Monday, December 3, 1990 - 1:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. We will proceed with Prayers.
Speaker: We will proceed with the Order Paper.
Introduction of Visitors.
Are there any Returns or Documents for tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I have a legislative return for tabling.
Speaker: Are there any Reports of Committees?
Introduction of Bills.
Are there any Notices of Motion for the Production of Papers?
Are there any Notices of Motion?
NOTICES OF MOTION
Ms. Kassi: I give notice of the following motion:
THAT it is the opinion of this House that all parties in the current Iraq/Kuwait conflict should take all steps possible to implement a peaceful solution, rather than subjecting our sons and daughters to the vagaries of war; and
THAT Canadas present stature in the international political arena as peace keeper and standard bearer of principles of dialogue and negotiations should not be contravened until such time as other options are no longer possible.
Ms. Hayden: Given that this week is the first anniversary of the massacre of 14 Montreal women, I would like to give notice
THAT it is the opinion of this House that there can be no equal place in society for women as long as their basic right to safety is being denied;
THAT the systemic violence perpetrated against women is a sickness in our society and that men must work with women to eradicate it; and,
THAT the Members of this House declare their support for working the prevention against women.
I also give notice of motion:
THAT it is the opinion of this House that privatization of public services is penny-wise and pound-foolish in that it trades long-term benefits to the public for short term private profit, and has a particularly negative effect upon the poorest members of our community.
Speaker: Statements by Ministers?
Police Assisted Community Education: Drug Education for Students
Hon. Ms. Joe: I rise today as Minister responsible for the policing in the Yukon to announce a new RCMP drug education resource program for Yukon students. The prevention program is designed for students in grades 5 through 9 and will be available to all Yukon schools, at their request.
The national initiative is called "Policing Assisting Community Education", or PACE. PACE is an addition to the RCMPs existing drug awareness program.
It is adapted for the Yukon to supplement and complement the existing school curriculum. It is not intended to take the place of other classroom lessons that also focus on the prevention of drug and alcohol abuse.
As Minister of Justice, I am deeply aware of the need to provide our young people with the lifeskills they need to lead healthy, happy, productive lives.
I am sure we all recall the "Just Say No" drug and alcohol abuse prevention campaign in the United States. That slogan has been criticized by many who work in drug abuse prevention as too simplistic. Telling young people to just say no to drugs and alcohol is just not enough.
Saying no to drugs requires strength, self-esteem and assertiveness. An effective drug prevention program for young people helps them recognize and build on their personal strengths. An effective program teaches them how to be assertive in the face of peer pressure.
The focus of the PACE program is to help pre-teens and young teenagers develop the ability to say no by encouraging them to use decision-making and problem-solving skills.
As I noted earlier, the program will be offered to all Yukon schools. The classroom presentations will be delivered by 10 specially trained RCMP officers already based in the Yukon. They have all been provided with a comprehensive PACE training program.
Because of the concentration of students in the Whitehorse area, a police officer has been assigned full-time to deliver the PACE program in Whitehorse.
The program can provide students who start the program in grade 5 and continue it through grade 9 with a total of 20 classroom sessions on drug abuse prevention. PACE is an exciting initiative. It is a program that will supplement and enrich a number of the objectives that teachers already address in social studies and health.
Another benefit of PACE is that it can help students develop a positive view of the police, as well as a better understanding of their role in the community.
The PACE program is an example of how departments can cooperate to help prevent drug abuse. Prevention, beginning at early ages, is central to reducing the human misery and enormous social and economic costs of drug abuse.
Mrs. Firth: We on this side support the initiatives taken by the RCMP and government with respect to this program: Police Assisting Community Education. However, when I touched base with a few of the school committees, I found they were unaware of this being discussed as an initiative. I hope the Minister is not being premature in her announcement. Our preference would be that the school committees were all aware and in favour of it. In general, I found that the principals had the information but a lot of the school committee members did not.
I think we should be more positive with the "Just Say No" program, as well, in combination with all programs that discourage drug and alcohol abuse. They should be used to complement each other. I hope the Minister intends for that to happen within the education system and in general as there are other private organizations that are also sponsoring programs that discourage or try to prevent drug and alcohol abuse.
In general we agree with the direction being taken, and I would encourage the Minister to ensure that the Minister of Education has properly consulted with the school committees with respect to this program.
Hon. Ms. Joe: I appreciate the concern as stated by the Member for Riverdale South. The RCMP have done a lot of work prior to putting this program in place and are prepared to start as soon as possible. I take note of the fact that a lot of school committees are not aware of the program as yet, but I am sure they will be prior to it going into the schools. Certainly it will complement a number of other drug and alcohol abuse programs that are already in existence.
Question re: Municipal block funding
Mr. Lang: This past weekend, as we all know, the Association for Yukon Communities met with the mayors of the communities to discuss the financial implications of the decisions made by the Minister of Community and Transportation Services. It is the first time we can say honestly we have seen a unanimous condemnation of the government after it slashed the municipal budgets by over $1 million. The communities do not understand why the Government of Yukon has cut back the municipalities so severely, yet at that same time, the same government received an extra $19 million from the federal government. We have seen the government announce 117 new positions in government, so government is growing. We have seen a $6 million deduction in the capital works for highways, and we have seen that non-profit organizations, that have been asked to do work on behalf of the government, are not going to get an increase to cover inflation. My question to the Minister of Community and Transportation Services is: why has he chosen to cut back the communities, while increasing the size of his own government?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member made a couple of errors in his preamble that I would like to correct. The actual dollar increase of transfer payments from the feds is more in the order of $10 million, as opposed to his suggestion of $19 million. The fact also is that the overall funding to municipalities has increased to just over two percent. There was no drastic cut, as suggested by the Member.
The budget for capital works to municipalities has risen astronomically since the advent of block funding in 1987-88. It has risen in the last four years in excess of 100 percent. The health of the municipalities is very good; in fact, as of the first of this calendar year, the eight municipalities had collectively over $10 million in reserves alone, sitting in the bank. The priorities of this government dictate this budgeting and we have that budget before the House.
Mr. Lang: The Minister has not answered my question. As he knows, the cost to all municipalities has increased dramatically, similar to what it has to the government, and the municipal governments require transfer payments from the Government of Yukon, in order to do their business.
Secondly, I think it is important to note that the over two percent increase that the Minister is referring to refers to the transit commission and grants-in-lieu of taxes, which have never been figured as part of the transfer to the communities up until this time. Obviously it is to justify the governments position.
Speaker: Order please. Will the Member please get to the supplementary question.
Mr. Lang: Mr. Speaker, I assure you, this is a very important issue to all the people in the territory, all the taxpayers of the territory, because some of the communities will be looking at an increase in taxes if this Minister carries on his course of action.
I want to ask the Minister - he has not answered my question - why he has chosen to cut back the communities and instead, decided to increase the size of his own government.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I indicated to the Member the priorities of this government dictate its budgeting. If the Member is suggesting that we should not hire the required 50 teachers at a cost of $2.5 million, then he should perhaps say so. The reference the Member made to the transit grant to the City of Whitehorse is irrelevant to the equation. There was no effective increase or decrease to the transit grant. It does not reflect a cut. The Member has to recognize that what we are talking about is comprehensive block funding to municipalities, a subject about which I have had ongoing discussions with the municipalities since I took office nearly two years ago. The municipalities made it fairly clear that they had fairly abundant capital monies directed their way but their operational requirements suffered a shortfall. What comprehensive funding proposes to do is...
Speaker: Order please. Would the Member please conclude his answer.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I am concluding. Comprehensive funding purports to get rid of the inequities in the system.
Mr. Lang: The fact is that the Government of Yukon Territory has grown dramatically over the past number of years. Is the Minister telling this House that the 50 new teachers that he claims he is hiring are going to be moving into the 30,000 new square feet that the government is building over at the Old Yukon College? Are they going to be moving into the convention centre/hotel down the street here? The question to the Minister is this: why has he allowed the municipalities to be cut by over a million dollars, while at the same time standing in his place and trying to justify to the public this burgeoning, blossoming government throughout every block in Whitehorse and in every small community?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member knows that teachers are required in the communities. They are located where they will be teaching. This has no bearing on office space requirements for the government. If the Member wants to discuss office space, we can enter into that debate.
Office space plans have been tabled in the Legislature. We have shown Members where all the needs are and how they will be met. We have shown, successively, the series of moves that will take place with respect to space.
The capital funds for municipalities have risen by 112 percent, from an average of $5 million to an average of over $10 million each year over the past four years. That same pattern has been extended into next year. We are increasing the overall funding available to municipalities by over two percent for the next year. There is no cut.
Question re: Municipal block funding
Mr. Lang: Is the Minister telling the public that the mayors of the Yukon Territory do not know what they are talking about?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The mayors of the territory know what they are talking about. I spent several hours with them Friday night until nearly midnight discussing this issue. On Saturday, we resumed discussions. The purpose of the meeting over the weekend was about how best to distribute the funds available. What the Member refers to never materialized in any discussion of that distribution. The mayors took the position that they wanted to see another $1 million on the table before they discussed anything further. Unfortunately, there is no more money.
Mr. Lang: Here is a government that stands by its own principles and is prepared to be responsible in all its actions.
Can the Minister then verify that what was presented to the Association for Yukon Communities was that the government intends to eliminate school taxes and, at the same time, reduce the operating grants to the various municipalities?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member is reasonably accurate in his description of the proposal. I have introduced and proposed to the municipalities the elimination of school tax as an identifiable portion of the tax rate, allowing the municipalities to take up that vacuum and adjust the operating grants correspondingly. The whole principle behind the issue is that, currently, the Yukon government collects the school tax through municipalities. It is a very inefficient method of tax collection, and it has no bearing on the cost of operating a school.
At one time, when the school tax was established, it was considered to be in the magnitude of 10 or 11 percent of the actual cost of schools. That has now eroded to where it represents between seven and eight percent.
I have proposed a more efficient method of tax collection and remission.
Mr. Lang: The Minister is going to make some grand announcement to the general taxpayers in the territory, telling them he has eliminated the school taxes, but he will not tell them he has reduced the operating grants to the municipalities. The municipalities will have to increase their taxes, and they will be the bad guys.
It is not going to make the municipalities look very good when the Minister tells them they have to increase taxes. Is that the plan of the Minister of Community and Transportation Services?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I should make it clear to the Member that no one is suggesting a tax increase as a result of the elimination of the school tax component charged on a tax base. We are essentially eliminating our right to collect that tax. We are allowing the tax room to be filled by the municipalities. There is no change in taxation. The only change that is taking place is an identifiable portion of a tax rate. The equalizing factor of us eliminating the special collection of school tax is being done by an adjustment to the operating grant affecting that municipality. There is no tax loss; there is no tax increase; there is no change to the dollars available to municipalities or to the Yukon government. It is a status quo; it is just changing the colour of the tax base.
Question re: Municipal block funding
Mr. Lang: We always seem to be passing the responsibility on to someone else to make the hard decisions here. Is the Minister prepared to transfer the authority to tax hotel rooms to the municipalities?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member raises an issue I am not entirely familiar with. He is raising an issue, I believe, that was introduced at one point by the municipalities several years ago. It was also discussed with the Tourism Association, I believe, in relation to raising revenue for tourism purposes, but I am not familiar with the issue. Certainly from a property tax point of view, there is no relationship either between taxing property and taxing hotel rooms. I would want to research the question further and understand better what the Member is seeking.
Question re: Destination Yukon
Mr. Phillips: I have a question for the Minister of Tourism regarding Destination Yukon. On November 26 in this House, the Minister said that two Whitehorse companies were asked to submit proposals to market the Destination Yukon program. The Minister went on to say very clearly the two local bids were not considered because, in the Ministers words, they were not comprehensive enough.
Recently, the two local companies have contradicted the Ministers statements. In the first case, Fleming and Company was only given three or four days notice and said, "There was no formal request for a proposal." In the case of Harvey and Associates, they were given three or four days notice to just bid on the brochure and not the whole program. The principal for that company said, "We were not asked to bid on the entire program."
I would like to ask the Minister, in light of these facts, if he would apologize to this House for providing inaccurate information and, once and for all, would he set the record straight.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I will be pleased to set the record straight. First of all, some clarification is in order on this particular Destination Yukon contract. It is divided into two parts, as the Member describes. One was a small contract for advertising, involved in the production of a brochure. The other part was for a large contract involving the design, coordination and implementation of a promotion tour program.
Two local firms were invited to bid on the small advertising contract; only one local firm was invited to bid on the larger marketing program. That is contrary to the statements that I made in the House last week, so I want to make that clarification at this time, and I am pleased to set the record straight.
Mr. Phillips: All three contractors that have been involved in Destination Yukon have said they were given little or no notice of this contract. I would like the Minister to table all correspondence to the advertising companies regarding the tendering of the Destination Yukon program and, as well, I wonder if the Minister could tell this House if any other tourism marketing companies outside of Yukon were contacted in any way and asked to submit a proposal in the early spring of this year, regarding Destination Yukon, other than the three that we have been talking about here today.
Hon. Mr. Webster: The Members questions are very similar to the ones he raised last week, at which time I promised him that I would return with that information. I can tell him at this time that that information will be tabled in this House in the form an of a legislative return on Wednesday.
Mr. Phillips: My information is that, other than just recently, and I mean September 27, no other outside companies, other than ITS, Integrated Tourism Strategies, were asked to submit a proposal on Destination Yukon for the total package. If the government was truly interested in outside expertise, as they have argued in the media, why did they only ask for a submission from outside company?
Hon. Mr. Webster: That information is incorrect in that, indeed, two firms from British Columbia were invited to submit bids on parts of this contract. Whether or not it was prior to September 27 or not, again I will have to check the record and get back with that information to the Member.
Question re: Destination Yukon
Mr. Phillips: Just for the Ministers information, it was the Minister, himself, who told us that the total package was tendered in June of last year. That is what I am talking about; no other outside company, other than ITS or Lawson and Associates, was invited to tender at that time.
I have another question for the Minister of Tourism regarding Integrated Tourism Strategies, the company that has the overall contract for Destination Yukon. It has come to my attention that the Department of Tourism has been requested three times in the past year to pack up boxes of Yukon Department of Tourism stationery and envelopes and send them to ITS. ITS is then corresponding with clients on this letterhead, pretending to represent the Yukon governments Department of Tourism. I would like to ask the Minister why he would allow a private company to use Yukon government stationery. Is it not misleading to the clients that this company is dealing with?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I will have to check that allegation. I do not know if the Member has this confused with Government of Yukon, Tourism department stationery or if he is talking about Destination Yukon stationary. I will get back to him with that information.
Mr. Phillips: I believe it is the Government of Yukon stationery that I am talking about. Does the Department of Tourism proof each letter that is sent out by this private company or even have a look at the policy that this company has, and does that policy reflect the governments tourism policy? Are we making sure that this private company that is sending letters out on behalf of the Government of Yukon, on Government of Yukon stationery, is conforming to the Government of Yukon policy?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I have to ask the question, what policy is he referring to?
Mr. Phillips: The policy I am referring to is the policy of having a private company sending letters out on Government of Yukon stationary. I would like to ask the Minister: if there is such a policy, could he table that policy in the House so we can all see it?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I am not aware of such a policy. I am not aware that this outside agency was permitted to use Government of Yukon, Tourism department stationery. I offered to check the information and get back to him.
Question re: Destination Yukon
Mrs. Firth: My question is for the Minister responsible for the Public Service Commission.
There are policies in place that apply to all government employees that deal with conflict of interest and outside employment activities. Those policies state clearly that employees who exploit for personal gain the knowledge and information acquired in the course of their normal employment with the government are subject to disciplinary action. The employees should not place themselves in a position where they are under obligation to any person who might benefit from special consideration or favours on their part and should not have any pecuniary interests that could conflict in any manner with the discharge of their official duties.
In light of the conflicts that have been raised as a result of the Tourism contract, I would like to ask the Minister if those same rules apply to individuals contracted by the government to provide advisory services.
Hon. Ms. Joe: I am not familiar with the section the Member is talking about. I am prepared to go back to the department and do a review of the circumstances she has mentioned. I am not sure what she is getting at, but if she is implying that something was done in an improper manner, I will be sure to check into it.
Mrs. Firth: Could any of the Members in the front bench answer the question? Perhaps the Government Leader? I would like to know if there are conflict of interest guidelines in place that apply to advisors who are contracted to the government so that we do not have this situation occurring again.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I cannot say, with certainty, that there is a rule that would apply to the exact situation being mentioned by the Opposition Member. I can say that questions on this subject, and on the conflict rules, as they may apply to former officials, are presently a subject of some analysis inside the government. I have previously stated an intention to come forward with new legislation governing conflict of interest in the life of this Legislature. That intention still holds.
