Wednesday, December 5, 1990 - 1:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. At this time, we will proceed with Prayers.
Speaker: We will proceed with the Order Paper.
Are there any Returns or Documents for tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Mr. Webster: I have for tabling some Legislative Returns.
Hon. Ms. Joe: I have for tabling some responses to questions for the Member for Riverdale South.
Speaker: Are there any Reports of Committees?
Introduction of Bills.
Are there any Notices of Motion for the Production of Papers?
Notices of Motion.
NOTICES OF MOTION
Mr. Devries: I have a Notice of Motion:
THAT it is the opinion of this House that the federal government should maintain the existing Ministry of Transport services at the Watson Lake Airport.
Speaker: Are there any Statements by Ministers?
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS
Prolonged illness policy
Hon. Ms. Joe: I am pleased to announce that this government has amended its prolonged-illness policy expanding the job protection available to employees on a long-term illness leave.
The policy has been amended from a six-month leave of absence to providing 24 months leave of absence after the expiry of the employees sick leave credits.
Amendments to this policy now ensure that employees who are unable to perform the duties and responsibilities of the position to which they were appointed due to medical reasons will receive reasonable job protection during their recuperation period.
This will provide employees with an opportunity to recover from an illness and return to the position that they had previously occupied or to a position that is mutually agreeable to both the department and the employee.
This amendment also ensures that the period of prolonged illness will not disrupt an employees pensionable service. Employees also have the option to continue any other benefit coverage that they are presently covered by. This will ensure that an employee does not suffer any undue hardship during this period.
Part of this governments continuing efforts to be a model employer is to ensure that our employees receive adequate protection during periods of uncertainty in their lives. The initiative I have spoken about today is directed toward that end.
Mrs. Firth: We on this side of the House will be supporting this initiative, but I think it is important that information is provided so that everyone has a good understanding as to exactly what this initiative is doing. There will not be any extra dollars required from the government, from the taxpayers, to pay for this program. When an individual suffers from prolonged illness, the disability plan that that individual participates in as an employee of this government and pays on a monthly basis will kick into place and that disability plan will pay 70 percent of the salary. I understand that the employees could also be eligible for some Canada pension disability payments.
I think it is important to note that the decision with respect to whether it is a disability or not is made by the plan and not by government officials. I think the particular representation that has been made to government with respect to this change of policy probably came as a result of the prospective transfer of some of the federal employees to the jurisdiction of the Yukon territorial government in the federal plan or policy, with respect to long-term illness or prolonged illness. This two-year change had already been made, so if an employee transferred to the status of a territorial employee they will not be perceived to be losing a benefit that they had as a federal employee.
I believe that the union would have supported this initiative, as well, in their negotiation. I thought it was important just to provide that information so that people in the business community did not feel that this was an initiative that they had to compete with, with respect to some of the benefits that are provided to government employees. I know a lot of businesses have disability plans for their employees that they participate in on a monthly basis; therefore, we support the initiative that the government has brought forward.
Speaker: This then brings us to Question Period.
Question re: Contract tendering
Mr. Phelps: I have some questions for the Minister of Government Services regarding tendering procedures.
Almost three years ago, the Public Accounts Committee unanimously criticized the government for wasting money on capital projects. It made 17 recommendations regarding the front-end planning stages of projects, with a view to cutting down on cost overruns, yet we still have the situation where, time after time, this government is hurrying tenders, giving short notice to contractors and then not accepting the lowest tender.
I would like to know when this government is going to get its act together and begin putting out tender calls in a timely manner.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: In the first instance, it is not the policy or even standing practice for this government to issue contracts on short notice.
We have a procedure in place that governs the planning cycle for developing contracts. We have a budgeting process that places, in order, the required funds for that purpose and we work with the contracting community to stagger our contracts through the course of the year.
That has been an established practice for some time with this government.
We are addressing the recommendations of the Public Accounts Committee and we have presented to the Public Accounts Committee our improved practices in addressing the entire issue of project management. I fail to see what the concern of the Member is.
Mr. Phelps: The contracts are staggered all right. They are staggering under the cost overruns. We have all kinds of examples, recent examples, of this government bypassing the lowest tenders on contracts for various reasons. The convention centre, for example; the Takhini School, the Golden Horn Elementary School, the fuel contracts, to name but a few. What is the government going to do to restore confidence in the system so that contractors will believe that normally the lowest tender will win the job?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Again, in the first instance the Member has to separate oranges from apples. Secondly, he has to put correct information on the record. The Golden Horn Elementary School did go to the lowest bidder. The Member has to recognize that in purchase contracts, which are the examples that he cited, the government is permitted to bypass the lowest tender given the state of the bid in terms of its ability to have met the contract specifications. In other words, the purchase contracts that are entered into by government do not require that the lowest bidder be accepted simply because you may not be getting the particular set of goods that you have sought.
Speaker: Would the Minister please conclude his answer.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: In short summary, purchase contracts do not, and should not, require that the lowest bidder automatically be accepted if they do not meet the requirements of what is being purchased.
Mr. Phelps: The rules have been bent, twisted and reshaped. They look like pretzels, the way this government has been operating. People need to know that it is a level playing field out there.
I want to ask the Minister if he will say, unequivocally, that, from now on, people who are bidding on contracts can do so knowing they will be fairly dealt with and that the lowest tender will win.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Again, we must be clear that we are not confusing contract regulations between the purchase of goods and the construction of goods. The contract regulations require that the lowest tender is generally accepted in construction contracts. That practice has been followed.
Any change of not accepting the lowest bid requires Management Board approval. That has not changed. The playing field has been, is and always will be, level.
In purchase contracts, the playing field has different factors involved. Those factors must be taken into account before the goods or services are accepted. The playing field is level.
Speaker: Order please. Will the Minister please conclude his answer.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The playing field will remain level.
Question re: Schools, Golden Horn Elementary School
Mr. Phelps: We have a situation now where entire schools are simply the purchase of goods - the whole school. That is what has been happening. I am also concerned about the situation that is developing whereby all kinds of buildings are being constructed and the government has not got a clue about the future operation and maintenance costs. An example of this is the Yukon Arts Centre. I would like to know what the government is going to do about determining life-cycle costs of capital projects before it gets into building them.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Member was apparently not at a meeting in the Golden Horn subdivision when the Department of Education was strenuously requested to provide a school, in very short order, for the people of the South Highway district. Consequently, we indicated at that time - and to my knowledge with no objection from this particular Member - that there were concerns with respect to getting the school in on time. We talked about providing a modular school in order to meet the September 1990 deadline. So, I find the Members remarks today very inconsistent.
With respect to the O&M costing of capital projects, as the Member knows, and this started some time ago with this government, we did start factoring in the life-cycle costing of projects. We combined the O&M and capital budgets to demonstrate that we had already considered life-cycle costing of capital projects. The Member is mentioning in particular the Yukon Arts Centre project, where I indicated that the general ball-park figure with respect to the...
Speaker: Order please. Will the Member please conclude his answer.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: ... O&M was in the neighbourhood of approximately $200,000. The Members statement that we have no idea is simply wrong.
Mr. Phelps: That Minister stood in his place a week ago and admitted that they had no idea of what the O&M costs would be per year for the Yukon Arts Centre. The $200,000 figure was one that was used about three years ago for the public meeting, and it was heavily criticized by people present. Now, I would like to know just who is responsible for determining life-cycle costs of capital projects in the Minister for Government Services department.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Firstly, the Member is not telling the truth. Secondly, the Member does not know what he is talking about with respect to the Arts Centre. I indicated last week that the basic O&M costs for the Arts Centre were going to be $200,000. The concerns that were expressed by the public at that time were that they wanted the government to foot the bill for all sorts of additional costs that they felt would be desirable for the Arts Centre under ideal circumstances, including lighting directors, including stage managers, including all sorts of other personnel. That was the nature of the criticism.
If the Member is going to make a criticism, he should know what he is talking about.
Mr. Phelps: Since the Minister of Education wants to answer all the questions, maybe he could tell us whether or not his $900,000 architect for the Arts Centre is the guy who determines the life-cycle costs of the building.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The architect does not determine the O&M for the building; neither does the architect determine the O&M for any other buildings. The Member simply wanted to put the point on the record that the architect, in this particular case, cost $900,000. Let me indicate to the Member that the costs associated with architects, are, as I understand it, set by an established fee. In this particular case, the architect had to redesign the Arts Centre as a result of various change orders that the government and Arts Canada North were requesting.
Every time the Members stand up, they always raise the figures in order to sensationalize them. The legislative return I provided last week said $797,000. I realize that literary licence for some Members opposite has already raised it to $900,000 and I am sure in the supplementary it will be well over $1 million.
Question re: Yukon Arts Centre
Mr. Phelps: I guess the Minister forgot about the $100,000 for tea, crumpets and cookies that was also part of that bill and that is what brings it up to $897,000 that is not $900,000. That is right, it is only $897,000. I would like to know whether or not the architect who got paid that much money gave any kind of life-cycle accounting costs for that fee.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am sure the architects community and everyone who works in building projects will be fascinated to hear that the Member for Hootalinqua feels that the associated costs of the architect were tea and crumpets. I am certain they would take strong exception to that flippant comment. With respect to the life-cycle costing, I already indicated that we felt that there was an approximate annual cost of $200,000 for the purposes of providing basic utilities to the Arts Centre and that was what the Government of the Yukon had committed to ensure that the building was open and running.
Mr. Phelps: I would like to know who provides the estimates of life-cycle costs to the Minister of Government Services - not the Minister of Education: the Minister of Government Services.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The life-cycle costs are a new element to project planning that this government introduced. This was something that was never done five or six years ago.
Members are aware, through what I have said in information provided to the Public Accounts Committee - because that is where the recommendation originally surfaced - that in the planning cycle, life-cycle costs are part of that exercise.
The planning cycle is one that my Department of Government Services is involved in with the client departments, whether they be Education, Renewable Resources, or any other department providing a proposal for the construction of a facility. The planning cycle is the first step, prior to the award of the funding for the actual construction, and is where the life-cycle costs are calculated, provide for intelligent decision making and then are known by the government. We have, in our budgeting process provided to Members life-cycle costs of all...
Speaker: Order please. Will the Member please conclude his answer.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: ...our facilities.
Mr. Phelps: Let us take a recent example. We have two Ministers jumping up and down over there. They collaborated on this answer.
Could they provide us with the life-cycle costing for the Golden Horn Elementary School this afternoon?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The budget we have tabled before us in the main estimates includes the costs associated with the O&M of the Golden Horn Elementary School. I would be more than happy, during the Education estimates, to release that information.
Question re: Ross River arena
Mr. Brewster: My question is to the Minister of Government Services. One of the worst examples of project management this territory has experienced was the Ross River arena, known locally as big blue thing. It escalated in cost from a project of $500,000, to over $2.5 million. Could the Minister update the House about whether the capital cost of this facility has increased beyond the $2.5 million mark?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am not sure that I got the question clear. If the Member is inquiring about the operations and maintenance costs of the building, then that was provided in a legislative return this spring, in some considerable detail. If the Member is talking about costs related to the construction of the facility, those costs have also been identified in previous budget debates and they have not, to my knowledge, increased, because no additional construction has taken place. I can certainly provide that information during our budget debates, when I have the information available to me.
I should caution the Member about his reference to the facility. It is a multi-use community centre. There are many activities that take place in it. It is not just an arena.
Mr. Brewster: I did not mean to get a lecture. I just thought I would get a yes or a no answer.
Since this facility was so poorly planned, I would like to ask the Minister if there are any operational problems with the arena/college complex. Are the operational costs being kept down?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: At the present time, we are experiencing some operational problems with the facility. I am sure the Member is aware of that. When a thermostat gets turned off, pipes are going to freeze because there was no heat to the building. That is to be expected in a northern climate. We are addressing the current operational problem. My understanding is that the facility is going to be fully up and running within a couple of weeks, and we are addressing it as wisely and expeditiously and economically as possible.
Mr. Brewster: If the Minister is planning to spend any more money on the Ross River arena complex, would he consider seeing to it that the whole building is painted white to be in keeping with the white elephant that this structure is.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Not only do we have an arena facility at Ross River, we also have a community hall in that building; we have a public library in that building; we have a community campus in that building; we have heated change rooms in that building; we have a number of representatives from the community using that building. The decision to paint it is going to be made by the community and perhaps by the Member opposite, if he is willing to provide that kind of intelligent assessment of the facility. Certainly, I am not going to be painting it.
Question re: Ross River arena
Mr. Lang: A major concern from this side has always been the operation and maintenance costs of these facilities. That has prompted the question regarding the costs of operating and maintaining these capital facilities, and the one that comes to mind in to the MLA for Kluane is the Ross River arena. The Minister stood in his place and said they have just had one operational problem with that particular facility. Our contention is that it was poorly planned and subsequently, the taxpayer is starting to bear the operation and maintenance costs that such a facility is going to cause because of the way it was put in place. Can the Minister verify that in the last year that particular building has frozen up four times?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am glad the Member finally has, in posing the question, referred to the building as a facility. It is a community centre; it has a number of facilities within it. I should point out for the Member that it did not sink like the Faro School that he built a few years earlier. We have a facility that is built for a community that is using it, that enjoys having it, that provides a reasonably improved standard of living for that community and we stand here to defend our decision to build that facility. The fact that we currently have some operational problems related to the freezing up of the facility is an expected...
Am I going to be allowed to finish, or do Members want to stand up and ask more questions?
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Mr. Speaker, would they like to rise on a point of order and demand to make a speech or am I going to be allowed to conclude?
The building has frozen up this winter. I cannot confirm the number of times it has frozen up but we have heat on in the building now. It will be fully operational within two weeks. We have some plumbing to finish and that is being addressed. We are also working with the community to put in place regular supervision and maintenance of the facility, something we have been working on for months.
Mr. Lang: Can the Minister confirm to this House whether or not that particularly well-planned facility, that originally started as an arena and now acts as a university, has frozen up four times in the past year: yes or no?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I have already indicated to the Member I cannot confirm the specific number of times it has frozen up. I can tell him that it is currently heated. They are currently repairing some plumbing that broke during the freeze up and we expect to have the building fully operational in a couple of weeks.
Mr. Lang: It is funny that the Minister cannot confirm that it has frozen up four times since it is my understanding he was informed directly by the community that this is the fourth time that it has frozen up. Can the Minister confirm that the cost to repair that particular facility is going to cost in the neighbourhood of between $15,000 to $20,000?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I cannot confirm the costs associated with the freeze up and the repair. We would not even know that until we have got everything fully operational. Until we repair the plumbing that is still a problem, I cannot provide those costs. But I will certainly be prepared to table or inform the Member of the costs related to the past freeze up.
Question re: Ross River arena
Mr. Lang: Can the Minister confirm that the official opening ceremony scheduled for December 7 has been cancelled because of the freeze up?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am not working from a complete knowledge of the issue the Member is raising. I understand the community campus did have a plan to have an official opening at some point in late November or early December, and it has been deferred, probably until January. That I can confirm. I do not believe it is cancelled, but it is deferred because of the freezing problem with the facility.
Question re: Schools, Golden Horn Elementary School
Mrs. Firth: We have not even gotten to the operation and maintenance costs for the project I have questions on. We are still trying to figure out how much the school is going to cost.
The other day, there was a marvelous little press release about the Golden Horn Elementary School being officially opened. They went on at great length about what the school had: all the classrooms and activity rooms, as well as the administrative areas. They never mentioned anything about having two wells drilled there with no water in either of them. That cost about $40,000. They have to haul water to this school. They had to build a storage shed for $30,000 to house the water tank.
Can the Minister of Government Services tell us if they are going to drill more wells at the school? Are the wells that have been drilled going to be functional? What is the status of the wells and the water situation?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I feel compelled to answer, but only because all Members may be under the impression that the Golden Horn Elementary School is suffering debilitating problems as a result of some difficulties they have had with the drilling of a well at the site and they need to haul some water for a short period of time in order to accommodate the needs of the school.
The press release the Member referred to was about the opening itself, which demonstrated tremendous school spirit. It was a very happy school population.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Members opposite keep asking about the well. What about the spirit? What about the students who are accommodated in this school? What about the people in the district who finally got a school after the government found the money in order to provide it? What about the happy staff? What about the good educational environment at the school? All we get are questions about the well and the ground conditions.
When the government built this school, in record time, they encountered more rock than was expected. Consequently, there were some site problems.
Speaker: Order please. Will the Member please conclude his answer.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Yes, I will. The school, itself, provides a happy educational environment. There are some very enthusiastic people at that school: students, teachers and parents alike.
Mrs. Firth: I am sorry we are not allowed to raise questions because the Minister of Education does not like them. What a phony baloney argument.
Speaker: Order please. Will the Member please withdraw her remark and stick to parliamentary language.
Mrs. Firth: Do you mean: phony baloney?
Speaker: Anything that will cause disruption is out of order. I would like to remind all Members to stay away from language that will disrupt this House.
Mrs. Firth: I respect your ruling, but the Minister just accused us of not supporting the people out there and criticizing the government because...
Speaker: Order please. Will the Member please conclude her supplementary and get on with the question.
Mrs. Firth: I was just starting the question, Mr. Speaker. I want to know from the Minister if we are going to drill more wells at the Golden Horn Elementary School site. We have two now. Are they going to drill more? Is the hauling of water just for a short time? If so, how long will it last and when are more wells going to be drilled?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I will attempt to provide an answer to the technical specifics that the Member raises. It is correct that two wells had to be drilled on the site. There were problems of adequate water supply in the area. The design work for tying the two wells together is currently being finalized. In the meantime, we are delivering water. We expect the design work for tying the two wells together, where we do have adequate water between them, to be concluded shortly. At the same time, we are waiting for lab results of the tests we are doing on the water.
Mrs. Firth: When are the wells going to be working? The water that the present wells are delivering has to be chlorinated; the water quality is not that good.
The Minister of Education said a short period of time. I want to know how long, and I want to know how much more it is going to cost to drill new wells, or tie the two wells together, or whatever the Minister is talking about. What is that going to cost the taxpayer?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I cannot provide much more technical information on my feet, but I will undertake to go back to my department and seek out specific costs related to the wells. It seems to me that I may have already provided that through the tabling of the various returns and contracts, but I stand to be corrected.
It was our expectation to have water available from the wells to the school before the end of November. We are still awaiting the lab results on the water quality. We are finalizing the design work to tie the two wells together. I expect that we should have local water service within a few weeks.
Question re: Schools, Golden Horn Elementary School
Mrs. Firth: My new question is to the same Minister with respect to the same issue. We have not even started paying the operation and maintenance costs yet, but I would like to ask the Minister a question with respect to other maintenance issues. Almost on a daily basis there are maintenance personnel going to the school; there is maintenance being done. The PA system had to be fixed. The heating ducts need to be fixed. The doors are being changed. They rekeyed the locks. They had to put in electrical plug-ins. Every day there is something else. I would like to ask the Minister to table the statement with all repairs and service calls, the number of visits and the costs. I would like him to include all of them.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: As we have indicated repeatedly, we have no problem providing cost information to Members. I certainly do not have the specific costs related to the repair of a PA system that may have taken place on Monday of this week. I do not come to the House prepared with that information. But I will take the Members request as notice to provide that kind of detailed information. We have provided detailed information related to the construction of the school. We have provided detailed information with respect to the tendering of the supply contract that provided the school. The Members at no time have recognized the urgency with which we constructed that school in a short time frame of barely a few months. I think that should be recognized. I think the Member who represents the area should stand up and defend his school instead of criticize the hell of it.
Mrs. Firth: That is unparliamentary language, Mr. Speaker.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: On a point of order, I withdraw that reference.
Mrs. Firth: I have asked the Minister for a schedule.
The Minister is just yelling chicken, from his seat. I do not know what it means, but I would like to get back to my question.
