Monday, December 10, 1990 - 1:30 p.m.
Clerk: It is my duty pursuant to the provisions of Section 24 of the Legislative Assembly Act to inform the Legislative Assembly of the absence of the Speaker.
Deputy Speaker: I will now call the House to order. At this time, we will proceed with Prayers.
Deputy Speaker: We will proceed with the Order Paper.
Introduction of Visitors.
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Deputy Speaker: Under Tabling Returns or Documents, I have for tabling the Report of the Auditor General on Other Matters for the year ended March 31, 1990.
Are there any other returns or documents for tabling?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I have for tabling a number of legislative returns.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I have for tabling a legislative return.
Deputy Speaker: Are there any Petitions?
Introduction of Bills.
Are there any Notices of Motion for the Production of Papers?
Notices of Motion.
NOTICES OF MOTION
Mr. Phillips: I move
THAT it is the opinion of this House that the Yukon government should not provide funds to facilitate the bankruptcy proceedings of any business.
Deputy Speaker: Are there any other Notices of Motion?
Are there any Statements by Ministers?
42nd Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Hon. Ms. Joe: Today is the 42nd anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The declaration was adopted in response to the atrocities committed during World War II. Many countries, including Canada, signed the declaration.
The anniversary of the declaration is a time to reflect on how very far we have come, and to recommit ourselves to accomplishing all that remains to be done.
There are those who have said, Why do we need human rights legislation, do we not live in a free country? We all remember those kinds of remarks when the Yukon was developing its own human rights legislation several years ago.
Let us look back for a moment. Most Canadians, I believe, associate slavery on this continent with the American south in pre-civil war days. Most would be surprised to learn that many prominent Canadians owned slaves, including six of the 26 legislators in Upper Canada. The first black slave was brought to Canada in 1628, and slavery was not abolished throughout the British Empire until 1833.
There are more recent examples of the denial of human rights and fundamental freedoms in a free country:
In 1904, Chinese immigrants to Canada had to pay a $500 tax upon entry to Canada, a tax white immigrants did not have to pay.
In Canada, women were not considered persons under the law until 1929. If you were not a legal person you were barred from running for office or holding a Senate seat.
Eight out of 10 aboriginal women, and one out of 10 Canadian women are victims of family violence and therefore number among many in the world who are victims of unrecognized human rights violation.
More recently, aboriginal people did not win the right to vote without penalty of losing their status until 1960.
We have come a long way in advancing the cause of international human rights, but there is still much to do. For example, the suffering of the unwanted children of Rumania and the spectre of war in the Middle East command front-page attention. The silent suffering and misery that exists in our midst here in Canada is easier for some to ignore.
Yet denial will not change these facts.
The unemployment rate for employable persons with a disability is estimated to be anywhere from 50 to 90 percent.
For every dollar earned by a man, a woman earns only 68 cents.
The average income for status Indians and Inuits is two-thirds lower than the national average.
In closing, I would like to commend all those groups and individuals who choose not to ignore the injustice they see. Let us recognize those dedicated individuals who, through their work and through their volunteer activities, further the cause of aboriginal rights. Let us recognize all those confronting the issues that concern women, persons with handicaps, the elderly and the poor.
Those who work to bring about change are not complacent people. Some, mostly the comfortably oblivious, often view them as radical, strident, and irreverent, but they are also dedicated and compassionate. Those who work for change know that making the words of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights a reality for all of humankind requires education, communication, courage, perseverance and constant vigilance.
Mrs. Firth: We, on this side of the Legislature, want to recognize Human Rights Day also. Most important, we want to pass on our appreciation and recognition to the many volunteers and organizations who work so diligently to make sure we do live in a free country, and that the freedom and liberty of people is upheld.
Deputy Speaker: This then brings us to Question Period.
Question re: Tagish Kwan Corporation/bankruputcy
Mr. Phelps: I have some questions for the Minister for Community and Transportation Services regarding Tagish Kwan, and specifically with regard to last summers proposed bail-out, where YTG was to advance $2 million in return for a large number of lots in the Granger subdivision. YTG subsequently backed out of that commitment and I would like the Minister to give us the reasons for that decision.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am trying to recall the details. At one point, the Yukon government was prepared to purchase a number of lots from the band and it was not possible to have the lots in question at McIntyre released. The release of those lots was required by the federal government and since it was not prepared to release them, we could not engage in the transaction. That is the short reason.
Mr. Phelps: In any event, Kwanlin Dun and Tagish Kwan must have incurred expenses in preparing for the $2 million deal. Did YTG pay any of the expenses incurred by the Kwanlin Dun or Tagish Kwan in preparation of or negotiations for the $2 million deal that fell through?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The short answer is that some costs would have been incurred in our assessment of the property. That would have been a natural cost associated with doing business. I believe there were 102 properties in question that we were looking at purchasing. We would have incurred some appraisal costs, but I would have to check to what extent.
Mr. Phelps: I would like the Minister to check that. I would also like him to check and report back on whether YTG funded the legal expenses incurred by Tagish Kwan or Kwanlin Dun with regard to preparing for and negotiating that deal. If so, how much money was involved?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I will take the question as notice.
Question re: RCMP fraud investigation in Tagish Kwan
Mr. Phelps: Last summer, we were told the RCMP was called in to investigate possible fraud in the Tagish Kwan. Could the Minister of Justice tell us whether or not that investigation has been completed?
Hon. Ms. Joe: I would have to tell the House that I am not familiar with the circumstances in regard to that. I would have to come back with the answer.
Mr. Phelps: In coming back with that answer, would the Minister also advise us whether or not the books of Tagish Kwan have been audited?
Hon. Ms. Joe: I will bring that information back if it is available.
Question re: Career services
Mrs. Firth: I have a question for the Minister of Education. Career services provided a very valuable service to Yukoners, particularly to women re-entering the workforce, to Indian bands, teachers and people who had been injured in the workplace. It has been established that the Canada Employment Centre and Yukon College referred many people to this service. Over a month ago I asked the Minister a question with respect to the rationale and he promised to produce in writing the rationale for the direction that the government moved with respect to this program. I would like to ask him if we are going to get the rationale or where it is or what has happened to it or if it exists.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The rationale could be taken from the many statements I have made in this House but I am more than happy to provide that information in a single-sheet format if the Member wishes.
Mrs. Firth: The Minister promised it well over a month ago and we have still seen nothing of it. The Minister also made reference to a review that had been done of the current career counselling and training services. Could we have a copy of that review? Or is the rationale and the review one document?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I do not recall making reference to a review but a review was done and I can make that available as well.
Mrs. Firth: I would like to ask the Minister if he could provide that review to us this afternoon.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I cannot commit it absolutely but I will try my best.
Question re: Career services
Mr. Lang: The question of the career services and the discontinuation of many of the elements of that particular program has been a cause of concern, as the Minister knows, to many people within the general public. One of the areas of concern to the taxpayer, of course, is the question of duplication of services and just exactly what the government was doing when it made the decision to decimate the program and, at the same time, do it under the pretext of decentralization.
Presently, the people operating the program have space in Closeleigh Manor. I would like to ask the Minister if he can verify whether or not it is true that Yukon College is moving into the space that is going to be vacated by the career services program.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Just for the record, I would not want people to think that when the Member was quoting decimate the program that he was quoting me. Certainly that is not something that I have said; it is an allegation that maybe he has made and he may be quoting himself. Nevertheless, with respect to the specific question, we have discussed with Yukon College the use of the old career services space in Closeleigh Manor and they have expressed an interest in it for a variety of purposes. We are now discussing with them the potential use of that space for their purposes.
Mr. Lang: As you know, on Thursday, when we last sat, we had the opportunity of having witnesses from Yukon College appear before the bar of the House to explain the overall direction of Yukon College. It was quite a surprise to all of us to find out at that time that, presently, the Yukon College is in a deficit position, and obviously it is going to be facing more severe financial constraints with the combination of the labour negotiations, depending on course on how much YTG is prepared to assist.
In view of the fact that this program, or portions of this program, will going to have to be taken on by Yukon College, could the Minister tell us how much he is prepared to pay Yukon College for providing the service within the Yukon College as opposed to what is being presently offered to the public?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Member had, in his preamble, a great deal of gloomy assumptions that I do not share. I would be more than happy to have him expand on those when we get down to budget estimates this afternoon because I simply cannot accept his predictions.
The Yukon College witnesses did indicate that they do provide career services at present. It is the job description of persons who work at the college and they will continue to provide career services support. At the same time, it is our view, and I think it is a view shared by a number of board members, as a matter of fact, that the decentralization of our career services operation to rural communities will improve the services that are now provided by long distance to those communities. Instead of having 11 or so counsellors in the City of Whitehorse, serving the whole Yukon, there will be eight in Whitehorse and three in rural Yukon. That ought to improve the delivery of services, in our estimation, and it is certainly consistent with decentralization.
Mr. Lang: The Minister forgot to answer my question. My question is very simple. In order to do these things, it costs money. The college is facing a deficit and is under severe financial constraints. My question is: in view of the fact that now the government is asking Yukon College to take on the full responsibility for this program that they previously ran, I am asking the Minister if he is prepared to pay the Yukon College extra money for providing such a service over and above our financial agreement at the present time?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: If the Member understood the issue, he would understand that I did answer his question. My assumption, which is not shared by him, is that there are career services people in the City of Whitehorse who do currently provide career services through the Yukon College. Consequently, the thought that we would now double-fund those people is not something we would support.
If I understand what the Members question was, the answer is no.
Question re: Career services
Mrs. Firth: I would like to follow up with the Minister of Education regarding this issue. When the Yukon College officials were here to answer questions, they very clearly said that discussions were still in progress with respect to this program and that they were going to have to give a higher level of priority to counselling, so they could counsel people with career services. They even went so far as to say that they had not measured the impact of the program having to be extended at Yukon College, and that they were going to have to have additions to the counselling complement of the college.
Included in the review, what were the projected costs of Yukon College having to add to the service they are presently providing?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Member is making the assumption that their desire for improved counselling services at the college is a direct reflection of their interpretation of events with respect to the decentralization of career services out of Whitehorse. The college board has been talking about improving counselling services since the time it was an interim board, only because they felt there was a need for enhanced services in terms of counselling, generally speaking.
The situation that will transpire is that the services that will be provided out of Yukon College facilities in rural Yukon by the advanced education staff for career counselling will improve the service delivery in rural Yukon. Consequently, there will be a reallocation of resources in Whitehorse to concentrate more on Whitehorse residents.
There will be no downgrading of services whatsoever. It will only be, in my view, enhanced.
Mrs. Firth: The Minister keeps saying that, but he has not backed it up with one fact or the review or the rationale or the costs or the discussions. He has not supported that statement with anything. I would simply like to know how much the extension of the counselling services that Yukon College is now going to be required to provide is going to cost, because it was very specific in the debate that it was going to be an additional cost. I would like the Minister to tell us how much more.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I would not characterize what was happening between Yukon College officials and MLAs last Thursday as debate. Certainly, I think the Yukon College officials were trying to be as open as they could with respect to their overall desires for career counselling services and for counselling services generally.
The Member criticizes me for not providing what she considers to be facts and figures for justifying improved delivery, yet there has been no justification for career services being downgraded as a result of the decentralization initiative. My assumption that the service will be improved is based on the fact the counsellors themselves will be living in rural Yukon with rural Yukoners to help rural Yukoners in their home communities. That is the assumption I make. The same number of career counsellors will be operating in the Yukon and they will be serving the same population, but some of those counsellors will be living in rural Yukon. That is the difference.
Mrs. Firth: Perhaps the Minister could just tell us who is going to be paying for the office space that Yukon College will be taking over from the career services program. Yukon College is going to move into career services. Who is going to pay for that?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The space in Closeleigh Manor that the college wants to move into will be used for a variety of purposes. The college anticipates there will be cost-recoverable business training sessions conducted with the local business community through the cooperative education program.
The funding for the space will be provided by the Government of the Yukon.
Question re: Career services
Mrs. Firth: Let us try to get this straight. The Minister of Education is saying the cooperative education service is going to move over to career services. Is that what he just said?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: No.
Mrs. Firth: What service is going to be provided out of there? The college officials are saying they are going to hire more counsellors. They are going to move to that facility and provide the service that was originally being provided there and the Government of the Yukon is going to pay the cost of it. Is the college going to be required to pay for the additional counsellors then, or is the Government of the Yukon going to pay for the additional counsellors?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I do not know if anybody noticed but an incredible number of assumptions were being made there, all in aid of supporting one conclusion.
Firstly, the college, as I indicated, wants the space for a number of purposes. There may be a counselling position in that space, but for a number of purposes, including a lunch-time training program and other things that the college wants to have to make a total of three outreach campuses in Whitehorse: one at the jail, one at Skookum Jims and one at this particular spot.
This discussion about using the space has involved the Government of Yukon providing rent for this space as they do provide rent for all other facilities that the Yukon College provides.
The Member is making an assumption that because of the decentralization of career counselling, the college is anticipating a need to increase the counselling positions. That is not true.
The college was making reference, in the answers to the questions that were asked of them last week, to the long-term desire for more counselling, generally. They were not responding to the decentralization of career counselling at all.
Question re: Animal protection act
Mr. Nordling: I have a question to the Minister of Renewable Resources with respect to the proposed new animal protection act.
The Yukon government has refused to ask the federal government for an inquiry for a case involving a charge under the criminal code of cruelty to animals where a number of animals starved in the Yukon. The Yukon Animal Protection Act was of no assistance in dealing with that problem and the Minister of Renewable Resources has promised a new act.
I would like to know the status of that new act and when we will see it introduced in this House.
Hon. Mr. Webster: There is not much to report on. This legislation is still being reviewed, with the assistance of the Yukon Humane Society. In the next few months we intend to do the required work to introduce the act in the spring session of the Legislature.
Mr. Nordling: It was last May that the Minister said they would like to amend the act as soon as possible and that it would not take a great deal of time to re-work. He said the time would be taken when it reached the Ministry of Justice. Has it reached there yet?
Hon. Mr. Webster: No it has not, to my knowledge. The Member may be confusing the two amendments we made to the Animal Protection Act in the spring. What we are doing here will be more than revisions to the act. It is not one or two amendments, but a complete look at the act. To my knowledge, it has not yet progressed to the point where it has been taken to the Department of Justice.
Mr. Nordling: No, I am not confused. The minor amendment made last spring was to enable the government to collect some money. What we are talking about is essentially a new animal protection act for the Yukon. The Minister seems confident that it will get to the Legislature this spring. I would like to know when it will go to the Department of Justice for final drafting.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I cannot give a definite answer on that right now as there is quite a bit of competition with other legislation currently before the Department of Justice. But, as I say, the general time line is some time in the next three months, to enable us to introduce the piece of legislation in the spring sitting.
Question re: Nursing assistants program
Mr. Lang: Another question has just arisen that is a cause of concern, I think, to all Member of the House. It is the question of the cancellation of the certified nursing assistant program at Yukon College. As we all know, over the last 25 years that particular program has provided a way for primarily women, native and non-native, to take part in the workforce and at the same time, it is a very comfortable way for people to make a living, working primarily in the hospital. I was quite surprised to receive a letter on Friday saying that the certified nursing assistants program had been cancelled.
I want to ask either the Minister of Health or the Minister of Education - or they could both stand up and speak at the same time - why this particular program has been cancelled, especially in view of the fact that there were 15 applicants for the 10 positions that were supposed to be made available in that program.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I received the same letter and I will take notice of the question and put the question to the college board.
Mr. Lang: I understand that it is in part because of the federal governments position that they would prefer to hire RNs, as opposed to CNAs at the hospital. At the same time, there are a number of our programs within YTG for which we hire certified nursing assistants, or at least that particular course helps people to get jobs within YTG, primarily in detox, the home care program, Macaulay Lodge and in various other programs that we offer.
Will the Minister of Health and Human Resources take steps to see whether or not this program could be reactivated, in view of the fact that it provides many Yukoners with the ability to get into the workforce?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I will receive the representation from the Member in the spirit in which it was intended. It is clear that, in the future, the territorial government and territorial agencies are going to be the biggest employers of both CNAs and RNs. I would take it as an absolutely essential requirement that the college be discussing the kind of training needs and service needs we are going to have within the next few years with this government, the potential employer, so we can be jointly planning about those things.
I do not know what kind of discussions have gone on at the informal level between the department and college. I was in Faro recently and saw an ad on the cable television there, announcing that the college was starting an RN program. When I came back and asked college officials about this, they expressed complete surprise.
I still have an inquiry in to find out exactly what is going on in this area, and I have not received a formal response yet. The Member is quite right; this is a question all Members of this House have and will take an interest in.
Mr. Lang: The real problem is that time is passing us by. All of a sudden, a year will have gone by and that program will not be undertaken. In view of the fact that we learned yesterday that the college was looking at a deficit position, and further costs are going to come their way, I hope this was not a cost-saving measure by the college in order to meet their obligations.
