Monday, April 29, 1991 - 1:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. At this time we will proceed with Prayers.
Speaker: We will proceed with the Order Paper.
Are there any Introductions of Visitors?
Returns or Documents for tabling.
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I have for tabling a number of legislative returns.
Hon. Ms. Hayden: I have for tabling a legislative return.
Speaker: Are there any Reports of Committees?
Petition No. 6
Clerk Assistant: Mr. Speaker and Hon. Members of the Assembly. I have had the honour to review a petition, being Petition No. 6 of the Second Session of the 27th Legislative Assembly, as presented by the Hon. Member for Kluane on April 25, 1991.
This petition meets the requirements as to form of the Standing Orders of the Yukon Legislative Assembly.
Speaker: Petition No. 6 is deemed to be read and received.
Speaker: Introduction of Bills?
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
Bill No. 40: Introduction and First Reading
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I move that Bill No. 40, entitled An Act to Amend the Motor Vehicles Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Community and Transportation Services that Bill No. 40, entitled An Act to Amend the Motor Vehicles Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Motion for introduction and first reading of Bill No. 40 agreed to
Bill No. 33: Introduction and First Reading
Hon. Mr. Webster: I move that Bill No. 33, entitled Historic Resources Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Tourism that Bill No. 33, entitled Historic Resources Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Motion for introduction and first reading of Bill No. 33 agreed to
Bill No. 3: Introduction and First Reading
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I move that Bill No. 3, entitled Third Appropriation Act, 1990-91, be now introduced and read a first time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Finance that Bill No. 3, entitled Third Appropriation Act, 1990-91, be now introduced and read a first time.
Motion for introduction and first reading of Bill No. 3 agreed to
Speaker: Notices of Motion for the Production of Papers.
NOTICE OF MOTION FOR THE PRODUCTION OF PAPERS
Mr. Phelps: I give notice of motion
THAT the House do issue an order for a return of all contracts entered into by the Yukon Energy Corporation, or assigned to the Yukon Energy Corporation, for the supply and purchase of power to Curragh Resources.
Speaker: Notices of Motion.
NOTICES OF MOTION
Mr. Lang: I give notice of motion
THAT it is the opinion of this House that the current foster home rate should be changed to reflect the 1991-92 cost of living, and that such changes should be put into effect no later than May 30, 1991.
Mr. Phelps: I give notice of motion
THAT it is the opinion of this House that the present Access to Information Act is inadequate and that the act should be amended to:
1. Narrow the present exceptions to the publics right to access information;
2. Place the onus of proof on the Government of Yukon where it alleges that information sought falls within an exception to the publics right to access information;
3. Provide for a less expensive appeal process.
Speaker: Are there any Statements by Ministers?
Government of Yukon granted intervenor status in case on electoral district boundaries in Saskatchewan
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to advise this House that the Minister of Justice for the Government of Yukon has been granted intervenor status in the Supreme Court of Canadas hearing of the Government of Saskatchewans appeal on that provinces electoral district boundaries. The appeal will be heard in Ottawa on April 29 and 30; today and tomorrow.
This appeal rose from the Government of Saskatchewans reference of its electoral district boundaries to the Court of Appeal of Saskatchewan to determine if the difference in size among the proposed constituencies and the planned distribution of those constituencies among urban, rural and northern areas of the province infringe on the rights guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
If the court agrees, the Government of Saskatchewan further wishes to know the nature of the infringement and whether the decision of the Supreme Court of Canada will affect every jurisdiction in Canada. The Government of Yukon believes it appropriate that, before reaching its decision, the court have all the relevant considerations placed before it, including the unique perspective of the Yukon Territory on the issue of electoral distribution.
Hon. Members should note that the rules of the Supreme Court of Canada allow provincial Attorneys General an automatic right to intervene in such reference cases. The Minister of Justice for the Yukon, joined by the Minister of Justice for the Northwest Territories, requested the court affirm that this right also applied to the territorial Ministers of Justice.
In order to ensure our presence before the court, should this request not be accepted, an application for leave to intervene as an interested party was also made. This was granted.
Mr. Justice Stevenson agreed that the request to be granted status on an equivalent basis to a provincial Attorney General is both significant and substantive. He recognized the need for a full opportunity for the Yukon and the Government of the Northwest Territories to argue the case thoroughly and completely, and set the matter over to a full hearing by a panel of judges to be heard at a later date. Honourable Members will immediately recognize the constitutional significance of this particular hearing. Should the Yukon Minister of Justice be recognized as having the same status as a provincial Attorney General, we will have made a major advance in gaining province-like powers.
In the Government of Yukons factum, no position is taken as to how the specific questions posed on Saskatchewans electoral district boundaries should be answered. Instead, it argues that the courts response should be limited as much as possible to the matter before it and should not set categorical limits upon other provinces and territories that may deal with similar issues in the future. The court is also urged not to answer in a manner that might foreclose future consideration of the special circumstances of northern communities.
The Government of Yukon takes the position that, while the right to vote is guaranteed in Section 3 of the Charter and incorporates the principle of equality of voting power, this is not an absolute requirement.
Rather, it is tempered by other variables such as geographic and demographic considerations, difficulties of transportation and communication, philosophic and historic traditions and the importance of ensuring that the different communities of interest are represented.
Our factum adopts the reasoning of Madame Justice McLachlin, formerly Chief Justice of British Columbia Supreme Court, now Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, who found that deviations from absolute equality of voting power can be justified when, ... they contribute to better government of the populace as a whole...
The fact that aboriginal people make up a sizeable portion of the Yukons population must be recognized as a relevant factor in considering what are and are not appropriate electoral district boundaries. There are important moral reasons and historical precedents for so doing, and to ignore this reality might result in electoral district boundaries that do not represent the interest of all Yukoners.
The final argument made in our written factum is that it is the Legislature that has the primary responsibility for balancing the principle of equality of voting power with other relevant factors. The courts role is not to substitute its own opinion as to how best the balancing act can be managed, but to examine the Legislatures effort to ensure that it does not infringe on guaranteed rights.
We look forward to the Supreme Court of Canadas hearing on this argument and to an expeditious decision.
Spring clean-up campaign
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am pleased to announce this years spring clean-up campaign scheduled for the week of May 11 to 17 1991.
The spring clean-up budget of $23,000 is being sponsored by the Department of Community and Transportation Services, with the help of the Department of Renewable Resources and the Yukon office of Environment Canada.
Communities and non-profit organizations throughout the Yukon have enthusiastically joined this program, not only to help clean-up the winters accumulation of litter, but also to create a territory-wide awareness of the environmental impact of waste.
Our pristine environment can be preserved by observing the four Rs of waste management: reduce, reuse, recycle and recover. Clean-up week is an ideal time to emphasize sound waste management practises.
This years spring clean-up program will include matching grants of up to $1,300 to each municipality and outright grants of between $100 to $300 to each unincorporated community or settlement for clean-up projects.
Bagged garbage will be picked up by the road crews in unincorporated communities, and rural dumps will be cleaned and compacted prior to clean-up week.
Non-profit organizations throughout the Yukon can also benefit through a litter pick-up project run by the transportation maintenance branch. Any group of six volunteers will be paid $200 for each four hours they spend cleaning up a highway right-of-way, the litter pick-up will run Saturdays, Sundays and holidays from May 1 to May 31.
To qualify, groups must make arrangements through the local highways office.
I repeat to Members that our advertising campaign emphasizes the four Rs:
Reduce - by generating less waste,
Recycle - by returning cans and bottles,
Recover - by using organic waste for compost,
Reuse - by making use of something more than once.
Mr. Speaker, we can be proud of the efforts of our communities and the desire of Yukon people to preserve our natural environment. Let us all pitch in for clean-up week in the Yukon, May 11 to 17.
Mr. Phillips: First of all, I would like to commend the government on this particular program. I think it is a good program. Many communities and non-profit organizations take advantage of it in Clean-up Week.
I had an opportunity a couple of weeks ago to speak to the general assembly at F.H.Collins High School about the environment, about clean-up and about pride in the community. Before I went to that assembly, I took about 20 minutes and walked around the school with a garbage bag; I filled that bag with garbage. When I spoke to the students, I dumped the garbage on the stage and told them it was their garbage and that they had some kind of responsibility as well to clean it up.
I can assure you, if this government or anyone in the Yukon feels the Yukon has become cleaner in the last year or two, they are under false illusions. It is no cleaner than it was last year; it is just as bad as it was then. What we are doing is simply not working.
I have said before and I will say again that Clean-up Week should not be one week a year. Clean-up Week should be 52 weeks a year, and I would like to see this program expanded into the fall season as well as an educational program that will run 52 weeks a year, encouraging Yukoners to keep Yukon clean.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: In brief response to the Member, I want to thank him for his endorsement of the program; it has proven to be a popular one.
With respect to the Members comments concerning a 52-week initiative, I can agree with that as well. I think what we are trying to achieve here is removal of the litter that accumulates over the winter period. There is no question that there are vast quantities of it following spring thaw, and this initiative attempts to get rid of it and, in the process, establish a frame of mind, an attitude, that would precipitate into the remaining 51 weeks. I agree with the Member that we should all be conscious and apply our efforts toward clean-up on an ongoing constant basis. Certainly, it is something we will encourage, albeit through the initiative of the one week extra effort.
Speaker: This then brings us to Question Period.
Question re: Land claims, overlapping
Mr. Phelps: I have some questions for the Minister responsible for land claims regarding the issue of overlapping claims and, in particular, land claims being made by non-resident Indian groups on Yukon lands and resources. My first question has to do with a claim made by northern Dene people from the Fort McPherson and Aklavik areas of the Northwest Territories to land in north Yukon. We have heard in the media that Dene groups seem to feel very close to an agreement on the receiving of large tracts of land in the Yukon in their land claims talks.
My first question is whether or not the Yukon government is participating in those negotiations where they pertain to Yukon land and resources?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: We are participating and we intend to participate, although the idea has unfortunately been floating around recently that this is a matter that might be concluded between the federal government and the Tetlin Gwichin without our assistance.
I have attempted to convey in the strongest possible terms to the federal government that that would be a totally unacceptable situation.
Mr. Phelps: One year ago, the Minister stated that the Government of Yukon opposed extra-territorial Indian groups obtaining large tracts of land in the Yukon as part of a land claims settlement. Is our government opposing the selection of large tracts of Yukon lands by the northern Dene as part of their land claims settlement?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: In general terms, that remains our policy. The Leader of the Official Opposition will understand that I do not want to get into the day-to-day particulars of the negotiations while they are going on, but the position of the Government of Yukon has been and remains as I stated it to be last year.
Mr. Phelps: In the early 1980s, the Government of Canada adopted a very firm policy about overlapping claims. Part of that policy was that they would not allow non-resident Indian groups to select land within Yukon as part of their land claims settlement. I am wondering if their position has changed in any way.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The Leader of the Opposition will recall that several Ministers of Indian Affairs ago, the federal government chose to review its land claims policy. This government retained a gentleman named Murray Coolican to do a review of the land claims policy. I am paraphrasing, but as I recall, Mr. Coolicans recommendation was that no limits should be placed on what could be negotiated by trans-boundary groups, or words to that effect.
It is clear from a number of statements by the federal government that the previous prohibition against non-residents claiming land no longer applies as federal policy.
Question re: Land claims, overlapping
Mr. Phelps: To the extent that that is true, it is unfortunate. It was that policy that gave us the room in which to manoeuvre in our negotiations with Committee on Original Peoples Entitlement. It was that policy that resulted in no land being alienated to the COPE people within Yukons boundaries.
The Kaska Dena of northern B.C., as we know, have claimed thousands of square kilometres of land around Watson Lake in the Yukon as part of their land claims settlement. I am wondering if the Minister can tell us where things are with regard to the Kaska Dena claim in Yukon.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: First of all, let me say to the Leader of the Official Opposition that I appreciate that, besides myself, a number of other people have communicated directly with the federal Minister on the subject.
The question of the British Columbia border is different. It is not as well advanced as the situation for the Tetlin Gwichin. As you know, among the Kaska people, there has been an attempt to make an alliance between the Kaska, both in Ross River and the Watson Lake area, both above and below the British Columbia border.
It may well be that the recent controversial decision of Mr. Justice MacEachern may have changed the negotiating environment for the Kaska, particularly for those in British Columbia. The Leader of the Official Opposition will recall that there was a time when, because there was a possibility of reciprocal claims on our British Columbia border, north and south, it was thought by some people that it might provide some opportunity or the basis for the resolution and some understandings on these matters.
That possibility is not as strong today as it once was. I would have to say to the Member that I would have to report back further to the House on the progress of the negotiations, particularly negotiations by British Columbia groups. He will be aware that some people have expressed fears, given the new legal environment in British Columbia, that non-residents from that province may be more aggressively pursuing their claims in the Yukon, because of the more favourable negotiating environment that is believed to exist here.
I cannot say that is the case, but that fear has been expressed.
Mr. Phelps: There is certainly a concern. The Atlin Tlingit people have also, apparently, been claiming large tracts of land in the southern Yukon as part of their claim. Can the Minister advise us whether a formal claim to portions of the Yukon has been received by Ottawa or by this government from that group of people? If so, what progress, if any, has been made in resolving that negotiation?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I can report no progress on that particular matter, although I will take notice of the question about a formal claim. I hope the Leader of the Official Opposition understands that Mr. Speakers people, the Teslin Tlingit, also have interest south of the border, and there may be some issue as to whose claims may be advanced in the time to come. I expect there will be discussions around that point, but I cannot report any recent discussions on either of those two issues.
Question re: Human Rights Commission, letter re racism
Mrs. Firth: I would like to ask the Minister of Justice a question about the recent actions of the Human Rights Commission, specifically with respect to a public letter written by the commission, effectively branding an individual as a racist for expressing his views on the land claims agreement.
I am not standing up to judge whether the individual is right or wrong, nor am I asking the Minister to agree or disagree with the point of view that was expressed. How can the commission function in a fair manner now, if the complaint is laid against this person?
Hon. Ms. Joe: I am not familiar with the letter. I saw it in the paper, but did not totally read it through. As the Member knows, the Human Rights Commission is independent of this government. I believe they were expressing a view. I am not sure whether or not the expression, as stated by them, will be a problem in regard to any action that might be taken against this person.
I have not had the opportunity to read the articles by the person in question. I have not had an opportunity to speak to members of the Human Rights Commission. I am not sure whether or not there would be a problem.
Mrs. Firth: Essentially, what happened is that the commission targeted an individuals comments, and publicly concluded and branded that person as a racist, and in doing this interfered with that persons fundamental rights and freedoms. I would like to ask the Minister if she agrees that the commission should not act as thought police and should do the job that it is supposed to do, which is to represent all people, responding to and initiating their complaints in confidentiality.
Hon. Ms. Joe: I am not exactly sure whether or not the Member for Riverdale South is correct in her assumption. I do not know whether or not the letter did brand that person a racist or not. As I said, I have not had the opportunity to discuss the letter with them, and I am not exactly sure whether or not they have breached anything in their duties in regard to the letter that she is referring to.