I have asked the Minister for a schedule. I did not ask him to bring the information here. I have asked for the schedule of all the repairs and he has given a commitment that he will bring that back to the House. This is going to incur considerable expense. Are the taxpayers of the Yukon going to be expected to pay these additional expenses or is there going to be some arrangement made that the contractor, Atco Trailers, will be paying for part of these services?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Let me clarify some of the process that goes on in the award of contracts and in the construction of facilities. Items that are related to deficiencies of a construction or the supply of goods would be the responsibility of the contractor. The contractor is certainly not responsible for the severe site conditions that we incurred. The contractor would not be responsible for the absence of adequate water in the first well that we drilled. Those would be costs associated with providing the facility for the students and the people of that area. The taxpayer will pick up the costs related to - to put it in more blunt terms, the costs incurred to bring the facility up to standard and full service will be borne by the taxpayer at large. I am not sure what the Member is seeking.
Mrs. Firth: We are not talking about the well. We are talking about the PA system, the heating ducts, the doors, rekeying the locks, and the electrical plug-ins. Are the taxpayers going to have to pick up the bill for the heating system, or is someone else going to have to contribute to those extra costs? I would like to know what all those extra costs are.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I know the Member wants to know all those costs, and I know the Member wants to know it now. I will provide a further clarification to her. If the costs the Member is raising, with respect to the building, are design inadequacies and features where the contractor has not supplied an adequate or proper set of goods, then the contractor is responsible. If they are costs associated with the site or are features that are not related to the supply of goods, then the taxpayer will be bearing the cost, through our budget.
In specific reference to her question, it appears to me that those costs she identified would be borne by the contractor, and the contractor knows that.
Mrs. Firth: He still has not said whether the contractor will be bearing the costs, or whether the taxpayer will. I would like to get clear on the record the information the Minister is committing to bring back. He can answer yes or no. I would like a statement of all the repairs and services ...
Question re: Schools, Golden Horn Elementary School
Mrs. Firth: Would he bring a statement back with all repairs and service calls since the school was installed, including the number of visits of repair personnel and the cost of those visits? Will he bring this back to the House: yes or no?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The short answer is yes; there is no problem with providing information relating to costs incurred by this government in relation to the provision of a particular service. What the Member is also seeking is detailed information that would more properly be tabled through a written question, where we could respond in detailed, written form.
Question re: Tagish Kwan Corporation bankruptcy
Mr. Nordling: I had such a diverse preamble in Question Period yesterday that, to make amends, I have no preamble at all today. I would simply like to ask the Minister of Economic Development how the creditors of the Tagish Kwan Corporation will benefit and how the image of the Kwanlin Dun will benefit from the fact that the $50,000 provided was a grant, rather than a loan?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Kwanlin Dun Indian Band of course has been solely embarrassed by the loss of this particular economic arm of the Indian band. They have suffered greatly by the various business relationships of the corporation that is now in trouble and its problems throughout the community. Consequently, the Indian band, as a government in this district, felt extremely concerned that the bankruptcy would not serve all creditors well, nor the Indian bands interests, if it were to be protracted and messy. They wished that all the legal work and the accounting work, identifying all assets, be done quickly and thoroughly; consequently I believe they secured Coopers Lybrand to provide that service for them. The view was that the...
Speaker: Order please. Will the Member please conclude his answer.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It is tough, Mr. Speaker. I realize it was a short question but I am sorry about the answer. They felt that a quick wrapping up of the operations by reputable people would certainly be in the bands interests and, consequently, help their reputation.
Mr. Nordling: I agree with every word that the Minister said. I will give him another crack at answering this very short and simple question.
Why was the $50,000 a grant rather than a loan?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It was a contribution because - we call them all contributions, for the sake of the infomation of Members, I am not trying to use double-speak here - they have very little in the way of discretionary funds. All assets of the Tagish Kwan Corporation will, of course, not be theirs to dispose of. They are extremely tight for funds and we felt loading another financial responsibility that they would have to bear for some time was a problem. Consequently, we provided this contribution to this Indian government.
Mr. Nordling: I would think the Kwanlin Dun would have tremendous borrowing power in light of the land claims negotiations going on. The issue here is equal treatment and fairness. I would like to know how many other businesses have received grants for accounting and legal fees to go bankrupt and if this will be done in the future for any businesses other than those owned by First Nations.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I think there is a significant distinction here to be made that has been missed, not only by the Member, but also by the editor of the Whitehorse Star, and that is that the body to which the funding was provided was not a business. It was the Kwanlin Dun Indian Band, which, for Members sake, is a government, in our view. If a municipal or any junior level of government were in trouble, I am sure, depending on the circumstances, that the Government of Yukon would determine whether or not it would provide assistance.
If, in the future, there are governments in trouble, there may be circumstances where the Government of Yukon would provide, through an extraordinary measure, some support.
Again, we did not provide support to the Tagish Kwan Corporation; we provided support to the Kwanlin Dun Indian Band government.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now lapsed.
Speaker: We will now proceed to Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Speaker: Motions Other than Government Motions
MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS
Clerk: Item No. 1 standing in the name of Ms. Hayden.
Speaker: Is the hon. Member prepared to proceed with Item No. 1?
Ms. Hayden: Yes I am, Mr. Speaker.
Motion No. 25
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Member for Whitehorse South Centre
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 toward the prevention of violence against women.
Ms. Hayden: Part of me does not particularly want to give this speech today and I suspect there is a part of each Member here that would rather not hear it. It is like remembering people who died in the world wars, yet, like those memories that we trust will make us less war-like and more amenable to peace, it is important that we remember the massacre of 14 young women just one year ago - women who were registered in an engineering program in a university in this country - women who, because of the career that they chose, were perceived to be feminists, and perhaps some of them were feminists. What is so awful about that?
I declared myself a feminist in the early 1960s. If I, who am so proud to be wife, mother, grandmother, auntie, can still be a feminist, can it be so terrible? Perhaps we should look at what it really means to be a feminist. I am committed, and so are many others, to work to improve womens lives in our society.
Is that a terrible thing to want to do, especially when we live in a country - Canada - where the poorest of the poor are old women? Where women earn 66 cents to every dollar earned by men. Where 92 percent of women have been sexually harassed and 70 percent have experienced verbal threats. Where a woman is raped every 17 minutes. Where equal pay for work of equal value is still criticized for increasing budgets. Where children go to school without enough food because a single parent cannot quite make ends meet. Where alcoholism is a plague in many womens lives. Where women represent only 14 percent of elected officials in the House of Commons and right here in the Yukon, where 51 percent of the population are women, we have only 25 percent representation in this very Legislature.
We live in a society where a woman pretended to be a man so that she could practice medicine. The truth about this physicians sex was discovered only by the undertakers just before her burial. Even then, officials refused to believe or acknowledge the truth. They believed that, if she was a doctor, she had to be a man.
We live in a society where prostitution is still the fault of the woman, not the man, and where we still imply that rape victims should have been more careful.
What is so bad about being a feminist or about choosing a non-traditional career? Well, perhaps we can get some idea about what is so bothersome by checking out the meaning of the word feminism in the Oxford Dictionary, and I quote, Feminism, a noun meaning the advocacy of womens rights on the ground of equality of the sexes. We all know this but the definition continues to read development of female characteristics in a male person. Perhaps this is where we hit the nail on the head. Herein lies the perceived threat. Dads who choose to stay at home and raise their children, cook, keep house and do all of those tasks traditionally ascribed to moms have often found it easier to say they are working at home, writing a book, or make some other claim rather than say they do what they do: raise kids, cook, bake, do laundry, shop and all those other household chores that traditionally are considered to be womens work.
They would not necessarily rather live a lie, but they often find it easier than trying to explain themselves.
As one stay-at-home dad said, there is a fear of being feminized. You are made powerless. This, then, is the root cause of violence against women: power - the need for power, the need to control others. The only way to stop the violence is to change attitudes in our society, to educate our families so the cycle of violence can be broken, to educate our society not to condone or ignore violence within the family or elsewhere.
Yes, we need safe places. We need shelters for women and their children. Yes, we need laws that work for the victims. We need counselling services, better street lighting, better-lit parking lots and public spaces, better transportation networks, but no law or service will work without the human determination to make it work, without peer pressure applied by men.
Women who are victims of violent action are victimized further when the people who work in the system - the police, hospital workers, ambulance attendants, lawyers, social workers - do not know how to respond to the victims, how to help without intimidating. Violence perpetrated against women is not only a feminist issue. It is an issue for every person in our society. Violence against women must be taken seriously.
In 1985, the Yukon task force on family violence estimated that nearly 800 Yukon women are assaulted each year. This is why we cannot forget the massacre in Montreal. This is why we cannot consider the massacre to be an isolated incident, a tragic one-time event. Instead, it is a symptom of a greater illness in our society.
Violent acts against women in Canada are on the increase, and many men continue to deny responsibility. No community can be safe where violence feeds on power and fear: womens fear of being hurt, and mens fear of being considered less than macho.
We have known a lot of great women in this country: great politicians, great authors, great doctors, great athletes and just plain great people. So, why can we not begin to consider ourselves to be a society of equals, where we are all people together, women and men, different but equal?
It sounds like Utopia, particularly to the woman who has been beaten, but let us keep talking about it. Let us keep remembering, because it is only by remembering that we will be able to take the steps necessary to evolve into that society of equals.
I ask all the Members in this House to join me in remembering those young women of Montreal who, in spite of societal pressure, dared to try to live their lives according to their convictions. These were women who were trying to break through the educational and employment barriers that face all Canadian women.
I encourage all the men who are Members of this Legislature, and all Yukon men, to apply the kind of peer pressure that will make beating wives and children, or assaulting other women and children, unacceptable in Yukon society: unacceptable in all the rural communities, and unacceptable right here in Whitehorse in homes and on city streets, and in our public buildings. I ask for the support of all Members for this motion.
Mr. Devries: I thank the Member for Whitehorse South Centre for bringing this motion forward. I appreciate the opportunity to be able to speak to this motion.
It was interesting, and often revealing, to listen to the comments of a dozen or so constituents and family members in Watson Lake. As I am sure most of the Members are aware, I have been a happily married person for just over 23 years. I am the father of three attractive daughters, aged 21, 20 and 18. I have the cutest little grandson in the world.
Perhaps I am a little naive on the subject of family violence, because I have not been exposed to it personally to any extent.
During the interviews I had with people from Watson Lake, who were mostly women, they said that they could not understand the first statement in the Members motion. Not one person felt they were not being treated equally due to their right to safety being denied. In fact, no one I talked to felt their basic right to safety was being denied. One of these women had been a rape victim.
Except for one person, everyone disagreed that systemic violence against women exists. However, they were all puzzled by the context systemic violence was used in the motion. The only part of the motion everyone agreed with was the last part, but they all agreed it would be more meaningful if it read family violence, rather than violence against women.
I respect the Member for having women there, and I am willing to compromise my position on this.
The authorities I spoke to indicated that, in almost all spousal assaults in Watson Lake over the past year, alcohol was the primary contributing factor. The normal procedure is to remove the male from the situation. The male is the one usually charged with assault, or held overnight. If the victim - in this case, the spouse - refuses to lay charges, the male is released the next morning with a non-contact warning. It does not take long and, during the next drinking spree, the cycle is often repeated.
Usually, there is no conclusive evidence that the male started the ruckus but, normally, the stronger individual comes out the least harmed and gets to bear the brunt of the justice system and its penalties.
There is no doubt that, in most circumstances, the male is probably the one responsible for the altercation.
I felt that there was a problem in todays society, but in the Yukon much of the violence stems from alcohol rather than sexist behavior according to the information passed on to me.
My wife and I were involved in an instance where alcohol was not involved. This was 20 years ago on a cattle ranch near Kelowna. There had been a lot of personality conflicts between the particular foreman and the cow boss who was eventually fired. We all lived in a circular housing area and were friends with this cow boss. A few days after getting fired, around midnight, his wife came pounding on the door of the ranch house where we lived. She said her husband was threatening to shoot her and the children. I still do not know how I managed to do it, but I just walked into the house and calmed him down. Maybe I was in a trance, I do not know; I just walked over and did it. It must have just been the will of God that he allowed this to happen. I sat down with this gentleman to talk things over. He agreed to take his weapon, about a 30/30 Winchester, and leave, at least for a day or two. My wife spent many hours with his wife, counselling her and talking to her. Finally through this counselling she managed to get them back together again. After awhile they moved on to another job in Alberta and we visited back and forth on several occasions. Over these years, they learned to love and respect each others shortcomings. As much as we have lost contact over the many years, I feel that the personal relationship that our marriage had contributed toward them seeing something they were looking for, and for this reason they are together to this day.
This situation was not caused by lack of respect for a woman but by a chain of events that caused something to crack in an individuals mind. When a young man and a young woman start courting, that is the time to start cultivating a lasting non-violent relationship. This relationship must be based on love and understanding of each others shortcomings. In todays permissive society with one-night stands and short-term relationships, often their feelings are based entirely on physical appeal and a year or so later the war is on.
A man who truly loves his wife does not beat her. Being from a religious background, I truly believe that another important tradition of marriage is standing before God and the congregation and saying the wedding vows, with the congregation as witness. From that point on, it is my duty as a husband to make my marriage work, to be responsible for the decisions that we make from that point on. It is our responsibility to ensure that these values are passed on to our children and if they do not do as we have taught them, then they, too, will be responsible for the consequences.
At this time, I would like to share some of the views I gathered in my research. This is from a grandmother, who raised three daughters and a son: Yes, I realize there is a problem, but it is not just women. I rather think it is family violence and society as a whole must eradicate the problem. She goes on to say, How can we control violence when we see it everywhere, on TV, sports and music videos?
Another interview was with a male. He said that he hoped there would be a similar motion coming up for children, men, the aged, the handicapped, or whoever else is suffering from violence in our society.
The systemic violence is across the society. There is not a group that can be singled out. We must all work together to promote peace. To highlight women at this time is fine as a start, but more must be done to eradicate selfish violence, as he referred to it.
My daughter at Ryerson in Toronto thought the first part did not make too much sense. She is from the country and she is in the city, and she feels that she can handle any situation that arises - but I would not want to tangle with her either. She does not agree with the equality message that is in the motion. She feels that a woman can be anything she wants to be and still be a lady. Once, in Watson Lake, she reprimanded a young man for swearing in the pizza joint where she was working and he called her white trash, but she did not necessarily believe that his statement was based on her gender.
My daughter, at home with a baby, feels both sexes have equal opportunity but went on to say that, Men are lazy and too stupid to be housewives.
Men cannot be domesticated. It is the womans job to cook, in general, because not too many men are good cooks. I am sure she was referring to her dad in this circumstance. I am not good at housework, I assure you of that. She carried on and said that a woman has to make the choice of whether she wants to be a sex object but she also said that a woman has the ability to take control of her life and be anything she wants to be. She said that many men care about nothing but womens physical attraction and want to do nothing more than satisfy their own selfish desires. She also said that it is not just women that are victimized but it can also be children, the elderly and men. She felt that jobs should be posted equally and the best person should get the job.
The youngest daughter said that if she wanted to be a heavy duty mechanic and there was a guy with equal ability, he would probably get picked for the job. She did not really care because she did not want to be a mechanic anyway. She wanted to be a teacher. She does not believe someone necessarily has to be drunk to abuse a woman but does not really feel that government can do much to rectify the situation. Women just have to learn to stick up for themselves and say no. I am sure she is not trying to say that when an assault takes place the woman is saying yes. I am just repeating some of the things that were told to me over the phone.
Next, I had a conference call with two women and one male and one of these women has been a rape victim. Everyone disagrees with the opening statement. They have problems with it. They feel that everyone has basic rights if they choose to stick up for them. No one agreed that systemic violence is prevalent in Yukon society and all feel most family violence is alcohol-related. They feel that most woman-abuse counselling is geared toward the woman and it is time for men to start getting some counselling, too. They went even further to say that by voting for this motion as it stands, women are saying that they are the weaker sex, possibly, and need special rights to be equal members of society.
There is the fear that the womens shelters could create problems if proper counselling is not available in these shelters, as they will be used as overnight, short-term protection, only to have these people step right back into a violent situation, without encouraging them to address the problem that exists at home.
From the enforcement side of the enforcement agencies, there are serious problems with the justice system and a reluctance on the part of violence victims to speak up in the courts. Again, in almost all cases, they said the violence was alcohol- and drug-related.
In Watson Lake, there is the problem of nowhere to go once the abuser is turned loose the morning after. The enforcement people are upset about the opening statement, as they feel they respond to family violence as a priority, mostly due to the fact that, often, there are also children involved. They are often frustrated by the repeat offences, as women will not lay charges, or will backtrack once it gets to court.
This is an area that should be addressed.
At this time, I would like to put forward what I feel is a friendly amendment:
THAT Motion No. 25 be amended by deleting all the words after the word can and replacing them with the words:
only be an equal place in society for women as long as their basic right to safety is being protected;
THAT the systemic violence against women is an attitude and society must work to eradicate it; and
THAT the members of this House declare their support for working toward the prevention of violence against women."
Speaker: It has been moved by the Member for Watson Lake:
THAT Motion No. 25 be amended by deleting all the words after the word can and replacing them with the words:
only be an equal place in society for women as long as their basic right to safety is being protected;
THAT the systemic violence against women is an attitude and society must work to eradicate it; and
THAT the members of this House declare their support for working toward the prevention of violence against women."
Mr. Devries: This is mostly based on the information I got from various women and people I talked to in Watson Lake.
As I mentioned in my presentation earlier, most of them do want to see the word women replaced with family. But I also appreciate the position of the Member for Whitehorse South Centre in her presentation on violence, and that this motion pertains mostly to violence against women. That is why we have left it that way.
Many people felt that the basic right to safety was much better said by basic right to safety being protected. I feel it is more appropriate, as no one I came into the contact with felt that their basic rights to safety were being denied.
That sickness of attitude is important in that a sickness is usually referred to as a medical ailment and can be cured by a doctor. This is not something that can be cured by a doctor. It is an attitude problem in todays society. Also, deleting the references to men and women, and using society, seems to be much more appropriate as it is something where we definitely have to work together along with society.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I enter the debate now on the amendment. I will be frank; it is to permit my colleagues to try and understand what the Member intends on the amendment because it is at first blush very confusing in its intent and purpose and does not improve, at least at first reading, in any way, the motion that has been presented by the Member for Whitehorse South Centre. It would seem to, at first blush, muddy the purpose and the intent of the main motion. If Members opposite disagree then I think that it is going to be very clear that there is a fundamental difference of opinion on the two sides of the House.
I want to speak to the Members amendment because I disagree with an awful lot of what he said. I disagree with him about his attitudes on equality. I disagree with him about his attitude about rights. His statement that people only have rights if they stick up for them is one that I fundamentally disagree with. I believe that people who have no ability to defend themselves, no ability to articulate, no power to stand up, still have rights and are still entitled to protection.
I also think that the Member is fundamentally wrong in his analysis of the root cause of the problem of violence against women. He seems to have attributed it much to the problem of alcohol and drug abuse. There is no doubt there is, in many cases of violence, an element of alcohol and drug abuse, but I believe that the problem that this motion address is much more fundamental, profound and deep-rooted.
I believe that there is a sickness in our society and it is a sickness that touches and in some way scars almost every one of us in our society. That sickness is violence against women. Most of us have grown up in a society where the acceptance of violence against women has been so automatic and so pervasive that it is only the most stunningly brutal acts that make us realize just how widespread the violence is.
Last year when 14 women were murdered in Montreal, Canada, the world wept. They wept for the lost potential of these lives; they wept because the women killed were singled out for death solely because they were women; and, I believe, they wept because the killings, while unusual in degree, were not otherwise out of the ordinary.
Mr. Speaker, if you will permit me, I would like to quote, briefly, from an editorial that was contained in that excellent British publication The New Statesman, from its December 1989 issue. It says, It seems likely that Canadas murderous Marc was mad. Gunning down unknown women is not the act of a sane man. It is inevitable that women will recognize in his insane and idiosyncratic act a general truth: that women who refuse to be submissive, engender a violent rage in some men, most of whom are not mad. That bitter snarl of the killers valedictory letter - feminism has destroyed my manhood" - has chilled many feminists."
Later on, the editorial goes on to say, We do not know what turned a common fantasy for revenge into one mans act of mass murder. We do know that the killer himself was a victim of violence, but from his father, not a woman.
