Thursday, November 22, 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. Phillips: I would like to introduce to the Legislature a friend of mine and a relative, Mr. Larry Schutte, who has come from Juneau, Alaska, to visit with us today. It ties in partly with yesterdays motion, because Larry and his wife Beverly are here today to celebrate a major cultural event and that is the American Thanksgiving. We are celebrating it at our house this evening.
I would ask all Members to welcome Larry Schutte to the Yukon.
Speaker: Are there any Returns or Documents for Tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I have for tabling some legislative returns.
Hon. Ms. Joe: I have for tabling the annual report for the Yukon Law Foundation and the annual report for the Yukon Medical Council.
Speaker: Are there any Reports of Committees?
Petition No. 3
Mr. Lang: I have a petition to table. It states as follows: This petition of the undersigned shows that: whereas we the following support the need for alternate nursing services in our community; whereas these services would allow the convenience of nursing care in our home; whereas service coverage would include but not be confined to supporting early discharge from the hospital by having nurses visit as necessary to check for infection, pain control and so on. This would apply to maternity as well as surgical patients; whereas nurses can do intermediate intravenous therapy in our homes rather than in the emergency department of the hospital; whereas nurses can do dressing changes in our homes rather than the clinics or the hospital; whereas nurses can provide care for the dying so that our loved ones are not dependent on a hospital setting to meet those needs during the final days; whereas nurses can provide health-related workshops, family-life workshops, child-care courses, stress management and disease prevention in order to make us a healthier community; and whereas nurses can provide individual counselling to chronic disease patients;
Therefore, the undersigned ask the Yukon Legislative Assembly to urge the Government of Yukon to expedite appropriate financial arrangements for nurses services.
There are over 370 signatures accompanying the petition.
Speaker: Introduction of Bills.
Are there any Notices of Motion for the Production of Papers?
Notices of Motion
Are there any Statements by Ministers?
This then brings us to Question Period.
Question re: Arts centre
Mr. Phelps: I have some questions for the Minister responsible for the construction of the Yukon arts centre. This project was put out to tender about a year ago, and it was deemed to have come in too high because the lowest bid was $6.9 million, so some cuts were made. It was tendered again and last spring the lowest bid, after the cut, was $7.1 million. We are now told that the cost is going to be $8.45 million. I would like to know just how on earth the costs have escalated to that extent.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Member was correct in indicating that the initial bids for the Yukon arts centre were higher than expected, and consequently, the arts centre construction was retendered in order to determine whether or not a better price could be achieved. Some minor cuts were made that we had estimated would be in the realm of about $200,000, as I have indicated in the Legislature in the past. The project was retendered and did come in higher than we had expected again. As a consequence, the prices were the result of the higher bids.
Mr. Phelps: I do not really understand that answer, because we were debating this issue in the late spring/early summer of last year in the House and the lowest bid, at that time, was $7.1 million. I would like to know why it has escalated up to $8.45 million.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I had indicated to the Members what the construction costs were anticipated to be. The construction costs themselves were not anticipated to be $7.1 million originally. In fact, the construction costs were $7.1 million after the final bid was accepted by Klondike Construction. Originally, the expectation was that the entire facility would cost $7.5 million, including such things as architect fees, equipment budget, landscaping, et cetera, as well as the construction costs. Consequently, the increase price was in large part due to the bids being higher than was expected.
Mr. Phelps: I would like to know if there were change orders made with regard to the building and if so, if the Minister could table those change orders in the House.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am not aware of any change orders and if there are any, I will present the information to the Legislature. The project that we tendered in the spring was the project that we are proceeding with. I know there are a few minor alterations that were to be discussed both with the Arts Canada North board and with the winner of the tender. There were plans to try to make the project as cost effective as possible but certainly, as far as I am aware, if any changes were made, they were not significant.
Question re: Arts centre
Mr. Phelps: Once again, we have the impression of a government spending money in a manner that only can be said to be out of control - completely out of control. The original bid of $6.9 million was seen to be too high so cuts were made. Among those cuts was a multi-purpose arts room. Then we have a bid coming in and the government not sure if it is going to accept it because it is $7.1 million and now we are almost up to $8.5 million.
I would like to know why the government cut the multi-purpose arts room and then, with the other hand, gave $300,000 to the downtown community centre for the purpose of providing that room downtown, instead of up at the original site.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: With all due respect, the Member is massively confused about what has transpired since the original design concept of the arts centre was discussed with Arts Canada North.
Originally, the concept included a multi-purpose room and the anticipated construction package was $9.5 million to incorporate that multi-purpose room. The commitment of the Yukon government at the time was $7 million and the funding to be provided by Arts Canada North was $500,000. The total available was $7.5 million from Arts Canada North and the Yukon government. There was anticipation, by Arts Canada North in particular, that the City of Whitehorse and the federal government would provide the difference. Neither party was prepared to provide the difference and, consequently, the size and scope of the project was reduced to better match the projected costs of $7.5 million. Consequently, the multi-purpose room was removed from the project.
In the last year, discussions have been held with people in downtown Whitehorse, particularly the group that has been promoting a downtown multi-purpose facility, and the Government of Yukon made a commitment to that group that should they complete the necessary fund raising and get a proposal that makes some sense the Government of Yukon would provide up to $300,000 toward that facility. We have made good on that promise.
Mr. Phelps: When asked the other day in the House the Minister said he caved in to the pressure to seek the additional funds. That, I take it, was when he accepted the low bid of $7.1 million for building the arts centre on the second time around, the second tender process.
What caused him to cave in to the tune of another $1.4 million or $1 million, depending on how he calculates it, since that time?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: As I indicated at the time when we were discussing this in the estimates review I indicated that the $1.4 was not an additional request. Now, for the first time, the government was showing a recovery of $500,000. The total cost for the project was anticipated to be $7.5 million. The total cost of the project is now anticipated to be $8.4. That is not an increase of $1.4 million.
The term I used was a colloquial term to indicate that we had surpassed our original commitment of the $7 million that was to be YTG money and increased our portion to be able to meet the total cost of the project of $8.4 million minus the recovery from Arts Canada North. We did so because we felt that the best opportunity to build the arts centre was this year. There was a significant commitment in this community to have the arts centre built, both from the memberships of the Arts Canada North group and from many other private citizens who had indicated a willingness and support for the project.
Consequently we felt that to delay it further would be unwise and we proceeded with the project, given the amount of money that we had already invested in the project.
Mr. Phelps: They turned down a firm bid of $6.9 million. They unhappily accepted one for $7.1 and now it is $8.45 million. Did they not reject the lowest bid the first time around for $6.9 million?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The assumption or the allegation the Member is making is that somehow the project went from $6.9 to $7.1 to $8.4 million. What we are referring to is the construction portion of the budget, the total budget. There was always the expectation that architects fees and dispersements would be paid, that there would be funding for equipment, there would be funding for landscaping, et cetera, that would add up to make up the difference between the construction budget and the total $8.45 estimated cost, the total cost of the project.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Member says, oh come on, but that has always been the understanding. I do not know whether the Member has been sleeping through the past four or five budgets where we have discussed this project but that has always been the understanding that has been expressed in this Legislature. Now, in respect to the construction budget itself the first time around, I indicated to the Members that in the past, in this Legislature, that the reason we did not proceed with the $6.9 million tender was because we had two cost consultants who indicated to us, and whom we thought were reputable and would be accurate, that that was too high a price to pay under the circumstances. We listened to the cost consultants because they had a good track record at the Yukon College site for the other buildings and intended to retender the project in the following spring, which we did. Unfortunately the lowest bid price then came in at $7,088,000, approximately $200,000 over the original low bid. Consequently we had to make the very tough decision as to whether or not we were prepared to proceed at that increased price or cancel the project. We decided to proceed.
Question re: Arts centre
Mr. Phelps: What was the final cost? Was it $7.1 million or more?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The contract price for the college was $7.1 million. That was the final contract for construction price of the arts centre.
Mr. Phelps: How do you come up with the additional $1,350,000? What was that for? Was that not for the arts centre at all?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: In any project such as this, one must pay the architect. Generally, the architects do not provide services for nothing. Presumably, one must provide equipment for the facility. This equipment does not come for nothing. One must do landscaping and, as good as the local landscapers are, they do not work for nothing. Consequently, if the Legislature intends that this work be done, then the work will require that funding be appropriated by this Legislature.
This is true for all major construction projects. We do pay for architects, landscaping, and miscellaneous costs associated with the project. That makes up the difference between the construction price and the total overall cost.
Mr. Phelps: It must be one fine architect. Would the Minister table the total cost of the architects fees for this project?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Yes, I will. I would agree with the Member. It is one fine architect. Incidentally, this is the same architect who designed the Yukon College, and I know Members opposite appreciate that building design. This architect was also responsible for the archives facility. There again, I am sure Members opposite appreciate this fine architects skills in producing that particular design.
Question re: Takhini Elementary School trailers
Mrs. Firth: When the Atco trailers were purchased for the Takhini Elementary School, the deputy minister of Education told Atco on the phone that they had the contract to start the work. This happened before Government Services had awarded a contract.
Would the Minister of Government Services tell this House why the deputy minister of Education would enter into a contract when he has no authority to do so?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member is making an assertion I have no way of confirming right now. I can only take the assertion, true or false, as such and treat it as notice. I will get back to the Member.
Mrs. Firth: Perhaps the Minister should talk to the general manager of Atco. Is the Minister telling us he has no knowledge about the deputy minister of Education overstepping his authority when it comes to entering into contracts?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Here again we have the Member in charge of misinformation making a wild accusation in the House. It is a wild allegation that something took place between a deputy minister and a contractor. The Member is asserting that I should be talking to the contractor and the deputy minister of another department.
The Member has to get serious and ask some reasonable, legitimate questions for which I can provide honest, open and fair information or the Member has to give written notice of those kinds of questions. There is no way I can respond to that allegation.
Mrs. Firth: I am asking a very serious question about a very serious matter. It is not an allegation. I spoke to the general manager of Atco. My information is extremely accurate.
I would ask my follow-up question, then, of the Minister of Justice. I would like to ask the Minister, in view of the bounds being overstepped and authority being breached here, if she would have it investigated to see if charges should be laid under section 74 of the Financial Administration Act.
Hon. Ms. Joe: The Member has made allegations. Now, she wants me to lay charges. I will ask my department or whoever is responsible for finding out the proper information that the Member has alleged in this House. I will do that, but I do not know what she is talking about.
Question re: Takhini Elementary School trailers
Mrs. Firth: The Minister is going to have it looked into. We are not asking for charges to be laid. We are asking for the situation to be investigated.
We, on this side, are very concerned about the integrity of the tendering process. We have been raising this for the last two weeks. We are concerned about abuses of the tendering process.
I would like to ask the Minister what steps they take to ensure that the public servants are following the authority granted them under regulations when it comes to awarding contracts. What steps is he taking?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am quite glad to respond to the Member. The government has a very strict set of rules under which contracts are awarded, under which contracts are tendered, under which purchases are made and under which its officers behave, called contract regulations. Those are the rules that are confirmed in law. They are available to the Member. We do not breach tham and they are followed government wide, whether it is my department of Government Services, which acts in most instances as the purchasing agent, as the supplier of the specifications, as the controller of the bids and the awards, or whether it is the client department. The rules are fairly strict, fairly rigid, laid down in law and we respect that. All is well.
Mrs. Firth: I would like to direct my supplementary to the Minister of Justice and her investigation, and ask if she will table the documentation with respect to this contract in the Legislature.
Hon. Ms. Joe: I will discuss this with my colleagues. If she is asking us for information from all different avenues, certainly I will discuss this with my colleagues. I do not know what she is talking about and I do not think my colleagues do either.
Mrs. Firth: I am asking for the information to be tabled. I would like to ask the Minister from Government Services then: will he table the information from the file? If everything is on the up and up, then it should be public information. A contract was awarded; can we have have access to the documentation with respect to this particular issue?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member has made a number of allegations and assertions about impropriety. Of course the Member recognizes that I will look into that, not to suggest for a minute that I believe what the Member says, because of the number of times that she has brought misinformation to the floor of this House. I may provide the information, I may not do it now and I may not provide all of it.