Could the Minister of Education come back to this House and tell us why the program was cancelled? Could he give us verification, one way or the other, whether this is, in part, because of their cost-saving measures at the college?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I will verify all the circumstances around any planned decisions they may be making. I have not yet been able to verify whether or not the program has been cancelled. There may be plans to cancel it in favour of an RN program. These are issues we are now trying to ascertain with the college. I will provide that information to the Member.
For its part, the college is well-funded and has not received any cutback in funding. There will be priorities, now and again, that will change the focus of college programming, but the funding this Legislature provides is more than adequate to deliver what is expected of them.
Question re: Yukon Housing Corporation, financial administration
Mr. Devries: I have a question for the Minister responsible for the Yukon Housing Corporation. Has the Yukon Housing Corporation contracted with an outside firm for financial administration?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The short answer is yes, in the past context. The Member will recall that we discussed at some length, during budget debates in the supplementary estimates, the issue of contracted services for financial management of the Housing Corporation. Whether that is currently the case today, I do not know.
Mr. Devries: Were local companies asked to tender on this administration contract, and if not, why not?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Again, I recall discussing that specific question during budget debates, and I recall providing to Members the information that local firms were approached, that local firms were not capable of providing the required full-time service nor were they capable of providing full-time service in addition to the broad range of financial expertise required. With that explanation, the shorter version of the answer is yes, they were approached.
Mr. Devries: It was almost two weeks ago that we discussed this, and I ask the Minister again: who pays for this contractors travel between Whitehorse and the home office? Who pays his or her expenses when that contractor is in the Yukon? I would like a breakdown of these costs tabled.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I believe I committed that information to be provided to Members during budget discussion. It would have been my intention to have that information provided during the mains debate, but if the Member wishes that sooner, I am sure we do have it ready already.
Question re: Goods and services tax
Mr. Phillips: I have a question for the Minister of Government Services regarding the GST. As we all know, the GST is supposed to be coming on January 1. Many Yukon businesses will have to change the way they do business with the Government of Yukon. The Minister told us that officials of government would be attending a meeting in Calgary at the end of November and would be learning more about the GST at that time. I would like to ask the Minister if his officials attended that meeting in Calgary and if the government is planning to sponsor any information seminars concerning the effects of the GST on Yukon government contracts.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Officials did attend the seminar in question. Since they have returned they have been in communication with the contracting community. More specifically, I have written to the president of the contractors association providing some information and extending the invitation to the government and the contracting community to share the information that is available.
Mr. Phillips: Currently the Federal Business Development Bank is conducting some seminars on the GST that the business community can take part in. I would like to know from the Minister if the Government of the Yukon plans to produce a small information brochure that would be available at the contracting offices for any businesses wishing to do business with the Government of the Yukon. The information brochure, like we talked about in the debate at that time, would contain just some general information on how to deal with the GST when dealing with the Government of Yukon.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The concept of a brochure is a good one but what we have done is to take the information that is provided to us, not just from the seminar in Calgary that we attended, but from Revenue Canada and in our own Finance department and making it readily available to the contracting community. Of course, that is the communication I had with the president of the contractors association.
My officials in Government Services and officials from Finance are providing as much support as we can, as well as information that is available to us, to the contracting community to reduce the anticipated extra work that will be involved in dealing with the GST.
Mr. Phillips: I can assure the Minister there is a void of information out there. The contract community is crying out for information and the Department of Government Services could certainly help in that.
I would like to turn to the GST and the sale of land in the Yukon. If a private individual sells land after January 1, they will be required to pay the GST. The Government of Yukon is the largest broker of land at present. They are GST exempt, at present, under the new act.
Will the Government of Yukon be offering land at the GST-exempt price to individuals who will be purchasing the land? Currently, if I were to sell private land to an individual for, say, $20,000, I would pay $1400 GST to the Government of Canada. I would like to know from the Minister if, when individuals purchase land in the future from the government, they will have to pay GST?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member raises an interesting question. I am not familiar with this issue. I will take notice and get back to the Member on this.
Question re: Licence plates
Mr. Brewster: My questions is to the Minister of Community and Transportation Services.
Last March, the Minister may recall that he and his colleague, the Minister of Tourism, were embroiled in the infamous plot to remove the gold panner from the licence plate. After considerable public badgering the Minister partially came to his senses and gave us back the gold panner, but only on one plate. I would like to know if the Minister will now agree to conduct a proper survey of the RCMP officers to ascertain their opinions on the plate issue.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The issue the Member raises is one we have debated in the House. I have provided the Member with the rationale behind the decision to go to the single plate.
There is a fundamental economic argument. It is going to cost considerably more in dollars to provide the double plate. We have the ability now to use the space on a vehicle for the second plate for other purposes. It did address the problem identified to us by the RCMP of plate splitting, where two plates intended for one vehicle served for two vehicles. If the Member is raising whether the police currently support the single-plate issue, I can get an updated status on that.
Mr. Brewster: Once more I do not get an answer to my question. Is it not true that there were conflicting opinions from the RCMP on the matter, contrary to what the Minister had previously asserted in this House on March 7, 1990?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am not sure precisely what the Member is talking about. The Member knows that he and I are often in conflict on opinions. We are often in conflict on matters of fact. I would ask that he be more specific about the conflict he is identifying. I am not sure what he is referring to.
Mr. Brewster: It is quite apparent we are playing politics and not getting answers. Would the Minister assure us that there was a proper survey done before he brought it into the House last spring?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Brevity is the soul of wit. Yes. I can assure the Member that a proper survey was done before I brought the matter into the House.
Question re: Old Yukon College
Mrs. Firth: I am not going to touch that comment.
My question is for the Minister responsible for the Yukon Development Corporation. Over two months ago I wrote a letter to the Minister responsible for the Yukon Development Corporation requesting the tender documents and bids for the renovations of the Old Yukon College. I have received not one speck of correspondence - not even a letter saying he had received my letter. I would like to ask the Minister why I cannot have this information or why he is not responding to my request?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Let me assure the Member that I have received the letter and conveyed it to the Development Corporation. I am not at all aware that that time had passed and I will make inquiries today to find out what is happening to the reply.
Mrs. Firth: Could the Minister tell us who is managing the whole project and who is doing the tendering? Is it all being done by the Yukon Development Corporation?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The Development Corporation is managing the project. They are tendering it according to the generally accepted rules in this government.
Mrs. Firth: Is the Yukon Development Corporation doing the tendering and advertising or is the Department of Government Services doing it?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am sure that they are in communication with each other. If the Member is asking whose signature is on the final documents, I think the Member will find it is the Development Corporation. I will perhaps do a legislative return for her describing the process, so that it is perfectly clear.
Chair: The time for Question Period has now lapsed. We will now proceed with Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that Madam Deputy Speaker do now leave the Chair and the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Deputy Speaker: It has been moved by the Government House Leader that the Deputy Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
Deputy Speaker leaves the Chair
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Chair: I will now call the Committee of the Whole to order. The Committee will now take a break.
Chair: I will now call Committee to order.
Bill No. 16 - First Appropriation Act, 1991-92 - continued
Department of Economic Development: Mines and Small Business - continued
On Economic Programs - continued
On Business Development Fund - continued
Mr. Nordling: When we left off on Thursday, I had asked the Minister if he could come back with the sequence of events that led to the $50,000 contribution made to the Kwanlin Dun Band. I wonder if he has researched that and can tell us the events that led up to this money being taken from the business development fund.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: On August 9 the band called the department seeking assistance. On August 10, the band met with two officials of the department. An application was completed at that time and approved.
Mr. Nordling: Did the board consider the application and approve it or did it go straight to the Minister?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It did not go to the board or the Minister. It is within the deputy ministers privilege to make decisions on projects of this size. It was approved by the deputy minister on August 10.
Mr. Nordling: Is the Minister saying that the board never looked at this application and never had the opportunity to say whether or not this was a wise use of the business development fund? Did the deputy minister make the decision on his own? Did the Minister approve the deputy ministers decision or is it final when the deputy minister approves such an application?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It is not required that a project of this size go to the board. They can be approved by the deputy minister.
Projects are often approved by the department that do not go to the Minister either but are approved by department officials.
Mr. Nordling: It is now not clear to me what we are talking about because the discussions now seem to say that we are approving a business purpose or development project. The Minister was talking last Thursday about this being a government-to-government transfer or contribution. Are government-to-government transfers of funds normally done in this manner? Would not someone at the ministerial level be in on a discussion where there was to be a transfer of Yukon government money to another government?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Under the Business Development Assistance Act regulations, and I have a copy here, I did do exactly as the Member wished and I have looked through his comments as well. They indicate exactly what the procedure might be for the approval of contributions of this sort. They do provide for non-repayable contributions to community-based enterprises, like a band. It could also be a municipality; for example, there have been a number of projects that have been approved for municipalities for commercial purposes. One would have been a feasibility study for Chateau Jomini for the Town of Faro and one was a feasibility study for a ski hill operation in the City of Whitehorse. So, municipalities can be considered, and are considered, community-based enterprises.
It does transpire that projects do not always go to the Ministers office for approval;- however, I am the first to state that whatever the department has done in whatever manner, I am the person responsible for the interaction and if the Members disagree, then obviously they disagree with me, and that is fine; I am the responsible person.
Mr. Nordling: I do not think it is a question of disagreeing with the Minister. I think it is a question of the Minister trying to have this particular transaction three or four different ways. First he wants it to be for the benefit of the creditors of the Tagish Kwan Corporation. Then it is going to be to preserve the business image of the Kwanlin Dun. Then it has nothing to do with either of them; it is a contribution agreement whereby one government transfers money to another government in need. Then it is done through the department at the department official level and not at the ministerial level, so if there is any confusion at all it is due to the fact that the Minister is trying to have it six different ways.
The other question that has not been made clear is why this was a grant rather than a loan. Did the deputy minister have the option of approving a loan for $50,000 or did it have to be an outright grant?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I was not under the impression that the government had to have one and only one reason for approving a particular project proposal. I was not aware that, for the sake of simplicity, we could have one reason and it could benefit only one group so that the message could be made clear to the public as to exactly why a contribution or loan was made. There are quite often - I will admit this to the Member - many different reasons that in and of themselves or in a group justify making a loan or a contribution. I cannot make life simpler for the Member. This contribution did support the credibility of the Kwanlin Dun Indian Band ultimately to aid in their effort to get back into their business enterprise as soon as possible. That was considered to be an important feature. It does, in a very real and direct sense, support the creditors of Tagish Kwan. I am not trying to have it many different ways; these are just some of the reasons why we support the project.
In respect to the approval process, there are approvals made by the department that do not require the Ministers signature.
Sometimes the department discusses these things with the Minister and sometimes the department does not. If they fall within the guidelines of the program the department reviews them. In this particular case, there were discussions between the Minister and department, but irrespective of that, I take responsibility for this program -not the department; I do. The Members have made it very clear on many occasions that they dislike this contribution. I have indicated exactly what the reasons are. All the cards are on the table indicating exactly what the reasons are for the contribution.
On the final point the Member made on the loan, on the last day we were at this I indicated to the Member that the Kwanlin Dun Band did not have access to capital of this sort. They were stretched to the limit, so we provided a grant for the band. Making it a repayable contribution would obviously have compromised their ability to provide regular programming for band clients. It had nothing to do with their commercial enterprise. We did not want to see that happen. That was our judgment. That was the reason for the non-repayable contribution.
Mr. Nordling: What I am concerned about is not $50,000, it is the process that the government used to make the money available.
There was a question asked in Question Period today about the loan to the Kwanlin Dun that was attempted this summer. If that loan had of been arranged it would have done a lot more for the creditors of the Tagish Kwan Corporation and for the image of Kwanlin Dun and its ability to run a business.
I would like to know if this Minister can explain to us what happened to that loan to cause it to fall through. The Minister of Government Services blamed the federal government, but others have heard it was the Yukon government that would not indemnify the federal government and may have had to recall the Legislature for authority and decided not to do that. There are a lot of people who feel that the Yukon government dropped the ball, or was responsible for that loan not going through.
That has done more damage to the credibility of the band and its business arm than anything else.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I have heard that case made, and I have talked to a number of leading proponents of that theory. I must say that I absolutely disagree with them - and the Member, too, if the Member is championing that particular case.
When there were discussions taking place last summer between the Minister of Community and Transportation Services and the band, with respect to the potential purchase of lots, I recall that support for that particular initiative was not universal. The media coverage around that was quite critical of the Minister. If the Member is now suggesting that that would have been the panacea that would have made everybody happy I think he is quite wrong on that assertion.
With respect to the indemnification clause, it was our view that this clause was not some insignificant addition to the equation between the Government of Yukons land transaction with the Kwanlin Dun Band and the relationship with the Department of Indian Affairs. According to our legal counsel, it was a very serious thing that we had to consider and something we should consider very carefully. The costs to us, downstream, may have been considerable, in which case it would have been quite imprudent to proceed along those lines.
Presumably, the Department of Indian Affairs, which has the prime obligation to the advancement of Indian people in this territory felt it was necessary to incorporate this clause and absolutely insisted that the clause be in place.
If it was something that was not particularly essential, then one has to wonder at the degree of insistence that federal Justice lawyers made in terms of ensuring that this clause be incorporated into the agreement.
I am not a lawyer but I have been informed that this indemnification clause had quite potentially serious consequences, and we should not consider this matter lightly at all. The Minister of Community and Transportation Services, and he can speak for himself at the appropriate time, put in an enormous amount of effort, firstly, to try to get the arrangement made so that the creditors could be paid, projects could be completed, the band could get on with its life, Tagish Kwan could clean up its internal affairs and everything could have been fine. An enormous effort was made in the face of some active public criticism. The Minister spent quite a considerable time lobbying the federal government to consider this a significant and important matter. Unfortunately, we could not get past the indemnification clause; it was something they threw in near the end of the negotiations and caused us to be extraordinarily cautious about their intentions.
It would have been a good arrangement, in the end. I believe that is not the view of most Members or many Members of this House, but certainly I believe that it would have been a good arrangement. Unfortunately, despite the considerable efforts made by my colleague, it could not be pulled off. It is not for lack of trying, given that the Department of Indian Affairs had the primary responsibility. It was certainly something that was considered worth the effort and an enormous amount of effort was put into it.
Mr. Nordling: I think we will hear more from the Minister of Community and Transportation Services on that subject.
I know the Minister has taken full responsibility for this decision as it is his department; when did he became aware that Kwanlin Dun had called the department and that the department had agreed to approve the $50,000 contribution? Did he know when the discussions were taking place on August 10, or did it come to his attention later?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I knew during the time the discussions were taking place.
Business Development Fund in the amount of $3,300,000 agreed to
Capital in the amount of $6,900,000 agreed to
Economic Programs in the amount of $7,403,000 agreed to
Chair: Any questions on allotments or person year establishment?
We will return to page 116.
On O&M Expenditures
O&M Expenditures in the amount of $2,246,000 agreed to
Revenue in the amount of $20,000 agreed to
On Capital Expenditure
Capital Expenditure in the amount of $11,713,000 agreed to
On Capital Expenditure Recoveries
Capital Expenditure Recoveries in the amount of $5,467,000 agreed to
Department of Education agreed to
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Can we deal with the Department of Education in a minute? I would like the critic to be here for all my remarks.
Chair: We will have to wait for the critic.
Department of Education
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The budget before the Members of the Department of Education represents a total of $69,645,000 in operation and maintenance and capital allocation. The Department of Education is planning to continue its enhancement of special needs services and curriculum while implementing a plan to develop policies in regard to the new Education Act. The budget bill on the new directions were set down in the last fiscal year, which, as the Members know, are school-based management and some internal restructuring.
The Education Act has perhaps the biggest influence on the 1991-92 budget. This is the first full fiscal year under the new legislation that incorporates the educational appeal tribunal costs, school council costs, increased special program services and increased curriculum development support reflecting increased recognition and an equal look at curriculum. The operation and maintenance component of the Department of Education estimated budget for 1991-92 totals $57,594,000. This is a 6.4 percent increase over the 1990-91 estimate of $54 million and a four percent increase over the forecast for the current year.
The capital expenditures are budgeted to total $12,051,000, a decrease of slightly less than one percent from the 1990-91 estimate of $12,064,000. This represents a considerable decrease from the 1990-91 forecast of $25 million. This latter figure includes the revotes we have just approved.
The decrease between the 1991-92 estimate and the 1990-91 forecast reflects the completion of the new Yukon Archives, the Golden Horn Elementary School, and the new student residence in Whitehorse named Gazoodsa.
I will outline the major items for each branch, starting with public schools. A total of $40,767,000 is budgeted for the operation and maintenance of public schools, which is an eight percent increase over the 1990-91 forecast of $37,796,000. There are a total of 530.28 person years in the branch, which is a 50.135 person year increase over the 1990-91 forecast. The majority of the new person years, a total of 46, are for program delivery. The 19.75 additional teaching person years respond both to the enrollment increase called for in the teacher/staffing formula, and there is also an increase in the administration end for principals.