To go back to the Members original question, I cannot say with certainty that the particular question she has raised is either covered by the existing policy or has been previously discussed at senior levels.
Mrs. Firth: I would ask that someone look into it, either the Minister of the Public Service Commission or the Government Leader. It is an occurrence we do not want to have happen again. It would seem that there has been a direct conflict where, on one hand, someone who has been a contracted advisor to the government on the other hand has been the supplier of contracts to the government.
I would like to ask whomever on the front bench is going to answer the question to find out and report back to the House this week with respect to that.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The Member has repeated the allegation of the conflict. It having been made in this chamber, I feel bound myself to look at the question. I will not look at it in isolation. It seems to me there may be some consultation I would want to have with people such as the Public Service Commissioner and the Minister responsible for the Public Service Commission. I will look into the matter; I will report back. However, I cannot give the Member a firm assurance that I will report back this week, but I will do so as soon as I can.
Question re: Destination Yukon
Mrs. Firth: I would like to follow up with the Minister responsible for contracts, the Government Leader. He has talked about legislation coming into the Legislature with respect to conflict of interest. That could be within the next two years, from what the Minister has said. Our concern is that this kind of thing does not happen again. I would like to ask the Minister what kind of reassurances he can give us. Is he going to issue a policy memo or some statement that this does not happen again until they get the new conflict-of-interest legislation in place?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: First of all, I would want to look at the facts of the situation. The allegation has been made by the Member. I would want to satisfy myself that the statement of facts made on the floor of this House is perfectly accurate.
Second, I would want to look at whether or not the particulars of this matter are at variance or at odds with existing policy. If they are at odds with existing policy, then it seems to me the situation is very clear. If this is a situation that is not contemplated in existing policy, then I would have to look at what the Member suggests: either an interim policy statement between now and new legislation or, if possible, the possibility of expediting the introduction of legislation. The difficulty with that latter course, and I will be frank to the Member about this, is that we have several dozen pieces of legislation waiting for the spring sitting. I would have to get Cabinet approval to fast-track the presentation of a piece of legislation that is not now on that list.
Mrs. Firth: I think the issue is important enough to the public, particularly when they are paying the bills, that there be some guidelines in place.
I would like to follow up with the leader. The department itself has expressed concern and discomfort with what has happened and admitted that publicly. I would like to ask the Government Leader when he could indicate to the House they will review it and possibly have an interim policy statement in place so that we do not have this happening again as time goes on.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I will certainly give an assurance to the Member that I will have this matter looked at this week. I hope that next week I will be able to come back to the House and respond to the specifics of the allegation, in terms of the facts, and give some information to the Member about whether the situation described is covered by existing policy or not. If we are in a situation where a new policy is contemplated, then that will take a little more time. I will have to, while considering it as something that is important, talk to my colleagues about how quickly we would be able to address the situation. First of all, I want to establish what the facts are; secondly, whether it is covered by existing policy; and, thirdly, whether a new policy is needed.
Question re: Destination Yukon
Mr. Lang: Mr. Speaker, you know, and all Members of the House know, how important the tourism industry is to the Yukon. In some areas of the Yukon, we have experienced some very severe difficulties, such as in the Kluane area, and programs such as Destination Yukon are very, very important; it is important that they work and be successful. The concern I have is the reputation and credibility of organizations that we deal with, to ensure that they are going to do the job well for us.
This past winter, a program was to go down south from Yukon and be performed in the various cities. The information that we have received is that some of the shows were very poorly attended, to the point that it was said that there were more people in the cast than there were actually watching the shows. Could the Minister tell us who organized those shows?
Hon. Mr. Webster: The shows are part of the promotion program of Tourism North, which allowed the B.C. government to contract ITS of Vancouver to coordinate that production.
Just to correct the record, the consumer shows for the first year of this program were not well attended. That is true. But the trade shows with the members of the travel industry and the AAA Clubs went over very well.
Mr. Lang: I am glad someone went to one of the shows. Does ITS also have the Destination Yukon contract?
Hon. Mr. Webster: Yes, it has.
Mr. Lang: Once again, we are going outside for expertise. We read in the newspaper that one of the officials from the Department of Tourism stated that Lawson had proven himself in previous work. What I cannot understand is that here we contracted an agency to organize shows and get the necessary participation. No one attended. How can the Minister justify carrying on further work with such an agency?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I want to correct the record again. The shows were well attended by the travel industry. We had a lot of positive results from our marketing efforts for Tourism North. Obviously the work of this consultant this year, with the Destination Yukon program, has paid off well and we are receiving some very complimentary letters from the partners involved in the program, saying they feel it is a great program and that the promotional tour in Canadian and American cities has been well orchestrated.
I would be pleased to table those letters from Consul-Generals from Boston, Seattle and San Francisco, and, as I say, from our major partners.
Question re: Child welfare
Mr. Nordling: I have a question for the Minister of Health and Human Resources with respect to child welfare. The government has recently advertised for six social worker positions in the area of child welfare. Only one is permanent and the other five are term positions. I would like to know what problems we are having in this area that require five workers to come in all at once and for relatively short terms, mostly 12 to 15 months?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: There are two situations that affect the area the Member is asking about. One is that there are a number of areas in the government where we have a number of positions that are term rather than indeterminate positions and, of course, if they are indeterminate we can only advertise on that basis. The second reality is that child protection work as such, is probably the most difficult area of social work in terms of burn-out of staff that comes out of stress and degree of difficulty. It is the case everywhere as it is in the Yukon, that we have quite a high turnover in this area, and I have had, on a number of occasions and again recently, discussions with the management of the department about what could be done about this. A number of options have been considered to address the problem of staff stress, staff pressures and the general difficulty and unpleasantness of this work.
It is tradition, because this is so sensitive, that highly formal credentials be required for people in this position. It is my perception that that, too, is a problem, because those are credentials that are not possible to obtain in the Yukon and that has tended to force us to recruit outside. If these kinds of workers are in demand elsewhere in Canada, we are going to have an especially big problem getting this kind of skill, especially when they are indeterminate positions. The short answer to the Members question is: we are talking about very difficult positions and I am now looking at the problem of attracting, recruiting and entertaining staff in this area.
Mr. Nordling: The Minister has not told us anything at all. We know there are difficulties, because we are looking for six positions. I do not know how many more than six we have on staff.
How many are renewals of term, and how many are new staff that we are adding?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: At the moment, we are looking for six people for a variety of reasons, including maternity leave. If I understand the nature of the Members question, he would like to know how many people are in the unit. I will come back with that answer. We are talking about needing an unusually high number, at this particular moment.
The Member complains I did not tell him anything, but everything I said in my previous answer is nonetheless true and relevant to the difficulty of attracting and keeping people in this area.
Mr. Nordling: I accept what the Minister is saying: that it is difficult to find these positions. Why are we having this problem at this time? We are hiring six positions all to start on the same date.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I tried to cover that in my answer. Clearly, I am communicating very poorly.
With any position, our first preference would be to recruit locally but, traditionally, these jobs have been classified, and the job description requires a very high level of training, which is not available in the Yukon. Most of the people who have this training in the Yukon are already working or are in our service.
For many people in the social work field, it is the least desirable, or the most difficult, job of all. Combine that difficulty with the very high level of credentials needed for the job, the degree of difficulty of the job, the fact that we do not have the people locally and, therefore, have to recruit outside, and all that makes it very difficult.
We are going to have to address that problem in any one of a number of ways, or perhaps through a combination of ways. One is to take a really hard look at whether we need the credentials that have traditionally been asked for in this position. If we remove some of the need for credentials, it might help local hire.
Two, we need to look at the job ...
Speaker: Order please. Would the Member please conclude his answer.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: This is a difficult question and I am trying to provide the Member an answer. We need to take a look at the jobs or the organization of the work to see if we can remove some of the pressure from the workers by some method such as rotation to see if we could keep those positions filled but be able to give people respite on those positions.
Question re: Yukon Pacific Forest Products
Mr. Devries: I have a question for the Minister of Renewable Resources. Last week the Minister tabled three forestry studies, studies that used the December 1986 Deloitte Haskin and Sells Report - a viability study to substantiate much of the research. My question is: considering the Yukon Development Corporation is suing Carroll-Hatch International for mismanagement and a full quarter of the Deloitte report is by Carroll-Hatch, is there a difference of opinion between the Minister responsible for the Yukon Development Corporation and the Ministers department on the validity of the Deloitte report?
Hon. Mr. Webster: The Premier was just advising as to the nature of the question. At this time, I really cannot provide him with a response to that other than telling him that the studies were done at a period of time long before the dispute that the Member speaks of came into being.
Mr. Devries: I am tempted to ask the Minister if he even read it. Is the Ministers department considering completely redoing these studies, especially where the sections prove to be inaccurate as a result of the study and if renewed interest is indicated by prospective purchasers of the sawmill?
Hon. Mr. Webster: We are not contemplating renewing those studies at this time as we will be reviewing the material in those reports on a regular basis.
Mr. Devries: Would the Minister assure this House that these inaccurate studies and information will not be circulated until revised material has been published?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I can give the assurance to the Member that no new material will be released that contains inaccurate information.
Question re: Helicopter contract, Kluane area
Mr. Brewster: My question is to the Minister of Renewable Resources. On November 22, in the House, the Minister implied, in response to a question raised by my colleague from Porter Creek East, regarding the use of helicopters within the municipality of Haines Junction, that there was a community effort to prevent the outside helicopter firm from using the Renewable Resources compound. The Minister may recall that the local firm lost the bid for the contract by only $71. I would like to know if the Minister is aware that there are Department of Transport regulations that govern the operation of helicopters within municipalities. If he does not know this, why not?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I am well aware that DOT regulations cover the use of helicopters within municipal boundaries. The answer provided in the ministerial statement addressing the questions raised by the hon. Member for Kluane, dealt with the fact that, previous to the awarding of this contract, the site at the Renewable Resources compound had been used, traditionally, for helicopters, and it was thought that that practice would continue during the duration of this contract.
Mr. Brewster: If the Minister is aware of the DOT regulations, could he tell them to me? They are very simple.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I must confess that I am not able to recite all aspects of the DOT regulations.
Mr. Brewster: I do not even think he knows what they are. It appears that the Minister is not alone in this ignorance of the law, however, because both the Forestry compound and the Parks Canada compound are also operating contrary to the regulations. I would like the Minister to assure this House that, in awarding any future helicopter contracts in Haines Junction, his department will ensure that the DOT regulations are respected. An apology to the community would be appreciated, for implying that we had ganged up on the outside party.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I was not aware that I implied that members of the community had ganged up on the outside party that was successful in getting the contract. I will review Hansard to see if that was the case. If so, I can assure him I will issue an apology.
I take the Members advice; if it is no longer advisable, according to DOT regulations, to land helicopters where it was formerly permissible, I can assure the Member that the airport location will be the one used.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now lapsed.
We will now proceed with Orders of the Day
ORDERS OF THE DAY
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 call Committee of the Whole to order.
We will have a 15-minute recess.
Chair: I call Committee back to order.
Bill No. 16 - First Appropriation Act, 1991-92 - continued
Community and Transportation Services
Chair: We are on general debate on Community and Transportation Services.
Mrs. Firth: I want to follow up on a question I asked the Minister responsible for the Executive Council Office. He was going to give me some information during the budget on the cost of the former Deputy Minister of Justice to be at the National Defence College and I did not receive that information. I expect he may not have it with him right now but I would look forward to having that from the Ministers notes, if I could, please.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I do not have the information yet but as soon as I have it I will convey it to the House.
Mr. Lang: While we have the Minister of Health and Human Resources on his feet, I just want to remind him that he had committed himself to providing me the necessary background on the purchases of the two daycares through the non-profit organizations and if I could have that fairly soon, I would appreciate it.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Let me assure the Member for Porter Creek East that he asked a whole number of very big and difficult questions during our supplementary and I have hundreds of people working on the information. I know he indicated he wanted that first and there are people working on that and I will get it to him as soon as I can.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Department of Community and Transportation Services currently before us in the House during discussion on the mains, I have always maintained, is one of the most impacting departments throughout Yukon.
It provides a varied range of services and programs to all of the communities, to all roads and communications networks in between, and directly or indirectly affects every Yukon person. I have always also maintained that the quality of those programs and the services provided by Community and Transportation Services should be of a high standard, largely because they are the first and most quickly criticized should they not be up to an acceptable or a reasonable standard.
We find Community and Transportation Services also in highway camps and throughout the highway networks in the territory. There are many employees of the government involved in highways and other municipal services, including communications and lands, who provide considerable dedication to Yukon people, in an attempt to provide a decent level of service. I think it is a compliment to departmental personnel that many of the problems are often worked out before they reach the political arena, largely because there is a dedication and a commitment to find the best compromise in a difficult situation.
The budget before us is a proposal to spend $54,300,000 in O&M. We will recover $14,650,000 through those operational activities. In addition, we plan to spend $37,400,000 in capital and we expect to recover $8,953,000. We also plan to collect an additional $7,695,000 in revenues.
O&M expenditures have increased by a reasonable 2.8 percent over the 1990-91 forecast. Capital expenditures, on the other hand, are decreasing. The obvious question Members would ask is why. The principal reason is that, over the past five years, there has been substantial investment on the capital side in Community and Transportation Services activities. Many worthwhile and essential capital projects have been undertaken by this department in the past several years. When I added up the numbers I discovered that we have spent $235 million through Community and Transportation Services capital projects between 1986 and the end of this fiscal year. We have a number of land development projects that are complete.
The Klondike Highway reconstruction and resurfacing is now complete. Roads in the territory generally have been brought to a much more acceptable standard. We are able to at least temporarily back off on our expenditures in that area. I believe that the quality of life in communities has been tremendously improved in the past number of years through the massive injection of infrastructure monies, particularly in the area of water and sewer.
I think that the track record of this department, certainly from the financial side, is very impressive. We have developed our budget in full recognition of the priority goals of this government that essentially are to settle land claims, to promote sustainable development, to build healthy communities and to provide good government. Yukon people have continued to express to us a strong interest in protecting the environment on which our northern lifestyle is based.
In 1991-92, the Department of Community and Transportation Services will intensify its efforts in green initiatives in the interests of sustainable development.
We will continue the resource transportation access program to those projects that stimulate resource development throughout the territory.
In response to the need for greater environmental awareness, the program will be modified to favour smaller projects that have a reduced impact on the environment.
Members will recall that the resource transportation access program was introduced five years ago at a level of funding in the magnitude of $2.5 million per year. That program is now concluded, but we have not wiped it off the books. We have restored a much lower level of funding to a similar type of program with some new guidelines.
Members are familiar with the advisory committee on waste management, formed last year, that is currently trying to find a location for hazardous waste. With our involvement, this committee will also be developing a comprehensive policy on solid and special wastes. This waste management policy will benefit the entire territory by selecting methods that are affordable and will minimize environmental impact. One of the problems facing us in this area is that the standard landfill dump site is no longer an acceptable method for waste disposal. We have to develop a new policy and a new set of guidelines to deal with general waste. This committee will work toward this objective once the hazardous waste site has been selected and the project is off and running.
We will continue a comprehensive hazardous waste management program throughout the 1991-92 year. We will be doing that principally through the branch of municipal engineering. The branch delivers some $5.5 million worth of capital projects, in addition to land development projects. Municipal engineering will continue to serve unincorporated communities for the operation and maintenance of sewer and water services, the roads, streets, dumps and other municipal-type services.
In this budget, we have identified a concluding cost of $290,000 in the Teslin sanitary sewer extension project. In Mayo, we have identified $400,000 to conclude a water and sewer project. We will be preparing tender documents and doing the design work for improvements of a sewer system in Destruction Bay. We will also be involved in the construction of sewage treatment and disposal facilities in Carcross and Mayo, respectively for $600,000 and $700,000.
In the overall government goal of concluding land claims, we are extensively involved in self-government initiatives and negotiations. The municipal services aspect of the negotiations will lay the organizational and policy foundation for all 14 First Nation self-government regimes. Our departmental land claims branch will continue to support municipalities and unincorporated communities working closely with the Association of Yukon Communities to review land claims activities and negotiations, including the band final agreements.
In our commitment to work toward building healthy communities, Community and Transportation Services has a number of important roles to play in meeting the governments objective of building those healthy communities. Community and Transportation Services is already highly decentralized and visible in the communities throughout the Yukon, as I indicated earlier.