The father viciously beat both his son and his wife. In divorce court, his mother claimed her husband thought women were mens servants. Like so many killers of women, this boy grew into a man who was shy with women. He was a lonely, gauche man who lacked the will or confidence to complete his degree. Like other withdrawn and awkward men, he was attracted to the manly world of the Canadian Armed Forces. Perhaps, he hoped, they could turn him into, or at least confirm he was, the real man he wanted to be. It was this mans world that found him wanting. Yet beaten and rejected by men, the killer attributed his misery to women.
The editorial went on to note that, for many Canadians, this was a shocking event, since we are accustomed, in our own set of prejudices, to see this kind of violence and to even see the instances of mass murder as being part of the United States culture rather than Canadian culture. But, as the editorial said, it is clear that sexual hatred knows no boundaries.
It is also pointed out, if I could read a few more concluding words from this editorial, There is a hard irony in the spontaneous feminist demonstrations which met news of Canadas mass killer. Women wanted the public culture to recognize the sexism in such acts, as it would have acknowledged the power of racism in a man who went out to kill all black people who crossed his path. Such killings, recently in South Africa, were properly recognized around the world, as a symptom of the perverting racism of the apartheid culture.
Women have still not won the struggle to persuade men that sexual segregation and sexism pervert human feeling, destroy women and make living unbearable for men.
The statistics on family violence in this courntry, are, as I think the Member for Watson Lake concedes, staggering.
The impact of that violence is felt largely by women. It is true that old people are abused and children are abused, but the gender-bias in the statistics is awful. I want to, later on in my remarks, detail some of those facts.
Last year in Canada, 97 women were killed by their partners. According to conservative statistics of reported instances, one woman in 10 in Canada is battered by her spouse. To people working to support these women in the justice system and safe places, these figures are thought to be gross underestimations. One woman in 10. That means that the odds are very good that each of us in this room know someone who has been abused or is an abuser. We are only too quick to say that Marc Lepine was a madman, and he was, but are the men who abuse those one in 10 women mad as well?
The fear that many women must live in is pervasive, and there is a common thread that runs through it and that common thread is the male desire to control - the mastery of men, the domination of men, which is still preached and taught in many parts of the world. It is, I submit, and I say this gently to the Member, even implied in the amendment presented by the Member opposite and it is a value that this side rejects absolutely.
From early times, men and women in our society have been taught male control over the home, over the workplace and over the nation. We have been taught that is the natural order of things. While girls in our society, certainly in my day, played together at house, boys played at war. Television ads, even today, show little girls preoccupied with dolls and clothes amid makeup while boys are shown with soldiers, hot cars and science sets.
While schools are doing a lot to change the systemic biases regarding such roles, the process is a long and a difficult one. Girls are still funnelled, although perhaps unwittingly, through business and commercial courses, sewing and home economics, while boys are often channeled toward automotives, mechanics, drafting, et cetera.
A recent story in the Globe and Mail just a few days ago was quite interesting. It described a survey of high school girls and it showed that while some are cognizant of the fact that they have a greater than 50 percent chance of raising a family alone, many believed that after working for a short time they would get married to someone who will be the breadwinner. They will then intersperse their raising of children with their intellectually stimulating career. It is interesting that boys and men believe this too - that they are the breadwinners, that they are the mainstay of the family, that they are the foundation - and, too often, when that sense of importance and control is threatened, men try to control physically.
The epidemic of violence we are discussing is not new. Fifty years ago I believe that women did not question mens control the way they will today or the way they must today.
Too often, one hears people complain that male violence is a backlash against feminism. That was Marc Lepines justification for his murder, as if to say that women bring it upon themselves, that womens claim for equality is the cause, that the claim for equality, in the words of the Member for Watson Lake, is not justifiable or not to be taken seriously.
I think when it comes to violence toward women, it can be safely said that there were no good old days. There was no perfect time in the past when women were safe, secure, equal, at peace, independent and free of violence. The violence that used to be hidden in the home is now being exposed. The women and children who used to be beaten and have nowhere to turn can now go to safe places. Violence against women is not a product of our times, but the refusal to accept it is.
Marc Lepine was a person who wanted to turn back the clock. In the note he left, the note that made it very clear that he had been contemplating violence for a long time, he wrote, Being rather backward, looking by nature, except for science, the feminists always have a talent to enrage me. But he could not turn the clock backwards. He could not keep women out of non-traditional fields, such as engineering. He could not keep women from, as he saw it, grabbing the advantages of men. He could not keep them from being feminists, so he decided to punish them for it.
If Marc Lepine was possessed only of an unthinking hatred toward women, he could easily have found more women to kill. He could have gone to a nursing or a home economics facility, but what he hated was the fact that women could not be controlled - that women might study what they wanted, that women would do as they wished and so the women at the LEcole Polytechnique were murdered.
The women at LEcole Polytechnique were, in many ways, trailblazers. It is a fact that in Canada, less than three percent of engineers are women. Less that 14 percent of students enrolled in engineering are women. When Marc Lepine killed the 12 women that were students, he wiped out one-half of one percent of all the women studying engineering in Canada.
While women in this country have come a long way in terms of equality, in the last 100 years, there is still a long way to go. It is disturbing - some would say sickening - to know that there are men who begrudge that process and will still seek to control women by violence. It is common knowledge now, that rape is not the expression of the urge for sexual gratification but that control is the motivating factor. One out of 17 women in Canada is sexually assaulted, involving forced sexual intercourse. It is a statistical reality that, on average, a woman is raped in Canada every 17 minutes. What is more paradigmatic of the desire to control than the explosion of sexual abuse of children? Children are the most easily controlled segment of our society, at least in their early years.
The problem we face of violence against women is immense. It is justifiable to talk about it in isolation from the general problem of violence and the general problem of family violence. It is found in every segment of our society. It does not respect money, geographical location, occupation, or any other factor. It is everywhere, and we must all work together to fight it.
It will not go away while men refuse to recognize that there is a problem, while they refuse to see any act of violence as more than an isolated incident, and while they refuse to see that we have a responsibility for this violence.
The violence has many expressions. It is not just about punching and kicking, or about guns and knives. It is about verbal violence, too: verbal assault. That form of violence is also a sickness that sometimes finds expression in this adversarial political system we have: a legislative tradition that is hundreds of years old, which thrives on conflict, but a legislative tradition that is, in our culture, almost exclusively male property.
Sometimes, I confess, myself, that I have been guilty of verbal violence in this House. These are not particularly admirable moments, or moments that make me feel good. Sometimes my anger has taken control of my tongue in debates in this Legislature. That violence has occurred on all sides of the House and, for many people, it is as demeaning and sickening as other forms of violence, although I suspect the obvious is apparent to everybody: the victims do not suffer as much. This sickness and impulse to violence, and these expressions of violence, are very much male property, although not exclusively.
I hope I will show in a minute that, overwhelmingly, the victims of it are women. This sickness will not go away until we have a society in which women are free to reach their full potential, where no person can control another, either through physical, emotional or economic coercion, and until we have a society that is fair and just in all its dimensions.
As I suspect most Members know, I have two daughters and a son. I want everything for my daughters that I want for my son. I know that, as long as this sickness of violence against women continues in society, my daughters may be limited by it. They may not be able to achieve their full potential. They will not be able to go out at night with the same freedom as a young man. They will not be able to go to the same places my son may be able to go. To some extent, they will be prisoners of that violence and the attitude toward violence.
Speaking as a man who has never been physically violent to a woman, but who has been guilty of verbal violence in this place and elsewhere, I recognize it is wrong and cannot accept that for my daughters and other women in society.
In his speech, the Member for Watson Lake talked about the language of systemic violence in the motion, and raised questions about it. Let me just read into the record some revealing numbers.
Fifty-eight percent of the women murdered in this country are killed by family members. That is true for just less than a quarter of the men who are murdered. Eight out of 10 women seeking shelter in Canadian transition homes have been beaten while pregnant. One out of three residents of homes for battered women have been beaten weekly or daily.
Ninety-two percent of Canadian women have been sexually harassed, and 70 percent have experienced verbal threats. One out of five women has been, or is being, sexually assaulted. One out of 17 Canadian women are sexually assaulted, involving forced sexual intercourse. In one of every 12 reported rapes, the victim becomes pregnant. Sexual assault victims range in age from newborn infants to the most elderly of seniors. The victims are overwhelmingly female. Twelve percent of sexual assault victims are threatened with a weapon, and nine percent are badly beaten. Seventy-two percent of women who are sexually assaulted do not tell anyone, and it is thought that even fewer male victims report violence.
It is estimated that one-quarter of all girls in Canada will be sexually abused before they are 18 years old. Sixty-two percent of the survivors of sexual abuse are physically injured, often internally. Ninety-three percent of sexual abuse victims are female, and 99 percent of offenders are male. Seventy-five percent of offenders, in cases of sexual abuse, are known to the child or childs family prior to the abuse commencing. Twenty-seven percent are members of the childs household.
As has been said before, sexual assault is an expression of hostility, aggression and dominance. It is control, not sexual gratification, that is the motivating factor. As the Member for Whitehorse South Centre noted, the 1985 task force on family violence, initiated by this government, estimated that 800 Yukon women are assaulted each year. In the Yukon, Kaushees Place gave shelter to 137 women and 114 children in 1989-90. Between January 1987 and October 1988, Yukon women were the victims of more than 150 reported sexual assaults, and many of the victims were under 18.
There is a problem of violence against women. It is deep and longstanding.
It is a problem of equality; it is a problem of male violence; it is a problem with deep roots and historic causes.
The amendment presented by the Member opposite contains connotations that suggests that it is the mans role to protect, or take care of, women. It has connotations of dependency, rather than equality. I have no problem with some of the language in the Members motion, but the language I have no problems with does not seem to make improvements on the existing text.
I would say to Members opposite that the burden of proof is on them to show that the language presented in the amendment by the Member for Watson Lake is, in some substantial and important way, an improvement in the text of the motion presented for the Member of Whitehorse South Centre. At this point, I am not convinced of that.
Mr. Nordling: I support the amendment to the motion as, to me, it expresses the same sentiment as wished by the Member for Whitehorse South Centre, but in a more positive way. Despite the negative approach taken by the original motion, I would support it, too.
I do not know anyone in this House who would not declare their support for working toward the prevention of violence against women. I am on my feet right now to make that declaration of support.
Perhaps I am impatient, but I find this exercise very frustrating. The fact that the Member for Whitehorse South Centre has felt it necessary to bring this motion to the floor of this House to force her colleagues to declare support is a sad commentary on effectiveness within her own caucus, which is the Government of the Yukon and is in a better position than any others to do something about the problem we are discussing.
I agree, and it is fine, in the words of the Member who brought the motion, to keep talking and keep remembering, but paying lip service to this problem is not enough. The problem is the joint responsibility of the Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Resources, and I think that time would be better spent if the Ministers responsible, the Minister of Health and Human Resources and the Minister of Justice, took the time that we are spending in the House today to meet with each other and discuss a concrete approach to this problem. What I am saying is that I would like to see a little more action and a little less posturing by the Members opposite.
What is needed is a coordinated approach to the problem and some political will to accomplish something other that the wringing of hands and the expressing of sorrow. What we need is some commitment to the general health of our communities. What I see is the Department of Health and Human Resources struggling without direction while its Minister is off travelling as the Premier of Yukon. The Minister is in charge of land claims, in charge of the Executive Council Office, he is the Minister responsible for the Yukon Development Corporation and the Yukon Energy Corporation. The Minister is off in 10 different directions, divorcing himself from the Watson Lake mill fiasco, embracing lower power rates, negotiating for representation for the North. These are all very valuable contributions to the territory, but at the same time, he is trying to look after the most important problem facing the Yukon and its future, and that is the general health of our communities, violence against women being a large part of this.
I think the motion would go a lot further to achieving its intended goal if another paragraph were added, advocating that the Minister of Health and Human Resources either get on the ball or get on the bus. If the Minister cannot devote more time to these problems and the problems of his department, perhaps he should transfer responsibility to someone else, someone else who has more time to spend on these issues and is prepared to pay more than lip service to the whole area of health in the Yukon.
The Minister stands up in all self-righteousness and describes the horrors of violence against women in detail and with statistics. What he failed to acknowledge is that he, more than anyone else in this House, is in a position to do something about that problem.
The Minister of Health and Human Resources makes a good preacher, but hot air is not going to get the job done.
Ms. Hayden: I am speaking to the amendment. I have to say to the Member for Watson Lake that I am both dismayed and appalled that he would infer that men protect women. That is the inference of his amendment to the motion. Men would protect women only if we women were deserving of that protection. We would be safe only if we were deserving. That appears to be the intent of that amendment.
I am sorry the Member for Watson Lake could not hear what I was trying, and I believe quite gently, to say. For the most part, men are not the protectors of women or, for that matter, of little boys or little girls. If the Member would cast his eyes back to last years debate on family violence, he would see, in the motion that I moved, comprehensive discussion about violence against little boys and little girls throughout the ages, against women, against the rape of old women, sexual assault, and violence against all members of our society.
I chose this motion to concentrate on remembering the violence against those 14 women in Montreal and looking at the issue raised at that time: the issue of being a feminist.
It is the new f word in our society. Young women no longer - and middle-aged women, probably old women too - feel safe in using that word to describe themselves. As the Member said, denial is very much a part of womens lives.
I must say that I agree with your daughters, that they should be able to do anything that they choose, choose any career in this society. The Member goes on to say that they do not want to. If that is not socialization, I do not know what is - as is the pressure on women to do all of the dirty work in our homes. Have you ever vacuumed, cleaned toilets, washed floors, washed dirty socks, cleaned sinks, washed dirty pots and pans? I will bet every woman in this House has done it for weeks, months, years on end. I am not saying that some men have not done it part of the time - perhaps all of the time, but they would have to prove it to me. We know why men avoid doing that work. Who would not? Why would they not use their power to avoid it? It is drudgery. After working eight hours a day, women pick up the kids, go home, cook dinner and then do another days work at the laundry, the floors, the pots and pans, get the next days meals ready, all of those kinds of things.
Of course, you cannot turn back the clock to the days when Ma stayed home. Those days when Ma stayed home were on the farm and she too worked at half a dozen jobs and she died at about age 45.
I have emphasized today that I am a feminist because, as I said before, that seems to be the new f word, because there is great pressure on women to deny that they believe in womens rights, that they believe that women should have the right to choose. There is great pressure to not say that - they may believe it within themselves - but not to say it within society, and there is fear. If I, at almost 60, cannot in safety, and without fear of being attacked, state my beliefs, how can young women do that, young women who need the approval of men? We all need one anothers approval. How can these young women stand up and declare who they are? That is the issue: fear and power, fear of saying who you are and the need for power.
Specifically, to speak to some of the issues that the Member raised, I suppose he would not be aware of this, but it is not unusual that women, when questioned by a man perceived to be in a power position, would agree with that man. It is what I was talking about - it is the power.
Concerning alcohol, alcohol does not cause violence. Alcohol releases inhibitions that allow people to do what they wanted to do before they drank. In research that I did a number of years ago, and I would think that it is not entirely accurate now, 40 percent of families caught up in violence had alcohol involved. I would guess that the Member did not ask any of the people that he talked to if any of them had ever been hit, or have hit another. It is not something we do, it is one of those things that we are not supposed to talk about.
I could go on, but I will not.
I would like to say to the Member for Porter Creek West that it would be nice if government could change society, I suppose, although I personally do not believe government should have so much power that it can change society with one fell swoop or so many dollars - it sounds too much like a dictatorship to me. I believe it is only when the people want change that it should happen.
It is one of the realities of family and community violence that no one wants to talk about it. That is why I understand that the Members do not want to talk about it, but I am surprised to hear that from the Member for Porter Creek West.
I do not support the amendment to this motion. I do not see it as friendly.
Mr. Lang: I would like to speak directly to the amendment as I do not think people understand exactly what it does.
The Member for Watson Lake put this forward as a friendly amendment to try to give the situation women face in society a broader scope. I, like the Member for Porter Creek West, have to ask myself why I have to stand in this House and vote for a motion that states the following: that the Members of this House declare their support for working toward the prevention of violence against women." No one in this House disagrees with that statement. If there was, I can tell you right now, they would never get elected. They would not be here. That aspect of the motion is a common cause.
The concern that I think has been registered by the Member for Watson Lake is that to write the motion in such a manner as to point toward men is simplistic. The issue we face is not as simple as that. The Government Leader pointed out the background of Marc Lepine, who was beaten when he was a boy. That talks about family violence, not just men against women. It speaks to a larger attitude in society. That is all the Member for Watson Lake is saying to this House. It is not just a case of men versus women.
I think we should take a look at the situation across Canada. I do not think the Member for Whitehorse South Centre is doing this. In some cases, one sees cases on television or reads of them where women are actually making statements against men. They are using the situation in Montreal to make the case about why they should hate men.
I hope that is not the reason we are here today discussing this motion. We are here, I would like to think as legislators, to remember a tragedy that happened in this country. Quite frankly, it could have happened in any country, and it has happened in other countries when you look back in history. We are here to bring it to the forefront so people recall what happened and to think about what they can do as individuals, as a society and, as part of society, how they can relate to their neighbours to ensure this thing does not happen again.
The major aspect of this is not strictly the man/woman relationship. There are a multitude of other reasons out there that have to be spoken to. There is the question of alcohol and drug abuse; it does play a part. The Member for Whitehorse South Centre just said it does not. It does. It plays a major role. The Minister of Health and Human Resources spoke about that aspect of it in budget debates before. The present Minister of Health, the previous Minister of Health, the Ministers of Health and Human Resources of previous governments have all stood up and deplored the misuse of alcohol and drugs and what effect it has. What about the role of the justice system? Does sentencing act as a deterrent to other people who may consider doing such an act? Maybe that is a factor, too, that comes into play in respect to the situation that we as a society face.
The Member for Watson Lake, I will bet you, was the only Member in this House that took the time to phone 12 constituents to discuss this motion specifically. He had the honesty to come into this House and say to the Members of this House, Look, these are the replies I received at a random sampling of my constituents when I read this motion to them and I asked them what it meant to them.
Maybe the Minister of Health and Human Resources was not listening to the Member from Watson Lake. The Minister twisted things around to make it sound like some of the messages of the Watson Lake constituents were the position of the Member for Watson Lake.
That was not the case at all; he was conveying a message that was brought home to him by his constituents. I do not know why it was twisted like that. The Member for Watson Lake is the most honest Member in this House. He stood in his place, spoke his mind, and said, Here, this is what I have brought from my constituents, and it was misrepresented. I just do not understand that.
Here is a man who has raised three daughters, three citizens. If I were representing the Member for Watson Lake, and he happened to be a constituent in my riding, I would say he would be one of my model constituents. He is conveying a message here, a concern that is being expressed by his constituents. I do not think, in fairness and deference to the Member who has proposed the amendment, that we should be sneering at it and dismissing it out of hand, because what it says bears no disrespect for anyone elses opinion or another way of approaching the problem. In other words, It is my way or the highway. When we are discussing issues of this kind, where we all agree there is a problem, surely the government could listen to Members on this side and say, Look, maybe there is some credence to that."
I, like some Members in this House, have children. I happen to have three daughters - three daughters who are being raised in the public school system. Unlike the Government Leader, I feel that if things are done properly they will be given an equal opportunity. They will be able to go out in this world and do so many more things and have so many more avenues open to them than what, for example, my mother had available to her when she was 18 years of age.
Attitudes are changing. Taking my three daughters as an example, I honestly believe that if one of them wants to be an airplane pilot she will go out and be an airplane pilot. If one of them wants to be a welder, she will go out and be a welder. You know what? They will be hired because of their capabilities and their competency, because attitudes are changing within our society.
Attitudes in our electorate are changing. Let us give some credit to the people we represent. If they were not, we would not have women in this Legislature. The Yukon has been a leader, in many respects, if you consider percentages. That tells you that times are changing for the better, as we meet that equality. It is society in total, not just a man versus woman confrontation. There are more elements with respect to the problems we face, as the Member for Watson Lake was trying to tell Members of this House.