Mrs. Firth: This Minister always has her nose in the newspaper in the House when we are debating issues. Why has she not read the letter? The commission reports to the Legislature, and we on this side of the House think that the action of the commission was misguided, inappropriate and wrong. I would like to ask the Minister if she agrees that the actions of the commission have paralyzed it in its ability to function in a fair way? If the Minister agrees, will she direct the commission that it is not their place to publicly pre-judge peoples actions?
Hon. Ms. Joe: In regard to the preamble - for the record - I do not always have my nose in the newspaper; however, I do read the newspaper and find that a number of the articles are rather interesting. For the record, there are a number of other things that I do have my nose into. Sometimes they are very serious things, but certainly I will have a discussion with the Human Rights Commission with regard to the article and if necessary report back to the Member.
Question re: Employee transfer expenses
Mr. Phillips: I have a question for the Minister of Renewable Resources regarding the transportation of a horse to the Yukon. I asked the Minister this question last week.
The Minister told us that he was not certain at that time whether or not the Yukon taxpayer paid for the transportation of the horse to the territory. I wonder if the Minister can tell the House today if we did pay to have this horse shipped to the Yukon?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I have not had the opportunity to check into the matter to verify whether the Government of Yukon did, indeed, pay to have the horse brought up to the Yukon, but I have referred the matter to the department responsible for such matters, the Public Service Commission.
Mr. Phillips: I will address my second question to the Minister responsible for shipping barnyard animals to the territory, whoever that Minister may be. Describing the horse as a household effect or a personal effect is rather unusual and I believe this is a new policy that can best be described as the barnyard and pet policy of the Government of Yukon. I would like to ask the Minister to tell this House how much it cost to have this horse shipped to the Yukon.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am a little slow rising to my feet because I am not used to being referred to, or designated, as the Minister responsible for agriculture or for the transportation of live animals. However, I am the lead horse in this particular question and consequently responsible for answering the Member.
The horse in question was transported to the Yukon at public expense. It was considered to be a part of the personal effects of the employee in question. All the other effects, other than this particular animal accounted for approximately 10,000 pounds, and the limit is around 13,000 pounds. Consequently, this was considered to be within the weight limit for the transportation of personal goods. I have not weighed the horse and - no horsing around here - I have not delved as deeply as I am sure the Member is going to want me to into this question, but if the Member would like additional information for him to be able to assess the situation further, I will be more than happy to saddle up and lay on the spurs and find that information for him.
Mr. Phillips: It seems to me to be a real deviation from government policy to now be shipping barnyard pets as part of personal effects.
The Minister did not tell us how much it cost. I can assure the Minister that there are a lot of Yukoners out there who do not feel that we should be paying for horses and other livestock to be shipped to the Yukon under a personal effects policy. People are quite surprised that this government has stretched this policy to its outer limits.
Does this new government barnyard/pet policy apply to all government employees who have moved personal effects to the Yukon or is it just for the chosen few? I wonder if the Minister could tell this house what types of barnyard animals this includes. Is it just for horses or does it include the payment for a pet pig or elephant if a new deputy minister is moving here, or just if the pet is within its weight requirement?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It is the case that we have transported animals before on behalf of employees as long as they are within the weight limit. That is true.
The Member asked on Thursday, rather facetiously on this otherwise rather serious subject, if the government was moving entire barnyards. I did have that checked because I was not sure of the accuracy of such a policy if it indeed did exist. I discovered that we have moved even farm implements on behalf of employees to the Yukon. I have not been able to find out more information on that because it happened pre-1985, before we came into office.
In any case, that is a horse of a different colour.
We do not screen personal effects prior to people coming to the Yukon. The policy we have now is based on weight. Therefore, whatever people consider to be personal goods are respected as long as it does not go over the weight limitations.
Question re: Forestry devolution
Mr. Devries: I have a question for the Minister of Renewable Resources regarding the devolution of forests.
I was recently paging through the new government phone directory and I noticed a section dedicated to the forest program transfer unit. All three positions were vacant. We in the Yukon have been patiently waiting for the long-promised transfer from the federal government to YTG. So far we have three ghosts and a phone number. What is the present status of the transfer of forests to YTG?
Hon. Mr. Webster: There is not much new to report in the matter of forestry devolution since last fall. To date the inventory work has been completed, we do have the forest program transfer unit in place as per our policy and planning branch. Work has been slowed down since that time.
Mr. Devries: This transfer has been dragging on and it is obviously not a priority. Has a target date been established to complete the transfer of this important resource?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I wish to assure the Member that this is still a priority of ours and we plan to establish a negotiation position this spring to put forward to the federal government.
Mr. Devries: While we sit waiting for this to happen the spruce budworm is chomping its way north in the southeast Yukon. Has DIAND, in conjunction with the Department of Renewable Resources, been monitoring the advance of these little worms in the Beaver-La Biche area and assessed the damage being done to our valuable resource?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I regret that I cannot provide the Member with an answer at this time. I know the federal government, in the past, has been monitoring the advancement of the disease. I do not know if it is being continued at this time. I will endeavour to get back to the Member with this information.
Question re: Elsa curling rink
Mr. Brewster: My question is to the Minister of Community and Transportation Services. Approximately one million dollars of taxpayers money has been spent on building the new curling rink in Elsa. I would like to know how many games or bonspiels were held this past winter.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I believe that the Member knows the answer to that. Elsa has not been in operation as a mine, and it is anticipated that there have been no games played within the facility.
Mr. Brewster: I understand that the new curling rink was attached to the old recreation hall, whose roof subsequently collapsed. I would like to know if the new facility is still intact?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: To my knowledge, we are monitoring the situation very closely. We are assured that it is entirely intact. The facility is as constructed and protected from any potential damage from the adjacent building.
Mr. Brewster: Is it true that the building has now been offered to the people of Mayo?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I do not believe that it is fair to say that it has been offered, but it would be fair to say that there have been discussions in regard to the potential of relocating it.
Question re: Young offenders, inquiry into treatment of
Mr. Nordling: I have a question for the Minister of Health and Social Services. In late February of this year, a young girl almost died at the Na Dli Young Offenders facility from lack of prompt medical attention. On April 3, the Kwanlin Dun Band expressed its concern to the Minister in the form of a letter, a copy of which was sent to me and to two other Members of the side opposite. In that letter, the chief and council requested a public inquiry into the treatment of young offenders and the policies regarding young offenders. Will the Minister be ordering a public inquiry?
Hon. Ms. Hayden: I certainly share the Members concern on this issue. I have spent a considerable amount of time talking with the family, with the band, with CYI and with members of my department. At the present time, the Council for Yukon Indians and the department are working on a process of review.
Mr. Nordling: Was a written report prepared by the staff at Na Dli in response to this incident? If such a report was prepared, will the Minister make it available to this House, perhaps with the name of the young offender blanked out?
Hon. Ms. Hayden: I will take notice of that question.
Mr. Nordling: I hope it is available in that a young girl nearly died and there should be a report somewhere.
I would also like to ask the Minister what training the youth workers have at Na Dli for dealing with this sort of situation where medical attention may be needed.
Hon. Ms. Hayden: One of the results of this incident is that the department has a very tight policy now; that any person in Na Dli who may be or appears to be ill will be monitored very closely and will be cared for as well as possible. So far as I am aware, there is no specific training for staff in this area; but what we do have is a contract with a nursing company to provide on-call services to the facility. That contract also has a clause in it that they must not only come when they are called but follow up on each instance. I am sure a situation like this one will not develop again.
Question re: Foster parent per diem rate
Mr. Lang: I have a question for the same Minister, the Minister of Health and Social Services. On Thursday, I raised the question to the Minister as to when we could expect an increase in the per diem rate for the foster parents who take in children for sometimes seven days a week, 365 days a year. As it was pointed out over the weekend, it was kind of interesting: the schedule that has been in effect since 1986 is $11.55 per child and, at the same time, the government pays their employees $26 per day for day care services if required, if the employee is called away from where they live. There seems to be quite an anomaly.
I want to express my disappointment in the response I received from the Minister, in that she said it was under review. Can the Minister verify to this House that the first draft through the review process was done in October 1990?
Hon. Ms. Hayden: I share the Members concern, and I welcome his interest in and support of the issue. A strong foster care program is an essential component for any child welfare service. The review process we spoke of will provide direction for change and new initiatives to ensure the foster care program meets the needs and realities of the 1990s.
I am told that the beginning portion of the review from the Foster Parents Association has come to my department. I am waiting for further portions of that review, so that not only the rates, but also other components of the program, can be looked at and, we hope, improved. I am assured I will have all the information by the end of May of this year, and I will be able to make a decision shortly after that.
Mr. Lang: I am pleased to see that the Minister seems to have a more clear understanding of the issue than she did last year. I am concerned about the delay that has taken place as far as this issue is concerned. The Minister never answered my question.
I asked if it was true that the first preliminary draft of a report was done in October 1990. Could she verify that?
Hon. Ms. Hayden: I will take that as notice.
Mr. Lang: Would the Minister undertake to provide us with a copy of the final report, when it becomes available to her, so each Member has the opportunity to review it?
Hon. Ms. Hayden: I will take that as notice, also.
Question re: Watson River subdivision
Mr. Phelps: I have some questions of the Minister of Community and Transportation Services regarding constituency matters. The first has to do with the proposed Watson River homestead lots. These have been budgeted for and promised for the past three or four years. Is the government going to make these lots available to the public? If so, when?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I believe the Member is aware, to some degree, of a number of issues in Carcross that have been under intense discussion over the past year. These issues relate to matters pertaining to land, environment, housing and other community related concerns.
The Watson River subdivision is part of those discussions in that it is identified as having alternate use to subdivision development. Nevertheless, I want to assure the Member that I am hoping very soon to provide details about discussions I have been having with people from the community. I will be informing him directly.
Mr. Phelps: I guess that is a maybe.
The next question has to do with the Chooutla subdivision in Carcross. These are lots that were developed almost eight years ago and never released, as the Carcross/Tagish Indian bands objected to the land being transferred from the federal government to YTG. Has any progress been made with respect to resolving this issue?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am quite pleased to tell the Member that, on the issue of the Chooutla subdivision, there has been considerable progress in reaching an understanding on the potential release of those lots. That discussion, too, has been part of the global set of issues I have been dealing with over the past year with his community. Similarly to my previous answer, I will be advising the Member directly once we conclude something close to a final understanding and agreement.
To be more specific on Chooutla, it appears we may have an understanding that those lots will be released this year.
Question re: Carcross YTG garage
Mr. Phelps: My final question has to do with the old YTG garage in Carcross that was standing empty and transferred to Tourism for use by the heritage branch. I was wondering if there was any intention to dispose of this asset. If so, will the assets be offered by government to the public at large in the usual manner?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The asset of the garage is one of ownership by the Yukon government. The transfer of use does not constitute transfer of the asset; nevertheless, that is a moot point.
The garage is also part of the discussions I have been having with representatives from the community. It may or may not be made available for public disposition. At the moment, we are addressing it as part of a resolution to the various land and housing problems facing the community.
Mr. Phelps: I want to follow up on that. Residents of Carcross were promised that the garage, should it be disposed of by government, would be made available, in a normal manner, to the public at large and all people in Carcross. There is some concern that there is some deal in the works that will see this transfered for a dollar, or something, to the band, as part of another package.
Exactly what are the intentions of government in regard to that? Are they going to live up to their promise to those people in the community who are interested in it being used by some group that is prepared to bid on it in the normal way?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I cannot advise the Member specifically as to the intentions, because they are not known. The garage has been a subject of discussion in matters of land and housing and environmental concerns facing the community. What will finally be resolved is expected to be known within the next couple of weeks. Again, I will be advising the Member directly as to the results of those discussions, understandings and agreements.
The Member has to appreciate that, less than a year ago, I held a public meeting in his community at which we discussed, at some length, the need for various sewer and water facilities, the requirements for a lagoon, the absence of land, the need for housing, and the lack of availability of lots. I have been struggling trying to resolve these outstanding issues, and I am quite pleased to tell the Member, as well as his community, that I will be looking forward to advising him in some detail of some understandings that we are close to a resolution on.
Mr. Phelps: I am also advised by the people involved in the volunteer ambulance service in Carcross and the Emergency Measures Coordination, that there is a need for that facility with regard to storage of equipment needed for emergency measures. Will the Minister undertake to have his officials speak to the people involved in ambulance and Emergency Measures before any decision is made with regard to the disposition of that building?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I will certainly give the Member the undertaking. It comes to mind that, in an earlier question, the Member made the point that the community had made a request for the garage to be disposed of by normal means through public lottery or as a disposal. Could he advise - perhaps privately, if he cannot in the House today - and provide me with additional information as to where that commitment was made?
Mr. Phelps: I will have to do that privately. I was under the impression that it was at the public meeting that the Minister referred to. It might have been another one that was held a little over a year ago.
Question re: French jury trials
Mrs. Firth: I have a question for the Minister of Justice with respect to some comments she made regarding the justice system and having jury trials in French or English. After the Ministers comments on the radio about English people not being allowed to have trials in English in Quebec, I followed up by checking with the Department of Justice in Quebec, and found out that this was not true. I also had a local lawyer express some great deal of concern about that comment being made. Why did the Minister make those comments if they are not true?
Hon. Ms. Joe: I was being interviewed by a member of the media prior to that article coming out. I was referring to an individual here in the Yukon who had to appear in court in Quebec and was not allowed a translator. It was a difficult situation that involved a personal family matter. I was referring to the case as a specific one where there were no translation services available to her, and she was not able to understand the whole court process.
Mrs. Firth: We were talking specifically of jury trials, as covered under the Constitution. The information the Minister gave was wrong when she said they were not allowed to have translators. It was interpreted by the francophone community, some of whom have expressed concerns to me, that it was a further negative attitude about the anglophone/francophone relationship. I think the Minister has the responsibility to clarify the record. It is not the medias fault that the message has gone out, and that the Minister has given incorrect information.
After all that, what is the Minister going to do to publicly correct the record, so that the correct information is out there.
Hon. Ms. Joe: There is a general understanding that there is cooperation between this government and the francophones of the Yukon. That has been established in the past, and it is established now. If the Member chooses to take an article from the media - the one she was holding in her hand - and take offence to it, and if there is some way I have offended the francophones of the Yukon, of course I will apologise for that, because that was not my intention. I spoke of a case specific, as I mentioned, and it was in regard to information given to me.
Mrs. Firth: The issue here is that the Minister of Justice has stood up and publicly given wrong information out to all Yukoners. I am simply asking what she is going to do to correct that wrong information. What is she going to do to see that the Yukon public is made aware of that, and to correct the record?
Hon. Ms. Joe: I am well aware of the situation the Member speaks of. There are individuals in this community who have taken offence to what they heard on the radio. Many people in the Yukon take offence to many things they hear on the radio, or read in the newspapers. It is part of the process of being a politician and the media. They go hand-in-hand, in many cases.