In support of moving a broad range of jobs outside of Whitehorse, we are undertaking three decentralization initiatives in 1991-92 that are outlined in this budget.
A municipal advisor position is moving to Dawson City in 1990-91. In 1991-92, the second municipal advisor position is going to be relocated to Teslin. Additionally, five aviation/marine positions will be decentralized from Whitehorse to Haines Junction. The design of the new terminal building at Haines Junction will include office space for these positions. One of the positions from the branch is being decentralized to Mayo.
Additionally, our entire communications branch will be decentralized from Whitehorse to Carcross in 1991-92. These four positions will still provide a high-quality level of service through their technical innovations, such as the use of dedicated lines and the use of VHF mobile systems. We expect the branch to continue its mandate to support communications for all Yukon people.
As part of the communications branch mandate, we will be doing the Campbell Highway phase of the VHF mobile radio system replacement project. We expect that to be completed on the Campbell Highway in the year of the budget, 1991-92. The Dempster Highway coverage is currently under preparatory stage. It will be in the final stage, I hope, in the subsequent year.
In support of all Yukon communities, the emergency measures branch has had quite a revitalization to it. In 1990-91, we will focus on training, in conjunction with Yukon College and the Department of Education, as part of our responsibilities to coordinate emergency preparedness and response throughout the Yukon. The continued growth of the EMO volunteers in the community is being supported. We have an ever increasing organizational structure developing in those communities to speak to emergency preparedness.
Through the increased activity and priority assigned to emergency response and preparedness, the branch has been able to secure additional federal funding of some $200,000 in 1991-92. That is an increase of some $173,000 over the recovery that was originally anticipated for 1990-91. We have had some excellent dealings with the federal government in the area of tapping into funds available for emergency preparedness throughout the country.
Our transportation division is implementing a number of safe and efficient efforts to support economic development throughout the Yukon. We plan to continue with our work in constructing and operating and maintaining the Yukons transportation network and to continue to develop and maintain a regulatory regime for which we are responsible. As Members are aware, in 1990-91, the current fiscal year, we accepted full responsibility for the 1125 kilometres of five in-territorial roads from the federal government as well as the Arctic B and C airports that involved the transfer of responsibility for 10 airports previously looked after by the federal government.
As well, we have two additional airports that will receive capital funding at Haines Junction and Carmacks. We plan to spend and recover at the same time some $1.3 million on those two airports in the coming fiscal year. The total budget assigned under the deal for those two airports will be $3.6 million over a three-year period.
I am very pleased with the transfer of those two major programs: roads and airports. It was the result of at least three years of negotiation between this government and the federal government. It began well before my time, but managed to wrap up this past summer.
Major road construction activity is continuing to shift from the Klondike Highway - where the major reconstruction and surfacing project is pretty well finished - over to the Campbell Highway. Nevertheless, we have set aside funds for spot improvements to sections of the Klondike Highway, particularly between Whitehorse and Fox Lake. As well, we have a section near Dawson City, at Flat Creek, where we have to do some major work, resulting from some unstable ground and slope conditions, and a considerable amount of funds will have to be spent there to stop the sliding from progressing.
On the Campbell Highway, we see a bit of an increase in the capital funding for that section. On the South Campbell Highway, we have some preparation work being carried out in anticipation of the Mt. Hundere ore haul.
In our bridge program, considerable funds have to be expended. Next year, we will be upgrading the Pelly River Bridge, in order to safely handle the ore trucks. Members may recall that, just this past summer, the Curragh mine brought in a massive $8 million shovel, piece by piece, which required some bridge strengthening, which the company paid for entirely.
It has reduced this governments required funding to upgrade the Pelly bridge. We have a major multi-year bridge repainting program that will start next year with the painting of the Takhini River bridge.
We have also budgeted for the beginning of the reconstruction and paving of the South Access Road in Whitehorse. We will be doing design work in the coming year. As well, we have identified reconstruction monies for Two-Mile Hill in Whitehorse and are anticipating more major construction the following year.
Members have raised the issue surrounding work done through the corridor study. We are finalizing our joint implementation plan. In the course of the coming year, that will set the stage for anticipated improvements. This section of the highway carries a large volume of commercial and tourist traffic. It is critical that we undertake some planning and development for the improvements to that particular access road.
We have a $7 million land development program that will address a broad range of industrial, residential, recreational, commercial and agricultural land needs across the Yukon. We will be placing more focus on consultation with communities on land development projects in order to ensure that land is developed in closer cooperation with Yukon people. Members have criticized the land development projects of the government in communities, and I have directed that we spend more time planning those projects with the communities involved. We expect surface rights legislation and an appeal process to be a part of our activities in the lands branch in 1991-92.
At the same time, we are planning for the eventual devolution of jurisdiction of land from the federal government. On a related but separate front, the lands branch will continue to work with the policy, planning and evaluation branch in its comprehensive review of all lands legislation.
Members are familiar with the new agricultural policy. We expect that 1991-92 will see its implementation, after extensive consultation with Yukon people, in cooperation with the Department of Renewable Resources.
Two new fire departments will be receiving operation and maintenance funding in 1991-92. The Lakeview and Klondike Valley fire departments are earmarked for funding. Implementation of fire protection agreements for rural areas adjacent to municipalities will continue to be a priority of the fire marshalls office. We expect that this will lead to a more general review of the policies affecting fire protection, once matters have been dealt with on a municipality-by-municipal basis.
Our public safety branch is continuing to work on new legislation for building standards and electrical protection, in accordance with the advice that has been received from industry, labour and municipal representatives, as well as consumers and rural people. Members may recall that about a year ago I introduced a set of working documents and proposals for looking at electrical and building standards. It went through an extensive review process, with a couple of committees looking in detail at the existing legislation and regulations. The department is finalizing that now. I hope to receive its final recommendations shortly, after which I expect we will be introducing some legislative changes.
We anticipate a new sport, arts and recreation funding regime to be part of our activities in that branch through 1991-92. In cooperation with the YRAC, the Yukon Recreation Advisory Committee, which is simultaneously the Lotteries Commission, it will be leading the discussion involving the approach to looking at the funding regime for sport, arts and recreation groups.
We expect that as the result of that consultation we will see a more streamlined and efficient administration of funding for the groups.
A full-time First Nations recreation consultant has been established after the successful completion of a training program by the incumbent in 1990-91. The position works with Indian bands, with native organizations and with individuals, to improve the growth and development of recreation, culture and traditional activities within native communities. Better relations between native and non-native communities will also be fostered through joint community development initiatives stemming from the branch through the use of the person who is hired.
In 1992 the Arctic Winter Games will be hosted by Whitehorse. We expect that over 1,200 athletes and artists from N.W.T., from Alaska, from northern Alberta, from Greenland and possibly even Russia will join Yukon people in March 1992 to celebrate northern sport and culture. We have identified $150,000 as part of our contribution to the host society for the games. At the same time, as Members may be aware, we contribute, on an annual basis, $60,000 to the support of the host society. In the current year, we contributed $100,000. Our overall funding contribution is $250,000 to the games with $60,000 per annum to the society. We will continue to work with municipalities as best we can in order to improve the financial regime that exists between the municipalities and the Yukon government.
As Members are aware, over the weekend we had a rather unproductive session between the Yukon government and the municipalities toward establishing that regime. Members are somewhat familiar with the proposal. The proposal is essentially to roll up all the available funding to municipalities and establish new criteria for the distribution of that funding. Some $17.7 million is earmarked in this budget for municipalities through the various ongoing programs, through grants-in-lieu, through block funds, and it is my proposal to have a formula in place for each community in April, 1991, to receive a portion of those global funds.
The funding that is being provided to municipalities is reflected in the budget. The global comprehensive fund will consist of a number of increases to the operating side of the budgets. The operating grants are expected to increase by $170,000, from $3,163,000 in the current year to $3,333,000 next year. Grants-in-lieu of taxes that the government pays on its assets and land are expected to increase by $317,000. Municipal infrastructure grants commonly known as block funds, on the other hand, are being decreased from $9.9 million to $8.8 million. In Question Period we discussed some of the rationale for that. We are quite prepared to defend the reduction in that portion of the funds in recognition that the overall funding to municipalities has increased by just over two percent.
We still have some consultation to conclude with the City of Whitehorse before we can introduce the necessary legislation to deal with the commitment to establish a Capital City Commission. We do hope to have the commission up and running in the current fiscal year. We have budgeted $50,000 in the budget before you to address the first year of its potential existence.
In support of community safety, new fire trucks will be purchased for Golden Horn and Pelly Crossing. The consultation and design phase will begin in 1991-92 for new halls in the Klondike Valley, Burwash Landing and at Lakeview, which I believe is the Judas Creek/Constabulary Beach area. New ambulances will also be placed in Beaver Creek, Ross River and Faro.
We have the expectation to reconstruct Range Road between Yukon College and Mountainview Drive in the coming fiscal year. That is an extraordinary requirement costing the Yukon government $565,000. This project will include the installation of traffic signal lights at the intersection of Range Road and Mountainview Drive.
The final point I would make in my opening remarks is in response to the objective of the government to provide good government. We have, through transport services, as Members are aware, introduced the staggered system for motor vehicle registration. We are developing an improved computer system to effect more efficient processing of licensing requirements.
We expect to have the existing licence plate replaced with the new plate design by the end of 1991-92.
I have established a seat belt advisory committee to review the previous debate of the House and the entire issue of seat belt legislation. The committee has met. I have communicated with it. I expect its preliminary report shortly, but I do anticipate introducing seat belt legislation some time in the next calendar year. On the strength of the initial discussions I have had with the committee, it is going to be coming out as a very strong recommendation to go forward.
We have introduced what is known as the MVES computer system. MVES stands for Motor Vehicle Equipment System, and it provides an inventory control and preventive maintenance scheduling for our road equipment fleet. On a standing basis, we manage some $27 million worth of rolling stock. Historically, it has been controlled manually, and it is moving to a more computerized control and scheduling.
We are also reviewing a new system for payment of the home owners grant. We expect our new process will allow taxpayers to deduct the grant when people pay their property taxes at source, rather than paying their property taxes, applying for the grant and, then, receiving a rebate. This was something debated in the House during last year. Looking through the records, I recall the original debate was back in 1979.
We expect to see that put in place in the next fiscal year.
I suppose I could go on and on talking about all the good things that this budget portrays. There are a number of issues and expenditure plans that will surface through line by line, I am sure. There are also a number that the Members flagged for me in the past that they would be bringing up. I can speak to them in the course of general debate. On Thursday, just before we adjourned, I circulated two memos that break out, on a community basis, the funds in this budget. I trust all Members have that. I believe I also provided to Members a detailed breakdown of the roads budgeting, both the capital and the O&M side by community, by highway camp. So I trust Members have that information.
During regular tabling of returns and documents, I believe I answered most of the question that have been flagged and raised by Members in the past. There are some outstanding that I plan to speak to such as the one issue the Member for Kluane raised about the weigh station reduction in hours. I am quite prepared to update the Member on that plus several other issues I have available here to discuss. That concludes my opening remarks.
Mr. Brewster: My voice kind of goes up and down; the good Lord has been working on it, so I am not in very good shape.
I guess there are some good things and some bad things actually happening. We are very happy to see the home owners grant proposed change. It took 11 years for the government to move to something that is sensible and saving the government money. It just took 11 years of people jumping up and hollering and screaming, passing motions and other people going at it. We finally succeeded and probably they will save a great deal of money.
I guess one of the disappointments I have is the reduction of capital expenses on the roads, dropping by 34 percent. The roads are the most important infrastructure we have. In fact, if we do not have roads, we do not exist. The Dempster Highway is a real good example of that. People used to make fun of Mr. Diefenbaker when he built it and now it is one of our main roads.
I am very, very disappointed with that and the Minister can probably answer this: I do not think that even includes any capital for the Alaska Highway that I suspect will be in the Department of Public Works budget that I will ask about a little later.
I am very pleased to see that there is some money going to the Campbell Highway, particularly mile 0 to 44, where Mt. Hundere mine would be. I must point out, however, that this is supposed to come on line next fall and again we are waiting until the last minute. We are going to rush around and do things that we should not have had to do because we waited to the last minute.
Also, in speaking about the Mt. Hundere trucks, the road along Rancheria is just as bad, if not worse, than a lot of other roads. You have your tourists coming up there and I hope that we do not all of a sudden find a bunch of money in 1992 and start tearing the road all apart when the centennial starts, because, believe me, the centennial is just hanging on by its teeth right now. One episode like that down in the Watson Lake area or Rancheria area, with roads all torn up, will be completely the end of the centennial; they will not come the rest of the way.
I would like the Minister to tell me what capital the Department of Public Works has made available for the Rancheria and Beaver Creek areas for the coming year.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Just to take the last question first, with respect to the Alaska Highway funding, I believe I tabled a return in the regular tabling of documents on this. The Member points out that this does not indicate where the money is going. I will have to check to see if we have that information. I know I gave the global budget dollars for the Alaska Highway as it was provided to us by Public Works. As to the specifics, I will undertake to get back to the Member.
The Member knows very well the extent of our debate over the Alaska Highway previously. We have a problem, but, at the same time, I feel more comfortable this year than I did last year that we have made some progress. There is recognition that the Alaska Highway is indeed in terrible shape and requires some special funding and we can anticipate that funding in the future.
I indicated to the Member in either Question Period or supplementary debate that the federal Public Works Minister and I are currently establishing our mandates for devolution talks on the Alaska Highway. I will shortly be taking to my Cabinet colleagues a negotiating mandate. The federal Public Works Minister, Mr. MacKay, is doing the same thing at his level. I expect, in early January or February of next year, to be entering into negotiations for the transfer of the Alaska Highway, because we recognized, through our discussions over the past year, that it is very difficult to find special funding for the highway. Given the general restraint atmosphere, we recognized that the only way to get extra money was to create a special circumstance. That special circumstance flows with devolving the responsibility for it.
Just as we were negotiating pretty good dollars in relation to the other five in-territorial roads, we expect to be able to negotiate pretty good dollars on the devolution of the Alaska Highway. In that regard, I have a positive outlook. The Member can argue that it is still not good enough, and I agree with him. We have a deteriorating highway; we have the section from Destruction Bay past the lake to Beaver Creek that is absolutely horrendous. I drove it about two months ago, and was shocked by its condition. We have a potential safety hazard stemming from the condition of that road.
In the expression to Mr. MacKay of the seriousness of that portion of the road, as well as the Rancheria portion, he undertook to investigate whether he could find special funds for some construction work next year. That has not yet materialized. It may; I do not know. I cannot speak for the federal Minister and his budgeting process, but we have begun talks to devolve the responsibility. I have treated the condition of the road on an equivalent basis at Rancheria and Destruction Bay/Beaver Creek. I have said to the federal Minister that both sections are bad, both sections should be priorized, and any available funding should be split between them.
On the one hand, in the Beaver Creek section, I expect we will have some money flowing from the Americans for that, as an extension, or completion, of the Shakwak project. On the Rancheria section, that will be federal Canadian dollars. I felt that, by priorizing both, we had a better chance of getting both done, especially if the money is coming from different pots for each of them.
The Member made a reference to roads reduction funding. On Thursday, I circulated the detail of the capital dollars. It was a four-page handout with some operation and maintenance information on camps, as well.
The point I would make with respect to what appears to be a reduction of some $6 million in road construction is explained by two simple factors. The one factor is that the South Klondike, especially undertaken in 1986 at the opening of the mine, saw some $20 million over a three-year period injected into its upgrading for the ore haul. That program is finished. Now, it looks like, on an annual basis, that $5 million or $6 million should continue, but that is not necessarily the case. With the completion of the South Klondike Highway, we no longer have the demand for that $5 million, $6 million and $7 million that was spent respectively in the past three years. We are spending increased dollars on the Dempster, the North Canol, the Top of the World and the Nahanni Range.
We expect that we may well have to put additional big money into any one or several of those roads in the years to come. There is some pressure, for example, to do work on the Top of the World Highway. The Americans are talking about upgrading their portion of the road on the other side of the border. We have increasing calls for an upgrading of that highway so we may well have to inject substantial millions into that in subsequent years. As I explained in my opening remarks, we have spent considerable funds on roads in the past several years. We have got the roads, except for the Alaska Highway, in fairly good shape. For the coming year we can afford to back off on the construction and upgrading of any one or a number of those roads.
Certainly, I expect that in responsible management of the necessary upgrading for those roads, we will have to inject some heavy dollars in subsequent years.
