Thursday, November 15, 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 Introductions of Visitors?
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS
Mr. Nordling: I would like to welcome to the House one of the grade 10 classes at F.H. Collins, with their teacher Paul Deuling.
Normally, the Member for Riverdale North would get to introduce them as F.H. Collins is in his riding, but because one of my constituents, Steven Giffen, is in the class, I thought I would jump up and make the introduction.
Speaker: Are there any Returns or Documents for tabling?
Are there any Reports of Committees?
Are there any Introductions of Bills?
Notices of Motion for the Production of Papers.
Notices of Motion.
Are there any Statements by Ministers?
Arctic National Wildlife Refuge - Continuing Efforts to Protect
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I rise today to inform the House of this governments great concern about the future of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and to reaffirm our continuing policy of working to protect this area in the context of new political developments in the State of Alaska.
ANWR is one of the worlds special places, supporting more than 160 wildlife species. Muskoxen, snowy owls, golden eagles and arctic foxes make it their home year-round. Millions of migratory birds, including swans and geese, use the plain as a staging area before their migrations south. Grizzlies, moose, wolves and wolverines roam through this region during the spring and summer.
Most notably, ANWR includes the spring calving grounds of the Porcupine caribou herd. As hon. Members know, the caribou migrate each year between Alaska, the Yukon, and the Northwest Territories. They are a resource shared by northern peoples. We all have a stake in protecting the health of this herd and the habitat that supports it - whether in Alaska or the Yukon.
Despite the wildlife riches of ANWR, there has been increasing interest in the United States in opening these lands to oil and gas development. In the late 1980s, members of the United States Congress discussed several bills on the future of ANWR. Some favour preserving this unique wilderness area; others advocated its exploitation.
The devastating oil spill at Valdez tempered the voices calling for oil development in the refuge. But they have not been silenced. The shock of the Valdez spill is now wearing off. The trouble in Iraq and Kuwait has raised concerns about U.S. oil production and the desire to increase domestic supplies. Again, certain voices are urging that oil rigs be allowed in ANWR.
What is at stake in the debate over ANWR? If the refuge is opened up, another five percent of Alaska land would be available for oil and gas development. This would be in addition to the 55 million acres where there is already access. But the effects of development may well stretch far beyond the borders of the refuge itself. The disruption to the calving grounds of the Porcupine caribou will pose a threat to the herd that has sustained aboriginal peoples for thousands of years. It will pose a threat to these peoples and to their way of life.
It is the policy of the Yukon government that oil and gas development should not be allowed in ANWR because of the threat it poses to the caribou calving grounds and to the well-being of the Gwichin people. We believe these considerations make the price of development too high, and I hope to have the opportunity soon to make this point to the new administration in Alaska.
This government will continue to speak out in support of protecting ANWR. We will use any opportunity that presents itself to argue in favour of preserving ANWR as it was intended, as a refuge for wildlife.
The Yukon government will continue to work, as it has in the past, with other agencies in Canada to present a strong, united case for protecting ANWR. The cooperation between federal departments, the Yukon and the Northwest Territories and groups such as the Porcupine Caribou Management Board have ensured that our message is heard in the United States. This government will also cooperate with non-governmental organizations, in both Canada and the United States, toward the same end.
Question re: Old Yukon College
Mr. Phelps: I would like to start out the day with some questions about the renovations to the old Yukon College in Riverdale. Last January we were told by the Minister for Government Services that 3,000 square metres of office space was going to be renovated and made available to YTG and that the space would be leased, with the cost for the rental $16.50 per square foot, triple net. We have now got the rental agreement that has been provided to us by the Minister and we find that the cost per annum for rent is $784,176. That works out to $24.28 per square foot, triple net, not $16.50, as the Minister said. I am wondering if the Minister can tell us why the rent has already gone up to such an alarming degree?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The rent did not go up. The rent is, as specified, still $16.50 per square foot. The rent is based on the entire square footage of the facility. The facility is comprised of not just office space but also some warehouse space, and it includes the Child Development Centre.
Mr. Phelps: It is nice to get that information finally, because what we had was, of course, a manipulation of figures. The true rent ought to be at least the financing cost of the new office space, factored over the 3,000 square metres of space that would have been provided. But what they are doing is saying no we will factor in all this additional space and that includes, I take it, the Child Development Centre as well as the garage that is going to be used by another department.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am not sure if there was a question in the Members statement, but I believe he is trying to determine the basis upon which the rent is calculated. Clearly, I indicated it in previous discussions in the House, and that was at the time that negotiations were underway to establish that rental rate.
At that time, we had established that the rent should not exceed $16.50. It has not exceeded $16.50, and it will remain $16.50 for a 20-year period. That is a substantial savings, in terms of actual rental costs, as the normal marketplace would drive figures upward from $16.50 over a 20-year period.
As I indicated to Members before, the facility has effectively been transferred in title to YDC, and we are renting space from a property owned by the corporation. So, the entire facility has to be leased back.
Mr. Phelps: When was the Child Development Centre finally fixed up by the government at cost? When did the Child Development Centre association move into those premises?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I do not specifically recall. I believe it was before I assumed the portfolio. That would be some time ago. I can undertake to research that and provide the information to the Member.
Question re: Old Yukon College
Mr. Phelps: Will the Minister agree that $24.28, triple net, - that is to say, plus taxes, heat, lights, and janitorial - is far higher than the going rental rate for office space in Whitehorse at this time?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: By innuendo, if the Member is suggesting we are paying $24 per square foot for the Old Yukon College, then he is totally wrong. The rent we will be paying, at a point when we assume the facility and space, will be the $16.50 figure for the entire facility. That will be in the fall of 1991. The $16.50 is a very competitive rate, especially so if you consider that that will be the same rate for 20 years.
Mr. Phelps: The Minister sometimes makes me sad and doleful. In his remarks in the Legislature last January and in the press release, we were told that the government was going to gain only 3,000 square metres of space. I submit to the Minister that the cost per square foot, by entering into this lease, is $24.28, triple net. Would the Minister not agree that that is the case?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Again, the Member is attempting to do a calculation based on only a portion of the data. We are paying $16.50 per square foot for the lease arrangements that will be put in place once the facility is available in the fall of 1991.
It is for the entire facility, which contains more than 30,000 square feet. I think it is more in the magnitude of 50,000 square feet overall, and includes warehouse space, storage space, office space and CDC space.
Mr. Phelps: Can the Minister tell us what the government is paying for rent right now for the Child Development Centre, which comprises 13,400 square feet, and for the garage that is to be moved into, which comprises 5,000 square feet?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member is asking me for information I do not have with me. He is asking what we are paying for a particular space in this community. I do not know. I can provide the information, given the opportunity to procure it.
Question re: Old Yukon College
Mrs. Firth: I have a question for the Minister responsible for the Yukon Development Corporation. It involves the decision-making process and how final decisions are made for the operations of the Yukon Development Corporation, and especially the case of the decision to renovate the Old Yukon College we have been discussing today.
I would like to ask the Minister if he could tell us just what the process is and how the decisions were made to proceed with this project.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The decision-making process is that a proposal to engage in a venture such as that one will come before the board of the Development Corporation. If it is within its mandate, deemed to be appropriate by the board and they have the resources to carry it out, then they will make the decision. The intention is that the government, while giving a broad mandate from Cabinet to the board, would allow individual investment decisions, such as the kind in this project, to be made by the directors of the corporation, upon recommendation by its officers.
Mrs. Firth: So the proposal to engage in a venture comes forward. Who brought the proposal forward in this particular case - for renovations to the Old Yukon College?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I do not recall exactly who the individual was who first developed the idea, but I do recall that there were some discussions at the Cabinet level about how to deal with the problem of accessing capital and the appropriate way to develop and manage properties. Some of the senior officials of this government had looked at some of the practices and experiences of other jurisdictions. Some of it may have been developed in Government Services; I am not entirely sure at this point. It was taken to the board and they were asked what they thought of the idea. I am sure they did not dispose of the matter in a single meeting. I believe they discussed it several times before deciding to proceed.
Mrs. Firth: Is the Minister saying it was an individual in Government Services who came forward with the proposal? That is what it sounds like. I think that is probably highly unlikely. I think he or she would have had to have been given some direction from someone to come forward with the proposal. I am looking for whose idea this was.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Of course, the Member is correct. An individual would not, by oneself, be able to go to the Development Corporation board. Whoever first developed the idea obviously took it to their superiors. Eventually the Ministers or Cabinet may have thought this was a concept worth pursuing and the possibility of doing this was taken up with the board, which decided to agree to do it. They may have decided otherwise, as with other proposals that have come before them; they may either accept or decline to do them. As the Member may know, this is the nature of an experiment and is one we think looks promising and we hope it works out very well.
Question re: Yukon Development Corporation
Mrs. Firth: The question I asked is very important because of the things that the Minister has just said about it being an experiment. I think it is only fair for the government to indicate to the public whether the decision was made by the government or whether the proposal or plan or project was suggested by the government. Did they initiate it, did the board initiate it or the did the directors initiate it? I ask this question because a lot of concern has been expressed to me about the management of the funds of the Development Corporation and the decisions that are being made there.
I would like ask the Minister if when a decision is made that results in more and more costs to the taxpayer, who is being accountable and liable for that decision?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Well let me deal with the last point first. This is not intended to create more costs for the taxpayer: quite the opposite, in fact. We think this method of financing this kind of project is a very interesting one. It is in fact much more a conventional way of doing things in governments elsewhere, than is the practice that is customarily followed here, where we simply grant the capital funds for doing a public work.
