Thursday, November 29, 1990 - 1:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. At this time, we will proceed with Prayers.
Speaker: We will proceed with the Order Paper.
Introduction of Visitors.
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I have would like to welcome some representatives of CBC Northern Service who are in the gallery, the Opposition gallery I note, observing the proceedings today.
Speaker: Are there any Returns or Documents for tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I have for tabling the Electrical Supply Option for the Yukon Energy Corporation and the Energy Corporation Strategic Plan 1991-95.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I have for tabling the Business Development Advisory Boards annual report for 1989-90.
Speaker: Are there any Reports of Committees?
Are there any Notices of Motion for the Production of Papers?
Notices of Motion.
Are there any Statements by Ministers?
YEC: Strategic Plan
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am pleased to present to the House today the copy of the Yukon Energy Corporations strategic plan for 1991-95. As I indicated earlier, it was a matter that was the subject of some debate earlier in this sitting.
I want to say that as we enter the 1990s, there are many important questions that face the Yukon Energy Corporation. They are questions that face the corporation in carrying out its mandate on behalf of the people of the Yukon.
The Yukon Energy Corporation must continue to meet the challenge of providing safe, reliable and economic power throughout the decade and into the next century. As a public corporation, it must ensure new energy development addresses the social concerns, needs and priorities of Yukoners and is sensitive to and respects the fragile nature of the Yukons unique environment.
Finally, it must do all of this is a manner that safeguards economic stability and strength of the utility. These are the issues addressed in the first five-year strategic plan of the Yukon Energy Corporation.
During its first three years, the Yukon Energy Corporation has fulfilled the promise of reducing and equalizing power rates for all Yukon home owners and businesses. It has improved services to customers while at the same time realizing a profit each year, as it is required to do, according to its mandate.
This five-year strategic plan, developed after thorough research and exhaustive consideration of all the options available, provides the Yukon people with the best means to reach our common energy objectives, we believe.
I am gratified by the constructive input that Yukoners provided during community information meetings held earlier in September and October.
Their contributions have helped shape this plan and ensure it is sensitive to the broad concerns of the Yukon community.
This public comment gives us confidence that our policy, objectives, priorities and options are consistent with the desires of Yukon people.
This plan outlines the new policy that this administration is adopting with respect to future energy development and the provision of safe, reliable and economical power for the next decade and into the next century.
In short, the policy of this government is to make the Yukon more energy self-reliant through aggressive energy conservation initiatives and smaller-scale energy developments that will be more sensitive to our environment and the concerns of our citizens.
Previous energy development practices in the territory has favoured larger-scale hydro project and a high reliance on imported diesel fuel. These practices have been replaced by a new policy that emphasizes smaller-scale hydro development, the displacement of diesel wherever and whenever possible, and greater attention to programs that will help consumers conserve and better use our existing power resources.
The key principles and priorities stated in this plan reflect the new policy direction we are adopting.
The plan also recommends a short list of possible projects to be seriously considered over the next 5 years.
Based on strong public support, conservation programs will become the first priority option in supply development. The only environmentally friendly option available is the better we of the power supplies we currently have.
The development of new transmission lines will be seriously examined as a major way to reduce diesel consumption.
Because of the extremely high costs and potential environmental consequences, Yukon Energy Corporation has no current plans to consider hydro megaprojects. Instead, the Energy Corporation has begun to identify a short list of possible sites and options for small-scale hydro projects, which can help meet the Yukons growing need for new energy sources - but with the minimum of potential environmental and social disruption possible.
I believe people can and will support both the general and specific direction that the strategic plan takes.
I should emphasize, however, that this strategic plan is not carved in stone.
Proper planning means responding to changing circumstances. As well, it must also guarantee ample opportunity for continuing review and public input.
Any projects undertaken will have to meet the test of full and fair environmental and other reviews.
It is an important first step on a journey which will ensure the energy needs of Yukon people are met over the next decade and into the next century.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Phelps: I rise to respond to the ministerial statement regarding the Energy Corporations strategic plan for 1991 through 1995. We, on this side, feel that the government has been irresponsible in its handling of the Yukon Energy Corporation, and it concerns us deeply that it has taken this long to develop a five-year plan.
As we all know, profits from the Yukon Energy Corporation have been systematically stripped and taken away by the Yukon Development Corporation, which has used these profits to finance such undertakings as the Watson Lake sawmill.
It is our view that these profits should have been reinvested into new energy projects that would be as environmentally friendly as possible. Instead, the profits have been used for other things and consumers throughout the Yukon are facing stiff increases in their electrical bills. Not only will their bills be increased in January, but we anticipate additional increases to cover the rising cost of diesel fuel.
The sad reality is that we are heavily dependent upon diesel generation. In its 1989 report, the Yukon Energy Corporation stated that the total amount of diesel generation, including Dawson, was less than four percent of the total. It also stated that once the unusually high water storage in the Aishihik reservoir was exhausted, diesel generation on the main grid would increase from two percent to eight percent of the total, based on current consumption levels.