The Member complimented the home owners grant proposed changes. I think it is a good thing too.
Mr. Brewster: I do not have to be an engineer to know that if you do not keep maintaining a road, there is no road. That is a common fact anywhere. You are dropping your maintenance money here by seven percent.
In the legislative return you provided, I do not know how silly we can get in clearing right-of-ways. We cleared the one between Mendenhall to Haines Junction five or six years ago. It all grew back in because we sat around and did nothing. The clearing should be done just before the maintenance begins or it has to be done all over again after it has grown in.
Another item, in the breakdown of the O&M expenditures, is something I have brought up before. On the camps, the Blanchard area gets almost the same amount of money as Beaver Creek. This is one of the best highways in the Yukon, yet the amount of money allocated is much the same. One cannot go by mileage on these things. Consideration must be based on the condition of the road. If maintainance and such is not kept up, there will be no road. They deteriorate quickly. The maintenance of the road should be ongoing, at the same level.
A good example is my trip in this morning. There was a school bus in front of me. I was driving about 25-30 miles per hour for almost 40 miles.
There is not so much snow on there that you could not see anything at all. The bus took the people back. The only thing that saved me particularly was that from Mendenhall this way, the wind had blown it off and all we had were drifts. There was a bare place in the middle. When you met a car, you had to crawl over the drifts.
This argument has been going on ever since I have been in this Legislature. I continue to receive complaints from people that it is not being done, and it is about time someone looked at that road and found out why it is always in that condition.
I would like the Minister to explain why the Blanchard area is getting almost as much in maintenance as the Beaver Creek area, where there is no comparison in roads.
Chair: The Committee will take a half-hour recess.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Before we broke, the Member left a couple of questions on the record and some observations about maintenance versus the need for upgrading. On the latter item, the Member is quite correct that a severe level of reduced maintenance will effectively determine a reduced length of life on a road. In other words, the less you maintain, the more you allow a road to deteriorate, the sooner you will have to upgrade it. In principle, that is a correct assumption. One has to be aware that there are different levels of use of a road. Levels of use of a road can fluctuate from year to year, and they can affect the degree of maintenance that a road requires.
One that immediately comes to mind is the Nahanni Range Road. At the time Cantung was in operation, a high level of maintenance was required on that road because it was used a lot. Since the closure of that mine, our maintenance has been reduced to next to nil.
However, we are still doing some preventive maintenance. We are making sure the bridges and culverts are not washing out and that there is protection against erosion and that the basic capital standard of the road is maintained, but you do not have to maintain it as you would a road that is in constant use. The Member understands that you can have a reduced level of activity on a road and that it will affect your level of maintenance.
He then spoke about a seven percent reduction and I queried him during the break about what he meant by that because none of our figures show a reduction in maintenance. If anything, our figures show that we have increased our maintenance dollars from the current year to the next; we have projected an average two percent increase in maintenance dollars.
I think what the Member was talking about was that in the year previous we projected a nine percent increase; this year we projected a two percent increase so he is calling that the difference of seven percent. Fine, I understand what he is talking about. The point I want to make is that we have not reduced our available dollars to maintain a highway.
The other thing that comes into play is that you can have an effective reduction in the level of maintenance based on the capital standard of the road. For example, if in the cases of where you have applied BST you clearly reduce your summer maintenance on the road because you no longer have to lay crush on it or pour salt on it, then you do not have to grade it in the summertime. You clearly reduce the maintenance dollars on roads that have BST on them.
So you can, on some roads, actually reduce the number of dollars you project on maintenance without affecting the standard at all. The reduction of money does not have any impact on the quality of maintenance. That can happen. There can also be changing levels of usage of the roads.
The Member raised the question of the maintenance dollars assigned to the camps in Beaver Creek and Blanchard. I note that Beaver Creek is projected to receive an expenditure of $1,415,000. Blanchard is projected to receive an expenditure of $1,145,000. There is a difference of just under $300,000. His question was why would there be an increased level of maintenance for Blanchard, which has a better road, than Beaver Creek, which has a terrible road. The only response I have is that it costs more to maintain the Blanchard portion of the highway than for the Beaver Creek portion. Blanchard is located on the Haines Highway. The level of snow clearing is far in excess of that of the Beaver Creek stretch. I am sure the Member has travelled the Haines Highway in mid or late winter and has seen the snowblown drifts on either side. Those increased costs to clear the snow, combined with the distance to the Blanchard camp, account for those additional dollars. They are not dollars per kilometre. Those are the gross dollars for that camp.
It is not correct to say that the Beaver Creek camp, which spends fewer dollars, receives a lower level of maintenance. The camp provides the level of maintenance they can to that stretch of road.
Again, we must not forget that Beaver Creek falls within the Alaska Highway corridor responsibility. The Haines Road now falls within our responsibility.
In part, the dollars on the Beaver Creek section are governed by the Public Works dollars, under which we operate in the agreement.
I am sorry. I correct most of that last 30 seconds. I am reminded that the Haines Road falls into the same category as the Alaska Highway engineering services agreement. That argument does not hold.
Mr. Brewster: The more I listen to politicians talk, the more I realize the longer they talk, the more trouble they get into.
The Minister talked about BST cutting down the expenses. I agree with that. It cuts down roughly $1 million on the Haines Road, but the Minister then says it costs more to maintain. He is defeating his own argument. Number one, since they built the road up to where it is now, I do not suppose that road is blocked three times a year any more - maybe for a couple of hours, because the snow blows off, which is why that road was built up there. I am not too sure of your argument about that; however, I could not argue how much snow it takes.
I cannot understand why it costs $300,000 more to move the snow. You have roughly the same amount of people working; you have heavier equipment; therefore, they can move it faster. It goes down to the simple thing that, if you let a road deteriorate, like the Beaver Creek section has, you can do all the repairing you want with that kind of money, and you are going backward. You do not even catch up to what you had when you started in the spring. Every year, it deteriorates. As far as I am concerned, until somebody does something up there, the Beaver Creek section should be right up in the $2 million bracket and stay there, so they can do something, instead of having to climb over corridors that the American army put in, and rocks that are sticking up through the road. That is all I am trying to point out.
I keep saying that I want to know how they make a breakdown. They have never really even told me that. They gave me the breakdown and I appreciate it but they never told me how to get to it. The one thing we debated before was mileage.
We admitted that mileage was not the only concern. There are more concerns and there has to be more justification in the Beaver Creek area than there is on the Haines Road, which is now the best road in the Yukon, let us face it. Nobody can argue that. It is a great, big, wide road; actually four cars can pass, two going one way and two going the other, without any trouble. It is by far one of the best roads there is. If it costs $300,000 to look after it then I know that three years ago it was $1 million we were saving on maintenance on the Haines Road. The maintenance dropped terrifically. We all admit that. Even the Minister admits that. The difference between the Haines Road and the ones that the Yukon government BSTed is that the Haines Road was brought up to 99 percent compaction or they did not get paid. The Yukon roads are not. All you have to do is look at the road between Whitehorse and Haines Junction. That has all been rebuilt. This year they were spending hours and hours repatching and repatching. You never do that down on the Haines Road because it was done properly. It cost more to start but what you save over a period of 10 years would pay for that road.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I do not see us arguing with a lot of variance to our rationale. We have the Beaver Creek section actually costing $300,000 a year more to maintain than the Blanchard section. Certain costs that are assigned to the Blanchard section are to do with the snow removal, not just the summer maintenance. Summer maintenance is minimized once you have a hard surface. It is the summer maintenance costs that are high when you have a gravel surface.
A lot of the Members argument is reasonable. It is a fact of life that you can have a completely different set of costs from one year to the next, depending on your snow cover, depending on your number of storms and depending on your weather conditions. The Haines Road has a minimum of expense for summer maintenance. It has a high expense in the winter. Beaver Creek has year-round high maintenance.
What I do not have here for the Member is the maintenance distances involved by camp for those two camps or for any of the camps. I have not provided that information although I am sure it is available. I think, the next time I provide the figures, I will include the responsible kilometrage related to each of the camps because that will help understand the more detailed breakdown of those costs.
The Member must also remember that we are working with limited dollars that have to be apportioned to all the camps from the pot that is negotiated with Public Works Canada. This is the best representation to achieve adequate maintenance from available dollars. That is the long and the short of it. What I will take into consideration and ask to be done in future information for the House is to try to break out the maintenance distances that camps are responsible for because that will help show the per-kilometre cost of maintenance year-round, whether they have BST or not.
Mr. Nordling: Let me try to ask a question because what is not clear to me is the change. I can understand that things are not going to be consistent and kilometres are not the determining factor, but on the Blanchard Road from 1989-90 to the 1991-92 estimates, we are budgeting about $300,000 more.
For Beaver Creek, we are budgeting almost $200,000 less. Why is there the increase and decrease? We are talking about the change, not the actual comparison between the $1.4 million and $1.1 million between Beaver Creek and Blanchard. For some reason, it is costing us a lot more at Blanchard than it did before, and it is costing us less at Beaver Creek.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I want to go back and double-check, but the explanation I can provide, with caution, is that the dollars reflected in 1989-90 are the actual dollars spent. I have to determine what was budgeted. I am advised it may have been $1.1 million; therefore, it is budgeted again for the subsequent year. They would have spent less than they budgeted last year for climatic reasons. That would account for the variance, but I do not have the original budgeted amount available, which I will get and provide to Members.
Mr. Brewster: Beaver Creek maintenance has been reduced, and Beaver Creek has a worse road today than it had a year ago. It is getting worse every year. Anybody who understands roads will say that, after a certain period, you cannot get that road back up with maintenance money. You have cut off all that extra money. For some reason unknown to me, Blanchard has been given the other money. Perhaps there is a reason for it and they need it. They are having a lot of snow this year, but that was not known when this budget was prepared.
The Minister does not have to give me the kilometres, because I do not go by them; I go by miles. I worked on the highways, so I have a pretty good idea what the mileage is between those places.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member raises a reasonable point. I do not have a detailed explanation of what the budgeted amount was in comparison to the actual. What I have provided are actual dollars of the year previous and the budgeted dollars for next year. I will have to come back with the reasons for the variance from the highways people.
Mr. Devries: I would also like the Minister to look at the Alaska Highway O&M figures. Why is there $1 million more budgeted for the maintenance this year than last year?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: If I am understanding the Members question, he is asking why there is a $1 million increase from the forecast of 1990-91 to the estimate for 1991-92. The short answer is that is what was negotiated in the budget with Public Works Canada. But, the Member must remember that the forecast for 1990-91 is not a hard figure yet. It is an estimate of the amount necessary to maintain that highway for the full fiscal year. We still have four months to go, so the actual forecast could change. Given that variable and the recognition that more actual dollars will be needed, the department, with Public Works Canada, has negotiated $10.3 million for next year.
Mr. Devries: I find it strange. When you look at the other ones, they balance out fairly well, other than the flood damage in Destruction Bay in 1988-89.
I would like to go on to the Campbell Highway. I believe there is $300,000 budgeted to redo a section from the Watson Lake airport road to the Mt. Hundere turnoff. I know many people who lived on the Campbell Highway. This is not the section south of Tuchitua, this is the section from Tuchitua to Finlayson Lake. People said it was in the worst condition they had seen it in for 15 years. This was at the end of June.
The Minister has to realize that they have just been doing basically routine maintenance on this road, but this road needs more than routine maintenance. It is going downhill a little bit every year, and has been for the last 15 years. It is going to keep going that way until we address the problem.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member spanned the length of the highway in his comments, and I will do the same.
We have done considerable work in the assessment of the standard of the Campbell Highway from Ross River to Tuchitua. The Member recalls from previous debates and questions in the House that he was flagging the condition of the road as poor, that there was increasing traffic, and we should be looking at some upgrading.
My familiarity with the road over the past 20 years was a recognition that the road was less than a full-fledged, standard highway, but that it was slowly being upgraded through maintenance, year by year. Corners were taken out, hills taken down and shoulders built up. There was a considerable amount of maintenance that went on each year and, slowly, the road was being upgraded.
Nevertheless, the engineering branch spent a good part of the summer assessing the road between Ross and Tuchitua and they identified the deficiencies of the road and where it fell short of the necessary standard. It comes to mind that a basic standard for a low-usage highway would be 6.5 metres across the surface, shoulder to shoulder. There were portions of that section from Ross to Tuchitua that fell a bit short of that.
What is being done this winter is that report is being assessed in terms of where we should be doing upgrading in the years to come. So we have now got a better handle on just precisely what the standards are. With respect to the section from Tuchitua to Watson Lake, the Member is correct about identifying poor conditions on the road last spring. I believe we have debated this in the House before. The condition of the road occurred, I believe, because of a poor monitoring of the loads during a critical, seasonal time. Yes, the road did deteriorate considerably. We spent, I am advised, in excess of $100,000 over and above normal maintenance to bring that road back up into shape. We spent some time and money restoring the damage to the road.
What is reflected in the O&M expenditures is a stepped-up maintenance of that section of the highway for next year. We expect that there will be more traffic. We budgeted for increased maintenance. As to specific capital upgrading, we are leaving it until we have a better handle on what is happening with Mt. Hundere in the subsequent year.
Mr. Devries: The mine at Mt. Hundere is supposed to be hauling ore next fall. Will there be some work done on that 44 kilometres of the Campbell Highway prior to next fall? Will it be widened and chipsealed?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The work on the portion of the Campbell Highway to be used by Mt. Hundere has approximately $250,000 earmarked for stepped-up maintenance and restoration. We have not budgeted capital dollars as we are not doing major upgrading next year. We are doing major surface work and some erosion protection to the tune of about $200,000 for that section. We are doing stepped-up maintenance for next year.
If the ore haul comes to pass, we understand it will not happen until next winter. We expect that if the need is there for capital upgrading, we will do it the subsequent year.
Mr. Lang: I just want to make some general comments about the road system in the territory. I am disappointed with the highways portion of the budget. I had the opportunity to drive the South Canol Highway in the fall, as well as a good portion of the Campbell Highway. They were not in good condition at all.
I do know that the crews try their best with what they have. If the government is cutting back on maintenance expenditures, they obviously cannot do their job. In the overall responsibility of government lies the direct responsibility for such things as airports and highways, and they should take a high priority in the allocation of dollars.
It really concerns me that we negotiated with the Government of Canada in good faith for the maintenance of these roads. They transferred $8.4 million for those five highways: the Dempster Highway, the Nahanni, the Klondike, the North Canol and one other road. Obviously, we presented to the Government of Canada the arguments that we needed that kind of money on an ongoing annual basis to be able to upgrade these roads to certain standards, the money is not being spent in that direction. It seems to me there are two things. First of all, it is misrepresentation to the Government of Canada that it was a high priority. I can see it being a 10 or 20 percent difference; I do not have a problem with that, but when there is a significant difference between what was negotiated and what we are actually doing, obviously we are taking that money and using it on other highways. We are not using it on the highways that we said we were going to.
The other side of this is that every Member in this House is going to have constituents who are in the heavy construction business out of work this coming year. I can guarantee you now that there is heavy equipment out there sitting in contractors yards that will not be working next year and will probably have to go for sale. We may lose some of our biggest contractors up here because of the folly of not going with the continuous upgrading of our highways.
In our case we did not have a lot of money; we did not have the ability to contract with an agency or something to have a survey done. My colleague, the Member for Riverdale North, did a survey about the tourism industry. It confirmed what other surveys have said, that one of the major detractors from our tourism industry is our roads. The Member for Kluane has pointed out the differences in priorities. The Minister will stand up in his place and blame somebody else for the problems that we are confronting. At the same time we have a budget that has $19 million over the previous year and yet we see decreases in our capital side of our budgets.
I know the Minister is going to stand up and say they have just completed the Klondike Highway, as if that is the only highway in the Yukon that is to be reconstructed. There are highways throughout the territory that need capital upgrading. If we do not continue it, some government is going to bear the brunt of it, and it is going to require a very major expenditure. At that stage, we will probably have to go outside of the territory to road contractors who can do the job, because our road contractors will have left, because there is not going to be enough work for them to stick around.
I am making a representation, as the Member for Porter Creek East, who happens to represent some people who do go out and work for living, who go out and build roads. Now, when they find out the news, they are not going to be very happy, and they are going to be wondering how they are going to pay their bills next year. I guess they will go on the welfare roll, just like a lot of other people. I guess that is the whole objective.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I take it the Member is finished for now.