The question of where the idea originally came from, or the sequence, is not terribly relevant here because the Member should know that the idea is supported by this government and by this Cabinet, and we are fully committed to it. So if the Member is asking who is ultimately accountable for approving these kinds of arrangements, then the answer of course is the Cabinet of the Government of the Yukon.
Mrs. Firth: There is already a discrepancy in the figures that will result in a higher cost. It is right in the Ministers agreement that he tabled yesterday in the House; we are not making the figures up. We know that the Income Tax Act makes board members personally liable for failures of companies to meet up to their obligations and, likewise, that happens with respect to the Unemployment Insurance Act. I would like to ask the Minister responsible for the Development Corporation what there is in place to remove the personal liability from the board members of the Yukon Development Corporation.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I suspect that the Members knowledge of law on this question is even less than mine. The members of the corporation - the board of both corporations: the Development Corporation and the power corporation - are extremely knowledgeable about their responsibilities and the nature of the undertakings that they are making. The implication of the Members question somehow is that by the Development Corporation acting as an agent for the government in this matter, somehow the directors are putting themselves enormously at risk. We do not believe that is the case at all. The Development Corporation - let us be clear about this project - is acting as an agent for the government, to renovate a property that has been owned by the people of the Yukon and is owned still, through the Development Corporation, to provide office space for a department of the government.
What is novel in the Yukon about this arrangement are the financing arrangements and the management of the renovations. But it would not be an arrangement that is considered novel, I suspect, anywhere else in the country.
Mrs. Firth: The question here is not who is more knowledgeable about the law. The question here is that in the Yukon Development Corporation Act and in the regulations, the board has to assume certain responsibilities. People out there want to know if the board members, who make decisions, can be held personally liable for those decisions. That is the question that has to be answered. I am sure the board members would like to know as well.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I doubt very much if there is a great parade of people out there in the streets coming up to the Member opposite every day and saying, I want to know if the board members are personally responsible. I do not believe the Member. I do not believe the Member. Of course the directors know what their responsibilities are. Of course, they know that they are accountable for decisions in the same way directors of any corporation are. But it is also a point, which I have just indicated today, that the ultimate accountability for the arrangements that are made on this project lies with the Cabinet because the client is the government, the original owner of the property is the government, and the Development Corporation is a wholly owned entity of the government and the people of the Yukon Territory.
Question re: Yukon Development Corporation
Mr. Phelps: I am a bit concerned about the degree to which the Cabinet and the Minister on the side opposite enter into decision making of this supposedly independent Development Corporation. I have here the public accounts for 1989-90. At page 129, in dealing with the Yukon Development Corporation, the auditor makes this statement: The corporation has been directed to renovate the building known as Old Yukon College. Does that mean that the Cabinet over there told the Development Corporation that it was going to have to take on this job?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Well, I dispute the notion that it was directed. It is quite clear though that the Development Corporation can be directed by Cabinet. I have the act in front of me and the regulations. I am quite clear about that, because it is ultimately a Crown agency of the government. In this case, let me give you my view on the question that if the board of directors had not wanted to proceed with this project and had expressed that view to me, we would have perhaps looked at another alternative.
Mr. Phelps: Well, I am just rather curious. If there was an overrun in this matter, I take it that the government would be quite happy to use profits from the power corporation to cover the discrepancy?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: That is not contemplated at this time. Again, the Member is, I hope and I pray, dealing with an entirely hypothetical issue, because the stated intention of the corporation is to bring the project in on budget and on time.
Question re: Recycling Centre
Mr. Phillips: My question is for the Minister responsible for the environment. Today I attended a news conference held by the Recycling Centre where they announced that they were unable to continue with their two-cent refund on aluminum cans. The market price for aluminum has dropped dramatically over the past year and the refund can not be sustained. The centre has estimated they will process over one million cans this year. As well, the centre also estimates that they have processed about 300 tonnes of materials that would have otherwise ended up in our landfill sites. That is a very commendable job, but the Centre is now in trouble because of the rising costs.
In light of the fact that we currently do not have any container legislation in place to help recycling and none is expected until late spring of 1991, I would ask the Minister if he would consider some type of bridge funding to help the Recycling Centre to continue its very worthwhile job?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I, too, was at that press conference at the Recycling Centre this afternoon and I, too, am dismayed by the fact that the Recycling Centre can no longer continue to give two cents for each aluminum can; however, I am not at this time contemplating contributing bridge funding, as the Member opposite suggests, to the Recycling Centre for this purpose so they can continue to offer the two cents a can.
As you know, to date, this government, through three different departments - Economic Development, through the community development fund; the Department of Human Resources, through the conservation demonstration projects and Yukon Liquor Corporation - made some substantial contributions to assist the operation of the Recycling Centre.
I think it is time that other agencies, other governments and private businesses should now be making some contributions to assist the Recycling Centre in their endeavours. In the example I used today at the press conference, if the manufacturers and wholesalers of pop assumed some responsibility to recycle the container that contains their product, the Recycling Centre would be a lot better off. If they would just contribute one penny for every can of pop that was sold here in the Yukon, they would be able to contribute to the Recycling Centre something in the neighbourhood of $50,000 to $60,000 dollars a year.
I think that is the kind of commitment that the Recycling Centre is looking for from the private sector and from the municipal governments in order to continue their operations.
Mr. Phillips: We should all be reminded that it was this government that got the Recycling Centre off the ground, and I commend them for that. We now find out that the funding that was provided to them is inadequate to carry out the job they are doing.
All I am asking the Minister to do, until such time as we have container legislation in place, is to provide some type of bridge funding or some type of arrangement with the Recycling Centre, so that they can keep picking up these cans and paying, to the volunteer groups or families who bring the cans in there, at least two cents for each can they return.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I would like to thank the Member for his compliments to the government for getting the recycling movement started in this territory.
I would like to reiterate that I think, at this time, that the government has contributed its fair share. We are now looking to municipal governments, other agencies and the private sector to further advance recycling in the territory. I am looking forward to that commitment.
Mr. Phillips: It is a shame that we got them into the recycling business and now are not prepared to follow through with it.
Short-term funding is not the total answer for the Recycling Centre. Will the governments new environment act consider the cost of recycling and provide for more long-term funding and planning for this very worthwhile centre? When can we expect to deal with this act?
Hon. Mr. Webster: The environment act will indeed deal with the whole matter of waste management. In that section, we will be looking at deposit systems for containers. Through that process, the Recycling Centre will receive some funding and support.
Question re: Tagish Kwan Corporation, Centennial Street project
Mr. Nordling: I have a follow up with respect to the Tagish Kwan Corporation.
In response to questions last week, the Minister told us that the business development fund loan to Tagish Kwan amounted to $349,000 and was dispersed through the Royal Bank and the government recovered $204,000.
We know what happened, so the Minister does not have to repeat all of that. What I am interested in is why it happened. I would like to know why the Ministers confidence in May was not justified?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Our confidence was somewhat shaken because the Tagish Kwan Corporation, which was ostensibly having difficulty with the Centennial Street project, appeared to also be having trouble with most or all of their operations, which caused the corporation to have difficulty remaining afloat. Consequently, because this information was not communicated to the officers of either the Royal Bank or this government, both the bank and the government assumed that we were dealing exclusively with one project, which was to be purchased by a very reputable organization, the Yukon Housing Corporation.
It appears that the Tagish Kwan Corporation subsequently had difficulties that it could not resurrect itself from and, ultimately, went bankrupt. Consequently, it was unable to complete the Centennial Street project, in particular, for which we had provided loan funding.
Mr. Nordling: My understanding was that the point of the loan was for bridge financing, to enable Tagish Kwan to complete the building and receive the $1.8 million from Yukon Housing. When it made the loan, did the government know that $400,000 would not be enough to complete the building and to pay the other players in the project?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The information we received was that the $400,000 commitment we had made, along with an additional $200,000 commitment beyond the original $800,000 commitment by the Royal Bank, were sufficient to finish the project. These are approximate figures. We were given good reason to believe that funding would be sufficient to complete the project.
Mr. Nordling: Did the government see books and records to justify the loan? If they did, what went wrong? Is the government doing any investigation into where the money went?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Inasmuch as there are bankruptcy proceedings going on now, which will expose some of the issues the Member is addressing, that information will become more clear to persons who had a relationship with Tagish Kwan on the Centennial project, as well as those businesses and contractors who had a relationship with Tagish Kwan through other business dealings in the City of Whitehorse.
My understanding is that the business development office was given what it considered to be normally required information under the circumstances, for the purposes of approving a loan for this project. At the time, it was satisfied that the funding would be sufficient to complete the project, along with the funding of the Royal Bank.
Question re: Helicopter contract, Kluane area
Mr. Lang: I have a question for the Minister of Renewable Resources that has to do with a question raised by the MLA for Kluane on housing in the community of Haines Junction. Yesterday, on page 219 of Hansard, the Minister stated, All I can say is there are two reasons why our department decided to rent a house at $500 a month to accommodate the entire nine-person crew. One, of course, is optimal efficiency of our operations and the other is to save money.
It is my understanding that this is a private contract issued through the Department of Renewable Resources. When did the Department of Renewable Resources, or other government departments, take it upon themselves to provide housing for private contractors in communities when there is such a thing as hotel space available?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I think the Member must appreciate that along with the individuals in the private sector who were successful bidders on this contract, the nine-person crew involves members of our department. We have to work together and a house is an ideal site where they can plan their operations for the day and review them at the end of the day. This is the reason for renting a house for the one-month period.