The 18.62 person years result from the conversion of the aboriginal language instructors to permanent employees from contract employees. A further six person years are associated with the new Gadzoosdaa residence in Whitehorse. Five of these were converted from seasonal auxiliary status to permanent and one person year was added. There are two person years for secretarial assistance in the schools, including the response for the need in the Golden Horn Elementary School and the lEcole Emilie Tremblay, which has its own facility, as Members know.
For curriculum delivery, an additional person year is present in this budget, resulting from the extension of a term position for the native curriculum developer. Special programs, designed to assist students with special educational needs, and their teachers has an additional one person year for clerical work.
The facilities and transportation unit added two and one-half person years for custodial assistance to schools. There is also one person year assigned to the capital program for the public schools branch, which is a new person year starting this fiscal year for a facilities manager.
In public schools administration, $3,036,000 is being requested. This is a significant increase over the 1990-91 forecast of $2,244,000. The additional funds are to be used to enhance the education system through increased professional development, student support and educational reform. Of this, $63,000 is for professional development for principals and superintendents. Total professional development for the entire department, including teachers, learning assistants, tutors, school administrators, et cetera, is about $230,000.
There is $652,100 for student accommodation, which is up 25 percent from 1990-91. This reflects an increased monthly subsidy to $295 per month for elementary students, and $358 per month for secondary students from the previous $160 per month. There is $105,900 for student support, which is up 23 percent from 1990-91. This amount includes funds that have been provided to enhance such student activities as the debating awards and the Duke of Edinburgh awards. The increase is due to the Yukon agreeing to host a national interchange in Canadian studies conference in 1992.
Four hundred and thirty-eight thousand dollars we will characterize as education reform pursuant to the Education Act, and $55,000 will be used for costs associated with the Education Appeal Tribunal. Ninety-eight thousand dollars will be for grants to school councils and $59,000 is budgeted for their honoraria. Seventy-six thousand dollars is identified for professional development of elected officials, including attendance at seminars and $150,000 is for Yukon and local curriculum development.
In the public schools branch program delivery, $28,222 million is being requested, an increase of six percent over the 1990-91 forecast of $26.5 million. There are significant increases for some activities in this area that are offset by transferring native culture and curriculum development to the curriculum area and reducing administrative positions. There are a number of items here: $798,000 for teachers aides, a 70 percent increase over the 1990-91 forecast of $470,000, reflecting the rather dramatic increase in the number of teachers aides from 22 to 40; $468,200 is for tutors, a 14 percent increase over the 1990-91 forecast. The $147,800 is for field trips, which is approximately the same as in the forecast, and $24 million is for teachers salaries, up four percent from the 1990-91 forecast of $23 million. This reflects merit increases and additional teachers. There is $47,000 for correspondence courses, a 47 percent increase over the 1990-91 forecast of $32,000. This reflects a change in rates charged by the British Columbia correspondence branch.
For program support in the public schools branch program support and development, $1,860,000 is requested, which is an increase of 16 percent over the 1990-91 forecast of $1,556,000. This area is devoted to curriculum. It includes $49,000 for professional development. The training this coming year will focus on new curriculum initiatives. There is $243,000 for locally developed curriculum. This area now includes native culture and curriculum development as well as locally developed courses, such as the popular wilderness 10 program that I know the Members are aware of. The $93,600 for education computing is an increase of approximately eight percent over the 1990-91 forecast. And there is $700,700 for curriculum specialists and support staff, which is a small increase over the forecast for 1990-91. It reflects the addition of a consultant for the intermediate program.
The $1,380,000 requested for the French language program is a small increase over the 1990-91 forecast. The highlights include $108,000 for French immersion, reflecting an increase to establish a new lead year at F.H.Collins. French Immersion will now be available from kindergarten to grade 11. The $113,000 for French monitors is an increase of about seven percent over the 1990-91 forecast. It reflects the addition of one monitor for a total now of five. The $62,500 for professional development represents a seven percent increase over the 1990-91 forecast, and there is $75,700 for adult language classes. In special programs, $1,157,000 is being requested and this is a significant increase over the 1990-91 forecast of $909,000.
This also reflects the governments commitment to providing student assessment and support programs in the area of special needs. I should bring this amount to the Members attention. The $302,326 is for a wide variety of services for special needs students, including supervision and instruction of home-bound students, outside assessments by specialists, handbooks for teacher aides - one is on suicide prevention and the other is a resource materials catalogue that will be developed - financial support for the Child Development Centre and support for the Association of Community Living and the Learning Disabilities Association as well, for things like the summer camp.
There is $54,800 for professional development, including inservices for learning assistance teachers, guidance counsellors, teacher aids, special education teachers and regular classroom teachers.
There is $127,819 for school support services, such as educational materials for resource rooms, learning assistance teachers and teachers in the challenge program. There is $204,000 for the hiring of educational psychologists and the purchase of assessment and counselling materials.
There is $189,000 for alternative programs, such as the pass program and the teen parent program. There is $101,000 for hiring the speech language pathologist and the purchase of support materials. There is $76,000 for materials and resources for the visually, hearing and behaviorally impaired. There is $87,000 for occupational and physical therapy.
Under the public schools branch, facilities and transportation, $5,159,000 is requested, which is a small decrease from this years forecast.
There is $101,000 requested for administration, which is a decrease from the 1990-91 forecast of $196,000, reflecting the facilities manager person year, to be funded from the capital budget.
There is $2,334,000 for busing contracts, which is a 10 percent increase over the 1990-91 forecast of $1,116,000.
This reflects the addition of four and one-half buses during 1990-91 and new special education transportation requirements.
A total of $11,305,000 is identified in the 1991-92 budget for capital projects in this branch. There is $10,580,000 being requested, for a total of 13 project areas. The significance is $3.7 million for the construction of a new elementary school to serve the Granger area, including McIntyre and Hillcrest subdivisions. This is a four-year project with a total budget of $9.5 million, of which $3.6 million has been voted so far.
There is $2.6 million to plan, design and construct a new elementary school in the Porter Creek area. This is a multi-year project with a total budget of approximately $6.5 million, of which $100,000 was voted in the current year. There is $2.3 million slated for the upgrade/expansion of the Watson Lake Secondary School. This is a multi-year project, with a total projected budget of approximately $9 million. By the end of this project, about 80 percent of the existing school will have been replaced, and the remainder renovated.
There is $500,000 for capital maintenance repairs, which is an ongoing program of major preventive capital maintenance repairs on Yukon schools. There is $400,000 for miscellaneous school facilities alterations, which is an ongoing program to provide changes in the facility layout that improve the instructional and administrative space in Yukon schools. There is $250,000 for grounds improvements, which is an ongoing program in all schools.
Slated for the coming fiscal year are projects such as the installation of a playing field and landscaping at Golden Horn Elementary School, and playground upgrading at Takhini and Whitehorse Elementary Schools. There is $200,000 for upgrading at Del Van Gorder School. The administrative area and the south entrance boot room are to be renovated, and a new computer lab installed during 1991-92. This concludes a three-year program that included the restoration and renovation of the gymnasium and library.
There is $150,000 slated for air quality. This is a new program that is likely to be an ongoing program to meet new air quality and ventilation standards for Yukon schools.
There is $125,000 slated for upgrading and renovations to the Jack Hulland Elementary School, including the completion of window replacement and exterior painting. This year will be the final year of the four-year upgrading program where a total of $700,000 has been voted so far.
There is $100,000 slated for the South Highway School, or the Golden Horn Elementary School, for site upgrading and playground development.
There is $100,000 for planning, design and construction of a new school to replace the current Mayo community school facility. The 1991-92 year is the first year of a four-year program with planning being the primary activity.
There is $75,000 slated to upgrade and renovate the Selkirk Elementary School. This includes completion of renovations to the classrooms in the old wing that began this year. So far, a total of $250,000 has been voted for this three-year program.
There has been $30,000 slated for installing a computer lab in the St. Elias Community School. This is an ongoing program of renovations to accommodate the new computer sciences curriculum.
A total of $690,000 is being requested for instructional equipment. For public schools miscellaneous equipment is $500,000. There is $150,000 for instructional computers and $40,000 for special education. There is $35,000 requested for custodial equipment.
A total of $872,000 is being requested for grants administered by the public schools branch. These include $632,000 for the Yukon native teacher education program. You should note that the YNTEP is now the responsibility of the public school branch; it has moved from advanced education branch.
YNTEP is in its second year, providing aboriginal Yukon residents with the opportunity to obtain a university degree. It meets two needs: to increase the number of aboriginal teachers in the teaching workforce here, so as to fairly represent the cultural makeup of our population, and also to counter the ever-growing teacher shortage affecting parts of Canada.
A total of $157,000 is for school councils, as I mentioned: $55,000 for grants for relocation compensation for teachers transferring within the territory; $18,000 is for the student activities support program, such as the Encounter Canada and the interchange in Canadian studies program that I mentioned, and there is $10,000 for the innovations in teaching award.
In the public schools branch contributions section, $404,000 is for the native language program, to cover the costs of curriculum development research, et cetera. This decrease simply reflects the transfer of teachers who were associated with the program, to the public schools branch, from CYI. The sum of $155,000 is for the boarding subsidy for students living away from home while in the Yukon; $58,000 is for student transportation subsidies; $58,000 is for financial support for the Yukon Teachers Association, as per the collective agreement.
The figures that I have presented so far for the public schools branch translate into an average of direct expenditure of about $5,610 per student, which is approximately a five percent increase over the 1990-91 forecast of $5,341 per student. As is usual, there is a slightly higher average for rural students than for urban students. This reflects, obviously, the difference in economies of scale between urban and rural students.
A total of $14,084,000 is budgeted for the operation and maintenance for the advanced education branch. A total of 19 person years are identified within the branch, reflecting no change from 1990-91. The branch is being restructured in the wake of the conversion of Yukon College, to better meet the labour needs in the areas of research, planning and career development, training and support. The branch will continue to be responsible for student financial assistance and a new liaison responsibility with Yukon College.
Here are a few highlights. The Yukon College grant is $9,036,000. This is included in the administration of the branchs O&M budget. There is $1,125,000 for the Yukon Indian land claim as a result of the umbrella final agreement, which is to be used for training to aid the implementation of the claim. This is the second year of the departments involvement. In the current year, Members will know, there is a a quarter of a million dollars committed for the same purposes. The $41,412 for the annual summer student computer camp is slightly up from the forecast of 1990-91 to expand the programs expansion to include Watson Lake. The 19 percent decrease in the training programs budget from the 1990-91 forecast is a result of some restructuring and the phasing out of the in-house apprenticeship program and the decentralization of three person years allocated to the Career Services Centre to three new training and employment centres in Mayo, Haines Junction and Watson Lake respectively. Also, the Yukon teacher training program is now the responsibility of the public schools branch and is dealt with through a grant, so that is one major reason for the reduction.
There is $390,000 identified for the branchs capital projects, $200,000 to assist Yukon College in constructing a community campus in Haines Junction and $190,000 for furniture and equipment for Yukon College campuses and various computers, administrative equipment, et cetera.
Of the grants for advanced education, the branch is requesting a total of $11.8 million to be disbursed during 1991-92. The largest grant of $9,036,000 goes to Yukon College. The remainder includes $1,034,000 for post-secondary student grants, which are paid under the authority of the Student Financial Assistance Act; $568,000 for adult education general training allowance; and the $1,125,000 that I mentioned for the Yukon Indian land claims training implementation; $34,000 is for post-secondary student scholarships.
A total of $583,000 is requested to be used as contributions by the branch, including $114,000 for Project Wordpower; $159,000 is for the summer student career development program, which I mentioned earlier in some detail, along with $150,000 for the Canada/Yukon summer program, Challenge 1991. There is $152,000 for the apprentice incentive marketing program, or AIM.
For finance administration, a total of $1,062,000 is budgeted for operation and maintenance, which is a one percent increase over the forecast. The restructuring within the branch shifted budget dollars from the administration area to the finance and personnel unit. This includes moving the assistant director of finance to finance and personnel from administration, and shifting responsibility for the Education Act and education reform costs to the public schools branch from finance and administration.
A total of 16 person years are identified in the branch, an increase of 1.5 from 1991. One of those 1.5 is for a personnel manager position, reflecting increasing hiring responsibilities now held by the department and .5 person year for a personnel clerk. No monies are being requested in the 1991-92 budget for capital projects. As Members know, the only significant project in this area in the past has been the Yukon Arts Centre and this is now under construction.
In finance and administration grants, a total of $6,000 is being requested by the branch. This is to go to a number of organizations, including the Canadian Education Association. In libraries and archives, a total of $1.688 million is budgeted for operation & maintenance, a slight increase over the 1990-91 forecast of $1.664 million. A total of 25.82 person years are assigned to the branch. One is a new term person year from the capital program to be used for developing library displays for use around the territory. These new displays will be on the Alaska Highway and the Klondike gold rush, tying in with the upcoming anniversaries events.
There is $141,000 for technical services. This reflects a decrease from the 1990-91 forecast of $189,000 and reflects primarily the transfer of an employee to public libraries. The $507,000 is for Yukon Archives, an increase of eight percent over the forecast of $469,000, reflecting increased after-hours service to archives users. A total of $356,000 is identified in the 1991-92 budget for capital projects in the libraries and archives branch. This is a decrease, obviously a very dramatic decrease from the forecast in 1990-91 of $2,766,000. This, of course, is due primarily to the completion of the new archives facility.
Many of these projects are geared toward increasing public access to the libraries and archives branch services, such as relocating the audiovisual unit to the central public libraries area and increasing the size of the heavily used Whitehorse Public Library. There is $200,000 for the Whitehorse library development. As we mentioned in the supplementaries, the library will move into the space vacated by Yukon Archives and the technical services unit once it is renovated.
There is $15,000 for community library development. This includes the project of conversion of the card catalogue to computer access. There will also be some minor renovations in the Watson Lake Public Library.
Chair: I know this is all very valuable information. However, you have spoken well over the time limit for Committee of the Whole. You have spoken for about 40 minutes and the time limit is half an hour.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Perhaps, if the Members want to ask me a question about anything I can finish off my short remarks.
Mr. Devries: That was an interesting rundown. I think we can just clear it.
When I look at the overall figures for Education, am I correct in seeing that there is an actual decrease in capital and O&M of $4,700,000 this year?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The very first question stumped me. No.
I presume the Member is looking from the forecast of this year to the 1991-92 mains. A very large capital revote is included in the forecast for this year. If one wants to take a look at the mains to mains, or forecast operation and maintenance to mains, the Member will obviously see a fairly significant increase.
Mr. Devries: That is what I had done, but with revotes regardless, it is still spent this year. That is the way I was looking at it.
Last year, when we were going through the Education Act, we got the financial implications relating to Bill No. 29. When I look at curriculum on page 151, near the bottom it says, Locally developed curriculum - $170,000. According to this little flyer we got last year, the projections were $100,000. To me, this is what the Education Act was approved under; we thought it was going to cost about $100,000. Already we see a $70,000 increase in this line item. Perhaps other things have been added to it. Can the Minister explain that?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Yes. I believe I indicated when we were trying to provide financial consequences of the Education Act that we were attempting to ball park and catalogue all the various potential costs associated with the act. Because it is such a high priority area for us, in the budgeting process we have been able to secure additional funds to enhance this particular activity.
Believe me, if my colleagues would have let me, there would be more than $170,000 here.
Obviously, there are other priorities in this government, as well. Despite the fact that we cannot do everything we want, we have come a considerable distance. I believe this is a high-priority area. I do not believe that sufficient work has been done in the past, and I am more than happy to be able to provide this additional attention.
Mr. Devries: I can understand what the Minister is saying. At the same time, I think he recognizes it would be hard to get the kids to school if the buses did not have roads to travel on.
Last year, the projections were $100,000. When we see a figure of $170,000, we wonder how the projections can be that far out. If you look at the Yukon curriculum area, those projections are out by about $22,000 or $23,000.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: When we were putting together the projections for the Yukon Education Act, we were doing so knowing we were designing estimated projections 14 and 16 months in advance of the fiscal year. We cannot be perfect, but we try to be as accurate as we possibly can.
There is no question that there are many needs in this government for various things to happen. If one were to talk with any school council or interest group in this territory, local curriculum development is considered an essential element in improving the education system to make what is taught in the schools more relevant to the students being taught. One of the problems we have had in the past with the Yukon education system is that the curriculum has been considered to have foreign elements to the students here. The same terms of reference are not here; it is not as culturally relevant as it could be. Consequently, like every other jurisdiction in the country, they are putting a lot of effort into designing their own curriculum.
The B.C. curriculum is designed to be relevant to B.C. students; that is the reason why they have B.C. place names in the curriculum texts that they have. They make reference to B.C. events, B.C. places, B.C. history. They do that for a very good reason: they want it relevant to their own population, so that their own students will learn more quickly.