Let me correct the record in response to the Member. In the first instance, with respect to the devolution agreement on roads and airports, and specifically to do with the roads, the $8 million base adjustment that was done to formula financing is the agreed figure that gets transferred over a 25-year period. In other words, during the course of negotiations, there was an assessment done of what it would take to upgrade those five roads over a 25-year period. The 25-year period was divided by the base grant that was transferred.
Essentially, this means that we expect to spend that money over 25 years, on an average basis, to keep those highways to an adequate capital standard. The simple fact that you may reduce the capital activity in any given year does not detract from the original agreement, which is stretched out over a 25-year period.
It is inappropriate for the Member to suggest that there is misrepresentation in negotiations. The officials of my department, in their negotiations with the officials from the federal government, established a very sound basis for the dollars that flow. These dollars are expected to be spent. The fact that you may reduce them, in any given year, is a simple statement of that particular years government priorities.
The Member would suggest that we spend the same level of capital upgrading on those five roads irrespective of rising needs and demands on other roads.
In the information I provided to the Member, a significant factor in what has reduced the amount of road activity next year is the fact that we finished the South Klondike Highway. We spent $20 million on that highway in the last three years. That was a special appropriation, if you will, to upgrade that particular highway to accommodate the ore haul. That is now finished. The $5 million or $6 million dollars a year does not have to be spent on the South Klondike next year because it is finished.
The argument may be that we should spend the $5 million on something else since we are no longer spending it on the South Klondike. That would create a massive increase in the amount of road construction activity. The figures I provided to the Member estimate some $10 million of construction activity on the highways next year. The year previous had $13 million activity. That is a $3 million dollar difference from the current year to next year. The forecast for 1990-91 totals $13,653,000. The estimate in the 1991-92 budget before us is $10,085,000.
That is the comparative road construction activity in this budget that will be taking place on the roads next year. That does not detract from a negotiated agreement with the federal government to take over the responsibility for the five roads, for which they will provide an average of $8 million a year for 25 years.
Next year, as I pointed out to the Member for Kluane, we may well choose to priorize a particular highway for massive reconstruction. One, as I indicated to the Member, that we have had some pressure about for upgrading, is the Top of the World highway.
We plan that because of the tourism activity coming through that highway and the anticipation that Alaskans are going to keep their road maintained and are going to upgrade it in the years to come. We have to adjust and make decisions based on projected years pressures and demands for the next year. Our priorities dictated, and this is government wide, that we reduce the road activity by $3 million.
Besides the South Klondike Highway being finished, we have have concluded the resource transportation access program. That used to average $2.5 million a year. It is no longer there. We have reduced that down to $500,000, so there is a $2 million reduction on roads activity where a program ends. But I did not kill it, I maintained it on a reduced level. To me that is a responsible action.
At the same time, I have increased the other roads capital upgrading by $400,000. In other words, the pressure on my office is for the upgrading of a lot of small secondary and tertiary roads, so I increased the amount of money that we budget for upgrading those secondary and tertiary roads by 500 percent. I circulated a request to all Members in the Legislature for some input into the rules that we should apply to the maintenance of these secondary and tertiary roads. I have to tell Members that I got some good response from some Members and from some communities and from a number of people on what roads should be identified for capital upgrading that are not identified in any current program.
The long and short of it is that the priorities, the pressures, the demands placed on government throughout all departments dictate a final budget amount. I do not believe for an instant that the highways next year are in any danger of erosion. We have increased the maintenance dollars to keep those highways in shape. We have identified capital dollars to upgrade other portions and aspects of the highways. That is a responsible approach.
Mr. Lang: I would be the last one to sit here and criticize the Minister without just cause. Can the Minister not realize that we can read? On the document that he tabled about the breakdown on the highways - let us have a look at the trend that is happening in this government. It is not just in one year. In 1988-89, there is a budget of $15,860,000. In 1989-90, there is $16,848,000.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Lang: The Government Leaders says, why do we not compare 1984-85. Can the side opposite not remember how much money the Government of the Yukon had at that time? Then you can look and see what kind of priority it was.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: If the Member is wishing to draw me into debate, I have listened with some interest to the Members argument, which is something like...
Mr. Lang: Is this a point of order, Madam Chair? I was just rudely interrupted. I thought it was a point of order.
Chair: Mr. Lang did have the floor, Mr. Penikett.
Mr. Lang: I want to say to the Minister that he should take a look at this: in 1988-89, we had $15,860,000; in 1989, $16,848,000; then we dropped, in 1991, down to $13,653,000; and we drop again down to $10,850,000. Madam Chair, what does that tell you? It tells you that less and less is being spent on the highway system.
The Minister stands in his place and talks about having $400,000 to put on secondary roads; meanwhile, we have seen a minimum of $3 million deducted on the capital side of the upgrading of our highways. The Minister has no idea of the effect this is going to have on our highway construction contractors and those who work in that kind of industry.
I know the chairperson of those people who work in heavy construction. I do and every Member in this House does. What are we going to say when they are unemployed? We have a qualified heavy equipment operator sitting there and he or she is applying for welfare or he or she has to go and work in some job that they do not have the skills to do and subsequently they get one-third of the pay.
Over the years, Members on both sides of the House have been sending these people to school to take heavy equipment courses, because we want to have a fully qualified workforce. What do we do? We have to hope there is work down in British Columbia for them. If they happen to have the right visa, they can get into Alaska, because the work is not going to be here.
Is that the intent, because that is what is going to happen? I do not know if the Member had the opportunity to see all the heavy equipment in this territory that was parked this past fall. It was in shops and in yards in August, when it should have been out working until maybe November. That is a real concern.
I do not know if the Minister is aware of it, but this is one indirect way of upping the unemployment figures in the territory. There is common feeling among Members that our highway transportation system should be a top priority. What do we do? We are cutting back on it. Yet, we have an extra $19 million from the Government of Canada. What does that say to the public, when they see the government sitting there renting every space in town and building more office space.
The key thing we say to the young people of the territory is, "For heavens sake, you had better go to college and learn how to be a public administrator, because that is going to be the only industry in the territory." Perhaps that is why we made Yukon College as big as we did, so we have a training ground for the civil service.
Looking at this, I would not tell some young guy in my riding to go out and get his heavy equipment operator ticket. I feel it is going to be very injurious to that particular industry. It is foolish.
Just two minutes ago, the Minister stood and told how they negotiated $8.4 million from the Government of Canada, that it was a recognized amount of money, and they had to go ahead. That was for the five roads that, this year, he has $1.7 million budgeted for.
So, what is he going to tell me? Is the Member telling me that, next year, he is going to budget $16 million? That is absolute hogwash, because he is not going to have the money to do it.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: My initial response to the Member is that he seems to want to have it both ways. In fact, he seems to want to have it about five ways. On the one hand the Member opposite, along with his colleagues, on numerous occasions request special funding from this government for special programs that they expect this government to deliver. On many occasions, we have responded and delivered new programs. Then, the Member chastises us because we choose to pay for those programs. To me, that is something of a contradiction. You cannot have an increasing level of service without some source of revenue paying for it.
The Member talks about a growth in the civil service. As I told the Member in Question Period, if he is suggesting that we do not hire the 50 extra teachers for the classroom next year, then he should take that position and say that we do not want an increase in costs associated with education. If the Member is suggesting that we should not budget or plan for anticipated costs next year, such as the RCMP agreement and employee negotiations, each of which are going to cost millions no matter how you cut it, then he should say that.
You cannot have an increasing demand on your services without having a revenue base to draw from. You cannot bring in a budget that does not have a tax increase and, at the same time, be balanced without repriorizing some of your expenditure needs.
The fact of the matter is that in the highways division we have expended massive amounts of money that were not being spent in the years prior to 1985. The year this government first took office, it inherited the budget prepared by the previous administration. In our first year of office, the highways budget in 1985-86, in the budget prepared by the Member opposite, was $12 million. He is arguing with me that a $10 million budget is going to be a complete erosion of the contracting community. I talk to the contractors on a regular basis. They recognize the fiscal realities facing the Yukon. They expect that there are not going to be untold millions of dollars for road construction on an ongoing basis.
In the last five years, including that poor year of 1985-86, where we inherited a budget, we have spent over $80 million for road construction in the Yukon.
We have brought the condition of roads up to a much more acceptable standard than ever before. In 1986-87, we spent $20 million on road construction. That included the $7 million that was spent on the South Klondike Highway. I remind Members that part of the overall devolution agreement referred to a 25-year period, averaging $8 million a year as a base amount to be required during that period.
We are undertaking, by recognizing the standard of highways that exist, our obligation to maintain those highways. We have budgeted accordingly an increase in our maintenance dollars. The fact that there are less capital dollars for highway construction next year is a simple fiscal reality of government priorities to bring in a balanced budget without a tax increase. That is the long and the short of it.
Mr. Lang: I just want to make a couple of points here. The Minister talks about priorities. He talks about how we would spend the money if we were in government. Well, I would not be going around buying day cares. That is number one. Number two, I would not be sending Barry Stuart to Australia for a year to find his head at a cost of $65,000. I would not even contemplate it, let alone have enough nerve to bring it before this House for anyone to discuss and debate, let alone vote on it. All nine Members voted on it. Nine dumb politicians.
I would not be sending a yearly annual trek to socialist Sweden to see how we could put it into effect here at $12,000 a throw. I want to make a point here. Back in 1985, $12 million was spent on road construction compared to nowadays. In order to get the equivalent of $12 million worth of road construction in 1985, you would probably have to put in $20 million now, if you take price differences into consideration. That is a fact. That is literally comparing apples and oranges.
The Minister talks about fine financial responsibility. Here we have, for example, a curling rink in the middle of nowhere that will probably never be open and nobody will be able to get up there to eat a free cake. We have an arena that started at $500,000 and now it is over $3.5 million. The Minister proudly stands in his place and talks about being fiscally responsible. I am here to tell you that there are people in my riding who will be really upset when they find out what has happened to the highways department and the fact that it has taken such a low priority in this government. It is going to continue to take a low priority in this government, because the Minister has got to take full responsibility. He obviously did not carry the weight he should have in Cabinet. He is real happy; he has $400,000 to do a little bit of dust control on secondary roads. That is not going to help those guys who are in the heavy construction business. They are going to have two options: have a major sale or move out of the territory to try to find business elsewhere.
Is that called a diversification of the economy in the territory? Perhaps that is part of your tourism marketing program, to send all our operators outside of territory to have a look around. I am here to tell you that the Minister of Community and Transportation Services will be known as the guy who decimated the highways department in the Yukon Territory. That is going to be quite a reputation for the Minister to carry around with him.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: If I am correctly reading what the Member is saying, he is saying that, irrespective of the needs and demands of the public, we must continue to escalate highway construction dollars. The Member is saying that highway construction dollars are decimated, the highways are no longer being maintained, the millions of dollars necessary to keep the highway contractors busy year-round should be placed into a budget. That is an impossible task.
We could easily put $2.5 million more into the budget and cut out the 50 teachers that are required in the school system. We could easily put in $9 million for road construction and cut out the extended care facility. The Members on the side opposite have to accept and face the fiscal reality of the reduced dollars available to us. We have had a reduction from the federal government in our transfer payment.
As much as the Members opposite want to argue the point, at best, we got an increase of approximately $10 million in transfer payments from the federal government.
You have to accept priorities. That is a simple task of any business person. That is a responsible task for any government.
Are the Members opposite willing to stand up and say: do not hire 50 teachers, do not build the extended care facility, do not budget for the Whitehorse sewage lagoon that you are going to have to pay for, do not budget for any support for the communities in the infrastructure development that they require and expect, do not build a sewage lagoon in Dawson, which is still pumping its raw sewage into the river?
The facts of the matter are that we have, government wide, increasing demands and pressures on the available dollars. You have to priorize how you are going to use that money. Members have to stop asking for things like Wickstrom Road capital upgrading. Members have to stop asking for schools in Porter Creek and schools in Watson Lake and schools around the territory.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Byblow: We can have the fight. We can lay the cards on the table. The facts of the matter are that there are expectations by people of the Yukon for the construction of certain facilities and for the provision of certain services. We have priorized those services and the construction of facilities. Members opposite have stood in support of those facilities and those services. They have stood up and they have demanded them. They have put motions on the floor for them but somewhere they think that budgets are drawn from a bottomless pit. Well, that is not the case; that is not the fiscal reality facing this government, this territory, or this country for that matter.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Members are having a jovial time listening to the lesson on fiscal reality. The questions posed by the Members have to take on a better semblance of fiscal reality and a recognition of responsible management of the public purse. This government has demonstrated it in this budget and we stand to defend it.
Mr. Brewster: As I pointed out to start with, the most important infrastructure you have in your whole country is your roads. At least, as my colleague from Watson Lake says, we got them to admit that they did cut the budget on roads, so, we did gain that. We will live to regret this for a long, long time. We have a big centennial coming up and it is quite apparent the road will be a hell of a lot worse shape in a year from now in 1992 than it is right now. Either that or you will have all this money and you will have all these buggies running around tearing it up when the tourists are trying to come in. That is common of government.
I would like to go now to page 84.
Some Hon. Members: (Inaudible)
Mr. Brewster: Just a minute. Why should I sit down, I was not through. Hold your horses, here, and back up a little bit. On page 84, for Highway Maintenance you have one figure then on your statistics you have another and there is a difference of $308,000. Why is that?
Mr. Byblow: The Member made a reference to the condition of the highways. I have to remind him, and all Members opposite, that the only road in the territory suffering from an embarrassing, deteriorated state is the Alaska Highway, which is the responsibility of the federal government. It is the responsibility of the Members opposite political persuasion.
Mr. Brewster: I am getting a little tired of us being branded with some other individual. I am a PC Yukoner. That does not mean I have a colleague in Ottawa.
Chair: There is no point of order, Mr. Byblow.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I thank the Member for that clarification. It was not my intention to associate him with anyone he did not want to be associated with. However, the only lousy road we have in this territory is the Alaska Highway, which is totally the responsibility of the federal government. It has abrogated its responsibility to provide adequate maintenance and upgrading. The rest of the roads in the territory are in good shape and are under good planning for any upgrading, where it is needed, and adequate maintenance is provided for them.
The roads under this governments responsibility are being adequately delivered. The roads that are the federal governments responsibility are not.
I had intended to introduce some changes to the statistics of the budget book. Unfortunately, during the process of preparing the statistics for the budget, some of the information on three of the statistics pages have changes. Rather than enumerate these specific changes, I will provide three new pages to Members.
These are some stats on page 92, some figures on page 97 and some stats on page 106. I am providing three clean new pages to Members to insert and substitute for those three pages. I apologize for that. There was no excuse that will suffice to explain why this was overlooked or not caught; that is the fact of the matter. It was not caught in the period of reviewing those statistics. I wanted Members to have accurate ones, and I am providing them now. I am providing three pages for all Members for their books. I will be sending around a three-hole punch in a moment. That should answer the Members question about the difference in the numbers on page 84.
Mr. Brewster: The Minister hands me a sheet, and I am supposed to read it and talk at the same. I would like to go on now to the resource transportation access program. You have cut 30 percent and 67 percent and 78 percent, which leaves us $500,000. Is this $500,000 not already allotted out to Mt. Hundere?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: No, this would not have anything to do with the commitment to the road for Mt. Hundere. The commitment to Mt. Hundere, the Member may recall, was a total of $1 million. It was conditional on a socio-economic study and a couple of other factors. Those conditions have not been met. The money has not flowed but the money came from this years resource transportation access program, which is the last year of the $2 million. I believe only $500,000 came from this years RTAP budget, and $500,000 from last years budget. Next years RTAP, if you will, is the first year of the new program, the down-scaled, down-sized program. So, no, there is no Mt. Hundere money in the $500,000 for the budget year under review.
Mr. Brewster: If someone should decide to buy the sawmill down there, could they get some of this money to finish the road and bridges to get into the timber?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The short answer to the Member is yes, they could. I am in the process now of reviewing and finalizing the guidelines for the new program, recognizing that instead of $2.5 million, we have $500,000 for distribution. We are planning to change some of the rules. Some of the rules we are looking at are, indeed, to down size the amount of each individual application. I should not speak too liberally about the rules, because I have not finalized them, but things we are looking at are things such as the government being able to apply for money under this, as they could under the old program.
We have put a ceiling of $50,000 on each application, and to maintain many of the same guidelines pertaining to resource development. There are a number of conditions that we are reviewing in setting the policy guide for the new program. I would also like to come up with a new name for it.
Mr. Brewster: When the Minister gets those new rules and regulations, would he please send me a set of them?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Yes, I have no problem with that, as soon as we finalize them. I would have no problem sharing the draft stage they are at now with the Member, recognizing they are not final. I would like to do that by the first part of the new year, so we can get ready for new applications in April.