I said that, if I offended, in any way, any member of the francophone community in the Yukon, I will apologise, and I do so right now.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now lapsed.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Bill No. 25: Second Reading
Clerk Assistant: Second reading, Bill No. 25, standing in the name of the Hon. Ms. Joe.
Hon. Ms. Joe: I move that Bill No. 25, entitled Land Titles Act, be now read a second time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Justice that Bill No. 25, entitled Land Titles Act, be now read a second time.
Hon. Ms. Joe: In September 1989, an arrangement was made to transfer Land Titles from federal to territorial control. Under the terms of that arrangement, the federal government will repeal its Land Titles Act after we proclaim a territorial land titles act.
All provinces have jurisdiction to control and deal with interests in property or land. They all have created systems for registering interests in land. We have such a system in the territory, the Land Titles Registry. However, it is under the jurisdiction of the federal government and is regulated by the federal Land Titles Act. Even so, under a longstanding administrative arrangement, Yukon government employees run it and administer this registry system.
The passage of this act will give the Yukon the same jurisdiction over land titles as the provinces now have. In other words, this is another example of the devolution of federal to territorial control.
Under the agreement worked out between the federal and territorial governments, the federal government will repeal their act at the same time as we pass ours. That assures that there will be no interpretation interruption in the system. We will adopt the present federal act with appropriate changes so that the present system will remain unchanged. However, we will then be able to make amendments and necessary changes in the future. For the time being, we take over the present registry system.
The Northwest Territories has entered into a similar arrangement with the federal government. It has already passed its Land Titles Act. Our act is to be proclaimed at the same time as the Northwest Territories. Before I discuss the legislation, let me outline some details of the transfer.
One of the major features of our Land Titles Registry system is that the Registrar of Land Titles guarantees the validity of registered interests in land. In case any action or suit arises out of this guarantee, there is an assurance fund that is paid into every time someone registers an interest in land. This fund will be transferred to the Yukon government to be used for the same purpose.
The federal government will cover the cost of any liabilities that have been created before the transfer. We undertake to maintain the present system. We agree not to cancel easements protected by international treaty. We agree to continue the present rule where it is not possible to register caveats against unpatented Crown land. This follows a Supreme Court of Canada ruling on this matter.
There is a modification to the existing Formula Financing Agreement so that the Yukon government receives a net benefit for any fees and revenues generated over $60,000 in any one year. The present revenues are over $100,000 per year and I should note that the fees have not changed since 1954. That means our registration fees are about one-third of those in similar western jurisdictions.
On or after transfer, we will look at modernizing the fee structure. In any event, the Formula Financing Agreement is such that we will have a system that provides a net benefit to the Yukon government.
There is no change in employees, as they are already Yukon government employees. Once the legislation and transfer is in place, we intend to review and modernize the present land titles system. All western provinces, the Yukon and the Northwest Territories have agreed to work together on this project to develop a uniform system.
With this in mind, let us briefly discuss the legislation itself and how it has been modified, so that it takes into account the Yukon situation. The review of the land titles system, which I have already mentioned, will necessarily review future amendments to the Land Titles Act. However, the territorial Land Titles Act remains essentially the same as the federal legislation.
Our intent in presenting this bill is to have control of the land titles system devolved from the federal government. Accordingly, the only changes to the federal act are cosmetic or administrative in nature. For example, sexist and archaic language has been changed.
Sections of the act that refer to the scale of plans and imperial measure have been changed to the metric system. Other changes are also minor, but are intended to reflect the fact that this act is intended for only one territory, and that the administration of the act will be by the Government of Yukon.
Mrs. Firth: We, on this side of the House, will be supporting the proposed changes. We have quite a lengthy piece of legislation to go through, but I anticipate that we will be able to move through it relatively quickly.
I just want to take this opportunity, at second reading, to give recognition to the individuals who work in the land titles office. I hear positive comments from the general public about the way these individuals do their job. We do not often stand up and say thank you to people who provide a good service to the public and are top-notch in their jobs. We, on this side, would like to extend that recognition to those individuals.
Hon. Ms. Joe: The Member commends the individuals in that branch, and so do I. There have been some difficulties in the past with regard to whom is responsible for what. The federal government is responsible for all capital expenditures, so they have suffered in that area.
I would just like to mention that there will be a couple of minor amendments when we go into Committee of the Whole, but it is only with regard to sexist language and some of the lines missed before that will be included then.
Motion for second reading of Bill No. 25 agreed to
Bill No. 85: Second Reading
Clerk Assistant: Second reading, Bill No. 85, standing in the name of the Hon. Mr. Byblow.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I move that Bill No. 85, entitled, Act To Amend The Electrical Protection Act, be now read a second time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Community and Transportation Services that Bill No. 85, entitled, Act To Amend The Electrical Protection Act, be now read a second time.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The act before Members today are the amendments to the Yukon Electrical Protection Act, and they very much follow the pattern of the amendments we dealt with in the Building Standards Act. The amendments Members will see in this act will provide for the kind of improvement in safety conditions in Yukon buildings, as well as a more efficient and economic service to contractors and home owners. In short, the amendments we are introducing here will bring the electrical safety program into the 21st Century.
The existing legislation we are operating under was first passed in 1977. There have been no major amendments since that time. It goes without saying that technological advances since then in the electrical and communications industries have been tremendous. They have made the improvements that we are now introducing in the House absolutely necessary, if we are going to try and administer an efficient set of standards.
Like the building standards amendments, the legislation before Members is the result of a fairly successful consultation with the public, the industry, professionals and various interest groups over the past two years.
The reviewing and revamping that was done in preparation for this piece of legislation has been fairly lengthy. It originally began in 1988 as a result of an independent review that involved the municipalities, contractors, inspection staff and clients who use the services.
From those discussions, a series of discussion papers were prepared which, in turn, became the basis of a much further and extensive discussion with the industry and the public.
Similar to the introduction in 1989 with the AYC, I introduced those discussion papers at a general association meeting in Dawson that fall. Since the time that the papers were distributed, there have been a number of meetings, both informational and technical, held with the electrical contractors, consumers, municipal councils and band councils.
At that time, we established a Review Committee that guided the review process. They were responsible for collecting public comments and making the proposed amendments. The committee was comprised of quite a diverse group of people. It had representation from the electrical contractors, the low-voltage section of the industry, the Electrical Trades Advisory Committee, Yukon Contractors Association, engineers, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, and there was also consumer representation. It was a fairly broad group of people charged with the review process.
I believe the committee has done an excellent job. The members ought to be commended for the extensive investment of time and effort that they devoted to the initiative over the past couple of years. They were enthusiastic, committed, and they took on the responsibility of revamping the existing legislation to heart.
What we have here is a streamlining of the electrical inspection process, and I believe that is a fairly major accomplishment, when we compare ourselves to the rest of the industry across the country. I tip my hat to the Review Committee who helped me prepare for the occasion of providing the legislation to the House.
As a result of the recommendations of the committee introduced through this bill, a number of things are happening. Permit fees will be increased. I believe Members raised that question during the building standards debate. The fees will be increased to the national average. This will provide for an approximate recovery of 60 percent of the inspection costs for providing the service, and it will place more of the financial responsibility of inspection costs on the building owner, or contractor, rather than on the public taxpayer at large.
A new contractor permit and inspection system is being introduced. This will reduce the delays between wiring completion of a building and the next stage of construction.
We are introducing into this bill the opportunity for electrical permits to be issued to home owners, but at the same time, in order to protect public safety, we are ensuring that measures will be put in place to guarantee safe installation.
An electrical safety standards board is being established to hear appeals on the interpretation of the code, much like we did for the building standards review process and legislation. This committee will also provide advice to the government to ensure that, if there is a need for any change, the government is kept abreast of industry developments.
One of the major shifts that is taking place in this legislation is by the different categories, or levels, of certification for electrical work. Five basic levels of contractors will be recognized in the new legislation. Electrical contractors will be licensed according to their training and their experience. For example, an electrician will no longer be required to know how to install power lines, when all they require to know is how to install a computer system and the maintenance of that computer system.
It should be pointed out that, under the old legislation one was required to be a journeyman electrician in order to do any electrical work. Given the technological advances in the electrical industry, we are creating five different categories of specialized activity in which people can be certified. They will only be allowed to do that particular work, but in five different classifications. That came out of some of the review work of the committee and I am supporting it.
I am sure Members will have many detailed questions and I look forward to those in Committee. I believe that what we are doing here is good. It will provide for a much more streamlined, efficient delivery of electrical standards requirements in the industry and in construction. I look forward to its eventual passage.
Mr. Brewster: I agree with most of the bill, however, once more there is a lot more paperwork for contractors and for private home owners. They will have to keep log books and a few other things, but if there was no paperwork, Mr. Speaker, government could not live, because it lives on paperwork. One thing I am very disappointed about is that once again there are no regulations, which is always the meat of the legislation. We never see it. They put in what they want.
We have another 60 percent raise in direct tax; we are now up to 120 percent. We have not dealt with the plumbing or heating permits. It is going to be interesting to know what it is going to cost a person permits before they even start to build a house. If the other two go up 60 percent, which they can do under regulations without us even seeing them, that is a 240 percent increase, plus the five percent sales tax and the GST. I know that they are going to jump around and say, That is not ours; that is federal, but it still comes out of the little boys pocket who is trying to build his house.
I certainly agree that it had to be cleaned up, but I really question why, in a time of recession like we are having right now, there are all these 60 percent jumps. Perhaps we are trying to recover the cost of the $1 million curling rink in Elsa that was never used.
Speaker: The Hon. Member will now close debate if he now speaks. Does any other Member wish to be heard?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: In brief response to the Members statements, I want to remind him that the fees have not changed since 1977. In those 14 intervening years, housing construction costs have gone up far in excess of 60 percent. We are suggesting that they go up.
If we wanted to raise the fees in direct correlation to the increase in housing costs, we would be going far in excess of 60 percent. We are trying to be reasonable about it and keep ourselves to the lower level of the industry averages across the country.
I appreciate the Members general support for the bill. What I can tell him is that, because he raised some objection to receiving paper in the Committee debate stage of the bill, I intend this afternoon to deliver to Members a package that will expedite Committee discussion of the bill. It will deal with existing amendments and an historical summary, and will provide better information for discussion purposes.
Motion on Second Reading of Bill No. 85 agreed to
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Government House Leader that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
Speaker leaves the Chair
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order.
At this time, we will have a break.
Chair: I now call the Committee of the Whole back to order.
We will be dealing with the bills in the following order: Bill No. 58, No. 90, No. 77, No. 25, No. 85 and possibly No. 82. Also, clause 7 in Bill No. 58 was stood aside last week.
Bill No. 58 - Building Standards Act - continued
On Clause 7 - continued
Hon. Mr. Byblow: When we stood clause 7(6) over in debate last week, it was because the Leader of the Opposition raised a question about the wording of the subclause. I trust that Members have no objection to our proceeding with the Leader of the Official Opposition not being present?
The Leader of the Official Opposition raised the point that, the way the act is worded in subclause 6, it could leave the interpretation that there was no appeal to people who are living on band land in the event the band should choose, under this act, to have its own inspectors. I took the Leader of the Official Oppositions point under advisement, consulted with officials, and we have determined that there is a better way to say it to make it clear - a better way to make it clear that, should a governing body of a First Nation choose to have their own inspectors, then an appeal process would either be struck by virtue of the rules they establish or else our appeal body would be applicable.
In essence, what Members have had circulated to them is an amendment. The amendment that I am proposing through my officials who have reviewed this is
THAT Bill No. 58, entitled Building Standards Act be amended in clause 7 at page 4 by substituting the following subclause for subclause (6):
The governing body of a Yukon First Nation may establish a body to hear appeals from inspectors appointed by it; if it does so then those appeals shall be to that body and not to the Board, and subsections (1) to (5) shall apply to the appeal in the same way as if the appeal were to the Board.
Madame Chair that is the amendment. What the amendment to the bill now provides is a clear response to the concerns raised by the Leader of the Opposition.
In other words, under this clause, if we use our inspectors on band land then our appeal board automatically applies. That is the proviso throughout the bill. If the First Nations choose to establish their own inspectors, then this clause requires them to have an appeal body to which people have the right of appeal and this clause also makes it clear that should First Nations do nothing then our board would apply, much the same as if we were assuming the full jurisdiction.
In any event, I would say to the Leader of the Opposition that he raised a very valid point. Our officials have agreed that there is a better way to clarify this and ensure that there is an appeal process at all times. This wording, we believe, provides for it.
Unless there is debate we would require approval of this amendment.
Mr. Lang: I would like to raise a couple of concerns. This is not the most significant bill that has ever been put to the House. I am not lessening the importance of it, but there is a principle involved here that I think should be discussed. To my knowledge, it is the first time that it has come to the House. Where does the territorial government fit in with respect to land claims negotiations and Yukon First Nations?
There have always been assurances from the other side that general laws of application would apply with the culmination and agreement on a land claims settlement. In the bill here, we have the municipalities requiring them to be enforced by an appeal procedure board that would apply to them. There is no question about that.
There are a number of reasons for that. One is to give those who have what they feel is a legitimate grievance the ability to appeal to what they see as an impartial body. I would assume that that particular board, when appointed, will have both urban and rural representation in order to have objectivity.
What we see here is an amendment to say that there would be an appeal - a concern brought forward by the Leader of the Official Opposition - but, further to that, I think there are a number of other aspects to this.
The board that could be appointed by a First Nation, which would, as I understand it, be within the stated municipality of Pelly Crossing or Carmacks, could well be people strictly from that community. The impartiality required for those with the grievances could come into question. What is important is not only that there be impartiality but also that there be the perception of impartiality for the purposes of the appeal procedure.
A second point is that once again we are being faced with a principle that essentially says that if a First Nation so chooses, they would not have to abide by the final appeal board set up by the territorial government. I do not know why we are doing this in view of the smallness and nature of our communities and their populations. I do not know if this would result in some understanding about people working together with respect to the territory.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I believe I addressed the concern raised by the Member in previous debate. What we cannot second guess or predict is the final outcome of self-government negotiations. If bands have the right of self-government on their land enshrined in the final settlement legislation, then we have recognized that they have the right to make their laws on that land. We have provided for all options to be covered in these clauses.
With respect to the specific creation of the board that the Member raises, bands on settlement land will have the choice to create their own inspections and appeal board. They will have the option of allowing or arranging for us to provide those inspections, and subsequently, the appeal process and the appeal board. As the Leader of the Official Opposition pointed out, if they do nothing, then our laws of general application would apply. Our inspectors would address the need to fulfill requirements of the act in terms of the National Building Code standards and life would go on. At this point, we have a very cooperative working relationship between the government and the bands, with respect to building standard matters. We currently are in a cooperative relationship on band land with the bands to provide inspection services. Bands act as any client in matters of building standards and construction, whether it is to do with permits or inspections or seeking advice on standards.
In recognizing that we cannot predict the final outcome of self-government legislation or negotiations, we are providing for all things to be covered.
They can create their own inspection branch with its own rules and board, to include the appeal board, or we could provide that service. If they do nothing, we will provide the service through laws of general application.