This years diesel generation is anticipated to be about 10 percent of the main grid requirement. To make matters worse, our biggest customer, Curragh Resources, anticipates a large increase in consumption over the next three years.
This government is afraid to come forward with the straight goods. It is afraid to encourage the development of hydro generation facilities for purely political reasons. The result is that our power corporation is burning thousands and thousands of gallons of diesel fuel each year, and is contributing in a major way to global warming.
Our power corporation is reliant upon the Aishihik reservoir, and it is allowing the water levels of Aishihik Lake to fluctuate wildly. This is killing a valuable ecosystem and the homeland of many Champagne/Aishihik First Nation members. The system is also overloaded as well and we are experiencing more and more power outages and power brownouts.
We feel this government has failed Yukon residents by failing to promptly address the growing need for cheap, environmentally safe electrical energy. We are outraged that this government has used profits from our power corporation to dabble in such things as the Watson Lake sawmill and other Development Corporation schemes. We hope the government has learned from its mistakes and will seriously address the increasing shortfall of hydro-generated electricity.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I, too, hope that we have learned from our mistakes. Unfortunately, the Leader of the Opposition continues to restate some of the mistaken facts that he has entered on the record before. Let me say, as a matter of policy, we do reject his notion of using cheap industrial power as a loss leader for development. We believe, as does the Yukon public, that the citizens should not be required to subsidize such initiatives.
It is a matter of record that we have put $54 million into the Development Corporation and the Energy Corporation in order to keep power rates down. It is a matter of record that the government has not taken a penny out. It is also a matter of record that the $16 million profit that the Member refers to also is, coincidentally, very similar to the amount of money the Energy Corporation has invested in new energy supply.
A few days ago the Leader of the Opposition accused the government of being afraid of the environmentalists. He suggested that we were somehow afraid of the Jolly Green Giant or the big green giant. Well, like the Yukon public, we intend to proceed in an environmentally responsible way and that is what the public would want us to do and that is how we intend to proceed.
Speaker: Order please. Prior to the calling of Question Period, I would like to provide a ruling on the point of order that was raised during Question Period yesterday. I have reviewed the questions on nursing services asked by the Member for Whitehorse Porter Creek West and find that they are in order. I have also reviewed the remarks of the Premier when he was responding to questions from the Member for Whitehorse Porter Creek West. I believe these remarks may have violated Standing Order 19(1)(h), which states that a Member should not impute false or unavowed motives to another Member. I note that the Premier, at the close of the proceedings on the point of order, stated that he apologized if he had misread the intentions of the Member for Whitehorse Porter Creek West. I would accept that as closing the matter.
This then brings us to the Question Period. Are there any questions?
Question re: Electoral boundaries
Mr. Phelps: I have a question for the Minister responsible for the Executive Council, regarding electoral boundaries. The chief electoral officer, in his report tabled last spring, pointed out that our electoral boundaries are unconstitutional because of the wide divergence of the number of the electors in various constituencies. For example, Old Crow has 160 voters, approximately, and Whitehorse West has 2,200 voters, so a person in Old Crow has 15 times the voting power of a Whitehorse West voter.
I would like to know when this government is going to address the electoral boundary issue.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I thank the Member for the question. First of all, I doubt that the Member is entirely accurate in saying that the chief electoral officer concluded that our boundaries are unconstitutional, since I doubt if the chief electoral officer is in a position to do that.
We are aware of the McLachlin decision in British Columbia and have been studying that decision as well as examining the reports initiated in western jurisdictions and a number of other jurisdictions as a result of that decision, including a report from Alberta I received just yesterday.
The Member is quite correct that it is time for us, not only in the light of the McLachlin decision, but also other demographic changes to the boundaries of the Yukon Territory, and that is why the throne speech, read in this House a few weeks ago, indicates that the government will be bringing forward proposals in this session.
Mr. Phelps: How is it going to address the issue? Is it going to bring forward an electoral boundary commission act during this session?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: That is one possibility, but the Cabinet has not concluded that question.
There was, in this House in previous years, a widespread view that, notwithstanding the tradition of representation by population, an all-party consensus that there should be a rural majority in this House. There was respect for the belief that even at that they were under represented. There was also an all-party agreement that the constituency of Old Crow should be maintained as a separate constituency. That has been the view of this government as it was of the previous government. As a result of the McLachlin decision, however, this is a question that must be revisited.
Mr. Phelps: Again, when are we going to know about this governments plans?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: It is my hope to come forward with specific proposals in the next sitting of the House, which I am assuming will be in early spring, although the date of that sitting will be governed by the length of the current sitting.
Question re: Electoral boundaries
Mr. Phelps: According to the guidelines set out in the McLachlin decision, it would appear that only four of our 16 ridings meet the constitutional guidelines. Why has it taken so long for this government to face up to the crisis that faces us? Will it admit that we have to meet those guidelines and have to have an electoral boundary commission do that work soon?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: We have to talk about the mandate for an electoral boundary commission. Justice McLachlins decision has been subject to considerable debate and wildly different interpretations. It is an assessment of those different interpretations, including recent work done in Alberta and Saskatchewan, as well as some discussions in the Northwest Territories, which have caused us to want to examine this matter very carefully before we come to this House with proposals.