When we have an amendment brought forward, we should not be looking at it and saying it is an anti-feminist motion, or a pro-man motion. If you read it, it does not say any of those things. Perhaps we should get the consultant who was on the radio this morning to explain that this is just plain English language.
I do not understand why we are even debating whether or not we can support what is deemed a friendly amendment by the MLA for Watson Lake. Does the Member for Whitehorse South Centre not believe there is a problem with society as a whole, not just one element? We cannot take it over here and say that is the total problem, especially in view of the fact that we are speaking specifically in memory of the situation that happened in Montreal, and the view of the Government Leaders historical background of the individual who created the situation. It was not just a man-woman situation; it was a family situation. There were so many other variables involved.
That being the case, and the Member for Whitehorse South Centre is obviously in agreement, why would we not be referring to society? Why do we have to bring in an amendment that forces men against women? It creates confrontation and does not bring people together. That is all the Member for Watson Lake is trying to do. I do not understand. If one takes time to read the amendment proposed by the Member for Watson Lake, one would see what it actually says.
Hon. Ms. Joe: I sat here and listened to what the Member for Watson Lake was saying. Each and every one of us has the right to think the way we do. But we have to deal with facts as they are and the kinds of things that are happening.
It was almost one year ago today that 14 women in Montreal were murdered because they were women, and only because they were women - for nothing else. I wonder if they would be saying the kinds of things they have just said if a women went out and shot 14 men. I wonder.
This is not something that we proposed without a lot of thought. We wanted to bring to the attention of Yukoners that there is a deep problem here that affects women.
We have situations in the Yukon and across Canada where women are raped. They are raped by their fathers in the Yukon. They are raped by their brothers. That is a serious problem. We hear about it all the time. In our responsibilities as Ministers of Justice and Health and Human Resources, we hear about these situations all the time. Do women rape men? Do sisters rape brothers? I can tell you the former incidents happen over and over. We hear about them. The people who deal with compensation for victims of crime hear about them. We have a deep problem.
It has been said that they could not see why we should bring this out again, that we should get busy and do our work in our department. You cannot talk about it enough because the problems are there and will be there for a long time, despite the care and concern we all have in this House and the kinds of things we are doing.
This government has not sat back and done nothing. It has been suggested that we should be out working and putting all kinds of things together to stop family violence and violence against women. That was our first commitment. We set up a task force on family violence. We have been working from that task force and the recommendations ever since.
Many things have changed in the last five or six years as a result of that. We have done things to the best of our ability with what we could afford in our budget. We have done many, many things. We have involved a lot of people. We have listened to a lot of people. Many things have taken place.
I can talk about just a small number of things like the sexual assault information line, the sexual offender review committee, the victims group, womens support groups for battered women, the phase 2 mens group that is a follow-up to phase 1 for men that was set up in 1986, the justice conference on family violence that was held and the other conferences that were held right across the Yukon on family violence. We talk about the storefront operations that opened and they are so busy now that we are looking for more resources because we cannot fill the need that is out there in the communities in the Yukon.
We have established a victim-witness coordinator to deal with people who need that kind of assistance in the courts. We have a video to show to those people who need that assistance. We have the victims of crime compensation. We have put out a Yukon directory of services so that Yukoners will know where those resources are. We have developed a public awareness campaign. As a result of that public awareness campaign, people who are taking advantage of our services more than ever. We are finding out that the need out there is greater than we thought it was going to be.
We have a community outreach program that is working through the Family Violence Prevention Unit. They make facilitators available for workshops training and presentations to community workers and agency groups. They have made presentations to many people, including the Dawson shelter, the ministerial association, the Yukon adult recreation centre, F.H.Collins students, Yukon Family Services, Yukon government employees, NNADAP workers: the list goes on and on.
They can talk about us not standing here just dealing with a motion, and that we should be out doing all these things. We have done a lot, but there is much more to be done. The more we do, the more we find out that there is a problem the majority of women are facing right now: women who end up in our transition homes, or in the courts, asking for restraint orders; women who are coming to the courts, or children who are being taken into protection because of family violence in the home.
It would be good for a lot of people if we swept it under the rug and never spoke about it again in this House, but it is absolutely necessary to do so. We have to remember things like what happened in Montreal a year ago tomorrow, because that is just a small problem. If some man can go out and shoot 14 women because he does not like women, because of what women have done to him, then we have a problem.
I do not like to see young children in the courts because of sexual abuse by a family member. None of us want to see that. The majority of those people are women and little girls.
This is not just a motion that we can completely ignore. We have to deal with it in this House. Our motion, as presented by the Member for Whitehorse South Centre, is the motion we have to deal with. It says what we want to say. It is not ignoring anything else. We have to remember that this is brought to the House this week because of what happened in Montreal a year ago.
Mrs. Firth: Well, I am at a bit of a loss where to begin but I will try my best here in addressing the amendment.
After hearing the presentations made by the person who introduced the motion, the Member for Whitehorse South Centre, and by the Government Leader, the Minister of Health, who spoke to the motion, I am getting the message that this motion was specifically to address the issue of the Montreal massacre. That is not what the motion does. So, I guess that is where I am put in a difficult position. I am having difficulty understanding what the government is saying in this motion. When I read the Members motion about violence against women, I read it in a more general context, as my colleagues did, and supposed that the Member was making a more general representation with respect to violence against women as opposed to being specific about it having been a year since the tragic event in Montreal where the 14 young women were murdered.
I did not read this motion as a representation of what had happened at that particular tragic event. If the Member for Whitehorse South Centre had wanted, today, to express her outrage and shock and disgust at that occurrence, I would have thought that she would have brought a motion in here that addressed that issue specifically. We would have supported the Member with that motion. That is not what has been brought into the House today. What has been brought into the House today is a motion talking about women having an equal place in society, talking about violence against women. When the Member refers to it as a sickness in her motion, that may well apply to the Montreal massacre but in a general sense, it is not a sickness. My interpretation of this motion was in a more general context, that this was an issue where the Member wanted some support from the House, declaring our support for working toward the prevention of violence against women.
The amendments that were proposed by the Member for Watson Lake were friendly amendments, perhaps to soften the language and the intent of the motion, in a general context, and to more clearly identify that there is an attitude within society that is the issue. That is what the issue is here. That attitude can grow, fester and develop into a sickness, which is what happened with the Montreal massacre. That does not deny the fact that there is an attitudinal problem in society between men/women relationships. That was the intention of proposing the amendment. It was not to diminish the Members motion. It was not to change it in any way.
I do not know how the Member is interpreting it. I get mixed messages from her as to how she feels the amendments that were proposed have drastically changed the intent of the motion.
It has taken a very negative emotion and turned it into a more positive and constructive approach to an issue that is very important to society. The new wording of the motion talks about equality of women in society and their basic rights to safety, and that those rights have to be protected. It talks about systemic violence being an attitudinal problem. It can develop into a sickness, but not all men have the same attitude and can all be categorized as being sick. The motion that the Member proposed had indicated that men must work with women. Society has to work on this problem.
Society does not just include men working with women. Society has to work to eradicate it. They have been working for years and years and years to eradicate it.
I am concerned about the governments interpretation of the amendment. I think they are interpreting more into it than they should. I do not know if there is a lack of communication between the two sides of the House in the general intent of the motion, but I tell you I was not of the impression when I read this motion that it was to apply specifically to what happened in Montreal one year ago.
We on this side of the House proposed these friendly amendments to enhance the motion the Member for Whitehorse South Centre brought forward. I agree with what all other Members of the House have said today about the final clause of the motion, that Members of this House declare their support for working toward the prevention of violence against women. No Member in this House is going to disagree with that. It is not something anyone would disagree with unless they are one of those individuals who had an attitudinal problem that had the potential of developing into a sickness.
I want to turn to the particular concern with respect to violence toward women, as that is what I think the motion is dealing with. I want to bring it closer to home. I want to talk about what the women of the Yukon have experienced recently when it was revealed that they were being assaulted on the streets of Whitehorse. That was a very close and personal issue with the women in the Yukon Territory. There is supposed to be a justice system in the Yukon that provides safety nets and protects people. It is supposed to protect women as well as their partners in society.
My concern is that the justice system is not serving women, and I will cite the particular instances where I think there is a shortfall. There are to be safety nets in place to protect all people, but particularly women. The Minister of Justice cited the restraint orders today. If I had a husband who beat me, and I was given a restraint order, a piece of paper, to show that he had been served and was not to be coming over to my house, and that individual came over and kicked my front door down, that restraint order would not be providing any safety net or protection for me. That is one example.
If that person is out there, is violent, is going to attack and abuse that woman, they should not be out on the street where they can do that, with some piece of paper as a restraint order. There is a safety net there that is not serving or protecting women.
We had women being assaulted on the streets of Whitehorse. It took four women before the public was made aware of it. The justice system is there to protect women. Why did women not know about this publicly after the first assault? It should not have happened four times. The justice system is there to provide safety nets to protect women against violence. It did not serve women, in that instance; it did not protect them.
The victims of crime compensation fund: it is an outrage for a woman to be raped, beaten or abused, but what good does it do for us to financially compensate her for that atrocity that was done to her? The person who committed that offence should be punished.
He should be punished. That is not happening. The justice system is not serving women. It is not providing them the safety nets and the protection that it should be.
Women were assaulted on the streets. We finally got the issue out to the public. The next time there was an assault, one assault, it was made public and women knew they had to take precautions. It was made public right away the next time it occurred after the four assault incidents.
In the news just recently, we learned that the individual responsible for those assaults is a young offender. Women are outraged that because that person is considered a young offender, he is given special protections that those women did not have. The justice system is supposed to be there as a safety net to help women, but the person who committed the offences is being protected in this instance.
Then I hear in the news the sentence that is handed down: a 12-month sentence in open custody, a year of treatment and two years probation. The person should be locked up. There will not be one woman who disagrees with that. The person who committed the offences should be locked up. What is he doing in open custody so he can continue to have free access to the public while he is getting a years treatment? What good is that doing us? What safety net is there to protect the women? It is not there. It is just not there.
The Member for Whitehorse South Centre said that it sounds like a dictatorship when we say that the government Members are in a position to do something. That is not what we are talking about. The government Members are in a position to do something about these kinds of situations.
I find it extremely offensive. Women in the Yukon are supposed to have a justice system that serves them and protects them and provides safety nets for their safety and then we find out that is not happening. It is not happening. I have just given at least four examples where it is not happening, it is not doing them any good. My recommendation is, let us do something about making those safety nets stronger. That is what I thought the whole intention of this motion was when the Member for Whitehorse South Centre presented it. We take it to the extreme, the example that everyone seems to be talking about today; the Montreal massacre. From my reading of what happened and my understanding of what happened, I still cannot, for the life of me, understand why 14 women had to be killed before somebody moved in there and did something about it. That is another safety net that is supposed to be there to protect the public against this kind of thing - in this case, to protect those 14 young women in that university.
What happened? What went wrong within the justice system that allowed that atrocity to happen? It was not something that anyone could understand and could feel confident about. I think that the system should look after them and I think that was the frightening thing about this incident. People were terrified all over Canada; they were terrified because this kind of thing could happen in our country now and if it could happen there, it could happen anywhere. Surely, there was supposed to be some safety nets and something in place to prevent that kind of thing from happening.
Because the justice system is not serving us well, we, as women, and other members of society, have become the victims. The people who are the offenders and the criminals and the people who are offending society with their violent actions, with even their not-so-violent actions, are the ones who seem to be protected. That is a complaint I hear almost every day, as the Justice critic.
I would like to appeal to the Members opposite, that they reconsider our proposed amendment. It was brought forward to make a positive and constructive contribution to the motion, not to create a confrontational and diverse point of view.
The Minister of Health got up and said that there was total disagreement on the two sides of the House. I do not think there is total disagreement with respect to this particular issue. Had the Member brought forward a motion that dealt specifically with the Montreal massacre, this side of the House would have supported it, and we support the initiative that the Member opposite is trying to bring forward in this motion.
I was interested in some of the comments that the Minister of Health made about this word sickness, as opposed to attitude. Dominance is an attitude; it is not a sickness. The Minister of Health stood up and said that that was what the problem was here: some men felt they had the right to dominate women; that was their attitude, that they could dominate women. That is an attitude that some people have, whether they be men or women; it is an attitude. Attitudes, with a lot of negative circumstances surrounding them, as other Members have mentioned - the history of the terrible upbringing the individual in the Montreal massacre had - can prey on individuals and develop into a sickness, which is what they did in this particular case.
I think that is an extreme of the problem. It is an absolute extreme of the problem. The Minister made reference to anger and how anger made him lose control of his tongue. He lost control of himself and that is not necessarily a bad or evil thing to happen, as long as it does not manifest itself in violent and socially unacceptable behaviour.
We cannot all be nice all the time, no matter how much we would all like to be that way. That is just not human nature. We all work hard to try to be better people. We try to be better people toward each other. Angry attitudes develop into violence, whether physical or some other. That is a sickness.
The Minister of Justice talked about many initiatives her department had embarked on, specifically dealing with violence toward women. Those are all reactive initiatives. They are put in place after the violence takes place. What I am interested in hearing about are the preventive measures we are going to have in place. What are we going to do to prevent violence against women? That is something we should be directing our energies toward.
One of the things we can do is have the public made aware immediately if there are women being assaulted. That is beginning to happen now due to the outrage women expressed when that did not happen in Whitehorse.
Women have to talk to each other and always be aware that there are certain precautions that can be taken. I get very concerned about women here in Whitehorse, because they seem to me to be more vulnerable as they do not think of Whitehorse as being the kind of place where women get attacked on the street. They feel safe here and that makes them more vulnerable. They may take risks they should not be taking.
The most common example that has been brought to my attention are new women that come to the territory from other places in Canada, where they are used to taking precautions in such places as underground parking and knowing they are not in a safe environment. They tell me that they would take their key out of their pocket and have it ready to put in their car door, in getting to the car, so they do not have to rummage around in their handbag. They tell me they stop doing that when they come here because that kind of thing does not happen in Whitehorse, women do not get attacked on the street in Whitehorse.
It concerns me when I hear that this is happening. If we are going to initiate some preventive steps, we should tell women to remember and practice the safety precautions they have learned to take. That is where I would like to see us directing our energy and our creativity when it comes to this particular issue.
I appeal to the Members to reconsider our amendments. They were brought forward with good intention. If the Member for Whitehorse South Centre wants to bring another motion forward to deal specifically with the issue that happened a year ago in Montreal, I would encourage her to bring that motion forward. We on this side would support her expression of outrage at what happened in that incident.
Mr. Joe: I want to say something about violence against women because I know this is a great sadness in our communities all around the Yukon.
I am concerned about all kinds of thinking in our world that says it is okay for some people to have power over other people. Our children see violence of all kinds on television and many of our children see violence in their own homes. It is very important for us all to take responsibility for this sad state.
We must all work together to try to end this kind of violence. We have wives, daughters, sons and grandchildren who need our leadership.
Victims need help, but we also need to find a way to stop violence before it happens. We do not live in the old days, when a woman was the property of man. We have passed laws, but have not changed our ways. We need lots of public education, and we need to talk about what is happening. If we are silent, very little will change.
I support this motion. I hope the coming generation will have a kinder society in which to live.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am going to be brief in discussing the amendment and some of the Members comments about the amendment. Peoples views and comprehension of the problems that people face in this society, with respect to violence and the leveling of violence toward women and individuals, is quite often expressed in confused ways by all of us. Quite often, being products of our pasts, we say and do things that are inconsistent with the more sober and thoughtful selves we often express ourselves to be after some deliberation. In listening to the other hon. Members this afternoon, I can feel that there is an expression of some inconsistencies in positions they may not, upon reflection, support.
The motion that was put forward contains the statement that we all work toward the prevention of violence against women. That is the one common thread in all the speeches that have been made this afternoon. I think we all agree that overt violence against women, overt violence against anyone, is something that should not be condoned by Members of this Legislature or in society generally. I am having difficulty understanding where some of the Members are coming from when they elaborate on their positions and try to present a case about where we should lend our energies.
The Member for Riverdale South said that we should direct our energies and creativity in efforts to make women more knowledgeable about how to take precautions and how not to take chances when walking the streets of Whitehorse or operating in their daily lives in big cities. There are other beliefs here, beliefs that are held by me, that our creative juices should be applied to the more fundamental causes of violence in our society and those causes include the kind of stereotyping that the Member for Whitehorse South Centre was referring to in her remarks. When one takes the position that we should be arming women or that women should be arming themselves against violence that is wreaked by men, then one may be taking for granted, perhaps, that men will be men and will be violent and our creative energies as a society should be directed toward women so that they may take precautions. I do not think that is a useful expenditure of our energy and, personally, I believe we should be targetting the problem where it belongs and that is at those who are violent.
That is not to say that we should be ignoring all features of the problem, but when we are identifying the problem, or identifying solutions, and taking a moral position in this Legislature, we must focus it on those who are violent. We may, in our turn, make an effort to understand why people are violent, why people grow up violent. Some Members have made reference to people who have experienced a violent childhood; such people may wreak violence on others when they grow up. Our understanding of where violence comes from does not condone it but it helps us understand how to deal with it in the future.
Now, I am not yet convinced that the word sickness should be removed from this motion. I am not convinced by some of the comments made that what has happened in Montreal is sick, but what happens in Yukon is not sick. I do not believe that the young person who assaulted women in Whitehorse simply has an attitude problem. I believe that violence is a sickness, and I do not believe that in saying so, that I am giving way to rhetorical excess. I think sickness means more than things simply are not well in society, and I realize that all of these terms - attitude problems, sickness, et cetera - lack precise definition. I doubt very much whether they are defined in sociological journals with any kind of precision, so we are dealing with some semantics and perhaps have some strong feelings about those words; nevertheless, in my own view, when people are violent toward others, they are suffering a sickness. It is wrong and cannot be condoned, whether it is played out by someone who has experience with guns or whether somebody simply finds somebody alone in the street and kicks them and pummels them. I think the difference between the two - certainly the results are quite different but the causes, the motivation is and can be quite similar.
Violence does not necessarily have to be the beating up of someone else. It can be the verbal violence that the Premier mentioned, that can be demeaning. It can be a reflection of a lack of self-esteem by both the deliverer of the violence and the victim.
I am not, at this time, convinced that the word sickness is one that ought be removed or should be glossed over, as is proposed in the amendment, to make it more positive. We must identify and come to terms with the fact that there are serious concerns in our society and that they do constitute a sickness. This is not to say that everyone is sick, but there is a sickness in societal relations that contributes to violence against a large portion of our population.
Some Members have asked why we have to come into the Legislature and say we are opposed to violence toward women. There are a large number of people in this country who are frightened about, and disgusted by, what is happening. It is a responsibility of legislators to come in and provide some leadership in expressing, securely, that violence against women should not be condoned.
This is not a debate to compare programs of one government against another or opposition versus government, because there are lots of programs within government. There are many programs the Department of Health and Human Resources are offering through their family violence strategy that are remarkable, inasmuch as what the government can do to reduce family violence and violence against women can be successful.
There are things that the Department of Education is doing in terms of non-violent conflict resolution, counselling, boosting the self-esteem of students for both victims and victimizers, life skills development, the elimination of role stereotyping, peer counselling, counselling and training for teachers. Those are things that the Department of Education does.
But this problem is rooted throughout society. This is not a problem a program or even a whole series of well-targeted programs can resolve. This is a problem that is endemic throughout our whole community. To an extent, the people who elect us to these chambers look to us to provide some sort of leadership. Quite often leadership is not only in terms of dividing up budgets, but also of expressing a vision for our community. There are times when we come together to express that view, like this, where we address the issue of violence being perpetrated in our communities and our disgust about that violence.
The Member for Watson Lake, I am certain, put effort into calling up constituents and asking them what they felt about the motion. The fact that he put in effort toward the motion is laudable, in and of itself. The fact the Member provided a thoughtful speech is laudable.
The Member holds some views about men and women that are not shared by all Members. There are some views that reflect a stereotyping of women. In my view, just listening to the Member in the formal debate forum, it seemed to me to maintain connotations of dependency of women on men. It is my view that it is that stereotyping, and stereotyping by others, which is partly a root cause of some of the problems society faces.