Mr. Lang: That begs a question in itself: nine adults in one house? Is the Minister saying that is government policy, where possible where we have a combination of government employees plus private sector that up to nine, 10 or 12 adults should be boarded in one home, as opposed to renting hotel space in these small communities?
Hon. Mr. Webster: The policy of the government is to provide adequate accommodations for our staff who are working on a project out of town. I have not, to the best of my knowledge, received any complaints from staff members, nor the individuals who have been hired for the contract, about the housing arrangements. I do assume they do have adequate housing. That is our policy.
Mr. Lang: I have to question how this ties into the principle of decentralization and support within the small communities. Why was hotel accommodation not sought for employees, and specifically the private contractors, rather that using government housing? What the Minister is effectively saying is that we should not be using the hotels in these small communities if we can rent a house, and a government house on top of it.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I gave that response yesterday to that very same question, saying that it contributes to a greater efficiency of our operations and also saved us money. As a government we have a responsibility to get the best value for our dollar and make the best possible use of taxpayers money. This decision to rent a house at $500 a month to accommodate the entire nine-person crew is compatible with that objective, with that responsibility.
Mr. Brewster: My question is for the Minister of Renewable Resources. If the department needed this housing so bad, then why did they go around and get quotes from the hotels?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I can only imagine that they were trying to determine what would be the best value for the dollar.
Mr. Brewster: In Hansard on November 14, on page 219, the Minister stated: I am not aware of the problem that the Member opposite has just described, but I will look into the situation and report back to him.
He had the exact figures and the exact facts. How did he get this information without leaving the Legislature?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I am sorry. I do not have a clue what the Member is talking about. I seek some clarification from the Member so I can properly answer his question.
Mr. Brewster: I will repeat my question. In Hansard on November 14, page 219, the Minister stated: I am not aware of the problem that the Member opposite just described, but I will look into the situation and report back to him.
My second supplementary question was: the Minister had the exact housing facts and everything else. How did the Minister have this information when he did not have it in the first supplementary?
Hon. Mr. Webster: In response to the first question raised by the Member for Kluane, when I said that I was not aware of the problem as the Member opposite had just described, I was referring to his question concerning the helicopter firm in Haines Junction, which lost the contract because it bid $71 more than the bid of the Whitehorse firm. He asked me why a generator had to be brought from Whitehorse to heat the helicopter. At that time, I said I had no knowledge of the reasons why, and I would get back to him. It had nothing to do with the housing contract.
Question re: Helicopter contract, Kluane area
Mr. Brewster: It would not have had anything to do with the fact I brought up that a young lady had phoned and talked to him the day before, would it?
Hon. Mr. Webster: A young lady did call me up the day before and related to me her concerns about the housing contract, but made no mention whatsoever about the helicopter contract. I am sorry. I do not have any information on the helicopter contract, which the Member for Kluane raised in his first question yesterday.
Mr. Phelps: I did not want to leave this without having one kick at the can, if you do not mind. What I am confused about this: we are talking about decentralization; we have a private sector outfit living in a rural community - the pilot lives there, they have their base there, they have the helicopter there - and they lose the contract for $71. Yet the government, under the table, unrelated to the contract that was bid, provided free housing for the outside contractor, provided free heat for the helicopter and provided all the goodies in order that the local businessperson established in Haines Junction will not get the contract. Surely this is inconsistent with the spirit and the intent of decentralization and encouraging the small communities to have local businesses that can flourish and grow, is it not?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I indicated yesterday that I would get back to the Member opposite with information on his question. I will endeavour to do that.
Question re: Marsh Lake fire protection
Mr. Phelps: I would like a new question, Mr. Speaker. I anticipated that answer.
I promised my good friend, the Minister for Community and Transportation Services, that I would ask him some questions about fire protection at Marsh Lake.
In October of 1988, at the community club fall general meeting at Marsh Lake, the fire marshall and his department promised level 2 fire protection facilities for the Judas Creek/Constabulary Beach area by October of 1991. Since that time, the community has done its part. It has organized. It has fixed up a garage. It has trained people. Now it is being told that the government is going to renege on its part of the bargain, that the government will not be providing the level 2 services by next October. I would like to know whether or not the Minister will look into this and ensure that the government lives up to its word and provides the services within the time frame that was originally promised?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I have had an opportunity, very briefly this morning, to apprise myself of the fire protection situation surrounding Marsh Lake, on the Members notice. I am not aware that there is any particular abrogation of commitment or responsibility. Any commitment that has been made with respect to fire protection has been delivered to date. The Member is aware that the fire department has been provided substantial equipment and support with respect to the location of the equipment, including the fire truck. The community has been offered another fire truck. Any commitments that have been made to the community have been made contingent on financing availability and it is my assurance to the Member that as we have funds available, we will proceed with the construction of a firehall, the upgrading of the fire truck and will continue to provide the necessary equipment for adequate fire protection.
Mr. Phelps: I was at the meeting in October, 1988. There was a pretty firm commitment made to the residents. There were some 76 people at the meeting. The commitment was that facilities would be provided within three years. That brings us to October of next year.
In the interim, they have trained, they have had a garage donated for a three-year period only, which has been insulated at the cost of the owner of the garage, who needs the garage back. In view of the fact that all these moves have been made by the residents out there in anticipation of October 1991, it is extremely unfair that the government is now trying to cry poverty and not deliver its end of the bargain.
Will the Minister look into this and see whether or not an insulated garage can be provided within the time that was promised to these people?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am not aware of it, but I will look into the apparent or alleged commitment made at some point in 1988. I am not familiar with that. I am familiar with the commitments that have been made to the community during my participation in the portfolio. I believe the community has very recently been advised by my deputy minister that we have budgeted for the design and planning for a new firehall into the next budget year. The plan is to construct that in a subsequent year and provide another new truck in the third year following that.
All of that is contingent upon financing available. Those are the commitments that I subscribe to. Those are the ones I will honour, and those are the ones I will deliver. Everything is contingent upon financing availability, but that does not preclude that adequate resources have been provided to the community. If there are any specific resources that are not being provided, the Member can raise the matter with me.
Mr. Phelps: For openers, we do not have a garage. These people pay a lot more in property taxes than most communities in the Yukon do. They get precious little for their dollar, and they do not ask for much.
Once again, I will ask for the Minister to review this with his officials and live up to the bargain, and provide them with what was promised them in October of 1988.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member has to understand that I have undertaken to look into the promise of 1988. It is before my time, and it was not made by me. I am sure it was not made by the previous Minister.
Nevertheless, I will undertake to investigate that commitment. In the meantime, the community does have a garage. It has an old fire truck. We have offered another one in the past few weeks, and we have prepared for the eventuality of a new facility by putting into the next budget the necessary funds to plan and design a new fire hall.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now lapsed. We will now proceed with Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS
Mr. Phillips: I would like to call the attention of all Members to the 20 young women and men who have arrived in the gallery, along with their teacher from F.H. Collins, Mr. Deuling. They are here today to observe us on our best behaviour and to observe how the Legislature works. We would like to thank them for coming to visit us here today.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Government House Leader that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
Speaker leaves the chair
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Chair: I will now call the Committee of the Whole to order. We will now recess.
Bill No. 15 - Second Appropriation Act, 1990-91 - continued
Department of Education
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The operation and maintenance estimates before us today reflect the changes in the Yukons educational system in the particular areas of teacher staffing, educational reform and the conversion of Yukon College to an institution independent of the Yukon government.
These are changes that were anticipated but could not be budgeted for in the 1990-91 main estimates for reasons I will give you shortly.
With respect to the capital estimates, the Department of Education is requesting a revote of funds already approved by the House in last years estimates towards seven major and 21 minor projects.
A total of $1,052,000 is identified for the operation and maintenance estimates. Of this amount, $812,000 is for expenditures that are the responsibility of the public schools branch, while the remaining $240,000 is under the jurisdiction of advanced education.
Almost half of the operation and maintenance funds requested - $475,000 - is required to cover the expenditures associated with 14-1/4 new teacher positions. These positions were established with the staffing formula used by the public schools branch, a formula that determines teacher allocation in response to student enrollment and several other pertinent factors.
While every effort is made by the department to forecast fall enrollment figures for the purpose of providing proper staffing, this is an area that really cannot be resolved until September actually rolls around.
An additional $175,000 is requested for five and one-half person years, which have been established to allow principals more time for administration. It is called admin-time in teaching circles. This is an important concern for principals, who have seen their administrative workload increase over the years without a corresponding increase in resources.
As you know, the implementation of the Education Act is now underway, and an important element of the act is school-based management. It is therefore important that we allow the principals to perform the position of chief educational officer in accordance with the legislation.
The implementation of the Education Act, or education reform, has incurred some additional costs, which this supplementary addresses. There is $12,000 requested for personnel costs associated with providing a secretary for the Education Appeal Tribunal, which will hear appeals on such matters as determining special needs, approving a locally-developed curriculum and student suspensions. The tribunal is independent of the government and requires its own office and secretary to access expertise.
There is $126,000 requested for education reform costs, which are being incurred directly by the department. Of this total, $32,000 is budgeted for non-personnel costs for the Education Appeal Tribunal itself; $8,200 is budgeted for the secretary-treasurer costs for school councils. These will have members formally elected on February 4. A little more than one months expenses are covered by this. There is $57,000 budgeted for the development of new curriculum initiatives.