The same is true is for Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario - they all do the same and for very good reasons. We have not had the luxury to do it here - I should not call it a luxury, but we have not been able to do that here because we simply have been too small. One of the things that transpired during the Education Act review was that this was considered to be a critical area that needed attention. If the education system was going to be more relevant to Yukoners and Yukon students, then the curriculum should teach more about what is happening in the Yukon, what is Yukon history, and not relegate it to one simple course in grade 10 or something, but something that is throughout the Yukon curriculum. We have got some curriculum development projects, such as the Curragh mining project, where the mine in Faro and our curriculum branch are teaching students about mining and about open-pit activity at Curragh, so that they learn about what their own community is doing. They learn the scientific principles, the geological principles, but they are using their own community as the case study.
I have started discussions with the Klondike Placer Miners Association to do essentially the same kind of thing. We have got salmonoid in the classroom studies to teach people about the life cycle of salmon and many classes in the territory have got salmon spawning in their classrooms. The salmon are literally spawning in their classrooms. It is local and it is relevant. The salmon do not actually spawn in the classroom; the eggs are fertilized...
Some Hon. Member: I hope not; not in front of the children.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: We do the salmon-spawning routine very tastefully, with all due regard to the sensitivities of young tykes. Nevertheless, the whole point is that local curriculum development is not considered to be a luxury; it is considered to be a necessity if the system is going to be improved. So, if there was any way that I could enhance this figure, I would, and I come in and defend it because I think it is a worthwhile expenditure.
I realize that the government is responsible for a few other things and this is as much as we can find at the present time.
Mr. Devries: I find the salmonoid program interesting myself. I am not arguing about the value for dollars here. I am just arguing the fact that I was disappointed to see that last years projections and the actual figure we see this year are that far apart. That is the point I am trying to make. I do not think the $100,000 they were given last year is a very realistic figure, when we are giving them $170,000 this year. As the Minister is well aware, he basically repeated all the words I got from Shakir Alwarid a couple of weeks ago. I was quite impressed with some of the material about the curriculum they are developing. I am still patiently waiting to get some of the copies that they had promised me of some of the material so I can peruse it in more detail. I am sure that when they hear this debate upstairs they will be scrambling.
As for the salmonoid program, I talked to a teacher from the Watson Lake school about it recently and they are going to be hatching some there but they are kind of at a loss as to where to put them as we do not have any salmon that run up near Watson Lake. They were trying to get permission to put them in the Liard River but I do not think that would work all that well since to the best of my knowledge no salmon go up into the MacKenzie watershed to any great extent. I believe there are very few, if any. Although it might be interesting for the kids to introduce some and create a new industry for the MacKenzie.
Another question would be regarding the native teacher program. Something puzzles me here. We see $690,000 dedicated to the native teacher education program in the advanced education budget or whatever. Yet, when I look at Yukon Colleges budget they only spent $109,000 on native education and this was last year. I realize that budget we got from them is only for six months.
Is that program being significantly enhanced at Yukon College and is it the increased number that would possibly raise that to $300,000 for the next six months?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I have just one last comment on salmon in the local curriculum. The estimates we have provided for Members as a consequence of the Education Act were done prior to the budgetary process. Many different priorities were tested during the budgetary process. We were somewhat pessimistic about what we would be able to accomplish. I would certainly feel that the funding we have dedicated for this purpose is funding well received and will likely allow us to buy some copies of a book that I understand is coming out shortly and is the greatest thing since sliced salmon, describing the life cycle of the salmon, from a stream in the Yukon to the ocean and back.
The irony is that even though there may not be much salmon rearing going on in the Watson Lake area, for all intents and purposes, what many students in Whitehorse know is no more than what the students in Watson Lake know as they have not taken the time to understand what is going past this community through the Yukon River and have not really understand what their world is all about. Our curriculum in the schools has to be altered to reflect that knowledge.
There is considerable help being put together by others to enhance that knowledge. The book on salmon rearing that is coming will be a wonderful addition to libraries. There is also a book coming out on the heritage of the Mayo area that is another book that is being published outside government but will show up on public library shelves when it is finally printed.
The Yukon native teacher education program is now facing another year of increased numbers of students. Last year, we started off with between 10 and 15 students. Now, we will have another year with a new class coming in. So, we will have 25 to 30 students. The year after that, we will have 45 or 50 students, as we add more years to the complement.
There will be a time when we will have approximately four years, approximately 15 students per year, for a total of about 60 students in the program.
Mr. Devries: Has the Minister made any commitments for a teacher program in Yukon College - for non-native, or whatever?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: We have not come to a point where we can make an announcement yet, but we have been working with Simon Fraser University to undertake a program for all persons in the Yukon, non-native and native alike, to use what we provide at the university transfer level for the first two years but, also, to add a year or two of teacher training. We have not come to any conclusions on that program yet, so I am hesitant to divulge details.
I hope we will see a program come together for next September. If that comes about, in all likelihood we will have to seek reallocation within our budget to be able to accommodate it. It is a desire of the public schools branch to promote more teacher training. There have been lengthy discussions with Simon Fraser University to provide it.
Mr. Devries: Would those two programs slowly amalgamate over the years, or are we always going to have two distinct programs, like the native teachers program and the other one? Are the teachers in the other program going to get enough exposure to the cultural programs that the native teachers are getting so that, regardless of whether they are native or non-native, teachers would fit into the regular Yukon school environment?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Well, certainly I think it would be highly desirable for this other program, if it comes together, to also incorporate what other benefits the programming at Yukon College can provide. The northern studies program itself will act as a base for many of the teachers. Many teachers will go through the northern studies program, take their first two years of university and then take a third year of teacher training. They will, of course, receive a very large portion of their university training in learning about issues through northerners eyes, discussing things northern. I am sure that will ensure that the teachers, together with the practicum that will obviously be in Yukon schools, will be more than acclimatized to the Yukon.
Mr. Devries: I believe the Member from Riverdale North had a question regarding the outdoor program.
Mr. Phillips: I just have a few comments and questions on the Project Wild program the government has implemented in schools. It has been expressed to me by some teachers involved in the program that they have some concerns about the way the program is being taught in some areas. Although it is a very good program and wide in scope, the concern I am hearing is that they are not focussing as much as they could on user aspects of Project Wild - user groups such as hunters, fishermen and trappers. They are focussing more on the environmental aspect of it. Because many Yukoners do like to hunt and fish, especially in the native community, we should be focussing on that part of the program. I know there is a component in Project Wild that deals with user groups, but I just raise the concern that it could be interpreted a little differently.
The instructors, or people who are trained in Project Wild, should be encouraged to talk about the wise use of our resources, including hunting, fishing and trapping. After all, there are a lot of people in the territory who live here specifically for that purpose. I would encourage the government to insist that that part of the program be put forward in its training programs. I understand there are some very good instructors teaching the program in Yukon schools, but concern has been expressed that the user side of the program has not been emphasized as strongly as the non-user, protect-forever groups. We have to be conscious of both. Both have very good points to them, but we should not lose sight of the user side of it. I would like to raise that with the Minister to see if he has any comments on that, and if he is prepared to give that kind of direction to the instructors of Project Wild.
As a director of the Canadian Wildlife Federation who was involved initially with Project Wild and looked at the program for many, many years, I would like to say that it was designed specifically so the user-group portion could enter schools across Canada and the United States. There was a concern that only one side of the story was being told.
Project Wild allows all sides of the story to be told, and it allows children to participate in all sides of the story. My understanding is that is not happening in all cases. I ask the government to consider that aspect and possibly ensure that the instructors are conscious of that when they are teaching the program.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I thank the Member for the representation. I will admit to him that I have not heard that particular critique of Project Wild, but I will take the matter up with the department. The Department of Education does not have any particular aversion toward teaching about the consumptive aspects of hunting, fishing and trapping. As a matter of fact, there are some schools in the territory where elders and trappers are invited in and are, in fact, even paid to explain how to trap. They actually go on demonstrations to show how to set snares, how to trap and how to skin animals.
In Haines Junction this last year, there was even a video done in the school on how to skin small game animals. The students went out and snared their own rabbits. A skinning course was undertaken, and it was videotaped by the curriculum branch. It is now used elsewhere in the territory. It is actually quite a nice little video.
As Members may be aware, the wilderness program also has, as part of its curriculum, the hunting of large animals, the skinning and the dressing of the meat as part of the curriculum, where the students and teachers actually get lucky and are able to take advantage of some opportunity. In the past, for example, they took a moose one year and brought it into a community where some of the hunters showed them how to dress the meat, and then they have provided the meat to the local people and the elders.
As part of the program they learn biology, moose guts, the digestive tract and all that sort of thing. It is all part of the curriculum so certainly, as a matter of policy, there is no aversion to discussing or even teaching about this element of Yukon life. It is quite well supported. I will, with respect to the project, particularly take the matter up with the department to see what their emphasis is. I would agree with the Member that the emphasis should be balanced as well, if it is not right now.
Mr. Phillips: I support the type of programs that the Minister just described but I think the problem is that there is virtually just a handful of instructors who are taking the initiative to become involved with the students that way. There are a great many other instructors involved with Project Wild who are not getting as involved in the consumptive uses of wildlife as these particular people are. I think that is the concern I have. Probably 85 percent or 90 percent of the students are going through the program not talking an awful lot about consumptive use of wildlife, where the other 15 percent or so are getting a good exposure to it. What I am saying to the Minister is that it should be a 50/50 balance. People can be taught that wise use of wildlife is wildlife management and can be good for wildlife and the environment and that they should teach the children that. That is all I am suggesting to the Minister. I support the programs the Minister mentioned but I am concerned that it is not the norm. There are a few teachers who are doing that type of work and doing it very very well but they cannot possibly, in their programs, get to each and every student who is taking part in Project Wild. I just want the Minister to assure us that they will make a strong attempt to involve the consumptive use of wildlife in Project Wild and anything that Project Wild does or any other outdoor activity that the government wishes to involve students in in the territory. I think it is a good thing to do and the government should be moving in that direction.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Just so the Member is not left with the impression that we have not considered his remarks seriously, the Department of Education some time ago got direction that we wanted to enhance outdoor activities as part of not only physical education but the regular programming of students, recognizing full well that many teachers are not presently equipped to make good use of an outdoor classroom. In fact, many teachers were wary of moving into, basically, a new environment without background training. So, what we have done is to undertak a number of things in the past few years and some are included this year that I think are quite interesting or exciting. One of them is that the in-servicing for outdoor education was increased, but also we initiated and completed this year an outdoor education resource book for grades 5 to 9 to provide for suggested activities in studies in the outdoors. That was, I think, introduced last spring into the school system for the first time.
For those people who are not certain as to what they should be thinking about, we have set out something called a book on standards and guidelines for outdoor and high-risk activities. When you take 20 children into the bush, obviously they must be prepared for some risk. I think this has now been completed, but I would have to check with the department. Certainly, that, as well as the field book for outdoor pursuits that is in the classroom as well, introduced this year, are all designed to enhance and to encourage teachers to use the outside environment for education and not just the artificial, protected environment of the classroom.
This is all directed to encourage people to understand the world out there and that there are many different things to see, to do and to experience. There are pursuits, such as the ones the Member and I have been mentioning this afternoon that should be part of the curriculum, and this is a guide for teachers on how to go out and do it.
There is a great deal more of this kind of activity than there was two or three years ago. It is a very positive sign. It is a positive shift in where Yukons education system is going. We have anticipated this particular need and have been addressing it for several years now.
With respect to Project Wild, again, I have not previously heard this complaint but I will take it up with the department and ensure that this type of instruction is in keeping with the type of philosophy we have been applying in the past few years to our instruction: that it be balanced and encourage an appreciation of the outdoors.
Mr. Devries: I was trying to keep up with the Minister as he was rambling through the figures.
On page 144, there is a 35 percent increase in administration over the 1990-91 forecast. Is there something being restructured that gives us that high increase? It comes to about $792,000. Can the Minister give us a breakdown on what that change is?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Members are now in the public schools branch, specifically the administration section. As I have mentioned to the Member, there are some increases generally, and we will get into it more specifically when we get to line by line. The $438,000 associated with the Education Act is entirely allocated within that section. They include support for the education appeal tribunal, grants to school councils for secretary-treasurers, honoraria for school councils, and funding for professional development for school councils.
There will be merit increases, if I am reading it correctly. If we were to get to the line item, I am sure we could provide the Member with a more succinct explanation.
Mr. Devries: A lot of the people were afraid of this when school committees became school councils, but I am sure it will probably work out in the long run. Already, when a dispute arises within the school, they are realizing that the department is trying to get them to handle the situation. I agree this is a good thing, but I am afraid that, when we have the elections in February, it may be hard to come up with quality people who are willing to dedicate that kind of time to be on a school council.
Are there any suggestions being thrown around to help overcome some of these fears and encourage quality people to sit on these councils?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I may have misinterpreted what the Member said initially about the funding. It was in the administration section of the public schools branch. The major reason for this particular increase was the transfer of the teacher education program from advanced education to the public schools branch and it shows up in administration. I am sorry if I misled the Member there.
With respect to school councils, the Member will remember during the Education Act review and the public consultation, not only did people want parents and school administrators to resolve their own problems rather than have the big brother or sister Department of Education come in to tell them what to do, but it was also stated by many individuals and professionals that this act should define not only rights but also responsibilities. If you have the benefit of doing something positive, the right to make decisions, you have to take the responsibility for those decisions. It was essential that there be that cost to having the right to make decisions.
Clearly, if a community opts for something rather than a school council, then that is accommodated under the act. A community can continue to opt for a school committee. That is accommodated under the act. One can continue to opt for a school committee. The potential is there.
The thrust behind the act is to encourage parents to participate, to encourage parents to be involved in the decision-making process. In so saying, there is a recognition that they will need some administrative support and that is in the budget. They may need some compensation for having put in the time and to cover expenses and that is now in the budget. The Member will remember as a school committee member that he was not paid an honorarium. A school councillor is paid an honorarium to cover expenses; that is in the budget.
There is also professional development, which is a new provision in this budget this coming year. It is for the training of school councillors so they actually feel comfortable with the issues they are dealing with.
That will likely be a permanent feature of Educations budget, given the turnover of school committee members now.
Mr. Devries: The Minister mentioned the Mayo community school. Was this one of the recommendations in the Boreal study, that the school be built, or is it something new? I am not very familiar with the school. I understand it is about 20 years old.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Yes, the recommendation to construct a new school was in the Boreal report. It has not been acted upon as quickly as the Boreal report would suggest, but then the Boreal report did not have to worry about finding the money, either. The plan of action that I tabled in the House in 1987, for educational facilities, did include a new school for Mayo in the early 1990s, and that is what we are proposing to do here. This is the early 1990s and we are proposing, over a four-year period, to provide for a new community school. We are on time according to the timetable we established a couple of years ago but are not particularly on time for the Boreal report timetable.
The school itself is in the greatest disrepair of any school in the territory; I do not think there is much dispute about that. Given that it was a modular-unit school that was anticipated to be in existence for 15 years, it certainly has lived past expectations on that score and will continue to for the next four or five years, until the new one is built.
Mr. Devries: I still have one question regarding Yukon College that I had meant to ask the board of directors of Yukon College. This is from the statement of revenue and expenditures; it says During the period, the college delivered $564,000 worth of courses, which Canada Employment and Immigration Commission purchased from the Yukon government. Does this money go to YTG general revenue or does it go to Yukon College?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: If the Member is referring to CEIC course purchases at Yukon College, the situation will continue as it happens right now. The funding will come through YTG to the college for course purchases. That is my understanding. If the Member is commenting on other course purchases and general fee recovery, that would be received directly by the college and retained by the college.
Mr. Devries: I have no further general questions unless some of the other Members have some that they would like to ask.
Chair: Shall we proceed with line by line?
On Finance and Administration
On Operation & Maintenance
Administration in the amount of $526,000 agreed to
On Finance & Personnel
Finance & Personnel in the amount of $536,000 agreed to
Operation & Maintenance in the amount of $1,062,000 agreed to
Finance and Administration in the amount of $1,062,000 agreed to
Chair: Are there any questions on allotments and person year establishments?
On Public Schools
On Operation & Maintenance
Administration in the amount of $3,036,000 agreed to
On Program Delivery
Mr. Devries: Eventually, I guess this is where the teachers salaries will come into this once the union settlement has been completed; it will be an additional amount. I understand something is in black, but talking about it is still embargoed.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The teachers salaries will show up in program delivery. I understand that the Yukon Teachers Association may be going to ratification this week or completing the ratification this week if the teachers so decide. Then, shortly after that, we will know what the actual enhancement will be to this line item if they accept the proposal.
Mr. Nordling: Is there something in this line item already for that enhancement, or is it all contained in the $15 million surplus that we will be using?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There is nothing in this line item associated with a collective agreement increase. That would be part of the supplementary.