Mr. Devries: The Minister just gave us a few corrections. I would like him to turn his attention to page 91. If you add up some of the distances referred to here, there are errors. On the first one, the area referring to Watson Lake adds up to 25 kilometres, and it is 2.5. There is another one that adds up to 30 kilometres, and it says 20.9.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I appreciate the Member bringing that to my attention. The appropriate proofreading personnel will be chastised severely. The Member is correct. It should be 25 kilometres, but I did not catch the other one. I could review the Hansard tomorrow, but what was the other one?
Mr. Lang: It is the third line item. It states 20.9 and it adds up to 30.
The Member is absolutely correct, and I extend my profuse apologies. That should not be.
Mr. Brewster: Now that we have the Minister apologizing, I will bring another subject up that I am sure he has been very quiet and peaceful about. I cannot find any in that budget, but has any money been allocated to do anything at all for the Mendenhall roads?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The short answer is yes, there is money identified in this budget for anticipated upgrading. The longer answer is that I am still refining where the $400,000 increase that I have assigned to other roads upgrading will actually go. There is a total of $572,000 in the budget for other roads, which is this 500 percent increase I talked about earlier. Part of that is earmarked for Mendenhall, but I have not yet refined all the back roads where we are going to spend all the money.
The Member recalls my memorandum, and I am still getting some ideas provided to me by Members. I am still getting ideas from people in the communities. We are still refining where we are going to spend that $572,000 for secondary and tertiary roads upgrading. That is where Mendenhall would come in. That is an anticipated $80,000 or $100,000. I temporarily forget what we are working toward. The Member recalls the debate where I made an offer to Mendenhall people that a portion would be cost-recoverable, and the rest I will do. At the same time, with the review of the policy for maintenance, they would kick in for regular maintenance.
That is another initiative that goes hand in hand with the roads policy I mentioned in my opening remarks. We are reviewing policy 4(9), and we are looking at upgrading roads that have never been considered for government attention before. This is simply because the pressure is on my doorstep on a regular basis and I felt justified in earmarking some money in order to deal with these roads people feel are important.
Mr. Brewster: I am pleased to hear it. I hope we do not put any gravel on that wood road that goes into the swamp. I am sure that, by now, the Minister is familiar with the roads out there.
Has the Minister ever consulted with anyone about the three propositions he put forward to the people?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The short answer is that I spoke to two residents on the street. The proper answer is, no, I have not had a community consultation following my offer to them. I understood, from my conversation on the street with one resident, that they were having a meeting sometime in November - it should have already taken place - if the Member has anything to share on the subject, I would welcome it.
Mr. Brewster: Perhaps my hearing is going. I think the Minister said they were satisfied. I do not know about that.
It is quite apparent to me that people are not happy in the Robinson subdivision. What are we going to do about that situation?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Somewhat like the Mendenhall situation, Robinson is also earmarked for upgrading.
It must be on a full cost-recovery basis because in my presentation to people from the community, I argued that there was a basic standard provided on the roads for that subdivision. I argued that we had gone in and spent some additional $10,000 or $13,000 to upgrade a couple of bad spots. Two or three weeks ago, I presented a proposal to representatives from Robinson to look at an upgrading that would be fully cost-recoverable on a charge-back basis to the properties. At the same time, that would kick in to the revised policy 49 on road maintenance. In other words, Robinson and Mendenhall, once upgraded, would become part of standard maintenance by the highways department. I believe they are now considering that option. From my discussions with the community association, there seems to be a general acceptance that this is a reasonable route to go. I guess I am waiting to hear back from them formally. I am waiting to hear back from there but I understand that my staff are in communication with Robinson residents to define what standard of road to upgrade it to.
Mr. Brewster: I am very pleased to hear that. I am very pleased to see that the Minister is at last trying to work on these two homestead areas. I think the big problem is that you classify both roads as minimum standard and you know you cannot have it two ways. There is not a minimum standard between those two roads. I overheard a conversation of the Ministers and he, as I thought, said that the Robinson subdivision was a minimum road.
If that is minimum road, then Mendenhall has an awful long way to go to get up to that standard, and that is what is in their contracts.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member knows the extent to which I value his opinion, and he must recognize that I seldom disagree with him with respect to the issue of Mendenhall road standards. Once and for all, let the Member and I agree on something. Some of the roads in Mendenhall were not up to an adequate standard, and that is the reason I am prepared to expend some dollars, so as to bring them up to a standard accepted by the residents, but they will also contribute to those costs. Then, we will have a road that everybody is happy with, that I can send the graders in on, and the issue will never arise in the House again, other than for accolades for having resolved the problem.
Mr. Brewster: Maybe it is too close to Christmas. The Minister is actually weakening on things and changing his opinions. When you invite a man out and, then, he goes down the wrong road and gets stuck and has to walk, because he cannot get around another stuck vehicle, perhaps he then realizes that something happened. From now on, perhaps we should take Ministers out and show them these things, right off the bat. I agree with him: I would be very happy if we never heard about the Mendenhall road in here again, if it were done to the satisfaction of those people, and if it were cleared every so often - not very often in the winter, but once and a while.
I noticed the Minister is starting a homestead area in Dawson for $100,000. The homestead area is territory wide. Please, may the Minister not make the same mistake again.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Again, as much as I revere the Members point of view on matters, I cannot agree that there was a mistake made. The subdivision was put in at the cheapest price possible. I do not want to get into that debate again. It was not a mistake. The fact is that the residents who moved in there wanted a better standard of road than they were given and that they had paid for in the original price of the lot. That is the issue. We are putting that aside, and we are trying to move forward with a standard that is acceptable to the residents.
Let me tell the Member that there is no chance that I will permit a homestead to go in without a standard of road that graders can go on and that cannot be maintained and that does not meet a minimum level of ditching, surface and drainage. The short answer is that we are going to put the roads in to a reasonable standard for maintenance.
The Member has to remember that that is going to be a cost and that is going to affect the price of the lot. That is a fiscal reality.
Mr. Brewster: Well, I am very pleased to hear that we will not have to go through this a few more times. It gets a little downheartening after a while. Maybe the government has learned a lesson from Mendenhall; maybe we have all learned a lesson. I just hope that they do not go from here and build an empire like they did at Willow Acres where they priced everybody out with a great hardtop road that was as good as some of our highways.
He points at the Member. The road was built in the last two years so let us not play around with words and let us not mix things up.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I accept the Members observations. We are just about to break. Perhaps before we break, I could share with Members some of the information that was used this weekend in the discussions with the mayors. I believe the Member for Porter Creek East did ask me, at one time, if I would circulate to Members the discussion paper provided to the mayors. I would like to provide that now for the Members. It comes in two parts and I want to explain why.
The first part is the discussion paper that was distributed and discussed with councils in the past six weeks. The second part was pulled together after a visitation by my staff to all the councils. The attachment is simply some additional information that came out of the discussions between municipalities and my staff. In other words, it is some additional formulas and stuff. Additionally, I would like to provide Members with the information relative to the figures used in the discussion this weekend; that is, figures relative to the financing regime, the global numbers, the percentages - again, for the information of Members. Perhaps when we resume at 7:30 p.m. I could share with Members some additional information on questions they have raised in the past.
Chair: The Committee will break until 7:30 p.m.
Chair: I will call Committee of the Whole to order.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I indicated before the break that I would respond to a number of issues that had been flagged in the previous debate.
Members may recall that there was a question raised surrounding the Cousins airstrip. My understanding, as provided to me in information from the department, is that the monitoring of the Cousins airstrip is normally done on Monday and Friday and, during the winter months, after a snowfall. Appropriate maintenance works are undertaken after each inspection. However, given the raising of the matter by the Member and my discussions with the department, effective immediately, for the winter months, these inspections will be taking place daily and there will also be periodic inspections by the aviation and marine branch.
It will be monitored on a daily basis for the rest of this winter.
Mr. Phillips: I am interested in this new marine branch.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Aviation and marine branch is the name given to the branch of the department that looks after airports.
The Member for Kluane raised an issue about the Haines Junction airport. I believe he asked me about a hump in the centre of the airstrip and he asked about regulations applying to that, and he talked about a need for a tower to monitor that. The department has investigated the matter in detail and I can provide this information to the Member. The runway at Haines Junction does have a hump. This is not considered particularly unusual.
Airports throughout the country have similar types of deficiencies on their strips. Examples brought to my attention by the department include the Mayerthorpe, Alberta airstrip; Westlock has a similar feature; Calgary International has a similar rise in it. So does the Halifax one, as well as the one at Hanna, Alberta. However, the Haines Junction airport runway design does meet Transport Canada requirements and in fact, it was approved by Transport Canada prior to construction commencing. I can provide the Member with some additional information. The approved procedure prior to landing at airports that do not have weather communication advisory services is for pilots to do a low pass over the centre of the field or airport to confirm wind direction by viewing the windsock and movement areas for traffic, then to proceed to circuit for a landing. This approved practice for landing and takeoff is usually the procedure followed when landing into prevailing winds.
The tower is not a requirement; however, in the design of the passenger/cargo shelter, we plan to incorporate a community airport radio workstation on the second floor level, that will enable the community air radio services operator on duty to have a view of the total runway.
The community airport radio station at the Haines Junction airport is dependent upon Transport Canada air navigation agreeing to fund such services, similar to those provided at our other B & C airports.
Mr. Brewster also raised a question about the White River airport. The department has investigated the matter and advises that we do not have an airport airstrip in this area and to the branchs knowledge, the YTG has never had an airstrip in the area. Under our emergency airstrip program, we had identified the need for such facility in the Koidern area but although preliminary site selection work was done in 1987, no site has yet been confirmed. The work that was done was very preliminary. Before any decision is made, the whole situation has to be reviewed.
There was some question, not confirmed, about strong cross winds in the area. Transport Canada could be requested to do a fly-in, to check out the proposed site or other proposed sites in the area at no cost to the Government of the Yukon. However, I would note, for the information of the Member, that there are the remains of an existing airstrip at White River, mile 1167, approximately two miles from White River Lodge. This strip was 100 feet by 1600 feet and is located along side of the highway. This strip, to our knowledge, has never been under the control of nor ever maintained by the Yukon government.
This strip is one of approximately 40 strips that are located throughout the Yukon, which were developed historically by one party or another and are simply categorized as abandoned or not maintained.
There are a number of emergency airstrips that we maintain as part of our airports program, particularly now with the devolution of the airports program. We have nine strips scattered throughout the Yukon that we maintain year-round and eight strips we maintain during the summer only. That is a total of 17 emergency strips scattered throughout the territory.
I am advised by department officials that these strips are strategically selected to maintain a relatively small distance between them. In the event of pilot need, there is a strip in a certain radius that is available to them for emergency landing. What we have done in selecting the 17 strips, and this was done well before my time, was to select them according to them being a reasonable distance from each other throughout the Yukon on the major flight paths known to pilots.
I think that answers the majority of questions raised by Members. I think I will circulate the traditional map of the highways throughout the Yukon that marks where the maintenance and the construction is going on. I will put those into circulation.
Mr. Brewster: I have before me the Kluane regional economic profile, Greater Kluane Land Use Plan, sent to my colleague, Mr. Doug Phillips, on November 28. Let me quote from it. "There are three emergency airstrips operated by the Yukon government: Mule Creek emergency airstrip; Silver City, Kluane emergency strip; and the Koidern emergency air strip." Not only that, I would like to present survey stakes that the people living up there gave me right off the surveyed airport. I will present them to the Minister.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Perhaps I could ask the page to provide to the Member a copy of the map that shows where this stake came from. This is exactly what I referred to. Some preliminary work was done in the Koidern area. No final decision has been made. I suspect this is what is part of it.
Mr. Brewster: There is something wrong with this strictly civil service, bureaucratic situation. It is correct that there was an airport along the road that the highways branch stopped because it was dangerous because of the CNT wire. In those days, we used to have telephone lines that ran along the road. That was used only in emergencies. There were two or three emergencies a year in those days. I cannot provide a map, because I have never seen it. It is not the one along the road.
The people there talked with the department and they surveyed the area. The next thing they knew, it was a gravel pit. That is when they objected and the situation was investigated. It was the area where the airport was supposed to be. This is the governments own study. It says it is there.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am not sure the Member and I differ greatly on the issue. There is a strip along side the road, as indicated on the map I just passed to him. There is another strip where we did some preliminary site work, which is where, I suspect, he found those stakes. It is marked on that map, further away from the road - I believe, 90 degrees to the road - in an area known as Koidern.
We did not make a final decision on that. The preliminary site work took place about three years ago.
It was during the time that we were identifying the emergency strips around the territory. In my discussions with the department, I am told that there is a recognized need for another strip in that area, that the distance between available strips is rather lengthy. In other words, there is a considerable distance between strips in that area. It would be useful to have a strip in the Koidern area.
Some preliminary work was done. I suspect that is where the stakes came from. We have not made a final decision. We need some more investigative work on whether that would make a suitable strip, whether we have the proper prevailing wind conditions, slopes and approach geography for that to be developed into a strip. Over the course of the next year, I suspect we will be able to determine that.
Mr. Brewster: That is all I have been trying to get out of the department for a month. They checked in Hansard and said there was no such thing as an emergency airport. I have been trying to get them to admit that this thing was started. They said they had no record of even doing any work around there. Now, they have it all mapped out. That is all we ask. Now, we have the answer that there is one there; they are still looking at it, and it is quite possible that we will be fixing it years later.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: There is no strip there. Some preliminary work has been done on a possible one. The Member should put these stakes back so we can find the strip when we continue our work on it.
Mr. Brewster: Number one, before you bring in the Gestapo and have me arrested, I did not pick them up. Irritated people who live there, who sat at conferences with people from the department, did it. They understood that airport was going in. It was their recommendation; they know which way the wind blows; they have been there; they know how many planes cannot get across that river because of the fog to get to Beaver Creek. They thought and understood that this was going ahead.
Now, we come in here and get a completely different story. They will have to face those people when they go up there, because I am certainly going to tell them what I was told.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I accept the observations of the Member. I have explained, to the best of the information that I have been able to procure, about the status of a possible airstrip in the area. What more can be said? We have to clearly determine whether or not we are going to develop a airstrip there and we have got to do some work to have the data to be able to decide that. Yes, there is the potential of an airstrip. Some preliminary work was done but there is no airstrip, except the one by the highway, as per that map that I just gave you.
Mr. Phillips: I would like to go back to another airstrip, and that is the Cousins airstrip. The Minister gave me his notes. What I have here is some notes on half a page of paper, but that is only about half of the answer. What I asked the Minister, at that time, respected the concerns over safety at the Cousins airstrip and what the Minister has responded to is - and I am really pleased and I thank the Minister for this response - that effective immediately, for the winter months, these inspections will take place daily and additional periodic inspections will be undertaken by the aviation and marine branch.
What about the summer months? My question was about the year-round safety of that airstrip, and it is the summer months in which the kids go out there on their weekend parties. They move all the cones from one section of the strip over to the bush section and then the airplanes come in for a landing and they are landing in the trees. I would ask the Minister if he would consider the daily inspections, since it is fairly close to town, on a year-round basis, and not just in the winter months?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I take full responsibility for the instruction of daily monitoring in the wintertime, because that is what I thought the Member was asking me, that periodically the strip is not maintained for aircraft and that concerned me. I had assumed that during the summer months that was not the case but I suspect the Member is suggesting that there is some vandalism going on and that it would be useful to have a daily monitoring in the summer. I see no problem; the Member is correct. The maintenance camp is in close proximity to the strip where we can do daily monitoring through the summer. It is on the record that daily monitoring year-round is needed.
Mr. Brewster: First, we were given this from the Department of Community and Transportation Services, then we were given another one by, I believe, the Finance Minister. Now, I have a little bit of confusion. On the one from the Finance Minister it says "Firehall, Destruction Bay, Burwash - $30,000". Then, as I went through it I get over to Haines Junction and it has "Destruction Bay, Burwash - $30,000 Land Development". Now, in yours, I can only find one at $30,000, so am I to gather that that is another one of these mistakes?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am not sure what the point is that the Member raises. When I look at the sheets I handed out last Thursday of the summary of the departments, on the front page, for Burwash, there is indeed $30,000 for firehall design and construction. When I look at the second page of the finance handout, under Burwash Landing, it has Community and Transportation Services firehall design/construction Burwash, $30,000. They are identical. I have identical figures from both packages.