Simply as a result of a court decision in B.C., I do not want to deprive rural residents in this territory of what they and I believe is fair representation in this Assembly. I hope the Member opposite would not be advocating that, either.
Mr. Phelps: I have been following the reports and legal journals with some interest. I have yet to see anything that would convince me that the McLachlin guidelines are inappropriate and will not be followed in other court cases. As a matter of fact, there is a lawsuit that has been commenced in Alberta, and there is one that has been commenced in the Northwest Territories. I hear that there is one coming forward in the Yukon.
This government ought to move quickly to establish an electoral boundary commission to ensure that voters throughout the Yukon have their constitutional rights protected.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am very interested in the Members position because I think what we are seeing is a radical change in the position of the Conservative party of the Yukon. That is very interesting and will no doubt colour, quite dramatically, the debate in this territory. Heretofor there has been a consensus that, notwithstanding the population patterns in the territory, areas in the Yukon Territory should receive some preference in terms of their representation in the House. Previously, there was an all-party agreement that there should be a separate constituency for Old Crow because of its unique cultural and geographic circumstances. As I hear the Opposition Leader, he is now advocating a different course and I note that.
The short answer to the question is that, as I said before, we will be bringing proposals to the Legislature. Neither myself nor the Conservative governments in Alberta and Saskatchewan accept completely the proposition that Justice McLachlin has given the final word on this question. I think if the Member reads the report that came from the legislative committee in Alberta, he will see there are still many people in the country with open minds on the question.
Mr. Phelps: I am not talking about a policy or a political point of view. I am talking about the need to ensure that our electoral boundaries comply with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. That is what we are talking about. Nothing more, nothing less. I would like to know whether or not the Minister can assure us that this matter will be resolved prior to the next general election in the Yukon.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Unless the government falls in the next few weeks, I certainly hope so. As I said to the Member, we intend to bring proposals before the House in the spring about how to proceed on this matter. Let me say, I have no adversarial intent here; perhaps, notwithstanding the Members comments, we have some community of interest. I am quite prepared to discuss with him, following this sitting, some of the considerations that we are now contemplating.
Takhini Elementary School trailers/investigation
Mrs. Firth: I would like to ask a question of the Minister of Government Services. We presented a motion for the government to produce a file, with all memos for the contract for Takhini Elementary School trailer units and for the contract. Yesterday, the Minister gave us only half of the file, without the memos that could show that there would be further evidence of wrongdoing in awarding this contract.
I would like to ask the Minister why he is hiding these memos from the public scrutiny? Why will he not give them to us?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The answer to the Members question has already been presented in debate on the motion yesterday. There would hardly be any attempt to hide anything by the whole disclosure of a chronology of events that I tabled in the House yesterday. The memorandums that surround the particular case are part of the record that I used to review the allegations made by the Member. Those memorandums have never, under the precedent of any government, been tabled in House and I do not intend to set that precedent. I have disclosed the full information surrounding the case and am comfortable with the review of the case.
Mrs. Firth: Of course the Minister knows that that is not true. The government has tabled memos in the House in many instances when they want to present their position favourably.
There is nothing in the Access to Information Act that restricts us from gaining this information except that it is going to take another 30 days. I would like to ask the Minister: in his chronology of events, there was a memo from the director of finance and administration to the project manager in Education. Why can we not have that memo? Why will he not give it to us? What is in it that he is hiding, that he will not give it to us?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: There is nothing that is being hidden. The chronology of events and memorandums involved surrounding the case were fully disclosed yesterday in a chronology of events. I discussed the details surrounding the case. The matter has been reviewed thoroughly. The issue of whether or not the integrity of the tendering process was jeopardized has been fully looked into by me and by my officials.
We are comfortable that there was no breach of the integrity or fairness of the tendering system, and that there was no inappropriateness of the involvement of officials of another department, as alleged by the Member.
Mrs. Firth: The Minister can surely see how ridiculous this sounds. He is saying to us: here is the chronology of events; believe what we say here, but we cannot give you the memos to back it up. That is ridiculous.
If this is so, produce the memos to substantiate it. This Deputy Minister of Education confirmed, in writing, to Government Services the details of discussions with Atco. Why can we not have that? It says that on the paper; let us see the memo. Why not?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: There is no precedent for internal working papers of a department to be disclosed on the table of the House. Beauchesne cites an exclusion from tabling for those kinds of documents. I have disclosed all the relevant information and have reviewed the case. The allegations of the Member of inappropriate behaviour by officials, the allegations surrounding the integrity of the tendering system as being put in jeopardy, are unfounded. As I indicated throughout debate yesterday, the review proved interesting to me. It disclosed to me a number of steps that could have been improved, but there was no breach of rules and no inappropriate behaviour.
Question re: Tahkini Elementary School trailers/investigation
Mrs. Firth: There is a saying that says when you are trying to bury an issue, you get a lot of dirt on yourself. When I look over there at those four Members on the front bench, I see this big mountain of dirt, and I see these four little heads sticking out of that mountain of dirt. This is absolutely ridiculous.