Question re: Chipseal crew travel
Mr. Lang: I hope the Minister of Government Services can be a little more enlightening on the topic that I would like to raise because notice was given a number of days ago by the MLA from Kluane. It had to do with the question of the flying in of a chipseal crew from Whitehorse to Faro, for a number of days, to do work in the community of Faro. The Minister, at that time, said he would look into it and see what exactly did take place as far as the expenditure that resulted from it. It is very interesting that the proceedings the day the questions were asked were being watched by a member of the public and I received a phone call at home. The individual told me that, as far as he knew, the government paid out for airplane fare to take the chipseal crew from Whitehorse to Faro and back again for a number of days. The total bill came to between $20,000 and $22,000. Can the Minister verify that?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The information that Members sought is being provided. I want the Members to be assured of that. I believe it was yesterday or the day before that some additional questions were raised respecting whether or not someone was able to provide some accommodation for that crew. I have asked the department to investigate that series of new questions and to answer them along with the Legislative Return that I committed.
No, I cannot confirm to the Member whether $22,000 is the precise figure. I do know that in my preliminary discussions with the department, that a DC-3 was used for five days. I know that the costs are a matter of public record because a contract was provided and I intend to attach the contract for the plane service to the legislative return. I can also reassure the Member that a cost saving was generated by the decision made to fly the DC-3, given that there was no accommodation available in the area of the work. That includes all the way from Ross River to Carmacks.
Mr. Lang: The Minister seems to be fairly knowledgeable on the subject. It sounds like he does not need to write up a legislative return; he could just give us the information. It is pretty difficult to tell the people of the territory they have to cut back on spending when they see the government renting a DC-3 to go from Whitehorse to Faro to do a construction job. It is the only firm in Canada that could afford to do that. I want to ask the Minister, when he gets the infamous legislative return together, can he verify that when the crew arrived in Faro to do its work, the road bed was not ready and subsequently had to do other work than chipsealing for a number of days prior to actually applying the chipseal?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: That issue has not specifically arisen in my discussions with the department. Obviously, it will now have to because I want the Member to have accurate information. I should point out that the DC-3 was not just used from Faro, but also from the strip at Little Salmon, that was right at the location they were working on the Campbell Highway.
I repeat for the Member: I will provide the detailed figures in a return on Monday, I hope, that will demonstrate that it was cheaper to fly the 25 people of the BST crew into Whitehorse and back on a daily basis for the five days they were in that area compared to costs that would have been incurred to set up a temporary camp.
Mr. Lang: I come from a construction background and I find it hard to believe that it is cheaper to send 25 people on a DC-3 than to have a mobile camp or some sort of camp right on the job site. While waiting to get this infamous legislative return together, and I am sure the figures will show to the public whatever the Minister wants to have happened, can the Minister tell us this: were the people flown in the fair community of Faro on the August 17 weekend so that they were on overtime, time-and-a-half and double time? That would be a travel cost as well.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: In direct response to the Members question: that is being compiled in the cost analysis. That is, the costs related to any possible overtime during that period and the full length of time involved for personnel travel. Again, I reassure the Member that the decision saved us money in comparison to what it would have cost to put in a camp for a five-day period to look after that particular crew on that particular job.
Mr. Lang: I will be looking forward to the infamous legislative return. I would also ask that in thoroughly investigating the total financial consequences of what has been done, can the Minister find out if the government had to pay room and board for the members of the chipseal crew who do not reside in Whitehorse? If that is the case, could he apply that to the legislative return?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member raises a policy matter and a regulatory matter by which the crews operate that I am not completely familiar with, but certainly that aspect of it will be addressed in the infamous return that I am sure will put the Members mind at ease that the decision to use the air transportation was indeed a wise one and especially so in view of the economics.
Question re: Nursing services
Mr. Nordling: I have a question for the Minister of Health and Human Resources with respect to nursing services. I would like to follow up, just briefly, on the petition that was tabled today. I have had a number of calls regarding in-home nursing services and I believe the Minister and his department have also received calls. Early last week I asked if the government had a policy with respect to in-home nursing services. The Minister said the policy was not to contract out because employee representatives had asked the government not to. I would like to know what group the employee representative spoke for and if it is the policy of the government that in-home nursing services will be provided only between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Well the Member has asked a number of questions there, three that I can identify. First of all, I think the petition that was presented by the Member for Porter Creek East and the phone calls Members have been getting is a very unique event, because it seems to me it is a political lobby on behalf of a commercial venture - that is unusual - a commercial venture that is seeking to do business with the government but is not doing that in the normal way but is mounting a political lobby to have the government provide it some business.
Now that is a separate question from the kinds of nursing services that are now, or will in the future, be provided for through the home care program. I have no doubt whatsoever as the home care program evolves that we will, in time, be providing a range of nursing care and that, in pursuit of that objective, the government may retain an increasing number of nurses for that purpose. But the nurses that we hire will not be hired through a labour contractor; they will be hired through the normal personnel processes of this government. If they are full-time or auxiliary employees, they will be members of our union and our bargaining unit who, by law, are the bargaining agent and representative of those workers. They may, in some cases, be casuals or people who are less frequent employees. That is an entirely separate question from the representation made by a commercial company who wishes to provide this service for us, a company that is set up...
Speaker: Order please. Would the Member please conclude his answer.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: ...a company that I understand was set up to provide essential nursing services by contract to Whitehorse General Hospital.
That is something the employee organization at the hospital, and all unions represented at the hospital, have a great deal of problems with.
Mr. Nordling: The government contracts out a lot of services. They do not hire employees for everything. I do not think that anyone is asking that work be taken away from the home care program or from nurses employed by the government. My concern is that Yukoners are going to suffer because, in the Ministers own words, he cannot stand lobbying. I would like the Minister to stand up and tell Yukoners how they can approach him without appearing to be lobbyists.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The Member is completely misrepresenting me and misquoting me in saying I cannot stand lobbying. I very much enjoy lobbying. I entertain it and receive it all the time and, occasionally, I engage in it myself, such as I am trying to do with Mr. Spicer.
There is a contractual understanding with our employees, and I am talking about people who are essentially our employees. We will not contract out or privatize public services. The Member must understand that whatever discussions we get into about the role of nurses or the evolution of health services, or programs like home care, this present government will not contract out and will not privatize public services. That is a very clear policy position.
We contract for all sorts of services: professional, consulting, engineering and the like. That is an entirely different question from the dismantling of the public service, which is a proposition that is very popular now with Conservative governments everywhere. It is not a philosophy with which we agree.
Mr. Nordling: Again, no one is asking that anything be dismantled. We are asking for additional services for Yukoners. On one hand, the Minister talks about expanding home care services and, on the other hand, his officials are saying that the present service is adequately staffed, funded and servicing all needs.
Is it the policy of this government, as spoken through his officials, that in-home nursing services will be provided only between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday to Friday?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I believe I said, in answer to a Members previous question and also yesterday in discussion of the supplementary of my department, that the home care program is a new program. It is an evolving program. It is one that is providing an excellent service, a service that is rarely available in communities as small as we have in the Yukon. It is meeting most of the needs for such services now, but I have no doubt that it will expand and improve over time, and a greater range of services, including more nursing services, will be provided through that program over time. As those services are provided, they will be provided by our employees, and not by a private labour contract.
Question re: Convention centre/office complex
Mr. Phillips: My question is to the Minister responsible for the Yukon Development Corporation and it is regarding the $2 million loan for the convention centre and the hotel/office complex. On October 9, 1990, the president of the Yukon Development Corporation wrote a letter to local newspapers in an attempt to clarify Yukon Development Corporations involvement in the complex. In that letter he stated, the band has not received any assistance from the Yukon Development Corporation that has not also been available to any other development of such a major business and tourism complex.
Can the Minister advise the House if Yukon Development Corporation has a special fund for this type of project? What is the size of the fund and how does the private sector go about making application for this money?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: First of all, the president of the Yukon Development Corporation is exactly right. The Member asks if the Yukon Development Corporation has a special fund for this purpose; no, it does not. It was created by law in this Legislature to do exactly the kind of thing that it is doing with the Dakwakada project. I cannot tell the Member exactly how many, but it receives, from time to time, proposals from all sorts of people to involve itself, in one way or another, in various kinds of ventures. Very few of them have been sponsored so far but this is one that has been approved by the board of directors under the terms of the mandate given to them by our Cabinet. We wish the project very well.
Mr. Phillips: Can the Minister advise the House what other projects Yukon Development Corporation has sponsored in this fashion? Could he bring this information back to the House?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am reasonably certain that no other project of this scale has not yet been approved by the board but I believe there have been other requests. I am not sure that I am at liberty to describe all of the requests but I certainly would take the question of the Member as notice. I know from my own personal knowledge of several possibilities that the board has discussed and decided not to proceed with.
Mr. Phillips: I am not so concerned about the ones that they have not approved. What I would like the Minister to do is to bring back the projects to the House that they have approved and the amounts that they have approved for this type of funding.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: As I just indicated to the Member, I do not think there is any other such project, at the moment, that has been approved. The Yukon Development Corporation has, as the Member knows from previous discussions in this House, worked with other agencies on the feasibility of a number of projects, or looked at the feasibility of a number of projects. In this year, this is the only such project I know of that has been approved.
Question re: Convention centre/hotel complex
Mr. Phillips: When we were talking about the convention/hotel complex, there was another bidder involved in the competition. I would like to ask the Minister if the Gold Rush Inn, the other competitive bid for that development, was also offered a $2 million loan. If not, why not, in view of the present statement?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I think the Member has the sequence of events in the wrong order. As the Member will recall, the government was contemplating the acquisition of certain office space and felt it could use its purchasing power in a way that would also help to see the creation of a convention centre.
The Department of Government Services, not the Yukon Development Corporation, invited proposals. These were evaluated. One was found more wanting than others.
Had some candidate other than the Dakwakada Development Corporation proposal been found acceptable or met with the approval of the Department of Government Services and they wanted to proceed in the same way this company did, they could have applied to the Yukon Development Corporation. I am sure the board would have looked at its proposal.
Mr. Phillips: So the Minister is telling this House that, prior to accepting the proposal of Dakwakada Development Corporation, none of the individuals were told of the money that would be made available through the Yukon Development Corporation. Did they find this out after Dakwakada was accepted as the most acceptable proposal and then deal with the Yukon Development Corporation?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The Member must understand the sequence of events here. The board of the Yukon Development Corporation did not make any decision about what participation it would take until such time as the project had the green light from one client, the Department of Government Services and the other participants, the private sector participants involved.
I am reasonably sure that the president of the Yukon Development Corporation, and perhaps some of his officers, may have had a number of conversations with a number of entrepreneurs about the possibility of it being involved in joint ventures or investments in projects of this kind. The Member must understand that the purpose of the Yukon Development Corporation is to make strategic investments for the purpose of developing the territorys economy. It will entertain, at any time, proposals from private businesses, community groups and others to do that.
The Yukon Development Corporation exists for that purpose. The board will entertain such proposals at any time. They will be evaluated by the officers.
Speaker: Order please. Will the Minister please conclude his answer.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Recommendations will be made to the board and the board itself will make the decisions.