Program Delivery in the amount of $28,222,000 agreed to
On Program Support & Development
Program Support & Development in the amount of $1,806,000 agreed to
On French Language Program
Mr. Devries: Do all the rural schools now have French throughout the primary grades? In Watson Lake, I think it goes all the way to grade 7, or so. Is there a program in place now for schools that have that requested it?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I had the information in the supplementary. I will try to communicate with the Member as to exactly which schools have French language education and which do not. I believe there are a few schools that still do not have core French provided in grades 1-4.
French Language Program in the amount of $1,380,000 agreed to
On Special Programs
Mr. Devries: Under special programs, I believe the learning disabilities people have been lobbying the government for an additional room. There seems to be a difference of opinion on its necessity. Has anything developed on that?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Yes and no. The Learning Disabilities Association holds the view that some students need to be segregated in a special classroom for their own purposes and have actually made the request that we look into the feasibility of a separate school for learning-disabled students in Whitehorse.
The Education Act takes a different approach to assessing the needs of learning-disabled students. As the Member, I am sure, is aware, the first step is to determine what the needs are as opposed to considering segregation.
Essentially, rather than having a number of different receptacles - the segregated classroom, the mainstream classrooms, et cetera - and simply determining what classroom one is going to plunk the disabled student in, the focus is entirely different. Instead, the focus is initially through the school-based team to assess the needs of the child and determine what the child must have in order to experience a proper learning environment. In other words, what does it take for that child to learn and to have access to an appropriate education? Then, the focus is to provide the support services to that child to encourage that to happen.
We do not automatically determine that we need a segregated environment from first principles. Now, it may transpire over time that there are enough students who do require some segregation, and there may be a segregated environment - perhaps a special classroom, or even a special classroom for half a day. We only do that after we have done the assessment on each child to determine whether or not that would be providing the best enabling environment for the child.
So, at best, the call for segregated classrooms or a segregated school is premature. It is not really consistent with the philosophy of the act, which is to focus on the childs needs first, rather than focus on the creation of special classrooms or receptacles for the children.
Special Programs in the amount of $1,157,000 agreed to
On Facilities & Transportation
Mr. Devries: Have the increased fuel costs been factored into this line item or could this still be coming up?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: No, they have not. We are shortly to go out to tender on busing contracts. Anything can happen through the tendering process. The cost may go up or it may go down. If they go down we will not need any enhancement in this area for fuel. If they go up, obviously we will. We want to have the buses as competitive as possible to get the best possible price for this service. We will not really know until well into next year what the costs will be.
Facilities & Transportation in the amount of $5,159,000 agreed to
Operation & Maintenance in the amount of $40,760,000 agreed to
On Facility Construction and Maintenance
On Granger - Construct Elementary School
Hon. Mr. McDonald: We expect to go to tender in late February 1991. The structural design is completed. The detailed design and blueprint drawings are being undertaken now by the architect.
Granger - Construct Elementary School in the amount of $3,700,000 agreed to
On Jack Hulland - Upgrade/Renovate
Jack Hulland - Upgrade/Renovate in the amount of $125,000 agreed to
On Selkirk - Upgrade/and Renovate
Selkirk - Upgrade and Renovate in the amount of $75,000 agreed to
On Grounds Improvement
Mr. Devries: Could we have a breakdown on that?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I indicated to Members that the major projects are going to be the Golden Horn Elementary School, which will be approximately $100,000 altogether, and the Takhini Elementary School, as well as routine grounds maintenance for all schools throughout the territory.
Grounds Improvement in the amount of $250,000 agreed to
On Install Computer Labs
Hon. Mr. McDonald: This is for the St. Elias School.
Install Computer Labs in the amount of $30,000 agreed to
On Miscellaneous School Facilities Alterations
Hon. Mr. McDonald: These are priorized around this time of the year and in the early spring every year by the school administration and the now-to-be school councils. For some years now, we have not established the exact projects to be undertaken. In the past, the school committees have considered that not to be a good practice.
This figure is based on what we consider to be an appropriate level for next year. It is a little less than usual. The forecast includes a lot of revotes, and we feel that will be sufficient for the coming year.
Miscellaneous School Facilities Alterations in the amount of $400,000 agreed to
On Del Van Gorder - Upgrade
Del Van Gorder - Upgrade in the amount of $200,000 agreed to
On Porter Creek Ele. Schools - Construction
Porter Creek Ele. Schools - Construction in the amount of $2,650,000 agreed to
On South Highway School - Construction & Design
South Highway School - Construction & Design in the amount of $100,000 agreed to
On Watson Lake Secondary - Upgrade/Expansion
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Member for Watson Lake is very well aware of what the design is. It is expected to go to tender in December. I am hoping, because I have been telling everybody it is expected to go in December, that it actually does go to tender in December. That is not entirely in my hands. Of course, this includes reconstruction of the school. I believe that in the end the school will be about 25 percent larger than it currently is. The incremental increased costs and O&M associated with this school are expected to the $140,000 range because of the increased size. There are additional costs of $57,000, though they will not borne in this particular year of course, because it will be under construction in this particular year. In the end, the custodial costs will be in the range of $57,000, custodial supplies $4,500, utilities approximately $70,000, building maintenance approximately $7,600, for a total of approximately $140,000 per year. The utilities consumption is not expected to increase that much largely because the heating system will be improved and the building envelope itself will be more energy efficient.
Mr. Devries: Is there still any talk of trying to utilize the heating system from the Yukon Electrical plant to heat the school or is that no longer being considered?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: As I indicated before, we did design into the Watson Lake School the capacity to accept an external heating source. That is as much as we can do now until something comes together with respect to alternate heating. The school did commit itself, if there was a need for a different heating source, to receive heat from that source.
My understanding is that, if there is an alternate heating source in Watson Lake, the school will be able to accommodate it. If I am wrong, I will let the Member know as soon as possible.
Watson Lake Secondary - Upgrade/Expansion in the amount of $2,300,000 agreed to
On Mayo Community School
Mr. Lang: I would like more explanation on this as we are voting in principle on $7.5 million in total for the estimated cost of this particular project, according to the information I have. Perhaps the Minister can tell us what major problems were encountered with the present facility.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I probably spent about 15 minutes explaining this a few minutes ago, but I will run down the list again. The Boreal report in 1986 identified that the Mayo Community School was nearing the end of its useful life. There were very significant maintenance costs associated with the school. There was significant concern expressed not only by the community but the school council, administration and teachers that the school was, in colloquial terms, falling apart. The suggestion was made that because the school was a modular design and because it was never intended to last a long time, I believe the Boreal report indicated that Mayo should have a new school constructed.
In 1987, the government responded through a rural school needs education facility study that we could not meet the expectations in the Boreal report in terms of providing a school as soon as they had recommended but that we would provide for a school in the early 1990s. This is now the early 1990s and the school would be constructed approximately four years from now. While we are not meeting the expectations of the Boreal report, we are still within the ball park of providing for new school facilities there. The same is true for other facilities such as the community learning centre that has expressed an interest in new facilities. They would be accommodated in the community school. That, in general terms, is the justification for the new school. The school is in pretty rough shape, and there have been a number of requests on record over the years to have it replaced. We have responded through maintenance programs and indicated that, by 1994-95, a school will be constructed. We have indicated, too, that we have to spread it out over a longer period of time than we otherwise would with the schools we are constructing now largely because we anticipate tighter budgets. Consequently, we cannot attempt to build all in one year.
We are making the commitment to proceed and do feel that this school is probably in the worst shape of any school in the territory and this is the next school that will be built. Old Crow is in need of improved facilities and its time will come, as will Ross Rivers and others. This school is facing significant difficulties. Consequently we are moving on it. We could not move on it as quickly as the community has expected, but the commitment still stands and we will get to it.
Mr. Lang: Will a new gym be included in this proposal or will we be able to utilize the gym that is presently there?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I believe it will include a new gym. It would be interesting to see if the old gym can be salvaged because that old gym was the last relic from the previous school that burned down, except for the gym. The old gym was salvaged and attached to the modular school that was built in 1976. So the gym has some historic value to it. I do not know if the teachers and school committee think it is worth salvaging, but it would be interesting to see whether or not it could be.
Chair: The Committee will now take a break.
Chair: I will call Committee back to order. We are on Mayo Community School.
Mayo Community School in the amount of $100,000 agreed to
On Capital Maintenance Repairs
Capital Maintenance Repairs in the amount of $500,000 agreed to
On Air Quality
Air Quality in the amount of $150,000 agreed to
On Instructional Equipment
On Public School Miscellaneous Equipment
Public Schools Miscellaneous Equipment in the amount of $500,000 agreed to
On Instructional Computers
Instructional Computers in the amount of $150,000 agreed to
On Special Education
Special Education in the amount of $40,000 agreed to
On Custodial Equipment
Custodial Equipment in the amount of $35,000 agreed to
Capital in the amount of $11,305,000 agreed to
Public Schools in the amount of $52,065,000 agreed to
Chair: Are there any questions on allotments or person year establishments?
On Advanced Education
On Operation & Maintenance
Administration in the amount of $10,414,000 agreed to
On Planning & Support Services
Planning & Support Services in the amount of $2,711,000 agreed to
On Training Programs
Mr. Lang: I want to raise a question about the utilization of Yukon College for the purposes of social events. Does the policy of no liquor in government facilities apply in that facility?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: They have their own user policy. I believe the president, or chair of the board, promised he would provide to whomever asked the question the user policy itself.
Mr. Lang: I do not think it is quite that simple. That is a government-owned building. We do pay the maintenance and costs associated with it. I notice that there are a number of social events taking place there and question what we are doing as a government in setting up an institution where liquor is being served and obviously going into competition with other existing facilities. I would like to hear the comments of the Minister on that. Does he agree that that activity should be permitted in government-owned buildings?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It is my position that the college should determine what goes on in the college. The college board should establish their own user policies.
With respect to government facilities such as schools, we have generally taken the position of not permitting liquor. There have been, I believe, a couple of exceptions in the past five years. In every case, they have always been approved by a local school council.
I have to check on that with respect to public schools but my position with respect to the college is that even though the facility is owned by the Government of Yukon, the college board determines what goes on inside that building, not us.
Mr. Lang: Maybe what you are saying is that you do not have an opinion one way or the other, and I am just curious how this ties in with the alcohol and drug program administered by the government, as well. I find it interesting that we are building facilities and then, in turn, permitting liquor to be sold in them, when at the same time, we know that is probably one of the greatest problems we face here in the territory, as far as our people are concerned and specifically our young people. I really question whether we are doing the right thing in permitting this to happen from two points of view. First of all, I do not think anybody who is in the business of providing facilities for the purposes of dances and this type of thing thought that the Yukon College would be going into competition with them. Secondly, I think, probably just as important, if not more important, from the social aspect, is the question of alcohol being served in a public facility and what kind of effect it has upon our young people. It is just a case, once again, of a contradiction in terms, with the government on one hand saying people should not over-indulge or imbibe at all, and at the same time we are saying go ahead and use the facility for the purposes of selling liquor.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am certain that the public would consider some actions of the government inconsistent on that score. It is, after all, the government who sells them the liquor in the first place; it is a public facility. Throughout the territory, on the basis that costs are equalized, unlike any other things that might be considered staples, a bottle of rye would cost you the same in Dawson City as it will in Watson Lake or as it will in Whitehorse. People will wonder about the governments priorities there. They will wonder about our alcohol and drug programs when we are the only purveyors of alcohol in the entire territory. By law, we are the only ones allowed to sell it and we do sell it quite aggressively. We do a good job of selling it, too.
As a matter of general policy with respect to public schools, we have taken the position that we avoid the use of liquor in public buildings for which we have responsibility.
Our formal position, with respect to college matters, is that the college determines their own user policies with facilities we have charged them to run.
I cannot really add much more to that. I hear what the Member is saying and, despite the position I may have, I believe the stronger principle, and the one I have been fighting to preserve over the last 12 months, is one where the college board is considered to be an independent board. I vigorously defend that against those who wish for me to interfere in their affairs. I will not do that.
Training Programs in the amount of $959,000 agreed to
Operation & Maintenance in the amount of $14,084,000 agreed to
On Yukon College
On Construction and Maintenance
On Community Campus - Construction
Community Campus - Construction in the amount of $200,000 agreed to
On Whitehorse Campus Equipment
On Furniture & Equipment
Mr. Devries: With the college having been completed for only a short time, this seems to be an awful lot of money for furniture and equipment for the Whitehorse campus. Does the Minister have a breakdown of what has happened? Have programs been switched around to the point of furniture being replaced?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: We did not toss out the equipment from the Old Yukon College. We have it up at the new Yukon College, and there is wear and tear on that equipment. There is replacement of computers, printers, typewriters, welding equipment and whatever is necessary. We provide $150,000 per year right now for instructional computers for public schools. Similarly, the college provides updating of its equipment, as well, so they always remain current and well equipped.
This is a figure I believe is slightly less than that which was historic, but it is still sufficient to meet the needs.
Furniture & Equipment in the amount of $190,000 agreed to
Capital in the amount of $390,000 agreed to
Advanced Education in the amount of $14,474,000 agreed to
Chair: Are there any questions on allotments and person year establishment?
Mr. Devries: Could we stop at page 159 for a moment? I have questions regarding the bottom paragraph. I should have caught it while we were on training courses.
In the bottom paragraph, there seems to be a concern regarding trades. Does the government have a strategy to address this problem? It says, Indications from trade advisory committees and employers, however, are that the courses are important to the development of skill levels of Yukon tradespeople.
In the beginning, they indicate that the budget dollars have to be increased to maintain the existing number of courses and, from the looks of it, that is not being done.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Could the Member just expand on the point he is making?
Mr. Devries: It seems like there is a concern in the paragraph that there will not be as many courses available - the number of courses delivered under the budgeted dollars will be reduced because of the significantly higher costs; also a strong job market has reduced the number of tradespeople who are available to give the courses. Does the government have any strategy to make sure that these courses are still made available at the level they are presently?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Firstly, as the Member will note, we are not intending to do anything differently than we have been doing in the current year. What often happens is in years when the economy is less vital, people opt to take courses at school and enrollments consequently rise. At times when the job market is expected to be good and there are lots of jobs available, people spend most of their time working and not looking for updating. When they feel insecure, they look to updating to improve the marketability of their skills. So it is not so much a question of how expensive the courses are as it is whether or not the local people are interested in taking the courses. It is true though that the courses are more expensive. Consequently, to go back to giving the number of courses offered in prior years when the economy was less buoyant would cost more money.
On Libraries and Archives
On Operation & Maintenance
Administration in the amount of $210,000 agreed to
On Technical Services
Technical Services in the amount of $141,000 agreed to
On Public Library Services
Public Library Services in the amount of $830,000 agreed to
On Yukon Archives
Yukon Archives in the amount of $507,000 agreed to
Operation & Maintenance in the amount of $1,688,000 agreed to
On Library Facilities
On Whitehorse Library Development
Whitehorse Library Development in the amount of $200,000 agreed to
On Community Library Development
Mr. Phelps: I would like to know why there is a drastic reduction? Did something happen last year that was special?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I believe the Member means the current year. I am trying to work from memory. I will seek the information on what we actually did in the current year.
We had funds for Teslin, but I will check the information for equipment, et cetera. If we choose to target a particular library we generally have funds in the neighbourhood of $50,000 or more. One year I believe we went up to $110,000 or $115,000 because the Carcross library cost more than we thought it would cost, because Government Services took over the project.
The year before, we had targeted the Ross River library. Otherwise, we generally have a small amount for furniture and equipment replacement for all the community libraries. That is what the $15,000 is for. We have not targeted any particular library for special work in the coming year.
As I mentioned in the opening remarks, we have a small amount targeted for Watson Lake renovations. That was $2,000.
A major element of the $15,000 is for the purposes of automating the library systems. The Member may remember the Premier behind some computer terminals in a photo in the paper showing how wonderful it is, from one computer console, to determine everything there is in the librarys collection.
We are extending that to all branch libraries so that one can look up, in Watson Lake or Dawson, what every volume in the Yukon librarys collection actually is, what community library it is in if you want to transfer it, and whether or not it is out on loan.
This is all to help in the transfer of books so that the expensive, time-consuming paper process of getting a book transferred from Whitehorse to Dawson can be shortened to a matter of seconds in terms of making the decision about what the transfer involves. That is what the $9,000 was for. The $3,000 is to replace furniture and the $1,000 is for two printers for the public library so that one could print out items that one can see from the computer screen are in the catalogue. For example, if a person wanted to look up a particular volume in the library, it can be seen on the computer screen. The printers can provide this information on a piece of paper.
Community Library Development in the amount of $15,000 agreed to
On Library Equipment
On Branch Library Equipment
Branch Library Equipment in the amount of $20,000 agreed to
On Audio Visual Equipment
Audio Visual Equipment in the amount of $20,000 agreed to
On Library Equipment
Library Equipment in the amount of $10,000 agreed to
On Archival Facilities
On Archive Relocation - Equip & Furn.