Mr. Lang: If you read clause 7(6) A Yukon First Nation may designate the board... In this particular case, they do not have to designate a board or an appeal procedure. From a technical point of view, you still would not have an appeal procedure for the aggrieved party. It sounds like we are marching very discretely to where we will have governments based on race and the appeal procedure based on race in our small community. If that is the case, I think we are developing a sophisticated regime based on the true definition of apartheid. That will be sad for the Yukon.
I want to use the converse argument with the Minister. If the position is that the Yukon First Nation may set up their own appeal procedure and board, why should the communities of Whitehorse or Dawson City not have that right as opposed to making it mandatory for the municipalities in the previous sections?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: There are several points. In the first instance I resent the Members suggestion that we are moving toward an apartheid regime through this legislation. The governing clause, prior to the section we are amending, is section 5. This section contains the option for the First Nations to choose their own regime. This is going to be possible under their self-government provisions. In section 6 we have created those options. I disagree with the Member that there is no option. If the First Nation does nothing in terms of standards, boards or inspectors then our laws apply. We are creating territory-wide, uniform National Building Code standards that will apply to the First Nation.
In subsection (6), we say that if the band chooses to appoint its own inspectors - and that is why the wording is the governing body of a Yukon First Nation may establish a body to hear appeals from it. That is the reason for the may clause because, previous to that, there is a may requirement. They have the option - then the subsequent phrase says that it shall create an appeal process. If it does so, and I am quoting from the clause, then those appeals shall be to that body, and not to the board. I am referring to the new clause (6). In respect to the appeals process, the reference is a shall requirement.
If the First Nation chooses its own inspectors and governing body, it shall hear appeals to that body or, failing that, it would hear the appeals through our body. If it does nothing, then our body applies. That is the interpretation of subclause (6).
What more can be said? All options are covered.
Mr. Lang: I am not going to belabour this. My points are valid, in respect to a general philosophical observation. I am just reading the actual section: The governing body of a Yukon First Nation may establish ... It does not say it shall establish if it does not go with subsection (6).
In other words, it is discretionary on both parts on what happens when it is may in either case, and they do not bother appointing anyone. Does that mean that you do not have an appeal? That is the technical side of the provision before us.
If this matter of an appeal board is going to be discretionary for the First Nations, and if that is the position of the government, why does that discretion not lie with the municipality? Why are they forced to go under a territorial board? If you philosophically feel that a small community can handle the appeal procedure, then why does the principle not apply to a municipality, such as the City of Whitehorse or the Town of Watson Lake?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The short answer is that is purely a jurisdictional matter.
This legislation addresses the application of standards relating to building, territory-wide, and allows for a municipality to opt in or out of having to have inspectors. The City of Whitehorse can choose to have its own inspectors. The jurisdictional situation is such that we are creating the appeal board, territory-wide, save for settlement land where self-government provisions will not permit us to insist on it. That is a jurisdictional matter.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: For the record, I think it is important to make it clear that the Member opposite is talking about a general philosophical point and the Members on this side do not agree with him. His comparison of the self-government agreements or provisions for self-government resembling apartheid was, I felt, closer to the Reform Party position than it is to the position of the Conservative Party - certainly as the position of the Conservative Party is articulated nationally - and I want the record to show that Members on this side of the House oppose that position absolutely. It is our view that the apartheid system in South Africa - that horrible, regrettable, murderous system, which was based on black people having no power over their lives whatsoever in that country even though they are a majority - was, in fact, historically based on the Indian Act of Canada; what we are trying to do in these self-government negotiations is to move away from the Indian Act system where aboriginal people, as wards of the national state, had to petition through band council resolution for permission from the national state to do things, to the point where they are becoming self-governing communities and enjoying powers of self-governing communities that most of us have enjoyed for a long time.
It is important to make the distinction that, in law, bands are the creature, if you like, of the federal government and municipalities are creatures of the territorial government.
As a purely practical proposition, I expect that we shall be negotiating on the basis of trying to have arrangements in small communities where the communities may well recognize that, as a purely practical matter, they will not want to incur the responsibilities of administering all legislation like this. Nonetheless, as provided for in the umbrella final agreement, and as provided for in the federal policy, and as is considered in the policies of this government, the possibility exists that a First Nation may well wish to assume these responsibilities for itself.
Having assumed these responsibilities to negotiate, they may then wish to negotiate arrangements by which they are administered according to general territorial law.
It is our view that one cannot talk about self-government powers as being an acceptable thing for First Nations and then, at the starting point, say that they can have powers as long as they are not exercised and they have no jurisdiction. It should be understood that the situation we are moving toward is probably one in which those communities, for the first time, will share power with the rest of us. At the same time, as powers are devolved to municipalities and communities in things like the Health Act and the Education Act, the First Nations will be asserting for themselves, in the final negotiation toward a settlement here in the territory, their right and claim to responsibilities and control over their own lives. This is something they have never had up until now.
The Member is right. I think there is a deep philosophical division between him and me. I do not know if he is speaking for his whole party, because I have heard almost identical views expressed by our representative of the Reform Party in the Yukon lately. I know he is certainly not reflecting the view of the national Conservative Party on these questions.
I did not want to intervene on the terms of the specifics of this legislation, but I did want to indicate that we, on this side, part company with the Members philosophical statement.
Mr. Lang: The Premier and I have parted company on quite a number of issues. It is no secret. I am willing to stand up and say what I think. I know there are sectors of our population who have been put in the position where they feel if they speak out their jobs or whatever may be jeopardized. Subsequently, we get calls and mail, unsigned, from people within the public service and without, who feel that the strength of the government has become so great that it is almost to the point where a person no longer has any right to express views.
We do share a difference in philosophy. I was part of a decision that was taken back in 1985 for a land claim position brought forward by the three parties in the negotiations. The ultimate end of it was that the territorial government would be one government and there would be a one-government system. My point is that what I am seeing here is a slow but sure breaking off from the government and a decision being taken to create another level of government based on racial grounds, separate from the territorial government but having basically the same authority. In some ways, this is going to make this Legislature really irrelevant.
With respect to the public interest in totality, that is my observation. As far as the national Conservative Party is concerned, I do not speak for the national Conservative Party and I do not pretend to. I make no apology for that. I live here and I have a right to express my views and I will express them. I am expressing the views of a lot of other people who are starting to ask questions about the Yukon and the social contract that we are going to have in years to come as far as our children are concerned. That is my concern. I can live through anything here. I am at that age in my life now, and most of us are, no matter what decisions we make, we can get on with our life and carry on accordingly. It is on behalf of our constituents that we have to ask what is taking place and what we see evolving.
What I do not understand is that Minister has not answered my question as to why the municipality does not have the right to appoint its own appeal board, yet the First Nations do. That is all that I am asking the Minister and perhaps he could tell me that.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I believe that I answered it. It is a question of jurisdiction. I believe the Premier outlined, more articulately than I could, that in respect of settlement lands there will indeed be certain privileges established in self-government that will require the governing by First Nations on those lands. In anticipation of that, a First Nation shall have the right to establish its own set of rules by which the building standards could be administered. That provision is now being made in the bill. With respect to municipalities, it is enshrined in our presence here as a Legislature that we have the jurisdiction over the territory, including municipalities and excluding municipalities, and that is how the law has been built.
It is simply a matter of jurisdiction in that we have the responsibility to administer the territory at large, and bands will have the responsibility to administer their affairs on their land.
Mr. Brewster: There is just one question that I would like to get clear in my mind. If the First Nations decide that they want their own appeal board and their own inspectors and the territorial government has its own appeal board and inspectors, are the taxpayers and the territorial government going to pay for two appeal boards and two bunches of inspectors for 30,000 people?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The short answer is no. The explanation can be demonstrated by calling attention to the Whitehorse situation. It is the only municipality that has chosen in the past, and will no doubt continue under this bill, to have its own inspectors. The public taxpayer at large does not pay for that. The public taxpayer pays 40 percent of the costs related to administering our act. As I pointed out earlier, we are trying to recover 60 percent of our costs of administration.
In general terms, yes, the public taxpayer picks up about 40 percent of the system we are setting up in here. We do not pay anything for Whitehorses administration, unless you want to consider portions of block funding or portions of the previous grants that were given to the municipality as public contribution. The Member can extend the argument and say that when land claims negotiations are concluded, there may be certain monetary settlements that may help pay for that kind of thing. On the face of it, there will not be a public exposure to the costs associated with the choice of a band to administer this law within its own lands. It will not be the case.
Mr. Brewster: I am not quite asking that. I realize that would happen. I am talking about the present time where you have not finalized your settlement, yet you are putting this into legislation. I presume that they can now choose not to come under this and have their own appeal board and to have their own inspectors. Who is paying for them until the settlement?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: In specific response to the questions, bands could choose to do that right now, before settlement. They have the right to establish their own rules on their own land. They have opted to use us as the agency to administer building standards. The Premier pointed out that some communities clearly will not have the personnel or the resources to set up their own regime. It does cost money to pay your inspectors full-time wages; to have an administrative component; to review the legislation, interpret it and apply it; to have an appeal body to whom you must pay honorariums; research money; and clerical costs. Clearly, a community like Faro or Haines Junction would not consider that. It would be inefficient, expensive and unreasonable. Should a community choose to do that, it would pay the costs in the process, similar to Whitehorse paying its own inspectors, then collecting it back from permits.
We have pointed out in some of our literature that Whitehorses permit fees and structure of recoveries for building-related administration is higher than the Yukon governments. It is getting higher than a 60 percent return, which is all that we are proposing.
That goes a long way to pay for their inspectors. I suspect they still have to subsidize that from their general revenue. It would be the same case for a band as it would be for Faro or Haines Junction, but it would not be affordable by them. The public taxpayer would not pick it up, unless it were through some program financing that exists.
Mr. Brewster: It took me almost 10 minutes to get an answer but, at least, I now have it in Hansard.
Chair: Is there any further debate on the amendment?
Amendment agreed to
Clause 7 agreed to as amended
Title agreed to
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I move that you report Bill No. 58 out of Committee, with amendment.
Motion agreed to
Bill No. 90 - An Act to Amend the Chartered Accountants Act
Hon. Ms. Joe: The critic wanted to debate this bill, and she is not in her seat right now. I wonder if she will be here soon.
The Member for Riverdale South, in discussion the other day about this bill had some questions as to cost. There will be no cost to the government. Any costs incurred will be borne by the chartered accountants.
Mrs. Firth: I was looking specifically at whether the government had made any predictions about hearings that might come forward and approximately what that kind of process could cost. The medical profession, a self-disciplining body, has just incurred a substantial cost with respect to the court cases against Dr. Branigan. The government ends up paying all those legal fees and I would like to know whether there have been any incidences where there have been chartered accountants who have had to be brought before disciplinary boards, and whether the government is making any predictions with respect to what they might incur in the form of costs should that have to happen. How expensive are these kinds of proceedings?
Hon. Ms. Joe: There is a difference between the two bodies. This body is self-regulating in that it will deal strictly with its own inquiries. According to the Medical Act, we administer that act so are responsible for the inquiries that are instigated. That is not the case with this act.
Mrs. Firth: Is it now true that the cost of the hearings is paid for by the government under this act? That is what the Minister said in her opening comments and I read it to be the same as in the Medical Act, where the costs of the hearings are borne by the government.
Hon. Ms. Joe: I do not recall making that comment during second reading. I would have to check back. I do not think I did. I mentioned a moment ago that any costs incurred will be according to the bylaws of the body.
Mrs. Firth: I will just check that. I was pretty sure the Minister had said that. I had made a note of it with the intention of asking about it. I will check into it to see if it really was said and we can discuss it later.
I would just like to ask the Minister how long the local chartered accountants have been asking the government to proceed with this kind of legislation. Have they been inquiring for a long time?
Hon. Ms. Joe: It is my understanding that this has been an outstanding issue since about 1987. It has resulted in the amendments to this act.
On Clause 1
Clause 1 agreed to
On Clause 2
Clause 2 agreed to
On Clause 3
Clause 3 agreed to
On Clause 4
Clause 4 agreed to
On Clause 5
Clause 5 agreed to
On Clause 6
Clause 6 agreed to
Mrs. Firth: I want to go back to the point about the cost of the hearing. I have the Members second reading speech that she gave on April 25, 1991, in Hansard, on page 15. The changes also allow for the Commissioner in Executive Council to impose the cost of the hearing. This allows for a member under investigation to be charged with all or part of the costs of the hearing, rather than having all the costs borne by the membership in general. If the member under investigation is found not liable, then the costs will be borne by the institute.
If those costs are borne by the institute, does that mean that the government is going to have to pay those costs on their behalf?
Hon. Ms. Joe: The costs that we were referring to in the second reading speech were the costs not incurred by this government, but costs incurred with the responsibility of a regulating body of the chartered accountants.
Mrs. Firth: So, the Minister is saying that there is absolutely no cost to the government for implementing this act.
Hon. Ms. Joe: That is correct.
Title agreed to
Hon. Ms. Joe: I move that you report Bill No. 90 without amendment.
Motion agreed to
Bill No. 77 - Municipal Finance and Community Grants Act
Chair: Is there any general debate?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: During second reading debate, I outlined the principles of the bill in terms of what was being done through this legislation. In short, a single fund is being established for municipalities.
This act spells out how that fund is created and distributed.
The development of the comprehensive block fund is something that has been in discussion with municipalities for approximately a year. Parts of it were perhaps discussed for longer than that. When I first became Minister, one of the problems that we were facing was that of achieving consensus on aspects of the formula that distributed portions of the grant monies that are given to municipalities.
Just by way of a brief recap, there are five different pots of money that we give to municipalities under different formula regimes. Some of those regimes have formulae that, over the course of time, were causing inequities to happen. Some communities that were growing faster than others started having the formula skew the results. In other words, because a city like Whitehorse was growing rapidly, with massive growth to buildings and facilities, and assessments were increasing, aspects of the formula favoured a very rapid growth to Whitehorse. When you have available funds from a pot, that takes away from the smaller communities. There was a recognition, even by Whitehorse, that this was a problem.
I told Members that, two years ago, I attempted to reach consensus with the mayors and councils to change the formula. We could not achieve a consensus on how to rewrite the formula, so we agreed to hold the formula and hold the funding levels for one more year.
In the course of that year, we began to approach the very difficult task of creating a regime that would be fair to all municipalities, as much as possible, that did not become affected over time with skewed results by changing circumstances in the community, and still allowed for a distribution of funds to allow them to carry on with their business of providing services to their people.
The long and the short of it is that it made a number of options available to municipalities. They were circulated to municipalities. My officials went out and spoke to municipalities. There was some very good input from the discussion my officials had with the communities. It was invaluable in that it provided a basis for some changes that we did make later on in the process.
Members will recall, however, that there has been some disagreement and some objection from municipalities about the formula. I recall having a summit conference with mayors and councils late last November or early December. This conference was intended to address the issue of an equitable formula for distributing the funds that we have. As I mentioned, the formulae were beginning to skew. It was providing an unfair distribution of money.