That is not to say the Member for Watson Lake has a violent bone in his body. It is not to say the Member for Watson Lake has ever raised a hand against anyone weaker than he is, or has verbally abused anyone who cannot defend themselves verbally the way he can. Nevertheless, stereotyping of people, which creates a sense that there is a dependency relationship between the two sexes, is something that may be a root cause of violence, if people react violently to the changing relationship, as society becomes more civil and mature, and true equality of men and women takes place.
With all due respect to the Member for Porter Creek East, it is not a situation where some Members of this Legislature, in disputing their understanding of the root causes of violence, are saying, in his words, My way or the highway.
It is a different focus on what the root causes are and what should be done about the situation. I do not have a great deal more to say with respect to the amendment, so, I will leave my comments at that but I will say that I do support the original motion. I, like the Premier, cannot always hold claim to the fact that I am perfectly consistent with some strongly held moral views that I have, but I do try to be and if there is at all a chance that I perform, in my own relationships, inconsistently, then I would hope that someone would set me straight as I would hope to set others straight if I could identify actions that did not show proper respect for a large portion of this countrys population and this territorys population and did not demonstrate true respect for women in our society.
Mr. Phelps: I was interested in listening to what the previous speakers had to say regarding the original motion and, of course, regarding the proposed amendment. I was quite interested in what the last speaker, the Member for Mayo, had to say with regard to his understanding of the words sickness and attitudes. He seems to, of course, have a difference of opinion with the Member for Riverdale South and other Members on this side on that score. That is not too surprising because when the Member first stood up, he said that he would be very - and he used the word - brief.
Either he is a kidder or he has a quite different understanding of that word as well as many Members on this side.
On a more serious vein, it is appropriate that this type of motion, with this type of clear intent, comes forward at this time because, as has been said by everyone else before me, tomorrow marks the anniversary of the horrible massacre in Montreal. It was an event that sent shock waves through our nation and around the world.
I was one of many people from this chamber who attended the vigil that was held upstairs as one of the responses to that horrible tragedy. I certainly know that many people who listen to or read what we have to say today hold very strong and deep feelings about the massacre and the issue of violence toward women in our society. I think it is important that we be sensitive about those emotions and try to fully understand how most women feel when it comes to this issue.
I do not think it is trite to say that I firmly believe in equality in society. It is a goal toward which I certainly have spent many of my years working, whether it be an issue such as land claims, in which equality was certainly my driving force, or working with people on aspects of civil liberty, or even while doing constituency work.
At the present time, the issue of equality is one that is very important to me. There have been great strides made on gender equality in my lifetime. There have been some great progress with regard to attitudes in Canada, at least, and in large parts of Europe and the United States, as well.
I can remember, when I went to law school, which does not seem very long ago, that it was extremely unusual to have women taking law. One or two percent was the norm in the 1960s. In 1977, I had occasion to go back to my alma mater and do some research on aboriginal rights in its law library, which has a good section on American law. I was speaking to the dean at the time. At that time, they had advanced tremendously and were quite proud of the fact that, in all three years, there were between 35 and 40 percent women in law school. That has probably come closer to a 50-50 balance since then.
When I was taking law, in one of the courses we were required to read some books that addressed some societal views about lawyers, that lawyers, in society in the 1960s, like doctors, were in many ways seen as the authority or father figure, and that people, when they went to lawyers in those days, went because they were in deep trouble, and to whom do you go when you are in trouble?
That was one of the reasons at that time women did not do very well in the profession of law. By doing well, I mean earn a lot of money and have a lot of clients, not win cases because they certainly won cases and there were some very good, renowned lawyers even back then. I am thinking of Mary Southern in B.C., just to name one. They had a hard time getting clients because of that attitude. I think it is the stereotyping that has been discussed by the Member for Whitehorse South Centre and so on, but it is a deep issue; it comes from deep within our culture; it comes from generations and generations of people in our cultures.
There has been a surprising change. I find now that it is not unusual at all for people, when they are in trouble, to go and get the best woman lawyer in town. By coincidence, I have one acting for me right now, or was this morning I believe, in court, as does the Member for Whitehorse West. It is just a complete change in attitude or a very marked change in attitude that has taken place in a little over 20 years. I think we are seeing that more and more in the professions and in the workplace; nonetheless we have the problem of violence, and we have the problem of men being very reluctant to let go of the dominance they have enjoyed over the centuries. I think it is important that we do think about the problem, acknowledge it and talk about it and try to remind ourselves from time to time that it is a very real problem as it manifests itself in very ugly ways in every community in this territory.
I will be voting for the amendment because in my view it conveys the message in a more appropriate fashion than does the original motion, but should we not be successful with the amendment, I will have no hesitation in supporting the original motion, as I am sure everyone else in this House will do. Thank you.
Speaker: I think the nays have it. I declare the amendment defeated.
Amendment to Motion No. 25 negatived
Speaker: Is there any more discussion on the motion?
Hon. Ms. Joe: It has been one year tomorrow since an incident took place that made Canadian society look carefully at the amount of violence against women that exists in our society. The Montreal massacre was terrible in its own right but to also realize that these ordinary female students were killed only because they were women is a frightful realization. Marc Lepine shot them because, he said, the feminists have ruined his life.
Violence against women is not new; however, what has changed is that this problem can no longer be denied. It is a severe problem that needs some discussion. This discussion needs to occur with all members of our society, including men, children, families and elders. We all need to know about this problem so together we can all work toward the prevention of any further incidents such as the Montreal massacre, or any other form of abuse against women in our society.
Historically there has been a problem with violence against women right here in the Yukon. Over the years there has been a number of very serious violent cases go through our courts. The abuse is not confined to middle-aged women or career women or university students. Violence against women begins in early childhood and continues on into the elder years. Violence knows no cultural barriers, no national borders or level of society.
Violence against women abounds in every country and level of society in the world. The forms of violence can be even more insidious in other countries, including not just assault, rape and murder but also infanticide, mutilation and neglect. For example, in a recent publication of facts on global violence, we find that 90 million African women and girls are victims of female circumcision or other forms of genital mutilation.
Six out of every 10 Tanzanian women have experienced physical abuse from their partners. Fifty percent of married women are regularly battered by their partners in Bangkok. An estimated 1,000 women are burned alive each year in dowry-related incidents in India. In Mexico, a woman is raped every nine minutes. More than half of Nicaraguan women who have been beaten by their partners have been beaten for more than one year before laying charges. One woman had been beaten systematically for 32 years.
In the United States, a woman is beaten every 15 seconds. One in 10 Canadian women will be abused or battered by her husband or partner. Eight out of 10 aboriginal women in Canada will be beaten by their partner. The list goes on.
It has been mentioned that here in the Yukon approximately 800 women are assaulted by their partners every year. That is a pretty big percentage.
Violence against women has now become an agenda item at nearly every ministerial conference or meeting, both nationally and internationally, during the last few years. Here in the Yukon, this government has long recognized the need for a solution to this problem. During my term as Minister of Health and Human Resources, along with the former Minister of Justice, Roger Kimmerly, we worked together to form a task force on family violence. The task force had a number of recommendations, but one of the main findings was that there was not one individual, in all of the Yukon, who is immune from the effects of violence; therefore, there is not one person who is absolved of the responsibility to contribute to the solutions.
The task force report called for a major cooperative effort from government, community and service organizations, service agencies, churches and the private business sector to change, through education, the societal attitudes toward family violence.
The report suggested this education campaign should target both primary prevention and secondary prevention. Primary prevention should focus on enhancement of normal, healthy family life. It should provide information on family violence to the general public, agencies and individuals concerned with the problem. Secondary prevention should provide information on the warning signs of abuse and include a campaign to encourage disclosure. This would include well-publicized information on where to go for help. It is encouraging to see that this government has been able to meet these goals with plenty of help and assistance from the community.
Super Valu has provided space in their paper bag to contain the identifier, Respect Makes the Circle Strong, as part of the public awareness campaign. Northwestel has very kindly offered, free of charge, the last page of the telephone book for a family violence support services directory. These efforts have shown a true community spirit in working together for a common goal.
It was a report recommending an awareness campaign as a family violence intervention project. This report was based on respondents identifying and priorizing issues of family violence, as well as interventions. The respondents placed a great deal of emphasis on the development of an awareness campaign. The report stated that the purpose of an awareness campaign would be to reduce societys tolerance of family violence. The Yukon Status of Women Council has also called for education and information about family violence in a response to the government-wide plan of action for women.
In its response, the Yukon Indian Womens Association identified the need for more information to be available in a community. I am pleased to report to the House that in our multi-year campaign we have addressed these concerns. Along with a family violence policy and family violence initiatives I recently tabled, we have a directory of family violence resources.
Many aboriginal groups in Canada have been suggesting that violence is a community problem. This idea has not caught on quickly. It is commonly assumed that by putting up a shelter for women, the problem will go away, but it does not. Violence and its problems affect everyone in a community, and it is necessary for the entire community to work toward the solutions for this problem. While it is necessary to have shelters and programs to help people victimized by violence, it is the responsibility of all the community to work together.
Respect is the key. Respect for other people means that every human being in the world has certain basic rights, and each and every one of us needs to learn to respect not just the person but the persons rights, such as the right to live without fear. This respect is what creates a healthy community.
The Womens Directorate has used this idea as an identifier for the public awareness campaign on family violence - respect and a circle linking: two important concepts.
The circle of respect has provided a slogan, Respect Makes the Circle Strong. The circle is a powerful symbol in all cultures. In Manitoba, the aboriginal people are also using the circle of healing to address the problems of violence. The concept of healing the community, in order to heal such things as violence against women and children, is finally being accepted in all communities.
With this concept in mind, this government has worked diligently toward the prevention of violence in all the communities in the Yukon. Recently, I tabled a policy on family violence in this House, which makes us one of the first provincial/territorial jurisdictions in Canada to have written a policy on family violence. At the same time, I also tabled a report documenting family violence initiatives in the Yukon.
Some of the initiatives include: a safe place program for battered women and their children; an information telephone line for victims of family violence and sexual assault; and a government-wide public awareness campaign. In January, we launched a new treatment program for abused children that has received very wide support. In February, the Family Violence Prevention Unit moved to a storefront location. All of these initiatives are part of a multi-year plan involving several government departments and were coordinated by the Womens Directorate and the Departments of Health and Human Resources, Education and Justice.
Earlier this spring, during a meeting with ministers responsible for the Status of Women from every jurisdiction in Canada, it was with my support that it was agreed that there can be no equal place in society for women as long as the basic right to safety is denied. Also at this meeting, a very important declaration on violence against women was released. This declaration stated that violence against women is a crime punishable under the law, that women are entitled to live in a safe environment, that offenders must be held accountable for their behavior, that the elimination of violence against women requires a response including prevention, public education, services and enforcement of the law and that every individual community and government in Canada must do everything possible to help women, children and families affected by violence. This declaration encourages us all to work together to achieve a society that will one day be free from family violence.
The international indigenous womens conference spoke on family violence and it was a concern around the world. At the Commonwealth conference of ministers responsible for the status of women, that included ministers from 47 countries, one of the items on the agenda that was of global concern was violence against women. At this conference many questions were raised. How different is military violence in the Philippines from the domestic violence in Canada or female circumcision in Nigeria? What can we learn from Canadian aboriginal womens attempts to heal entire communities and to treat both victims and abusers? These are just a few of the questions asked. Several recommendations were made on this very specific agenda item. All the ministers involved strongly condemned all forms of violence against women, requesting assistance not only to reduce incidences of violence against women but also to provide support and rehabilitation to its victims. The ministers expressed the view that the criminal nature of violence in the home should be acknowledged and further that violence against women should be treated seriously by police, prosecutors and judges. The issue of sexual assault was raised as a matter of grave concern. They further suggested that governments examine strategies, including legislation, social services, counselling for perpetrators and education to eliminate such violence. There were many more recommendations dealing specifically with this subject.
It is hard to talk in terms of economic, social and political equality for women when a basic human right, that of personal safety, is being denied. Until women are free to fully participate in the social, political and economic aspects of community life, and until they are free from fear of violence, real equality will be denied.
Violence drains womens energy and determines our efforts to further our own and our communitys development. Women around the world are now organizing against violence. This has become a very strong movement, particularly after the terrible incident in Montreal one year ago.
In this country, many women are saying, No more. The organization, Women Against Violence, needs to be supported by all members of our society. While it is estimated that 800 women in the Yukon are assaulted every year, there were 114 reported incidents of sexual assault and wife assault. This is very likely just the tip of the iceberg. It is estimated that, for every reported incident, there are at least nine unreported ones.
Because the Yukon has not yet legislated mandatory reporting of child abuse, it is difficult to approximate the actual number of incidents. With mandatory reporting legislated in the new Child Care Act and the new Education Act, we will have a better indication of what the numbers are.
As a society, we are learning about the traumatic and lasting impact of child abuse. Not only one generation suffers, but the cycle of violence continues to affect generation after generation. It is becoming a more controversial issue nationally and residential schools and the terrible abuse suffered by aboriginal people will be felt for many years. We are just beginning to realize the atrocities and abuses that took place in those residential schools. We see the results of these traumatic experiences in the substance abuse, suicide rate, dysfunctional families, and the sheer despair of many First Nation peoples.
On December 6, we are commemorating the 14 young women who were slain in Montreal. At the same time, let us think about all the victims of violence against women and children right here in the Yukon. We all know cases. As long as a woman cannot feel safe from harm in her own home, or walk down a street after dark without fear of assault, or speak freely without fear of retaliation, or do a job without suffering sexual harassment, she will not have achieved equality.
I would like to summarize my comments with a brief quote by Margaret Atwood.
Why do men feel threatened by men? I asked a male friend of mine.
They are afraid women will laugh at them, he said, undercut their world view.
Then I asked some women students, Why do women feel threatened by men? They are afraid of being killed, they said."
As long as there is fear, women face a major barrier to full and equal participation in all aspects and at all levels of society. As a society, we must work together to eradicate violence against women and ensure that women reach their rightful place in society.
I would like to close by reading a quote from Art Solomon, an Ojibway elder, and I quote, The woman is the foundation upon which nations are built. She is the heart of the nation. If that heart is weak, the people are weak. If her heart is strong and her mind is clear then the nation is strong and knows its purpose.
Speaker: The hon. Member will close debate if she now speaks. Does any other Member wish to be heard?
Ms. Hayden: I will be brief.
The motion this afternoon is not intended to be a hate men motion, but I make no apology for the wording of it.
I raised it because I wanted to try, once again, to encourage men in this House and elsewhere to apply the kind of peer pressure that I believe is necessary to stop all kinds of family violence. But I ask you to remember that family violence is the new euphemism for hitting, beating, burning, raping and kicking women and children - old women, young women, little girls, young men, little boys.
I also seem to have touched a nerve by using the word sickness, but I fail to see how someone who is very violent just has an attitude problem.
Where we differ it seems is in the concept of protection. The Members opposite seem to feel that women should be protected. I would ask: by whom? What I am saying is that we should be working toward a society where women, children and men can be safe without someone always being there to protect them. What I am saying is that our society is sick when it allows, and even jokes about, punching out the old lady or slapping the kid.
I want to tell, once again, the story of Golda Meir, when she was head of the government in Israel. There were, it seems, numerous assaults and rapes in that capital city in Israel, and the men of the Knesset wanted to put in place a curfew for women. Golda Meir rose in the Knesset and said, as only she could, It is not the women who are doing the raping, why should the women have a curfew imposed on them. She heard no more about a curfew from the gentlemen of the Knesset.
I urge all Members to attend tomorrows vigil being held in the Justice Building at 12:00 noon. Thank you.
Motion No. 25 agreed to
Motion No. 19
Clerk: Item No. 2 standing in the name of Ms. Kassi.
Speaker: Is the hon. Member prepared to proceed with Item No. 2?
Ms. Kassi: Yes, Mr. Speaker.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Member for Old Crow
THAT it is the opinion of the Yukon Legislative Assembly that the proposed Goods and Services Tax:
(1) is detrimental to the best interests of Yukoners, northerners and Canadians;
(2) will contribute, in combination with high interest rates and increasing fuel prices, to a rising inflation rate in a time of recession;
THAT this House urges the Senate of Canada to defeat the Goods and Services Tax; and
THAT the Speaker forward copies of this motion and relevant Hansard to: the leaders of each of the parties in the Senate, the Yukon Senator, the Prime Minister of Canada and the Opposition Leaders in Parliament.
Ms. Kassi: My reason for bringing this motion is my very deep concern about the high cost of living we already have. Just what is this government trying to prove here? The name of this tax should be changed to the no goods and no services tax. I say that because after the implementation of this tax, fewer northerners will be able to afford either and that is what they will be getting because that is what they will be able to afford: no goods and no services.
After hearing arguments about its unfair impact on the north, the Conservative Senate denied a motion to amend the tax to create an exemption for those Canadians living in the north. The people in Ottawa seem to know little about how the Conservatives sales tax will affect people in Whitehorse and they know even less about how it will affect people in the Yukon communities or perhaps they just do not care.
The price of basic manufactured and non-manufactured goods in the north will increase regardless of exemptions. The GST will be hidden in the effects of increased transportation costs as these costs already are the single biggest factor in the high cost of necessities in the north.
The GST will have a negative impact much greater in the north. For example, we live in a place that already has one of the highest costs of food in Canada. We know that food prices will be affected by the GST because the tax will increase transportation costs. High transportation costs are invariably passed on to the consumer.
Even compared to Whitehorse, residents of Old Crow pay astonishingly high prices for food. One litre of milk that costs $1.25 in Whitehorse is $3.89 in Old Crow. One dozen eggs costs $4.17 in Old Crow and $1.89 here. Bread is $2.80 a loaf, almost a dollar more than it is here. I am sure a lot of these goods are much cheaper in Ottawa - and this is without the additional seven percent tax at the retail level. Canadians can expect to pay on average at least $150 more a year because of this tax. That is about $400 more in Whitehorse and upwards of $600 in the communities.
I would like to point out that air travel is also affected by this tax grab. Once again, those who can least afford it who are hurt the most by this unfair scheme. In those communities with no other access, air travel is already expensive and is a basic necessity for living, for work, for communication, for medical and other reasons. These are the people most gravely affected.
What about the administrative tax cost to educate the public, the small business people, and the people who have to be trained to collect this tax? This is yet another addition to the massive bureaucracy, along with the massive advertising campaign, trying to tell us that this tax is not what it obviously is. What are the benefits of this tax? I do not see any.
This is not a revenue-neutral tax. This is a massive tax grab. There is no one who can be convinced that the GST is a fair tax, particularly with respect to the north. We live in a country where corporations that earn millions of dollars can get away with paying little or no tax at all. Under this Conservative government, the middle- and low-income earners are having to carry a greater and greater proportion of the tax burden.
We need true tax reform, not another tax grab that eats away at the incomes of the very people who hold this country together.
Mr. Phillips: I would like to thank the Member for Old Crow for bringing this motion into the House today. I would also like to say that I have a great deal of difficulty in supporting the present goods and services tax. It has many flaws, the way it is currently being described to Canadians, and will have a much greater effect on northern Canadians that others, mainly because of the higher cost of living in the north.
In my view, tourism will suffer more than most sectors because of the new tax. We are already one of the most expensive vacation spots in the world, and another seven percent will not do that industry much good. I understand that out-of-the-country tourists will be able to apply for a rebate of the tax, but how many will? The problem is that they will have to pay it up front and that means, when they look at the cost of holidays, they will choose the cheaper holiday - elsewhere.
Business, particularly small business, will be burdened with all kinds of paperwork. Many of these business people will have to pay higher accounting costs, just to sort out the mess. I have a small business of my own that is involved in the goods and services tax collection, and I have had the opportunity of talking to many other small business people. There is so little information out there right now that there is a great deal of confusion in the business community about how people will deal with this new tax.
There is some responsibility on the part of the federal government to inform us on how best to deal with the new tax, if it is coming forward.