Archive Relocation - Equip. & Furn. in the amount of $60,000 agreed to
On Display Preparation and Maintenance
Display Preparation and Maintenance in the amount of $20,000 agreed to
On Conversion of Film to Video
Conversion of Film to Video in the amount of $11,000 agreed to
Capital in the amount of $356,000 agreed to
Libraries and Archives in the amount of $2,044,000 agreed to
Department of Education agreed to
Department of Finance
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I have just a few brief notes for the Department of Finance, which requires $4,467,000 for the 1991-92 fiscal year.
This a represents a four-percent increase over the forecast of 1990-91. The budget reflects no significant change in the departments operations. The principal difference from the previous year is the addition of another payroll clerk to the branchs staff complement. The additional payroll clerk is needed to meet the increased workload as a result of the introduction of the auxiliary collective agreement. This contract has substantially increased the workload of the unit. Since its adoption, the department has had to cover the office workload with casual personnel under the vacancy dollars. This, however, was only a temporary solution and the position must be regularized.
The only other change of significance is the conversion of the manager of accounting services position from term to indeterminate. The governments operations are growing ever more complex. As devolution and the land claim proceed, there will be an ongoing requirement for this person year. The revenues carried in the department show an increase of approximately $1 million. This is made up of a volume increase in personnel and corporate income tax. Other taxes are roughly $1.7 million offset by a $700,000 decrease in investment income. The reduction in investment income is generally the result of protected lower interest rates, which we are finally beginning to see. To make up for my long remarks on Education, I will be brief with Finance.
Mr. Phelps: I think the Minister should be commended for keeping his remarks brief, meaning brief as we understand the term.
I have just a few questions for general debate. Many of them arise, in part, from comments made in the Report on Other Matters tabled today in the Legislature.
To begin with, I am curious with regard to the preparations made to cost out our actual cost of implementing and negotiating land claims in some of the departments. In the Report on Other Matters, in the Department of Tourism and in the Department of Renewable Resources, it was noted that the Yukon government has agreed in principle to absorb a specified level of the costs of carrying out land claim settlements.
This government will contribute the first $6,750,000 toward land claims. Costs beyond this amount incurred by YTG may be reimbursable by the federal government. The Auditor General points out that it is easy to identify costs when an individual works on land claims, or when a project is devoted exclusively to land claims. More often than not, staff spend time on an as-needed, or ad hoc, basis from time to time, when unexpected aspects of land claims are raised in negotiations. It finally says that if costs incurred cannot be identified, the government runs the risk of not recovering funds from the federal government.
What is the government, and this department, doing in working with the line departments in order to determine the amounts that are being spent in land claim negotiation and implementation?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: As the Member will remember from a little more than a year back, we added one position in Finance to deal exclusively with the devolution of land claims to help departments to identify those costs and separate out the costs associated with negotiating land claims, versus costs written into the agreement that the Yukon would bear, versus what we will call implementation costs.
Costs associated with negotiating are our responsibility. Any backup work that the negotiators require in line departments is our responsibility. We do not expect to recover those costs, in general terms. The costs that are identified in the final agreement as our costs we will also bear.
The implementation costs are the costs that we must identify and seek agreement from the federal government that they will reimburse us. We have taken the position that they should all be reimbursed. We have some agreement in principle that they should be reimbursed. The proof will obviously be in the collection. The difficulty comes when one interprets some costs as being negotiation costs and others may be considered as implementation costs. This is a very difficult process and the initial position of the federal government is that perhaps we should bear those costs.
We have agreed to a process for determining those costs. Each relevant Minister can explain it better than I. The responsibility of the Department of Finance is firstly to identify those costs where it can, and sometimes they are not easy to identify because categorization may be quite difficult and to ensure those are listed for recovery when the time ultimately comes for the federal government to be paid.
Mr. Phelps: Is the Minister confident that the definition of those costs that will be reimbursed is clear to both sides? I note that the language used by the Auditor General is cost beyond this amount, referring to the $6.75 million incurred by the Yukon Government may be reimbursable. Is there some understanding of what is and is not reimbursable?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I will share some optimism and some pessimism with the Member. We have not yet come to what I consider to be a satisfactory conclusion with respect to the definition of implementation costs. We are still fighting very hard to get such a definition established. I understand from my counterpart in the Northwest Territories that they have had some difficulty because of unclear wording. They have had some problems receiving all they expected to receive under their first land claims settlement.
However, I am confident that, once the definition is defined, the federal government will pay. I am confident because they say they will and, when we both agree on what they will pay for, they will pay, but we have not yet come to a finalized wording yet. I hope we can shortly.
Mr. Phelps: The Minister has spoken about the need to break out the implementation costs, according to the definition, for the obvious reason of being able to recover those from the federal government in due course. Will it not also be practical to break out negotiation costs by the line departments, in particular? My experience is that, quite often, operation and maintenance costs in line departments often arise because, suddenly, they are forced into negotiations. This does not reflect their ongoing needs or costs for normal functions.
Has there been a carried total for land claims negotiation costs on a department-by-department basis?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The answer is yes, we do make it a practice to try to identify departmental negotiating costs, where they can be identified, largely because, once the negotiations are complete, we intend to seek this money back. We are not breeding long-term and ongoing expectations in departmental votes for these responsibilities. We do it when they are approved. We identify them with the intention of seizing payment after the negotiations are complete. Each line Minister can identify those.
The Department of Education is covering those costs from within, meaning we will ensure that the people who are charged with Educations input into the negotiations will have their own work schedules amended to permit them to fully participate in negotiations. There are some other departments that cannot operate so simply, where there is a great deal of technical information and negotiating support that is required, and Renewable Resources is one.
If the Member wishes, each Minister can explain what they have specifically allocated for negotiations.
Mr. Phelps: The other area I wanted to canvass briefly is touched on in the report on Other Matters by the Auditor General. It has to do with the issue of cyclical budget reviews. We did have some discussion about this in the supplementaries.
I mentioned my concern about basing the budget requirements for departments partly on what they used in the previous year, and the obvious temptation to spend all their monies so it would be easier to defend the ensuing years budget because all the money was required in the previous year. We had a lengthy debate about that. It is interesting that the Auditor General has suggested that certain departments, in conjunction with the Department of Finance, should consider preparing their budgets using a zero-base technique or using a sunset clause and defend why you need any money next year. I am wondering whether or not the Department of Finance has been working with any of the line departments on this issue and if so, which departments, and how is it going?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I realize that, conceptually, for the Auditor General and others, a zero-based budget review is highly desirable and something worth promoting. Having been involved in something like a zero-based review, I can only tell the Member that they are extremely complex and extraordinarily time consuming and do not always produce the results one might expect.
The approach we have opted for, and hope to refine this coming year, will be initiated this year; it was to review budget submissions through the expenditure review group, which I announced last year that we will be proceeding with. I am not sure if the Member is familiar with it. It would supplement the existing program evaluation process, which admittedly has not been as successful as I would like.
The expenditure review is not only to catalogue those approvals that are made in the past and to institutionally recall the justification made for certain increases. The original justification is to come back and provide appropriate advice to decision makers when further supplementaries are requested. It also allows the decision makers at the Management Board level to identify where there have been significant under expenditures in previous years.
It has not been an uncommon practice in the past for a department to build up expenditures in one particular program area that it considers to be its priority and take expenditures from a branch that it knows to be the governments priority and then go the next year looking for extra expenditures in the branch that it knows to be the governments priority, expecting to receive the additional expenditure. So, the challenge for expenditure review is to track those spending patterns within departments to determine whether or not, on an ongoing basis, the expenditures have been made in accordance with priorities established by the government and in this Legislature.
I am sure the Member will know that it is not always a perfect fit. The expenditure review has reviewed supplementaries this year, through a refinement of the process that we have undertaken so far, that we may have a better review process in the coming year. One of the major projects for the Department of Finance would be to improve the process.
Chair: The time being 5:30, the Committee will take a recess.
Chair: I will call the Committee to order again.
We are on general debate on Finance.
Mr. Phelps: It is interesting to know that the Department of Finance is trying to improve matters in this regard; however, the recommendation of the Auditor General stated, The Department should, in consultation with the Department of Finance, simplify the existing budgetary process and use the available time to carry out analysis of program efficiency and effectiveness. One way is for the department to carry out cyclical sunset review of its activities. Sorry, that was the recommendation for the Department of Renewable Resources. I guess I am not clear as to whether or not the Minister totally disagrees with the recommendation or feels that it can be partially implemented or exactly what the stand is.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I guess my own view is that the zero-based budgeting approach that had been undertaken in the early 1980s was a very complicated, time-consuming, very expensive process that did not produce identifiable savings.
The approach that we prefer to take is on a program-by-program basis, rather than on a department-wide basis. Inasmuch as the Auditor Generals recommendation may suggest sunsetting- or zero-based budgeting on the basis of program-by-program analysis, then I think that we will have some common ground. But the desire to have department-wide audits, which would provide hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of hours of analysis and work by the departments putting forward the rationale for their programs, when our experience has not been altogether fruitful, I think would not be the best approach. The sorts of things that I was talking about before the dinner break, I think can prove to be quite a useful approach as an ongoing exercise, in order to keep departments on their toes when it comes to making expenditure requests, and even to continue justifying doing some of the things that they are doing. I would prefer that approach.
Another problem with the zero-based budgeting approach is that because of the sheer magnitude of the project, quite often departments feel that they do not have to justify their existence for years and years in a row, because they are not scheduled to be up for the review; if they had one last year they are not scheduled for another review until 1997, so they feel that nobody is watching.
That is not the message we would like to send. We are refining even further what we are doing this coming year through expenditure review to analyze budget requests and supplementaries in order to keep departments on their toes. We will also do some mini evaluations of various elements of programs that we have not identified at this time, but we will early in January. That will provide some practical results. Most of the program evaluation undertaken here and big zero-based reviews have not produced savings. In some cases there have even been demands for more resources in order to maintain existing services. That is not what we originally had in mind when we initiated the exercise.
Mr. Phelps: I asked my questions in general debate.
Chair: We will proceed line by line.
On Operation & Maintenance
Administration in the amount of $334,000 agreed to
On Financial Operations & Revenue Services
Mr. Phelps: Does the Minister have any comments to make as we go through?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Not particularly. The department budget is exactly the same with exception of the one person year that I mentioned, so it is not really an exciting department in terms of program initiatives, so I do not have much to crow about here.
Mr. Phelps: I guess the Minister feels he can survive a zero-base exercise.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: If we can keep the evaluators awake, I am sure they can use it.
Financial Operations & Revenue Services in the amount of $1,709,000 agreed to
On Budgets and Fiscal Relations
Budgets and Fiscal Relations in the amount of $692,000 agreed to
On Management Board Secretariat
Management Board Secretariat in the amount of $299,000 agreed to
On Public Utilities Transfer
Public Utilities Transfer in the amount of $992,000 agreed to
Operation & Maintenance in the amount of $4,026,000 agreed to
Treasury in the amount of $4,026,000 agreed to
Chair: Any questions on the next two pages?
On WCB Supplementary Benefits
On Operation & Maintenance
On Supplementary Pensions
Supplementary Pensions in the amount of $374,000 agreed to
WCB Supplementary Benefits in the amount of $374,000 agreed to
Chair: Are there any questions on allotments or person year establishment?
On Allowance for Bad Debts
On Operation & Maintenance
On Allowance for Bad Debts
Allowance for Bad Debts in the amount of $67,000 agreed to
Chair: Are there any questions on allotments or person year establishment?
On Prior Period Adjustments
Prior Period Adjustments in the amount of $1.00 agreed to
Department of Finance in the amount of $4,467,000 agreed to
Department of Government Services
Chair: Is there any general debate?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The budget for Government Services consists of just over $18 million in operations expenditure, with a capital expenditure of $4.6 million and recoveries in the amount of $143,000 for operation and maintenance and $531,000 for capital.
The department provides support services to all of the rest of the government. It does so by managing and coordinating the acquisition of all the goods and common services, and provides accommodations for other departments in the government.
We have structured this budget with a high consciousness to the principal goals of the government. Essentially, those are providing good government, investing in healthy communities and encouraging sustainable development with respect for the environment.
We feel we have spent a considerable amount of time planning for the activities this department is engaged in. In particular, we have developed a careful strategy in the areas of office space and building maintenance. In this budget, we take our first major step in implementing the office space strategy I tabled last spring.
In addition, this budget will reflect another initiative of ours - a planned preventive maintenance program. In short, we have taken a conscious step to preserve the assets that we do have. Finally, we are also taking several steps toward the governments commitment in the environment and we demonstrate through this budget a number of instances of reducing, reusing and recycling.
A portion of the budget increases in the department because of office space. This, in particular, includes funds for the lease of the Old Yukon College, as well as some additional office space required in the communities. As Members are aware, the Department of Education is going to be relocated and consolidated in the Old Yukon College building once the renovations are complete. In previous debate, we indicated that those renovations are expected to be concluded by the fall of 1991. The cost of the renovations and the 20-year lease that the government has agreed to with the Yukon Development Corporation provide for cost savings in the long term. We feel that we are not only reusing an existing building on prime property, but we have been able to fix a lease price over the 20 years of that lease for considerable savings to the government.
This fixed cost, I believe, compares very favourably with the current market rates, where we have seen, in the last 15 years alone, an increase of some 300 percent in the price we pay for office space.
As part of the decentralization initiative, we are implementing a plan for office space in the communities. Our plan has been developed in such a way that business people in the Yukon, particularly in the communities, will have time to develop office space for government use. That is consistent with our office space strategy and we are putting it into practice. This budget includes the funds for the first year of the decentralization plan and I believe that our approach will contribute to stable growth in those communities.
In addition to plans for office space, Government Services is participating in the governments decentralization initiative directly. In Teslin we will now have a trades position, and additional trades positions are also being moved into Watson Lake and Haines Junction. As well, three regional supervisor positions are being created in Watson Lake and Haines Junction and Dawson City. These positions will provide service to all government staff and offices within those regions, thus improving services both to current community employees and those moving due to the decentralization initiatives.
Government Services will also be assisting other departments in decentralizing employees and to this end additional funds have been provided for work stations, for office leases, for vehicles and for furniture and equipment.
The budget before you includes funds for the start of a planned preventive-maintenance program. This program is designed to inventory and assess all the current buildings. From this we plan to develop a comprehensive maintenance schedule. By doing this, future maintenance costs will be controlled through the reduction of breakdowns and the timely scheduling of capital repair. The end result of this will be the better care of government buildings, better utilization of our resources, but ultimately savings to the taxpayer.
In these times of fiscal restraint it is very important that we make the best use of the available resources that we have. To this end we raised the capital budget of the systems and computing services branch back to historical levels. By doing this, we hope to improve productivity among employees by providing tools to increase their efficiency. Funds have also been provided in the systems and computing services branch budget to support decentralization.
It is our plan to utilize the technology that is available to us to foster decentralization by maintaining the communication as well as efficiency among employees in the communities.
While there have been increases to the capital side of systems and computing services, the branch has been reviewing its operations with a view to making more effective use of available resources. As a result of that, a new approach is planned for personal computer maintenance and support. This new approach will involve the use of in house staff for help desk and inventory-control functions, and using private sector expertise for hardware maintenance and cabling.
This initiative will assist in holding costs to their present level, avoiding major increases proposed by the present contractor, and providing better service to government departments.
Supply Services continues to identify ways to reduce paper usage, to utilize recycled and environmentally friendly products and reuse, in this case, older furniture. To this end, the branch has identified funds for furniture repair program that will extend the life of older furniture. Not only will this reduce expenditures for new furnishings, but it should also encourage growth of the local refinishing service business.
Additional funds have also been allotted to increase the number of photocopiers with double-sided copying capacity, stocking environmentally friendly products in the warehouse, as well as identifying new initiatives, such as using refined oil and retreading old tires, rather than buying new ones.
We will be continuing with our fine paper recycling program, for which we have allotted $40,000. As I said previously, this money will be used to enter into partnership with the local recycling society, for the collection and storage of the paper, as well as ongoing promotion and education. By working with the society, we can accomplish our objectives, as well as assist with their broader program with the public at large.
I would like to briefly comment on the establishment of the business incentive fund, to clarify the nature of that fund. The $450,000 in this budget is for eligible capital construction projects. It is newly identified money and it is designed to maximize the employment opportunities for Yukon residents. The business incentive policy, as Members know, is intended to encourage the use of apprentices as well as provide incentives for the use of Yukon-manufactured products.
We recently approved the schedule, which lists all of the locally produced construction materials eligible for rebates, and we have now turned to developing the schedule for other goods and services. I believe in the supplementaries debate, I tabled the lists I refer to.
Those summarize the commitments and major initiatives of the government in this department. I will take the opportunity to put into circulation a number of informational documents for Members. I believe I provided these to the critic a couple of hours ago and would like to share them with other Members. One of the documents is the computer workstation request list. This is a list, by department, for workstations.
Secondly, we have the leases for the budget year under review. This would be from the property management side of expenses. It also summarizes the listing of leases from the two years previous.
