call, not the contract, and a letter to Atco telling them they were going to get the contract, which was coincidentally dated the same day I asked the question.
I followed this up with a letter asking for copies of proposals and bids from Atco, and the Minister ignored my letter. I never received a response. Will the Minister bring me the information I requested in the letter with respect to the proposals and bids, as well as the original contract this government signed with the Atco Trailer Co., which was obviously not signed on May 10?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am working from memory, but I believe I did respond to the letter the Member refers to. I did so just late last week. The response is, at best, in the mail.
The Member also refers to contracts. I do not believe the contracts were enclosed, but I do not recall the contract was requested.
Mrs. Firth: The Minister has a very bad memory. I would recommend to him that he had better start keeping notes.
In the House on May 10, I asked for the contract, and he stood up and said he would be delighted to table it, but we never got it. The letter he refers to ...
Speaker: Order please. Would the Member please get to the supplementary question.
Mrs. Firth: I would like to, but the Minister has made a lot of comments that have to be responded to, so I can clarify the issue for him. The letter he is referring to was regarding another issue: the Dakwakada Corporation issue.
Is the Minister prepared to give me the original contract, as he committed in the House on May 10, that was entered into with the Atco Trailer Co.? Will he table that contract?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: If that is all the question amount to, I can certainly answer in the affirmative. I am quite prepared to provide any documents the Member wishes to see in relation to a contract that has been awarded, and is public, for a job that is being done with public funds.
Mrs. Firth: Then why did he not give it to us when it was originally requested? I have been asking for it for the last six months.
I would also like to ask the Minister if he will table all the amendments to the Atco purchase contract and the spreadsheets for the project. I hear this information has been held on to very tightly, and I would like to hear it from that Minister that he will provide all that information this week.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I have to tell the Member that I respect the question and certainly will undertake to comply as best as I can. The Member must understand that, in respect to a contract still in place, I would be hesitant to provide all the details until it is concluded. Nevertheless, the fundamental contract and any change orders related to it that have been approved and have taken place will be provided.
I must take issue with the Members suggestion that she has been asking for this for six months. I do not recall any inquiries surrounding the issue since the last sitting of the House and perhaps through her recent letter. I will also check on that to ensure it gets a prompt response if the Member believes it has not already.
Question re: School, South Alaska Highway
Mrs. Firth: I have also sent another letter to the Minister. The first was dated October 9 and the second, October 24. The second was a letter requesting a schedule of work over and above the contract for the Mary Lake school as soon as possible. I understand that this schedule exists, yet two weeks later I have not been provided with a response or even notice that the Minister has received the letter. I have to come to the Legislature and, on the public record, request this information. I would, therefore, like to ask the Minister if he will also provide the schedule of work over and above the contract for the Mary Lake school, and I would like a commitment from the Minister that he will provide that information this week.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I really feel deeply for the Members need to raise matters in the House that she may have raised in a letter previously. I do honour all correspondence and respond diligently to each and every one. There is not an item of correspondence I have not responded to. The Member sees me in the hallways on a fairly regular basis. My phone number is 5877, but if the Member wishes to secure commitments in the House, she can be assured she will get them in accordance with the request by letter and as articulated here.
Mrs. Firth: Again we have that self-righteous, arrogant attitude demonstrated. This Minister stood up in the House on May 10, and told us...
Speaker: Order please. Will the Member please get to the supplementary question.
Mrs. Firth: You bet I will, Mr. Speaker. He told us he would be delighted to table the contract. We never heard another peep from him about it. I would like a commitment from the Minister, also, to table all the service and construction contracts in reference to the site work at the Mary Lake School - all that are related to the site work and preparation of that site - and I want all of them, including the blasting, the drilling, the equipment rental, all of it. Will the Minister make a commitment to table all of those contracts also, which are public information?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Again, I see no problem in providing the information to the Member on work related to the South Highway school. I believe the Member is making reference to several change orders that occurred to work that was done as a part of the construction job. I have no problem providing that to the Member and I will quite readily repeat that I have no problem tabling the information or providing it by correspondence. The Member has that commitment.
Mrs. Firth: I have his commitment to get the information but I would like a commitment from the Minister that I will get all the information he can provide this week. It is all on the record.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The commitment to provide it this week I will take as notice. I do not know if the entire detailed information, as requested by the Member, is in a form to be provided. Certainly, fundamental contracts and fundamental change orders are generally available immediately upon authorization of work. Perhaps some work is still being completed; therefore we would not have final prices. I will take the request respecting the information to be provided this week as notice but will endeavour to be very expeditious in response to the Members request.
Question re: Tagish Kwan Corporation, Centennial Street project
Mr. Phillips: I have a question for the Minister of Economic Development regarding the governments $400,000 loan for the Tagish Kwan Centennial project. On October 3, 1990, I wrote a letter to the Minister regarding this development, requesting more information about the particulars of the loan, to which the Minister responded by way of a letter dated October 22. For the information of all Members I would like to table that letter. In the letter, the Minister stated that $400,000 was provided specifically and exclusively for the Centennial project; yet, yesterday in Question Period, the Minister revealed for the first time that $350,000 was advanced and I would like to know the reason for the $50,000 discrepancy.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The answer is quite simple. I believe it was April - and I will check that date - the construction ceased to continue on the Centennial Street project, the payments to the bank to forward to Tagish Kwan officials in the name of the $400,000 loan ceased as well. Consequently we only advanced approximately $350,000 toward the project because the construction had stopped.
Mr. Phillips: The Minister could have clarified that a little yesterday. The letter I have is dated October 22; it is really not that long ago. The Minister came into the House and gave us almost conflicting information when he said it was $400,000. Now yesterday he said it was $350,000 and the Minister also said as well, and I quote, In the future, we will recover the whole $400,000.
Speaker: Order please. Would the Member please get to the supplementary question.
Mr. Phillips: Yes, I will. I would like to ask the Minister if he is finally going to set the record straight and tell us exactly how much the figure is that we are recovering?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I prefaced my answer to the Member for Porter Creek West yesterday by indicating that it was a long story and I had, in Question Period, only the opportunity to give the short story. So the Member is expecting now that I should have given the long story yesterday, and you would have called me out of order, Mr. Speaker. With respect to the amount that was actually recovered, I believe it is $204,000 on an advance of approximately $349,000.
Mr. Phillips: I wonder if the Minister could bring more information into the House and tell us how much the Centennial Street project is going to cost the Yukon taxpayer, including the losses and any other contract amendments that have been made with respect to this project. How much is the total project now going to cost the Yukon taxpayer?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: With respect to the business loan, I have just indicated exactly what the total cost is to the Yukon taxpayer based on the loan funding that was provided by this government toward that project. I am sure the Member is aware that this was a turn-key project that was slated for takeover by Yukon Housing Corporation. The only funding that I am aware that was advanced to the Tagish Kwan Corporation for the purposes of completing this project was the money advanced through the business development fund that I have just cited. So I think that is probably as accurate an answer that I can give, even giving myself more time to go and explore the details further. But if the Member wants any further information about the project or about the details of the final arrangements, I would be more than happy to provide that. I answered the questions in the Members letter, and I have the letter in front of me as well.
There were four terse questions and there were four short replies. I believe the questions were put as accurately as we could provide them.
Question re: Northern Accord
Mr. Nordling: My question is to the Government Leader with respect to the Northern Accord. This question relates to my concern that this government is not looking to the future wellbeing of the territory as much as it should be.
Agreements have been signed between the federal government and the governments of the Yukon and Northwest Territories; however, my understanding is that the issue of the offshore boundary between the Yukon and Northwest Territories remains outstanding.
Can the Government Leader update us on negotiations to settle this matter?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I thank the Member for the question. He is perfectly correct in saying that this is a question of the utmost importance to the people of the territory, and to the future of the territory. It is a question that is complicated by the exact language in the drafting of the Yukon Act, a number of the Canada offshore legislation, which the federal government is complicating, the potential revenue in the Beaufort Sea and the sharing of those revenues, the administration of the offshore in the Beaufort Sea. These matters have been the subject of intense negotiations between us in the last several months. Negotiations that have been ably led by my colleague, the Minister of Economic Development. Recently, on exactly the question the Member suggested, the representives of the two Cabinets, the Yukon and Northwest Territories, met to see if we could resolve what I can only describe as a substantial difference of opinion remaining between us on that question. I believe we have made some progress and are continuing to take steps to resolve the difference, but there is a belief by some members of the Northwest Territories Legislature, and perhaps even the government, certainly some citizens, that they have a legal entitlement and right to control the west Beaufort. Of course, we have a fundamentally different position and have assaults from the American...
Speaker: Order please. Would the Member please conclude his answer.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: We have assaults from American interests on the offshore boundary on our northwestern boundary, and we have a dispute with the Northwest Territories. We will have to be eternally vigilant and very aggressive in the pursuit of our interests in this area.
Mr. Nordling: Essentially, the Minister said exactly those words last November, that the government had communicated firmly and effectively with the Northwest Territories and the federal government on exactly that point, being the boundary.
I will try to be brief. My concern is that if the Persian Gulf blows up, there will be a push for exploration in frontier areas, and I believe the Yukon should have ownership of our offshore before something happens. If oil is discovered, we would have a tougher fight on our hands.
When does the Premier expect this matter to be settled? What is the time frame for negotiations? When will the Government Leader contact Dennis Patterson, the Leader of the NWT, to settle the matter?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: By my count, there were five questions there. You will forgive me if I try to answer each one of them.
Before I get to the five questions, in terms of the Members preamble, he said I gave essentially the same answer. I did not give essentially the same answer. As I answered before, we have had some progress. If I can deal with the last of his questions, we had some progress as a result of meetings between two Members from both Cabinets, as well as meetings between me and Mr. Patterson on several occasions since the House last met. Very recently, we met again.
There is a question of urgency for exactly the reasons the Member talks about, although he should note various comments by the Calgary oil patch that suggest that the kind of reserves in the Beaufort are not yet so attractive as to really attract a lot of investment.
I will speak to his point about the ownership of the offshore. We should be very clear in trying to get an understanding between the Yukon and the Northwest Territories, but Canada has not even moved any distance at all in terms of conceding ownership of the offshore to either territory. I do not think we should expect that that is a matter that will be resolved in our favour in the very near future.
Mr. Nordling: I agree that question may go on for a long time. Again, my concern is for urgency in dealing with this. I would like the Minister to update us on the boundary dispute with Alaska. How are we coming with that? Where are the negotiations?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Again, there are more than one question, but there is a question of urgency. Everybody feels it. Everybody feels that there are very good reasons for both of the territorial governments to concentrate their minds and try to come to some agreements between them, which would enormously improve our bargaining position with the federal government, including the Northern Accord. Everybody agrees with that, and that is accepted. We are devoting a lot of effort to try to do that.