Government bureaucracy will increase by thousands of people, just to police this new tax. These are just a small sample of the concerns I have with the GST. We have to ask ourselves why we have to have the GST in the first place.
We are told that this is to replace the current federal sales tax, which everyone feels is an unfair, hidden tax.
I cannot agree more. We do have to change or abolish the federal sales tax.
Secondly, we know, as Canadians, we have to try to somehow reduce our deficit. Is the GST the right approach? Some have told us it is a revenue-neutral tax. I, for one, do not believe that, but I do support reducing the deficit.
Today, I heard the Member for Old Crow criticize the GST. I support some of her thoughts about the high costs of living in the north, but, I did not hear the Member for Old Crow offer one realistic alternative to the GST. I would have felt better if the motion had been worded in such a way as to ask the Government of Canada to explore other alternatives to get rid of the federal sales tax and reduce the deficit.
Let me deal with the motion itself, as it is sending the public conflicting messages. This motion is interesting, because it conflicts with the federal New Democratic Party policy. Many times we have heard Audrey McLaughlin and the Members across the floor call the existing Senate all kinds of names. They have called them the old boys club, a bunch of old political hacks and undemocratic, just to name a few. In fact, their policy, until recently, was that we completely abolish the Senate. Zippo. Gone. History.
I believe that the Yukon NDP have, in the past, supported that policy as well. Now, only in the name of politics, they are telling this body, that they have said in the past they will not even recognize as legitimate, to vote the GST down.
I guess the side opposite has to put all their basic political principles aside on this one. None of us here like the GST the way it is being presented, but are we to compromise our basic democratic principles to achieve this end? To ask a body the government on the other side believes should not even exist to vote on this? What is next? No wonder the general public is cynical about politicians. Why should they believe anything we say any more? They want, on the one hand, to abolish the Senate. Then, on the other hand, they demand, in this motion, that the Senate act and kill the GST. If the motion was worded so that they kill the GST and abolish the Senate in the same vote, it would have more merit.
If I felt my voice was really being heard, I would ask the federal government to have a good look at the way that the GST has been designed.
Bring in a substitute for the federal sales tax that would be fair and reasonable to all Canadians, then I would like to see the Senate abolished and a triple-E Senate elected. A triple-E Senate would certainly allow more democratic representation from all regions of Canada. As you can see, this motion leaves me with a real dilemma. On one hand, I want to see the GST re-evaluated or disbanded, and on the other, I have a great deal of problems asking a non-elected, undemocratic, appointed bunch of political hacks to kill any legislation passed by a duly elected Parliament of Canada.
I suppose, after saying this, I have ruined my chances of ever getting a golden handshake and a Senate job in the future but that is okay, because I did not want one in the first place. That was hard to say.
I guess I have two choices on this one, I can get real sick, go to the washroom and not vote on this issue, or I can hold my nose and support the motion.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I thank the Member who just spoke, who I think gave a wonderful representation of the ambivalence that he and his party feel about the GST and its like. I was actually very much charmed by the Members speech and his comments about the GST. He did admit that the criticisms laid out by the Member for Old Crow were quite accurate in terms of its impact on our cost of living and our tourism industry, but he described that he had problems with the way in which the GST is being presented.
The implication that is left with the Members description is that, somehow, a new and improved GST, perhaps a son or daughter of GST, might be okay.
Mr. Phillips: Did you call me a son of a GST?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I think it would be unparliamentary in a debate on the Conservative sales tax to use unparliamentary language.
The Member invites us to present alternatives. I have a speech that is not brief, and which will deal with alternatives, if the Members are patient. First of all, the Member for Riverdale North has problems with the NDP position on the Senate. I understand very well what the Conservative position on the Senate is. It is supine.
Our position is a plague on that House, and it has been for some time. The Senate is full of people who are responsible, mostly, to dead Prime Ministers but, recently, it has even been padded by the addition of eight people who have no business being there, who do not have any regional base, nor constitutional right to be there, but who were simply shoved in there in order to put a highly unpopular tax through. That is the purpose. No doubt, none of them will quit after this tax is passed. None of them will give up the $75,000 a year or the pension for life, but that is why they are there.
The NDP national leader has been criticized by the Member opposite for suggesting the Senate could have killed this bill. There is nothing so wonderful as to watch our Liberal friends in the Senate pounding away at the GST, knowing that, with the addition of the eight illegitimate Tory members, it is going to pass anyway, eventually.
Jean Chretien and his friend, MacEachen, are sitting there counting the millions and billions they are going to have if they ever come to power, while they can sort of take credit for opposing it. Of course, the people who may be even bigger hypocrites than the Tories on this one are the Liberals, who could have killed the GST at the second reading, if they had wanted to. They could have just voted it down then, and it would have been over with. No hoorah. No fuss. No muss. No GST, either.
I want to say a few more words about the GST and the Conservative party, because the GST is consistent with Conservative philosophy. This kind of tax is being introduced by Conservative governments all around the world. It is part of a pattern and big agenda that reduces taxes on corporations while increasing taxes on people; it brings in consumption taxes and lowers income taxes.
Notwithstanding the Senate or Mr. MacEachen, on January 1, 1991, the federal Conservative party will have in place the fourth part of their four-part economic program. The first three - free trade, privatization and high interest rates - have already done their damage on the Canadian economy. We have lost thousands of manufacturing jobs as a result of free trade. We are seeing real human hardships as a result of privatization. We are seeing absolute devastation in the small business sector as a result of high interest rates. Nonetheless, Bay Street is happy; big corporations are happy. The United States has achieved what it wanted under Bush and Reagan, and the Conservatives are proud of what they have delivered.
Recently, we had a statement by the former Conservative Cabinet Minister, Mr. Sinclair Stevens, who said that, in order to get the free trade deal, there was even a deal about the Canadian exchange rate and bringing the Canadian dollar up. The one effective way to do that is to raise interest rates. Of course, it is very bad for areas like this that are exporting areas and have to export commodities on world markets, because it makes our products much less attractive.
If you keep track of the opinion polls, it is now clear everywhere in the country that this Conservative agenda or, as some people call it, the big business agenda - but that is not quite fair - is not very popular with people. Conservative politicians have achieved their agenda. They have what they wanted, economically. It is what they have been asking for. Even the Leader of the Official Opposition, in some of his better speeches, has argued for a Yukon version of that Conservative agenda. They have worked very hard to convince Canadians of its merit.
Everywhere Canadians have had the opportunity to express themselves, whether by elections or opinion polls, they have decided that this particular agenda is not at all what they want. Until recently, the Conservatives could claim they had been quite successful. Elections across Canada have been won by Tories running on the promise that this agenda would bring prosperity and growth. Some of the Members opposite have championed some of these causes, walking hand-in-hand with their federal colleagues and the national leader, singing songs of praise for this new economic revolution, privatization, contracting out, cutbacks, free trade, high interest rates and, of course, the Conservative sales tax. They have pushed it over the years and have kept it going, until very recently.
Canadian people finally realized what was happening. Now some Conservatives, including some Members opposite, say they are not so sure.
Perhaps they have to think twice about that. Perhaps Reform is a better idea than Conservative, at the national level.
No Conservative politician, whether they are in the United States, Britain, or Canada, can claim they have not been part of this whole thing, or have not ascribed to this whole agenda all along. No Conservative in this country can claim that this nightmare we are seeing emerging in our economy is solely the work of Michael Wilson or Brian Mulroney. There are some Conservatives who are now saying they are not Conservatives, certainly not nationally, just locally. When it comes to things like the GST, perhaps they have never been Conservatives at all. They did not believe in all that Conservative economic stuff. It was just a case of mistaken identity. People did not really mean what they said when they were calling for some of these tax changes that are coming into place.
I know from people I have talked to that that claim just will not work. It will not work in the Yukon, any more than it will work anywhere else. People are too smart to be fooled by that kind of argument. The truth is that, for years, Tories have told us that this business agenda was coming; they told us it would be good for us; Ronald Reagan said it would be good for us; Margaret Thatcher said it would be good for us; Brian Mulroney said it would be good for us. In certain ways, even the hon. Member for Hootalinqua said it would be good for us. Some of the other Members opposite said it would be good for us.
I am sure Members opposite would say that is true, and still believe it, but made a little mistake. The problem is not with the GST so much, as with the GST in its present form. If only it were a little nicer, or done in a prettier package, it might have worked.
That will not sell. I think what has come clear to Canadians as they look at the pattern of tax changes that have happened in the last few years, is that the taxes on the wealthy and the taxes on the corporations have been cut. Everybody can see that. Everybody admits it. Taxes on ordinary Canadians, taxes on the average citizen and taxes on those who can least afford them have continued to increase. It means that ordinary working families will have less money to pay their bills.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The Member for Porter Creek East is proposing a new tax, and we will hear about that later. I am obviously hitting a nerve there.
Let me just continue to describe the Conservative approach on taxation, which is bless the rich and soak the poor. What the Conservatives never counted on - because they did their tax reform in two steps, first of all, they did the popular part before the election and the unpopular part after the election - was that the taxpayers might revolt, that even normally conservative, compliant voters might object to this, that in Western Canada, and perhaps even in Ontario, the Conservative Party would be outflanked on the right by the Reform Party, just as happened a generation ago with the Reform Party leaders father, the Social Credit Party. It came from the right, took a whole bunch of Conservative seats in Western Canada and cost the Diefenbaker government power.
That is happening because the rhetoric of the Conservative tax and economic agenda is a long way from the reality. The reality of this agenda is that it has been very bad for people, just as Thatcherism devastated industrial parts of Britain, just as Reaganism, which promised to raise military spending, cut taxes and reduced the deficit, left the United States with the biggest deficit ever - huge military expenditures and an economy that is now all about mergers and acquisitions, junk bonds, debt, no real new industrial capacity, new real wealth. In fact, the United States, for the first time since the Second World War, is no longer the richest nation in the world; it has been surpassed by Japan.
The Tories have got a problem because they know that their economic agenda is unpopular; free trade is unpopular; the GST is unpopular; high interest rates are unpopular. Some of them want to go around and say that they are sorry; they did not really mean it; they did not really understand that it would work this way; they are sure everything will be all right in the morning.
They will not be able to get off that easy, because people are angry about it and come January, notwithstanding the Liberal Senators efforts, they will be feeling it very directly in their pocketbook.
The agenda for ordinary Canadians, struggling to feed their families and live a different life, is very different from the Conservative agenda. The agenda for the typical Yukoner is a very different agenda. This agenda is one shared by small business people, by aboriginal people such as the constituents of the Member for Old Crow, by women, by working people everywhere in the territory. They also want tax change in Canada, but what they want is very simple. They want fair taxes: taxes that do not cripple families and seniors and single parents; taxes that do not allow corporations to escape more and more of their fair share of taxes with each passing year; taxes that do not give huge breaks to the rich while breaking the backs of those in the middle classes and below.
That is the knock that they put on the GST, and they are right, because the GST is unfair. It is unfair in and of itself, and it is part of an unfair system that becomes more unfair with each passing day. The GST is unfair to ordinary taxpayers for one simple reason: it is a tax on consumption. Middle- and lower-income families, like all people, would like to save and invest and improve their future and the future of their children, but the harsh reality is that they cannot do very much saving and investing. With the high cost of living, most of their earnings must go to meet immediate needs: food, clothing, housing, transportation, education, books and the like.
This motion gives us an opportunity to vote on the question. It is perhaps the last chance we shall have to express our feelings on this matter.
The vote on the motion does not tell the whole story, because if Members here vote against the GST but some Members continue to support the Conservative agenda, such as free trade, high interest rates and other things, the vote will be an empty gesture. In the end, no doubt, many Members opposite will continue to support Mr. Mulroney and Mr. Wilsons agenda. They will still work for the Conservative Party, canvas for them and try to elect it. In short, they will not be prepared to do the one thing necessary to ultimately repeal the GST, and that is to defeat the national Conservative government.
The GST is so unpopular, it has split the Conservative Party in ways beyond just the problem of the Reform Party. I heard an interview just recently with, I believe, the personal friend, colleague and law partner of the Leader of the Official Opposition, Mr. Preston, who said he felt the GST was a wonderful thing. I know that, on many matters, the Leader of the Official Opposition and Mr. Preston are en famille or au courant - sort of bosom buddies.
I know that, at least in terms of their official positions, they are very different on this question. I have been accused of uttering a tasty non sequitur - the first time I have ever done that in my life. There are hard choices for territorial Conservatives now. They can go the Reform Party route and have very fundamentalist opposition to the GST and some of the horrible things that are happening in the Conservative agenda such as high interest rates. That would have some impact. That would have a powerful impact in the regional politics of this area. Or they can quote Gertrude Stein or was it George Orwell, I cannot remember, who said, A Tory is a Tory is a Tory, and that we should live a Tory and die a Tory.
The problem with the GST is that this agenda requires the poor ordinary working people to pay the burden of the taxes. It requires tax cuts for the rich, tax cuts for corporations, tax cuts for multi-nationals, but it requires that poor people, working people, have to pick up the slack just as they had to in the United States and just as they had to in Britain under Thatcher.
With the GST, only food will be truly exempt, and should there be anything left over, the family might like to take a small holiday, see another part of Canada, stay in a modest motel, eat out a few modest meals, visit the odd recreational park, science centre or theatre. Under the GST, every bit of pleasure and every moment of relaxation will be taxed. For the rich, it is a very different picture. Much of their income is not spent on consumption. They have the good fortune to be able to save and invest, but this means they also have the good fortune of not having to pay tax on nearly as much of their income. They usually take the luxurious holidays out of the country, which, of course, are out of the reach of the GST.
I ask the Members opposite: is this fair? Is it fair that the rich will get away with paying a much smaller part of their income...
Speaker: Order please. The time being 5:30 p.m., I will now leave the Chair until 7:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Government House Leader that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
Speaker leaves the Chair
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Chair: I will now call the Committee of the Whole to order.
Bill No. 16 - First Appropriation Act, 1991-92 - continued
Department of Community and Transportation Services - continued
Municipal and Community Affairs - continued
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Before we go further into the line items, several outstanding questions arose from debate yesterday on which I was able to procure some information that I would like to share with Members.
There was a question raised by the Member for Kluane regarding TV in Haines Junction and why the territorial government is paying for it when the community is larger than 500. Apparently, the entire program goes back to the early 1970s, when the federal government put up money for the television and radio service to be put into communities. It was called the accelerated coverage program.
Money was given to CBC to install what is called CBC Northern Television Service in northern communities. There was at the time of the programs inception a policy that stated that there be a cut-off of 500 people to receive the programming. In other words, CBC put it into communities of 500 or over. The Yukon government at the time, as well as the NWT government at the time, complained about the policy because there were so many communities in northern Canada, both in the NWT and the Yukon, under 500, that they did not consider the program as good as it ought to be.
Both the Yukon government and the NWT government went ahead on their own on a community-by-community basis as money was available and provided the service themselves to those smaller communities; that is, communities under 500. Haines Junction was a community that fit that particular category, having less than 500 at that time.
Subsequently the accelerated coverage program ran out and no more money was forthcoming. The result is obvious. CBC maintained the service where it had installed it while they had money in their program, and more and more communities were serviced by the Yukon and NWT governments. It is much the same in both jurisdictions. As a point of interest, we do, as indicated in the budget book, serve 16 communities. The NWT serves 24 communities of populations under 500. There is very little likelihood that we would be relieved of that funding responsibility. Certainly from the news we heard in the last couple of days, where CBC is being cut another $100,000, it is most unlikely we would ever be able to achieve anything, in spite of that policy that was in place at one time. Because the program ran out of money, the program died and the policy does not exist any more.
There was a further question from Members opposite, I believe from the Member for Watson Lake, raising a concern about the Nahanni Range Road washout. Indeed, there is a washout on the road. Prior to the closure of the tungsten mine, there was an agreement between the Yukon government and Canada Tungsten to share the responsibility for maintenance of the road. The Yukon government maintained the road for approximately the first 30 miles and Canada Tungsten maintained it for the distance beyond that. The washout, to the best of our knowledge, is on the so-called Canada Tungsten side or on the section of the road that Canada Tungsten is responsible for; however, it is still in the Yukon and it could be argued that it is our responsibility. Nevertheless, the road is not in any substantial use. We are maintaining it, with a minimum of a budget currently, for the first 30 miles, which was that section of road we maintained normally during the time that the mine was in operation. We have reduced our budget, our maintenance budget, from $54,000 during the time that the mine was in operation, to currently $10,000, and the money that I spoke about respecting repair of the bridge is separate and new money.
Those are some of the facts relating to the issue of the washout. We certainly are maintaining the first 30 miles. Next spring, we will assess the seriousness of the washout and whether we should go in and do maintenance work to sustain the road. We will make that judgment next spring, once the snow goes.
There was another issue that was not so much a question as my desire to correct or clarify the record. We talked about the Alaska Highway funding. I have provided Members with figures relating to projects on the Alaska Highway that were going to happen next year. I cited $4.5 million and expressed my disappointment in the fact that this was less than the current years budget.
On further investigation of these figures and in discussions with Public Works Canada, here are the more accurate facts. The $4.5 million I spoke of yesterday is the portion of the current O&M budget that is going to be applied to special improvement projects on the road. In other words, the $4.5 million out of our $12.1 million engineering services agreement is going to be earmarked for those special projects I outlined yesterday. The record will show what they were spent for.
That $4.5 million is the portion of the engineering services agreement, which for next year will be $12.1 million to maintain the entire highway, that Public Works Canada has identified for special section upgrading, as I described yesterday.
So the remaining $8 million would be the standard maintenance for the rest of the road. We do not have figures, nor will Public Works Canada provide us the figures, of the anticipated capital budget for next year. We do not know that yet. We were correct in our assumption yesterday that the budget is not before the House of Commons; clearly those figures will not be known until at least that time passes.
What Public Works Canada told us this morning is that they were shooting for one-half of the available budget to be in the Yukon. That is something I shared with Members in the past. We managed to move a disproportionate amount of the $15 million that was being spent in B.C. to be more equally spent in the Yukon. That principle is still to be maintained, they tell us. So, we can anticipate approximately $7.5 million capital works funding for next year if Public Works Canada achieves their budget.
I guess those were the items that I recall were outstanding.
Mr. Brewster: I find it rather peculiar that Ottawa gives so much money to spend on maintenance and then takes $4.5 million away. Actually, all we have been given for highway maintenance is $7.5 million. The Minister shakes his head, but they are telling you where to spend it. The department only got $7.5 million to maintain the highway from Watson Lake to Beaver Creek. We need some wheelbarrows, I guess.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member is correct to a degree. If you identify a certain portion of your maintenance budget to do a certain portion of work, the balance is what you have got left to do the rest. In principle, that is correct, but the Member has to recognize that, as I outlined the money yesterday, that is going to be taking care of very substantial sections of roads between Burwash and Beaver Creek and around the Rancheria area.
It is going to be particularly emphasized, stepped-up maintenance activity of resurfacing, BST and shoulder work and crushing that I outlined yesterday. In principle the Member is correct, but he has to recognize that the $4.5 million that is being spent is also being spent on what will reduce the maintenance of the rest of the road.
Mr. Brewster: I agree with your assumption there, but the territorial government maintains it and surely the territorial government should know which parts have to be done first. The Minister says they are going to do great sections. I suspect the part that is going past Destruction Bay is that four-mile section around Kluane Lake that they finished, so we are getting four miles of road, and all they are going to do is chipseal. We are not gaining much there. If they chipseal at Rancheria, they will be putting it on a road with no road base, and, like happened at Beaver Creek, they are going to end up having to plow it all up again. It is just throwing money away.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I share the Members frustration. What else can we do? We are trying to use maintenance dollars for capital works; that is really what is happening here - in a way - because we do not have enough capital to upgrade the road to the standard we would like to see and to upgrade the road where it has deteriorated.
I have to trust engineers and highways officials that the available funds are being spent in a wise fashion. Yes, some of it is going to be to resurface, to put on BST, to prepare crush; all of that is happening. It is part of that maintenance budget. It is closer to capital-type works, I agree, but what else can you do?