The Deputy Minister of Education requested in writing that the acting Deputy Minister of Government Services proceed to award the contract to Atco. If he can write it down here, why can the Minister not give us the memo? What is so secret and hidden that the Minister cannot produce this memo? I want him to substantiate this information. Why can we not have the memo?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: With respect to the Member, I sat in her position for some six years. The Member opposite never tabled any internal correspondence or memorandums. That has never been the case anywhere by any government in the country; in any democratic country that has not been the case. That has not been the case, at all, anywhere by any government in any country. In fact, when we came to office, they shredded all of their files. They shredded all of their files when we took office in 1985, so it is a case where there is no precedent. I am not prepared to table memorandums of internal documents surrounding the work of the managers in the departments. I have disclosed, fully and completely, the detail of information surrounding this case.
Speaker: Order please. Will the Minister please conclude his answer.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Yesterday, I tabled the detail through a chronology of events surrounding this case and that is the record.
Mrs. Firth: The same feeble comments come forward from the Members opposite. They do not answer the question. They just launch into the same old attack and tirade on the Members opposite. The Minister has been asked a question: why can we not have the memos that substantiate this chronology of events? What is he hiding, that he will not present the memos to back up what he is saying here?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: There is hardly anything being hidden, given that a chronology of events was tabled yesterday that outlined the relevant memorandums involved in the case. That is the record that I have provided to Members, disclosing the events surrounding the case. There is no precedent in the country where governments have tabled open files in the House. Beauchesne cites that as one of the items that cannot be tabled or produced through the tabling of documents.
Speaker: Order please. Will the Minister please conclude his answer.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Mr. Speaker, I am concluding. The record of the events surrounding the case were tabled yesterday. There is nothing to hide. I have listed those events through the time that the memorandums were placed.
Question re: Porter Creek/new elementary school
Mr. Lang: I can see that issue will be carrying on for quite some time.
I would like to move on to another issue that is very immediate. As the Minister of Education knows, there is a meeting in the riding of Porter Creek on the question of the new school. Last Monday night, there was a meeting of parents with respect to the issues that are going to be discussed tonight. One of the questions that was raised at that time was why a survey of current and future public school students was not carried out at the same time a Catholic school survey was done.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Over the course of the last year, the government and Department of Education were following through on a commitment to the Catholic school community to fulfill a promise made in 1987 to build Catholic school facilities in Whitehorse.
Prior to developing the school, we thought we would proceed in the same manner as we had for the South Highway School, which was to conduct a survey of parents to determine whether or not the design, location and configuration of the school were appropriate to their needs.
In June of this year, we conducted the survey fully expecting that a school built in Porter Creek would satisfy the interests not only of the Catholic school community, but would also serve to reduce the overcrowding problem in Jack Hulland School.
Unfortunately, in one respect, the results of the survey did not bear out the conjecture that a Catholic school in Porter Creek would solve the overcrowding problems at Jack Hulland School. Consequently, we had to consider other options.
Mr. Lang: The Minister never answered my question. Why was a survey not done at the same time to try to ascertain the school size requirements for the public school as well.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: As I indicated at the end of my last answer, we thought that, after having consulted with the Jack Hulland School committee in May and the Catholic school committee prior to that, a Catholic school in Porter Creek would solve the overcrowding of Jack Hulland as there was thought to be a large number of Catholic students attending Jack Hulland School.
The results of the survey did not bear out that view. It was clear that even if there were a Catholic school built, it would not solve the space problems at Jack Hulland. That was the reason why we did not conduct a survey of public school parents; we only conducted the survey of Catholic school parents.
Mr. Lang: There are obviously going to be more questions about that at the meeting this evening. I want to ask the Minister about the information package sent home to parents and about the various options outlined in that particular package. If one reads that package, it definitely appears to be slanted in that it seems to encourage that a modular school be chosen. A number of my constituents have made representation to me about that and are very concerned about just exactly how much leeway they have in making a decision. They are also concerned with the fact that with a modular school, as we know, most of the work is done outside of the territory. Can the Minister assure this House that parents will have the choice of the type of school they feel is required, as long as it is within the budgetary requirements set down by the government?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The design of the survey was to be as open as possible to suggestions put forward by parents but at the same time to give some concrete options they could consider if they did not have any in mind in the first place. I hope that most parents do not take it as a slanted position in favour of a modular-designed school. Certainly that is not the preference of the department or the Government of the Yukon. I believe it would be a preference for the government to proceed with either a design-build or a predesigned structure and not a modular construction project. I can assure the Member that the Department of Education officials are there to listen to parents, to consider the information the parents have to offer and then once that information is digested by the department, we will take the next step. I will be consulting with him and his colleague, the Member for Porter Creek West, further on the matter.