On the question of the boundary with Alaska, there has been no real discussion about that recently. External Affairs has kept us briefed. Given some discussions I have had in recent times, I am very alarmed at the prospect that this issue could be bundled with a number of boundary disputes between Canada and the United States. Because we live in the least populated area of the country, our interests could be traded away in order to get satisfaction elsewhere.
We have communicated, and will continue to communicate, very strongly to the federal government that we do not want that to happen.
Question re: Porter Creek/new elementary school
Mr. Lang: A survey was done last spring, canvassing the residents of Porter Creek about the question of the new school there, which is long overdue. Could the Minister of Education tell us when the results of this survey will be made public?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: First of all, the Member did mention in his preamble that the project was long overdue. I would like to draw the Members attention back to the estimates debate of last year. There was a request to accelerate the schedule of the construction of this school, which was due to be constructed by 1993-94. That was the schedule that I believe was laid out, or anticipated, in the school facilities study, which was released a couple of years ago - I believe it was 1987. The school is needed, and I agree with that. Rather than being long overdue, it is being given a great deal more financial attention by the government as a result of the obvious need and the input that has been received from people in Porter Creek, amongst other places in Whitehorse.
I believe the Member was asking questions about the survey of Catholic residents? That survey is complete, and I would be more than happy to make the information available to the Member. That survey is complete and has been discussed with the Catholic community, the two school committees that currently have an interest in Catholic school facilities in Whitehorse, as well as the bishop. I believe it has been discussed with the school committee in the district, which we are regarding as being the Jack Hulland school committee, largely because that is the closest elementary school in the area and those...
Speaker: Order please. Will the Member please conclude his answer.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: ...those discussions are ongoing.
Mr. Lang: The Minister referred to a study in 1987. I would point out that the school has over 600 students. We have had to put in two new portables this past year to take care of the overflow of students. I do not believe there is any room for any new students to move into that elementary school. That brings me to my next question: with the money that is being budgeted in the main estimates, is it the position of the government that it will be going for construction sometime this spring or summer?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The short answer is yes. If we can at all swing this, we intend that the doors will open in September 1992. We realize that Jack Hulland School is overcrowded and that is the reason we put in the portables. They were a stopgap measure until the school facilities are built in Porter Creek. It is not the highest enrollment it has ever had. The highest was, I believe, in 1983, but nevertheless it is much beyond the listed capacity for that school and that is why this school is on the fast track.
Mr. Lang: Can the Minister tell us whether this school is going to be a public school or a Catholic school?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I was wondering when the Minister was going to get around to that fundamental question. A number of things have been discussed as a result of the survey regarding Catholic usage of the school and the number of persons who would attend a public school in Porter Creek. We have indicated that there are a number of alternatives we would like to pursue, both through the Catholic community and in discussion with the Jack Hulland School committee - the elected committee in the area - including a joint school concept where there would be one school that is half Catholic and half non-Catholic. There are examples of that being tried elsewhere in the country. But there are other alternatives as well that we are pursuing. When we complete the consultations we will have a better understanding of not only what will be acceptable from an educational point of view but also from a parents point of view, as well as the Catholic and non-Catholic communities point of view.
Question re: Robert Service School
Mr. Devries: I have a question for the Minister of Education regarding the Robert Service School in Dawson City.
It has come to my attention that there was a problem with the sprinkler system last spring and during the summer. Why was there a problem and who paid for the repairs?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: My understanding is that shortly after construction was completed there was a problem identified with the sprinkler system at the Robert Service School. There was a dispute between the government, contractors and designers as to who was responsible for fixing the problem. I am not sure of the status of that dispute at the present time. What I do know is that the repairs have been made and the school is in good condition at this time.
I will undertake, if the Member wishes, to find out more details about the character of the dispute.
Mr. Devries: I understand that there were also structural deficiencies in the roof, causing leaks. Why does this roof leak? Have the deficiencies that were causing these leaks been repaired? At whose cost would this be?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I cannot provide too much technical detail in response to the Members question, but my department is involved with some of the repair work that is going on at the Robert Service School. My understanding is there were a number of deficiencies that are being corrected and dealt with. I understand that the Department of Government Services is dealing with the bonding company that covered the original contractor for recovery of those costs related to repair work, in turn related to deficiencies of the original construction.
Like the Minister of Education, I can undertake to provide the Member more detail in terms of specific deficiencies. Only in the general sense can I advise the Member that Government Services is dealing with the repair and dealing with the bonding company for recovery of the cost of repair.
Mr. Devries: I could go on on this. It almost sounds like the place is falling down. I understand that there are cracks appearing in some of the walls. Again, I would assume that the Minister is also referring to these deficiencies with the bonding company?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I have to assume that any deficiencies cited by the Member, if they are accurate, are being dealt with in those responsibilities being undertaken by Government Services to ensure that the building is restored and kept fully operational. I can only reiterate to the Member that I will undertake to provide a list of those deficiencies that have been identified, a status of the repair and, perhaps, even some general status of the cost recovery from the original contractor.
Question re: Robert Service School
Mr. Devries: I still have a further question on the same subject matter.
My information says that there was snow in the attic last winter, to the point of needing a wheelbarrow to remove the snow. Who paid to remove the snow, and have the subsequent repairs been done to rectify that situation?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Unfortunately, I cannot answer the question on my feet today. I accept the Members question as information to explore in further detail and get back to him.
Mr. Devries: I would like the Minister to give it to us in a legislative return.
Who approved the final design and plans for the Robert Service School?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I can only provide to the Member a general assumption based on practice and policy. As I recall the construction and planning detail surrounding the Robert Service School, there was extensive involvement of the community and user groups; there was extensive involvement of the Department of Education as well as extensive involvement of the Department of Government Services. Very technically, as to who would have approved the final design plans, I expect that, ultimately, the Department of Government Services, in conjunction with the Department of Education and the committee of user groups, would have jointly agreed upon those final design plans and legally, they were probably signed off by Government Services.
Speaker: Time for Question Period has now lapsed.
Notice of Business
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Pursuant to the provisions of Standing Order 14(1)(1), I would request the unanimous consent of the House to call the following motions: Item 5, Motion No. 17; Item 8, Motion No. 20; Item 4, Motion No. 16; Item 2, Motion No. 14 under Motions Other Than Government Motions when that business is called on Wednesday, November 7, 1990.
Speaker: Is there unanimous consent?
All Members: Agreed.
Speaker: Unanimous consent has been granted.
We will now proceed with Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I appreciate the enthusiasm of the Members opposite. I would move that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Government House Leader that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
Speaker leaves the Chair
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order. We will have a break.
Bill No. 15 - Second Appropriation Act, 1990-91 - continued
Chair: The bill we are dealing with is the Second Appropriation Act, 1990-91. We are in general debate.
Mr. Lang: I would like to ask the government the reason for these really significant increases in the amounts of monies that we are talking about at the end of a final year. We had some discussion on it yesterday. In the public accounts 1989-90, we had significant increases of $400,000, for example, in the Department of Education over and above the supplementary that had been voted in the middle of the year. Perhaps the Minister of Finance could tell us what steps they are going to be taking that will provide some assurances that these types of overages are not going to take place.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Firstly, just so the Members are not of the view that this is a brand new problem, I did some checking this morning into general accounts going back a number of years, the last couple of years and even the years prior to taking office as government. I can assure the Members that while this problem remains a problem, it always has been a problem. There are numerous occasions, detailed in the territorial accounts, that showed fairly substantial overages and under expenditures in various line items in varying percentages of the total vote for the particular line item. Quite often the under expenditure for a department might have been two percent, but if one were to reduce the equation down to a line item with only one person year, if that the person year was not hired for a particular job, then that under expenditure there would be fairly substantial.
I have indicated to the Members that there are a couple of problems associated with year-end budgeting. The first is, we have heard in the past there are concerns about year-end spending sprees by departments. I indicated last night that this is something that we always try to avoid and special efforts were made to avoid it this year, so if there were going to be any errors, they would be on the under expenditure side, not the over expenditure side. We were going to try to monitor that, and if we heard of any instances where there seemed to be a spending spree going on, we investigated immediately. Now that is the first problem. I also mentioned last night that the additional incentive of the Financial Administration Act stating that there should be no over expenditures has caused program managers to err on the side of caution. Rather than spending the money they had in their budget on a particular line item, if they were not absolutely certain that they were going to be well under spent, if they did not need to spend or spending would not have been the most prudent gesture, and they did not over spend in their term, they did not spend the money that was allotted to them.
Certainly efforts were made to encourage deputies to spend within their means. Up until this year it has been a difficult process to do just that because of the commitment control system not being in place. I hope departmental managers now and in the future will be able to determine more precisely how they are spending their budgets so they will spend more to what is anticipated by the Legislature without overspending the budget.
Clearly, we have taken measures to encourage under expenditures if the potential alternative is over expenditure. In so doing, some departments on the O&M side have not spent their full allotment. As I mentioned last night, as a total the under expenditure is less than two percent. The total is a pretty good record. There are particular line items that may have been under expended because a departmental manager anticipated an over expenditure in another area and did not want to over expend the vote and get his or her wrist slapped for that infraction.
Certainly, the problem of accurate budgeting is something we will continue to try to refine in order to be as accurate as we possibly can on the operation side.
We discussed at some length the capital side and I do not have a whole lot more to say about that.
Mr. Lang: I am not totally satisfied with the Ministers dissertation because all he talked about is that there was a problem, there continues to be a problem and they are not doing much about it.
I would like the Minister to outline exactly what steps he has taken to ensure that we are not going to see what we saw in the 1989-90 public accounts in the 1990-91 accounts. What written instructions has he, as the Minister of Finance, given to all departments to ensure that this does not happen?
Perhaps he can table that document so we are fully aware that this problem is seen to be serious and he has taken proper action to rectify it, recognizing, in deference to the Minister, that it is not a perfect world out there. Perhaps the Minister can table the written instructions to the various departments.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It is not fair to say that the government does not take the problem seriously. The government has spent a great deal of time trying to improve on the situation. The control system ought to provide a marked improvement in this area.
I have to remind the Member that there are various reports that are being issued by departments. These are reviewed by Ministers and Ministers are expected to question why there are over or under expenditures in certain areas.