It was at that conference that a discussion on what the formula should be, or how the pot should be distributed, collapsed. Municipalities chose not to discuss how to distribute the funds. They opted to take issue to the fact that they could see a reduction in the amount of funds. This was not accurate in my view. While there may have been a reduction in the capital block fund, there was an overall increase to the funding. There was a general increase in the various pots that were created to fund municipalities.
The task was left, after last December, for me to proceed with creating the comprehensive fund, or doing nothing - leaving the formulas intact, not being able to achieve consensus and continue the practice that had developed over time of inequitable distribution.
I chose to take the advice of the consultations we held with communities prior to the summit, look at the suggestions for improving the various formulae and distribution, and rewrite the comprehensive block fund proportional distribution formulae. That is what we have here today. We have what I believe is a much better financial regime with the municipalities. We have done a number of things. We have rolled all the money into one pot; we have opened up the flexibility of using that money for operational activities, as opposed to the high proportion of capital dollars that was in the old formula; we have done a phase-in of a couple of components of it so that the phase-in catches up with all the increases in growth of that infrastructure; and we have put formulae in place to address the distribution of a total fund.
I think it is a good formula. It is equitable and flexible, and it guarantees a minimum level that will be paid to municipalities. It allows for an increase each year, if the governments budget capability exists, but it will never fall below a certain level. To me, it was critical to give confidence and security to the municipalities so that, in any given instant, a government would not wipe out all or a good portion of its funding and leave itself hamstrung. It was important for us, as a Legislature, to give the municipalities - whom we are charging with more responsibility and more devolution of authority - the basic funds they need to do their work.
This legislation puts a bottom end to the level of funding. In other words, they will never get less than the level of funding they are getting this year, unless somebody comes back to the House and changes the legislation. Regulations cannot govern that; I am putting it in the act, and I think that is important.
I have mentioned the phase-in on the water and sewer deficit and the transit money.
This bill increases the base grant to the communities and, overall, provides for a much healthier, flexible and more fair distribution of money out of a single pot for municipalities.
Mr. Brewster: I guess I am the person in between. I make phone calls to municipalities and they tell me one thing. The Minister gives me a rosy story that tells me another thing. I do not know which one to believe.
A couple of the municipalities said they did not like it but they could live with it. Others came right out and said they did not like it. At least three of them predicted that within two years they will be in trouble.
These people sit on these boards and run them. I have never sat on those boards. I know most of the people and I am quite prepared to take their word for it. If any of them are running as well as Haines Junctions, I will go past taking their word that they know what they are talking about.
I do not know how we will ever get down to settling who is right and who is wrong. I would just like to have it on record that several of the municipalities have predicted that they will be in financial trouble within two years. Most of it seems to hinge around the sewer and water.
They are very frightened about this, especially with the new acts coming, the environment act, which mean they will have to pay more and more to clean up their acts. In some ways, I do not think it is a bad thing at all, but it all takes money. Whitehorse is an example of that. I do not think the mayor or any councillor on Whitehorse City Council enjoys what they have taken over with the sewer and water. No one has ever told them where they will be getting the money without bleeding the taxpayers.
It seems that, for a number of years, this government has had lots of money to throw away. Now, every time we turn around, they are making everything user-pay. I guess the honeymoon is over and now we have a government who will try to keep the bills down.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member raises the general issue that municipalities are not happy with this. I guess history will show the degree to which this new bill will provide to municipalities a healthier and more flexible financial regime than they have had in the past.
Part of the annoyance of some municipalities lies in our decision to reduce the capital funds during this budget year as opposed to what could have been in place under the old capital Municipal and Communities Infrastructure Grants Act. That is what municipalities took issue with.
I had lengthy discussions with them, and even though our summit conference collapsed in terms of productivity toward the formula, we still had a very healthy discussion about the issues. I have said to Members in the past that, ever since I became Minister, and even before that with the previous Minister, municipalities were making it clear that they had a fairly healthy capital financial regime. In other words, they had pretty good capital dollars, and they were struggling on the operations.
The fact that the capital fund is reduced in this budget year gave them rise to take issue with that, but it did not hurt anyone. It did not take away from municipalities ability to meet their requirements of providing services and infrastructure growth. Overall, this year, the municipalities got some $360,000 in actual dollars more than they did last year. It was about a 2.5 percent increase in actual funding, overall, even though we took some capital dollars out of what could have flowed to them under the old act.
I will tell the Member what I told them at one point in our discussions, where they refused to talk about restructuring this comprehensive block fund, where they refused to talk about how the formula should be arranged, where they insisted on taking issue with this capital fund reduction, irrespective of the fact that, overall, the fund has increased. I understood what their problem was. How do they, as eight municipalities, sit around a table and talk about cutting up the pie in a different way, without somebody getting hurt.
I understood their very difficult position. They had to, among themselves, decide who was going to get less, so someone could get more. That is tough. I said, look, I understand that. I will cut the pie for you if you want. We have got a very poor pie cut right now. We need a different way to cut it. We need better formulae, and here is my proposal.
I believe that there was more than one proposal. I believe that I proposed several options and from those evolved the formula that you have here in the legislation.
The Member says that municipalities will be in trouble in two years. Madam Chair, I would challenge that statement. As I have indicated already, the government is enshrining in this legislation a level below which municipalities will not drop. In other words, the level of funding that is going to flow this year will continue to flow for as long as no one touches this legislation. It is enshrined in here that there shall be this level of funding.
Granted, there is no guarantee in here that it is going to increase each year, as it has over the past five years. That is something else that the Members should recognize. Municipalities have received massive increases in their funding over the past five years. They have received, in essence, a 100 percent increase in five years. That is an average of 20 percent a year. This year, we took some of the capital funds and said we have to reduce them for other government objectives. Even when we did that, the municipalities still received a two-and-one-half percent increase.
Historically, municipalities have not suffered. They have become very healthy. In fact, as of December 31 this past year, I reviewed their financial statements and they collectively had $10 million dollars in the bank in reserves. Ten million dollars. I do not take issue with that.
I respect and applaud the municipalities that can manage their finances to the extent that they have millions of dollars in the bank. Good for them. I will not punish them. The government should not punish them for having that money in the bank and having that reserve of funds for special needs.
The Member said he predicted that municipalities will be telling him they are going to be in trouble in a couple of years. I have to understand that better, because I do not accept it as stated. I agree there are a couple of municipalities who do not have such healthy reserves as others do. The Member for Kluane comes from a municipality that has a very healthy reserve, no doubt due to good management and past injections of money into the community, in whatever form, combined with a good administration of the municipality. They have lots of money in the bank.
Mayo, on the other hand, does not. Mayo is a community that is in a very poor financial position as a municipality for a number of reasons, but not because of bad management. It is largely because they never had an infrastructure in place until recently. They have not had an adequate tax base to meet the kind of financial needs that a municipality like Haines Junction or Whitehorse could meet.
At the same time, this bill still provides for extraordinary funding where, under the old capital act, if you had a project two and one-half times your capital block fund, you would be eligible for some cost-sharing on a project. This bill keeps the same principle. It has changed the numbers a bit, because you are working with a bigger pot, and I believe we used one and one-half times. In this comprehensive fund, we have kept the same principle where you are still eligible for extraordinary funding, if your project is one and one-half times your comprehensive block fund. This is effectively transferring the same amounts of money in relative terms to when we had two and one-half times under the capital block fund.
Municipalities have increased their base level of funds as well. As the Member knows, the formula allows for a base grant to municipalities. For most of the municipalities, that base grant increased. A community like Mayo moved from a base grant of $375,000 to a base grant of $500,000. In the first year of application of this bill, Mayo automatically receives $125,000 extra in its base grant, and they get that the next year and the year after that. The formula will kick in beyond that, so communities have improved their health.
Haines Junction, which is a financially healthy community, also increased its base grant. It has an even healthier position. When someone says to me that municipalities are going to be in trouble in a couple of years, I really have difficulty understanding that. This bill enshrines a base level, increases base grants, permits extraordinary funding for extraordinary projects, provides a more equitable distribution of the money and therefore is a far better arrangement.
Mr. Brewster: I find it rather funny that we would single out Mayo, the only municipality where one man resigned in complete protest over this thing. I would think it very funny that he would resign if he was getting more money.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I listened to one of the Members read into the record how Dictator Byblow forced this poor counsellor to resign over this lousy formula for municipal financing. I suspect that this person planned to resign long before this government introduced a new formula financing regime, especially when this financing regime improves the health of that community by leaps and bounds. If the Member is resigning because of the regime, he is resigning because this government created a healthier financial regime for the community.
This is a reason that behooves explanation. I sympathize with the Members lack of understanding for the reason he resigned.
Mr. Lang: We have talked about cooperation and equity, how equitable this fund is and how much work has been done on it. Could the Minister tell us if any communities support this bill?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I did not ask community by community, Do you support this bill? This bill is the result of the intense discussions over the past few years since I became Minister. I have just explained to Members how municipalities refused to discuss a more equitable distribution of the funds with me. Those same municipalities provided very good input into a healthier formula regime at the staff level. That is incorporated into the act. The short answer to the Members question is that I cannot answer if they support this bill. I can say that, generally, municipalities are in agreement that a better method of financing is required, and this enshrines that better method.
Mr. Lang: Has the Minister asked any communities whether or not they support the bill?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The short answer is no.
Mr. Lang: Since the bill is going to have some long-term implications for all the municipalities, I would think the Minister of Community and Transportation Services would have the sense of responsibility to at least let the municipalities have a copy of the legislation before us. I would have thought he would have inquired of the communities what their positions are now that he has formally adopted a policy and brought it forward to this Legislature.
Is it the Ministers intention to ask any of the communities whether or not they agree with this bill prior to passing it in the Legislature?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Let me explain for the Member what has taken place here. This bill is a reflection of the discussions I have had with municipalities. It is a reflection of the financing regime I have proposed to municipalities, which is the culmination of two years of informal discussions, partial formal discussions and a summit conference at which the municipalities refused to talk about it.
I have subsequently met with the Association of Yukon Communities, in which there is representation from the municipalities, and I have provided to them my intentions to proceed with legislation respecting the comprehensive block funding approach.
In fact, in late January, when I presented my revised formula, which is now enshrined in this bill, for an annual general assembly of the AYC, I invited them to comment on it. In the subsequent six weeks prior to coming to the House with the legislation, one municipality responded. They made good suggestions. I responded to them and, I believe, in part, incorporated some of their suggestions, and some of their suggestions I could not as it would have created a similar inequity to what we had before.
To answer that Members question specifically, municipalities were provided an opportunity to comment on the regime of the legislation. All that this legislation does is articulate in words what has been provided to the Association of Yukon Communities in the form of tables, explanations of every component of the regime and in question and answer documents - the same kind of documents that I have provided to Members this morning. I was sure that I provided to Members late this morning packages of information on the background to the development of this legislation.
To wrap up the answer to the Members question, the summit conference to work on the formula failed. The late January presentation of the new regime to the Association of Yukon Communities invited them to make comment before I tabled legislation. One municipality made comments. Do I intend to provide this legislation to municipalities? The short answer is no, because the legislation simply puts into legalese all of the material that the municipalities have been provided and offered an opportunity to comment on. I suppose as a technical point I could circulate the bill to the municipalities if the Member has not. Maybe I should have, but it only is legalese for what has already been written and stated, and opportunity for input was provided.
Mr. Lang: I find it hard to understand how the Minister is proceeding with the bill without at least letting the municipalities know what has been tabled. The Minister has just indicated that he made a number of changes since January from what he had proposed.
I am sure that most communities are not aware of that, except maybe for the one that submitted some recommendations. What I do not understand is how the Minister can stand in his place and say that it is such an equitable cost-sharing agreement and then use Mayo as an example. If it is all sweetness and light, why is the community of Mayo not supporting this legislation, if it is going to give them a bill of health and going to be of such a better distribution of funds, for a community such as that?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: As was shown during Question Period today, you can lead a horse to the plane, but you cannot make him fly. I cannot insist that the municipalities provide written support of the bill. That is a democratic process that must flow in and of its own initiation.
Having provided to municipalities all of the details leading up to this legislation, and just to correct the Member and to ensure that the record is not erroneous in any way, there have been no changes to the presentation that I made to AYC in late January about my proposal to introduce the regime and subsequent legislation. The documents provided to Members earlier today are the documents provided, for the most part, to AYC in late January. There have been no changes to that formula and to that proposal.
Where the changes took place is between the period of the summit and January 25. The changes were the result of staff communications with each municipality. My staff went out to every municipality and spoke to the staff there. In some cases they spoke to the councillors, and in a couple of cases they spoke to the mayor, and they got input.
Whitehorse responded following January 25, raising concerns about the transit grant. Again, the change that took place after January 25 was favourable to all municipalities. The change we implemented after January 25 was the phase-in change - the one where we took the water and sewer deficit grants and the transit grant, and we phased it in over three years, to ensure that any growth that took place in infrastructure or in the transit system was accredited to the municipality getting that growth.
If we made commitments to help certain municipalities a year ago for a three-year project, I will honour that commitment. The phase-in was the answer to honouring the commitment, to cover-off enough money for the growth over the next three years. That is the only change, for the Members clarification.
Mr. Lang: I do have some other observations to make but I would ask the Minister - as we will probably take a break here fairly soon - specifically for a breakdown of how the new formula would work for the next three to five years and also how the old formula would work in the distribution of funds if it were to stay in effect, so that we will have a comparison of charts to look at and the amount of money that would be made available. I see we just had the one chart available to us, and I want to ask the Minister if he will provide us with the other chart he undertook to provide to us.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Before making a commitment on whether we have that available for Committee debate, could we just have a five minute break? It is time.
Chair: The Committee will have a 15 minute break.
Chair: I will call Committee of the Whole back to order.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Just prior to break, the question was raised about what would the grant structure to municipalities have been like without the proposed changes indicated in this bill. During the break we put together a sample to provide to Members of the new grant structure being proposed in this bill and the old grant structure, if we changed nothing. Members now have a two-page document. The first page is straight out of the package I provided to them this morning, with an insertion of the column that should be addressed. The column labelled Total Grants and circled on the first page is the current distribution as it would be under this new legislation. Off to the right-hand side of the page are the old base grants, which Members can compare with the extreme left-hand side of the page, showing a column of the new base grants. In respect of base grants, Carmacks and Teslin move from $375,000 to $450,000; Mayo moves from $375,000 to $500,000; and Haines Junction moves from $450,000 to $500,000.
The other three intermediate cities, if you will, Faro, Dawson and Watson Lake stay the same and so does the city of Whitehorse. Going to the second page -
Mr. Phillips: The NDP ridings go up and the Conservative ridings go down?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: That is most inappropriate for the Member to suggest. That NDP communities go up and others go down. Most inappropriate. I take offence. The Member should take a look at Faro, which is a most New Democrat riding. They, along with the City of Whitehorse, have technically lost money in the exchange. Whitehorse is also a New Democratic riding and it lost money. This is a most inappropriate thing to say.