Mr. Brewster: I think he is missing my point. If the territorial highways division did that, I would have no problem. Here the federal government is making a big shot of itself by giving $12 million and then taking $4.5 million away, and the Minister says it is going to be put here and there. They are not letting the people who maintain the road and the people in this building make a decision on $4.5 million. They are making the decision in Ottawa. The Minister got a poor horse trade that time.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member is correct. Unfortunately, we are not in a position to trade any goods. For that reason, I have taken the position that I have explained to the Member that we are prepared to take over responsibility for the road. Let us start negotiating a transfer. Give us the bucks with which to do it, and we will do a good job.
Quarries in the amount of $100,000 agreed to
On Non-Recoverable Central Services
Non-Recoverable Central Services in the amount of $225,000 agreed to
On Community Planning
Community Planning in the amount of $210,000 agreed to
On Planning & Pre-Engineering
Planning & Pre-Engineering in the amount of $360,000 agreed to
On Public Health & Safety
On Planning & Pre-Engineering
Planning & Pre-Engineering in the amount of $320,000 agreed to
On Water Supply, Treatment & Storage
Water Supply, Treatment & Storage in the amount of $30,000 agreed to
On Water & Sewer Mains
Mr. Brewster: Could we have a breakdown on where that is?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Yes. As a point of interest, the Member and I shared a discussion after debate yesterday about all of the capital works projects are listed in the community-by-community breakdowns that I provided to Members. They will be found there. It provides information that saves me explaining every line-by-line item. It is contained in that summary sheet.
Of this break-out, $150,000 is intended to be used to do considerable identification and studies and reporting, territory wide, on upgrading of community water and sewer systems. These are monies that are earmarked to go into communities to assess what would be needed for an upgrade to their water and sewer systems, so that is support dollars. There is $100,000 that is earmarked specifically for Destruction Bay. That would be a detailed design and preparation of tender documents for the construction of a sewage lagoon in the community. I think the Member is quite familiar with the existing system being undersized, old and in need of major upgrading. There is $400,000 identified for an extension of piped water and sewer at Mayo and an additional $290,000 is identified for engineering, design and construction of an extension to the sewer in Teslin. That should add up to $940,000.
Mr. Brewster: I agree with the Minister that the papers he gave me are very good. If the Government Leader protests that a private conversation that he had was brought on the floor, I think I have the same right to protest because the Minister is doing the same thing; that was a private conversation.
Water & Sewer Mains in the amount of $940,000 agreed to
On Sewage Treatment & Disposal
Mr. Phillips: This is the area where there is no money for the water and sewage treatment plant for the City of Whitehorse. I would just like to express the concern that this should be a priority of this government. I am disappointed that there is not even $1.00 set aside in the budget to identify that as a priority project. The government keeps mentioning it in every speech and throne speech they do. In a news release on December 4, they talked about possible contributions to the Whitehorse sewage treatment, yet they neglected to put even $1.00 into the budget to show they really are concerned about sewage treatment in the City of Whitehorse.
I would like to see what the Minister has to say on the matter and see if he would be willing to step up discussions with the city in an effort to accelerate this project. The longer we fiddle around on this issue, the more raw sewage we are pumping into the Yukon River, and it is absolutely inexcusable.
This government has talked about how the environment is a priority. Right now in the Yukon there is no more important an environmental issue than the sewage going into the Yukon River. That effluent is the highest polluter in the Yukon Territory today.
A lot of it is attributable to the growth we have seen in the last few years. A lot of that growth has been due to the growth of this government. More people are living in the City of Whitehorse than five or so years ago. The government has some responsibility to act on this matter as soon as possible and try to get something in place or at least in the works so that we can see a resolution to this problem in the near future.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am not sure if the Member expects a response.
The issue of the Whitehorse sewage lagoon is one that we are discussing with the city. We have participated, since last winter, in a technical review, as well as having had ongoing discussions at the political level. We anticipate, as a territory government, that we are going to be required to make some contribution to the project as our preliminary figures indicate that the facility could cost anywhere from a low of $15 million to a high of $40 million. Some options, although remote, go as high as $50 million.
Clearly, anything in the $20 million to $30 million magnitude would be prohibitive for a single community, but one has to be broad minded about the matter. One has to recognize that you do not have to have $30 million in cash to put in a lagoon. You have different options available to you for the funding of that size of project. At the same time, there is clearly a responsibility on the part of the City of Whitehorse to assist in the funding for it and I believe the City of Whitehorse expects that. We, too, expect to participate in the funding. To what level we do not know because we do not know the final costs. It would be impossible to place into a budget an expectation of costs without knowing what those final figures are.
I agree with the Member. The problem is serious. It is unacceptable in terms of the level of pollution that is taking place now and there should be more speedy action. At the moment the city and my branch are engaged in refining the, I believe, four options, so as to be more informed and specific about which option will be chosen. I understand there is still some work left to be done on those analyses and I will await those results. At the same time, I am in communication with my federal counterpart to speak to the issue of federal support for environmental projects.
At the last Ministers conference, the issue was raised at some length. There was a recognition country wide that the infrastructure that is required to bring cities in the country up to acceptable standards to meet environmental regulations is in the magnitude of $18 billion to $20 billion. Clearly, it was an accepted fact that individual communities could not, by themselves, shoulder those costs, and that there had to be some sharing of costs. Those discussions are going on, too.
It is not a simple matter either for Whitehorse or anywhere else in the country. We have to recognize that there is a price to pay for our standard of living. In the case of the Whitehorse sewage lagoon, it will be a healthy cost and we are all going to have to pay.
Mr. Phillips: We have heard this same kind of talk from the government for the last several years, but we have not seen a lot of action on it. I always get nervous when I see three levels of government all getting involved in a project. It seems that it just makes it take three times as long to get it done.
The problem is here today; it was here yesterday; and it is going to be here tomorrow. It is going to get worse every day that we sit and just talk about the problem. The time to act is now. The government should be taking steps, as best it can, to work with the City of Whitehorse, and as quickly as it can, to come to some resolve on getting a proper sewage treatment plant in place for the City of Whitehorse.
It is not only affecting the City of Whitehorse. It is affecting residents out in the Laberge area and all the way down the Yukon River. The Minister should take a drive one day and go down to the effluent pipes, where this stuff is coming out, and down river a little bit, or just take a canoe trip. Perhaps I should take him on another canoe ride. The last time I took the Minister on a canoe ride, I was quite successful in lobbying the Minister. Perhaps I should offer him a free, all-expenses-paid canoe ride early next spring, as soon as the river is free of ice. I will paddle with the Minister, and we will travel down the Yukon River and discuss this issue.
I can assure you we will discuss the issue. We will not drink the water, but we will discuss the issue about the cleanliness of the water. I think I can convince the Minister by taking him in a canoe to look at what is actually floating in that water and passing down through the whole system. The Minister would treat the matter a lot more seriously if he took me up on that offer and paddled down the Yukon River for a few miles with me early next spring.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am quite willing to accept the Members invitation to tour the Yukon River by canoe, but he should be reminded that does not necessarily mean a successful lobby for pet projects. You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make him drink the sewage. The situation surrounding the Whitehorse sewage lagoon is one that we recognize, take seriously and have been addressing. There is a lead responsibility that is being taken by the City, and that is happening, too. I would encourage the Member to lobby the city as well, as I have, because their responsibilities also lie on behalf of the public to address the issue.
From a financial point of view, this government has contributed substantial dollars throughout the territory for sewer and water works. In the case of municipalities, it has more than doubled its available funding to municipalities for such projects. The City of Whitehorse is getting in the order of $5 million, and has for some time now. Next year will be the fifth year where it will have accrued between $4 million and $5 million a year for such capital works projects. Unfortunately, I do not see an identification of dollars for a sewage lagoon in their budget, either. So, the Member has a legitimate point that the matter has to be taken more seriously - not by this government, but by the City of Whitehorse, in particular.
My blunt observation to the Member is that we have been working with the city. We have plotted the technical examination to take place. We have helped with the review of options. We are nearing an identification of just what disposal method will be used. Through the course of this winter, I hope that identification will be concluded and, then, we can talk in terms of specific time frames for upgrade and specific dollars.
Mr. Phillips: I do not think we should be too quick to rush past this particular subject. I think it is an important subject to all people of the Yukon.
The Minister talked about it being a pet project of mine and I can assure you that it is not only a pet project of mine; it is a pet project of almost every single Yukoner. More and more people are expressing a concern about this and we all realize that there is some responsibility for the City of Whitehorse, and the City of Whitehorse has accepted some of that responsibility. In fact, I have been to several meetings now - in fact, all of the meetings - that have been held on the new sewage lagoon. In fact, I have been the only MLA who has been to all of those meetings. The Minister says that he has been to the meetings but he has not been to all of them and there have been some very interesting discussions at those meetings.
He said that the city has not made a commitment to this. Well, the city has made a commitment. It has made a commitment in bringing the people up, in launching the studies and getting involved in the studies, and the city has held public meetings on the issue. It has asked for public input and the city is prepared and knows it is committed to doing the project.
The problem is, like the Minister said, this thing is not going to cost $10,000; this thing is going to cost $20 million, $30 million, $40 million or $50 million. There is no way that the residents of the City of Whitehorse could pay that without massive tax increases on each and every resident of the City of Whitehorse. I think it is a problem that will affect all Yukoners and it is a problem to which the growth of government and the central growth of government in the City of Whitehorse have helped contribute. More and more growth of course provides more and more sewage and that is the problem that we have.
Shortly after they built the Porter Creek project, it reached its capacity because of the expansion in that area. It is the territorial government that begins the developments in some of these areas that feed into that sewage lagoon. It has contributed toward some of the problems.
I think it is a very serious issue and I hope the Minister takes the issue as seriously as most people and that we get on with the job and we get on with providing the proper sewage treatment facility that we need to handle the sewage from the City of Whitehorse, for many years to come.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Just to clarify the record, my reference to a pet project was in a generic sense. It is what the Member lobbies for when he takes me on canoe trips. I was not suggesting this sewage lagoon was a particular pet project.
I must emphasize that this government has taken the issue seriously, and can only take it as seriously as the City of Whitehorse is prepared to. The City of Whitehorse did not undertake the study the Member refers to until we made a commitment to cost share that. The city was not even prepared to go into a studying mode on the sewage lagoon until this government made a commitment to cost share it through the extraordinary funding approach in relation to the larger project.
We have taken the matter seriously. We have supported and prodded for the study. We have participated in the study. We have provided technical support. We are refining the options, and I am looking forward to some positive developments over the course of the coming winter. I, too, share the concerns of the Member about the level of pollution that is going on. It is unacceptable.
Mr. Phillips: I would just remind the Minister that one of the reasons the city was reluctant to undertake the proposal in the first place is because we had passed a unanimous motion in this House, which all Members spoke to, that there would be a consideration of extraordinary funding. On that consideration of extraordinary funding for that project, all Members on that side gave a commitment to come to grips with the sewage problem with the City of Whitehorse.
When push came to shove, and the City of Whitehorse came to the Government of the Yukon, the Government of the Yukon was a little reluctant to come across with the money that would fall in line with the words they spoke in this House, just weeks earlier. The City of Whitehorse cannot possibly take on a project that is $30 million, $40 million or $50 million. There is no way they could possibly handle a project like that. The Minister knows that.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member keeps inviting me to debate the issue. He has just said, in his own words, that the city was reluctant to do anything.
It is the citys responsibility to lead the way on the issue. This government did not break any commitment it made in any motion and did not abrogate any responsibility to any municipality in the area of its funding.
This government has contributed almost $20 million through block funds alone in the last four years - the last five years if we include the budget year that is under review.
The city has money with which to lead the way in reviewing the necessity of the sewage lagoon. The lagoon was deficient many years ago. Why did planning not take place years ago to acquire sewage lagoon funding? Where are the reserves that should have been built for that?
I do not feel this government has been anything but responsible, prodding, supportive and cost sharing toward the Whitehorse sewage lagoon issue.
Sewage Treatment & Disposal in the amount of $1,480,000 agreed to
On Solid Waste
Solid Waste in the amount of $255,000 agreed to
On Mosquito Control
Mosquito Control in the amount of $17,000 agreed to
On Emergency Measures
Emergency Measures in the amount of $45,000 agreed to
On Fire Protection
Mr. Phelps: I just sent a letter over to the Minister. I will table one just for the heck of it. It is a letter to the deputy minister from the fire department in Judas Creek, Marsh Lake.
I would just like to point out, once again, that the government made a pretty firm commitment to build a firehall by October 1991.
I am a little perturbed that the letter from the firehall was not included in the legislative return. I am also perturbed that the legislative return states that the new firehall was subject to capital budget approval and would probably not occur for a few years. That is a reference to a letter of June, 1989 from Mr. Hipperson, who was then fire marshall. The letter does not say it would not occur for a few years; it says it was subject to capital budget approval and will likely be a couple of years down the road. Now, a couple of years, where I am from, means two years, not a few years.
That means that the letter is entirely consistent with the verbal promise made at the general meeting, before 75 people in October of 1988. It is consistent with the letter that is on the legislative return, which is dated October 21, 1988, and it is consistent, of course, with the letter from the community club to the deputy minister in September of this year.
What I am really perturbed about is that the volunteers out there have been working really hard. They fixed up the old garage at the Lakeview Marina. They have done everything they were supposed to do, but they do not have adequate equipment and they do not have adequate equipment to service a lot of large and expensive homes, used year-round by full-time residents, homes for which the residents in that area pay a lot of property tax - far more property tax than almost any individual town or village or municipality in the Yukon, save and except the four larger centres.
They get next to nothing in terms of services. I feel very strongly that the government made a promise to these people. They have lived up to their promise, and the government should live up to its promise, too. If it was a mistake that the thing was allowed to slip for an extra year, I say that is too bad. I still think this government has a moral duty to live up to its promise to these people and provide them with the firehall by next October, because the legislative return is simply misleading from my view. I am particularly galled by the reference to a few years when the letter itself says a couple of years, which is entirely consistent with the very firm undertaking made by Mr. Hipperson. I was there, I heard him. I have got lots of witnesses. I can bring them in here on motion day; we can fill the benches with witnesses if the Minister wants. I cannot understand why the government would not say, Okay, we made a mistake; we should have budgeted to finalize this building in the next building season.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I can appreciate the Members lobby for a facility. It is consistent with a position he has taken on that particular facility in the past, and I am not surprised by his stated position tonight. I just wish he would support the Golden Horn Elementary School as valiantly. But, nevertheless, on the issue of the firehall at Marsh Lake, I think the one aspect that the Member is not admitting is that any statements that were made regarding the provision of the service - that is the firehall and upgrading the firetruck and the equipment - and any commitment to upgrade those services were made subject to available funding. That is the long and the short of it.
We do not have a bottomless pit to provide the services and facilities and equipment and various needs and demands of all the communities in the Yukon. It is our commitment to provide a firehall at Marsh Lake. The commitment is on the record. In this particular budget we have identified $30,000 for the design of the hall. That will be followed in the subsequent year, subject to funding availability, with the construction of the hall.
I gather that the Member cites a reference at a meeting by the previous fire marshall, back in 1988, that certain construction would take place. I have no way to challenge that, other than through advice provided to me. It is my understanding that Mr. Hipperson made that statement with the proviso of it being subject to financing, and that if the money is available, they should have the firehall by the fall of 1991.
I do not know to what greater extent the commitment may have been. Nevertheless, we have identified $30,000 in this budget for designing the firehall. It would logically follow that we would construct the firehall in the subsequent year, so that the summer of 1992 should provide the firehall. We have, I believe, through Mr. Grahams letter to the community club, made a commitment about the provision of the firetruck. I suspect this was part of what was tabled in the return. The letter outlines the very extensive provision of equipment and supplies to the existing station, which, I agree with the Member, is not the most suitable location. It is not the best facility but, nevertheless, it is there and in place. We made a commitment to continue upgrading the equipment. We made a commitment to provide another firetruck, and that is to happen at any time that there is completed communication between my department and the community association.
I feel that this government has fulfilled, to the best of its ability, its commitment to the residents at Marsh Lake for fire protection services. They have a new firetruck, a design for next year and, subject to funding, construction in the summer of 1992 of a new facility, continual upgrading and provision of supplies and equipment - that is a fairly substantial commitment.
When I spent time with my department, in terms of understanding the different levels of fire protection and what other jurisdictions do in terms of providing services and equipment, I was surprised. I was mildly shocked at the level of services provided by a central government like ours to rural communities. In most other jurisdictions, there is not nearly that level of service provided, whether for equipment, supplies or training. This government, in comparison to other jurisdictions across the country, provides a high level of service, equipment and training for fire protection. That was impressive to me.
Marsh Lake will get its fire hall and truck. It has its equipment. It is continually being upgraded. I feel that is a fair and responsible statement. It is adequate in terms of our ability to do so.
Mr. Phelps: The Minister has a weak peg. He has taken his argument, hung it on a weak peg and it is going to fall to the ground.
The deal was this: they were made a promise by the former fire marshall, Mr. Hipperson. Mr. Hipperson left the service. The government then forgot about the commitment - we know what happened. Then, someone said that they had better remind these guys because they had not heard from them for a while. The fire hall was supposed to be up by October of that year. In September of the same year, they had a meeting and sent the letter as a result.
I bet when that letter arrived in the administration of the system, known as Community and Transportation Services, somebody said, Holy cow - or something like that - We forgot all about this. Then somebody found a file, dusted it off and said, Yes, holy cow, we have. What do we do? Let us try to appease them. We will write a really nice letter to them about what a good job they are doing, one of the best in the territory, and then gently break the news that we are going to break our promise. What? How are we going to do that? We will hang it on the peg of the one wishy-washy phrase, subject to capital budget approval.
Everything is subject to that. I am suggesting to the Minister that there was a screw-up in the department. When the letter arrived, they went to the new people in the fire protection area and somebody said, Holy cow, how are we going to scramble out of this one?
This is a promise that ought to be lived up to. That is what I feel. The business out there, Lakeview Marina, generously offered the use of its facilities on the basis that, by next October, they would be free to use that building for their own purposes. They run a marina there that is a growing business. I do not think it is fair to them or to the volunteers.
I have had a number of the volunteers approach me in the last number of days. They are somewhat demoralized by how things are being handled at this stage.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I think a couple of points have to be repeated and clarified for the record. First, the community is being served as well as we can afford it and with quite substantial equipment, provision of supplies, necessary training and interim provision of a hall. Yes, it is a garage; it is not a most suitable facility and it is not the kind of facility I would brag about but, subject to funding priorities, we are doing the best that we can. We are providing to that community a new pumper this winter, as soon as the discussions are concluded. We have provided all the necessary and required equipment to maintain a reasonable volunteer level of service.
I sympathize with the Member when he says that volunteers may be expressing some frustration over expectations that did not materialize but the fact of the matter is that it is totally erroneous for the Member to suggest that there was some kind of a foul-up or mix up in the department when somebody uncovered a commitment that may or may not have been made.
Mr. Hipperson clearly did not have the authority to make a commitment. That is a fact. This Legislature makes that commitment. This Legislature budgets the money. This Legislature has budgeted the $30,000, and may be budgeting the $90,000 for new firetruck next year. That is the authority.
My deputy has been involved in this issue from day one. There is no file that fell between the cracks. There is no information that got lost. The entire issue boils down to one of funding availability. Those are the facts of life. If we had the extra $90,000 for the firetruck, we would be putting it into the budget and it has nothing to do with an alleged commitment made by a member of the department at a meeting.
The information that I am receiving is that Mr. Hipperson made the statement with the qualifier of funding being available. That is why we are here.
I had $30,000 in here to design the hall. I hope to put the price of the firetruck in the next budget. I expect in the year after that to look at a new firetruck itself. Everything is built on plans that generally fall into place with good, consistent management and political judgment so the Member can second guess all he wants. Let us not be frivolous about the issue. We are designing the hall in the coming budget. We hope to construct it in the subsequent year. We hope to have a new truck in the year that follows. In the meantime we will provide, to the best of our ability, all the required training, all the required equipment, all the upgrading necessary for supplies to allow the volunteers for whom I have a complete respect, to do their job.