With respect to the Department of Education, there may be a request, as there was last year, for additional busing to be provided. The department responds to these requests. Additional busing will obviously increase the busing budget and the transportation facilities line item. That money has to be found somewhere since departments are not allowed to over spend their votes so they seek savings elsewhere. That is why there are over expenditures in some areas and under expenditures in others. That is managing the budget in order to try and meet emerging needs from the public instead of just staying rigid. No one would ever accept it if I were to say that we could do nothing about busing because the budget the Legislature set is absolutely fixed. The Financial Administration Act allows for the rearrangement of votes between line items as approved by Management Board for exactly the purpose I have stated: some emerging needs have to be compensated for by reductions elsewhere. This is a natural course of events. I do not expect that will change in a hurry if we want to be a Legislature quickly responding to minor needs expressed by the public.
As I have indicated with respect to the significance of under or over expenditures, these are certainly monitored by Management Board and Ministers. There is a responsibility to determine if an over expenditure is way out of line in a particular area versus one that is completely explainable under the circumstances. I am confident, for example, in my budgets, that they are explainable and acceptable and they are the result of emerging needs as they transpire. We, the Legislature, pass snapshots of the budget: main estimates, then supplementaries. There were two supplementaries last year on the main estimates. There were only three snapshots of the budget.
The world keeps changing, and the government must respond to the changing world. The Financial Administration Act states that those departments will not over spend their budget, no matter what the changing world says. This time around, with the exception of the Yukon Legislative Assembly, we did not over spend our budgets.
Mr. Lang: He spoke a great deal about intent, but he did not say what he was doing to rectify the situation. Did he give written instruction to the various departments to reinforce the fact that this type of budgeting is unacceptable and that they have to take more care in drawing up their budget? You just cannot say there is a problem. If there is a problem, what are you doing to solve the problem? Did he write a memo to all departments? If he did, could he table it?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I did not write a memo to the departments. If I had, I would not table it. That is information between Ministers and departments on matters of budgeting, and is not going to be tabled. In any case, I did not write a memo to departments. The expression of interest in over and under expenditures was expressed to the Ministers through Management Board.
As I have just finished saying, I would like to express the view that while we are concerned about accurate budgeting, we do recognize emerging needs. We cannot make ourselves so rigid that we do not respond to these needs. I recognize there is a problem. I do not think it is a problem to the same extent or magnitude that the Member does. I cannot accept that assessment. I think the government should be flexible and operate within the confines of the Financial Administration Act at the same time.
The Member is concerned about the operation and maintenance lapse. Overall, this lapse is less than two percent of the operation and maintenance budget. That is not a bad record.
I will have to refer to it once again. If Members are assuming this is a brand new occurrence, I would invite them to review territorial accounts while they were Ministers themselves to refresh their memories as to the frequency of this situation in the past, and the need of the Ministers of the day to respond to emerging needs and remain within the confines of the Financial Administration Act. If they are concerned about this being a new happening, they should do some homework.
Mr. Phelps: If the overruns are acceptable and explainable, perhaps we could specifically ask the Minister responsible to explain the overruns on Yukon College, under the operation and maintenance in Education that was an actual expenditure of $9.127 million, an over expenditure of $429,000. On the grant page, the actual expenditure was $2.126 million, an over appropriation of $143,000. Can he fill us in on why there was such a large over expenditure?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I can when we get to the Department of Education. This is general debate and I am prepared for general debate. If Members want to ask matters of a specific nature, I am more than prepared to answer. I thank the Member for giving notice.
Mrs. Firth: I have a question for the Minister of Finance. It could be general or specific, however he wants to see it.
It is a question about the Yukon Energy Corporation being exempted from the Financial Administration Act. I recognize that in the public accounts document there is an explanation about the terms of the management agreement providing that the Development Corporation would organize its affairs and the affairs of the Energy Corporation so the operation and maintenance and management of the former NCPC assets would not be subject to the provisions of the Financial Administration Act. So they changed it.
I would like to ask the Minister why. What happens then to all the regulations that accompanied the Yukon Development Corporation Act with respect to the power corporation? What happens to all that process, and why did the government do that?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: My understanding is that when the Yukon Development Corporation Act was initially passed, the assumption was made that the Development Corporation was exempt from the FAA, because it was a corporation that was going to operate within the business environment. There was an opinion expressed that, given the wording of the FAA and despite the intentions of the sponsoring Minister, the corporation may not be exempt. Consequently, the corporation established a subsidiary, the Energy Corporation, and the subsidiary was made exempt in the manner expressed by the Member.
Mrs. Firth: Perhaps the Minister could tell us why they have to do that; why do they have to be exempt?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The assumption was, as I indicated, that the subsidiaries of the Yukon Development Corporation should be exempt, largely because the subsidiaries would be operating within the business environment and consequently could not be bound in order to operate with alacrity, not be bound by all the rules and regulations of the government.
Mrs. Firth: So what happens to all the rules and regulations that bind the power corporation? There are a couple of pages of them.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I did not actually catch the question. The reason why the subsidiaries would be exempt from the Management Board directives would be quite simply that, for example, if the power corporation wanted to sell surplus equipment under the rules of the government, it would have to sell it through our asset control division of Government Services and would have to go through that whole process and procedure. To act and perform like a business in a business environment, it was felt preferable that they would establish their own procedures to allow them to move quickly in that environment and to perform more quickly overall.
Mrs. Firth: Maybe I can illustrate what I am getting at here. The Energy Corporation is now exempted from the operation of the Financial Administration Act. However there is a set of regulations here: the Financial Administration Act and Yukon Development Corporation Act, and this is the Yukon Development Corporation regulations. So with respect to the power corporation, it talks about the board of directors. It says that the Development Corporation shall be the sole shareholder of the power corporation. Well has that changed now. Is the Development Corporation not going to be the sole shareholder of the power corporation? Can the power corporation go out and get other shareholders? That is what I am asking; do these regulations no longer apply? The directors of the power corporation shall be the same as for the Development Corporation. Does that still apply, or can the power corporation go have its own directors? What is the status of all these regulations that accompanied a piece of legislation?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I think that this is a subject the Member may want to take up with the Minister responsible for the Development Corporation but I do not see how this relates to the Financial Administration Act. Who is on the board of directors is, in my understanding, a matter of government policy and is not changed one way or the other by the Financial Administration Act or the regulations pursuant to it.
Mrs. Firth: The reason I am asking about this is because it is the Ministers act that was changed. The change was made under the Ministers Financial Administration Act, and it was made pursuant to section 77 of the act and states;. The Commissioner and Executive Council is pleased hereby to make the following order.... It was the Minister who made the change and now he cannot explain why he did it or what effect it will have. He did not answer the question.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I have just indicated to the Member, besides the fact that there was an invitation to speak to the Minister responsible for the Development Corporation, that was not an invitation to avoid the question. I answered the question saying that I did not understand the point she was making because I do not see the board of directors being determined by anything other than government policy.
Mrs. Firth: I guess that is the point I am asking. If the Energy Corporation is exempt from the operation of the Financial Administration Act, they become exempt from those regulations. Is that not correct? Do they still have to come under these regulations that are attached to the Development Corporation and give certain authority and so forth to the power corporation? I am looking for some clarification. I am not trying to be an obstructionist.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Perhaps the Member could clarify which regulations she is referring to. Is she referring to the regulations pursuant to the Yukon Development Corporation Act or the Yukon Financial Administration Act? If it is the regulations pursuant to the Yukon Development Corporation Act then I do not think there is any doubt that the Minister has a role under this act to provide direction. I would assume that such direction would be exercised.
Mrs. Firth: I am referring to Order-in-Council 87/72, Yukon Financial Administration Act and Yukon Development Corporation Act. It says, Pursuant to section 77 of the Financial Administration Act and section 22 or the Yukon Development Corporation Act, the Commissioner and Executive Council orders the annexed Yukon Development Corporation Regulations are hereby made and established. So, we have a set of regulations that control certain things with respect to the power corporation. But what this Financial Administration Act amendment is saying is that the Yukon Energy Corporation is now exempt from the operation of the Financial Administration Act. Does that mean they are also exempt from the regulations that regulate the power corporation when it comes to directors and so forth?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: No, because, as the Member has just mentioned, the regulations are pursuant to the Yukon Development Corporation Act.
Mrs. Firth: The Minister said no. Does that mean that the Energy Corporation still has to abide by these regulations, which were written for the Development Corporation?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Yes. In the Members preamble to the regulations, she did mention that the regulations were pursuant to both the Financial Administration Act and the Yukon Development Corporation Act. Any regulations pursuant to the Yukon Development Corporation Act would certainly be in effect.
Mrs. Firth: Does that mean there is no annual report needed for the Yukon Energy Corporation?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I do not have the Yukon Development Corporation Act in front of me. Maybe the Member does. It is common in these acts, for example the Yukon College Act and the Yukon Art Centre Act, to require that an annual report shall be submitted to the Legislature at a prescribed time. I would be certain that the Yukon Development Corporation Act would request that the Development Corporation provide an annual report to the Legislature, as well.
Mrs. Firth: The Energy Corporation does not have its own separate act. It comes under the Development Corporation, and is a subsidiary of that corporation. Their act says they have to prepare an annual report but, if the Energy Corporation is exempted from the Financial Administration Act, then it may not have to have an annual report. That is the issue I would like to get clarified.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It is important to point out, in the first place, that the Financial Administration Act would not require a report coming from the Energy Corporation, in any case. The operations of the Energy Corporation would be established by policies of the Yukon Development Corporation, which, in turn, is controlled by the Yukon Development Corporation Act and regulations that are in effect.
Mrs. Firth: Perhaps the Minister could tell us if the Energy Corporation is going to continue to have a separate annual report?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Yes. w-It is my understanding they will have a separate annual report. Is that what the Member was getting at after all this time?
On Schedule A
Yukon Legislative Assembly
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Additional funding of $306,000 is requested by the Clerk. The reasons for this request are broken down as follows. There is a requirement for $92,000 additional funding in this program due to the following: $22,000 was required due to the conversion of the position of assistant chief electoral officer from .6 person year to one full person year in order to run school elections and an amount of $70,000 to cover the cost of enumeration and other expenses for school elections.
As well there is a requirement for an additional $214,000 in this program for the MLA pension plan, which goes toward the liabilities of the Legislative Assembly Retirement Allowances Act. According to a recent actuarial study, it is amounts in the same order of magnitude that will be required in future years. I hope I have that correct, Mr. Clerk.