Question re: Tagish Kwan Corporation bankruptcy
Mr. Phillips: It has come to my attention that the Tagish Kwan Corporation is in the process of filing for bankruptcy, and the Minister of Economic Developments department has given a $50,000 grant to the Kwanlin Dun to cover the accounting and legal fees for winding down the Tagish Kwan Corporation. Can the Minister confirm that?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: That is correct. In this instance, under the particular circumstances surrounding the demise of the Tagish Kwan Corporation and Kwanlin Duns interest in this very significant economic development vehicle in their repertoire, the Government of Yukon, through the Department of Economic Development, did provide a contribution of $50,000 to the Kwanlin Dun to aid in the rolling up of the corporation, so that the demise of the corporation could be handled expeditiously to satisfy both the interests of the Kwanlin Dun and any creditors that may be involved.
Mr. Phillips: This is certainly a new policy that the government has adopted, where it now bails out any company that is filing bankruptcy. They will give you $50,000 to file. Will the Minister table that new policy in the House?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There is no such policy. This was considered to be an extraordinary measure. Given the particular circumstances of the Tagish Kwan Corporation, given the heavy involvement that the corporation had with the local contracting industry, and given the significance of this corporation with the Kwanlin Dun Indian Band, it was considered to be an extraordinary measure. There is no such policy to provide funding of this sort to anyone.
Mr. Phillips: It is a little shocking if the government is doing this kind of thing for one company, but not doing it for everyone else. Many of the Tagish Kwan creditors have experienced severe financial problems. One I talked to today, who is owed $49,000 - almost the amount the government gave this corporation it is bailing out - had to sell their own home, and they still have not been paid by the Tagish Kwan Corporation. It is disgusting that the government is treating it that way.
Is the Minister considering any assistance for these businesses that have lost their homes and their businesses as a result of this fiasco?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Firstly, it is my understanding that, under normal circumstances, legal and accounting costs associated with the demise of a corporation would be taken from the assets and, consequently, there would be fewer assets for creditors to take up. Therefore, the Member is mistaken when he makes the claim that this would have no positive impact whatsoever on the creditors.
The situation with respect to Tagish Kwan was considered to be an extraordinary one. We wanted to ensure that the demise of the corporation was handled properly. We had already provided considerable benefit to the various creditors associated with one of their projects, the Centennial Street project, and wanted to ensure that the corporations demise was handled quickly so that the Kwanlin Dun could recover quickly and, then, take part more quickly in the business community in the future.
Question re: Yukon Pacific Forest Products/contractor
Mr. Devries: I have a question for the Minister responsible for the Yukon Development Corporation. I have a constituent who contracted to Yukon Pacific Forest Products and is owed approximately $11,000 by this company. Prior to the company going into receivership, he was given lumber and cement as partial payment for this debt. This transaction was not documented internally by Yukon Pacific Forest Products. The receiver for Yukon Pacific Forest Products has now taken my constituent to court, and he has been ordered to return the value of those goods.
With the Yukon Development Corporation being a shareholder, should the government not take some responsibility for this injustice?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I do now know anything about the facts of the situation described by the Member, and I did not hear clearly what assets he is talking about. We petitioned to have the company put into the control of a receiver/manager, and we do not direct the operations or the behaviour of the receiver/manager. He is an agent of the court. From time to time, because of our residual interest in the matter, the receiver/manager has contact with the officers of the Development Corporation. If the Member wishes to provide me with more information and detail of the facts of the situation of his constituent, I will do what I can to see that his side of the story is conveyed to the proper people.
Mr. Devries: I will use my supplementary questions to provide a few more facts about this constituent. This constituent received a document recently. The first sentence tells the sheriff he is commanded to seize and sell this persons home. We are talking about a family home in Watson Lake that was sacrificed due to this Yukon Pacific fiasco.
Can the Minister offer this person the same help that has been extended to Tagish Kwan?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Well, I do not know that I can offer this same help as to Tagish Kwan. The Member is, I suspect, talking about a somewhat different situation. As I heard the Member describe the circumstances, he is claiming that he was owed money by Yukon Pacific but that instead the receiver has sought to collect from him because of the lack of documentation concerning another transaction. I know no more than what the Member has just told me. If the Member wishes to later give me more complete details, I will see what I can do. In the case where there may be any information that the Development Corporation has that may be relevant, I will attempt to ascertain that.
Question re: Watson Lake sawmill/timber burning
Mr. Brewster: My question is to the Minister of Community and Transportation Services. The people of Watson Lake have been treated to the spectacle of thousands of cords of timber wood being destroyed by burning, at the Watson Lake sawmill. The people in Haines Junctions have also been treated to a similar spectacle: the destruction of wood resulting of the construction of a road to the new dirt gravel pit, during which something like three miles of timber was pushed into the surrounding timber and then more timber cut so that they could burn it.
My question to the Minister is: as the contracting agent, can the Minister not insist as a term of the contract that timber in instances such as this be salvaged as part of the contract?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I have some familiarity with the issue the Member raises. I believe the Member spoke to me privately on the matter in the past and certainly the municipality of Haines Junction raised the issue with me. I had the occasion to visit the area and look that particular work over.
I have had opportunity to discuss the matter with my officials and we are indeed exploring the avenue of insisting that when a contract is let for an access road, such as this, that a condition of the contract be that the wood is salvaged. It was done, in part, on the airport job, but I agree with the Member that it was not done on the road access.