There is $14,000, or almost $15,000, budgeted for honoraria for school council members for meetings held after the proclamation of the Education Act and $13,600 is budgeted for local and regional printing expenses for school committee and school council members. There is $23,000 requested for the Yukon Education Council and the Yukon school committees and councils so that they can undertake their own training initiatives.
Yukon College converted to an independent institution on January 1 of this year, as Members know. At the start of the last fiscal year, negotiations were still underway on the transfer of leases for college space and for services provided by several Yukon government departments to the college while it was still part of the Department of Education, advanced education branch. These negotiations only concluded this summer so it is with these supplementaries that we can arrange for the transfer of the appropriate funds for the first time.
There is $100,000 requested for expenditures associated with leases once managed by the Department of Government Services in the communities for college space. There is $140,000 requested for expenditures associated with services once provided by other government departments to the college. There is $20,000 from the Department of Finance for finance services, $108,000 from the Public Service Commission for personnel services, $5,000 from the Department of Justice and $6,700 from the Executive Council office. These costs have been taken into account in the grant to Yukon College outlined in the main estimates for next year.
With respect to the Department of Educations capital supplementary estimates, the department is requesting a revote of $12.9 million to cover capital expenditures to be incurred during the current fiscal year on projects approved by the House in last years estimates. These projects could not be completed for a variety of reasons, which we can explain in detail later.
The largest of these projects is the Yukon Arts Centre, for which the department requests a total of $4.9 million: a revote of $3.5 million and $1.4 million in new money. Construction, as Members know, is now underway with the completion scheduled for December of next year.
The new student residence in Whitehorse, the Gazoodsa residence, opened in time for the 1990-91 school year, despite going to tender in February. The design work for this facility took longer than expected as the department wanted to ensure representatives from the feeder communities were fully consulted in the process. The department requests a revote of $1.7 million for this project.
A revote of $639,000 is requested toward the development of the new urban elementary school at Granger.
The school will respond to the general increase in enrollment in Whitehorse, particularly the increase in McIntyre and Granger neighbourhoods, and like the student residence, the project obviously relies on consultation with the stakeholders, in this case representatives of the Hillcrest and Granger subdivisions, the Kwanlin Dun Band, the City of Whitehorse and the Principals and Vice Principals Association. Currently, the department is in the final approval stages of the design with the project expected to go to tender this coming February.
A revote of $2.2 million, almost $2.3 million, is requested for upgrades to the Watson Lake high school. Phase 1, the gymnasium, is now complete, and phase 2, the new wing of the school, demolition of the existing school and construction of the community campus facility are scheduled for tender before Christmas.
A revote of $500,000 is requested for the new Yukon College campus in Old Crow. The community was consulted extensively throughout the design process, and the project itself is expected to be completed early in the new year.
A revote of $350,000 is requested for capital expenditures for the Whitehorse campus of Yukon College. Most of this money is to go toward the final soft landscaping of this site. The construction was carried out by a local firm and completed on October 10.
A revote of $1.9 million is requested for the construction of the new Yukon Archives facility. This multi-year project was designed by CJP Architects with Klondike Enterprises as the general contractor. The $4.4 million facility was completed in September and officially opened on October 26, 1990. Those of you who were there will remember the opening.
A revote of $616,000 is requested for 21 community projects, which are of a more minor nature than the projects already mentioned. This includes such items as $43,000 for renovations and expansion, work on the Whitehorse Public Library, $17,000 for office equipment for community campuses of the Yukon College, and $51,000 for the ongoing enhancement of physical access for disabled students in Yukon schools.
Those are some opening comments. I have a few things I would like to provide to Members for their information that are generally provided this time of year. The first one is the pupil/teacher ratio. Members will note, thanks to the efforts of Apple Computers, the information is more graphically demonstrated in this handout than it has been in the past.
The second item is one on CTBS scores that the Member for Riverdale South requested. I would like to have a discussion about that, before we get into discussions about what the CTBS scores mean. It is very important that we understand how to read these scores. It would be a terrible occurrence to have them misinterpreted.
There is also a handout with respect to the college. I have asked the college to pull together information that Members may find useful. First, there is an organization chart of the college for 1989-90 and for one 1990-91. Second, there are statistics. We copied the statistics from 1990-91, which Members have seen in the main estimates book, and we have asked the college for statistics for 1991-92.
Thirdly, we have extracted a financial statement from their audited statement for 1990 and have projected information in a similar format for 1991 on finances by program. Fourthly, there is a copy of the annual report, which I had delivered to me a short time ago, but which has now been actually printed. I have a copy here, but I will be officially tabling the report on Monday or Tuesday. The copy quality is fairly good, so Members should have no problems reading the annual report or the report on the examination of accounts and financial statements for the college up to June 30, 1990.
As well, for Members information, I have included a copy of the 1990-91 calendar and the continuing education calendar for the college, in case they do not already have one. They may want to keep this.
Chair: Is there any general debate?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The final item is a list of completed contracts for the department from April until October, and I cannot vouch for its accuracy. I have only one copy, so I will deliver it to the critic.
I suspected that Members opposite would still find a reason to criticize it, even with all the work it took to put it together. For those Members who have a practiced eye at reading documents such as this in Education, they will be able to glean the information immediately from the documents, because they are simply updates of things that have been provided in the past, except for the CTBS scores, of course.
That is enough for the time being.
Chair: Is there any further general debate on the Department of Education?
Mr. Devries: I understood the Minister was going to explain the CTBS procedure to us first? Is that what he said?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I asked the department to provide an explanation of CTBS scores for the information of Members, because it is very important that the test scores be put in the appropriate context. There are problems interpreting CTBS scores without due reference to the context in which they are determined.
The most cogent explanation of how much skepticism someone should have about CTBS is found on page 3 of the document I passed out, which is a quote from the CTBS manual. It demonstrates that some factors can dramatically skew test results as a result of things such as the performance of a couple of students in a small class. If you look at the third paragraph, that is what the reference is all about.
There are also some concerns with respect to how the CTBS results are interpreted in the context of a childs development through school. It is not uncommon for a child or group of children to have slower or faster phases in their development. It is a grave mistake to stigmatize them on the basis of their performance in any particular year or grade performance or even their personal performance on the basis of one reading. Clearly, that would not be fair and would certainly lead one to believe that a person did not have faith in the concept of continuous progress, meaning that different students have varying degrees of aptitude at varying stages of their school lives. They will consequently show up differently on CTBS scores year to year and not show a gradual rate of progress.
There are many things that can skew the results. There is the attitude of the students at the time the tests are made. They are just snapshots, so that if a student has not had any lunch or is feeling particularly ornery that day, he or she may skew unnaturally the test results, not only for that student, but also for the whole class if it is small.
The experts, inasmuch as there are experts in the testing and special education fields, would ask that people who do try to interpret CTBS scores be careful about doing so and remember that stigmatizing students is a self-fulfilling prophecy in many cases.
If they are branded low performers, they will live up to that brand and consequently will not perform for years and years to come. There was an interesting article that I was given to read recently about standardized testing in the United States, which is based on the same model. What the Department of Education did - or the equivalent of the Department of Education in California schools did - was to inform the teachers and the school administration that the students that they were about to receive were particularly high achievers and that they had high IQ rates. The teachers were told that these students would do particularly well, no matter what they did, because they had a high IQ.
For the information of the Members, that information provided to the teachers was in fact fabricated; it was false information but it was basically a test case to see what would happen if the teachers assumed that the students were performing well. Surprisingly, the students, as a class, lived up to the expectation levels that the teachers had of them. Teachers went in thinking the students were bright and capable and the students, operating in that environment with that kind of encouragement and that kind of faith in their own natural abilities, in fact performed to the expectations of the teachers. People were surprised at the end of the year that the students were considered, in fact, top performers, rather than low-average achievers. And so, that is basically the effect of the stigmatization that can happen when people are labeled as being either high or low achievers.
Having said that, it is important to note that CTBS scores, along with teacher evaluations, along with other information that is gleaned, and along with the other testing that is done, can provide useful indicators as to the performance of some schools over time. All of this information taken together, in context, and interpreted by people who know what they are talking about, can be a useful indicator - as one indicator - of performance, and also give a sense of where our efforts should be made in the area of special education or the provision of certain resources.
So, that is the short answer. The longer answer and the better answer is contained in the memo from the department that I have passed around.
Mr. Devries: I found this interesting. Bob Sharp explained it once at a school committee meeting and he was fairly familiar with the procedure here. So, from the results of the CTBS tests, does the Minister have any concern? Have the results raised any concerns in any particular schools? Is the Department of Education quite happy with the results from last year?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The results over time clearly have shown, and I am satisfied, that improvement is being made overall in the system. The Yukon school system, on average overall, performs above national average. Having said that though, if one were to take the scores, put them in context, there are schools that generally perform a whole lot better than do other schools. There are a variety of reasons for that.
I do not want anybody reading Hansard to take what I am saying out of context, but if one were to just take the CTBS scores alone, one could see that there is one school in the territory that is performing in the 99 percentile and there is one school in the territory that is performing at the one percentile. Obviously we run the full range of scores just on that basis.
As I say, there are a number of caveats, but I think it is useful to note that the system itself demonstrates that there are student populations performing well in the territory in a school and there are student populations not meeting expectations. There are many different factors one must take into account in assessing a performance: the level of expectation, the expectation by the community, the socio-economic circumstances of the community and of the families, the degree to which the families experience social problems, the degree to which the school system itself is responding to community cultural needs, or function sometimes, as well as many different factors.