Operation and Maintenance Expenditures
Elections in the amount of $92,000 agreed to
On Retirement Allowances/Death Benefits
Retirement Allowances/Death Benefits in the amount of $214,000 agreed to
Operation and Maintenance Expenditures in the amount of $306,000 agreed to
Yukon Legislative Assembly in the amount of $306,000 agreed to
On Executive Council Office
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Madam Chair. Excuse me. My confusion about gender is a tribute to your neutrality and impartiality rather than your anonymity in the Chair.
Let me introduce the supplementary by mentioning that the supplementary before us is a reflection of five fairly important events in this fiscal year.
They are appearing on the operation and maintenance estimates for the Executive Council Office, as shown on page 15 of the budget book. The first of these arises from the land claims negotiations and a decision of the government, as we move into the next stage of negotiations, to create a self-government coordinator position to support the planning of negotiation of self-government agreements with Yukon First Nations. There is a $153,000 item for land claims negotiations, which I will describe in a little more detail in a minute.
The second item is the transfer of funding from the Public Affairs Bureau to the Department of Education for the Yukon College communication responsibilities. Services that were previously supplied to the college by agencies of this government are now going to be supplied from the college. Agencies like the Public Affairs Bureau, which could assign a certain value to the service they had been previously given, have agreed to transfer that money to the Department of Education, ultimately for the college.
The third item I would want to mention here is we are in a stage of program development for the aboriginal language interpreter and territorial agents service. We have some monies allocated for that purpose, in order that the person years we have identified for the next fiscal year can be staffed and in place early in that year.
The fourth item is the research that has been done on the use of alcohol and drugs in the territory, as part of our governments priority in health promotion. Similar surveys have been done throughout the rest of Canada. This was an opportunity to have such baseline research done here for the first time. In this respect, as with the aboriginal languages item, we were financially assisted by the federal government.
That is also the case with the fifth item I want to mention, which is good news for the territory. For the first time, in the next fiscal year the Yukon Territory will be included in the national labour force survey. From then on, whenever Statistics Canada publishes an unemployment rate for Canada, in each province and jurisdiction, the Yukon will be included for the first time. This supplementary reflects some expenditures that we will be making to achieve that objective. It is an important event for the Yukon Territory. It will involve some part-time employment for Yukoners, both in and outside of Whitehorse. It is going to be a small, but very significant, step into the integration of information from this territory into the national economic accounts.
The overall expenditures in this supplementary are $416,000, together with recoveries of $270,000, resulting in a net change of $146,000. Of this $146,000 amount, half is simply an accounting transfer of the department. In other words, in respect to land claims where we are moving the dollars associated with a person year who has been associated with land claims for a long time but has been with the Department of Community and Transportation Services. He and the money associated with his position are formally transferred to the Executive Council office.
With your consent, I now would like to briefly address the specific budgetary changes in the order in which they appear. The first item is for $153,000 for the Land Claims Secretariat and I would like to explain that this item really has three parts. First, we are providing in this fiscal year for the staffing of a term self-government coordinator in anticipation of proceeding with Yukon First Nation negotiations and self-government negotiations. Negotiations, which I would like to report to the House, have in fact started this week. As part of the Land Claims Secretariat, the position is expected to bring additional analyses and negotiations to bear on self-government questions. The position will be created this year out of the person year surplus resulting from vacant positions, but it is, I think Members will note, reflected and funded in the 1990-91 main estimates as a term person year.
In the land claims personnel, $74,000 has been transferred from the Department of Community and Transportation Services. This funding and the term person year are for salary and support costs for the position of a negotiator. In this case, I will explain to the Members, this is the position that is occupied by the gentleman who is now the chief negotiator, who previously had a career with Community and Transportation Services. When he came to land claims initially, he was only intended to be on loan temporarily to the land claims process but he has now reconciled himself to being more permanently associated with this project. An equivalent offset, Members will note, is also reported separately under the Department of Community and Transportation Services, so the money is transferred out of Community and Transportation Services into this estimate for this item.
There is also $40,000 required for the pay out of accrued holidays not taken by land claims staff. These are the civil servants entitlements going back several years.
The next item is $7,000 from the Public Affairs Bureau and this is a reduction in funding in the amount of $7,000 and these funds have been transferred to the Department of Education. This sum is the estimated value, as I have said before, of ongoing communication services historically performed by the Public Affairs Bureau for Yukon College. As part of the funding arrangements implemented along with community governments, all central agencies support costs that can be reasonably determined where consolidated and included in the new funding agreement with the college. No doubt the Minister of Education will speak to those arrangements in more detail.
The fourth item on my list of five is the French and aboriginal language services, which is for $88,000. This is additional funding for the development of the aboriginal language interpreter and agent service that is scheduled for full implementation in the next fiscal year. We are developing the service delivery model. We are going to be designing the necessary interpreter training programs and developing standards and practices for the provision of these services.
Work on interpretive services is proceeding in consultation with the Council for Yukon Indians, the Yukon Native Language Centre, and in discussions with the Department of Education. I would also mention that we will be talking to other jurisdictions that have such services in order to assist us in the implementation of the same. The specific requirements for these services, including justice and court services, education as well as health and social services, are to be examined in conjunction with those departments and the communities that are to benefit in the first year. This expenditure is intended to be offset by 100 percent recovery from Canada through the aboriginal languages funding agreement. The full implementation of the service is intended and budgeted for in the next fiscal year.
The fifth item has two parts, and this affects the Bureau of Statistics, which is requesting $182,000. That is requested for two important projects: the alcohol and drug survey and the national labour force survey.
The alcohol and drug survey is a one-time project. The Bureau of Statistics is conducting this survey in the Yukon; it has an estimated cost of $144,000. The survey is designed to explore the attitudes of Yukoners towards alcohol and drugs, identify measures that might affect the behaviour of people using these substances as a basis for future policy directions and services, and to assess consumption patterns.
It is a joint project with the Government of Canada, the Department of National Health and Welfare, Statistics Canada, Carleton University, and the Department of Health and Human Resources.
The interviewing phase of the survey has just been completed and the preliminary results are expected sometime in December. The results of this first ever research of this type in the Yukon will help us, I hope, in a careful examination of all of our alcohol and drug programming; not only our government, but other agencies in the Yukon that are involved in this field in the targeting of future measures by our government and other community groups. We hope this will be a very significant investment and the knowledge gained will allow us to apply the limited financial and personnel resources we have to good effect on this major problem in the territory.
We think it is consistent with initiatives we take in the areas of health promotion. The coordinated project involving several federal and territorial agencies, as well as a major Canadian university, to address this very profound and difficult social problem, the abuse of alcohol and drugs, we think will be very useful.
The survey is being administered by the Bureau of Statistics and is being done through telephone interviewers. Most of the funding has been spent in the territory on salaries and contracts for telephone interviewers, some consulting assistance and printing and materials.
I might mention that we are very grateful in this case for the active support received from Health and Welfare Canada and the financial assistance provided by the Hon. Perrin Beatty, Minister of Health and Welfare for Canada.
The second project is not a one-time project, but an ongoing project. For this year we are looking at spending $38,000, which will support the preliminary work in the national labour force survey, which will be conducted in the Yukon for the first time in 1991 on behalf of Statistics Canada.
The funding will pay for preparation of necessary community and household listings, the purchase of computer equipment for data processing and analysis, and training costs for a project manager and senior interviewer.
As Members of the House know, and some former Ministers may know, we have been trying to get Statistics Canada to extend this survey to the Yukon for at least eight years now. We are finally able to report some success. Not only will this now occur, but Statistics Canada has agreed to have it implemented by the Bureau of Statistics, which is, I think, a real vote of confidence in the credibility and the integrity and ability of the Statistics Bureau that was established in this government some years ago.
I would mention in the case of this survey that funding will be provided by Statistics Canada at 100 percent offset recovery. Perhaps I could just sit now by way of concluding my introductory remarks and welcome questions from Members.
Mr. Phelps: I was somewhat concerned with regard to the increase on the first line pertaining to the Land Claims Secretariat. It is my understanding that there have been no negotiations taking place since July, so that we have a large portion of the year with very little being done. Can the Minister tell us why there is not some offset there with regard to the lack of travel and the lack of work being done on land claims from July to the present time?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Right after the initialed agreement on March 31, in the period of what I guess I would call the second quarter of this year, there was a period of fairly intense activity as we tried to conclude that. The Member is correct; in late summer there was a serious lull, but I just want to restate that none of the $153,000 is attributable to extra activity this year, except insofar as it refers to activity from here on in.
Let me explain that. There are three parts to the supplementary. The first part concerns the addition of a self-government coordinator, which is a position we hope to staff very quickly, which is fully budgeted for in the next year but is someone we would like to get in place as soon as possible, to assist us in negotiations that are now underway. Self-government negotiations have not begun in earnest but we can shortly contemplate that. The second item is not really an increase because it is simply a transfer of $74,000 that was in the Department of Community and Transportation Services into the land claims vote, for someone who has been associated with land claims for a good number of years now. We are simply formulizing and rectifying the situation while we do not continue the fiction that this person is, for any meaningful purpose, an employee of Community and Transportation Services; that person is not only devoted to the land claims process but is now the chief negotiator.
Finally, I am advised by our accountants and auditors that we have to account for this last one, which is the $40,000 required for the pay out of accrued holidays not taken by land claim staff from entitlements going back several years.
If the Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Phelps, understands me, this is not attributable to any claim to extra activity over the immediate past; this is talking about one position, the transfer of dollars and a pay out of holiday pay.
Mr. Phelps: I understand what the Minister is saying. What I am concerned about is that there is no offset reflecting the fact that there has been virtually no negotiations taking place since July. It is a large portion of the year and I would think if we were voting on a supplementary, there should be an offset to reflect the lack of any progress until this week in terms of negotiation.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I understand the Members question and there may be some serendipity in terms of the time period when there was fairly slow progress during the summer. The period we are now going into will be, I suspect, fairly intense. I hope the Member will understand that up until two or three weeks ago, I could not have predicted that with perfect accuracy.
It may well be that we may have some lapses at year-end but it is also possible that, like last year, when we had a great flurry of activity and a lot of midnight oil burned as we moved toward the deadline, that that pattern of expenditure could change during the year.
I remind the Member that there is another deadline coming March 31. As a famous English writer wrote: nothing concentrates the mind like the knowledge that you are going to be hanged in a fortnight. There is something about these deadlines that I have noticed tends to intensify activity as we move toward them.
We are now back to the table. I do not know what the pace of those negotiations is but, if we move fairly quickly according to our schedule, we may well have lapses. If there are problems that do not get resolved until the eleventh hour, that may not be the case.