Mr. Brewster: If you look at Haines Junction, you will see Destruction Bay/Burwash, $30,000 for land development. I am just a little confused as to how often you are using this $30,000. It seems to be going a long way in a lot of places. It is the fourth item down under Haines Junction.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Again I have identical figures in both packages. When I look at the Haines Junction finance listing, on the fourth line down, it has Destruction Bay/Burwash land development, $30,000. In my package under Haines Junction, under land development, again we have $30,000 identified for Haines Junction/Kluane Lake recreational land development. If the Member is making the point that somehow these are the same $30,000, that is not true. That is separate monies and separately identified and so listed.
Mr. Brewster: We have it settled now. Apparently it is not going to be at both Destruction Bay and Burwash together. What are Destruction Bay and Burwash doing in the Haines Junction section under land development? They are only 80 miles apart.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am trying to sort out the question the Member is asking. I cannot say that there is a distinct error. What we have in our land development is clearly outlined in the package I circulated.
It appears there may have been some grouping done in the finance package. The Member should recognize that these were provided for Members information. This is a government-wide one. Mine is strictly related to my department.
I will examine the situation and get back later in debate about the precise question of the $30,000 for Burwash.
Mr. Brewster: I wanted to know which one of these guidelines I am supposed to follow. It is very confusing; Destruction Bay and Burwash are moved down to Haines Junction and put under Land, then you have it for a firehall back here at Burwash and, then, it says Destruction Bay. It is a little confusing but, then, maybe I was brought up in a confused world. I do not know.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: By the time we get to Lands, I will clarify that for the Member.
Mr. Brewster: Now, I would like to go on to the weigh scale. I see we have $160,000. Is that for building a new weigh scale? If so, where?
If he would like to leave that for line by line, that is quite all right. I will come back then.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: That would be easier.
Mr. Brewster: Okay, then I would like to go back on to another thing. You were going to let me know about the extra person at Haines Junction who works five days. It is a permanent part-time position. Before the Minister gets up to answer this, I will give you a classic example of what has already happened.
They closed at midnight last Thursday, and the weather forecast was for heavy snow and rain on the Haines Road and the Skagway Road. No request was made at midnight to turn on the lights. If the foreman, as stated by the Minister, would be doing this work, they had no key or access to get into that place at all. They were not even prepared to do it.
The next day, at 8:00 a.m., when they first came on shift, the foreman from Blanchard phoned and asked them to get the light on immediately. They did not want anyone down there. At 9:45 he arrived and said the road was closed and nobody could get over. This happened within a week of us talking about this part-time position.
Now, for the next 10 days, there will be a midnight shift, then there are five days where there is no midnight shift. To my recollection, since that Haines Road was open, there has never been a time when there has not been someone patrolling those roads, to keep people from going down it. Now, all the plans that they made about the foremen or somebody taking over certainly did not work out, because they did not even bother to get a key, so they could not have turned the lights off, even if they had wanted to.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Since the Member last raised the matter, I have had an opportunity to inquire of the department some detail surrounding that station. I should put several things on the record to clarify some of the discussion that we have had. I will also try to speak to some of the concerns that the Member just raised.
In the first instance, there were no layoffs; nor were there eliminations of person years at the weigh station. The vacancy was the result of a resignation. I believe I said this before and I just wanted to confirm that.
The majority of funding for the weigh scales comes from the funding provided by Public Works Canada for maintenance of the Alaska Highway and the Haines Road. These two highways, in the supplementary, as the Member might remember, were reduced by $670,000 because when the budget was set by us, we did not have a final figure from Public Works Canada for the maintenance level of funding.
The traffic at the Haines Junction station over the winter months averaged 10 to 12 trucks daily with a maximum of four trucks during the period from midnight to 8:00 in the morning. The department undertook to take advantage of the resignation of the position and the low volume usage of the station from midnight to 8:00 to reduce the hours. Shifts were rearranged so that service continued to be available to the trucking industry over a seven-day week, but for the hours 8:00 a.m. to midnight.
The weigh stations at Whitehorse and Watson Lake continue on a 24-hour basis simply as a result of their traffic volume. Whitehorse and Watson Lake, respectively, average 90 and 50 trucks a day, compared to 12 and four during the critical period. The flashing lights will continue to be used when required to warn the travelling public to report to the station. A call-out schedule has been established for the period midnight to 8:00 a.m. should the occasion arise when the weigh station has to open as a result of any particular road condition.
The Blanchard River foreman and the weigh station supervisor at Haines Junction have worked cooperatively in the past and are expected to continue to do so in the face of the situation now. I have asked the department to undertake a further review of the situation following this particular winter season.
If there is some increased volume or justification to restore the 24-hour service, that is what will happen. But for the duration of the winter months we plan to continue the way it is now, and will review it in late winter or early spring.
Mr. Brewster: I will just read to you what happened out there. When Vin Guttman took one years leave, the permanent part-time was moved to permanent. So there were four permanent people. When Mrs. Guttman came back to work in the summer, they had five. Then when she left, they were back to four again, but they do not have a permanent part-time person to make up for their leaves. You state that there is no problem there. How can you say that when no one bothered to put the light on when the road was blocked? No one had a key. No one had instructions to give them a key, which was locked in the weigh scale. That happened last Thursday.
Even when we were in government, I remember the deputy minister saying that someone has to patrol that road at all times because of the insurance. If someone gets hurt or is run over by a blower, the government is responsible. Now, to save five days work the government is going to take the chance that one of those snow blowers is going to run over someone.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I would appreciate it if the Member could clarify for me the business about the availability of the key. My understanding, when I reviewed this and discussed it with department officials, was that there was 24-hour access to the weigh station. The time from 8 a.m. in the morning until midnight is not a problem. It is the period from midnight to 8:00 a.m. The foreman at the camp is essentially in charge of any requirements at that station if it needs to be opened or lights need to be turned on or keys for access to be provided.
The foreman would not necessarily come out personally at 2:00 a.m., he would, no doubt, have immediate access to whoever is on call for that.
There is a system that covers the midnight to 8:00 a.m. period. There should not be an issue surrounding access. While the maintenance camp is open, the foreman is there. When the maintenance camp is closed, the foreman is accessible. The foreman would be in charge of arranging for the call out as required by the station. So I am puzzled about this inability to access the station should an emergency arise in that eight-hour offshift.
Mr. Brewster: Maybe I did not make myself very clear. When the person goes off at midnight, they lock the place up and go home. Nobody has instructed anybody to turn that key over. I am sure they are not going to go over there at midnight and wake the foreman up and tell him there is a key. Apparently there are no keys out there except those that are locked in the weigh scale, except for the person who is coming on shift the next morning. Consequently, you have all those hours between midnight and 8:00 a.m. when absolutely no one can get in there to turn the light on. Nobody has ever issued the orders for a key to be given to anybody.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I can only tell the Member that what he says, if it is accurate, concerns me because what he is saying is that nobody has a key except the operator who goes home, and that the additional keys are in the building. That does give me concern. I will undertake to make a further investigation of this particular case and get back to the Member in writing. I did promise I would get back in writing and I still will. I will include the details of information respecting access and who has keys and who is fully authorized and how the call-out system, more precisely, works. I was assured that a system was put in place to have a call out for the period that the place is closed. The Member is saying it did not work last Thursday. I want to know why, too.
Mr. Brewster: I would suspect that probably every one of the four operators has a key. I would say that from common sense. I do not know that, but I would suspect they would, because of the shift change. I am saying it did not work on the first go-around. We said it would not work and, on the first go-around, it did not work.
On top of that, I am also told that the radio telephone works much better. I am unaware of any of the homes that have radio telephones in them working for the lodge. The radio telephone is right in the weigh scale. They would have a choice to go there or to sit over in the lodge and listen to it there. I do not think they would take one home at night. At least if they do, it would be rather strange.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I do not know the issue of communications, but I will include that in the detail of further response. There is one thing I would like to ask the Member. Last Thursday, when there was a problem with access, why was there access required after midnight?
Mr. Brewster: Because there could have been cars going down there, and the road was blocked. In the morning, the foreman went out and checked the road down at Blanchard. There was no storm at Haines Junction, and this happens all the time. It is the same with the Skagway Road. You get it in the coast mountains.
When they went to work at 8:00, the foreman had phoned and asked to have the red light on. He said he would be back, and he went out and checked, and said there was no way anybody could get through. The next thing they had to do was worry about whether there was anybody in there. Fortunately, this time there was not.
They held four or five cars. On top of that, it was a ferry day, which is the big day for traffic. I am talking about this for the weigh scale, as well as for the safety of the people. The Minister is responsible, whether he likes it or not.
I see in recoveries here, on the weigh scale station, money is recovered. Undoubtedly, that pays for the weigh scales on the Alaska Highway. Do they know they are not operated for that length of time?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I thank the Member for the information relating to the specific situation last Thursday that governed his raising of the issue again. I will provide to him details surrounding procedure, access and call-out procedure. With respect to the general question he raises on recoveries, I am not sure, precisely, which figure he is referring to, but, in general terms, recoveries in a case of where we have an engineering services agreement with Public Works Canada would be part of the recovery, plus there would be recovery monies associated to the highway from permits and special fees related to the trucking movement.
Mr. Brewster: That is all the general debate I have; perhaps some of the others have questions.
Mr. Phillips: I wonder if the Minister has anything more he can tell us about the waterfront development. How much more have they talked with White Pass, and are we any closer to some kind of resolution on the waterfront development?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Well, I cannot provide much of an update from discussions in Question Period recently and in supplementary debates. We are in a three-way discussion right now about possible acquisition of waterfront lands. We are talking to White Pass. The city and the Yukon government are in discussions - I would not say "intense discussions" because it would be premature to say we are negotiating a land sale. It would be premature to say that, but we have had discussions relating to the possible acquisition of the land.
There is not much more that I could really elaborate on, other than to say that Mr. Branigan and I had a discussion on the issue today, privately, and we are expecting to talk to White Pass again within the next couple of weeks. So we are nearing a state of offers and counter offers, but we are not quite there yet.
Mr. Phillips: It seems that not a great deal has happened there. It has been a couple of years now, or maybe even more, since we have been discussing this issue. Is expropriation one of the options the government is considering? Is that one of the options that we are considering with respect to the waterfront land?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: To get back to the Members preamble to the question, the Member has to appreciate that there was an intensive tripartite planning exercise to identify more precisely what waterfront development ought to take place.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member says it turned into a disaster. It certainly was not a success; however, some of the work that was done is definitely useful. Certainly some of the public input, the consultation, the planning, the proposed development that was produced by the tripartite group before it collapsed, is certainly useful information to take it the next step, once the Capital City Commission, for example, takes it over. So it is not to say that it was a total failure, because some useful information and consultations took place.
I have to tell the Member that there is certainly no consideration at this time to expropriate the lands. Should our discussions with White Pass not materialize or should there be a major problem, I cannot predict that that would not be a possible last option, but it certainly is not contemplated now.
It is fair to say that we are entering into good faith negotiations. I hope those will be productive.
Mr. Phillips: Have we set a time line? Are we looking at coming to some resolution by Christmas, or are we looking at 1991 or 1992? The government knows we have to get on with waterfront development. It is a priority of the Chamber of Commerce and the Tourism Industry Association, as well as of a lot of Yukoners who would like to see some type of development on that waterfront to enhance the tourism potential of the territory, as well as beautify the city.
Time is going by, and no decisions are being made. In its negotiations, is the government prepared to say, if we do not have some kind of resolution to the matter by December, January, February, or 1991, 1992, or 1993, we are going to do something? We want to get started on it. In the last campaign, they talked about it as one of their campaign promises, that the waterfront development was a priority. The two Members who represent the City of Whitehorse, although they have not attended any of the meetings on waterfront development, talked about it in the election campaign as being a priority of theirs.
Where does the government stand on it? Is it going to take action on the waterfront development, or is it just going to talk about it for the next four or five years?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I should tell the Member that it is not fair, nor accurate, of him to suggest that nothing has happened in the last 18 months. The Member is acutely aware of the planning exercise that we participated in. We put up $20,000, as did the city and White Pass, to engage a consultant and do some public consultations, which developed a waterfront plan.
That planning exercise collapsed, and I am repeating myself. It collapsed because the intended use of the land on the waterfront was not seen by White Pass as the highest and best use. When waterfront is developed, everything is not converted into high-return revenue-generating categories of activity.
The discussions collapsed, but the plan is still there. It can be picked up and carried on. That has been done.
At the same time, we have had extensive discussions with the city on the creation of a Capital City Commission, something that goes hand in hand with waterfront development.
The Capital City Commission, which will be coming before the House in the form of legislation, I expect, for the spring, will indicate to Members this governments proposal, in conjunction with the city, on how to manage not just the waterfront but all lands that would ordinarily be those of the capital city.
Those two activities have taken place. We have had extensive discussions and are now in the process of drafting the legislation, which I would like to table in the spring.
Due to the collapse of the tripartite planning process, we have had to shift gears and change tactics on the acquisition of the land, or how to gain control of the land and have authority over it. I have already answered that aspect of it. The city and we have essentially developed opening discussions with White Pass. I expect those discussions will intensify in the next few months.
The Member asked about time frames. I would like to see the issue of the waterfront lands resolved by the time the commission is formed. If we pass the legislation next spring, we should have the commission in place easily by summer or fall. By then, I hope we will be in the position to provide to the commission the lands that may be procured from White Pass.
Mr. Nordling: The Minister said that the Capital City Commission is going to take over the waterfront development. However, in his opening remarks in general debate on this department, he referred to the Capital City Commission and said more negotiation was needed with the city before the commission could be set up.
The Minister is saying that legislation is being drafted. Is the Minister saying there is no problem with the Captial City Commission being set up, that that is all done and organized and all we are waiting for is the drafting of legislation by the government?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Let me clarify it. Part of what has to take place before the legislation can be brought forward is that there has to be a public consultation period. When the city and the Yukon government agree on the structure and mandate and terms of reference for the commission, then I would like to put that forward for public comment. It will probably go hand in hand with draft legislation. That is one option I am considering. It may or may not, I just do not know yet. But following public comment, it would then come back to this House for approval. That is what I meant about legislation and the time frame.
Mr. Nordling: That does not sound nearly as encouraging as the Minister sounded a minute ago when he said that legislation was being drafted and we were going to have a Capital City Commission in place by next spring, the summer or the fall. We are talking about negotiations with the city whereby we have not yet agreed on the structure of the Capital City Commisison. We have not agreed on the mandate of the Capital City Commission. We have not agreed on the terms of reference of the Capital City Commission. Perhaps after that has all been agreed upon it will be taken to the public and then perhaps after that legislation will be drafted and reviewed by this House to put the Capital City Commission in place. To me this is a two- or three-year project. We have heard this story before from the government. We heard it with respect to the Mental Health Act. It was announced in a throne speech and took three or four years to get before this House and passed, and it still has not been proclaimed in effect. From what the Minister is saying tonight, we have the same problem with the Capital City Commission.
I think that he should be a little bit more clear for us.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Just to allay the concern of the Member, I have to clarify one aspect of his presentation: there has yet to be agreement between the city and the government on the terms of reference, the mandate and the responsibilities. The City of Whitehorse, through the mayor with whom I have been dealing primarily, and I have agreed generally on terms of reference, the composition, the mandate of the commission. What we are working on now is the public discussion paper and the approval of those documents and that proposal by our respective colleagues: the mayor by his council, myself by my Cabinet colleagues.
We expect to put that forward for public discussion in January and to come back in time for presentation of legislation for the spring. So, there is not a long period of time nor a long process left. We have agreed on the basic terms of reference, the basic composition, the basic mandate, the basic responsibilities, the basic scope of activity. Our respective colleagues have to endorse that. The public discussion papers are in draft stage. That will be put out, I hope, in January, clearly in time for coming back to this House for the spring.
Chair: We will take a 15-minute break.
Mr. Nordling: Before we go, let me just finish this discussion. I would just like to say that I feel the same way as the Member for Kluane, that when a politician stands up to talk, the longer he talks, the bigger the hole he digs for himself. It is no use carrying on this discussion. All I can say is that we will wait until next spring and see.
I would like to remind the same Minister that we talked about the Alaska Highway corridor study. A year ago it was on the fast track and we were going to have an implementation plan by December of 1989. Well, it is December of 1990 and we still have not seen hide nor hair of that and three levels of government are meeting. It is a year later. I just do not believe the Minister when he gives us assurances that I do not think he can keep nor substantiate.