The increases have gone quite uniformly through Carmacks, Teslin, Mayo and Haines Junction. These four small communities increased. Base grants in Dawson and Watson Lake stayed the same. Members should be careful about trying to associate political servitude to the distribution of the grants. It is inappropriate, uncalled for and I will not accept it.
On the second page: this is a calculation for the current fiscal year. It is as if we had done nothing. The circled column shows the grant distribution according to the old formula; it would have the tax base subtracted from it. The way the computer run is set up, it has not drawn off the amount of school tax that would be excluded from the total grant.
Still speaking to the second page, in the column that is circled there is a total of $13.8 million. You would have to subtract the school tax from that, which is shown in the column of tax room, to arrive at the appropriate figure.
I am in error saying the calculation is not there. In the column to the right of the circled column, there is a column showing the school tax removed.
Overnight, I suppose we could do more projections to show what it will look like down the road. In our earlier calculations, the projections showed a radical skewing in that the communities do not have funds available to them to perform their basic needs.
Another significant factor is that the last printed columns on both pages shows the proportion, by percentage, for each community. Members recall that the principle established some time ago for municipal finance was that Whitehorse gets approximately 50 percent and all the other communities get the balance. Whitehorse has accepted that principle historically and even currently. They do not see that kind of distribution as inappropriate, given their enhanced ability to generate funds and the grants-in-lieu that flow only to that city - principally because the major construction goes on in Whitehorse.
In any event, it remains to be said that if we project into the future, we find Whitehorse moves radically into a higher and higher proportion of the total funds under the old formulas.
I think, when we projected several years down the road, it was pushing well into the 60 percent range of the total funds. There was a recognition that we had a problem. Where we had the additional problem was reaching agreement on what was the best discretion. I submit to all Members that what we have come up with here is a most equitable and fair distribution that will work.
I should point out that the first page is drawn from the package that I gave Members this morning, and subsequent years under the new formula are in the package.
Mr. Lang: For the record, I am saying that the Minister has told us what a comprehensive and equitable package this is, but he does not have one community agreeing with him. Not one community has come out in support of it. His track record is complete. His support from the communities is zero.
You would have thought that if you had a good intention to bring forward a formula that you would have had a formula that would have been acceptable, at least in part, to some of them.
I am prepared to accept the principle that in anything that you bring in here there is always going to be some disagreement by various parties. Obviously, when you are cutting up the pie differently you are going to have that type of an argument.
I do not understand how we are sitting here with a proposal that no one is supporting. That is the aspect that really concerns me. I would have at least thought he would have been able to say look, there are four communities that feel, overall, that it is fair. We do not even have that. I see some real discrepancies in here in respect of what we are facing.
As well, I would like to speak as an MLA from Whitehorse, from the point of view that I represent a constituency and the taxpayers within a community. Last year we saw a million dollars less transferred to the municipalities. An arbitrary decision was made in the budget by the Minister. He in part spoke to that earlier when he said that there were other political objectives of the government and the municipalities had to do with a million dollars less.
This coming year, the City of Whitehorse, in comparison, if you compare the two formulas, is going to have roughly another $300,000 or $350,000 less transferred to the City of Whitehorse.
They have taken on more responsibility, and they are being asked to do certain things on behalf of the city and of YTG, as time goes on. I do not deny that but, on the other hand, it is not reflected in here.
My concern is that the Minister has brought a bill before us that is totally unacceptable to the communities. Yet, he is asking us to vote for it. We could have had a bill where there was some compromise, but the only compromise we have is his compromise. He is coming ahead with this, paddling his canoe, all by himself, with nobody at the departure to wave him off, and nobody to meet him at the other end.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: They are taking the money.
Mr. Lang: The Minister says that they are taking the money. They have no choice.
With the self-satisfied look he is projecting to all Members at the present time, if you take a look at all the communities he says he is helping out so greatly, there is very little increase in the projections of the next three to four years. Basically, if you follow one community, Haines Junction gets less toward the end of the fourth year.
The leader of the government has stood in his place and told all and sundry that it is essential, in order to come to an equitable agreement with the employees, that they go into a three-year agreement at 18 percent or 19 percent, primarily based on inflation. This is six percent per year. There is nothing in here that relates to that at all. Yet, if anyone is going to experience the inflationary spiral similar to the YTG, it is going to be our municipalities. One follows the other.
Why is there no provision in here for inflation, if this is going to keep up with the spending power of the municipalities?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member has invited much debate. To begin with, I want to point out that the projections that were provided in the package this morning, under the new regime, and the one-year projection under the old system, assumes no increase if spending levels remain no lower than the allocation in the budget for municipalities, as in this year. That is what the projections are based on.
There are provisions in the bill to speak to the issue of inflation. There are provisions in the bill that permit the government to provide up to the percentage of growth in expenditure of the government, similar to what is in the Municipal and Communities Infrastructure Grants Act. There is a provision in the bill where we can increase to the level of growth of expenditure of the government in respect of the comprehensive fund.
If the growth of government is two percent, we could increase municipal funds by two percent. That provision is there, and that would be the clear opportunity for any government to provide an increase to municipalities.
To conclude the circle on the inflation argument about increasing funds to municipalities, I have emphasized to Members that there is no level below which government can go in this legislation. Municipalities are guaranteed their $11 million, or their $17 million, or $14 million, or whatever the figure is. It is guaranteed to be in every succeeding budget.
One Hon. Member: When will it be $17 million?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Eventually it will be that amount, because the formula will have natural increases built into it. For example, through the phase-in period, all we do is take 25 percent of the deficit water and sewer portion into the fund, and 75 percent of the water and sewer deficit for each community, and apply it to that community for that year. The next year, we reduce it by another 25 percent and, in the third year, by another 25 percent so that, by the fourth year, it is all in the comprehensive fund. So, we have made an adjustment for growth, as I explained earlier.
I do not think I would agree with the Member when he says that municipalities will not be able to manage their affairs with the money they have. I believe the Member for Kluane also raised the concern that it might be really burdensome down the road. As I indicated before, all municipalities are in reasonably healthy financial situations. There is the collective $10 million in the bank. I believe only the municipality of Mayo has current financial difficulty meeting its obligations. This formula increases the base grant and the overall grant to Mayo by a substantial amount. So, that communitys difficulty is being addressed.
In the process, other communities, and the smaller ones in particular, are being enhanced in their base level of available funding. What this formula does is to build into the available funding for municipalities a level of funding that can meet their current needs and allows room for expansion through the change that is introduced in this bill, where one can take 50 percent of the comprehensive block funding and use it for operations.
Municipalities have made it pretty clear that they are pretty healthy on the capital side but have it tough on the operating side. Now they can take what would ordinarily flow from the capital side and use it for operations, up to 50 percent, with no questions asked. They have total flexibility. They do not even have to come to the Minister. If they want to convert 50 percent of the comprehensive fund to operations dollars and reduce taxes in the municipality, that is their choice. It is a provision being made here.
If one takes the comprehensive fund for Faro, which is a total of $1.1 million, it could choose not to build any capital infrastructure next year or this year. They could apply the $1.1 million to their general revenue and effectively reduce taxes for one year. That would not be a smart decision because, the next year, they would either have to do the same thing or increase taxes if they had something to build.
What it boils down to is that we are providing to municipalities a greater level of decision-making for the money that is available to them. They have greater flexibility, increased base levels and provision in the bill for growth. That is what devolution of responsibility is all about.
The Member also raised the issue of Whitehorse, pointing out that Whitehorse has lost money through the imposition of this new formula.
The point has to be repeated that the formula, as structured, developed serious skewing that defied the principle of Whitehorse getting half the pot. This formula still protects Whitehorse getting half the pot.
The Member keeps repeating that we cut $1 million. Yes, we reduced $1 million on the capital side, but we increased all the operating grants to the point where the overall funds available to municipalities were increased by over $300,000. There was an increase. It is unfair to say that there was a cut without recognizing the overall increase. Let us keep that straight on the record.
With all due respect, Whitehorse has a far better capability to raise revenue.
Mr. Lang: The working stiff will pay more.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: It is not a case of a working stiff paying more. It is a case of where you have more people to draw funds from. The big difference for Whitehorse is in their grants-in-lieu. Whitehorse gets massive amounts of money in grants-in-lieu for the various facilities that exist - which the government owns, because we build most of them in Whitehorse, and we have to pay grants-in-lieu for that. They receive far in excess of what is paid in rural communities.
Let me use a case in point, an example I used at a city breakfast meeting recently. The college is now a $40 million to $45 million facility. We pay grants-in-lieu of nearly $500,000 for it. Members are reasonable-minded. Let me put the question rhetorically. In fairness, how can we, as a government, pay $450,000 for a grant-in-lieu of taxes on the college, when we get only a fraction of service in return? It is an arguable point.
That does not happen just on the college. It happens on all the government facilities.
By far, these grants-in-lieu are provided in higher proportion than in rural communities for services that are not paid for at the level of what a grant-in-lieu is paid for.
Whitehorse has an advantage. By far, it has a greater administrative capability to manage all its services. It can provide services at a cheaper per capita cost than a rural community. The principle of base grants to rural communities flows out of that belief. Faro, which gets $650,000 as a base grant, and Whitehorse, which gets $1 million as a base grant, has no direct proportion in terms of population or services. It is just a recognition of a principle and a belief that a smaller community has fewer people, a tougher time putting infrastructure in place, has had less time to put that infrastructure in and, so, it gets some benefit from the general revenue.
The same is true for Watson Lake. This community draws $650,000 as a base grant for the recognition that it has only 1,300 to 1,500 people, as opposed to Whitehorse, which has 20,000 people. That is a principle that is recognized and supported in municipal circles. It is also supported by AYC, and they have recognized the ability of a larger community to more cost-effectively manage its services and provide a higher level of service at a lesser cost than a small rural community.
I repeat the point that the figures I have provided to Members are based on no increase. That is only a assumption; we could very well increase. The critical point is that it is enshrined in legislation that the base level of funding available to municipalities will remain there. It anyone wants to change that, they will have to come back to this House and make the point. It is not going to be in the regulations.
Mr. Lang:: I want to go on the record here talking about the old working stiff in Whitehorse. I realize his needs are a little different than if you lived in Watson Lake. It is funny, when I go and visit my relatives down in Watson Lake, they seem to do a lot of things that I do and receive a lot of services at the municipal level similar to what I get. In fact, they probably receive better services in some cases.
I am not here to argue Whitehorse versus the rural communities. The point that I am making is that it does cost something to run these municipalities and the fact is that the City of Whitehorse is getting less. I do not care who it is. Somebody is going to have to pick it up and it happens to be the taxpayer.
Listening to the Minister is his dissertation there, he was half way through his little talk there -he was not doing too bad - he actually was giving some arguments. I thought we will listen to that, but he defeated his argument at the end when he brought forward the reality of the base grant that reflects the smaller communities needs versus that of a major community. That is how we are reflected in the formula.
To bring in this red herring with respect to the grant-in-lieu, one can go through each community and each community receives its grant-in-lieu of taxes, depending on the number of government facilities in concert with the size of the community.
I am here to tell you that the taxpayers in the community of Whitehorse and the riding that I represent are starting to feel the taxes that are being put in place via the municipal government because of the fact, in part, that YTG is obviously starting to cut back on money.
The Minister stands up with his formula and says that this is enshrined in legislation and they could conceivably get more, depending upon how the Minister of Community and Transportation feels on any given day. That is basically what it is going to amount to.
The Minister talks about budget priorities. I have seen the budget priorities of this government and they certainly have not been reflected in the last year in a lot of these communities.
That is the point I am making. The Minister stands and says they could have $17 million in three or four years but, with the Minister of Community and Transportation Services track record since he took over the portfolio, I would say they might have $700,000 within four years, if he had his way. He cut them back by a million dollars last year on the formula but said he increased it by $300,000 on the other side, which he was committed to do. He had no choice; he had to go with that.
Yet, at the same time, you talk about priorities. My colleague, the Member for Riverdale North, pointed out a very real issue; we bought a $1 million piece of property right next door to this building under the pretense of the waterfront development plan that we have all seen and scrutinized and had the ability to go through. It was bought because of waterfront development. Nobody knew about it; it just seemed to come out of the clear blue. We found $800,000 for it, but we could not find any money in the budget to help the placer miners up in Dawson or anywhere else in the territory to get an early opening. It was not a priority, but we could go and buy a block of property so that the Minister of Community and Transportation Services, in conjunction with his colleagues, could become, and continue to be, the largest land owners and landlords in the territory.
It seems to me we are trying to be sold a bill of goods and perhaps that is why the municipalities have refused to deal with the Minister. Yet, if you listen to the Minister, it is all sweetness and honey. I do not understand why we do not have a cheerleading group of municipal politicians, standing up there cheering the Minister on and hoping he gets his legislation through as quickly as possible.
He must think we are deaf and dumb and he must think the municipal politicians are deaf and dumb, too - as he walks in this land of Alice in Wonderland and goes merrily through the tulips. I question where the Minister is coming from.
I listened to my colleague, the critic for the Department of Community and Transportation Services, who has been in touch with every municipality, including Dawson City, as the Member for Klondike might want to be aware. He has been in touch with Mayo, Whitehorse and Carmacks and none of these communities agree with what the Minister is doing. I have just been reminded to include Faro, the community the Minister represents. He is smiling to himself and thinking about what a great job he is doing, yet he does not have the support of these communities.
The Ministers reasoning is right out of line. I can see what is going to happen. I agree with my colleague on that. These new pressures that will be on the municipalities, particularly as far as wages are concerned, even with the money allocated through the formula, will result in major tax increases down the road.
The unfortunate aspect of this is that the territorial government will be one step removed from these problems. I suppose one could call the tactic the Minister is taking politically shrewd. The territorial government will not get blamed for the tax increases or cutbacks, or both, that the municipalities will be forced to impose on the communities. That is the ultimate end to this. We are talking about money and how it is going to be spent.
Somehow we find money to bring in horses, but when it comes down to reality, I guess when it is not that politically advantageous to get a government re-elected we cannot find the money.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am fascinated by the Member when he gets into his rhetoric and tries to draw me into a debate. I am not interested in debating non-issues. The Member continues to confuse apples and oranges. He has very little credibility with me. He had an opportunity when he was Minister and gave the municipalities either nothing or something only if they would accept it as a gift for him. He did not have any equitable formulae or financial regimes in place.
Chair: Point of order to the Member for Porter Creek East.
Mr. Lang: Order, please. That is incorrect. For the record, the Minister should check his facts. The first Municipal Finance Act was brought forward by the previous administration.
Chair: There is no point of order.
Some Hon. Member: The Minister had better check the record. He voted for it.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member raises the issue of the $1 million reduction in the capital block fund. The fact of the matter is that over the past five years, the level of funding that has been granted to municipalities and the increased authority devolved in handling that fund has been immeasurable. In fact, if you compare the financing that was available to municipalities in 1985 to what is available now, we have over a 100 percent increase in net funding. Municipalities have been granted massive amounts of money that has allowed them to be the healthy communities that they are.