Mr. Brewster: Since the government pretends to be environmentally friendly, would it insist that future contracts that involve clearing timber include the condition that the timber be salvaged?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I believe I have answered that question. I am discussing with my officials the business of ensuring that wood is salvaged on any road clearing jobs. The Member has to realize that that is a complicated task. It could incur additional expense. But at a minimum the option should be there for local residents to take advantage of clearing and using the timber. That was done on the airport job. A number of Haines Junction citizens did have that opportunity, but even there, it was not utilized to the maximum.
Mr. Brewster: If you are going to look after the environment, you have to pay for it.
Can the Minister assure me that, from now on, when they are burning timber, they do not use drums of diesel fuel, which helps to pollute the air, is wasteful and helps increase the cost of our diesel fuel?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I take it from the Members question that this is a practice. I am not aware of it, but since the matter is raised I will undertake to discuss that issue as well in order to minimize environmental damage.
The one problem we are addressing in the entire issue of access road clearing and salvaging of timber is the fact that a permit to cut the timber is issued by the federal government. What we are trying to put in place is a condition on that permit of another government.
Question re: Watson Lake sawmill surplus timber
Mr. Phelps: While we are on the subject of perfectly good timber, it has come to our attention that a lot of perfectly good logs from Watson Lake have been sawed up and used as firewood. These logs have gone up in smoke. I understand there are a number of people who are upset. They are owed money by Yukon Pacific and would have jumped at the chance to use these logs for lumber.
Would the Minister responsible for Yukon Development Corporation see whether or not arrangements can be made to allow some of the local sawers in Watson Lake to have access to these logs so they can be used for something more than firewood or just burned up in smoke in the yard?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I gather what the Member is suggesting is that we would make a representation to the receiver that rather than trying to liquidate this asset and make the money available for settling the obligations of the former operators, the receiver make arrangements with claimants to take logs essentially as some kind of settlement of their claim rather than involving or selling the logs for firewood or involving themselves in a cash transaction. Is that essentially what his representation is about?
Mr. Phelps: I simply cannot understand why arrangements cannot be made to have these logs utilized - some kind of arrangement made. Surely the receiver is getting precious little for the firewood. We have looked at logs that have been shipped to local people in town. The people who have purchased the logs for firewood are absolutely astonished at the good quality of the timber that has been butchered for firewood.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I will respect that representation by the Leader of the Opposition. The Member has asked me to look into it. Yes, I will look into it. He knows, probably better than anybody in the House, that the receiver/manager is not our agent, he is an agent of the court. Nonetheless I am sure that there is nothing improper about my conveying such a representation. I will ask the officials of the Development Corporation to look into it as he suggests. So long as we would not be falling afoul of any procedure or any law or violating any undertaking to the court, I would have no problem at all in asking them to consider what is being proposed by the Leader of the Official Opposition.
Mr. Phelps: I thank the Minister for this and convey my sympathy to the wood beetles that might go hungry because of his representation.
Question re: Justice deputy minister secondment
Mrs. Firth: Yesterday I raised with the Minister of Justice the question of the Deputy Minister of Justice vacancy. I would like to follow up on this with the Government Leader about the individual who used to have that position and the course that person has gone on.
The former Deputy Minister of Justice is attending the National Defence College in Kingston, Ontario. When the Minister announced this, he told us that the cost of it would be shared between YTG and the federal government. Could the Minister tell us what the total cost of that individual attending that course is, both in his salary dollars and in what the federal government is paying for the course?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I do not have that kind of budget detail at my fingertips during Question Period. Since we are going into Committee shortly, with the Executive Council Office estimates, there will be no problem at all in providing that information in a matter of minutes. I will be pleased to do so.
Mrs. Firth: The Minister also made reference to the Government of the Yukon Territory and the people of the Yukon gaining long-term benefits from this individual taking this course. He said he would be returning to the government. In what position and in what capacity will he be returning?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The final assignment of the gentleman in question will be a subject of discussion between he and I before I make any announcement in this House. The gentleman will be returning to a deputy minister position in this government.
In response to the Members preamble, the National Defence College program is an excellent one. I had the opportunity to speak to the class, which is made up very senior government and military people who travel across the country and into the territories once a year. They have come here for at least the last five years, probably longer. We have never before had a representative of this government on the course, although there have been Yukoners on the course in the employ of the federal government.
The contacts in the course, the course content, the knowledge of national strategic and intergovernmental questions that the participants gain, will prove invaluable to those individuals and their careers, as well as to their employers. It is a great honour for us to have been able to get someone on this program, and I hope we will be able to get someone else on it in the future.