Mr. Phillips: I would like to move to another area before we move out of general debate. That is an area that I have raised with the Minister previously in supplementaries and probably for the past two or three years and I want to raise it again until I finally get a satisfactory answer. It is the area of the traffic in and out of Riverdale and the contribution of the department in assisting the City of Whitehorse or anyone else with any kind of upgrading of the highway facilities or the traffic flow in and out of that area. I would like to know from the Minister if he has done a study or done some kind of evaluation on the number of Department of Education employees who will be moving into that new facility, the number of Child Development Centre employees who are already over there and the number of employees in the extended care facility in the new planned rehabilitation centre, as well as the number of hospital employees. I would also like to know from the Minister if he could tell us how many of those territorial government employees - I do not know if he would have this information on federal employees - do not live in Riverdale.
The concern I have now is that we are establishing several government offices in that area and most people are going to go and come to work at the same time every day, basically the rush hour, and many many government employees now live in Porter Creek or other subdivisions of Whitehorse and will have to come the other way to get to their place of work.
Years ago, the government said they had done some preliminary work with the Old Yukon College when it was the Yukon College and they said it would be comparable to the number of students who used to come and go to the college, but I do not think that stands any longer.
I think that assumption was wrong then, because college students came at all times of the day and not necessarily at the peak hours. It is much more wrong now because all these government departments go to work at the same time and the traffic converges on the bridge. I have raised this concern several times in the House when, at peak times between about 4:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m., we hear ambulances and fire trucks trying to get in and out of Riverdale. The same thing happens in the morning, when people are trying to get to work, or if there was even an accident on that bridge.
The government cannot ignore it any more. We have to look at it as soon as possible. We cannot wait until we have a major disaster in Riverdale and emergency vehicles will be unable to get to and from the hospital because of all the traffic problems with that intersection. It is something the government should be discussing with the city in the hopes of finding some kind of resolution on that.
I wonder if the Minister could bring that information back to the House. I would appreciate any comments he has on the traffic problem on the bridge and the access areas in and around the bridge and Old Yukon College.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I do not know where to begin.
The Member recalls, because we debated this over a year ago, that there was a study done on traffic flows entering the Riverdale subdivision, and particularly the impact of traffic across the bridge about two years ago. We did that study on behalf of and for the city, even though it is clear that the basic responsibility for that particular service rests with the city.
Nevertheless, the study did show that the intended traffic that would be generated by the new use of the college, at the time, would not impact any more severely than the traffic of the college. In other words, the traffic that was expected from Renewable Resources and Tourism, who were, at that time, planning to go there, would not be any greater than the traffic from students and college personnel who were then using the college.
What the study did identify were a number of weaknesses with respect to traffic flows after leaving the bridge. The traffic flows were in excess of what the normal capability of the road could handle. The situation has not changed that much. The fact that Education is going in there is equivalent, if not less, than the combination of Tourism and Renewable Resources. I will just have to double-check figures on that but I believe that is still the case.
In summary, the study showed that there were fundamental traffic weaknesses in that route but they would not be impacted any more severely by the new use of the college facility by the government. It is in the report. The Member shakes his head. It is there.
That enters us into the discussions about the extended care facility and the proposed hospital that will have some impact on that corridor. We have had discussions with the city and currently we are having discussions with the city respecting the traffic patterns. We have indicated to the city that we are quite prepared to share in the costs related to traffic improvements with the advent of the new hospital. That was at a breakfast meeting earlier this year with the city. The issue is part of an agenda.
The long and the short of things is that there is indeed a traffic problem. It is not negatively impacted by the use of the old college by Education any more than it was when the college was in place. The responsibility is that of the city. However, we have recognized that in the long term, with the hospital and the extended care facility, there is some sharing of responsibility to address traffic pattern improvements.
We are at the stage of discussion of anticipating what the traffic flows will be, as impacted by the hospital, and where we will deal with any changes, or cost-sharing.
Mr. Phillips: I cannot accept the Ministers argument. If the Minister was actually thinking about what he has just said, he would not have made those statements. He stated that the road out there would not be impacted any more than it was when it was a college. We are talking about government employees who are all going to come to work at roughly the same time. We are talking about a big difference from four or five years ago, when a lot of people lived in Riverdale and might have gone to work there. Now, a lot of these people live in Porter Creek and the other subdivisions and are going to come the other way to get to work.
We are talking about students in the Old Yukon College who came to school at a different time. They came by buses and came part time. We are not talking about 300 people converging within an hour and one-half in the morning and an hour and one-half at noon hour and an hour and one-half in the evening.
The Minister should use his head when he defends these studies. There is a problem now; there is a problem today. Tomorrow morning, if the Minister would like to get up early, I will pick him up at his house, and we will go down to the corner and sit there and watch it. I will supply the coffee, and we can sit there and watch the problem in the morning.
If the Minister could sit there for an hour tomorrow morning, or any other morning of the week, and watch that problem, then stand in the House and say that it will not impact any more than it would have before, I will be very surprised.
What is it going to take? Is it going to take a major accident on the bridge? Is it going to take a major fire in Riverdale, where a bunch of condominiums burn up and people are injured or, heaven forbid, killed?
Emergency vehicles cannot get in and out of Riverdale. They cannot get in and out of the hospital at that specific time. Is that what it is going to take before the Minister sits down with the city? Three hundred-plus employees are going to be put in that area. We have some kind of a responsibility to look at the traffic flow problems and assist the city in changing the configuration getting in and out of that area.
Our direct creation of office space in that area is going to have a major impact on the route in and out of Riverdale at the major traffic times. The Minister can surely see that. He is a reasonable man and should know what happens now at 5:00 p.m. When we get out of here at 5:30 p.m., the traffic is backed all the way up to the stop light at Second Avenue. It is backed up because people are trying to get out of the intersection of the hospital. If he puts three hundred employees out there, trying to get out of there at the same time, does the Minister not think he is going to have a problem? I know he is going to have a major problem.
Consider if there is an emergency at that time. There are lots of scenarios. It is the same time as Canadian Airlines flies in and out of here. If there was an emergency at the airport and emergency vehicles had to get in and out of that hospital area at that critical time, would the Minister then stand up and say, "Gee-whiz, we should have done something"? I think it will be too late then.
The government should sit down, as soon as possible, with the City of Whitehorse, and have a serious look at the traffic problems from the South Access Road to Lewes Boulevard and the intersection that goes to the hospital. It is an area we must look at as soon as possible. We cannot wait for an accident to happen before we deal with this situation.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: What I am going to do in the morning is photocopy the Members statements and ship them over to city council because a large part of what the Member says has some validity. There is a problem. We have identified the problem for the city through a study a couple of years ago; the results of that study were available to the city.
We have had some discussions. We have indicated to the city that we are quite prepared to build into the planning of the hospital some traffic improvements. We are prepared to discuss some possible cost-sharing for those improvements. But the fact remains that the responsibility for the current situation rests with the city and I am just as outspoken as the Member opposite in persuading the City of Whitehorse to take its responsibilities seriously on this score.
The Member can choose to chastise me all he wants. I will simply pass that on to city council. I have already had discussions with the city on the subject. This government has had discussions with the city on the subject. I believe the staff are currently discussing the traffic problems with respect to the expansion in the area because of the hospital. There is not much more that I could do other than to offer to build a new bridge. A new bridge can cost millions or it can cost fewer millions, depending on how you restructure the bridge.
On the one hand the Member suggests I build more highways and roads and build more bridges. There is a limit to the pot and the responsibility that this government can handle, not to mention that it would be technically illegal for me, short of extraordinary funding, to provide any support for a new bridge. But that may not be the necessary solution. There may be a simple need for some restructured traffic patterns and lighting systems that would resolve the problem. I believe the study that I speak of addressed that. There are some options outlined in that study that could reduce the impact of the traffic congestion that will develop.
As I said, I will ensure that a copy of this Hansard discussion is sent to the city.
Mr. Phillips: I do not need the Minister to do any lobbying for myself; I can handle the City of Whitehorse with my own lobbying, thank you very much. I think the Minister can certainly do his part as the Minister responsible and sit down seriously with the city. I mean, goodness sakes, this government is the government that is going to move 300-plus employees over there and it has a financial responsibility. Now the Minister says maybe this is totally under the purview of the City of Whitehorse, but I would argue differently. I would argue that if you are going to undertake major government development in a certain area of this city, and you are going to create the traffic problem itself just by nature of the growth of government, then you have an obligation to help the city in solving the problem. It is not just to say to the city, "Hey, you have a problem. The Member for Riverdale North said a few things in the House yesterday and you guys should get going."
I am going to lobby the city and I have been lobbying the city already, but I am also going to keep after the Minister because I think this Minister and this government has a financial responsibility. If it wants to put large government office space across the river in an area where there already is limited access, then it should be prepared to create a little better access in and out of the area before we have a major problem.
Mr. Phillips: Before we leave the issue, would the Minister bring back this week those requests that I asked for, the number of Department of Education employees, the number of Child Development Centre employees, the number of employees of the extended care facility and rehabilitation centre and the number of hospital employees. As well, I wonder if the Minister would have in his records somewhere, how many of the employees who will be in that building - I know the figures will change - who do not live in Riverdale and would be coming from other areas. It would be interesting to know how many of those employees live in other areas of the city and will be coming the other way during peak traffic times.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I think I can provide most of that. I am not sure if I can break it down as to origin of people without a lot of effort, but certainly it would be much easier to produce that kind of data from my Government Services ministry. I will do what I can to provide the information the Member requested.
Chair: Shall we proceed line by line?
Mr. Nordling: Before we took our break, the Minister wanted to tell us of the wonderful things that were going on with the Alaska Highway corridor study, and how there may be an implementation plan that we have not yet seen. I would like to hear from the Minister on that. He did say there was money in this budget pursuant to that study. I assume it is the reconstruction of the Two-Mile Hill, but is there anything else? Is there an implementation plan we could look at? Have the three levels of government sat down together and decided to accept or reject the suggestions in the study?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I do not want to go into great detail, because we are at the stage of refining commitments from other levels of government. Before we break for Christmas, I will provide our proposed implementation plan to Members of the House, with the dollars associated and the time lines for that. We are at a stage of nearing final agreement. My earlier reference to some implementation money in this budget was in reference to $500,000 identified for work on the South Access and Two-Mile Hill. When we get to that item, I can explain in more detail what is happening.
Before we break for Christmas, I will provide the implementation plan to Members.
Mr. Nordling: That is wonderful. Thank you.
On Operation & Maintenance
On Office of the Deputy Minister
Mrs. Firth: Could the Minister tell us why they had to reorganize this department so that we now have an office of the deputy minister? It was not like that in last years budget. Policy and planning has been changed, as have some of the functions of some of the deputy ministers. What is the purpose of having an office of the deputy minister?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: This reorganization precipitated out of the reorganization that flowed from the creation of an additional assistant deputy minister. I believe there should be an organizational chart in the book. The organizational restructuring, as the chart indicates, placed finance, human resources and policy planning under the responsibility of that assistant deputy minister. The deputy minister retained the responsibility for communications, departmental land claims involvement and emergency measures. That was the reorganized structure, given the responsible work loads of the respective branches, and provided for the more streamlined operation of those particular services.
Mrs. Firth: I asked this question last session when this position was created for a woman assistant deputy minister. The Minister reassured us at the time of what that individual would be responsible for and that there would not be any further reorganization and that the schedule would stay the same.
In last years budget, there was an old organizational chart that had to be removed from the book and replaced with a new one. I guess I would like to ask the Minister why they changed their minds mid-stream. The program objectives of the office of the deputy minister have been expanded on considerably, including the objective to provide leadership to departmental management for the planning of program delivery and services to the public. I am a bit concerned that if one department has an office of the deputy minister, every department will want one and every deputy minister is going to want one.
The Minister reassured us at the time of the reorganization and the creation of that position last year that the general organization would remain the same; yet it has changed, and I have not heard any valid reason as to why that has happened.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: It appears to me from what the Member has said that there is some confusion respecting when the organizational change took place and whether any additional changes happened after that. When the organizational change was made, there was no further reorganization. The office or the responsibilities of the assistant deputy minister were established when that position was created from existing allocations and from existing person years. The office of the deputy minister is perhaps a misnomer. There is nothing changed in the branches that exist toward the responsibilities that existed before. It is simply a divvying up of the responsibilities. The deputy minister does not have an office with a bureaucracy of staff, I hope. I believe it consists, technically, of himself and a secretary. It is a reference point. It is not a separate office. It is just the categorization of the deputy minister responsibility through whom, of course, the responsibilities for emergency measures, land claims and communications flow. There is no change, to my knowledge, of the reorganization from the time it was first conceived, introduced and explained in the House last year.
Mrs. Firth: I guess something has happened because the program objectives have been greatly expanded upon for the office of the deputy minister and there has been a change in the title: office of the deputy minister. That was a concern I raised at the time. The functions that still continue to be under the deputy minister are as stated in this particular area: lands research and the land claims, the coordinator with the communities and lands research and communications. I believe emergency measures was somewhere else last time. Emergency measures was under the assistant deputy minister for community services and that has been moved over now into the office of the deputy minister so that in itself is a change. I find it unusual that we would have to have an office of the deputy minister when these particular functions, one by one, are being moved and changed and split up and I would like some rationale for it.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am advised that there was one minor change, and the Member has identified it. Emergency measures was previously in municipal and community affairs. In my opening remarks, I outlined the increasing level of importance assigned to emergency measures. This currently consists of one staff person in a direct reporting relationship, which is more appropriate, given the responsibility of that office. Emergency measures, as a program, is one where, in the event of an emergency, you have to have direct communication and contact with decision-making capability. In the event of an emergency, the emergency measures person reports to the Minister, technically bypassing the deputy minister.
That was the one change I am told took place. The Member is correct; there was a juggling of that.
The office of deputy minister is a misnomer. It is a reference point for the reporting relationships that did not change from reporting relationships that existed before. Communications historically reported to the deputy minister. Departmental land claims was created last year, and reported to the deputy minister. Emergency measures was one that changed. All the other responsibilities, of those positions that report to the assistant deputy minister, are unchanged in structure and are as they were before.
Mrs. Firth: Something has changed. When you look at the organizational chart from last year, the deputy minister was responsible for the land claims and communications. That came to 4.16 person years, and maybe $1.6 million for those two on last years organizational chart.
This years office of the deputy minister organizational chart has seven person years and a budget of over $3 million.
Emergency measures sure does not account for that tremendous change in dollar value because the budget last year for emergency measures was $84,000. So, the budget has doubled and the person years have gone from four to seven, so something is different there.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I do not happen to have last years chart available so I was trying to calculate how the changes occurred. The four person years in last years chart consisted of two communications permanent person years and two person years in the deputy ministers office, referring to a clerk and an administrative officer. The seven person years now consist of one person year where you have had the emergency measures added in, so that would make it five.
The problem we are facing is that we do not have last years chart available and we are trying to calculate the person year complement through recollection, but I will provide some information that might sort out the issue.
Last year, in communications we had two permanent person years and two SEDs. We converted the SEDs to permanent for this year. That adds two people. They were not identified in last years structure because they were not permanent. They are now.
Emergency measures brought in a person. That makes three. There are two person years in the land claims responsibility that were introduced last year.
There would be the clerk, or the staff person, of the deputy ministers. In quick summary, in the seven people now, there are four in communications, all permanent; two in departmental land claims, a program introduced last year; one in emergency measures, which was transferred out of municipal and community affairs. There is also the departmental staff person reporting to the deputy minister, that is, the secretary. That would be seven.
Mrs. Firth: That makes eight person years. He said one emergency measures, four communications, two land claims and one secretary - and a partridge in a pear tree. That makes eight people.
Will the Minister bring back a breakdown of the person years? There is a general overall increase from last years chart. There were 381 then and, this year, there are 387. When you review the whole organizational chart, you can pick up some of them, except in the office of the deputy minister. Who is in that office, and what is it all about? I would like to have a complete breakdown of the person years before we go on any further.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I do not have last years figures with me, so I would like the opportunity to respond in detail at the opening of discussion tomorrow afternoon.
I can have the break-out provided and will do so. In the meantime, Madam Chair, I move that you report progress.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Motion agreed to
Speaker resumes the Chair
Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
May the House have a report from the Chair of 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. Ms. Joe: I move that the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Justice that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: This House now stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. Tuesday.
The House adjourned at 9:25 p.m.
The following Legislative Return was tabled December 3, 1990:
Studies or consultants reports indicating a need for a new convention centre (McDonald)
Oral, Hansard, p. 356
The following Filed Document was tabled December 3, 1990:
Phase One Report. Analysis of the Whitehorse Accommodation Sector and Critique of the Convention Marketing Plan (1988) (McDonald)