Mr. Phillips: Prior to the proposals going out to the respective bidders, did the Yukon Development Corporation provide information to Government Services that it was willing to enter into some kind of partnership with the proponents of the successful proposal?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The Member opposite referred, in his opening question, to a letter in the Whitehorse Star from the president of the Development Corporation, who was wanting to clarify the role of the Development Corporation. The need for that clarification arose from a discussion, I understand, at a Chamber of Commerce meeting, at which the Minister of Government Services was present. The Minister of Government Services was not aware - I think it will be clear from that conversation and that correspondence - about the participation of the Development Corporation and the decision that its board had made. One might make a comment about two agencies not knowing what each other is doing, but that, itself, makes plain that this was not a concerted or coordinated activity between Government Services and the Development Corporation. The Development Corporation board was making its own decisions about the project on its merits.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now lapsed. We will now proceed with Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Bill No. 4: Health Act
Clerk: Second reading, Bill No. 4, standing in the name of the Hon. Mr. Penikett.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I move that the Health Act, Bill No. 4, be now read a second time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Premier that Bill No. 4, entitled the Health Act. be now read a second time.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: It is with a great deal of pleasure that I present to the House, for debate in principle, the proposed new Yukon Health Act. As we have discussed in this House over the last several months, it is clear that Canadas health system is considered to be among the best in the world. In 1960, the government of Tommy Douglas in Saskatchewan introduced universal health care insurance for the first time.
Also, since then, we have seen the development everywhere in Canada of what we now know as our medicare system and hospital insurance programs.
In the three decades since Premier Douglas took that first, what was then seen to be, radical step, Canadians have come to value the medicare system as one of the greatest achievements of our society. Canadians, themselves, have come to appreciate what we have achieved, in world terms, a very high standard of health care in this country. It is also true that over the past 10 years every examination of the health status of Canadians has made it clear that access to health care, universal access such as medicare provides us, does not in and of itself ensure good health. As a result the challenge now facing Canadians has become how do we ensure access to health. A broader and more complex question than how do we ensure access to health care.
Nationally, the health care system is in a financial crunch. In almost every part of Canada, health care costs are growing each year and in many jurisdictions they are growing far faster than provincial revenues. Yet, there is no parallel increase in the health status of Canadians. We pay a lot more for health each year, but we are not becoming a lot healthier.
This has raised questions. How do we ensure that as a society we get value for money from the health system? How do we reorient our thinking and structures to effectively improve access to health rather than just continuing to do more of what already is being done? All across this country governments are asking these questions. They are looking for ways to ensure that health needs are met in a fair and reasonable way without consuming an ever larger part of the social budget.
Over the past eight years, almost every province has sponsored a major review of its health system with these questions in mind. Not surprisingly, there are a number of recurring recommendations that have emerged from these reviews. One key recurring theme is the need for a stronger focus on the prevention of disease, injury and dysfunction and on the promotion of good health. A substantial amount of resources is put toward the treatment of preventable injuries caused by accidents and violence and the treatment of preventable conditions that result from unhealthy living and unhealthy living environments. Effective prevention and promotion actions would reduce our use of and dependence on doctors, hospitals and other expensive forms of sickness care. They would also help establish a true health system that actively fosters and encourages health and well being.
But effective prevention and promotion requires the active participation of communities, organizations, families, individuals and government. And it requires coordination among all human services workers, not just health workers. No one element can be effective by itself. Each has to be empowered to make decisions and to take action and each needs to be linked in with a common vision of where we want to go. As a result, stronger community-level participation in health and social planning and service delivery has emerged as another predominant theme right across the country.
The Yukon Health Act addresses both these emerging directions. And it does more. Embodied in this act are six major principles that will guide development of the Yukons health system and social services over the decade ahead. These principles have been actively discussed in consultations about the act over the past several months and they are widely supported.
To refresh everybodys memory, they are prevention, integration, accountability, cultural sensitivity, partnership and accessibility. We are pleased to lead the way in a number of areas with this new piece of legislation. I would like to take a few minutes to highlight some of the major features of this act.
To date, many jurisdictions have talked about changing their focus to building a system that truly supports well-being. The Yukons Health Act will legislate a requirement for action in this area. Health policy analysts have argued for a number of years that a growing proportion of health budgets should be spent on prevention and promotion activities every year. The Health Act provides for this.
By the year 2000, as a minimum, an amount equivalent to five percent of the medical treatment budget will be allocated for promotion and prevention activities. Some may say this is too small an amount, but I would point out that many jurisdictions are struggling with making a commitment to assigning even half that amount in their budgets. In this jurisdiction, we are spending a very small percentage of even that amount at this point in time.
Further, this act commits us to the government-wide development of healthy public policy. This means that Cabinet will consider the health impacts that its plans and decisions will have, with the expectation that government decisions will support healthy environments and healthy communities.
With this broad focus, government will be considering health issues across the full spectrum of its departments and activities, not just in the health branch. Another very important step is the establishment of a clear mandate for the department to integrate its various social and health services, to the extent that this is practical. People in the communities applauded this move. We expect this provision to make our services for people to access. We also believe it will allow the front-line service providers to work together more freely in a way that makes the best use of their time and skills.
The act empowers communities, if they choose, to directly shape and manage their local social and health services through district boards. Community consultations resoundingly told us that the act must be flexible in this area, so it can accommodate their individual circumstances and abilities. While the act itself is flexible, it requires that any proposal to establish a district board must be thorough and comprehensive.
Each community, or cluster of communities, that decides to move in this direction will be able to work with the department to design a structure and a process that meets their specific needs and interests.
Responsibilities and correlating accountability mechanisms would be detailed in each proposal to establish a particular district, as would be the composition and the functions of the board.
I see the community focus as one of the most exciting parts of this act. Through it, individuals and families and communities will be able to participate closely in the planning and direction of their local health and social services.
The Health Act also charts new ground in its recognition of traditional aboriginal healing and its commitment to promoting mutual understanding between advocates of aboriginal and mainstream medicine. We do not plan, through this act, to control, define or regulate aboriginal healing practices, nor do we plan to pay for such healing through our medicare system. We do plan to foster respect and understanding and to work with Yukons First Nations to protect their practices in a way that fits their traditions.
The act requires the tabling of a health status report every three years with annual updates in between. This public accounting of health trends and health status will help us to identify key priorities.
As one final element, I would like to highlight that the act authorizes the establishment of advisory committees, such as the technological review committee and an ethics committee, two instruments that were very much in demand by people in the consultations.
While there are many more interesting features of the Health Act, I would hope to be able to point them out as we review the act in greater detail as we go through it clause by clause in Committee.
I want to say I am very pleased to table this important piece of legislation in the House. It is an unusual bill in one respect in that it is an empowering and an enabling piece of legislation and not a prescriptive and regulatory one, as are most acts.
While it proposed to empower communities in the same way that the Education Act did, this is a framework piece of legislation rather than a comprehensive piece of legislation, as was the Education Act.
This was intentional. By designing the act this way, we will allow a health and social system to develop that is responsive to and directed by the coordinated efforts of individuals, families, communities and government. This is not a piece of legislation that pretends to have all the answers to all the questions or problems in the health care system today. We do propose to move into the realities of the 1990s with a progressive vision and a desire to work together to solve the challenges that lie ahead.
Mr. Lang: I would like to speak to a number of principles within the legislation before us, but before I begin, I would like to offer my congratulations to those people working in the health field in the Yukon today: the nurses, doctors and those within the administration for the work they are doing on behalf of the public. I believe we have a very fine medical system, one that has been getting progressively better over the years as technology has improved. When one thinks about what was in the Yukon some 30 years ago and about what we have today, there is no comparison. I think it speaks well of those who have committed their lives to careers in the field of health and health care.
The Minister spoke about the escalating costs in the health field. Yes, it is a reality. It is a reality we have to accept because we have no choice. The fact is that we are all living longer, and that is primarily due to medical technology. In view of that, there will obviously be more costs to society as longevity becomes the order of the day.
The one area that we wholeheartedly support in this legislation is the preventive approach. We feel it is a logical approach to health care if we can dissuade people from taking up practices such as smoking, drinking and this type of thing. At least do it in moderation. Then the long-term cost to society, and you and I as taxpayers, will be a lot less.
I am encouraged, as a parent, when I see the changing attitudes of the younger people toward such things as smoking, drugs and this type of thing through programs that have been administered in part through the education system as well as by parents.
I think there is an awakening in our young people of the perils that are before them if they imbibe excessively. I do sense some encouragement. Only time will tell how the next generation will look at life and the various things they are exposed to.
The other aspect I would like to mention is an observation I made last night when we were playing hockey and the changes that have occurred over the years. When I was young, we just went out and played a game of basketball or hockey. Now, when I take my child to the hockey arena, they do a warm-up or workout prior to playing the game. Obviously, this will help prevent injuries. Twenty years ago, that knowledge was not available in the sports world. This is happening at all levels of sports. It is just another way I can see a preventive approach developing.
I think it is safe to say there would be support in this House for the health investment fund. If properly managed, that cannot help but be advantageous to the people of the territory. I question, and we will get into this during the clause by clause debate, just how much authority the Minister has over the decisions being made on how that fund is going to be administered. It seems the enabling powers are very broad. The terms and conditions of how it will be operated are not well defined.
Another area that makes sense, and will be becoming more important as time goes on, is the integration of health care and social services. There is definitely a common cause in most of these services. There should be some integration. Then, I would hope, we would see some savings of taxpayers money in the administration of some of these programs - if, that is, you can ever save money in government. That is a question by itself we could probably debate ad nauseum.
The other area I do not think anyone would disagree on is the question of accessibility within the health care system. It is one we would all stand and support as Members.
The other area the Minister did not speak to at all is the question of travel for parents or guardians, in respect to situations that come up because of accidents and otherwise, and we feel that is a step in the right direction. The one area that concerns us is the responsibility that has been put on to the doctors to make the decision of who travels and who does not. There has to be a second look at that by the administration with the idea of seeing some sort of method of referee in these cases. Quite frankly, I do not think the doctor should be put into that position. Doctors are there as advocates of the patient. What doctor is not going to say that your spouse should not travel outside and accompany you if you have to go out for treatment? It puts them in a very difficult position. On the one hand, you are asking them to save money within the health system and, at the same time, you are saying they should be the advocate on behalf of the patient.
I know the doctors have raised this as an issue, and it is one that has to be looked at. It is unfair, and there are methods that could be employed that would take the onus off the medical community.
This leads me to the one area that is of grave concern to this side, and that is the question of the enabling power to create boards for towns or districts throughout the Yukon. There are a number of reasons for my concern. First of all, in the Yukon, as of May of last year, there were 87 boards created over the years by the Yukon territorial government that still functioning. They have Yukon people appointed to them. We are told we are on the threshold of a land claim settlement. This will cause numerous new boards to be created.
Over and above that, within the municipalities, we have numerous boards that are created to carry out various municipal functions. Over and above that, we have the Government of Canada, which has numerous boards with Yukon representatives on them, looking at various aspects of federal authority: for example, the water board.
First of all, I very much question how many people there are left who are able to serve on boards. It is almost becoming an industry by itself. There are only 30,000 people in the Yukon. I think sometimes we get carried away with our own importance and we start thinking we are governing an area with a population of Ontario. That is not the case.
The other area of concern that we have is that we see the possibilities of the politicization of our health system. If people have their own political agenda, we could conceivably see different kinds of services being provided in different areas of the Yukon - I am just raising this for debate - we do not want to see that happen and we see no cause for that to happen.
The other area of concern that we have with boards is the cost of administration. Every time you set up a board, you create a cost. If anybody is under the illusion that you run a board at no cost, you better check again, because you and I know that honorariums are paid. Over and above that, every board is going to have secretarial help; every board is going to have to be administered. If these boards are created throughout the territory, the administration cost is going to be taken from our health care system. I think that has some validity. I caution the government to be very careful in the creation of these boards throughout the territory.
It is our feeling that there should be one territorial-wide board appointed, similar to the one board that they have created to look at health and social services across the Yukon. Give certain powers to that board, ensuring that there is rural and urban representation, native and non-native representation on that board, to ensure that all sectors of our society are represented. That would do a number of things that we feel would be in the best interests of the Yukon. It would ensure that under one body there was a coordination of health services. It would ensure primarily that the rural communities were being heard. This board conceivably could be granted the authority to take responsibility for the various hospitals, primarily the Whitehorse General Hospital. That is a Yukon hospital; it is not a Whitehorse hospital.