As well, I am providing the decentralization costs for the first year of the initiatives. These are global figures for all departments for all initiatives.
As well, I am providing the building maintenance projects that will be done during the year of the budget under review as well as the renovations projects.
The sixth item I am circulating is the purchases being contemplated for the replacement of the pool fleet as well as the systems development project that will be paid for on the expenditure side in that branch.
There were a couple of outstanding items from previous debate. Perhaps I can just pass the information on now. There was a question about the amount of budget from Government Services that is used toward operation and maintenance costs for the new college. The total personnel costs identified in the current budget are $340,000, which provides for the plant manager, six engineers and a building maintenance worker. As well, there is the $87,000 we pay for materiel toward the people who do that work, for a total of $428,000.
There was another outstanding question from supplementary debate relating to additional staff required to implement the new business incentive policy. In short, two people in the contract administrators office are dedicated to the task of implementing the policy. That is the same number of people who were there before. At different times in operations, other people become involved in evaluating bids but essentially the work is done by two people.
I believe those are pretty well the outstanding items that I recall, as well as a summary of what this budget is priorizing. I would be quite willing to entertain general debate.
Mrs. Firth: I thank the Minister for the advance information that I had requested last week so that we could move in a more expeditious manner through this budget.
I would like, in a general context, to ask a few questions about the maintenance at the college. The Minister has indicated that Government Services spends $428,000 for the maintenance. That just includes the person years and materials. What about the electrical bill and the heating of that facility; who pays for that?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The costs that I identified are the only ones that we address directly. The utilities costs are paid for directly by the college, so they would be included, I suspect , in the transfer dollars from Education.
Mrs. Firth: I would like to ask the Minister, then, a question about the furnace at the college. He has mentioned comments about the paper recycling and I remember when the Minister made a ministerial statement in the House about how shredded paper was going to be donated to an organization. I asked him the question at that time following the ministerial statement about the furnace that was supposed to heat the college with shredded paper and that we were supposed to use all surplus government shredded paper to heat that facility.
I would like to ask the Minister if that furnace has ever been used with shredded paper and what the status of that whole facility is?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: We had expected by now to have it up and running, utilizing various other fuels. I guess we are in that critical point now where it is imminent, any time. We have a contractor up there - who is the person who originally installed it - who is fine tuning it and I understand that he is having current problems with the ash-handling equipment of the system. I would expect from the best estimates my staff provides to me that we should have the unit fully up and running early in the new year. We did a trial of wood chips and I believe, at the moment, we have a request for proposal out to try to find a supplier for wood chips. We hope this will be in place for the new year.
We have some preliminary numbers back on our request for proposal on wood chips, and they are very encouraging, in terms of the cost to have them supplied and used in the furnace. The recent increase in the price of oil is playing a large part in making wood chips quite economic now.
We are still having a problem with the utilization of recycled paper. The paper must be pelletized before it can be used efficiently. We are examining that prospect, but we do not have any more information than a consultants analysis of what would be involved to pelletize paper.
We have trial-run wood chips in the furnace, and there are still some bugs to work out. We hope to have a supply of wood chips early in the new year, and the furnace fully utilizing that supply.
Mrs. Firth: I do not want to show my annoyance too much, but this furnace has been up there for a couple of years, or however long the college has been there. It has not been used. Whose bright idea was it in the first place? I remember when I was still on the Public Accounts Committee, and we did an analysis of the college. It has to have been two or three years ago. We were taken around and shown this great furnace and told how it was going to burn all the excess paper within government so we were not going to have to pay for fuel. I believe that was the original concept.
So now two years later, we find out the paper has to be pelletized. I do not understand how this could happen. Whose idea was this furnace? What is the government doing to follow up on the obvious mistake that was made installing the furnace to burn paper that we now find out can only burn wood chips and pelletized paper? What is the government going to do about it? What have we been heating the college with in the meantime? Have we been heating it with oil?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Since I have been responsible for the maintenance, I share the Members frustration, which is certainly in part related to the construction deficiencies of the college. At the time of planning for the college, it was the response to the governments priority to use local sources of fuel. The architect, who designed the system, I believe, was Carlberg Jackson Partners.. It was installed. It was installed with deficiencies to achieve what was both expected and paid for.
I can point out that, while I share the same frustration with waiting for the system to finally work, it is not a direct cost on us in the sense we are not paying for a deficient system.
The contractor and the architect are responsible for getting the system up and running and they are on site to do that now, so there is no burden of cost related to the system not working, other than an increase in our heating fuel costs, since the price increase, in particular. I do not have the details at my fingertips, but by combining wood heat with oil heat, we could have achieved some energy savings. The fact that it is not in place or up and running yet, only results in the simple fact that the architect and the contractor are obligated to correct the deficiencies in the system. They will do so at their expense and their cost, and when it is fully operational, we will then take it over; we will then commission it.
Mrs. Firth: It is not right for the Minister to say that we have not had to pay because we have; we have had to pay for oil to heat the building for the last two years or two and a half years. This building was supposed to be heated with excess paper so it was, in a sense, not supposed to cost the taxpayer anything to heat the building. That was why this specific furnace was recommended and installed.
There is another project that the former Minister of Justice, Mr. Kimmerly, had talked about. We were going to embark on this big project to heat the Law Centre with wood chips and that apparently is not being done. Another major facility is going to be heated with wood chips so when the Minister tells me that the college is now going to be heated with wood chips, I am of course skeptical about the likelihood of that happening. It is not frustration; I am annoyed, as my constituents would be, when they find out we had to pay these extra costs for oil, and we were supposed to have this marvelous heating system. I do not know if it was designed specifically to be used in the Yukon or if it was practical for use in the Yukon.
What concerns me is that these fancy buildings and unusual and new systems are tried and then it is discovered that they do not work in the Yukon and are not practical or efficient. We end up paying the costs. It ends up just being another problem in management and design with these facilities the government builds and leaves for the taxpayers to support.
I raised that as a concern to the Minister. I will follow up with him to see what the status is with the furnace at the college. I gather we are not burning shredded paper up there; we are going to look at the wood chip option if we can find a supplier. I guess we will still probably be burning oil for another year as they cannot find a supply of wood chips for the other facility that is supposed to be using them. Perhaps the Minister would like to comment on that.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I will share with the Member my general knowledge on the issue.
The original decision was made on the basis of the economic rationalization that in putting in a heating system at the college that would utilize alternate fuel sources, it was felt it would be cheaper in the long run. At that time, wood chips were consciously considered as a viable alternative. They were in abundant supply in a number of mills in the Whitehorse area. They are viable as a side product of a regular mill operation.
At the time that the decision was being made to establish such a heating system for the college, as well as the Law Centre, wood chips were economic. One could get them for $40 per ton. When one considers the energy generated at that cost, it was competitive with oil.
What has happened in the last couple of years - and now the pendulum is swinging the other way again - is that wood chips fell out of the market. There was no side production of wood chips. When you start manufacturing wood chips exclusively for heating, you loose the economic benefit. That is what occurred in the last couple of years. Now the pendulum is swinging back again, not so much because we have wood chips as a secondary supply of the milling operation, but because it is becoming economic again to exclusively manufacture wood chips. I guess about a year or a year and one-half ago wood chips manufacturing were pushing up in the $80 to $100 per ton. So that was from $40 a ton as a side product to $100 a ton exclusively manufactured for heating purposes.
This call for proposals that we have just put out in anticipation of the college furnace being operational in the new year has brought in bids of supply for $60 a ton. So, we are back in the economic window for the use of wood chips.
I guess that is a similar story that took place with Klondike Central Heating and the generation of heat for the Law Centre. When that plan was originally put in place, wood chips were cheap. It was analyzed to be very economic to use wood chips for alternate heat. With the bottom falling out of the wood chip supply, it was no longer economic and the Law Centre fell into the same woes. Now, with wood chips coming into supply more cheaply, and I understand partly because of being a byproduct of regular milling, we have wood chips back in the burning business as an economic alternative. I hope in the new year we will have them in use at the college and I hope Klondike Central Heating will be able to restore the economics to its heating system for the Law Centre.
Mrs. Firth: I will just follow up with the Minister on that issue next year, to see where we are.
I want to ask the Minister a couple of questions that we had discussed in the debate on the supplementaries. The Minister was going to provide me a copy of the draft wording that was going to be put into the tender documents that would call on the contractors to bid with an inclusion of the GST when the FST has ended. If the Minister could provide that for me, I would appreciate it.
I would also like to know if the Minister could tell us when the project management manual will be ready. He said during the debates that it was at about fifth draft stage, so I would like to get some kind of commitment from the government as to exactly when that is going to be ready and be followed.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: We have finalized the wording for the contracts relating to GST. I have provided that wording to the president of the Contractors Association. I do not have the wording with me at this table, but I can easily supply the communication that I provided to the Contractors Association.
The project management manual is near completion. We are hoping to release the guidelines later this month.
We are currently in the process of providing a number of workshops to various YTG staff to provide the necessary training to follow the guidelines. I suppose that essentially answers the question. The manual is a fairly heavy-duty document. By physical description, I am told it looks like that. I have not seen the manual, but I can certainly at least walk a copy past the Member if she is interested in seeing it sometime prior to release.
Mrs. Firth: I would not mind having a copy. It does not have to be fancy and hard covered or anything.
I am prepared to go to line-by-line debate now unless my colleagues have any questions.
Chair: We will proceed with line by line.
On Operation & Maintenance
On Finance and Administration
Hon. Mr. Byblow: This is the administrative unit of the department. It provides all the cross-branch support on personnel and financial matters and on policy. It also handles the contract administration for government.
The reduction of cost in personnel is the result of four surplus term positions that were necessary in 1991 but are not reflected in the 1991-92 estimates; however, we will continue using those positions. There are no salary dollars attached to those four positions, because they are dependent upon the vacancies of various branches. Salary dollars are used to pay for them. On the one hand, they will reflect an increase to come, depending on other budget reallocations.
Finance and Administration in the amount of $1,208,000 agreed to
On Policy & Planning
Policy & Planning in the amount of $155,000 agreed to
On Contract Administration
Contract Administration in the amount of $315,000 agreed to
Operation & Maintenance in the amount of $1,678,000 agreed to
On Business Incentive Policy
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Just to clarify some information related to these dollars, I believe the Member previously raised the question of whether or not the rebates paid under the policy would be coming from the client departments. The answer to that is that they would not. This is $450,000 new dollars specifically earmarked to pay for the rebates as we currently have them struck for the local hire, apprentices and construction materials that would apply. We have calculated that on the basis of three percent of the construction budget, as that is our best estimate of the maximum we could expect to pay. This could quite easily not be spent by year-end.
Mrs. Firth: I am glad the Minister clarified that. I thought it was a new allotment of money.
I would just like to ask the Minister where the O&M dollars are for the policy. This provides money for the rebates, but what about the two person years it takes to administer the program?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The operations money would essentially be the costs for two person years and would be found in the contract administration section - in the same place that the business incentives policy has been dealt with in the past.
Business Incentive Policy in the amount of $450,000 agreed to
Capital in the amount of $450,000 agreed to
Administration in the amount of $2,128,000 agreed to
Chair: Are there any questions on the following pages?
On Systems and Computing Services
On Operation & Maintenance
On Systems Administration
Hon. Mr. Byblow: In the overall terms of this branch, the Member is aware that it provides for all the electronic information processing throughout government, as well as maintains the internal communication, the records and the computer systems. The slight increase reflects a number of things. We have two two-year term positions that were approved. Additionally, we have a small increase for maintenance and report of additional workstations, which I can cover in more detail in the specific branch.
Specifically under systems administration, the line item for the $226,000 reflects the reduction as a result of surplus term positions that were used in the current year but are not reflected in this particular budget. We have been able, department wide, to reduce some maintenance dollars on personal computers and we expect that these will be able to fund the term positions.
Systems Administration in the amount of $226,000 agreed to
On Computing and Network Services
Computing and Network Services in the amount of $1,063,000 agreed to
On Systems Development
Mrs. Firth: The Minister provided us with information called Update Discussion Paper Systems Development Projects, tabled February 1990. On it is just a listing of all of the types of systems that each department has, with a grand total of $6,135,500. This whole systems development project was to take place over a five-year term. Does this amount represent that five-year plan? Am I misreading the information he has provided? Perhaps he could tell us what that grand total figure represents.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: What the list that I provided represents are the current, outstanding requests. The Member may recall that in the spring I tabled a couple of documents, one of which was the detail of steps that the systems branch goes through in deciding and priorizing the systems that will be paid for and that the government will go ahead with developing, even though all the systems that come up through the ranks and peak at the systems priority committee, get slashed. Nevertheless, we still have a list of systems that departments would like to see. This sheet is is just an updated sheet of the projects.
The $6 million would represent the cost to add in everybodys wish list today.
While I am on my feet, perhaps I could just pass over a copy of a letter to the critic that was sent to the president of the contractors association and addresses the GST wording.
Mrs. Firth: The only point I want to make with respect to the systems development project is: I know the department gets a lot of requests for new computer workstations and new ways to keep information. There is a five-year plan. What phase are we at in this plan? What does the Minister expect it to cost at the end of the five years? We would like some idea of what we are looking at.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member has flagged the eternal problem related to information-systems development. It is very difficult to put a five-year plan in place that, essentially, comprises a desirable wish list by departments, which only a windfall of available funds could ever put into place. We are looking at $6 million. If you try to achieve that in five years, you will have spent $6 million, as well as another $5 million for the projects that surface during that five-year period. Technology is rapidly changing. The demands on departments for the production of different systems is changing every month.
When we introduce a new program or when we move into decentralization, there is a need to suddenly change the systems and streamline the movement of data assimilation. It is a very difficult problem that we are trying to grapple with. I suspect that one of the approaches might be to make departments responsible for systems development, but that is fraught with a lot of criticism as well because systems often do not benefit a department, they benefit the government at large. It is incorrect logic to put the burden on the department to provide the funds for systems. We are doing that now in the computer workstations. Computer workstations are related to departments funding their own new workstations so they tend to priorize their needs in that category. It is not quite the same on systems.
I guess the short answer on systems development is that we have restored systems development to historical averages here. The average over the past several years has been $899,000. Last year we took funds out of there just out of the need to priorize for that budget year. We have restored the historical levels to try and start some catch up to the priority of systems. We are not going to achieve this wish list I tabled in five years - not at $900,000 or $1 million a year. We are still short. We have the compounded problem of the new systems that will be required in that intervening period. It is a case of being very religious about priorizing. Set up a range of factors and tight decision making so when decisions are being made on developing a system, wise decisions are made so the best value for money is achieved.
Mrs. Firth: I just want to raise the concern that a lot of money is being spent in this area. It is obviously a priority of this government to get the system back up if they have given it a 146 percent increase. Perhaps the money could have been spent in some other area and this could have waited a bit longer.
It seems to be a system that serves the people working with it more than the general public. I guess that is a concern I have. I will just wait to see how the Minister progresses with the system.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I have one clarification about that 146 percent increase. If the Member looks at last years budget, the line item entitled technical services consisted of seven people involved in providing a range of services to the department in systems development and work station support.
What we have done in this budget is to take out technical services and realigned those seven people into computing and network services and systems development. Systems development actually got four of those people and computing and network services got three.
In that realignment there is new transferred responsibility, which would reduce the percentage growth figure to a more realistic level. Unfortunately, I do not think we have carried that back to the 1989-90 actuals.
Mrs. Firth: The total is still going up. The total overall budget is still up. It still costs us more money.
Systems Development in the amount of $899,000 agreed to
On Information Centre
Information Centre in the amount of $1,048,000 agreed to
On Records Management
Records Management in the amount of $561,000 agreed to
Operations & Maintenance in the amount of $3,797,000 agreed to
On Systems Development
Systems Development in the amount of $1,000,000 agreed to
On Computer Workstations
Computer Workstations in the amount of $704,000 agreed to
On Central Facility
Central Facility in the amount of $450,000 agreed to
On Telephone Equipment
Telephone Equipment in the amount of $1.00 agreed to
On Records Services
Records Services in the amount of $1.00 agreed to
Capital in the amount of $2,154,000 agreed to
Systems and Computing Services in the amount of $5,951,000 agreed to
Chair: Committee will now take a break.
On Supply Services
On Operation & Maintenance
Administration in the amount of $156,000 agreed to
Purchasing in the amount of $419,000 agreed to
On Queens Printer
Queens Printer in the amount of $1,010,000 agreed to
On Asset Control
Asset Control in the amount of $148,000 agreed to
On Transportation & Communication
Transportation & Communication in the amount of $1,829,000 agreed to
On Central Stores
Central Stores in the amount of $243,000 agreed to
Operation & Maintenance in the amount of $3,805,000 agreed to
On Office Equipment
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The substantial increase includes funds for decentralization. Part of that global summary would be contained here for office furniture for equipment for all the initiatives under decentralization. That contributes a good percentage of the increase and the balance would be, in part, the program I spoke to in my opening remarks, where we are going to be doing refurbishing as opposed to new acquisition.