Mr. Lang: I was just wondering about the amount of money we are paying for Mr. Barry Stuart to take his one-year holiday. Is that included in this amount?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: As I understand it, Mr. Stuart is not taking a holiday. Mr. Stuart is taking a sabbatical, which is provided for by the policy of this government and is available to judges who have served a certain number of years on the bench. It is my understanding that is provided for by the Department of Justice.
Mr. Lang: The holiday fee that we are talking about is $40,000. Is any of that attributed to the land claims negotiator who is on this sabbatical - some of us would call it a holiday?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Whatever the Member calls it, it is not included in this item. This is holiday pay for people who have been public servants and part of the government, not people who have had contractual relationships with the government.
Mr. Lang: Why would we have such a pay out as $40,000? Is this just to one individual, or more? Why is it this amount?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am not sure how many individuals are involved, but I am sure the Member will know from his time as a Minister that this is actually quite common. If someone leaves the government, they may have accumulated holiday pay. Even though they are no longer working for us, that holiday pay may extend into the next fiscal year and we would still be obliged to pay it out. This is for a person or persons who have accumulated a lot of holidays they did not use and for which we now have to pay, according to public service policy, after a certain amount of time.
Mr. Lang: Could the Minister give us an outline of what he sees as the concept of Indian self-government? We hear various political spokesmen speaking on the subject. A question I get from my constituents is: exactly what are we talking about when we talk about Indian self-government?
What does the Minister perceive as Indian self-government, and what authorities would be vested with it? Are we talking sovereignty as well?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: There are many definitions of the term sovereignty, some more precise than others. Some evolve out of American constitutional theory, especially the American constitutional theory on popular sovereignty, which is that all power flows from the people upwards to the electors and, ultimately, to all the office holders in the land.
The British tradition has a different notion of sovereignty, which goes back to the theory espoused many hundreds of years ago about the divine right of kings, and that kings got their sovereignty from God and that, under certain pressure from aristocrats, initially, on the Magna Carta, and subsequently by large land owners and Parliament, Kings were forced to share their power and sovereignty with those institutions. Over time, it has evolved to where, in the Canadian Constitution, Parliament has created provinces, provinces have created municipalities, and so on down the road.
Into this constitutional mix, we have a different proposition from the aboriginal community, one that argues that, since they were, for the most part, in North America and in western and northern Canada, neither defeated in battle nor in some cases, such as in British Columbia and the Yukon, did they cede their land or authority over their lands, they have an inherent right to be a self-governing community. This is a right we do not confer on them as a Legislature, or which Canada confers on them, but which they inherited.
The expression of that right will take many different forms, depending on the culture, history and particular perspectives of First Nations, from one end of this country to the other. The land claims umbrella final agreement has in it a list of self-government powers, which it is presumed that First Nations will have over themselves and over their land, and the authority to write their own constitution, certain sovereignty over certain kinds of cultural matters, and certainly the powers that governments will have over that land.
In recognition of the realities in the Yukon Territory, we have already recognized that the practical or effective realization of the First Nations aspirations to self-government will, in many cases, come through power-sharing agreements, such as the First Nations have concluded in land claims agreements with the territorial government about co-management of wildlife resources and fish and game, rather than having what, in essence, were two competing systems: the Yukon game laws and the rights conferred on Yukon Indian people under the Yukon Act, as well as finding a basis in older law.
We have decided, the people of this territory, aboriginal and non-aboriginal, at the negotiating table, that it is in the best interests of conservation, and in the best interests of both communities, to have co-management agreements.
In many communities, I suspect, whatever principles are argued by First Nations for self-government, practical arrangements will involve joint-use agreements or guaranteed-place positions on school councils, or arrangements like that.
The Member invites me to say exactly what will be the case down the road. I cannot tell him in advance of negotiations what the results will be, except to say that I think they will vary somewhat from community to community. We have already seen the possible shape of things to come in the kind of powers that, for example, people might exercise through a school council or authority, that the people of the Champagne/Aishihik Band already exercise in terms of child welfare and family service matters or the kind of powers that the community may want to assume in terms of health and social services.
The communities will certainly exercise to the full their rights to make decisions about their own land that do not make a negative impact on others, the right to make decisions about their own band constitution, such as Mr. Speaker Johnstons community has done. They have rewritten the constitution of their band to do away with the system that the Department of Indian Affairs imported from Africa to use in this country, the chief and council system, and reverted to a system that reflects the cultural traditions of the clan, traditions of the Tlingit nation. All of these things are being worked out.
I think, in respect to the right of Indian people to exercise these powers in their communities and on their land, there will be very many strong, very forceful statements made about that by the First Nations, but in the end I anticipate the negotiations that we will make will be about practical arrangements for the two communities to work together to achieve the best interests of the Yukon as a whole, arrangements that will be governed by the availability of human and financial resources, available to both of us. And I would anticipate that there will be communities, just to use education for an example, where perhaps half of the community are aboriginal, the other half of the community are non-aboriginal. They may well decide that rather than having the inefficiencies of having two different schools, two different school committees, they would rather work together as long as the interests of both communities and both cultures and both traditions are respected within the arrangements for governing that school.
I do not want to speculate too much beyond that but I can say that it is our view that not only is there the inherent right but I also think that given the failure of the dominant culture, which has imposed one kind of solution after another on aboriginal people and tried various kinds of social experiments and engineered certain kinds of social arrangements, most of which have ended in failure, one cannot but conclude that as well as there being a very powerful legal and traditional right for these communities to govern themselves in the same that non-Indian communities govern themselves, it is also a practical and humane and democratic option that First Nations want to exercise.
Mr. Lang: I just want to know some of the practicalities of what we are dealing with here. The territorial Legislature has the Lands Act and there are certain laws that we pass in this House that affect how you can subdivide land, how you can dispose of land, what zoning may be: are these laws going to apply to the lands set aside as far as the Indian land claim is concerned?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I think the Member knows there are sections in the land claim agreement that talk about the agreements respecting the laws of general application. The Member also knows there are a number of laws that have already been contemplated in this Assembly that talk about us making law in an area, but understanding that there may be self-government agreements signed in the future, which are agreements signed between Canada, Yukon and the First Nation, which may be appended to the settlement. Therefore, they will receive certain legal protection, which may be able to supersede certain territorial laws because they will become a Canadian law. That is always the case in the hierarchy of sovereignty I talked about earlier.
Having said that the laws of general application will apply, it would be a mistake to assume that the First Nations may choose to manage their lands in the same way a municipality chooses to do that, whether they will observe the same kind of zoning conventions or the same kind of zoning procedures. I would be extremely surprised if that happened. They will probably observe traditions and methods of decision making that are true to their traditions rather than ours. Although I think it is probably also possible they may borrow what they want to from our traditions and methods, but they will probably find a way of doing their own thing that suits them in the same way a new municipality might, or people elsewhere in the country.
Mr. Lang: Is the Minister telling the House that if, for example, a First Nation decides they do not want to abide by the laws as passed by the Legislature, as it applies to land for example, then they would not have to abide by the laws of the Legislature? Is that what he is telling us?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I do not know what the Member is talking about. I just talked about the laws of general application. We also talked about the right of the property owners, these land owners, to make decisions about what they want to do with their land. The collectively held land, that will be owned by the band, they will manage and will make decisions by themselves. The Member will know that in the land-use planning process, which was demanded by this Legislature, is a cooperative management process. The land claim agreements contemplates participation on those committees by First Nations, depending upon the degree to which their interests are affected. If you are dealing with lands which are their lands, in which they have a majority interest, then they will be a majority of the panel. When they are a minority interest, that will be reflected.
That is to be done according to our law. If we ever had a case where, for example, the territorial Legislature decided on some Indian land somewhere that it did not want houses built, but the First Nation decided that it did, I suspect in that case the First Nation would prevail. If this was a result of land-use planning processes that were jointly worked out, then that situation should not occur.
I do not know what situation the Member is talking about. I am trying to anticipate exactly what he means by his question. Perhaps he can give me an example of the kind of concern he has and I will try to respond.
Mr. Lang: I am not trying to state a concern; I am trying to get some information. Everybody hears this statement of self-government and to everybody it seems to be a different thing and in a different context. I, as a Canadian and a Yukoner, would like to know what we talking about in the Yukon.
Quite frankly, the Government Leader has not clarified anything further than when we started the discussion. I was asking, for example, in the area of education: will the law of the land, represented by the territorial Legislature, be the Department of Education; will it be the prevailing law? I hear two things: yes, but -. I do not understand this because if the laws are going to apply they are either going to apply or they are not going to apply, like, for example, in Porter Creek East. The Education Act applies and there are certain stipulations in the act and people comply with the act. If they do not like the act, they come to this Legislature and they request change. Rightly or wrongly, a decision is made by the majority Members in the House.
My question, and I am just trying to get it clarified in my mind - and I think there are a lot of questions in the minds of the general public - concerns just what exactly it means. Are we talking about an education system where all of the laws of the land are going to prevail - with the understanding that the Indian people and the white people and all people of the territory who are of school age will be functioning within the education system? That is what it is set up to do.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I will try to answer the Members question. The Member talks about not knowing what is meant by self-government. It has been my experience that nobody finds it at all mysterious when we talk about the Law Society being a self-governing body. Nobody finds it mysterious when we talk about the chartered accountants of the professional association of British Columbia being a self-governing body. Nobody finds it mysterious when we talk about the Town of Faro now being self-governing, whereas for a period, when it was shut down, it was not; it was governed by this territory.
The situation that applies right now for Indian communities is that they are not self-governing. They are governed like vassal states, like colonial outposts by the federal Department of Indian Affairs and for the most part, when they make decisions, they have to pass band council resolutions, which in many cases amount to a petition or a plea or a submission to the Great White Father in Ottawa, in much the same way as it used to be for the municipalities in this territory. When they wanted to make capital expenditures, they had to come, cap in hand, to the territorial government to get permission. I would argue that as the result of changes we have made, the municipalities in the territory are now self-governing. The First Nations in the community want to be self-governing communities in the same way, except that they do not anticipate the kind of powers that they would enjoy on their lands - large blocks of land in the territory - as simply those of a municipal government. They will, in a number of respects, such as those I just recently described, share power with a quasi-provincial authority, in the case of the Yukon Territory, over matters that are normally under provincial domain, such as game management.
In the case of education, which is a provincial matter but has been delegated to local bodies of school boards in most parts of Canada, and which is now devolving under our Education Act, they may choose to exercise their right to run their own schools. They would have that right, as would many communities. If a community here decided they wanted to have a school board, they make that decision, and they will have a school board and that power. If a First Nation decided they wanted to run their own school, they could. There would be lots of discussion about who would pay for it.