As all Members know, especially those from the rural communities, many constituents, at one time or another, have had to use the Whitehorse General Hospital because of what is provided there. So it should not just be seen as serving the people of the City of Whitehorse and the communities around its boundaries. It is there to serve the Yukon. We feel very strongly that this is an area that deserves some debate because we feel that if it is not done properly, we may well see different health services in different parts of the Yukon, and we believe that that would not be in our best interest.
We look forward to debate on this bill. As the Member has indicated, it is basically an enabling piece of legislation and that, to be frank, I have some reservations about. It makes me nervous because when this Legislature gives enabling legislation, it always seems to be that the government, no matter who they are, goes the extra country mile to make sure that use, to the nth degree, the authority that has been granted to them. The unfortunate aspect of that is that it is always hidden in regulation and subsequently is not given full public debate in the context of a piece of legislation in this House.
I just want us to make this point to the government side: we would like to see our legislation more definitive. It gives the public a better awareness of what the governments intentions are and it gives all Members more reason for a well-rounded debate. If we are just discussing the question of creating boards - and sometimes it seems that that is what we do ad infinitum - every time we get a piece of legislation, the whole essence of the legislation is to create a board and not to talk about the objectives of the legislation.
We are going to look forward to discussing the bill and we will be looking forward to the answers that the Minister provides us in Committee.
Speaker: The Hon. Member will close debate if he now speaks. Does any other Member wish to be heard?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I welcome the opportunity to respond to the Members comments, and I would note that there is much that he had to say that was agreeable. Let me just note some of those things before I comment on his critique. He noted that we have a fine medical system and he complimented the doctors, nurses and other professionals we have in the system. I am sure all Members in this House would join in such compliments.
One of the essential features of this bill though, is it does broaden the definition of the notion that most of us grew up with, that is that health is about doctors, nurses and hospitals. This notion of health now includes everything from participaction the Member spoke of to notions of work-related stress to the consumption of alcohol, what we eat and our various recreations. It involves not just physical health but psychological or mental well-being, even, as some people like to use the term, a sense of wellness being the focus of health nowadays, rather than a focus on sickness.
The Member talks about costs being a reality that we have to accept. To a certain extent that is very true because the health insurance programs we have are statutory obligations. If people go to see a doctor, the doctor sends us the bill and we have to pay. There is no question about that and if people decide to see doctors more frequently, we will get the bills. Many of our parents told us one of the old adages about an ounce of prevention being worth a pound of cure, and it really is clear to most people in the system now that if we were to reduce the costs of sickness in society, we are going to make a much greater investment in prevention, and I am glad to hear there is agreement with that proposition on the other side. I am glad to hear that the desirability of integration is great and that there are savings possible there. I want to say more of that later in the debate, though, because it seems to me there are two places where integration is relatively easy to achieve. One is at the top of the system at the Minister and deputy minister level; the other is at the community level. The most difficult place is in the middle of the system. Significant bureaucracies are not organized well to work together. In the communities, individuals on the front line, people who are running health or social services or education or justice services, do know each other and can work together if they are mandated to do so.
One of the most effective ways to do that is with the assistance of a community board. That is one of the reasons why we have moved in that direction and I will come back to not only the desirability of that but also what I think are some of the potential economies and improvements in effectiveness that can be achieved through that. I am glad to hear agreement on the re-statement of that principle of accessibility.
The Member was quite right I did not talk about travel. This act does empower the Minister to make the changes and improvements in the medical travel policy that we have announced that we want to make. This bill does give me the ability to make those improvements, upon its passage.
I want to spend a little time on the question of the community boards because I appreciate what the Member says about wanting to debate this at length in committee, but I want to share with him some of my thoughts about it now so we can understand each others position when we get to committee stage.
The Member raised a question that is on the mind of many people about duplication, the problem of the proliferation of boards and the problem the Leader of the Official Opposition has addressed on occasion as to whether or not there are enough people in the territory to occupy all the boards that may exist in the next few years as a result of land claims. I will concede right off that it is a fair question. In every community in which we have had consultation there was some thought. I can tell Members that in communities where the wish was expressed to have this kind of committee, people in that community immediately turned their minds to what kind of board might operate. I can tell the Members that in some communities that may be thinking along these lines they are already anticipating the possibility that, depending on the nature of the community, the band council or the municipal council, or even the school board or council might assume these roles or responsibilities - the same people.
It is interesting that in the Mayo resources project, which is the furthest along in terms of discussing these possibilities - although there are other communities already beginning to talk this way on their own and push us to get involved in making these kind of arrangements - the First Nations and the local municipal council are working together in perfect harmony in a single body in anticipation of this kind of legislation in order to start to give some local direction to health and social services. They want some expression of their priorities and responses to their needs through a local board.
What is interesting about that is that they do not believe that the present system, where there are some agents from the federal government operating from Ottawa, and some in the communities as agents from Whitehorse, and some from the band and some from private organizations, is delivering coordinated services. They believe there are duplications and service gaps. That results from the fact that there is no local coordination and no local community board that can give some direction to these people. This is not about changes in the health care programs, like medicare, because we are not talking about fragmenting the system, but the kind of board that might say that they need an extra counsellor as opposed to an extra public health nurse. They might say they need an alcohol worker as opposed to a dentist, or a public health nurse instead of another social worker.
It is not difficult for a large system like the Yukon government to accommodate those needs as long as there is a legitimate local body that can express them. We do not have that at present.
When we are talking about the public appetite for this kind of empowerment, or the opportunity to have a voice on matters, let us just look at what has happened with the Education Act. A few months ago I think almost every community where there was a school had a school committee. The one that did not had indicated it did not want one. One of the reasons I suspect it did not want one is because it did not see it as having any real authority, power or influence. But the minute there was the opportunity for it to have a school council with a much more substantial voice in the management of that local education facility, it moved from having nothing to having a council.
I think the Member is quite right; sure, there are only 30,000 people in the Yukon. But I can tell him that the vast majority, especially the people who are more permanent residents, very much want to have a voice.
I do not think the proposition here for the health and social service districts and boards is going to amount to fragmentation any more than the opposite situation creates an identical situation in every community. There are a variety of needs and problems in the Yukon.
I believe these kinds of boards, no matter how they are constituted, will help achieve the kind of coordination I have talked about, avoid some of the duplication, and will give a kind of responsiveness, accountability and accessibility to the system that is not now present.
It has to be emphasized that this act makes it very clear, in the same way the Education Act did, that we are not going to be imposing districts or boards on anyone. If a community likes the way things are now, and is not interested in having one, it will not have one. This is not about the government creating a regulatory power and then maximizing its authority. It is clearly indicating that the government is prepared to share its legal authority and powers with the communities in this area.
The act is framework legislation. The Member is concerned about definition, and I have to make it clear that this act does not replace the Mental Health Act, the Hospital Act, the Health Insurance Act, or any of those other acts. It provides a framework to link all of them together in one system.
We have heard from one group a proposal that there be a single board throughout the territory. We have discussed this idea, but it is not an idea that gives the communities what they want at all, in the same way that any other total territorial board satisfies the community aspirations.
As a working politician, I suspect the Member would soon realize that a territorial board does not solve any problems for the Minister, either, because the board is going to make some decisions the people do not like, and they are going to appeal to the Minister anyway. Some of the things some professionals of the board might want the Minister to delegate, which is spending power in some areas, the Minister will not be prepared to delegate, because the Minister has to ultimately be accountable to the Legislature. The fact that a board wants to spend the money on something that may not have been approved by the Legislature will not cut any ice with legislators anyway. They will want the Minister to be accountable.
The notion that such a board would run the hospital is also at variance with the fact that we have already passed legislation in this House to govern this hospital and constitutes the board as a territorial board for a territorial or regional hospital.
I am happy to discuss the Members ideas on this point. I want to make that clear. A lot of thought and discussion has been put into this and I think we feel fairly strongly that the kind of model we want and the direction in which we want to go is one that is not only right but is very consistent with the wishes of the people in the communities who spoke to us about this question. Having said that, I appreciate the constructive comments of the Member opposite, and I look forward to committee stage of deliberations on this piece of legislation.
Motion for second reading of Bill No. 4 agreed to
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 Committee of the Whole to order and declare a break.
Chair: I call Committee back to order.
Bill No. 15 - Second Appropriation Act, 1990-91 - continued
Department of Justice -continued
On Operation and Maintenance-continued
On Solicitor General - continued
Hon. Ms. Joe: I said yesterday that I would bring some information about why we are asking for $1.4 million in this line item. I think the Member knows there is always a budget given to us by the RCMP indicating how much they are projecting for that year at that time. Each and every year there is an increase. We have no control over this. There is a great deal of consultation between officials in my department and the people in the RCMP responsible for the budget.
The $1.4 million is for increases in the area of salaries and wages, transportation and travel, professional and special services, rentals of equipment, repairs and maintenance, utilities, materials and supplies and acquisition of equipment.
There were some search and rescue operations that occurred this year. These things are unexpected. There was retroactive pay and money spent for the Governor Generals visit that were not included in the budget at that time and the cost of sending an RCMP member to Namibia. There were missing persons included in this item, such as searching the rivers and other things. In general, the increases were for all these purposes.
Mrs. Firth: It sounds to me like the Minister got every little trip and every little thing that happened within the RCMP over the last year, for them to justify this hefty increase. Is there one particular item for salary dollars or something that takes up the major portion of it? I mean, I can see extra rescue missions, and so on, but all of the things that the Minister has given me still seems to amount to a lot of money - $1.5 million to cover all those things. Perhaps the Minister can tell me that.
Hon. Ms. Joe: I will send over a copy of the increases to the Member. There was a major cost increase in the salaries of $658,000. There was another increase of $896,000 for the telecommunications system. Those were the major items of this line item.
Mrs. Firth: Is the increase in salaries of $658,000 broken down? I do not see a breakdown on this paper that she has given me. I see an extra cost for professional and special services for $117,000, so perhaps she could give us a breakdown of what that $658,000 is for.
Hon. Ms. Joe: The majority of that is the increase in the collective bargaining of a certain percentage, and some retroactive pay that went back to January of 1990.
Mrs. Firth: The Minister mentioned $896,000 for a telecommunications system. Is that under the utilities, materials, supplies portion? Is that what that refers to in this listing she has given me?
Hon. Ms. Joe: I am informed that it comes under rentals and that the equipment that we rent basically comes from Northwestel.
Mrs. Firth: I see it at the bottom of the page here, this major cost increase in salaries and the MDM-RS telecom system. That must be the central headquarters, the operations of the answering system in the RCMP headquarters.
Hon. Ms. Joe: That is correct.
Mrs. Firth: If we were to implement the 911 number, this new system - I see the Minister shaking her head, perhaps she could be more specific as to exactly what this is.
Hon. Ms. Joe: I cannot explain to her the technicalities in regard to how 911 would fit into this. I know I have had discussions with the RCMP in regard to that. This year, the systems within the communities, the equipment that is necessary in order to make sure that communication has been improved, have been included. I am under the impression right now that 911 would not fit into this, but I cannot explain it technically.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Perhaps I can help a little bit. The MDM-RS system is the system that the Government of Yukon has bought into that provides for the replacement of the VHF system. In simplistic terms, it amounts to Northwestel having been contracted to provide for a communications system up and down all the major highways. It is broken into a four-year phase-in process. We are in phase two now. In our case, as a government, we will be hooked into that communications system on a mobile basis from all of our vehicles in all departments that have a need to move up and down the highway, whether it is Renewable Resources or Community and Transportation Services.
The RCMP have bought into that system too, totally unrelated to any connection with the government system. They have bought into the MDM-RS system. They bought a channel on that same telecommunications network so that their vehicles are going to be equipped with the ability to communicate up and down the highway.
I am not familiar with the costs related to it, but I believe that is what the budget would be for.
Hon. Ms. Joe: The cost is our percentage of 70 percent.