Mrs. Firth: It is fine to hear the Government Leaders speech about how good a course it is. He has announced how good it is going to be for Yukoners and how valuable it is going to be, but Yukoners want to know what the person is going to be doing for us that is so good and valuable. We would like to know what this senior position is. He said it is going to be a deputy minister position in government, but a deputy minister of what? Is there going to be a new department created, perhaps a military department of defence? What is he talking about? He has to be more open with the people of the Yukon. He cannot just stand up and tell them how good it is for them and, then, not tell them what we are going to get out of it and what it is he is going to do.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Forgive me, Mr. Speaker, but the Member is being a bit silly. Deputy ministers in our form of government are subject to assignment and re-assignment from time to time. I cannot tell the Member exactly what assignments every single deputy minister in the government will have several months from now. It is a hypothetical question, since it refers to the future.
There will be discussions between the deputy minister and myself about the assignment. Once those discussions are complete, and the subsequent Cabinet discussions have taken place and a decision is made, it will be publicly announced. It is not something that I would properly share with the Legislature before I had even talked to the individual about it.
Speaker: The time for Question Period is now lapsed. We will now proceed with Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that Mr. 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 the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
Speaker leaves the Chair
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order. We will take a brief recess.
Chair: I will call Committee to order.
Bill No. 16 - First Appropriation Act, 1991-92 - continued
Executive Council Office - continued
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I would like to elaborate on an answer I gave yesterday to a question asked by the Leader of the Official Opposition and the Member for Porter Creek East. It was about the zoning of settlement land within community boundaries.
On the large lot transfers, Indian people will have the right to set zoning regulations on their own land.
The approach we are taking in terms of community land selection, such as the example being used yesterday, will take two forms. There will be individual surveyed lots within existing subdivisions, and there will be large tracts of varying sizes that will contain surveyed and unsurveyed lots. With the large tracts, the band will be the government and they will set the rules. But the selections within existing subdivisions or communities will be reviewed by our government and the municipality in light of the proposed use and existing zoning.
We will approach those negotiations with the idea that those lots will be taken down in fee simple title and that their use will conform to the existing municipal zoning. That would be our negotiating position.
Mr. Phelps: That clears up the issue, at least for me.
On Bureau of Statistics
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Let me just briefly talk about the bureau of Statistics. As I mentioned in the supplementary estimates and in the opening remarks, the bureau of statistics this year is involved in a number of important projects: social accounts project, health promotion survey, implementation of national labour force survey in the Yukon and the supplementary economic accounts regarding the non-wage economy and other areas. They will be involved with Statistics Canada administering the 1990-91 census, a very important project because we believe there has been serious undercounting by Statistics Canada in the censuses up to now. By working with our stats bureau, which has developed considerable capacity about counting in rural areas of the Yukon, we hope that we will improve the quality of the count. We have been undercounted we think by about six or seven percent in every census so far; we will improve that. That of course has financial implications for the territory because under the formula, the more we can prove our population, the better arrangements we will have. There is in the budget an overall decrease of $130,000 and that is because of the completion of the one-time alcohol and drug survey that I talked about in the supplementary estimate. That has been completed. In personnel, there is a decrease of $46,000, or nine percent, due to the completion of the alcohol and drug survey. Otherwise there are only routine changes for merit pay and Yukon bonus, reallocation of $4,000 from contract services.
There is a decrease of $89,000 or 43 percent overall in the O&M Other, due to the completion of the alcohol and drug survey. There is an increase in Capital of $5,000 in surveys and data development to $15,000. The reason for that is to provide seed money. I would say to the Opposition Leader, and I did not have a chance to elaborate on this before, one of the abilities for us to lever national surveys here is that we are willing to put in a little bit of money to help make it happen, a little bit of staff time, a little bit of cost sharing, sometimes a very small percentage. We are increasing that amount of money because we are getting a lot of federal expenditures in here and we are able to play a minor role, but a participating role, with this contribution of capital and staff.
Mrs. Firth: I just have a couple of quick questions for the Minister with respect to surveys that are going to be done. Can he tell us how many surveys are going to be done where people in the Yukon are going to be phoned and asked to answer questionnaires?
Mrs. Firth: There are only going to be two general public surveys. I raise this because I have personally received three surveys in the last month. I received a call with respect to the alcohol and drug survey. There is another one about resident travel and the number of times you travel out of the Yukon Territory. There is another one that is some kind of airline rating survey. People are making the same observation that I am: it seems that more and more surveys are being done, and people are being called more frequently to answer them. People are becoming quite annoyed with the whole process.
That is why I am asking how many this government is planning on calling, so I can tell people how many times they can expect to be called.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: One survey I know for sure we were involved in was the alcohol and drug one. Of the three the Member mentioned, I was only called on one of them. I am not sure the last two were ours. One of them may have been a Tourism survey, and I will check that. The third one may have been an airline-sponsored survey, which we had nothing to do with. I will take that question as notice.
Mrs. Firth: From the surveys the Minister mentioned, is the non-wage economy one part of the labour survey, or is that another one?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I will try to make this brief. Among professional statisticians, economists and sociologists, there has been a criticism made in recent years about the quality and character of national economic accounts of all nations, including the economic accounts kept by the United Nations.
A couple of years back, we were sent a book by a person by the name of Marilyn Waring, who did a complete analysis of these national economic accounts and, basically, argued that they were myopic, that they did not take into account the subsistence economy, nor the value of volunteer work, clean air and clean water: things that are very important to Yukoners have no value, except when they have to be assigned a cost to clean them up. Therefore, the accounts were incomplete.