Clearly, for the trained person, CTBS scores and other factors and indices are useful indicators in assessing where resources ought to be placed so that long-term performance of some school populations can improve. So there can be times when the low performance has something to do with things the school or system itself can control.
It is up to the Department of Education and other social agencies to try and improve the performance of that school population over time, recognizing that sometimes it may even take a generation or two.
Mr. Lang: I think there is some cause for concern here. I appreciate the Minister citing the other variables outside the classroom affecting how the students perform in the schools. Some of the numbers on the chart that the Member for Riverdale South has are quite alarming, considering we are on the one percentile. I understand this is in comparison with the rest of the country. That is really doing an injustice to those students in those classes if they are that low.
I would like to know from the Minister what steps are being taken to ensure these students are going to be getting a better education than we are obviously providing now.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I will say this as preface to all my remarks, since the Member opposite does not want to do it, that it is absolutely essential that there is an understanding of what the CTBS is measuring before we draw any generalizations. I truly believe that.
In some cases these test results and others demonstrate that there is a chronic problem in some schools in this territory that are long standing and may take generations to improve. There is one particular school in this territory that has been in the lowest percentile for a long period of time. I will tell the Member which school it is later.
There are certain factors one has to take into account to understand why the performance is not as good as can be expected. One is that the school can play a role in improving the performance, but there is a community problem to be addressed as well that cannot be resolved entirely by the school system and teachers. These are societal factors.
There have been serious alcohol problems and serious social problems that affect the family life, and the family life in turn, because it is dysfunctional, does not provide sufficient support to the children to encourage a positive attitude about education and to cause them to perform well at school. There may be in this case - and it is true in this case - a fair number of students who suffer from learning disabilities as a result of many problems, including the problem caused by alcohol abuse by parents.
Having said that, there are things the system can do to improve the performance of those schools that are performing low, as determined by a conglomeration of indices. First of all, there should be a recognition that some schools in native communities do not have sufficient cultural orientation to cause those schools to be as relevant to those communities as they should be and to provide for the aspirations of those students in that community.
I think the school system should evolve to respond more to the needs of that community than it has in the past. I believe the system is doing that and can expound at a greater length if the Member wishes.
Another thing that the school system can do is to provide more resources to the school in terms of more teachers, or people who are practiced in special education. In this particular school that is definitely the case and has been the case for a considerable period of time.
There are other things in terms of proper assessments of students that can be done by the school system. Then, in conjunction with other social service agencies, a general healing of the community can take place that will allow the system to perform better.
We have two schools in the territory, currently, where we are providing less in the way of resources to support school A than we are to support school B. Things like student/teacher ratios can be higher in school A than in school B. The support services can be less in school A than in school B. But school A is performing much better. In fact, in this case it is performing the highest in the entire country.
The reason the greater support services are provided to school B is because of all the other factors that one must take into account because the children are not performing well, are not performing to expectations or are not performing well in comparison to other students in the country. In the case of the Yukon education system, we generally put in more resources as a result of indices like this and other analysis that is done to support those schools that really not performing to expectations. But we have to understand that the education system itself cannot be solely responsible for improving performance because it is also a societal problem. If there are family breakdowns in a community, which is just another symptom of other social problems, then that can very much affect the performance of a school.
I think it is fair to say that if, in general, the children come from a supportive family, a family that believes in education and learning - not only an education and learning but the education system itself that they are supporting through their tax dollar - then those children do better than in a community where there are a large number of dysfunctional families, for a variety of reasons.
I hope that explains why some schools can meet expectations while other schools are not meeting the expectations that we have for them.
Mr. Lang: I am sympathetic to some of the statements that the Minister has made. I understand the problem and I would be the last to say that it is easy but it really disturbs me when you take a look at the results here and you see, at the grade 3 level, six schools performing below the 50 percentile - not one but six - out of some 26 schools. Actually, we do not have 26 elementary level schools, do we? So we have over one-third performing below the 50 percentile level. That should be a cause for concern for every Member in this House. It is a very serious situation. I fully understand that the Minister says it is a snapshot and it can be distorted to some degree. If there are 10 students and two are ill and one is not feeling well, then all of a sudden your numbers are brought down.
If you take a look at what we have, it is something we should be addressing. In one case, we scored in the one percentile. That is alarming. I will come to the defence of all Members in this House in that we have done everything we possibly can to provide resources in all the communities. I agree with the Minister that there are more resources in some communities than in others. In the populated centres where the pupil/teacher ratio is quite a bit higher than in the smaller communities, there is quite a bit of difference.
This is really a disincentive for a parent to believe in the concept of decentralization. If you are a parent who has two or three children who will be sent to a school where it has been revealed that the percentile is as low as some of these are, you would be very concerned about what kind of education your children were going to get and what the final result would be.
I will accept the Ministers philosophical dissertation he gave here, but what concrete steps are being recommended to him by the department, with respect to the revelations that have come before this House? What steps are we taking to move on school N, for example? What physical steps are being taken to find out how we are going to improve this situation, over and above what we already have done? Are we doing some reorganizing within the department? Are we asking for different qualifications in the teaching staff? What steps are being taken?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: In looking at these scores, one first of all has to understand the limitations associated with these scores. I am not worrying about whether or not some child has a stomach ache. There are things that do skew the scores and do suggest that one should not draw generalizations from the scores.
There is also the recognition that some groups of students, as well as individual students, perform in varying degrees throughout their lives. They may perform low in elementary years; they may perform higher in secondary years. Just because they are performing lower during a certain time does not necessarily mean they are not going to perform really well in the higher grades of the education system.
Having said that, if one were to take a look at the schools that are scoring lower than others, one could easily draw one generalization, and that is that there are significant social problems in those communities. It would not be wise for a parent to assume that, because the school their child goes to has low CTBS scores, somehow that school is going to provide a disservice to their child, if you just take CTBS with all the qualifications involved, although I recognize the emotional tendency to draw this conclusion.
But even that, I would submit, and let us give it a 10 percent difference, is because the teaching system is as competent in that school as in others and may even be better. I know of some schools here where the school scores are below the national average yet there are graduates from those schools who are performing well above that national average and there are individuals in the classes who score high. Some of these classes may have three students, say in grade three; it may have one or two students performing well and one who is experiencing severe problems. That class will easily score below the national average. Taken by themselves, from an uninformed perspective, it is wrong to draw many conclusions, if any, from these scores.
In terms of the schools that are experiencing problems, there are efforts being made to support those schools, and historically there have been efforts made to support those schools. Even before I was Minister of Education, these same calculations were going on and the same efforts were being made to improve the student/teacher ratio to give the students more personal time. Hiring teachers who do not simply have general teacher training or are fresh out of school but who have a specialty in special education is often desirable. Sometimes it is desirable to hire teachers with a specialty in language arts, as many of the students start in the school system with low proficiency in any language skills. Those sorts of things are being done.
Some of these schools have what I will call a sense of cultural dislocation. They do not feel that the school system itself is something that is natural to them or a part of them. Over time, and especially since I have been Minister, there has been some acceleration of this activity, but even before I became Minister there were efforts made to make the schools more culturally attuned to the community in which they were placed. It is hoped that not only would the students get a better appreciation of what is going on in the classroom and recognize terms of references that are familiar to them and consequently learn faster, but that also their parents would have a greater respect for a school system in which, in many cases, they personally had a bad experience, or perceived that they had a very bad experience with it and did not do well, felt intimidated by it, or whatever.
Gradually, over time, there has been a drawing in to the actual operations of the school, and the policy decision making in the school is drawing in the parents. So again we started off with the development of school committees, and with that, an enhanced role for the school committees, more respect for the school committees. Then there will be school councils, ultimately, in 1990, so that parents themselves can feel part of the school system and support the school system.
In schools that do well - for example there is a school in the 99th percentile and some Members may have a suspicion what it is - there is tremendous esprit de corps. There is tremendous school support in that school - not only individually, as parents to children, but collectively as school council to school system. Everybody feels good about what is going on; everybody likes what is going on. There is support at home and support at school. The students respond well to those circumstances. Children do not come to school hungry. Children come to school ready to go, ready to learn. There are lower instances of students with learning disabilities, as it happens, and consequently, the teachers deal with a more homogeneous group of students and are more eager than some other teachers in the school system who may have half a dozen students in their class who are experiencing trouble. There may be students in another class who are experiencing extreme trouble. In those classes, we provide more support through teacher aides, lower student/teacher ratios, et cetera. That is how the system tries to help out the classroom teacher. The classroom teacher in that school that is doing particularly well feels really good about the job because there is a lot of response coming from the class, so the teacher performs really well, and feels good about what they are doing. Success breeds success in situations like that.
Overall, in all the schools, there are many good teachers who are labouring away at very difficult situations. The reason the situation is difficult is because of the society in which the school is placed. The school cannot be seen as a satellite where there can be a nice protected warm environment, and where everybody performs well, and it is completely isolated from what is happening 19 hours a day outside the school.
During the Education Act review process over the last three or four years, it became patently obvious that it is inappropriate to view the education system as the place where your children are educated, so the parents can simply contract out the education to the professionals and pay no attention to the school system. Those children do not do well, or do not do as well as can be expected. There has to be support at home and support for the school. There has to be a more integrated relationship between the two. This means that if there is dysfunction in the community, there are going to be problems in the school. It is a fact of life.
Over time, we can improve the scores. I do not want to draw generalizations about the figures improving a little bit over time, but my own view is that the system is improving and encouraging better results. If we are going to talk about significantly improving those schools that are really performing poorly, we are talking about problems that were generations in the making. They may be a generation in improving to national or Yukon standards or, at least, to the expectations of the parents.