Mrs. Firth: That 70 percent amounts to this $896,633. I know the communication system the Minister of Government Services is referring to now. That is the one that is going to cost $9 million over the whole term for communications systems; therefore, the 911 number cannot be used with this system. Is that what the Minister of Justice is saying? They would have to buy all new equipment, from the research work I received from the Minister responsible for Government Services. Are we going to be duplicating it? We are going to be looking at $9 million for the government to have a communications system; the RCMP have bought almost another $1 million worth; and we are going to have to buy more for the 911 system. Is that correct?
Hon. Ms. Joe: I cannot explain the technicalities of it. It is my understanding that this is VHF, and the other would be a telephone line.
Mrs. Firth: I understand that. I will get some more details with respect to the system on my own, so I can have a better understanding of how everything is going to work, and whether we are spending our money efficiently or not, or whether we are duplicating what we are doing.
Does the Minister have a breakdown for all these figures for professional and special services, and utilities, materials and acquisition of equipment? Is that further broken down?
Hon. Ms. Joe: The information she has is the information that was provided to us by the RCMP. If she requires more than that, I believe it would be hard to provide.
Mrs. Firth: I would like to see a further breakdown. Would the Minister ask the RCMP about that? It is nice to say we need $536,737 worth of equipment, but it would be kind of nice to know what it is for, since we have to pay the bills and utilities, materials and supplies for almost $849,000. I would also like to know what that is.
I can see they have included this as part of their total operation and maintenance budget, so they are not specifically asking for those amounts as extra. I would like to have a further breakdown. I do not want to know how many police cars, paper clips or pencils, but it would be nice to see a further breakdown of their budget.
Hon. Ms. Joe: I do have some information, not with me, but certainly we can ask for that information. It would be of interest to me as well because, as the Member said, we are paying 70 percent of the budget for the RCMP so certainly we will try to get as much information as we can.
Mrs. Firth: Still, with respect to the RCMP agreement, I have had communication with the Minister on the negotiations and have been offered a briefing opportunity. I called the acting deputy minister of Justice and was essentially filled in on the main points. I have been offered a fuller briefing at some later time. Can the Minister give me any indication when that is going to be? Are they still in negotiations? How are things going? Perhaps she can give us an update on it.
Hon. Ms. Joe: I did attend a meeting two weeks ago tomorrow in Vancouver as a follow-up to the negotiations that were going on between officials. Ministers met for the first time in a lot of months to talk about the big issues we are dealing with now. We have responded to the federal Minister with regard to our concerns. They have indicated the kind of things they thought we should be responsible for. We have responded to him as a group and listed our concerns. We are waiting for a response from them. At the same meeting we had already decided we would send two individuals to meet with the Minister, and that meeting has not taken place yet.
Mrs. Firth: Could the Minister give us some time line? I am not going to hold her hard and fast to it because I can appreciate how it can go, but we have obviously reached a bit of an impasse. There are a couple of issues they have to discuss. Can she tell us when those two people will be meeting and what her objective and goal is to get this agreement renewed?
Hon. Ms. Joe: The existing contract, as the Member knows, expires at the end of this fiscal year. There is a certain period of time left before that time runs out. We have not received a response from Mr. Cadieux yet. I cannot remember when the two Ministers were going to meet with him on our behalf. I believe it was sometime in December.
Mrs. Firth: Does it expire in March, 1991? Does the Minister expect that she will be able to get it finalized before then? It is not very far away.
Hon. Ms. Joe: It is not very far away, but there have been a lot of things that have been settled with regard to the kinds of things about which we had concerns. There has been some agreement on the manner in which the north deals with the RCMP. I would hope that we would be able to come to some kind of agreement by the time this contract expires, but we have also discussed the possibility of it not being completed prior to the end of the contract term in March, 1991. We have to plan for that in case it happens. It is our hope that it will not and that we can proceed at that time with the new contract.
Mrs. Firth: I just have one more question for the Minister.
When we get to the 1991-92 mains, will the RCMP be providing the Minister with budget forecasts? The sheet she has given me has the 1989-90 and then the 1990-91 forecasts for comparison. Could we be provided with the one for the next budget we will be debating?
Hon. Ms. Joe: The amount of money that was included in the 1991-92 budget is what we had to work with at that time, with the information provided to us by the RCMP in discussion with their two officials. It will be lower than what we have asked for, including this $1.4 million amount. I do not know what that figure is because I do not have it on my desk.
Mrs. Firth: Well, I guess what I am looking for is when the budget comes forward for debate, the RCMP agreement is part of the $15 million surplus that is going to be left over. I cannot quite remember what the budget is next year for the RCMP. Perhaps the official can remember what has been identified in the 1991-92 budget book for the RCMP contract.
Hon. Ms. Joe: It is $7.5 million.
Mrs. Firth: If we could even get a breakdown of that $7.5 million as we have on this sheet, we would know where the changes have been in the past two years. Then the surplus, I gather, is for the additional costs coming forward after the agreement is negotiated and Justice will be getting that out of the surplus funds.
Hon. Ms. Joe: That is correct. We will provide this kind of information when we deal with the budget, the O&M mains.
Mrs. Firth: I have no further questions about the RCMP, so I am prepared to proceed.
Mr. Devries: In Watson Lake, during the past year, we have had an increase of common assaults of in the neighbourhood of 100 to 150 percent. The RCMP are concerned, with the Mt. Hundere project and more people coming into town, that they will be under staffed in the Watson Lake area. We have eight there now, which seems like a lot, but we still do not have RCMP on duty 24 hours a day. It looks like there is going to be a real demand to have them on duty for 24 hours a day. Do they apply through the Department of Justice for additional people or do they go directly to the RCMP?
Hon. Ms. Joe: I have had discussions in the past with the RCMP in regard to additional person years. The Member probably knows that we have more RCMP officers in the Yukon per capita than anywhere else in Canada, so our record is quite high. The Member also knows, from just looking at this supplementary, that we are asking for an additional amount of money to cover the high cost of providing RCMP services to the Yukon. Many people believe that the federal government pays for the full cost of the RCMP, and they do not. We pay for 70 percent of that amount.
In the past, whenever a community has a concern in regard to the RCMP, sometimes it is addressed to me, and sometimes it is addressed directly to the RCMP. I would like to say right now that I have had a lot of contact with the RCMP in regard to many issues, and I have travelled throughout the Yukon and talked to a member or two from each detachment about the concerns of the communities. A lot of those kinds of concerns are brought out and if they are related to me, I, in turn, pass that information on to Chief Superintendent Gilholme and certainly I will do that with this. I cannot tell them to provide more people to a certain area because I get requests from a lot of the communities for more members of the police out in those communities. It is a very difficult thing to do. We have not has anybody in Burwash for years, and only this past summer they have been able to provide a service on weekends. Somebody from Haines Junction will travel there; they use a schedule. A person from Beaver Creek will also go there on other weekends so that a service, in a small way, is provided where something was not provided before. It is very difficult to do that but I will pass that information on to the chief superintendent, and I am sure the community will as well.
Mr. Devries: What really bothers me is the alarming statistics that were quoted to me several months ago. I had planned to get a copy from the sergeant last weekend when I was in town, but I will try to have that available during the main estimates. I will be bringing the subject up again because I would be interested to see if these alarming statistics are relevant to all of the Yukon, where there is a tremendous increase in the amount of assaults. Possibly there is something wrong somewhere in our system causing this to happen, or perhaps, it is a trend all across Canada, but it looks like we are going nowhere in addressing violence in the Yukon.
Hon. Ms. Joe: I think the Member is very aware that violence is not just related to the Yukon but is quite prevalent all over the country. I attended part of a conference that was put on by the RCMP - and this was only the second time in Canada that it has been done - on aboriginal policing because, as we know, the majority of those individuals who come into contact with the law are aboriginal people. One other conference was held somewhere else in Canada and the second one was held here. Members of the RCMP from each community were at the meeting, as well as people from that community. A lot of those concerns were brought up at that time, and what they were trying to do was sort of build a closer working relationship and develop a respect for each other because very often that is not there. I am sure that kind of relationship is being developed with the whole town council and the bands in all of the communities. It was evident to me that that was the area in which we were going. I think the relations right now are better than they ever have been. There are some things happening that none of us here in this House would agree with in regard to violence and all of the other things that take place, but there is a move toward building up a good working relationship in the communities. I am sure that will be followed through by the town council and members of the RCMP in Watson Lake.
Solicitor General in the amount of 1, 541,000 agreed to
On Policy and Planning
Policy and Planning in the amount of an under expenditure of $30,000 agreed to
Operation and Maintenance in the amount of $2,474,000 agreed to
Chair: Are there any questions on operation and maintenance recoveries?
On French Language Agreement Equipment
French Language Agreement Equipment in the amount of $24,000 agreed to
On Mine Safety Equipment
Mine Safety Equipment in the amount of $83,000 agreed to
Capital in the amount of $107,000 agreed to
Chair: Are there any questions on capital recoveries?
Hon. Ms. Joe: Did you miss the $30,000 for Policy and Planning?
Chair: No, I did that.
Hon. Ms. Joe: Okay.
Department of Justice agreed to
Public Service Commission
Hon. Ms. Joe: I have a long explanation about how we finally get to $27,000 in this item. I do not know whether or not the Member wants to hear it all. As she knows, the Public Service Commission is responsible for human resource management for all employees of the government, including the following functions. This is our program that has been fairly new in the past couple of years, but it includes recruitment, training, compensation, classification, labour relations, employee assistance, health promotion, employee records and pensions, and employment equity. The Public Service Commission manages these programs under the authority of the Public Service Act, the Public Service Staff Relations Act, and the labour relations section under the Education Act.
The current staff complement is 31 full-time permanent positions, two half-time, and 15.5 term positions, 12 of which are associated with the employment equity branch.
The operating and maintenance supplementary of $27,000 is the net result of an over expenditure in the workers compensation fund. The death of an employee early in 1990 resulted in a pay out during April, 1990.
Does the Member want me to give a breakdown of how we get to this $27,000, or does she have any other questions she would like to ask in general debate?
Mrs. Firth: The first question I had was whether or not that $27,000 was correct. Unless I am making an error in my calculations, I felt that number should be another figure.
Should the $205,000 and $74,000 be subtracted from the $152,000 and the $100,000 that are going back? How did they arrive at this number?
Hon. Ms. Joe: I do have an explanation here of how it all happens in the end.
Mrs. Firth: The concern I have is that when this column of four figures are all calculated together, I get $73,000.
Hon. Ms. Joe: I have not done the arithmetic. I have my official here from the department trying to figure it out.
Perhaps I can send over to the Member the explanation as I read it so that she can have it in front of her. But I will read it into the record as well.
We are looking at $108,000, transfer of the Yukon College grant, Management Board minute 90/1309. When originally voted, the Public Service Commission still provided all recruitment activities for the college. These services are no longer provided. There are $18,000 in personnel costs and $90,000 operation costs, which include advertising, interviews, house hunting and removals, for a total of $108,000. This will be transferred to the college and removed from the Public Service Commissions 1990-91 budget base. This year the commission will show a $108,000 surplus for those services it no longer provides.
The next is the employee assignment agreement. A PSC employee is now on assignment with Yukon College. The commission will continue to pay all salary and benefits and then recover all costs from Yukon College. That is a $30,000 over expenditure, as indicated. Transfer to employment equity program has a $74,000 surplus. Human resource planning will be transferred to the employment equity. The $29,000 from employment equity human resource analyst to be hired out of the person year surplus this year and $45,000 is to cover the work force profile survey costs.
The total recruiting and training in that figure is $152,000. The workers compensation fund forecast is $205,000 over expenditure. That was caused by the death of an employee that resulted in a pay out of $370,395 in April. The positive employment program, now known as the employment equity branch, forecast a $74,000 over expenditure. Transfer of funds from recruitment and training, Human Resource planning activity for an employment equity human resource analyst, is a $29,000 under expenditure.
A transfer of funds from recruitment and training, Human Resource planning activity, to cover the work force profile survey costs is a $45,000 under expenditure; total positive employment program for $74,000 under expenditure; leave accruals for a $100,000 surplus. The total for the Public Service Commission is $27,000. So we come out in the end with a total of $27,000. As indicated we also have a recovery in here of $30,000.