This regime provides an even more equitable distribution for those funds that are available. It is entirely wrong for the Member to suggest that this is the prelude to a series of cuts that are going to be imposed on the municipalities, when the very opposite is true. The act enshrines a level below which you cannot go. On top of that, there are the extraordinary grants, the extraordinary funding arrangements. If a project is too huge and too difficult for a municipality to get into on its own, the provision is there for the Yukon government to participate in a shared funding of that particular project. I do not see where this act, where the behaviour of the government, supports the theory of the Member that there are massive cuts in store for municipalities and that they are going to have to raise taxes. Balderdash. That is entirely untrue. In fact, under the provisions of this act you can take the comprehensive block funding and use 50 percent of it toward operational costs. You can reduce taxes, as I have explained already. There is no reasonable-minded management of any municipality that would have to raise taxes with this kind of financing. This provides municipalities a more flexible, healthy arrangement than they have ever known.
The Members apples and oranges come in with placer miners and the Taylor Chev property.
The Taylor Chev property is an acquisition that is on the books as land inventory. Placer mining is not a denial of opening roads. It is a matter of a deferral for 10 days to meet budget responsibilities, especially in this particular year. I certainly dealt with some of the placer miners and the roads did get opened, starting April 1. We propose that those roads will continue to be open under the budget levels that we put in place. This was a very extraordinary year; we spent nearly a million dollars extra because of the high snow fall costs. To suggest on the one hand that it is irresponsible to delay opening a road for the mining community by 10 days and buy the Taylor Chev property as part of land inventory for waterfront development is just not a comparison of realistic, similar things.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I move that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Deputy Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: To review the question surrounding municipal consultation, I have provided during the break to Members a summary of departmental meeting notes with all of the municipalities leading up to the municipal summit held in early December. It summarizes the concerns that were raised by municipalities to staff of the department. In some cases the meetings took place between staff of respective municipalities. In other cases it took place with portions or all of councils. It provides some information to Members for their own background on what their communities may have raised as issues.
In discussions leading up to the comprehensive fund, I would note that those discussions were prior to the summit, at a point when municipalities were provided with a number of options of funding distribution. Following the summit, I used these notes from communities to develop the comprehensive fund regime in its final form.
In addition to this, Whitehorse did submit some additional comments following the presentation to AYC in late January. We use these as input from the municipalities in addition to verbal discussions. My staff and I had discussions with the municipalities to refine the final proposal you see before you in legislation today. It is just provided for information purposes.
Mr. Devries: I would just like to make a few comments. Ever since they changed the block funding system, I have had several of the mayors call me regarding this issue. I have also had several talks with the town managers and they are not happy with the arrangement. They all realize that this is the best they are going to get. It is probably very similar to the YTGs dealings with the Minister of Finance in Ottawa when it tries to get money. No matter how much you get, you would always like a little more; you are never particularly happy. I think the Minister has to realize that, for example Watson Lake, as a small town, is in a bit of a bind. My understanding is that the grant-in-lieu from the federal government is six or seven months overdue. It is a considerable amount of money. Thanks to the infamous sawmill we are short $130,000 to $140,000 in taxes that the sawmill was supposed to pay. That makes a lot of difference on a budget of around $1 million. It is one-tenth of the budget.
I guess it would be one-tenth of your budget, so it immediately impacts the small community. If they had to raise that extra money through taxes from residents, it is another $100 from each house in Watson Lake.
Also, the Minister is quite aware that the Francis Avenue development seems to be seesawing back and forth as to whether the town is going to run it themselves or if the Ministers department is going to run it. They need to have a kitty there to draw from, and I definitely do not think that the Minister should hold that against the community if they have a little reserve here or there.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member raises several interesting points, and I would be pleased to respond briefly to each of them.
With respect to the grants-in-lieu from the federal government, I think that municipalities have historically noted that as a problem. We have, on our own initiative and under the advise of municipalities, lobbied the federal government to improve their responsiveness to paying grants-in-lieu. The grants-in-lieu arrive much faster now than they did five and 10 years ago. The feds were two years in arrears in some instances. We have taken the matter up with the federal government. On that point, we do address that matter in the bill. We have made provision in this bill to advance funds to municipalities in lieu of federal grants-in-lieu that may come in the future.
I think the section is subsection (6) of the bill. We will eventually get into it clause by clause.
We have done what we can to cover tardiness by the federal government. It is not enough to say that they have improved their bill paying. It was a much worse scenario five or 10 years ago. We have made provisions in this bill to advance monies to the municipalities, to be refunded when the federal grant comes through.
With respect to the sawmill, I suppose that is a case of where the owners were not paying their taxes. While the sawmill was under this governments administration, the taxes were paid - I am sure the Member will admit this. Far be it for me to suggest that the municipality may wish to take action on the non-payment of taxes and repossess the sawmill. I would not suggest that.
I am not sure what the other point was that the Member raised.
With respect to the Francis Avenue extension, I think the Member and I have shared some private comments on it. His mayor and I have shared some comments. His staff and I have discussed the matter with the municipal administration and the mayor. Clearly, we are trying to expedite the development of infrastructure as much as we can. We are fast-tracking it to the greatest extent possible as of this instant.
I am not sure of the final situation on it but late last week we were proceeding with the final preparation for a tender award.
Mr. Lang: I have a question concerning taxation. There was some discussion on the transferring of the authority for hotel tax to the municipalities. Where does that stand?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: On the issue of hotel tax, this would be an authority that would be granted to a municipality. We have not been asked to provide such an authority, nor have we provided any in this bill. We have not provided for an authority to assess and collect a hotel tax, irrespective of who does the collecting. AYC has raised the issue and I believe the tourism industry has raised the issue; it goes back some five or eight years to when the issue was originally raised. It was, I believe, raised by the tourism industry, then the municipalities got involved, but there was no consensus of what precisely should be done. So, the matter has only been dealt with at a discussion stage. We have not had a formal resolution from a municipality requesting such an authority and we have not made provision in this bill for it.
On Clause 1
Hon. Mr. Byblow: All the definitions in clause 1 are the same as the definitions used in the current Municipal and Communities Infrastructure Grants Act, except the additional definitions of fiscal year and fund. Those are ones that have been added from existing legislation.
Chair: Does the Committee want to go through the definitions one by one?
Some Hon. Members: Yes.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Under infrastructure project, the definitions (f), (h) and (o) are slight changes from the existing definitions. We have used the term sport, art and recreation facility to replace sport facilities in (f). We have used waste facilities to replace garbage facilities.
Mrs. Firth: We are not there yet.
Chair: We are still on fund.
Clause 1 agreed to
On Clause 2
Mr. Lang: Are we in the Amount of grant-in-lieu of taxes? Is that the section we are dealing with?
I am wondering why in clause 2(1) - if I can refer back to it - it says may pay. Should it not say shall pay?
The Minister stood up and told this House in general debate how they pay these grants-in-lieu of taxes and how happy they are to pay them. It would seem to me that opposed to having the same discretion that the federal government has, that it should be a requirement that this be paid.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The clauses 2 through to 6 are taken verbatim from the existing Municipal Finance Act, and the existing Municipal Finance Act does state that government may pay grants-in-lieu of taxes. That provision currently exists.
Historically, by precedent and to this point in time, the government has paid grants-in-lieu of taxes for the prescribed amount equivalent to what taxes would be.
Yes, I am advised that the wording in the existing act is may and we have just retained that. However, the Member is right; the government may pay it, but is not required to.
Historically and by past precedent, there has never been a question if you do not pay it.
Mr. Lang: We are dealing with legislation. From an historic precedent we just saw the communities get cut by $1 million this past year. The point is that the section before us says may. If you take a look, you are also making provisions, similar to what is done now, for the Government of Yukon to advance federal payments ahead of the federal government paying for them. It seems to me that if the idea is to bring legislation that is concise and to the point, then it would seem to me that it should be a shall versus a may, so that there is no question that because the Minister may wake up on the wrong side of the bed one day and decide we are not going to pay as much as we did last year, and that is the way it is boys and that is the way you are going to like it. I am just recommending that perhaps shall should be considered and that it be not discretionary.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I do not wish to take issue with the Member because I do not particularly disagree with him. I recognize the point he makes and I believe that the legislation, as written, is satisfactory. It has been satisfactory since 1984, when this was put in - by the Member, I suppose -, and I see it as adequate to transpose into this comprehensive bill.
I am advised that subsections (2) through (6) are identical to the existing bill.
I dare say that any government that chose not to pay grants-in-lieu, would be under some severe and extended reprimand. I do not think, on the basis of the historical precedent and on the basis of what governments have done in the past, any government would consider not paying their grants-in-lieu. The federal government has paid them, albeit delayed. Historically, this government has paid them, and on time, and in full recognition of the tax rate that is charged to that property in whatever municipality.
When I raised the point in respect to grants-in-lieu, I made the point that a city like Whitehorse has by far a greater proportion of grants-in-lieu for government facilities than any other rural community.
The point I was making was that the smaller communities do not have the luxury of the grants-in-lieu to the extent that Whitehorse does. There may be a time in the future when a government may wish to consider whether grants-in-lieu should be paid in the full amount. That is a matter for the future and for the prospective government and the municipality it is dealing with. I dare say that no government in their right mind would contemplate it.
Clause 2 agreed to
On Clause 3
Mr. Brewster: I notice here that you put shall. I would have thought you would make up your mind between shall and may. I notice this is just for getting paper to the municipalities, but the other one was for money. It says may for the money and here it says shall deliver to the municipalities a list. What is the reason for the difference between may and shall?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: This is pretty standard. Clause 3 addresses the schedule of what the government will be paying grants-in-lieu on.
I think, for the certainty of the municipality, they need to know precisely what revenue is flowing from grants-in-lieu. I suppose one could say the government may transmit such a schedule, but I think it should. Therefore, the wording is shall. I agree with the wording. The government has the responsibility to advise municipalities precisely what grants-in-lieu on properties are going to be paid.
There are cases I have been involved in where municipalities have erred in calculating grants-in-lieu and this is a confirming point of reference as to what money will flow from grants-in-lieu.
It should be provided by the government regardless of whether it wants to or not.
Mr. Brewster: You can not have it both ways. You are saying that you have to deliver the paper to tell him how much to pay and then when they want the money you say may. This means that you might give it to them or you might not. Come on. You will either have may or shall for both. For the list, which does not cost you anything, you are prepared to put shall and say you are going to get it, but when it comes to the money, you say may. Let us get the legislation straight.
They keep saying that the legislation was made while we were in the government; that is fine, so when you people were on this side, you missed it. We did not.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am trying to follow the logic. Perhaps this is one way I can approach an explanation on the matter: clause 3 speaks about the requirement of the government to provide a schedule. It will already have decided the issue of remuneration in the form of grants-in-lieu. Clause 2(1) talks about the Government of Yukon may pay to each municipality in each year a grant-in-lieu of taxes. Clause 3 says you will provide a schedule of those grants-in-lieu of taxes well after the time you have budgeted for and made a commitment to pay. The Member should remember that we are talking of May 15 of the calendar year, which is also the fiscal year for municipalities. By May 15, they have already set their budgets. This government will have set its budget a year previous, or at the latest the fall before. When the budget is tabled in the Legislature, it will have grants-in-lieu of taxes to municipalities, to the dollar amount. So the commitment is made long before May 15 and December 31. It is made when the budget is tabled in this House six months earlier. The commitment to pay is made and documented in the budget by October of the year before.
Clause 3 agreed to
On Clause 4
Clause 4 agreed to
On Clause 5
Clause 5 agreed to
On Clause 6
Clause 6 agreed to
On Clause 7
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Essentially 7(1) establishes the comprehensive fund. This section addresses the statutory requirement that an appropriation is going to be established each year for no less than the amount established this year. This is what I spoke to earlier. We are enshrining in this legislation the commitment that the budgets for municipalities for the fund will not be less than what is provided in this current fiscal year, 1991-92. For that to change, for municipalities in their comprehensive fund to get less than what they are receiving in 1991-92, according to the chart I have provided to Members, we will have to come back to the House to change this section of the legislation. So, this is giving municipalities a level of certainty that there shall not be a reduction from this amount.
It will automatically increase, I should point out, by the phasing-in components of the operating grants and the transit grant. For example, in a municipality like Haines Junction, if there is a commitment today or last year that this government will cost share or provide for the deficit funding to a municipal operating grant and there is an expected increase in the cost of that municipal service over the next three years, because of the phase-in the fund will actually increase to meet those increased costs over that three-year period.
In the first year, the municipality only gets 75 percent, 50 percent in the subsequent year and, in the third year, 25 percent of that increase. The rest rolls over into the comprehensive fund, but the pot does increase in recognition of the commitments we have made as a government to cost-share a certain infrastructure over the next three-year planning period.
Mr. Lang: If you take a look at these projected costs, in respect to what we actually have, as opposed to where we are starting now and where we end up, that does not indicate that much of an increase, if you add everything together. In 1994-95, using Whitehorse as an example, the total grant is going to be $5.3 million. In 1991-92, it is $4.9 million. In reality, it is a decrease, because if inflation is six percent per year for our employees, as the man who would be king indicated the other day, and that is what they predict inflation is, then our purchasing power is going to be a lot less.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member is partly correct, in that these are projections based on known costs today for commitments of increase. In the actual installation, i.e. the municipality demonstrates a cost higher than the ones used to calculate this increase, there will be an additional increase.
The second point that should be made is that these projections do not calculate any increase that the government chooses to provide to the fund by virtue of budgetary largesse.
The revision in section 7(3) talks about the opportunity, similar to the one that exists now, where the fund may be increased in each fiscal year by the same percentage as the amount of expenditure of the government. If the Member jumps ahead to section 25, it talks about guaranteeing that the phase-in portion becoms a permanent addition to the fund. Section 25 guarantees that the phase-in increases of these infrastructures that are committed will be permanent additions to the basic fund. So, there are some assurances of growth.
The Member is correct, the government may choose not to increase it beyond what is calculated here in anticipation of those commitments for infrastructure growth, in respect of communities on the phase-in. By the same token, the government could increase it up to the extent that expenditures increase for the government.
Mr. Lang: When we talk about the fund, take for example Dawson City; the water and sewer situation is a major concern to that community as to how they are going to pay for it with the problems that they have up there. I guess my question is: when this is phased in, is this automatically going to be in the amount of money that is allocated to Dawson City, or does this whole thing go to the fund and pro-rate it throughout the communities. Where in the legislation does it say that it is going directly to that community, because it does not say that.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Section 25 is the section that deals with the phase-in. The phase-in does guarantee a percentage over the next three years, changing the basic fund and ensuring a portion of those funds to that community. After that, the fund stabilizes unless somebody changes it. The formula is consistent and that community will receive the amount calculated under the formula. This is the post phase-in period.
Mr. Lang: That is my point. Let us take Dawson Citys water and sewer. I think it is $250,000 or $300,000 in the present agreement. At the end of this phase-in, are they guaranteed that those dollars are built into their transfer of payments, or does it go throughout the fund and be pro-rated on a percentage basis so that, for example, the community of Teslin benefits from the fact that all these dollars have gone into the fund?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: There are a couple of points I should make in trying to answer the question.