Fire Protection in the amount of $274,000 agreed to
On Ambulance Service
Ambulance Service in the amount of $213,000 agreed to
On Equipment Purchase
Equipment Purchase in the amount of $20,000 agreed to
On Hazardous Waste, Storage
Mr. Brewster: Could the Minister perhaps tell us if there are any plans at all for getting this hazardous storage thing going? Are the preliminary plans even started?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: This issue goes back some time. It goes back to the beginning of man, when he became industrialized and started generating waste. But that is not what the Member asked. The hazardous waste committee has been touring the territory. They have been holding public meetings. They have retained a consultant. They have done an inventory. They have done analyses of a number of potential sites. They have now struck a subcommittee of a number of people from the Whitehorse area, including the hamlets that are just in the process of being formed. They are refining their site selection down to seven or eight.
They have narrowed down their site selection to the Whitehorse area and part of that rationale comes from the public statements made by people during their meetings; part of that comes from the logic of the need for a level of services to be in the vicinity of that hazardous waste facility. In other words, you need power and you need security, and you have to have it within a reasonable distance and accessible by road. All of the rationale through the course of the last year and a half of work that they did has pointed to the need for the facility to be located in the Whitehorse area, particularly also because Whitehorse generates over 70 percent of the hazardous waste.
They are coming down to the eleventh hour. I have been keeping Members informed on a pretty consistent basis about the developments surrounding the hazardous waste management group. I distinctly recall, quite a number of times, signing updated reports on their activities. I guess we are probably within a few months of a final site selection.
I understand from Ione Christensen, the chair of the group, that they are hoping by about February or March to come up with some recommendations regarding a site. Once that is done, it will be up to us to determine our next step. The $1.00 in the budget is left there because we do anticipate that it costs money to build such a facility, though we are not sure precisely what kind of a facility. It has not been refined that closely.
Mr. Nordling: Has the government purchased or is the government arranging to purchase or acquire any property at the present time, as a potential site?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The short answer is no. I can make the answer longer and explain why, but maybe the Member is not interested.
Mr. Nordling: I accept the Members explanation, his answer of no. It is nice to hear something so short from him. I just heard a rumour that the government was taking steps to acquire property for a potential hazardous waste site but I accept the Ministers answer that that has not been done.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am curious about the rumour now. Where is this happening? Who told you that?
As I explained to the Member from Kluane, we have not refined the site selections. The committee is looking at approximately eight sites. It would not make sense to start to acquire land.
Mr. Nordling: Just to satisfy the Ministers curiosity, the rumour was that we were back where we started and that there was land being acquired in the Kulan industrial subdivision in Porter Creek West.
Hazardous Waste, Storage in the amount of $1.00 agreed to
On Roads & Streets
On Pre-Engineering Roads & Streets
Pre-Engineering Roads & Streets in the amount of $50,000 agreed to
On Road Upgrade
Road Upgrade in the amount of $890,000 agreed to
On Recreation & Community Facilities & Services
On Recreation Facilities
Recreation Facilities in the amount of $72,000 agreed to
On Rural Electrification & Telephone
Rural Electrification & Telephone in the amount of $150,000 agreed to
On Capital Block Funding
Capital Block Funding in the amount of $8,885,000 agreed to
Capital in the amount of $36,925,000 agreed to
Chair: Are there any questions on allotments or person year establishments?
We are on page 74.
Mr. Brewster: There are a few things I do not understand in Statistics.
On page 102, I notice there is $17,400 for Elsa. Why is that? Do you have some information that promises that this town will be operating? It says swimming pool.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member is raising the question about the $17,400 for Elsa under contributions. It is a budgeted amount that would ordinarily go to a recreation facility in any community. Part of the grants we provide are operating funds for facilities. We have budgeted this for the Elsa facility, but we would not use it if it did not open.
To clarify the record, I understand it is open and, therefore, will be used.
Mr. Brewster: Did the little men from Mars arrive there for a swimming pool?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The next time I am in Elsa and am talking to the people who work there - I would not characterize them as the little men from Mars - but I will wish them a Merry Christmas and wish them well in their work in continuing to rejuvenating the mine and getting it open.
There are plans to open the curling rink. There is more than one rink. When the opening comes, I am going to invite the Member for Porter Creek East, and I will insist that he come to the opening ceremonies all by himself, and we will drink to the communitys continued health and long life.
Mr. Brewster: I thought I would just ask a simple question; I did not know it would take two Ministers to answer it, but it makes sense now that I know there are some people there.
Chair: Are there no more questions?
Page 74, O&M expenditures to be voted, $54,304,000. Clear. O&M expenditure recoveries $14,650,000. Revenue, $7,697,000. Capital expenditure to be voted, $37,409,000. Clear. Capital expenditure recoveries $8,953,000. Clear.
Department of Community and Transportation Services agreed to
Committee will take a 15-minute break.
Chair: I will now call Committee to order.
Department of Economic Development: Mines and Small Business
Chair: General debate.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I will make a few remarks to introduce the budget and then we can get into general discussion. The 1991-92 budget requests support for ongoing program activities. Members will note that it is not through great increases in funding but through increased delivery efficiencies that are targeted to our contribution programs. There are no changes proposed for the departments person year complement for next year. The existing program delivery and the undertaking of any new initiatives will be managed by the rural and Whitehorse staff we currently have.
As I mentioned during the supplementary debates, the negotiations for the Canada/Yukon economic development agreement are proceeding at pace toward conclusion in the last quarter of the current fiscal year. This will obviously allow the business community to be able to take the opportunity for longer term economic planning. Past experience, as Members have noted already in the supplementary debates, with this agreement indicates that more extensive development proposals can be prepared by business and community clients when the opportunities for future year phase funding is an option. When they know that longer term funding is available, the planning is usually done better.
It is anticipated, as I mentioned in supplementaries, that the 1991-92 funding of the subagreements will promote all five economic sectors, mineral resources, planning, renewable resources, tourism and small business incentives. Project benefits will continue to be evaluated against the objectives of the economic strategy, as Members know, to continue our progress toward the meeting of the obviously aggressive agenda of the initiatives outlined in that strategy.
Members may recall the single-contact approach or one-window approach for rural service delivery for the business development fund and the community development fund that was presented during the 1990-91 mains debate. This approach would see the officers in Haines Junction, Watson Lake, Dawson City and Faro supporting both the business and community agencies in rural communities.
This service approach will be further enhanced through the provision of resident economic development officers in the communities of Mayo, which will also serve Elsa and Keno City, and Carmacks, which will also serve Pelly Crossing. In addition, management responsibilities for all north Yukon business development fund and community development fund service delivery will be provided from the regional office in Dawson City. This direction was previously provided from Whitehorse.
South Yukon and the north Alaska Highway delivery management will continue to be offered out of the Whitehorse-based business and community development office.
Capital funding in the energy and mines branch of the department will be continued, as in the current year. Loan funding will be available for both residential and business clients for the energy retrofit measures under the SEAL program.
We improved energy audit process for houses and businesses. We will see reduced waiting time for potential clients interested in receiving assistance under that program.
Similarly, improved communication with the clients throughout the projects lifespan will ensure a full knowledge of available remaining funds and responsibilities for repayment. That is another way of saying that collection procedures will be enhanced.
The development of alternative energy sources in the Yukon will continue to be supported by the Yukon energy alternatives program. Mining development in the Yukon will continue to receive support through the Yukon mining incentives program. The Members will recall that the program parameters, as discussed during the supplementary debate, were prepared after extensive consultation with the Chamber of Mines and reflect the continued importance of prospecting and development activities in the territory.
Included in the activities of the branch during the upcoming year will be preparations for the 1992 mines ministers conference, which will be hosted in Whitehorse. This is an opportunity for participation in the development of national mining policy as a full partner, as well as providing other ministers an excellent opportunity to see the Yukon and enjoy its tourism merits and obvious wilderness benefits the territory affords.
That should signal the end of my opening comments. As I am getting a good response so far, I might as well cut it short and take advantage of the applause.
Mr. Phillips: In looking at the budgets, from this year to last year, the Minister says that they still have the same complement of people in the program: 36.5 person years. The point I have for the Minister is that, in looking at the charts, there is quite a difference in the charts. The charts have been adjusted. For example, under assistant deputy minister, one had 17 last year and has 13 this year; the other had 19 last year and has 14 this year. I wonder if the Minister could go through the chart and explain some of the differences. In administration, for example, there is 7.5 person years, whereas there was 6.5 before. Energy and mines is the same and there is no need there. Economic programs was 17 last year and is 13 this year and economic policy and planning and research is 19 this year and was 14 last year. So maybe the Minister could explain some of the differences.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am not sure of the comparative information that the Member is providing, in terms of the last year to the current year. The change that we made in the supplementary was to change the location of, I believe, the assistant deputy minister for economic programs. The numbers of personnel have not been altered.
As you go through the charts that I passed out to Members, one can see there are essentially four branches: the finance administration branch; economic policy, planning and research; economic programs; and energy, mines and resources. That reflects the reorganization that was done after my deputy minister and I assumed the responsibilities for this department. It was as a result of a rationalization of the various program responsibilities and the desire to be able to better meet our responsibilities in such areas as oil and gas and, as well, to combine our efforts in economic programs. The one-window approach for the community development fund and the business development fund could be more properly coordinated.
As you go through the flow chart, the director of finance administration has a number of positions: four full-time indeterminates, one half-time indeterminate and a capital term. Perhaps the Member could explain it better so that I do not have to go through the chart. I can certainly explain the background to the reorganization that was completed over a year ago, but we are planning to take the departmental organization we currently have into next year.
Mr. Phillips: I was looking at the flow chart on page 109 of last years main estimates and comparing it with the new flow chart on page 118 of this budget. That was the difference I was looking at. The staff complement is the same; the person years are the same, but they have just moved programs around from one area to another. I was just interested in the movement of the programs and the reasons why.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I thought I handed out the organization chart for the department as well. I think I did anyway. If the Member does not have his organizational chart, I can provide him with another copy of it. It is fairly easy to see what is happening or what has happened in the past. We have the four fundamental branches, as I indicated. Finance administration includes all the responsibilities for administering finances of the department. The economic policy, planning and research is headed up by Terry Sewell, who is the assistant deputy minister for that particular branch. He has reporting to him a manager of policy and planning, a secretariat officer, a communications person and a manager of economic resources and analysis.
The manager of policy and planning has four senior planners in various areas who report to the manager. The manager of economic resources analysis, who is the senior economist, has two economists reporting to him.
Last year, there were five EDA positions shown in economic programs, as they were sharing duties with the business development fund and the community development fund. This year, those five EDA programs are shown under economic policy, planning and research, in order to reflect where the budget is voted before we break out the funding for the EDA into the various program departments in the first supplementary.
All the EDA funds are shown in the economic policy, planning and research branch in the capital vote. Once the agreement is negotiated, funding is broken into various branches that are charged with the administrative responsibility. That may be what the Member is referring to, in terms of the differences. If the Member wants to go through the organization chart, I can also do that.
Mr. Phillips: No, that is fine. If the Minister wants to provide the chart to me a little later, that would be fine.
I would like to move on to a couple of other areas. I would like to ask the Minister: what are the governments intentions with respect to the Skagway dock? Did the Department of Economic Development have anything to do with the Skagway dock? I know we have a motion on the order paper and we have been discussing it, and the government seems to be giving it new life again or is interested in doing something in that area. I am just wondering if there is something that has happened in that area that has given them cause to try to get, possibly, a new dock built there, or an opportunity to build a new dock. What has given them cause to move on that issue again? The people of Skagway decided not to have a vote the last time after Curragh struck a deal with White Pass on the existing dock facility.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Having been fairly close to it for a number of years, I can speak to the issue, from experience in both Community and Transportation Services and in Economic Development. There has been a long-standing position taken by the government that we would like to see a competitive port facility in order to complement the competitive trucking route between Whitehorse and Skagway. We have also been consistent in lobbying to encourage competition on the seas for the transportation of goods and have expressed that position a number of times in the Legislature. It is only consistent, certainly, to pursue competition throughout the entire transportation system between Whitehorse and points south, along this route. Certainly, the Skagway port is one feature of that transportation system, and a critical one.
We have openly advocated, in the past, a competitive port arrangement. We have done some analysis of various options with the City of Skagway to determine the feasibility of a second port. We did that through the Department of Community and Transportation Services when I was there.
Economic Development has played a lesser role than Community and Transportation Services and the Yukon Development Corporation in this particular matter, but we certainly have been assessing the costs and benefits of having a competitive port facility in Skagway to the extent that we can do that.
The Member and I might have a slightly different version of what the people of Skagway said in the last referendum. The people of Skagway were quite concerned about the loss of their small boat dock and were saying they did not wish to see another port facility.
Nevertheless, it is clear that the land available for port facilities is limited. While there are other options, they are not currently being pursued aggressively by the City of Skagway. As a long-standing policy, we would like to see competition throughout the transportation route and would like to see competition in Skagway.
Mr. Phillips: One of the concerns that I had about the Skagway dock was that the people of Skagway had virtually decided otherwise at the time for various reasons; the Minister mentioned that the fact there is very limited space in Skagway and they were afraid of losing their small-boat harbour. As the Minister knows, I am sure, other than the facilities right out front, there is not a real suitable area without spending an awful lot of money and an awful lot of work to create another dock. I do not know what they would build; they would actually have to build something out there to create another dock.
Have we examined or have we talked at all to the people of Haines, Alaska, because there is talk now of a possible dock in Haines, Alaska, by the Windy Craggy people and the possibility of building a dock there or the town of Haines building a dock. I know there is a bit of controversy over whether it is environmentally safe and the whole idea of Windy Craggy. But if something is going to go ahead there and there is not much optimism in Skagway, then maybe that could be an avenue one could look at as well. There is a great highway between Haines, Alaska and the Yukon and that might be another opportunity to obtain a port where there could be better access, and possibly another supplier could get goods into the Yukon cheaper than now.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Member may remember that during the negotiations to open the Skagway Road there were periods in 1985 and 1986 when one was not sure whether or not we were going to be able to achieve an agreement with the State of Alaska. Consequently, we did pursue other options quite visibly at that time to ascertain whether or not Haines, Alaska, or Stewart, B.C., may be viable alternatives for port facilities for Curragh.
We did send personnel to both communities to speak to the mayors and councils and I was quite encouraged by the enthusiasm shown, at that time at least, by the City of Haines. I do not recall what the boroughs position was, but the City of Haines was very enthusiastic and willing to go the country mile to provide for facilities.
Our participation at the time was not meant to be in the form of providing financial support, as that was not recommended by the Governors office, the officials of the Governors office nor by the representatives in the House that we had spoken to. However, they did indicate that Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority funds would likely be available if there seemed to be good economic benefits for the port community. That was confirmed again in the recent discussions with the port of Skagway as to where the funding might come from for port facility development.
We have not had direct discussions with either the City of Haines or the borough of Haines during this last round with respect to the Windy Craggy property as the principals of Geddes Resources have been conducting their own sensitive consultation in Haines. It is our position that they should continue doing that in their own interests.
I would suspect that AIDEA funds would be available if there was perceived to be an economic benefit to any community for enhanced port facilities.
Mr. Phillips: I know the terrain at Haines is a little different from Skagway, and they do have a little more land area available for port facilities in Haines, versus Skagway, so it might be something worth looking at. If someone is going to build a facility there, a facility might be built that could accommodate both. It would probably be a better idea to involve the AIDEA people, because it would also save them money if they were building a port facility in conjunction with the Geddes Resources people, if that goes ahead.
I would like to move to another area not far away from Haines, and that is the Geddes Resources Windy Craggy project. I understand the Minister has recently met with the Windy Craggy officials. Could he update us on what they discussed, and whether he is a little more optimistic on the opening of that mine? Could he give us some idea of what Windy Craggy is looking at as a time line for opening, or are they going to open at all?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The principals of Geddes Resources have to take the prize for optimism in the face of considerable resistance. They seem perky and optimistic that they can overcome the stated concerns by many people who have commented on the economic impact of mining in the Windy Craggy area.
Although I have not been able to ascertain exactly what the time table will be, the principals are again putting forward revisions to their mining plan to the B.C. Mine Development Steering Committee. It is hoped this addresses the major concerns associated with the plan, as expressed by that steering committee. Firstly, the acid rock drainage from waste rock was a concern, and they are now talking about addressing that concern by producing less acid-generating material and moving underground earlier in the operation than they otherwise would have. Basically, that means that, in the original plan to provide some significant open pit facilities, they would have been moving into the more acid-generating material and, obviously, producing more waste rock, as well. This is what you have to do in an open pit.
When you move in underground, you extract only vein material. You mill that vein material, so you have a lot less waste. What materials you do discharge from the mill go into a settling pond, which is a different discharge method and one that they feel more comfortable about dealing with, in terms of providing environmental safeguards.
The other major concern is the transportation of ore concentrates out of the Windy Craggy area. They have apparently met a snag with American regulatory authorities on the pumping of slurry from Windy Craggy to Haines, as the slurry will have to have a water extraction unit in Haines. The water extraction unit is the problem in that the waters from the Windy Craggy area will be pumped to Haines where they will have to be cleaned. The water would be discharged at that point. That is apparently verboten by the American regulatory authorities and consequently they are having to rethink the truck option. The truck option means road and may mean bridge, depending on what the final route options are.
All I can say is that they feel they can put forward good arguments to those who are concerned about seismic problems, waste rock containment and transportation that should solve the technical peoples concerns about environmental impacts. The concerns respecting the wilderness character of the Tatshenshini may not be settled after all, as a result of the difficulties they may face in respect to the piping of the slurry. That is about it, in terms of a basic framework, as I can give. I think they remain optimistic that they can put forward a proposal that will meet the Government of British Columbias concerns and they are still working on putting forward a presentation that will be impressive.
They feel that the reserves they have found so far are extremely good. They do not feel that any further delineation drilling is required. They know what they have to support a very significant, probably, $500 million capital investment. They feel that is sufficient to go on, in terms of seeking the necessary financing to proceed if they get their regulatory approvals. That is basically where it all stands.
Mr. Phillips: Did the Minister say when they expect to go before the B.C. regulatory board? Did they have any deadline as to when they expected to have everything ready for that?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I could not pin them down on that score. I got the impression that they were going to do it shortly. I took by that that, in the next few months, they would be proceeding through the B.C. department.
I move that you report progress on Bill No. 16.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Motion agreed to
Speaker resumes the Chair
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. May the House have the report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole?
Ms. Kassi: The Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 16, entitled First Appropriation Act, 1991-92, and directed me to report progress on same.
Speaker: You have heard the report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Government House Leader that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: This House now stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. tomorrow.
The House adjourned at 9:28 p.m.
The following Legislative Returns were tabled December 5, 1990:
Cost of Destination Yukon Contract (Webster)
Oral, Hansard, p. 364
Destination Yukon Brochure Production (Webster)
Oral, Hansard, pp. 364 and 365
Cost for consultants visit to Whitehorse re providing advice to meeting of Tourism Marketing Council (Webster)
Oral, Hansard, pp. 366 and 367
The Yukon Anniversary Commission and the Destination Yukon Program (Webster)
Oral, Hansard, pp. 363 and 364
Destination Yukon Program: Proposals received before September 27, 1990 (Webster)
Oral, Hansard, p. 441
Departmental stationery used by contractors to the Destination Yukon Program (Webster)
Oral, Hansard, pp. 441 and 442
Tourism North Program participants (Webster)
Oral, Hansard, p. 365
Categories of claims and statement of costs for victim of crime compensation payments, January 1, 1990 to November 30, 1990 (M. Joe)
Oral, Hansard, p. 332
Justices of the Peace: rates of payment, numbers, names and location (M. Joe)
Oral, Hansard, p. 332
Involvement of non-government legal counsel in active cases and length of time cases have been ongoing (M. Joe)
Oral, Hansard, p. 333
The following Filed Document was tabled December 5, 1990:
Letter from Marsh Lake Community Club and Lakeside Volunteer Fire Fighters Association to Deputy Minister of Community and Transportation Services re Level II Fire Protection at Marsh Lake (September, 1990) (Phelps)