Mr. Devries: Having been on the school committee and having looked at some of these CTBS scores over the years, and once or twice having had the opportunity of seeing the names attached, I can appreciate the Minister saying that one of the main aspects of education is the parents taking an interest in the childrens education. Actually, I have been on the school committee long enough that I only have to look at this and I can tell at a glance which one is the Watson Lake school.
I find the grade 8 scores very interesting, where we have 11 out of 14 below the 50 percent percentile and a considerable amount below it. I realize this is when boys start to notice girls and everything else, and they kind of lose interest in their education. It is surprising that you have three schools there with a very high percentile and other schools with substantially lower ones. Has the Department of Education done any comparisons there, even though the Minister said we should not really compare that much, but have they done an analysis on why those three schools are successful in the Grade 8 area and why the other ones are so unsuccessful?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am going to be treading on very dangerous ground, and I am sure I will be given a tongue lashing by people in the department who do not appreciate ignorance being expressed on the public record. I will put the question to the department, with respect to the junior high grades, and ask them for a complete answer, rather than engaging in speculation as to what it is they assess the situation to be.
Mrs. Firth: I would like to clarify that I am reading the graph correctly. The schools are all A, B, C to W, and the grades go along and represent the grades in the same schools. Is that correct? The Minister is nodding his head yes.
I recognize all the things the Minister was saying, and accept what he said about how the CTBS scores are read. I find there is quite a fluctuation in some of the schools where the percentile is very low one year and very high the next year. As the critic said, you can pick out some of the schools, which I can do myself; therefore, I know why there is the change.
There are questions I do not have answers for when I read the graph. Why would there be such a great fluctuation in some of the percentiles? Why would we have one school go from 24 percent and, all of a sudden, zoom way up to the 98 and 99 percentile and, then, go from 91 down to 57 and 55 percent, and then level out at about a 76 percentile? Is there a great turnover of students? Has the department identified that that is what the problem is? In some of the communities, I would imagine the students would remain fairly constant, and there would be a more constant reading of performance.
I will let the Minister answer that first.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: That was a question that I think I put some years ago, in reviewing CTBS scores, and certainly I have had more than my share of lecturing by people who know what they are talking about, so that I am now well-practiced in not opening my mouth until I am certain I know what I am talking about with respect to this matter. My understanding is this: the sample sizes for Yukon schools are very, very small. It is quite unlike some other schools for which the sample sizes can be quite large. When you have large schools with maybe a half dozen grade 3 classes and a half dozen grade 4 classes, you do not tend to get the same fluctuation that you will get with the very small sample sizes that we are referring to. It can be the introduction of a student who is doing very well or who is experiencing difficulties and then the removal of that student from the school. It can be the result of students performing well in some years and not performing well in others.
I, myself, for example, had some extremely good years in public school and some pretty lousy years in public school. I am sure that if I had been in a school sample size that is the size of the average Yukon classroom, I would have been contributing toward causing the scores to fluctuate dramatically. That, I think, is the primary reason for the wild performance fluctuations that the Member is referring to.
Mrs. Firth: I want the Member to understand fully that I appreciate his comments this afternoon, and I understand the message that he is trying to get through about how critical the importance is that is put on the CTBS scores and the interpretation that is applied to them. I understand that. I do not think the lecturing of Ministers by the Department of Education officials - although they have changed - regarding this process is any different now than it was eight or 10 years ago, so I know what he is talking about and I understand it completely.
The reason I asked the Minister for this information is because I have parents tell me that they want to know what the CTBS scores of their kids are because they like to use it more as an individual aid, so that they can assess how their child is progressing and assess what particular skills they have. I notice that in the explanation it says that it is often used initially to determine the strengths and weaknesses of the pupil, and parents like to make an evaluation as their children go to through the grades.
Do parents still have access to the CBTS scores if they request to see their childs CTBS scores? Do they have that access on a regular basis?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am assuming that they do. I have not heard anything to the contrary. I will check that; I am hoping somebody is paying attention to the discussion here. I believe they provide that information, but also in the context of the teachers general assessment of how a child is doing so there is more of a narrative, a general discussion about performance rather than a stark score.
It also puts into context not only how the child is generally doing in that particular term, but how the child is doing overall. Quite often in the elementary grades, the greatest emphasis is put on work habits and effort more than on actual accomplishments, because if the work habits and effort are continued and are well-established, they will cause that child to perform much better than they would otherwise perform if they simply did well in school but had poor work habits.
I will check that particular question for the Member.
Mrs. Firth: I would appreciate the Minister getting back to me with that. I think a lot of parents like to have some substantial measure of performance, if the Minister knows what I am saying, of how their child is doing. It is fine to have a report card come home. Parents complain to me that they do not understand what the report card means anymore. There are more words and commentary on it than real measure of whether the child is getting an A, B or C. I think this is one reason they are interested in this.
The second reason they are particularly interested is that they get to do a measurement on a national level. Of course, parents are very concerned about the quality of education here and how the children here are holding up when it comes to being competitive at a national level. I would like to be able to tell parents that they do have access to the CTBS scores, and I will be able to do that after the Minister finds out for me.
The second concern I wanted to address was whether school councils are given any particular information about the CTBS scores? I think it would be a good idea if they were provided with this information, because there is a lot of misinformation out there with people interpreting things in different ways. I think it would help parents better understand what the department is trying to do so there is a more positive attitude that they are really trying to help, not hide things and hinder. I would like to ask if councils do have access to that and, if not, I would suggest that perhaps they be provided with that kind of information so we can all better understand how our children are doing in the Yukon school system.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I can understand the concerns of parents who receive report cards and I share this concern from time to time with my own children. The child comes home with a report card, and you open it up and expect to see what you saw 20 or 30 years ago, which is a list of marks: A, B, C, D, E and sometimes, unfortunately for some people, F.
In the years past, the teacher would assess things like effort, attentiveness, punctuality, being nice to one another, not being a bully, and all those things, and very subjectively roll them into a grade. Even in subjects like arithmetic, rather than toting up test marks, they would include things like whether this person has computation skills, or a sense of proper direction in math or in numeracy, which means they recognize numbers and words well. They would roll all these into a letter grade. Now, parents are receiving a more thorough explanation of what the teachers real thoughts are about the child for the subjective decisions made to roll all those factors up into the letter grade.
It is an interesting issue. Probably more than anyone else, I understand exactly what is happening now with respect to the way report cards are issued in the elementary grades. At the same time, as a parent, I feel some anxiety that I do not know how the child is doing in comparison with other children, or in comparison with territorial or national standards. There is still an element of that anxiety, even for someone versed in the rationale for the narrative type of report cards versus the letter grade type. I think this debate will ebb and flow as time goes by.
If parents spoke with a teacher for half an hour on how their child was doing, and asked that teacher to roll it up into a letter grade, I am certain the teacher could accomplish that task.
The teachers now prefer to have discussions with the parents and talk about the childs general aptitudes and skill development, recognizing that skill development does not always neatly package itself in grades, and that children do better at certain times of their lives than at others.
In the past, school committees have received some explanation of CTBS testing, although I think the reality is that because of the high turnover the orientation into testing has to be repeated every year. At the same time, I am not convinced that everybody understands what CTBS testing means, despite the good efforts of some of the superintendents. I agree that the department should be making it clearer and be discussing it more thoroughly with school councils in the future than they have done in the past.
I am reminded that there are some things that the department is doing to improve the situation for schools that are experiencing difficulties - in response to the Member for Porter Creek Easts question - especially in the area of professional development. There is a whole series of things that are happening now in recognition that, in some communities, there is a higher incidence of special needs students and more of a need for professional development for teachers in those communities, as not all teachers have good experience in the field of special education.
There is a special education certificate course, which is now being conducted. There is a principal certification program, which incorporates discussion of some of the issues we have been discussing today. There has been a much higher incidence of inservices for things like discussions around the new development of whole languages that we have been talking around during the last five or 10 minutes.
As well, four or five years ago, there were two half-person years dedicated to special education in the Department of Education. This was not because the Department of Education decided that there were a lot of students in the school system who were in need of support, but they were just going to ignore them. It is because the problem was not acknowledged within the system as being a problem up until about a few years ago, and we, along with jurisdictions in the rest of the country, have come to recognize the needs of some students and to be able to assess and analyze the needs in a much more sophisticated way than we have in the past.
Consequently, we have been - like other jurisdictions and I think certainly in excess of the growth of some other jurisdictions - responding to special needs education and dealing with children who are not performing well for a variety of reasons and ensuring that there are assessments and counselling available to those students. Consequently, we have increased our ability in the department to not only do assessments locally but to do more and to do more thorough ones locally, and also to provide the program of action to deal with those students through support through the local teacher, to working out with the local teacher a program for an individual student, an individual education plan to deal with the student on an individual basis.
The department, as Members know, developed a special education policy a couple of years ago and we all put the body of the policy ultimately into the legislation itself only a few months ago. That was done in recognition of the fact that there were needs out there that had to be addressed. There were needs out there that had to be responded to by the department and by social agencies and we, as a conscious act of this Legislature, indicated to the Public Service that a response was required. Consequently, we have been upgrading the staffing of the special education unit. I think I mentioned in the Legislature that we will have 40 aids this year; last year we had 12.