In the Education Act, rather than saying we want to have two parallel education systems side by side, we have tried to anticipate self-government agreements, and tried to make the kind of arrangements that would be compatible with the aboriginal interests, so the interests of all sectors of this community could be accommodated, by putting the power over the school system down toward parents and communities, rather than keeping it all in the Department of Education. It seems to us that will accommodate the best interests of Indian people who want to control their own education system, but it will also give other communities in the territory similar kinds of powers.
Where there are Indian communities and non-Indian communities right next door, the Indian people may well claim that they have an inherent right not to get delegated power from us, but an inherent right in education. Nonetheless, we hope we can work together to make practical arrangements for the benefit of all the children in that community, whether they are Indian or non-Indian, and that we can make financially sensible, educationally sound, legally appropriate arrangements that will meet the needs of everybody in that community, but meet the aspirations of Indian people for a voice and control in a system, but also meet the needs of the other community for the same kind of voice and control.
The Member talks about land. He says: will they have to respect the laws of the territory? He accused me of saying that it depends. It does depend on the situation. There are a whole series of laws that affect land: for example, the Quartz Mining Act and the Placer Mining Act.
Yes, the Indian people, on their land, will have to obey those laws, but it is also contemplated in the land claims agreement that, because there is a problem in the federal law affecting mining in the Yukon right now about people who have surface rights and sub-surface rights, there will have to be some mechanism of resolving disputes between those two different owners, between the two groups in that case. That is why it is contemplated in the land claims agreement that there should be a surface rights board for exactly that purpose, on which Indian people would have guaranteed representation. Where there is a panel dealing with an issue on their land, they are guaranteed that at least one member of the panel will be an aboriginal person.
That is a case where, yes, they are respecting federal law, but also new provisions have been developed to recognize there could be serious conflicts between the interests of the surface holder and the sub-surface holder.
Those mechanisms to resolve disputes are set up not to frustrate anyones interests, but to try to resolve those conflicts in some kind of acceptable way. If, for example, Kwanlin Dun, which is right within the City of Whitehorse, decides it wants to zone their land within the village a certain way, it is my assumption that, while they might wish to cooperate with the City of Whitehorse on that zoning and have compatible zoning where their boundaries meet, in the end, if there is a disagreement between the elected members of the city or the citizens and the First Nation council, as far as their land is concerned, their wishes will prevail. That is how it should be.
Mr. Lang: What the Minister is saying then is that the general laws of application will not apply unless, to use the Ministers example, the band agrees. If the band disagrees, they will not have to follow the general laws of application. Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: No, it is quite the opposite. The general laws of application will apply. But the municipality, in any case, probably, by any meaningful interpretation, and I am sure Mr. Phelps can help us on this, has in law no jurisdiction in the Indian community. That is one of the laws.
Mr. Lang: I am not trying to be quarrelsome. Did the Minister not tell us just now that if the city zoned a piece of property held by the band in the City of Whitehorse and the band objected to that zoning, they would not have to comply with that zoning? Is that not correct?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: That is not what I said. I said that, even though the band is in the city, the band council would have the right to zone their own land. They may well wish, as an act of cooperation with their neighbours, to have some joint consultation or try and have compatible zoning on the boundaries between their zoning and the citys zoning so there were no obvious land use conflicts. However, if there was a disagreement between the city and the band over zoning of the band lands, the bands view would prevail. That is not contrary to the application of the laws of general application. That is one of the laws. They would have that right.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Penikett: It would not be reserve land in this case; it would be settlement land, as we are talking about a case after settlement; we are speculating about the future.
Mr. Lang: If there is a block of land granted through the land claims process to the Kwanlin Dun Indian Band and, let us say that the community plan has called for the area to be open space public domain but a portion of this property belongs to the band, is the Minister telling this House that if they decided to zone that property as commercial, they would be within their rights after a settlement act has been agreed to by the side opposite and passed?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The Member began his statement by saying, if there is a block of land given to the band. That is not the way they see the world at all. They say, if there is a block of land obtained by the band, since the whole basis of their claim is they were the original owners and what we are negotiating is about the land they will not continue to retain, not the land that they will.
The Member is raising a question of, for example, some of the land they claimed, let us say it is Commissioners land within the City of Whitehorse that was previously zoned open space. It seems to me that if it then becomes settlement land, they may wish to continue to have it as open space, but if they choose to zone it otherwise, that would be their perfect right.
Mr. Lang: Then the municipality will have no jurisdiction over band lands?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: No more so than the band will have jurisdiction over the land of the city.
Mr. Lang: We are talking two separate authority jurisdictions.
I am not clear on this, but is it envisioned after the land claim settlement is agreed to and passed that the Department of Indian Affairs will carry on in the Yukon?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Knowing the way that large national bureaucracies operate, I would be surprised to see it disappear completely for a number of reasons. I am sure, in terms of implementing the settlement, the Department of Indian Affairs will have a role to play for quite a number of years.
There is another process going on separate and apart from land claims, although it is a parallel process, which is the devolution process. If you look toward the day, which I am assuming will not be in that distant a future, where things that are now under DIAND, the forestry program, lands program and mineral program, are transferred to the territorial government, they will be a considerably emaciated operation I would expect. As the Northern Affairs program comes to the territorial governments and the Indian Affairs programs flow to the bands, there may, in the end, be very little left except for the administration of the agreements by which those arrangements were made.
Mr. Lang: I was asking more specifically about the programs presently in place through the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs, such as in Education. An Indian person from the Yukon who goes to university gets many more financial benefits than the non-native. Are those programs going to be continued on after a land claims settlement?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The Member has made a general proposition, but I know a case of Indian people who lost their status, and because they were sent outside to high school by Indian Affairs cannot even benefit from Yukon programs even though they have lived here for thousands of years. I am not sure they automatically always have more benefits.
The Member says there have never been any that old. There are some grievances that I would say are almost that old.
The answer to the question is that programs such as the Member mentioned are not on the land claims table at the moment, as far as I know. They will continue, unless they are devolved to some other authority, either the bands or us. At this moment, they are not on the land claims table.
Mr. Lang: Then, it is the position of the Government of the Yukon Territory that all the programs presently in place, such as the one I just used as an example, will continue. Similarly, the uninsured benefits that are under the health program, and things of this nature, will continue on after a land claims settlement. Is that the position of the government?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: We have not been invited by either of the two parties who have a direct interest in that question to offer a comment. For my part in the government, any notion that the federal government might drop those programs, or transfer them to us, would be the subject of intense discussion. There are a number of cases where the federal government has decided it did not want to continue programs. Immediately, people came to us looking for us to pick them up. We would want to be part of any discussions like that.
Unless and until those programs are included, either as part of the land claims settlement or as devolution to the bands or to us, I cannot answer the question. It would depend entirely on the arrangements under which they were to continue or not.
Mr. Lang: Assuming there are no changes to the programs that are being administered by the Department of Indian Affairs, that the Minister has outlined, because he does not suspect there will be any changes, is it safe to say that the Department of Indian Affairs bureaucracy is going to continue for quite some time, just administering these programs, i.e., in the economic development area?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: No, I do not think that is the case, for reasons I have just explained. I said we are at a time where there are two things happening: one, there are devolution discussions going on; two, there are land claims discussions going one. Both of those are going to lead to the withering away of the Indian Affairs bureaucracy in the foreseeable future. With respect to the Northern Affairs programs, we can foresee the day when almost all them will be coming to the territorial government. The Indian Affairs programs will go to the bands, for a large part, including the programs mentioned by the Member.
I know there are no discussions of some of those programs now, but programs like the economic development program may well be devolved. I do not see any reason why not, but I do not think there are any negotiations at this moment. Therefore, the bureaucracy of Indian Affairs will get smaller. To go back to the Members original question, I would be surprised if it disappeared completely in the short term.
Chair: I will call the Committee back to order.
Mr. Lang: Could the Government Leader tell us what exactly the new land claims negotiator is being paid?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I cannot tell the precise salary of the individual civil servant. I can tell him the range. I can provide him with that information. In this House, we have never tabled the actual income of an individual person, but the person is in the public service and the public service classification system, and I can come back with that information.
Is the Member saying he did not catch the numbers I was talking about in terms of the ballpark of those transfers from Community and Transportation Services, because that number, which I assume includes salaries and benefits, is $74,000, which is transferred from Community and Transportation Services.
Mr. Lang: Basically, he is getting anywhere from $70,000 to $74,000. In the supplementaries, in view of the fact Mr. Stuart did not leave at the end of March, but carried on for a while, what do we have here in the supplementaries for the amount of money he earned in 1990-91?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: There is no supplementary for that purpose. If the Member would like an accounting of the earnings of Mr. Stuart during the time he was completing the task on the framework agreement, I could certainly provide that to the House, if not at this moment, then very shortly.
Mr. Lang: It would be appropriate. He was on a contract, and I do not understand why he would not be in the supplementary. He was to resign at the end of March, and then carried on in that capacity for some time, and I do not quite know how long.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The reason it is not in the supplementary is that we have always had a provision in this budget for a chief negotiator. Mr. Stuart completed this work, and there was a period when the new chief negotiator took up his office, and that was covered in the budget. The supplementary, as I have previously explained, covers three items: the new position, the transferred money from Community and Transportation Services and the pay out of holiday pay.
Mr. Lang: The Minister seemed to think his deputy minister had the information, as far as what Mr. Stuart earned from March 31 on. Could he provide the House with that?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I do not have the information with me. I said to the Member I would come back to the Legislature with that.
Mr. Devries: With respect to what the Member for Porter Creek was saying earlier about the zoning, it is my understanding that the Town of Watson Lake had a big concern about this and the fact that the band was picking lots here and there within the community, within their land claims allocation. The big concern was that they felt they did not have to abide by the zoning bylaws within the community. I am not sure where it stands at this moment. That could upset a town plan, if they can just pick lots here and there. You could put a used car lot right in the middle of a residential area.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Mr. Devries is raising a point that I think was not covered in my previous information. I am reasonably certain that if an individual First Nation member or a band owns a lot, whether it is a commercial lot or a private lot within another municipality, I assume that they are not going to claim the right to exercise their self-government powers outside of their settlement lands. In other words, whether Mr. Devries owns the lot or a member of the Liard Kaska Band owns the lot, the zoning laws are still applied. The only variance from this situation that I know of is the one in respect to the unpaid taxes.