Mrs. Firth: In case the Minister is concerned why I am not asking questions about it, I have got the notes that were given at the public meeting that was held for the Contractors Association. They outline quite thoroughly what furniture, et cetera, is going to be replaced and provided for.
I do have a question about the next item, the pooled vehicles. We can clear the other one first just so that we are operating in order, then I will follow up on pooled vehicles.
Office Equipment in the amount of $423,000 agreed to
On Pooled Vehicles
Mrs. Firth: That number is consistent with the supply services branch 1991-92 capital budget information sheet that was provided at that public session, but it is not consistent with the supply services pool fleet the Minister provided in the House this evening and provided me with this afternoon. That one has a number of units, 24 replacement vehicles for a cost of $400,000. The sheet that was provided to the contractors was a replacement of 37 vehicles for $597,000. Perhaps the Minister could just indicate what the difference is.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The explanation for the variance would be recoverable money. The estimate in the budget book is $597,000. The $197,000 is 100 percent cost recoverable.
The $400,000 for the replacement of the older units in the fleet is the sheet that I circulated to the Member. That was prepared during budget preparations early in the year.
When decentralization concluded its calculations, an additional $197,000 was added in for vehicles. That becomes the new budget figure. Of that $197,000, related to decentralization - that is, for the vehicles that have to go with branches to communities - $84,000 is recoverable. This would mean that new decentralization dollars for vehicles would be the difference between $197,000 and $84,000 or $113,000.
Mrs. Firth: Could the Minister tell me where those vehicles are going to go? On the decentralization cost summary we were given, I do not see anything under the 100 percent recoverable expenses from the federal government that indicates it is for vehicles. Is this in addition to the 1991-92 decentralization cost summary the Minister provided us with, or is this included with it? If so, where?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: There is no inconsistency. The global decentralization figures I circulated include the costs for vehicles in the decentralization initiatives. We anticipate 12 vehicles to be needed for decentralization purposes. Of those 12, six are cost recoverable for the aboriginal language interpreters. That is the $84,000 cost-recoverable amount. The vehicles earmarked in decentralization will include the decentralization initiative of communications branch to Carcross for one vehicle, the municipal advisors to Dawson and Teslin, and the regional supervisors of Government Services, who will require two vehicles.
Similarly, there is expected to be a vehicle required by Education and Renewable Resources. The specific location is not finalized.
Mrs. Firth: Then I can just fill that in because the information that the Minister provided did not include the vehicles. Let the record note that on the decentralization cost summary there is $197,000 included for 12 vehicles.
I have one other question about pool vehicles and vehicles in general. In the Auditor Generals Report on Other Matters for the year ended March 31, 1990, on page 24, the Auditor General makes a notation with respect to renting vehicles and about how it is not generally economical to rent for an extended period of time. They cite instances where vehicles have been rented from six months to 12 months to a cost of $41,200. They have suggested that the departments work with Government Services and Finance to develop a more effective system of budgeting for and purchasing government vehicles.
Can the Minister tell us if his department has started working on that recommendation yet or if they have a grip on what is going on? Can he tell us what they are doing about it?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am familiar with the Auditor Generals comment. We have begun discussions with departments to identify that. On the one hand, it could be inefficiency; on the other hand, it could be uncoordinated decision making. We have suggested to client departments, which have identified a need to lease vehicles, to transfer proposed lease costs to Government Services to increase the pool fleet. The only reason they lease the vehicles is because our central pool of 227 vehicles is not adequate to supply the needs all the time. Our position has been if that is an ongoing pattern, then we should reassess our pool fleet - not from central dollars, but from the client department dollars. If a department can afford to lease a vehicle for $4,000 or $6,000 or $10,000, then they should be able to transfer those funds to Government Services to provide the central funds for an increase in the fleet. Those discussions are going on now.
Pooled Vehicles in the amount of $597,000 agreed to
On Queens Printer Equipment
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I guess we have put off some replacement equipment for printing purposes long enough and we have finally acceded to providing some funds. In part, it is a catch-up to not having funded pleadings for replacement over the past few years. It is going to include nine photocopiers. There is one buy-out of a current leased photocopier for $9,000; $81,000 is for replacement photocopiers, in several departments; $20,000 is for double-sided photocopier purchase. That totals $110,000. The printing equipment includes several items: a metal plate processor, a cerlox spreader, a massive stapler, a printer for $90,000, and some Macintosh equipment for the print shop, for a total of another $116,000.
Queens Printer Equipment in the amount of $226,000 agreed to
On Central Stores
Central Stores in the amount of $3,000 agreed to
Capital in the amount of $1,249,000 agreed to
Supply Services in the amount of $5,054,000 agreed to
Chair: Any questions on the next pages?
On Property Management
On Operation & Maintenance
Mrs. Firth: I would like to ask some questions in a general context. The information we have been provided with respect to office accommodation indicates that we are going to be spending approximately $1 million dollars more this year than last. I am referring to the property management branch lease estimate sheet the Minister gave us. Last year, 1990-91, it was $2,753,000. This year, it is $3,729,000.
I interpret this space rental estimate sheet as not including decentralization, the convention centre or the Old Yukon College renovations. Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: If the Member could give me a minute, I could give her some more precise details, but, in general terms, the increase reflects the price of new leases, the increase to existing leases and does indeed reflect the partial costs for Old Yukon College.
We anticipate that we will be in there by September, so we will be paying lease costs on Old Yukon College from September through to March.
If the Member wants, I can give more precise detail as to what constitutes that $1 million increase. In general terms, those are the categories.
Mrs. Firth: I would like a breakdown of the $1 million, if the Minister could provide it. It is very difficult to keep track of the increases in the costs and to know what is still outstanding. I would like to have a complete breakdown. Are the decentralization costs included? The sheet the Minister gave us with respect to decentralization costs included an estimate of costs in excess of $1 million. It was $1,199,000 total. I recognize the government subtracted some capital recoveries; however, I think it is fair to say that the decentralization costs are not going to be just $479,000. They are going to be in excess of $1 million, as well.
It is important that we have a comprehensive breakdown of the costs so we are able to follow in the subsequent years more accurately, and so we know where we stand with respect to office space.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I can give most of those cost increases for the $1 million. There is $523,000 for the eight-month period of leasing Old Yukon College. Decentralization initiatives total $90,000. Those are anticipated costs related to Community and Transportation Services communications in Carcross, which will be new dollars, the municipal advisors at Dawson and Teslin, the Renewable Resources and Government Services both to Dawson, and the ECO interpreters and territorial agents for $45,000. In total, that is the $90,000 for decentralization.
There is $9,000 transferred from B and C airports for space costs. The increased cost of existing leases is $156,000. That is the renewed leases incremental increase as a result of the natural marketplace increase. There is an additional $200,000 added into this budget figure for a reason I do not totally understand. It is an accounting method where previously the budget calculations were done on an 11-month period and this is now reflective of 12 months. It is not a contingency fund.
I want to provide a better explanation for the $200,000 accounting adjustment going on here.
Let me attempt this explanation. In previous budgeting, the calculations that were done for lease space costs were done on the basis of the calendar months May through to May. That provides for 11 months of a current year and one month of a new year. The one month was not budgeted, but it was calculated on the basis of the new year. An adjustment has been done here that now reflects a $200,000 increase. They are now calculating space costs on the basis of the 12-month fiscal year. Technically speaking, you had 13 months in previous budgeting with that one-month drag into the new fiscal year. So bringing this back to a 12-month fiscal year cycle, they have to reflect a $200,000 adjustment.
Mrs. Firth: I guess the only question that remains to be asked is: is it more or is it less? From what the Minister just explained to me, I would have expected it to be less, but it is $200,000 more. Where were we getting this money before? Was it coming in supplemental budgets or was it in the budget or is it just more money?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Let me try this again. Previously they were budgeting from May through to May. So, what that meant is that you were budgeting for 11 months in the fiscal year and one month was going to be paid in the next fiscal year. So you budgeted for those 11 months of that fiscal year. When you went into your next budget you picked up that one month. You were always running $200,000 behind. Now, if you try to create the cycle to the fiscal year, somebody has to pay for that first month that was never budgeted for before, so you have to do the full 12-month budgeting in the 12-month period reflecting the $200,000 because, in previous budgets you only budgeted for 11 months.
Mr. Devries: I have one question. Last year, in Watson Lake, the government renovated a building. The firehall has had its doors removed. Some people would like to have put the one door from the firehall on to the community centre for the Zamboni. When they approached the boys from Government Services who were working there, it was clear there was no way they could buy those doors without having them shipped to Whitehorse to an auction. They would have to buy them in Whitehorse and ship them back to Watson Lake. It would have cost them more than the doors were worth. If there is maintenance being done and something is being replaced in a community is there not some way a person could purchase the products if they wished to do so?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I may need more information in order to give a full answer. About a year and one-half ago, within six months of having taken office, we instituted a new policy for asset disposal where we did have options in communities - something that had never happened before. All departments with any surplus assets for disposal would send them into Whitehorse. We paid transportation, we would auction them and sell them here. About last July, we changed that and allowed for asset disposal in the communities where the assets originated.
In general terms, there ought to have been the opportunity for asset disposal in Watson Lake.
More specifically, on the door question, if I am reading the Members inquiry correctly, the problem would be solved if that door could have been sold at an auction in Watson Lake, then local people could have bid on it and used it in the community. That should have happened.
Administration in the amount of $366,000 agreed to
On Building Maintenance & Plant Operation
Building Maintenance & Plant Operation in the amount of $4,321,000 agreed to
On Custodial Services
Custodial Services in the amount of $1,298,000 agreed to
On Buildings & Security
Hon. Mr. Byblow: That is the $1 million we just talked about. That is the $90,000 for decentralization initiatives, $500,000 for Old Yukon College and several other items.
Buildings & Security in the amount of $5,079,000 agreed to
Operation & Maintenance in the amount of $11,064,000 agreed to
On Renovations Public Buildings
Renovations Public Buildings in the amount of $1,190,000 agreed to
On Energy Conservation
Energy Conservation in the amount of $290,000 agreed to
On Pre-Engineering Capital Projects
Pre-Engineering Capital Projects in the amount of $100,000 agreed to
On Design and Construction Overhead
Design and Construction Overhead in the amount of $1,226,000 agreed to
On Office Accommodation Projects
Office Accommodation Projects in the amount of $300,000 agreed to
On New Facilities
New Facilities in the amount of $26,000 agreed to
On Property Management Equipment
Property Management Equipment in the amount of $15,000 agreed to
Capital in the amount of $3,147,000 agreed to
Mrs. Firth: Before you clear the whole item, I want to indicate to the Minister that I have the information that the Department of Government Services provided from the property management branch about the public briefing meeting and the building maintenance schedule the Minister provided on the office accommodation project. I would just like to ask the Minister one question with respect to this information. As the critic, I went to the public briefing session to get this information but it has never been made available to us at our offices. I wonder if the Minister could make that information available in the event that I am not able to attend the meeting and I have to get someone to pick it up for me. I do not see any reason why they could not just provide it to the critic prior to the meeting or at the same time that it is given at the meeting.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: That is no problem at all. As I recall the information prepared for the public meeting, I believe we just concluded much of it that afternoon prior to the meeting. We made sure we covered all aspects of the budget and that all departments had the correct information prior to going to the public meeting. It would be no problem at all to supply that to the Member. On a regular basis from now on, I will be providing to the Contractors Association a schedule of when we anticipate tendering the projects. If the Member likes, I could easily supply that to her office at the same time.
Operation & Maintenance in the amount of $20,344,000 agreed to
Capital in the amount of $7,000,000 agreed to
Department of Government Services agreed to
Department of Health and Human Resources
Mrs. Firth: The critic is not here and the Minister of Justice has a presentation. If she could go ahead with that, I would be prepared to go on with Justice. She could read into the record her budget speech.
No, the Minister of Health is going to read into the record his speech.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am pleased to be here to present the 1991-92 operation and maintenance budget for Health and Human Resources. Before us is a budget that has been designed to make the best of the available dollars and resources, with limited increases.
I must say that Health and Human Resources is a department different from any other in the government. It deals directly with the people of this territory, from birth to death. Like a marriage, the department is there through sickness and health, through richer and poorer, in good times and bad, until death us do us part.
It is there when the events are happy ones, like births and marriages, and it is still there when things turn bad - death, not enough money to put food on the table.
It deals with children, and the aged, those who are ill and those who are healthy, and it provides services to people who need them and works toward preventing problems before they occur.
It not only deals with physical health but mental health, not just with child care but child abuse. It looks to providing stable and happy environments for children who have known none.
The services provided by the department are as varied as the people it serves and it is our intention to continue to provide the services so necessary to assist others with what would sometimes be the chore of daily living.
In my opening remarks, I would like to briefly go through the initiatives in each of the branches of this department.
The policy, planning and administration branch is one of three areas where there is an increase in the budget this year. The reasons for this increase are as follows. We had the implementation of the Health Act as a major priority for the department. This act has been described as an enabling piece of legislation in second reading, and it will allow the department and the people of this territory more say in how and what they need to look after their own health.
In order to achieve this, we have had to increase the budget of this branch by nine percent, or $154,000.
The increase is primarily due to the addition of two three-year term employees and the reallocation of departmental personnel from other branches.
These new employees will be working on two of the major initiatives being undertaken by the department - the implementation of the Health Act, and land claims.
Two positions transferred within the department were the child welfare pilot project coordinator from regional services to the policy unit. As the child welfare pilot project has been successfully implemented, a full-time coordinator was no longer necessary, and the position will now provide support on the health transfer project.
The other position saw the transfer of a former secretary to the director of health services reassigned to the assistant deputy minister of health services. If you look under the capital projects included in the policy, planning and administration branch budget, you will see that $200,000 has been set aside for the planning phase of an integrated health and social services facility in Mayo.
As you have heard me say before, integration and partnership are two very important elements of the six principles in the Health Act. The first step in the planning phase will be to conduct a feasibility study to determine the best combination and level of service that will be delivered to people in the Mayo area. Completion of this study will include community consultations to help this government better decide what is required to meet the needs of the Mayo citizens and it will very much be a community-oriented decision. It is the citizens who best know their own needs and that is one of the things the Health Act works toward and allows for, we hope.
In the social services area, Members will note a figure of $31,000. This amount is being matched by the federal government, following a successful negotiation of terms and conditions of the social assistance recipients agreement.
The Departments of Health and Human Resources and Education, along with the federal Department of Health and Welfare Canada and Employment and Immigration, are presently pursuing a four-corner agreement to support initiatives and programs that enhance the employability of social assistance recipients.
A review of the social assistance program, begun last year, will be completed during this fiscal year. This review examines program philosophy, the need for regulatory and policy changes, and services delivery mechanisms.
One new initiative this year not reflected in the budget is the implementation of recommendations contained in the rehabilitation review. These changes will result in organizational and service delivery changes. The current vocational rehabilitation services, home care services, and services to seniors will be combined in an organizational structure that will allow a single point of entry for clients in order to use resources more effectively.
An alcohol and drug strategy will be developed this fiscal year, based on the results of the alcohol and drug survey recently undertaken in the territory.
For the first time, we will have Yukon statistics with which to design our strategy, so that it truly is reflective of the stated needs of Yukoners. Again, the strategy will target activities in order to make the most effective use of limited resources.
The detoxification facility multi-year capital project will continue into the next fiscal year. The Department of Health and Human Resources is currently in the process of finalizing the planning stage, with the design phase targeted for the early part of 1991.
During 1991-92, the site acquisition and preparation work will be completed.
Madam Chair, before I move to the next branch, perhaps it would be appropriate for me to move that you report progress on this bill.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that the Deputy Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Deputy Speaker resumes the Chair
Deputy Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
May the House have a report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole?
Mr. Joe: Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 16, entitled First Appropriation Act, 1991-92, and has directed that progress be reported on same.
Deputy Speaker: You have heard the report from the Chair of the Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Deputy Speaker: I declare the report carried.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move the House do now adjourn.
Deputy Speaker: It has been moved by the Government House Leader that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Deputy Speaker: This House now stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. tomorrow.
The House adjourned at 9:30 p.m.
The following Sessional Paper was tabled December 10, 1990:
Office of the Auditor General of Canada Report on Other Matters to the Yukon Legislative Assembly, for the year ended March 31, 1990 (Kassi - Deputy Speaker)
The following Legislative Returns were tabled November 10, 1990:
Correspondence re Proposed reciprocal fishing licences with the State of Alaska (Webster)
Oral, Hansard, p. 361
Disposal of bear carcasses (Webster)
Oral, Hansard, p. 361
Moose survey crew accommodations in Dawson City and Haines Junction (Webster)
Oral, Hansard, pp. 351 & 360
Fish and Wildlife Management Board recommendations regarding Game Management Zones 7 and 9 (Webster)
Oral, Hansard, pp. 348 & 349
Health and Human Resources: Social worker staff vacancies (Penikett)
Oral, Hansard, p. 443