We have a number of people in special education now, whereas two half-time person years were doing the job for the whole department only a few years ago. So there is a recognition and more sophisticated understanding of some of the problems and a more sophisticated understanding of how the department can respond to those problems than there was in the past. There were decent, responsible attempts made to deal with the situation in ways I have mentioned before, in terms of lowering the student/teacher ratio and recruiting special education teachers. Those things were considered to be necessary elements of an action plan. Now we have become more sophisticated so that we develop individual education plans to meet the needs of individual students. Consequently, it is costing the Legislature more money but it is very well targeted.
To pick up on the point of the role of school councils, I think the school council should develop a more sophisticated understanding of what the needs in their schools are, not only in terms of the interpretation of standardized tests, which a lot of people are not believers in, incidentally, but also an understanding of all the elements of the needs of their students, and perhaps take a more aggressive effort in terms of understanding some of the background associated with the problems and successes that their schools are having. Quite often it requires only a simple orientation of the problems, but I think it is very important to understand where you are doing well so you do not screw up a good thing.
Mr. Devries: My feeling has always been that this is one of the areas where governments tend to be very negligent; that is, different departments are not working together on the overall picture. When we look at Justice, for instance, we have 12,000 adult-related charges in a population of 30,000. That shows that we have some very serious problems in that area within families. I am sure that you could just trace the whole line right down to the children, who come from the type of environment where these adult-related charges originated. These children are the ones who are having problems at school. I feel that it is important that all the government departments get their heads together and work on the overall picture, instead of everybody going off in different directions.
I did not really have any more questions on the CTBS. In the area of, I guess you could call it decentralization, the Ministers department where he has put a career counsellor position and an employment counsellor in Watson Lake, I feel that in a certain sense we are duplicating some the services that are presently available through the outreach program. Has this been discussed with the people who are in the outreach programs in the rural communities at all?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Let me just respond briefly to the Members first point with respect to responding to needs of students who are experiencing difficulties and the Members concern that governments have been negligent in this particular area. I think that my definition of whether or not governments are negligent or whether or not they are making efforts to improve the situation is if a government knew the character of a problem and did nothing to make improvements. I would not, however, consider a government negligent if it knew generally what the problem was and was making very considerable efforts to address the problem. I think that in the case of the government now, certainly there have been dramatic amounts of resources dedicated to the needs of special needs students, all the while recognizing that we have hardly met the entire challenge.
We have tried very carefully to understand all elements of the problem and to deal with all the circumstances that may contribute to a system that does not perform as well as we want. For example, if there are problems in a school, the answer may be to increase the services of professionals who know how to deal with children with behavioral problems or learning disabilities, people who can provide proper assessments, people who are trained counsellors or perhaps more professional development for teachers is the proper course of action is some areas. It may be that teacher aides, to assist the teacher with a particular student or group of students who are having difficulty, may be required. Some students may be having difficulty with the system and need options outside the classroom.
The old equivalency education program was one response. The returning-to-learning initiatives are another response, such as the teen-moms program, the wilderness program or the P.A.S.S. program. These are initiatives that respond to children with particular difficulties. It may be that the new move to encourage work experience programs on the model of co-op education where classroom activity is blended with real experience in the world outside the classroom walls.
There are many different initiatives that can be applied to address the problem. In those areas I mentioned, obviously the government is moving in all of them.
Having said that, I have to be very careful in stating that I do not feel confident that we have done as much as we can to make the system a lot better. But we have to live within certain constraints. The Department of Education has, on the whole, been treated very well by this Legislature over the past number of years in terms of increases, but there are always limits to those increases. I think we have targeted our resources properly but we have some distance to go, and I admit that.
With respect to the relocation of career counselling to Watson Lake I have indicated before that the career counselling position is for the purpose of providing career counselling services to individuals, which is not currently provided by outreach workers. In some communities there is no outreach worker. We all know that the outreach service is practically every kind of employment or training-related service under the sun including resume writing, helping people with their unemployment insurance claims, and you name it.
Like all other rural residents, they will be expected to do a full range of things and are not slotted neatly into little jobs the way they could easily be in an urban community like Whitehorse. People have to be a lot more flexible in rural Yukon than they are in Whitehorse and respond to sometimes greater and more varied challenges in rural communities.
In a place like Watson Lake there are some things happening now that are not happening in either Haines Junction or Mayo, but which the career services person would be expected to deal with, even though our career services people are not supposed to be dealing only with those particular communities but with those rural regions. The job description has to be flexible enough to allow the person in Watson Lake to respond to the coordination of training initiatives at Curragh Resources, both as a result of the agreement between the Kaska Dena and Curragh Resources on training opportunities, but also in terms of encouragement of apprenticeships at Mt. Hundere, and also the training of non-native people in the Watson Lake district so they can take full advantage of the job opportunities at Mt. Hundere. So there are a number of things we have done in the past through outreach, which will now be done in the community itself. I dearly hope that the outreach services are expanded back to what they had been previously all around the Yukon, but I doubt that will take place.
My understanding now is that parents do receive a briefing on CTBS scores and the actual results of their own childrens performance of CTBS scores. They are also informed in advance that the CTBS test is coming. As well, school committees are briefed on the scores for the schools, and there is generally a discussion on ways that the school can improve on the scores of the childrens performance overall.
Quite often, discussion can also take place in the context of the development of the school plans as well at the beginning of the year. My understanding is that the school committees are not informed of individual test scores, just the scores of the school and the classes, and the parents themselves are informed of the individual scores.
Chair: We will now take a short recess.
Mr. Devries: We were talking about career counselling and the person who has been decentralized to Watson Lake.
One of the concerns I have heard is that there is a duplication there and another is that there is something lacking in another area. I realize there is a teacher in the high school now who has a certain amount of expertise in guidance. I still think there seems to be a lack of career planning for students, and we still have students who go to university and find they cannot achieve their goals because they missed a certain subject in high school. With the fast changes taking place in technology and in the courses required for university entrance, students tend to miss out.
Perhaps the outreach person we are getting could spend, say, 25 percent of the time in the school, or at least be easily accessible to the students. If he or she should be updated and well qualified in the appropriate areas, that person would then be important to the community.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I thank the Member for his remarks and suggestions.
The services are being provided for the entire district and not just for the community in which they are located. That is true of other decentralized services as well.
With respect to the students from rural communities who are not receiving enough basic courses in order to get into the full range of post-secondary institutions or programs, this is something that may occur for some time to come.
I recognize that there are improvements to distance education and the Member knows full well that there will always be attempts to recruit teachers of varying skills in order to provide as full a range of programming as possible for students in a relatively small school. Nevertheless, there will always be a situation where the course offerings in the larger urban centres are going to be more extensive than they are in a rural community. That will continue to be one of the prices to be paid for living a rural community until such time as distance education technology is affordable enough and sophisticated enough to actually make some real differences in terms of course offerings in rural schools.
It is the rare student, as the Member knows, who does well unassisted in correspondence courses at the high school level and I would not think that that would be a cause for affecting great change in improving the programs available to rural students. It certainly has not been in the past and I doubt very much if it will be in the near future at least. But there are advances being made, they are gradual advances, to improve course offerings in rural schools and certainly there is some interesting technology available that may be affordable for even a little jurisdiction like the Yukon someday. There are also some innovative teaching techniques that are being applied now to improve the distance education delivery that we currently enjoy.
It is important that proper counselling take place in all high schools so students know accurately what is available to them based on the courses they can take in their own community school. It is important that they do know what post-secondary institutions they can have access to and that they get the appropriate career counselling and course counselling at that level.
I do know that we intend to maintain our current level of services, and in fact enhance the role of school counsellors in the years to come, as a result of many of the requests, starting next year, as will be shown in the main estimates. This is as a result of many of the representations made by school councils and school committees in the past and also as a result of our own analysis that this is an important area to address.
It has been a long-standing request by parents, teachers and the department. There have been gains made in the number of counselling positions in rural communities, and I think we can continue to make those gains.
There will be attention paid in that particular area in the year to come. The Member will note that the persons decentralized, as well as other department officials, will be paying more attention in the future to counselling.
Mr. Devries: The Minister talked about special aides for a moment. I have also looked at the budget for next year. I realize there is an additional $500,000 or so going into the area of special needs in the 1990-91 budget. On what basis do they determine whether some of these special needs students should be moved into Whitehorse, because their needs cannot be met in their rural communities? I understand the residence is full, but how is that decision made?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The first level of priority is for those students who have no secondary school in their own community. The second level of priority is for those students who wish to take electives that are offered in Whitehorse but not in their own school in their community. There are also efforts made to provide access to students in northern B.C., or Atlin, if there is room in the dorm. On occasion, there is, especially among the female side of the dorm.
It varies from year to year. As it currently stands, the male side of the dorm is full.
Mr. Devries: My understanding is that if the dorm is full and there are males from Old Crow or one of the other rural communities trying to move into Whitehorse, they would just have to wait for a vacancy. Are there other options on where they could be housed?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Efforts are always made to help find accommodation. We have a number of rooms currently in the dorm available. If they are full then the need has to be picked up by other homes in the community. What you will find in the main estimates budget is an increase in the subsidy paid to parents for putting up students in recognition of the need and in recognition of the increased costs since the fee structure was set. There may be a need in the future, dare I say, to even increase the number of rooms in Whitehorse that are publicly funded, but one has to be very careful in understanding that numbers do fluctuate from year to year. It is not always wise to over build.
Secondly, there may be some increased capacity among homes currently here to take in students. It has not been fully tested and certainly has not been fully tested with the new rates.