Mr. Phelps: I just thought I heard the Minister saying that, if individual lots were settlement land, they would be subject to the zoning of the town without the consent of the band. I thought that was what the Minister was making clear earlier.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I do not know exactly what situation the Leader of the Opposition has in mind, but I am trying to recall all my discussions on this point. I am assuming that, in the case where there is settlement land that is an urban block, whether it is contiguous to a municipality, within the municipality or neighbouring to it, that it is the First Nation who will govern the use and the zoning on that land. I guess the question precisely asked by Mr. Devries was if a First Nation selects a lot for commercial purposes within the municipality. I believe the discussions I have heard indicated that the municipal zoning laws would apply in that situation. Is the Leader of the Opposition suggesting from his experience that would not be the case?
Mr. Phelps: No, I am not suggesting anything. We are trying to get some information on this side from the Minister responsible. In response to some questions from the Member for Porter Creek East, he had earlier said that if the First Nation owned the property, or it was held by Canada for the First Nation, that laws of general application would not apply. Also, if the selection pattern is one that involves small clusters of individual lots throughout a municipality such as Watson Lake, then there is a very strong chance that the law of general application, as the Minister took such pride in pointing out, would dictate that the laws of general application in the sense of the municipal laws would not apply to the senior government land or the land belonging to First Nations by virtue of selection.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Clearly, I am not communicating very successfully. What the Leader of the Official Opposition says I said is not what I said at all.
Originally, in answer to Mr. Langs question, I was talking about the situation in Kwanlin Dun, a band within the city limits of Whitehorse, and a band that would no doubt have a block of land, which just happens to be within the city boundaries of Whitehorse, but which would be under their governance. The self-government powers that the band would have on that land would be given protection in the agreements between the federal government and the territorial government in law and, therefore, that would be one of those laws that have laws of general application. I do not think it is contemplated by anyone in that scenario that the municipal bylaws would apply on that kind of land or that, in any case, they would supersede the arrangements agreed to at the negotiating table.
The situation asked by Mr. Devries is a different situation where a lot, as I understand he was asking, may be acquired for commercial purposes or otherwise by the First Nation in the area.
I am trying to remember all the discussions, as it was some months ago since I talked about this particular question, but it is my assumption that in that case if the First Nation acquired a commercial lot for commercial purposes, or perhaps even acquired a lot for housing purposes, within the municipality for the benefit of an individual band member or for the group, that the laws of that municipality with respect to the zoning would operate. If the Leader of the Official Opposition is suggesting I may have clouded the question in some way, I will seek to confirm the opinions I have expressed here today and will be happy to do that.
Mr. Phelps: We will look forward to that confirmation.
On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures
On Land Claims Secretariat
Land Claims Secretariat in the amount of $153,000 agreed to
On Public Affairs Bureau
Public Affairs Bureau in the amount of an under expenditure of $7,000 agreed to
On French and Aboriginal Language Services
French and Aboriginal Languages Services in the amount of $88,000 agreed to
On Bureau of Statistics
Mr. Phelps: By way of clarification, my understanding is that we can expect an ongoing program with the inclusion of the national labour force survey of Yukon statistics in the order of something like $38,000 to $40,000 a year. Of this whole sum with regard to the alcohol and drug survey the balance of approximately $140,000 was a one-shot expense paid for by the feds.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The alcohol and drug survey is a one-shot arrangement paid for by the federal government. The national labour force survey will be an ongoing program once it is established in 1991-92 also paid by the federal government. I am reasonably certain it will cost more than the $38,000. The $38,000 contemplated here is for the preparatory work which will be done for that program to be established and underway this year. The ongoing program will cost Statistics Canada significantly more than $38,000, but will for the first time include us in the national labour force counts, unemployment rate, and so forth which are published quarterly. We have never been included there before and will be starting in the next fiscal year with the federal government continuing to pay for the cost of doing this.
Our Statistics Bureau has developed the capacity for doing statistical work in this area, which, from an actuarial point of view, too small a base for the methods used by Statistics Canada, so they are contracting with our Stats Bureau, for whom they have a very high regard, in order to carry out this work.
Mr. Phelps: I was concerned about the scope of the cost of the alcohol and drug survey. My understanding from what I heard this afternoon is that that cost is about $140,000 roughly.
It was carried out by our bureau and paid for by the Government of Canada. Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The Member is right. The expense specifically is $144,000. It is a baseline study involving interviews with 1,200 Yukoners. It is a very large project in Yukon terms. Similar projects have been carried out elsewhere in Canada for establishing a national data base, but this work was contracted to be delivered through our statistics bureau.
We have an expert from Carleton University, Statistics Canada and National Health and Welfare involved as well as our own agencies which are involved in this kind of work in terms of refining the questions and their research needs.
As I said, the results will be made known to us in December. It is a one-time study. It is a baseline study and is intended as a policy tool for some considerable time to come.
Bureau of Statistics in the amount of $182,000 agreed to
Operation and Maintenance Expenditures in the amount of $416,000 agreed to
Executive Council Office in the amount of $416,000 agreed to
Community and Transportation Services
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The supplementary for Members in Community and Transportation Services, as noted in the budget book, reflect a decrease in the O&M expenditures of $626,000. It shows an increase in the capital expenditures of $5,294,000. It shows a decrease to the O&M recoveries of $1,674,000 and a decrease to capital recoveries of $8,565,000.
I would like to make several observations about those particular figures. The figure of $5,294,000 on the capital side reflects the net result of funds that are being revoted for projects from the previous year in the amount of $5,493,000. In actual fact, on the capital side, we are reducing the capital expenditures by $200,000 overall.
The decrease on both the O&M side of things and in the capital recoveries are the result of two programs that were transferred from the federal government, namely the Arctic B and C airports program and the interterritorial roads.
The funding has transferred to us, but it does not show up in our departmental recovery. Rather, it becomes part of government-wide revenue.
The decrease of the $626,000 in the operation and maintenance expenditure is due to the reductions in our anticipated Alaska Highway maintenance agreement. Members will recall that the maintenance agreement we have with the federal government for maintenance of the Alaska Highway and the Haines Road is not agreed upon until after our tabling of the mains. In other words, when we tabled our budget last year at approximately this time, discussions and negotiations with Public Works Canada had not concluded. So, the $626,000 reflects, in primary part, an amount of $685,000 reduced expenditure that Public Works would grant us under that maintenance agreement.
Other significant aspects in the operation and maintenance expenditures are an unanticipated $172,000 increase to home owner grants. Surprising to us, there was a substantial increase in the number of applicants under the home owner grant system, costing the government an additional $172,000.
We also reflect, of some significance, in the operation and maintenance expenditures an increase in emergency measures funding of $61,000. As we go through the line-by-line items, I can break that one out. It reflects some increased cost-sharing with the feds.
The recoveries of those emergency measures show up in the recoveries. Significant in the operational recoveries is a decrease of $1 million in airports, again due to the issue of devolution, where the funding under that transfer agreement has moved over to government-wide revenue, as opposed to departmental revenue.
On the capital expenditure side, as I indicated, we have a substantial amount of revoted money. Part of the revoted money is reflected by the communications budget line item, for $1.4 million, a number of transportation items, as well as a number of items in the lands and community services branches of the department.
Members will note a decrease in capital recoveries of some $8,565,000. Again, that is due to what I indicated earlier: a reduction of money to the department directly under the agreements previously referred to as engineering services agreement, now a devolved program in airports and roads.
There may be questions related to specific items, either line-by-line or in general debate. I would be quite pleased to respond to any questions or concerns or comments.
Mrs. Firth: I have one question to ask the Minister so we can review the supplementary. I wrote a letter asking him for the information regarding the amounts of money that had gone out under the resource transportation access program. I have not received a reply. I would like to know if I am going to have that so we can do this budget. I will put the Minister next to him on notice we will be asking for that in Economic Development as well. A commitment has been made that we will get that information.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I do recall the letter. I had asked for the information to be compiled. It should be quite simple to do so and I am surprised the Member does not have it. No doubt it was a fairly recent request, but yes, the Member will have the information on the RTAP disbursements, certainly if not tomorrow, then immediately after, and definitely for the general mains.
Mr. Brewster: To start with, I am going to go into a few things in the operation of the department. When everybody is through with that we can go line-by-line.
The first thing I would like to get into, and I asked it in the response to the throne speech, is why the reduction of a person year in the weigh scale in Haines Junction?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I had not anticipated the question. I am not aware of the reduction in a particular person year in Haines Junction. I take it as an article of faith that there appears to be a cutback of a person and will have that answer for him at the beginning of debate tomorrow.
Mr. Brewster: I do not know why you would not anticipate questions like this because it is in this budget. Maybe I had better give you the history of what happened.
The weigh scale has been running out there for 20 years. When a person resigned, the administration refused to bring in another person year to fill that place. This weigh station is very, very important for a number of reasons, not just having the weigh scale. It is the only thing that controls the Haines Highway. This is a must for the travelling public. If that road is blocked there is absolutely no place for people to stay. They do not know where they are and they could be run over by snowblowers or anything else. The system has been set up with flashing lights and everything else. It is there for that reason.
If they miss the one at Watson Lake and do not get caught at the one at Whitehorse, they can get caught at the one on the Cassiar Road. But down there on the Haines Road this is the only one. They collect permits 24 hours a day. They sell licences. And if you do not think they are not doing any business, I suggest you talk to the contractors at the airport out there who tried to pull some wingdings by overloading and paid some pretty heavy fines. Right now it will be closed down five nights out of seven from midnight on. Now this is the time when it is very important, when people are travelling who are trying to get off the ferry and get across the border at Pleasant Camp and are trying to go down there to catch the ferry the next morning. If they get caught in between there because of a storm, there is nobody to give them any information.
It is my understanding that the two foremn, one down on the Blanchard and the one at Haines Junction fought violently at the firemens conference to get this person year added back and they did not succeed. First the department suggested that as they have an extra person there now, the way this thing works, that two people would be on shift during the day. Thank goodness the people out in the outlying districts have more brains than this and they said well what are two of us going to do sitting out by the computer, that is completely ridiculous. So then they suggested they could put them on to overtime. The people out there turned around and explained very clearly that putting them on overtime would cost more than bringing in another person year, so this was out.
There is one auxiliary there who can only work 10 days and she is working 10 days to spell off the others on their shifts. Her time is filled up so this means that if someone is sick they cannot even operate for that day.
They put $12,000 of electronic machines in there so they could be connected into Whitehorse and now we are going to close them down for one shift. I think, frankly, if I am not wrong and the Minister can correct me on this, that the weigh scale actually is funded by the federal government. I am wondering if the federal government cut some funds off here or what happened, because it is on the Alaska Highway and it is my understanding that funds come from the federal government.