Mrs. Firth: I have my mathematics figured out with the help of one of my colleagues. Perhaps I could ask the Minister a couple of general questions about the department and I think we will be able to pass the amount.
I would like to ask what has happened in the department over the last year. Can the Minister tell us when we are going to see some of the results of the work place profile survey that was done? When does she expect that will be published?
Hon. Ms. Joe: The person sitting beside me has more up-to-date information than the briefing notes have. The statistics will be made available to departmental representatives only for the categories of gender and aboriginal status. Information from questionnaires is now being recorded. Analysis of data will occur in January, and a preliminary release of information is scheduled for January.
Mrs. Firth: Can the Minister tell us how many people participated in this, how many surveys were sent out, and how many completed surveys they received?
Hon. Ms. Joe: The statistics bureau is compiling that information and is still in the process of gathering those statistics.
Mrs. Firth: I thought they would have known how many went out and how many completed ones came back in. If the Minister cannot answer that, I would like to have that information for the operation and maintenance budget debate.
Hon. Ms. Joe: We do have a fairly good indication of the number of questionnaires that went out and the people who responded to them. I recall the discussion I had about three weeks ago with the department in regard to that and its general feeling about the response. I can provide that information to her as soon as it becomes available, and it might even be available now.
Mrs. Firth: I would like to have that for the budget debate, if I could. I will wait for that information.
I had quite a few concerns expressed to me about the general hiring practices of the Public Service Commission, how it is operating, and the general attitude about it among the public. I continue to have the concern expressed to me about the philosophical approach of the government, that jobs are geared to women, to Indian people, to people with disabilities and to target groups. There is a particularly strong feeling from some men who tell me they do not even bother applying for jobs because they are never going to get that job, there is already someone targeted to get that job.
What steps is the Ministers department taking to moderate the very strong overtones of affirmative action programs, and target groups getting the jobs, so they can reassure and encourage these people to apply for jobs? I would be very concerned if good people were to stop applying for jobs because they felt they would not be eligible for them because other individuals were to be targeted. That is not constructive or positive and, in the end, we do not necessarily get the best person for the job, if that is the case.
Could the Minister tell us what steps the department is taking to see that nobody is being excluded from applying for jobs?
Hon. Ms. Joe: One of the things that has happened since I have been responsible for this position is that I have certainly heard about many of the concerns that individuals have in regard to the hiring practices, not only in the employment equity program but also in the general hiring practices for all kinds of jobs. I get complaints from people in regard to that and I get representation from Members opposite in regard to certain people.
In regard to the employment equity program, we anticipated that there would be a great deal of concern from Members who were applying for jobs. There was an indication from the Member for Kluane yesterday in regard to the response that his daughter got when she applied for a job. Any time that changes are made, of course, there will be a great deal of concern out there. I think, in a lot of cases, whenever something radically new happens, people do become a little bit afraid. In some cases I do not blame them but employment equity is something that we believe in and something that we have to practice. I do not think that we can look throughout this government and see an overabundance of people with disabilities. I think in some cases when we restrict employment, such as we did with the six assistant deputy ministers, because that was such a radical change a lot of people did become concerned. There are sometimes reasons for doing that. I think in the past women have applied for those managerial jobs and have not been successful and there still is the old feeling - I think it is called clone hiring - where people tend to hire people who look, or act or are in the same category as they are. We believe in this government that we have, and had at that time, many qualified women who could do the jobs that we were advertising. We spent a great deal of time making a final decision in regard to making those restrictions. We have not done it often but we have done it.
I want to assure any individual who is applying for a job with this government that all of their concerns are taken into consideration, that our hiring practices, I hope, are becoming a little bit more equal in relation to the general public. I know that we have a lot of male employees here in the Yukon who hold very good managerial positions. Our statistics for women in management are steadily improving. We are very pleased with that, but I share the Members concern about people out there who do voice a concern.
The Member from Whitehorse South Centre talked about how one can only get a job if one is an aboriginal disabled woman. She also asked if it would be such a crime to give preference to this person for a job as it is not easy for disabled people to get employment. We do hire them through our employment equity program. It is something we put a lot of thought into and for which we could expect to receive a lot of criticism, but I think that in the end we will see a different way of dealing with employment equity.
Mrs. Firth: I guess it all comes down to a philosophical difference as to whether or not one is getting the best person for the job and the possibility that the best people are not even applying because they feel they have no chance of getting it. That is our concern. I would not like to think that there is less competition for jobs because many people who were qualified were not applying. There are no programs in place to alleviate this situation. Perhaps the Minister could look at that.
Managers have a responsibility to identify particular abilities in their staff, both men and women, and people with disabilities, providing their disability does not impair their ability to do the job. Managers have the expertise to identify potential in individuals and encourage people to develop or enhance it and encourage people to apply for other jobs, rather than saying that there are six jobs for assistant deputy ministers and they are for women only so that men need not apply.
My preference would be that those kinds of training skills have been provided to managers so they could encourage staff to apply for jobs or take courses. For example, if a clerk possessed some mathematical skills, the manager could recognize that and encourage him or her to take courses at the college for upgrading in order to advance to another job. That seems to be a more practical and fair way of doing things rather than creating an atmosphere where the concern develops as to whether you can get a job as a white male or if a person gets a job because they are Indian person or female. People may feel they got the job without tough competition.
I think it makes for a more dignified and satisfied work force. I would like to ask the Minister if she is prepared to consider something like that?
Hon. Ms. Joe: Although it is not stated in any program that is, to a certain extent, what happens in a lot of different departments. I have known individuals who have taken different training, have had to travel away, and have been sponsored by this government to take further training so that they have better knowledge of things that have to do with their job. We have the under-fill program where that happens quite a bit. I would like to tell the Member that each and every person who applies for the job and is accepted into any kind of training position or job has to have the necessary qualifications. They have to meet those qualifications. It does not matter whether they are under the employment equity program or if it is a standard position. Certainly if there is any way we can improve the system, we will look at it. We have developed a lot of training programs.
I think I mentioned to the House in one of my speeches on the budget that over 1,000 employees have taken advantage of some form of training in the last year. I can provide those figures again. There has been a large number. I do not know if the Member has seen a list of all the training that we have available. It is quite extensive. We are trying to improve on that all the time. Under the human resource program it is quite evident that there are a lot of training programs that employees can take advantage of, and they are improving all the time.
On Operation and Maintenance
On Recruitment & Training
Recruitment & Training in the amount of an under expenditure of $152,000 agreed to
On Workers Compensation Fund
Workers Compensation Fund in the amount of $205,000 agreed to
On Positive Employment Program
Positive Employment Program in the amount of $74,000 agreed to
On Leave Accruals
Leave Accruals in the amount of an under expenditure of $100,000 agreed to
Operation and Maintenance in the amount of $27,000 agreed to
Chair: Are there any questions on the Yukon College recoveries?
Public Service Commission agreed to
Chair: The Committee will take a 15-minute break.
Chair: I call Committee back to order.
Department of Renewable Resources
Chair: Is there any general debate on Renewable Resources?
Hon. Mr. Webster: The supplementary for the Department of Renewable Resources reflects additional funding requirements in operation and maintenance of $185,000, and in capital of $91,000, for a total increase of $276,000. Offsetting these increases are recoveries of $193,000, leaving an actual increase in net cost of $83,000.
Increase in administration is $40,000 for the resource management and enhancement fund. This is essentially a revote of unexpended funds from 1989-90 for the Yukon conservation strategy demonstration project and fisheries initiatives for sustainable harvest projects.
Policy and planning have a reduction of $137,000, primarily as a result of decreased land claims funding of $400,000 for preimplementation of wildlife management and heritage boards. However, additional funding of $270,000 has been requested for work on the new environmental act. There was also a transfer of $7,000 to capital for office furniture for the environmental unit. There is an increase of $23,000 in parks, resources and regional planning as a result of the negotiation and signing of the new Yukon land-use planning contribution agreement, which is fully recoverable.
The fish and wildlife branch has a net increase of $259,000, of which $170,000 is fully recoverable from outside sources, and $94,000 is being drawn down from the base transfer from the federal government.
Items in the fish and wildlife area include $53,000 for the Mt. Mye sheep project, of which $40,000 is recoverable from Wildlife Habitat Canada, and $13,000 is recoverable from the Foundation for North American Wild Sheep. Eighty-seven thousand dollars has been identified for the Liard River habitat study, of which $77,000 is recoverable from Wildlife Habitat Canada, and $10,000 from the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs. Three thousand dollars from Wildlife Habitat Canada is identified for completion of habitat studies, and $94,000 for fisheries is required for the base transfer by the federal government. There is also a transfer to capital of $5,000 for equipment required by the small game section.
On the capital expenditures side, there are two transfers from operation and maintenance to departmental equipment of $12,000, as well as $34,000 from the federal base transfer for fisheries equipment. Nine thousand dollars was voted for equipment not received at year-end, and $16,000 was revoted for the final publication of the Yukon Conservation Strategy.
Twenty thousand dollars will be voted for the Dempster corridor study. I trust these opening remarks will provide some clarification, assistance and understanding of the reasons behind the supplementary estimates.
Mr. Lang: I would like to get into one area that is of concern to us. I think it is one that is of concern to some members within the Renewable Resources branch and that is the question of management of game itself. I think we are, to some degree, forgetting what the mandate of the Renewable Resources department is and that is to manage the wildlife of the territory. That does not just mean bringing in regulations to govern the hunters, but it also is to bring in various programs to ensure that our game populations such moose and caribou can continue to flourish. I specifically refer to game zones 7 and 9. I feel that the Minister and the department have been totally delinquent, under the guidance of this Minister and the previous Minister, in view of what has happened in game zones 7 and 9. What is going on is that area is an absolute tragedy.
As I said earlier to the Minister, other hunting areas are coming under more and more pressure because that is where Whitehorse hunters are now going; they are having to go 300 to 350 miles away from Whitehorse to go hunting. A lot of people live in the Yukon for the opportunity to get out for that 10 days in the fall to do some hunting, primarily moose, sometimes caribou. Because of the laxness of the Department of Renewable Resources, I feel that you people can bear some of the responsibility. A lot of these other smaller communities are starting to feel some animosity, primarily to the Whitehorse hunter because there is an influx of them. The reality of the situation is the Whitehorse hunter has no other place to go. I would like a definitive answer from the Minister. What does he intend to do in game zones 7 and 9? Just quit waffling on it. He has recommendations from the Wildlife Management Advisory Board; you had recommendations last spring and you just keep going back and back and back and nobody ever does anything.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I want to begin by making it very clear that the Department of Renewable Resources is not delinquent in putting big game management plans in place. The Member for Porter Creek East has suggested that we have had six years now where we are doing basically nothing. I feel that debate will come when we speak to the motion presented by the Member for Porter Creek East later on. We did not have, contrary to what the Member opposite has raised, recommendations in the spring as to game management principles to be introduced for game zone 7 or 9. I have recently received the report from the Yukon Wildlife Management Advisory Board with recommendations about an approach to managing large game in this area.
Mr. Lang: Would the Minister please provide me with a copy of that report?
Hon. Mr. Webster: The report was completed by a subcommittee of the Yukon Wildlife Management Advisory Board, and it was provided to me recently, about three or four weeks ago. As it is their report, which was compiled from information obtained from private consultations with special interest groups, they have not made that report public, and they have asked me not to make it public, either. I am requesting the subcommittee of the Yukon Wildlife Management Advisory Board to take the report and the recommendations out to the public for wider consultation.
Mr. Lang: This is unbelievable. Why does the Minister not quit? Your job is to manage the wildlife of the territory. You have game zones 7 and 9, which various Members on this side of the floor have spoken about time in and time out, and of the major concerns out there, and all the Minister does is go out and consult. Does he not realize he is in a position where he has to make a decision at some given point?
What do you think your responsibility is? Just to go out and eat cake? You have a responsibility. You have Members on this side who are very concerned about the wildlife in the territory.