This rang true with us, because it was something we heard time and time again during the economic strategy, about how there were large and important qualities in our economy, like clean air, clean water and the nature of fishing, that were not accounted for in our stats. As well, there is no accounting for the value of the production or consumption of the subsistence economy, where people live off the land. For the most part, there is no accounting for work done by women in our society. In some cases, the national economic accounts define agricultural production for women as subsistence, but agricultural production by men as part of the productive sector.
There has been a big critique about the nature of these accounts. I had a conversation with the chair of the National Economic Council about this. A lot of people are looking at the accounts in that way. We had an opportunity to have some work done on our accounts by someone who was an expert in this area. We have had a report done. This is not about surveying people. It is simply a way to improve the quality of our accounts, to take into account some dimensions or features of our economy that had previously not been accounted for at all .
We are doing it. We have done the work.
On Operation & Maintenance
Administration/Management in the amount of $120,000 agreed to
Information/Publications in the amount of $145,000 agreed to
Method/Analytical in the amount of $332,000 agreed to
Operation & Maintenance in the amount of $597,000 agreed to
On Statistical Support Materials
Statistical Support Materials in the amount of $12,000 agreed to
On Surveys and Data Development
Surveys and Data Development in the amount of $15,000 agreed to
Capital in the amount of $27,000 agreed to
Chair: Are there any questions on allotments?
On Office of the Commissioner
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I think everybody knows what the Commissioner does. He performs duties pursuant to the Yukon Act under instruction from the federal Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs. He is involved in many good will and ceremonial constitutional duties, not the least of which is the annual Commissioners awards and the role he plays on the Anniversaries Commission, including the 1990-92 highway celebrations.
There are no basic changes proposed in the budget this year.
On Operation & Maintenance
On Office of the Commissioner
Office of the Commissioner in the amount of $120,000 agreed to
Chair: Are there any questions on allotments or person year establishment?
On Cabinet Support
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Here we have no increase in the person years but we do have some increase in the dollars. I will just explain them very briefly. In the Ministers line, we have had an increase in telephone usage and cost, which is the large explanation for the $19,000 increase in that line of Ministers, which is in the subcategory of communications, mainly telephone. On the Personnel line, what has happened is that we had a very strong and forceful representation from our secretaries about their classification relative to the classification of secretaries for deputy ministers. We asked the Public Service Commission to do a review and that resulted in a reclassification from AR9 to AR11 and was a consequential increase in personnel costs that is reflected here in this budget.
Mrs. Firth: I would just like the Minister to back up a bit and tell us about this 11 percent increase in the telephone use and costs. What exactly is that?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The $19,000 that is provided over last years estimate is an increase entirely in the area of communications for the Cabinet office, which involves the communications that have increased in their intensity and the costs as we communicate with other jurisdictions and outside of this jurisdiction. If the Member likes, I can bring back a detailed explanation but that is basically what it is.
Mrs. Firth: Can the Minister tell us the secretary classification, what the new salary scale is for the AR11?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Perhaps we can proceed with another question. We are looking for that information now. I will provide it when I have it.
On Operation & Maintenance
Ministers in the amount of $198,000 agreed to
On OIC Personnel
Hon. Mr. Penikett: On the next line, the new classification puts the secretaries in the range of $33,918 up to a maximum $39,052.
OIC Personnel in the amount of $846,000 agreed to
Operation & Maintenance in the amount of $1,044,000 agreed to.
Chair: Allotments and person year establishment? Clear.
On Public Inquiries
Hon. Mr. Penikett: There is no change here. There are no inquiries contemplated. We have one dollar in case a need develops.
Public Inquiries in the amount of $1.00 agreed to
Chair: Are there any questions on allotments or person year establishment?
On Operation & Maintenance
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The same situation applies here.
Plebiscites in the amount of $1.00 agreed to
Executive Council Office agreed to
Chair: Shall we go on to the Department of Community and Transportation Services?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Can I confirm that we have cleared the two small capital lines under Public Affairs and Bureau of Statistics?
Chair: Yes, we have.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that you report progress on Bill No. 16.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Motion agreed to
Speaker resumes the Chair
Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
May the House have a report from the Chair of the Committee of the Whole?
Ms. Kassi: The Committee of the Whole considered Bill No. 16, First Appropriation Act, 1991-92 and directed me to report progress on same.
Speaker: You have heard the report of the Chair of Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Government House Leader that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: This House now stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. Monday next.
The House adjourned at 3:40 p.m.
The following Sessional Papers were tabled November 29, 1990:
Yukon Energy Corporation - Electricity Supply Options for Yukon (October, 1990) (Penikett)
Yukon Energy Corporation - Strategic Plan 1991-1995 (November, 1990); Yukon Energy Corporation - Summary Reports: Strategic Plan 1991-1995 & Electricity Supply Options for Yukon (Penikett)
Business Development Advisory Board - Annual Report 1989-1990 (McDonald)