That is pretty well a rundown on what is going on there and people are not very happy out there with this going on.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I have some information relating to the position at the weigh station in Haines Junction. I would like to raise a couple of questions so the specifics surrounding the issue are clear in my mind.
If I understand what the Member is saying, as he understands it, a position has been terminated at that weigh station, and previous to the termination of that position, there was 24 hour service at the Haines Junction weigh station. With the elimination of that position, he claims it is now only operational on a daytime basis, with possibly some additional support of an auxiliary.
Perhaps the Member can confirm that for me. Could he let me know why a 24-hour operation is required at that location. He indicated there are people coming off the ferry and off the Haines Road, and that the traffic runs 24 hours. Therefore, 24 hour attention is needed by the weigh station. The fact that you have a 24 hour weigh station does not necessarily mean that everybody travelling the road needs the 24 hour service.
I am trying to sort out in my mind why the weigh station requirement is necessary for 24 hours when not all travelers require the weigh station. There is that aspect of it.
Secondly, what special services are required by travellers that justify a 24-hour operation if, as I anticipate, the volume was not there to justify the 24-hour operation.
Mr. Brewster: There is no doubt that sometimes in the winter it is not required. However, when a storm comes up there is no contact and those people go by because they do not know that storm is there. They get to Blanchard and the Pass and a snow plow runs over them without knowing they are even there. This is not funny. It has nearly happened on a number of occasions. At least when the flashing lights were there they knew they had to report. The people were then told that if they went past there, they were going at their own risk. When the foremen protest this, one would think someone in this town would listen.
There is one hooked up to the territorial government buildings so that if anyone breaks into the liquor vendors, immediately sirens flash. It is also set up for the whole water system for the whole town of Haines Junction. If it starts to freeze up, lights flash. This weigh scale does a lot of things besides checking vehicles through.
All we would need is one big freeze up or one break in to the liquor outlet and that would pay the wages for that person. Those are the only people attending 24 hours a day. We do not have enough policemen to do these things.
This is a little thing worked out in the community. They are community people and are quite willing to do these things. It just does not make sense for someone in town here to go against the recommendations of the foreman, the superintendent of the weigh scale and the staff.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I thank the Member for his comments. My understanding of the situation surrounding the staffing of the weigh station is that a position became vacant and it was an administrative decision based on unjustifiable volumes of activity, traffic and service to eliminate the one position. No one was laid off or transferred. It was a vacancy that was not filled. In terms of departmental person years, it would be used somewhere else.
The Member raises a number of concerns and I would like to speak to them. As I indicated, the rationale for not renewing the vacant position was a lack of justifiable volumes of activity. It was largely due to the fact that any off-hour coverage could be carried out by the highways maintenance camp. In other words, the flashing lights would remain. The attention to any highway needs as related to storms or traffic problems or road concerns, would, in the off hours of the new hours, be handled by the highways maintenance camp.
The Member also raised the issue or concern surrounding use of the weigh station as a coordinating point. That, too, is to be carried in off-hours by the highway maintenance camp. All of this is being done at the best utilization of personnel where you do make use of an auxiliary, an existing full-time person, but overall, at the weigh station, there has been a reduction in hours with the coverage for those hours being handled by the highways camp.
Mr. Brewster: Of course I never knew the highways camp had men on all night. The gate is locked up at five oclock and they are all gone home. That is natural because they worked all day. On top of that, the light is not near, the gate is shut, and absolutely nobody lives at the camp. They all live in private homes in Haines Junction. I guess this means you will put someone on at time and a half or at double time. It has been pointed out that this person year would not cost that much. There are certainly no highway men on 24 hours a day unless there is a storm and then they are too busy running around trying to control traffic. Then the two foremen come to a conference and debate this, because they are the ones who have to face the issue, and they are shot down; it does not make much sense.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I can appreciate the representation by the Member. Until I have some substantial evidence of a particular safety risk involved, I see no reason to interfere with the administrative detail of managing the highways maintenance weigh stations and highways camps.
I can tell the Member that the decision was based on a lack of justifiable volumes of activity. What that boils down to, in layman terms, is that there was not enough work to keep a person busy for a full shift around the clock. It was a management decision to do a better job of utilizing the personnel and still providing the service. The Member raises the question about the highways personnel not being present at all times, and he is probably correct, the highways personnel are not sitting at the entrance to the Haines Road.
They also monitor traffic in the off hours when the weigh station is closed or the highways camp is closed. The Member can be assured that, in the eventuality of a storm where there is some road concern, that highways personnel are out and on the road. In the case of any road closure, they will be at the gate monitoring that closure. That is a fact of life on the highway systems of the Yukon.
The long and short of it is that a decision was made to utilize personnel better and make better use of scarce resources and, with no consequential reduction in the level of service, I cannot argue with that decision.
Mr. Brewster: It worked for 20 years and then, all of a sudden, the government started making decisions in here that were not made out there. Let me point out something. When the storms start, they start on the Blanchard end of the road, not the Haines end. Quite often, the Haines crews do not even have to get up because the road down to the Blanchard is open, because the wind does not blow from there up. They have to radio somebody.
Maybe the highways crew might happen to be on a curling bonspiel and are all gone. Are you going to put someone on to run and block there, when before you had someone on shift who could tell the people what was happening? Plus, there is the fact that you are responsible for those people going down. Do not tell me different because, years ago when my father had the thing, they had to have insurance to see they stopped those people and looked after them. You are leaving it wide open now.
Here again, we have the bureaucrats in this town telling the foremen what is best, those who work with it day and night. It makes a lot of sense. The bureaucrats in Whitehorse wanted to put two people on shift because they did not know what to do with the other person: two to push buttons. They asked what they were going to do, because it did not make sense to have both of them sitting there. When you had the one other, you could go around the clock. You still have that other staff on there and say let him sit, give him double time. It does not make sense. They are pointing out the most inexpensive way of doing this. The bureaucrats here did not listen to the foremen, they did not listen to anybody, they just made the decision, and it does not matter what happens out in the little communities.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Just a couple of points in rebuttal. I have always valued the opinion of the Member and always respected his representations, but I must make a couple of points.
Like any other organization around the territory, such as a municipality or a small town, or even in the case of the City of Whitehorse, where you have infrastructure to maintain, services to provide, and there is a need for some attention on a 24-hour basis, invariably in every location you will find backup and standby arrangements to cover the eventuality of emergency. Nothing is any different in our highways camps. If there is a problem on a road, the foreman can be contacted. If he is not on duty that weekend or that night, then someone else is. Communication linkages are something that are very good in the Yukon and, in particular, within the highway camps.
That is the same story in downtown Haines Junction or downtown Faro. There is somebody from the works crew on standby for a water break, just as there is somebody on standby in a highways camp in the eventuality of a call from Blanchard that a storm is moving in, so close the road. There is a reaction to that. Somebody gets to the gate, does up the lights, monitors the traffic, and obviously has to pull some overtime, or some auxiliary comes in to relieve. That is the management of it.
I have to tell the Member that I am not convinced that one single person year is going to permit a 24-hour operation at that station. An additional position at the weigh station will not guarantee a 24 hour service. I am advised that right now we have between 10 and 12 hours of regular service. That is being provided at the weigh station by existing personnel. Also, up the road, we have a highways camp that picks up the slack. As I have tried to explain to the Member, he can rest assured that highways personnel will be on top of any situation of severe road conditions where manning closures and telling motorists they should not travel will be done by personnel irrespective of whether or not we have 24-hour operation at the weigh station.
I am not convinced that an additional person year is going to change the level of service or provide anything better than what is being done now.
Mr. Brewster: I can see the bureaucrats are going to win this one as they seem to win all of them. Storms start up there and also in Jarvis Creek and Christmas Creek, and the vehicles have to be up there. This is like the microwave tower that we went to look at; it does not exist. I do not think anyone has looked closely at this. For 20 years there has been 24-hour service with that one extra person.
I do not know where you are getting your information, but it is not true. Maybe your department is not telling you the truth.
It is not the truth that there was not a 24-hour service out there up until they laid that one person off. It has been there for 20 years.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: What I will undertake, because the issue has been raised so passionately by the Member and I have to respect that, is to discuss with the department the rationale and detail pertaining to coverage of required service and safety on that road. That is paramount to me and I will provide that information to the Member in more detail than I have been able to in debate with him today.
But I have to make one emphatic point with the Member. There was nobody laid off in the process of what took place. There was a vacancy, meaning somebody left the job, and that position was not filled at that location. So it is not that anybody was laid off. It is simply a position that was not filled when it was vacated. There is a distinct difference, because it is important to me that we do not reduce level of service and terminate employees in the process. I guess in conclusion I can only say that I have been given every assurance that we are providing adequate coverage. We are addressing the issue of adequate safety for the road. We are doing it through a fall-back and backup positioning or coverage with the highways camp. Beyond that, I can only undertake to the Member that I will review that decision with the department and comment to him further in writing.
Mr. Brewster: I thank the Minister for at least looking. I would suggest he get out and talk to the foremen who have to work, not some of the people sitting in this building. I made it very plain when I started that the individual did resign. That broke up the shifts. They were short one person to run the 24-hour shift. As I have said, those shifts have been run for 20 years out there. All of a sudden, they discover they do not need one. That is really strange.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I can only repeat myself. I have undertaken to review the issue and get back in writing to the Member. I respect the comments he has made. On the face of those comments, I have not been persuaded that there should be any management decision change, but I am prepared to review it and comment further in writing to the Member.
Mr. Lang: The Member for Kluane talked about a person year being vacant. Is that person year still available? Has there been a decision made to fill it, or has it been moved to some other area in the department?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am being advised that the position is still vacant. In that respect, it is still available for deployment or reallocation anywhere, or even back to that station. I suppose the possibility exists that, should traffic volumes warrant it, we could well reinstate or redeploy that position back to the same camp for the summer. That would be a logical thing to do. Currently, the decision has been made, largely due to the lack of volumes and justification for maintaining that additional person there. That position is available as a person year.
Given the lateness of the hour, I move that you report progress.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Motion agreed to
Speaker resumes the Chair
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. May the House have a report from the Chair of the Committee of the Whole.
Ms. Kassi: The Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 15, entitled Second Appropriation Act 1990-91, and directed me to report progress on same.
Speaker: You have heard the report from the Chair of the Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Government House Leader that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: This House now stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. tomorrow.
The House adjourned at 5:25 p.m.
The following Sessional Paper was tabled November 6, 1990:
Letter from Minister of Economic Development to Doug Phillips, P.C. Caucus Critic for Economic Development dated Oct. 22, 1990, re $400,000 loan for Centennial Project (Phillips)