Chair: I would like to remind you to address the Member as the Minister, and not you.
Mr. Lang: Thank you for redirecting my efforts.
Chair: You are very welcome.
Mr. Lang: I appreciate that, Madam Chair.
Chair: Please address the Minister as the Minister.
Mr. Lang: I intend to do that, thank you.
I am sure the Members for Kluane and Hootalinqua also have views on game zones 7 and 9 and what is taking place there. First of all, let us go back to the report.
The Minister is saying he has a report from the subcommittee, but he is not going to make it available to the public. Is that what he just told us?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I said the subcommittee of the Yukon Management Wildlife Board will be going out to the public for a wider consultation. If it is the position of the subcommittee, which compiled this report, to make the recommendations public, that is fine with me.
Mr. Lang: The Minister makes this job impossible. It is like punching a marshmallow; there is never any end to it. I just do not understand this. Is it not true that the Minister got certain specific recommendations of what the department of Renewable Resources should do in game zones 7 and 9?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I did receive from the Wildlife Management Board, through their report, recommendations of a procedure to follow. Now before that can be done, and in addition to having wider public consultation, a lot of technical information has to be compiled. As the Member is aware, at this particular time we are doing a survey of the moose population and caribou populations in games zones 7 and 9. No, we did not bungle that. That survey is in progress at this time and I would like to receive some comments from the legislative return on that matter.
Thank you, I am looking forward to it.
Chair: Order. We will let the Minister finish.
Hon. Mr. Webster: Once that technical information is received and compiled, our staff members will be reviewing it to show me what course of action to take.
Mr. Lang: We will get into the bungling of the actual moose survey that the Minister is talking about, a little bit later on in debate here. I will be real pleased to hear how the Minister is going to justify using government housing and various other things that he has done there. But I want to pursue this further. Will the Minister tell us in his own words what the recommendations from the council were?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I just finished saying that I will approach the Wildlife Management Board, the group that compiled the report and made the recommendations, to get their approval for release of the recommendations. I am not about, right now, on my feet, to enumerate those recommendations.
Mr. Lang: Could I ask the Minister why? Surely that body that made recommendations to the Minister intended for those recommendations to be made public so why cannot the Minister make them public to the elected Members of the territory? Is that what your attitude toward the Members of this House is? This is the public forum. This is the Legislature that is responsible for creating the Department of Renewable Resources.
I submit to the Minister that he has a responsibility. The Minister has a responsibility to report to this House what recommendations are coming forward for game zones 7 and 9, an area that is very important to the people of the Yukon and in particular to the people in the Whitehorse, Haines Junction and Carcross areas.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I never stated that I would not release the recommendations before. I said I would ask for the approval of the Wildlife Management Advisory Board to release them to the public.
Mr. Lang: The Minister had better check the record. I will give it to him on Monday. We discussed the question of the procedure of the reports from the board and that it was very clear that the board reports to the Minister and the Minister makes the documents public, not the board. They provide you with recommendations. You have a certain time in which to consider them. Then you let the board know your intentions and let us poor peasants know what direction you intend to take.
I submit to the Minister that he check the mandate of the board. The board is only to make recommendations. You are the one who is supposed to release those recommendations and the report. Ultimately, it is your responsibility.
Chair: Again, I ask you to address the Member as the Minister.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I can only repeat that it is the intention of the Wildlife Management Advisory Board to take the report and its recommendations out for public review. They may have an approach as to how they want to do it. I will ask for their advice on the matter and report back.
Mr. Lang: I will be looking forward to that and I expect to have an answer on Monday. I see this issue as important. We should be debating it in this Legislature in full so we know what is going to happen in game zones 7 and 9.
I think it is time the Minister starts assuming responsibility for what has to be done out there. There are going to be some hard decisions to be made. That is why we pay the Minister $70,000 a year. He is supposed to make those decisions, not avoid them or pass them on to someone else.
I would like to move on to the question of Haines Junction. Could the Minister update us on the infamous moose survey and the helicopter contract out there?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I just want to read into the record that I did not recently receive a raise and my salary is not in the neighborhood of $70,000. It is more like $63,000.
As for an update on the moose survey, it is proceeding as planned. I do not have a further update to the information I provided in the legislative return with respect to the helicopter contracts and the renting of the house.
Mr. Lang: I did not understand that and I do not have the legislative return in front of me. In that legislative return it referred to the fact that it saved money because they did not have to pay the $50 per day at the hotel, or $450 for nine rooms. Then it claims that if the team had been housed in hotels, nine rooms would have been needed at a cost of $4,050. If a local contractor had been hired four rooms would have been required at a cost of $1800 per month. The house rental is $500 for the entire period.
Is the Minister telling the House that if they had only had that many employees they would not have rented the house for $500 a month? The Minister is trying to justify how he saved money by not using the hotel. When people go to Dawson City is the Minister going to take the same approach? Will he get his department to rent government housing as opposed to using the hotels in the community, or is this just a little bonus for the community of Haines Junction?
Hon. Mr. Webster: According to the figures I have provided in this legislative return and just read out by the Member opposite I challenge him to determine how we did not save money.
In response to the second part of his question, when we conducted the moose survey in the Dawson City area last year we did the same thing. We did not rent hotel rooms. We rented a house. Again, we saved money. This is not a little perk for Haines Junction. This is standard procedure. We have a responsibility to save money, the taxpayers dollars, to get the best value for our dollar. This is why we did it this way.
Mr. Lang: It is the policy of the Department of Renewable Resources, where possible, to rent government housing in these small communities as opposed to using the local hotels? Is that the policy the Minister is following?
Hon. Mr. Webster: The answer to what the procedure for the Department of Renewable Resources is was provided in a legislative return.
Mr. Lang: I just want to get it clear. Is it the policy of the Minister? I read the return. I am talking about throughout the territory.
Is the Minister of Renewable Resources saying to this House that it is his policy as Minister of Renewable Resources that when officers of his departments go into small communities for a week or 10 days at a time they use government housing, where possible, as opposed to utilizing the services of local hotels? Is that his policy?
Hon. Mr. Webster: It is not a policy in the sense that we do this time and time again, project after project. It is a general procedure. If a house is available in an area that can adequately house all our staff, and save us money, yes, we will do it.
Mr. Brewster: If the Minister wants to see where he is saving money, let me point out a couple of things. Number one, the Minister took a generator out there. That $1,300 would never have been required if he had used the local people. This is now just a difference of $500 toward the $1,800 for the house. We are down to $500.
They had to hire a helicopter. How many times has the Minister used Trans North now, probably at $500 an hour?
Hon. Mr. Webster: Off the top of my head, I do not know how many times we have hired Trans North helicopters for $500 an hour.
Mr. Brewster: If they did not charge $500, there is something wrong with their heads. Number one, they would not use the Haines Junction helicopter. They were not good enough and, when theirs froze up, they came to Trans North and asked them to fly. If they did not charge the going rate, there is something wrong with their heads. I would charge them more than the going rate. You have already lost that $71 you were trying to save and you have not even started yet.
We can go back to the other and look at it. The department is starting to count moose again. When we were in government, we spent close to $500,000 to have everything tagged, and all the reports are there. When this government got in, I travelled with the Minister as part of a select committee. We were told to get the predators out when the game was low. I pleaded with the Minister at that time, the Hon. Dave Porter, not to scrap that program, because it was going to be necessary one of these years. We started the tagging, but we threw away $500,000. We are now starting it again, and it has been bungled right at the start. That is so much for decentralization and a few things this government talks about, and for 71 lousy dollars, they cheated people out of their places there. They did not need that many rooms. If you look at the cost of the rooms that the helicopter people were in, it is half, and they have used that up. They have already squandered $1,300. They are now paying for the other helicopter pad. On top of that, they have to pay for plugging in at the place they apparently said they would not use, which is around $250.
Let us not have any BS; let us talk straight; do not say that we do not have the information. We had better get it.
Hon. Mr. Webster: The Member has the information. It is contained in the legislative return. He has been given the reasons why the generator was required: the need was unforeseen at the time the contract was awarded, as the crews had planned to use the Renewable Resources compound. That was subsequently not possible for some strange reason, because of new enforcements of landing restrictions at that location that just happened to be introduced just after the survey had started, just after the contract was awarded. That is the reason.
Mr. Brewster: Let us get some things straight around here. Number one, the municipality of Haines Junction looks after their own area. There are electrical wires all over and there are trees and bushes all over. It never was a helicopter pad at any time. Why do you think we spent $584,777 for an airport? So they can sneak in the bush right inside of a town with electric wires all over the place? It is about time this Minister started looking at facts and finding out what is going on in his department, because it is a crime.
Hon. Mr. Webster: The Member for Kluane enlightened me that this particular compound had been used by many contractors including Trans North Air as a landing/launching pad. Why, just a few days after the contract had been awarded and the survey had started, was the request made by the RCMP that the compound not be used?
Mr. Lang: Is the Minister implying to this House that there was some clandestine effort to prevent the contractor from using the Renewable Resources base? Is that the inference? Is the Minister saying that he would condone the use of that helicopter within the municipality of Haines Junction when he knows full well, and every Member in this House knows full well, that there is an airport within driving distance of this community? What smarmy kind of implication is he trying to put across to the Member for Kluane. Is he saying the municipality or the RCMP was wrong in saying that that compound should not be used by a helicopter when all the facilities are available at the airport? Is that what he is telling this House? Or should we start using the main street for helicopters so we can maybe save a few bucks?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I ask the Member for Kluane, who has some local knowledge of the situation, why the compound that had traditionally been used by all contractors in the area for helicopter landing, coincidentally, just after the survey was started, was shut down. That is all I am asking. I am not implying anything.
Mr. Brewster: It was not shut down because it never existed. The national parks staff have their own in their property, Forestry have their own in their property and, to my knowledge, a helicopter has not landed in that compound in the last seven years, since they re-zoned the area, ran electrical wires around and now people now live in the area. I do not know how a helicopter could land there safely. All there is now is a parking lot with trees and electric wires.
I doubt they even planned to use it to begin with. When they tried to get the one from national parks, they were refused. They tried to get the Forestry one and were again refused because all the electricity was cut off and it is closed down for the winter. I suspect they are gambling on the third and last one.
When they started out, they ran into the competition, who lost the contract by $71. They walked in and plugged into their garage. Now they say they will not pay for the heating. The Minister better shake his head.
Mr. Lang: We are not in charge of the department, the Minister is. Instead of the Minister asking this side of the House questions, perhaps he could follow up on this for me. Is it true that the Department of Renewable Resources contacted national Parks for the purposes of parking the helicopter, or did they contact Forestry?
Could he also tell the House when the last time was that the Renewable Resources compound was used by a helicopter firm? I think it is very pertinent to what we are getting into. It seems to me we are being sold a bill or goods here with respect to this whole thing. I think the Minister is too. We should all start asking some questions about exactly what did happen about this contract. If this is happening in this community, where else is it happening? Will the Minister provide that information?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I will come back with that information for the Member.
Mr. Lang: In the legislative return, the hotel gave a rate of $50 a night for each person. Does the Minister feel that that is exorbitant? Does he feel it justifies his policy to put his crews in government housing?
Hon. Mr. Webster: In response to the Members question, I feel that $15 is a fair rate to be charged for this time of year for that period of time; however, I still feel that if the Department of Renewable Resources can make a further savings on that amount for a short period of a month while the project is underway, we will take advantage of that.
Mr. Lang: I just find the reasoning very, very hard to understand. Earlier today, we find out that we have rented a DC-3 at $20,000 to $22,000 to take a crew of 25 workers every day into the Faro community for five days of work. Now another Minister stands in his place and talks about how he feels he is really contributing to the community by seeing what government house is vacant so that he can short shrift a hotel in a small community. You have a community, at this time of year, that welcomes the opportunity to provide services to a crew coming into their village. In many of these months, they are barely breaking even. It is the toughest time of year for them and the Minister stands in his place and talks about how he is going to save money.