The other point to be made is that we do expend considerable resources now trying to keep services in the communities themselves. There are a number of parents who send their students to school in Whitehorse when there is a high school in their own community. Again this is a reflection of the desire to have more electives in Whitehorse. The understanding has to be ultimately that the cost of putting the basic core program into a rural community with very small numbers can be extremely expensive. Communities ultimately have to make hard decisions from time to time as to whether or not they want to maintain certain grade levels if it means at the same time they should not be coming into Whitehorse. Those decisions are actually made every year, not in terms of whole grade ranges in the school, but the number of course offerings provided in a school or whether or not the school offers grade 12.
We do expend tremendous resources on very small high school populations in rural Yukon, and have for a long period of time. It is the preferable option, but there are limitations to what a small high school can provide.
Mr. Devries: Special needs was one of the topics the Minister tried to sell us on in the Education Act. When there is something new in an education act, it is natural that everyone would be chomping at the bit to have it implemented right now. I am aware it takes time for some of these things to come about. There is still concern in several of the rural schools, although not necessarily Watson Lake, that the classroom teachers are still trying to meet, in the mainstream, the needs of some of the children with certain learning disabilities. It is creating a burden, especially for some of the newer teachers. They have come into a new environment, and some of them probably did not anticipate that they would have some of these really special needs children in their classroom. Is there more being done?
I think the Minister mentioned there were more teacher aides being made available. It seems like several schools are crying out for more teacher aides. I understand there was a hiring freeze put on but, by the same token, I see an ad in the paper for a teacher aide. Does this mean the Minister is loosening up on his hiring freeze a little bit in that area?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am not aware of a hiring freeze in the Department of Education; I am aware of budget limitations. I mentioned that we now have 42 teacher aides, which is a 100 percent increase over last year, and probably a 150 percent increase over the previous year. Clearly, there are still needs, and I am the first to recognize that.
We have a whole series of people now who provide outreach from Whitehorse. We have specialized itinerant teachers in the department. We have people who do sophisticated assessments. We have people who can establish individual education plans, in concert with the school-based team, with whom they must work. They are also working under a new policy that was passed.
As much as I do recognize that there are hard-working teachers who need and would like further assistance, we can only do so much per year. Despite the fact that we can increase the budget 100 percent this year and again in subsequent years, I would venture the guess that we will still be hearing concerns that there are not enough people to respond to individual needs. All I can say is that we have put an enormous amount of effort into increasing the services in this particular area. We will be increasing it again next year and, I would presume, even in the year after that, especially if we have one year of the Education Act under our belt, individual education plans being developed and people appealing the services provided to the children under the Education Appeal Tribunal.
It will give us a better sense of where we are going with our budgets in this area. It is one of the fastest growing areas of the Department of Educations budget and I think it will continue to be so in the future.
Mr. Devries: I would like to move on to curriculum a little bit. I am sure the Minister is aware that it seems they have backed off from introducing the intermediate course in B.C. for a while. Now I understand some of the primary curriculum for the year 2000 has been introduced in the Yukon and we will be moving into that next year. Is that the plan?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The situation, as I think I have explained, is that structural changes associated with the B.C. curriculum are not going to be made until such a time as there is proper dialogue in the Yukon.
At the same time, the teaching strategies that are emanating from the year 2000 changes, and are being practiced across this country, are also teaching strategies that are being tried here. There is always growth and attempt to innovate and to be progressive in terms of understanding how teaching strategies can be improved.
The Member is right that the intermediate program - and now, as of last Wednesday - the graduate program, are being put back. The decision time lines are being extended because there is passive and active resistance to these changes and not sufficient consideration given to informing school districts of what the changes might mean and performing the associated professional development training that is required to implement changes effectively. Consequently, there is no rush.
In fact in British Columbia itself, there are very few school districts that are even making the effort that we are making to understand and to try to determine whether or not we want to proceed with any or all elements of those changes. The elements of the primary program, like the single entry and the kindergarten and the graded programs, will still be retained and I will refer to those as structural changes.
So in British Columbia, for example, the change that is being proposed in the primary program is to allow for dual entry into kindergarten and also to not have grades in the primary years, just continuous flow right through to the intermediate stage. We still will retain kindergarten, grade 1, grade 2, grade 3, and we will not make any decisions about that kind of change until we have had a dialogue to determine whether or not, in this territory, we want to proceed. In terms of some of the teaching strategies and in terms of the whole language development, we are pursuing that, as are B.C. and other jurisdictions, because it is a fairly exciting development in terms of a teaching strategy, that does encourage students to retain and enjoy learning more. It makes the experience more relevant. It appears more relevant to their real lives than the older fashioned teaching methods and we are, as a consequence, doing a tremendous amount in terms of inservicing teachers and getting them to understand how the system is evolving. That was started some time ago and I am certain that it will continue.
Mr. Devries: The Minister is talking about the inservice stuff, and that is what I was working my way up to. It seems like the love affair the department has had with the teachers is on shaky ground right now, but that is normal when there are contract negotiations.
One of the concerns I hear from the teachers is that they felt they had been promised, during the development of the Education Act, that they would be given more prep time. Now, new textbooks are being developed for this new method of teaching. They have been teaching out of the same textbooks for a number of years and, now, they have to put more work into prep time. Many of them feel that, since they are still being asked to teach the same size of classes that, even in the elementary schools, a specialized teacher in the area of P.E. or gymnastics should be made available so the students could be taken off the teachers hands for a certain amount of time, in an effort to give them a little more prep time for these subjects. Does the Minister understand what I am trying to get at?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I know the Member is expecting the answer I must inevitably give with respect to physical education time or any matter that is currently under discussion in contract negotiations. First of all, the department and the teachers have a mutually respectful relationship and, no matter what becomes of contract negotiations, I am convinced that relationship will continue.
Irrespective of contract negotiations, as our budget speaks to, we are putting a lot more effort into professional development in areas like whole language. We realize that new teaching strategies need more special development and better targeted special development in those areas. Consequently, the budget demonstrates that.
I cannot comment on things like professional development, or wages that teachers receive, or anything of the sort. I hope the Member can appreciate that. I think the system we have now is a good one. I will not comment on where we stand in the negotiations, or anything else. Irrespective of aspirations that teachers may have with respect to pay benefits and working conditions, I hope they will understand and recognize that whatever is achieved through negotiations, the system in Yukon is still one of the best, if not the best, in this country.
I hope they are satisfied with whatever is negotiated in the final analysis. I hope they understand there are reasonable financial limitations this government and Legislature must face. We cannot meet all expectations and, obviously, we will not. The system is good, one does understand that, when new teaching strategies are being adopted or new portions are being undertaken, there has to be professional development to accommodate those new courses.
For example, a couple of years ago, a whole new math course for high schools was introduced into the B.C. curriculum. There was a new text and everything. We spent a great deal of money in that particular year on professional development for math teachers in the Yukon in order to accommodate the change. That is part of our ongoing obligation when doing business in this field.
Mr. Devries: I would like to move on to the Yukon College issue, but I think Mrs. Firth has a question.
Mrs. Firth: Just before we leave the public schools issues, I have a question.
With respect to the Education Act implementation officer, with a salary range of $45,000-$52,000 per annum, can the Minister tell us why we need this position? I thought there were plenty of resources in the department to follow through with that.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: For the first year or 18 months, we decided we do need special efforts in this area to do a number of things. Firstly, almost exclusively in the first few months, we need to undertake training orientation for the school councils. The school councils have been insisting on this. We are responding to this with dedicated support.
Secondly, there was also identified the need to develop regulations and operating procedures under the act, as well as policies and so on that are directly pursuant to the act. The consultation and some of the developmental work will be done by this implementation officer. Some of the more technical work will be done by contract or secondment, in particular for financial regulations.
Given the expectations by school councils now for training orientation, in particular, and for developing policies and responding to obligations under the act, in the first year to 18 months, we feel we would have dedicated staff to work in this area.
Mrs. Firth: This job is to expire March 31, 1991. Will it be extended, or will the job be done within the next four and one-half months?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am not sure whether it will be extended or not. I am pretty certain that it will, based on the input we have received from school councils and aspiring school councillors in the past couple of months. There is a great deal of work to be done. There will be a period where the school councils will want dedicated attention. We are pledged to provide it to them.
Mrs. Firth: It will be interesting to see how long this job carries on. I think there is a potential for it to go on for quite a long time.
Have the regulations been made yet and when can we expect to see them?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The regulations respecting elections have been passed through Cabinet. The definition of school attendance areas has been passed through Cabinet. All the regulations have been drafted and prepared for Cabinet, with the exception of two particular areas. One is the Catholic school regulations, and the other is the French language school regulations, and those are being checked and triple checked. There is a great deal of technical work to be done with those.
The consultation on the regulations is complete. They are ready for Cabinets viewing and approval. Some regulations did not require much in the way of changes, because the regulations under the old School Act were the result of significant consultation, and there is no need to change those regulations much. I refer specifically to the transportation regulations.
In the interim, the regulations that are currently in effect are in force, where they do not conflict with the act. I anticipate that the regulations should be final and through Cabinet by the end of this month, pursuant to this act, in all significant areas, with the exception of the financial regulations for school boards, which we anticipate will be developed over the course of the coming year.
I realize the time is coming to an end, so I move that you report progress on Bill No. 15.
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 considered Bill No. 15, entitled Second Appropriation Act, 1990-91, and directed me to report progress on same.
Speaker: You have heard the report of the Chair of Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed.
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Government House Leader that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: This House now stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. Monday next.
The House adjourned at 5:28 p.m.