Now, I have a question for the Minister. How can the Minister say that he is going to save money when a local contractor from the community bid with the understanding that they would be paying for their own room and board, but we are now paying for the room and board over and above the contract price for the other company that bid? How can the Minister say that we are saving money?
Hon. Mr. Webster: That question has been answered in a legislative return. Whether we are renting a house for four individuals or nine individuals, the fact of the matter is we are still saving money over the course of those 30 days.
Mr. Brewster: It is quite apparent the Minister has never been in business because he says he is saving money. Yes, he is saving money on the contract, but where is the $1,300 coming from that was not in the contract? The other thing that bothers me very much is that they are not using Yukon Housing, they got a federal house. It was built by Central Mortgage and Housing; the federal government had a family in it, and they now have a crew in it. If anyone else tried that, they would have been run right out of the country.
They went out of their way to get a house, which I understand is being sold. I guess even the federal government gets a little hoggish; they decided to get the big $500. The businesses up there have to buy licences, have to conform, have to have a health authority, have to do all these things and they stick all these people into a home that is for a family. Then they sit here and brag to us that they are saving money when they also squandered money to fly 25 people, day in and day out, in a DC-3.
I guess my brain does not work in the same way as these guys, because it just does not make sense.
Mr. Lang: You would not want this debate to shut down at this time would you - when we are questioning his royal highness, the Minister?
The Minister seems to be very good at finding government houses for his crew since he has this vendetta against small hotels in the outlying communities. Can he tell us how many communities in which this has happened, where he has made sure he had government housing so that he will not have to support the local business community? Can he tell me about the situation in Dawson City he referred to? What government house did he rent? Was it Yukon Housing Corporation or federal housing? At what cost and for how many days? Can he outline specifically how much money he saved? I want it all down in writing, because I want to send it to everybody in Dawson City who happens to have a hotel so they know how their Member feels about their community, and what his thoughts are on what government housing should be used for. I would never have thought that any Member in this House would stand in their place and tell us that government housing was supposed to act as a hotel - especially a Member elected from a rural community. That puts the icing on the cake. The Minister cannot tell me that a home built for a family of four that is housing nine adults is not being used as a hotel. Tell me what it is. I guess we could call it, in NDP terms, a hostel.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I will provide the information for the Member.
Mr. Brewster: This is going to be the last time I raise this subject because it is quite apparent there is no point to it. I would like to point out a few things.
Number one, the remark being made about the hostel is true. They are cooking breakfasts and dinners there. There are nine guys batching in a home. That is quite interesting.
Let us look at this a little further. This is the Minister who killed tourism in Kluane. Our buses dropped by 14.8 percent, and for $71 he is going to save money. He has made every one of the lodges up there suffer. The number of buses dropped. These are the Ministers figures, not mine. The buses dropped 14.8 percent in our area. That is a lot of buses when there are 32 to 36 people on a bus. That is how much they dropped. Some of the lodges are hanging on by their teeth. Our mighty government, and the same Minister, is going to save money at the expense of the motels that he kicked to pieces all summer.
It is hopeless. Absolutely.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I guess I was waiting for a response to that comment. There was no question. I will address the Members allegations that I, singlehandedly, as Minister of Tourism, killed tourism in Kluane this year and caused all the buses to not come back. Could we please reserve that debate for the Tourism estimates. I would like to get into it then.
Mr. Brewster: We can reserve it for Tourism. We can reserve it for Community and Transportation Services and the Alaska Highway they could not fix. We could reserve it for the fact that they they did not have the guts to back us on the Kluane National Park question. We would have had something to show to the tourists. We can reserve it for anywhere they want.
Let me tell the Minister that that is our livelihood. I am sick and tired about what is going on. I have a right to talk about it any time I want in this Legislature.
Mr. Lang: In deference for the Member for Kluane, I agree. I think things are hopeless with the present Minister. The Minister chose not to speak to this and I can see why. After I heard what he just said, he may as well not bother.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I did not speak to it because I was not asked a question. I said, in my reaction to the comments, that this is more properly to be debated in Tourism, not in the Renewable Resources budget.
Madam Chair, please advise me on what the rules are in this House. Is it possible for the Member for Kluane to speak about Tourism in Kluane at any time in Committee?
Chair: Mr. Brewster, on a point of order.
Mr. Brewster: When I talked about Tourism, I also brought in the fact that he was saving money on his helicopter contract. I was pointing out what he is doing to the Kluane area. It all relates. In general debate, I am entitled to do that.
Mr. Lang: I want to back up my good friend from Kluane. One of the major concerns we have in the small communities is that when there are contracts such as this, where the Minister has the ability to put it out through his department, it is our position that they should be utilizing the local businesses.
It does tie into the fact that tourism this year was so poor that one would have thought the Minister would have at least one Christian bone in his body and look at that small community and try to help. Instead, he turned the entire government housing stock into a hotel.
The Minister says hostile, and maybe it is hostile.
Chair: I find there is no point of order. I would like to remind the Members that we are debating Renewable Resources, at this time.
Mr. Lang: I want to pursue the question of the notorious Haines Junction contract a little further. When this is completed, if we do not happen to be in the House, would the Minister give us a full financial report of exactly everything that particular survey cost, so we can have a clear understanding exactly how much this has cost the taxpayers of the territory?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I will endeavour to do that.
Mr. Lang: I want to talk about the policy of issuing this contract. I do not understand why we would put ourselves in the position we are in today. Why would we not go to a contracting organization and get a set price, rather that do it this way. I understand it was contracted with the operators of the helicopter and, then, the government was supposed to supply everything over and above that. It does not make sense to me.
When did we start implementing a policy where we just rented the machine, the pilot and engineer, and paid for everything over and above that? I do not understand why we would do that.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I will have to check for the Member if this is a departure from procedures used in the past. I want to make it clear that the awarding of the contract was in accordance with the Government Services tendering procedures. It was awarded to Frontier Helicopters according to standard bid evaluation procedures.
Mr. Lang: I am not questioning whether the tender procedures were followed. We have numerous other ones we can question, and I will not question this one. My point is that I do not understand that when we go out for a tender, whether it be for airplanes or helicopters, why we are not asking for a full and inclusive price for a crew, a helicopter, and for 30 days in a community such as Dawson or Haines Junction, and let them take care of their own arrangements for hotels and that kind of thing. If they want to pull a trailer up there, that is their business.
We had a contract where there was a $71 difference and, then, find out later on that the second bidder was the low bidder, because they were not asking for the government to pay room and board for the four people they had, because they were already staying in Haines Junction.
In other words, it effectively would have been the lowest bid. Would the Minister not agree with me on that?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I concede it would be the lowest bid if both parts were combined in one package, as the Member suggested it could possibly be done. I say again that I do not know if it is a departure from past practice but, in this particular case, we presented two separate contracts: one for the helicopter, done through the Government Services tendering procedure, and another one for the rental of the house. I will check for the Member as to the possibility of putting it in a package, and to see if this conforms to our standard procedures.
Mr. Lang: Maybe I misunderstood the Minister. Is the Minister making an undertaking? I am talking about future contracts. I am not talking about this present one, which he has bungled so badly. I am trying to help the Minister. This is a friendly suggestion.
I am asking the Minister to undertake to review how they contract out these particular contracts, and have the contract so it is inclusive of all the costs, so they come in and have a price. I would not have any problem, for example, if there was a helicopter organization from Old Crow who bid on this contract and, if all the prices were inclusive, the bottom line was that there was a $71 difference. As long as they provide the service, I have no problem in giving it to the lowest tender. We are not arguing that principle at all.
In this contract, we see a case where there appears to be the lowest tender, and then there seems to be all sorts of deals being made over and above or underneath the table after the deal is made. That is not fair to the business that is operating there, because they bid under the understanding that they were going to provide their own housing, they were going to plug in their own helicopter in their own yard, and they were going to feed their own crew. I am saying they did not bid under the same understanding.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I will have the Department of Renewable Resources undertake that exercise, perhaps with the assistance of Government Services.
Mr. Brewster: I just want to point out one other thing. Number one, the helicopter from the Haines Junction outfit is not plugged in; it has a heated garage. Number two, they have a bulk tank, so they are getting their fuel at bulk rates. The Department of Renewable Resources is hauling it out there in barrels and, then, pumping it into the helicopters. So far, I have not seen the cost of hauling that fuel out of here. The other stuff is there in bulk tanks. There alone is the cost that could eat up the $71 before that truck ever left here with that stuff in the 45-gallon drums. It is just dumped out there and, then, they have pump it in. In the other setup, he simply has to bring his helicopter out of his garage, run over and get a hose that is hooked up with an electric pump, and it is in. There is no man, or no Minister, or no government that can stand here in this House and tell me that they did not goof on that contract, and goof badly.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I will check into those items that the Member for Kluane has just mentioned to see how much they have added to the cost. I will be providing that information with the total cost of the project, as requested by the Member for Porter Creek East.
Mr. Lang: I would like verification on Monday if that is true. I find it very interesting, if it is true, that the Department of Renewable Resources is actually taking up the fuel for that particular private helicopter. This thing gets murkier and murkier, as one gets further into it. I would love to be a contractor where I bid on a job and, then, the government provides me with the fuel, brings it to me, and does everything else. It is going to be a very interesting revelation, if that is correct.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I can assure the Member opposite that this information will be available in time for our debate Monday afternoon.
Mr. Lang: I would like to move onto another area. Can the Minister update us on the Finlayson caribou herd? Is there a further predator habitat program going on in that area, or what follow-up is happening, in view of the success of the predator program a year ago?
Hon. Mr. Webster: At this time, we have a good count of the caribou. The caribou herd is doing very well. Right now, we are in the process of doing a survey of the wolf population to see how well it has recovered since the predator control program was introduced a few years ago. A number of wolves have been radio-collared in that area, and we are monitoring their movements.
Mr. Lang: I happen to have had the opportunity of going in there this last fall and want to inform the Minister that they seem to be doing very well. We had the opportunity of watching a pack of about nine wolves, and they seemed to be quite happy, and life was going on the way it should.
When will we have the results of this study on the wolf population of that area?
Hon. Mr. Webster: The results from that study will be completed following this winter.
Mr. Lang: If the recommendations are put forward that the wolf population has recovered too quickly, and there is a need for a rejuvenation of the predator control program, is the Minister prepared to implement it?
Hon. Mr. Webster: Again, that information will be used in conjunction with other information on the nature of the big game population in that area to make a decision on that.
Mr. Lang: We have raised the question of implementing a predator program a number of times since this Minister took office. I get the impression the Minister is not prepared to implement anything of that kind. Is he prepared to support the principle of a predator program, if it is proven with the information that we have from game zones 7 and 9 that one should be implemented?
Hon. Mr. Webster: With respect to big game management, one aspect of the policy of the government includes predator control.
Mr. Lang: I want to be specific on this, and I want the Minister to give us a yes or no. As the Minister, is he prepared to implement it if it is proven it is necessary to put a predator program in for a period of time? It is one thing to have it as a policy; it is another thing to implement it. The Ministers track record is not too good, up to this point.
Hon. Mr. Webster: Assuming that the technical information obviously points to a need for that particular aspect of a predator control program, yes, I am prepared to consider it.
Mr. Lang: 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
The Speaker resumes the Chair
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. May the House have the report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole?
Ms. Kassi: The Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 15, entitled Second Appropriation Act, 1990-91, and directed me to report progress on same.
Speaker: You have heard the report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
Mr. Phillips: I move that the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Opposition 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 5:27 p.m.
The following Legislative Returns were tabled November 21, 1990:
Robert Service School construction, and deficiencies (Byblow)
Oral, Hansard, pp. 134 & 135
Marsh Lake fire protection (Byblow)
Oral, Hansard, p. 249
The following Sessional Papers were tabled November 21, 1990:
Yukon Medical Council Annual Report for the year ending July 31, 1990 (M. Joe)
Yukon Law Foundation Annual Report for fiscal year ending October 31, 1990 (M. Joe)