In the first instance, Dawsons deficit on the sewer and water installation, where they are paying a portion each year, is in its last year. They are paying the last $350,000 for their water and sewer service this year. The calculation for Dawson City would be cognizant of the phase-in. If there are commitments to Dawson City on infrastructure growth, it will get 75 percent this year of its true costs, related to that infrastructure growth that is committed. Twenty-five percent rolls over into the pot for total distribution. The next year, Dawson City will get 50 percent of that projected growth in that second year. They get 50 percent of the whole amount. Then the balance rolls into the pot and gets redistributed.
Mr. Lang: I think I should have taken fourth year mathematics to try to figure this out. I want to ask the Minister about the transit system for the City of Whitehorse. There is a transfer of dollars in the present agreement. The way I understand it, after the fourth year, although you may increase the transit dollars, at the end of the third or fourth year we are going to find that they basically only get one-half of the amount they normally get for the purposes of offsetting their costs for the transit commission.
No wonder some of the communities are questioning this policy. It sounds to me that, through some hocus-pocus and voodoo economics, we are going to find that the government will not be cost-sharing to the extent that it is now. Examples can be found in the Dawson City water and sewer deficit and the Whitehorse Transit Commission.
In the legislation, where does it say that those dollars will be built into the base transfer to those communities. All of a sudden, we get into the situation where we have 50 percent going to the City of Whitehorse, but you have not taken into account that there are X amount of dollars in these other agreements.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member is misinterpreting what individual communities are getting on the phase-in. During the phase-in, their base amounts are steadily increasing through the phase-in years. That becomes the stabilized level for that community.
The Member raised the issue of the Whitehorse Transit. The Whitehorse Transit grant is a little more complicated, because we only pay 60 percent of the Whitehorse Transit deficit. In the case of Whitehorse, in the first year, we will have 45 percent of the deficit moved into Whitehorses base. We are taking 75 percent of 60 percent, which is effectively 45 percent.
In the second year, we will be taking 50 percent of that 60 percent deficit, which is effectively 30 percent of the deficit, and we will be adding it into Whitehorses base. Through those phase-in years, the respective community will be increasing their portion until it is over and that becomes their base. Then, they take it from the pot through the formula distribution.
To assure the Member on his concern, the respective community that is going through a phase-in growth is increasing its portion of base money through those years, after which the distribution goes through the comprehensive fund.
Mr. Lang: For the cost sharing of the Transit Commission or the cost sharing of the Dawson City water and sewer, is it the dollars that are allocated or being phased-in. I want assurances from the Minister, that after the phase-in period those dollars will stay with those communities and will not be divided up and taken to other communities. For example, Whitehorse is only supposed to get 50 percent, and all of a sudden they are above it because of this amalgamation of these dollars. Then everyone says Whitehorse should only get 50 percent, forgetting that down the road, they had other agreements that were brought together to be included in this comprehensive, so-called block funding.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I can give the assurance that he asks for because it is built into this. In the case of Whitehorse and the transit grant, Whitehorses base will be steadily increasing over the next three years in respect of the Transit Commission, and that will remain the base for their funds. The money for transit - around $500,000 per year - that they currently get as a deficit, single operating grant will, over the next three years be respectively 75 percent, 50 percent and 25 percent of that $500,000 increasing into their pot - their base level funding. After three years, they will have the actual full cost of the transit commission. After three years, any additional deficit would have to be picked up from their general revenue and from their formula financing.
For example, if in the fourth or third year, they incur less of a deficit, that is to their advantage. Even though their base level increased over those three years to cover the transit growth, they will not get less as they improve the efficiency of the transit system and if they had less of a deficit. For whatever number of reasons, they still have as their base level that three year growth projected level to their base funding, and the same holds true in the other communities where we are phasing in anticipated growth levels to those communities. Those communities get the benefit of that growth, and that becomes part of their base.
Clause 7 agreed to
Clause 8 agreed to
Clause 9 agreed to
Clause 10 agreed to
Clause 11 agreed to
On Clause 12
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I would just like to point out that clause 12 is where the flexibility is created that allows one-half of the grant to be used for operational purposes.
Clause 12 agreed to
On Clause 13
Mr. Lang: Is subsection (3) the section that is going to permit communities that have borrowed money through YTG to pay it back through grant money?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Yes. The Member is dead on.
Mr. Lang: What communities are in that situation?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The best information I have is that this clause would only be used by Whitehorse and Faro. They are the two communities that currently have outstanding debentures that they could use these funds to pay down. Dawson has paid out all its debentures, including the outstanding charge on the water and sewer this year from the comprehensive block funding. None of the other municipalities have debentures, so the only ones who could use this are Faro, which has a number of outstanding debentures, and Whitehorse.
It needs to be pointed out that the other committees have no debenture debts.
Mr. Lang: Going back to subsection (3), why do we have that in there? Why would the Minister have to have that permission? Why could he not leave it to the municipality to make that decision?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: In part, this is what I discussed with the municipalities about increasing their flexibility to use the fund. This is applicable in excess of the 50 percent allocation of the comprehensive fund that they can use for operational purposes. This is in addition to 50 percent. This is the flexibility where, by permission, if you will, they can go beyond the 50 percent to use more of the fund for operational purposes.
The reason that it is written as it is here is to ensure that they do not drain their fund for capital infrastructure requirements. In other words, it is one thing to use 50 percent of your fund for operational purposes. Beyond that, you may be jeopardizing your ability to fund necessary infrastructure. The permission clause is in there for us to be able to determine with them how much more than 50 percent they should use in operations, thereby reducing their ability to build new capital projects.
It is the flexibility, in consultation with the municipalities, when they want to use more than 50 percent of the fund for operations.
Clause 13 agreed to
On Clause 14
Clause 14 agreed to
On Clause 15
Clause 15 agreed to
On Clause 16
Hon. Mr. Byblow: So Members recognize it, clause 16 in its entirety speaks of the possibility of a hamlet becoming a municipality so it will enter the provisions of this regime. This clause forces the government to increase the base amount of the fund so that no communities are disadvantaged by the entry of another municipality. By the same token, if a municipality is dissolved it allows the government to reduce the pot by the amount that the municipality that has withdrawn would have received. There is a may clause in the withdrawal of a municipality, and there is a shall clause in the creation of a municipality.
Clause 16 agreed to
On Clause 17
Clause 17 agreed to
On Clause 18
Clause 18 agreed to
On Clause 19
Clause 19 agreed to
Mr. Lang: I want to make a couple of observations on clause 19, in conjunction with clause 18, on appointing the community authorities by regulation. Our communities are designated as municipalities through the Municipal Act, and are communities from villages to towns and cities. Is this going to be the section that allows the Minister, or the government-of-the-day, to recognize organizations and allocate dollars legally through this mechanism? Is this the purpose of this section?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am not sure I heard everything the Member deemed the purpose of the clauses, but clauses 18 and 19 are both verbatim from the existing Municipal and Communities Infrastructure Grants Act. The Member should also understand that, spelled out under these clauses, will be the recognition for community authorities, such as community associations and band councils in communities, where there are no regular municipalities, or they are unorganized communities.
Clause 19 agreed to
On Clause 20
Mr. Lang: That is the concern I have and I think most people are aware that sections 18, 19 and 20 give a lot of latitude to whomever the government may be; in some quarters they might be called the pork-barrel sections, as far as allocation of dollars is concerned. My concern is the lack of a requirement for the O&M costs. No provisions are being made in this section to recognize that somewhere down the road, someone, somewhere, someplace is going to have to pay O&M. Whether you go ahead and build a community club or whatever - and all of a sudden the Byblow memorial community club or the Piers McDonald memorial curling club, which has seen so much activity in the last couple of years as far as grand openings and so on are concerned - in fact, I understand we may be moving it now and it will be quite an event to watch the structure being dismantled and put up again, and at a considerable expense to us all I am sure. The point I am making is that there are no provisions in here to address O&M costs and no requirement for the Minister or the government-of-the-day - this is not a partisan comment because I know there are certain responsibilities out there besides organized communities - but there should be some provision for O&M on a cost-shared basis or at least a provision for O&M costs so that we know where it is coming from and a requirement that the Minister know where it is coming from when the dollars are allocated, so that it is not strictly a case in election year where you promise X amount of thousands of dollars, get elected, have to deliver, then oops, where are we going to get the O&M?
Perhaps the Minister has a comment on the O&M side because this specifically prohibits this from being done.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: A way to explain the rationale behind this particular clause is to describe that the monies provided under this clause would be for capital purposes only and any operational costs would be met under existing programs with those communities. We are talking about the unorganized communities: the Ross Rivers, the Beaver Creeks, the Carcrosses.
Mr. Lang: I know what you are talking about.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: In the non-municipal communities, and in those communities we are not taking away other funding. We are not removing the funding for recreation directors; we are not removing the funding that is available for meeting the costs relating to the operation of a facility like a recreation centre.
Those programs and program money are still there. Under this section, we are obligating capital costs related to the facility. The Member has to remember that, for the most part, it is a volunteer organization in those communities, and they do not have the wherewithal for the capital costs. We do provide program support to ensure that they have enough operation and maintenance support.
Mr. Lang: The Minister did not answer my question. Earlier in the legislation, we talked about a breakdown between capital and operation and maintenance. The Minister is very hard and fast, and said there is a maximum amount you can put to capital versus operation and maintenance: 50/50 or 60/40, at the Ministers discretion. Obviously, there is a concern about operation and maintenance costs for the municipalities.
My point is that the Minister is concerned that there has to be some rationale between the two. Here, in these sections, he is asking for us to give our approbation with no thought of the operation and maintenance. The Minister says they will get it out of other programs. I think there should be a section in there where, if you are going to grant money for a community club, the Minister should be required to have an agreement on how the operation and maintenance costs are going to be spent, whether the government or the community is going to pay for it.
There should be a requirement that, in dishing out this money, there is an agreement and a clear understanding that the operation and maintenance costs are going to be picked up somewhere. It should be a requirement that the Minister, in authorizing these dollars, has an agreement with the parties involved as to who is going to pay the operation and maintenance, so that it does not come as a surprise down the road.
The sections are delinquent, to some degree. All they do is give the ability to hand out money, with no strings attached.
I am not disagreeing that you should have some ability to allocate dollars. What I am saying is that, in this day and age when we have increased operation and maintenance costs and all of the costs that go along with it, there should be a requirement for the Minister to have an agreement on the operation and maintenance financing of any capital expenditure prior to going ahead with it. It should be written in the legislation that the Minister has to do that as part of his or her responsibility.
Chair: The Committee will take a break.
Chair: I will call Committee of the Whole back to order.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: On Clause 19(3), just prior to the break, a point was being made about the possible need in this act to enshrine the commitment to provide for operational funds for a facility where the commitment is being made for the capital appropriation. I respect the Members point and I agree with him in principle that there is a commitment to ensure that any time a commitment is made to expend capital monies on an infrastructure, or a facility, that carries with it the obligation to ensure that there are operational dollars to pay for the facility once it is in place. However, I do not think this is the legislation in which to do it. This legislation addresses the unincorporated community and the expenditure of capital dollars.
By virtue of the program funding that is available in standard allocations by government, the provision for O&M would be covered. In fact, it is one of the criteria that would be used in making the decision to fund a capital project in an unorganized community. An example is the Ross River arena, which was a facility for which capital dollars were allocated and which, clearly, needed fairly high operational costs to maintain. Those costs were met by standard program allocation. I think I recall tabling in the House exactly what the costs were for the operation of that facility and what the revenues were.
I think the local authority actually made a bit of money in the end. I think of other facilities where operational costs had to be considered as part of the capital appropriation.
Mr. Lang: I did not want to raise specific incidents, but let us talk about the Ross River arena. That was a situation where you went ahead with the arena - it went from half a million dollars to $3 million - and by the time we got to $3 million, we did not know how to pay for the O&M. Then we had to scramble within all our programs, jiggery-pokering around, to the point of trying to make them fit. Subsequently, we had a situation over time where the local authority, being smarter than the senior government, made money on the deal. All I am saying is that at the outset of capital expenditures there be a requirement that the Minister has to make an O&M commitment agreement, so that all parties know what they are getting into.
If the Minister does not want to do it, that is fine. This is legislation and all it would do is make another requirement for the Minister when he or she is handing out this kind of money, there is a commitment then, that an O&M agreement is being met. Otherwise, we might have a situation like the Ross River fiasco that was not fun for anybody.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member may have been scrambling around. The Member may not have known what was going on, but certainly the government did.
The government took the matter head on in terms of its operational costs and applied program funding. Part of the project was, in fact, predicated on the fact that there was rental revenue from the facility from the various agencies that were using it.
That operational recovery was part of the capital funding. For example, we could take a number of other communities where we have gone in with capital and infrastructure development, for example, the pool in Carcross or Beaver Creek. You go into those capital infrastructure developments with a certainty that operational costs can be met. They can be met generally by the programs that are available for those facilities. At the same time, especially as you are working with volunteer groups, there is a certain amount of revenue that may be raised by them. This helps with the payment for the costs related to the facility.
I hope the Member is not suggesting that whenever we go into an organized community to build infrastructure that the costs should be borne by the community residents. I hope that is not what the Member is saying. In terms of the operational costs it is a standing obligation to ensure that in your capital planning, you have the ability to pay those operational costs. If not, there is a possibility of running into the problem we have run into historically, where they were having difficulty paying their operational costs for services. This was due to inadequate operational costs planning.
Mr. Lang: If that is not cowboy logic I do not know what is. I have a couple of points I want to make. Firstly, on the Ross River arena, just for the record, everyone was here when that particular project started. How the Minister can try to rewrite history in one brief speech is beyond comprehension. That was a fiasco from start to finish.
I did not raise the issue, out of deference to the other side, because I was just trying to deal with generalities. I do not mind debating the Ross River arena for the next three weeks. If you want the media to reprint everything, I do not have a problem with that. The Minister stands there in his place and he is so proud of himself.
I am not saying that the community or the government is going to pay for it. It would be to the taxpayers benefit to have a section in there where a Minister has reached an operation and maintenance understanding with the authority that gets the money. If the government is going to pay for it, that is fine, as long as that is clearly understood at the beginning, as well as the cost. My concern is that it is wide open.
The Minister does not even have to consider it until it is all finished and someone comes with cap in hand and says we forgot we had to pay for the lights or we have a diesel generator here in the community that we were not aware was here. We have to pay for that. That is the only point I am making. I am not saying the communities should bear it, I am just saying there should be an agreement. It should be compulsory that the Minister of the day has to reach an agreement with the authority in question. That is all I am saying.
I would suggest to the Minister that he not use the Ross River arena example again. He should not stand in his place and try to rewrite history because we would be here a long time discussing that as there are obviously two points of view.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I think perhaps that we can put this one to rest, by recognition that in principle the Member and I do not disagree.
Where we do disagree is with the obligation that currently exists with government in their planning of capital infrastructure for operational recoveries.
Some Hon. Member: Who legislated the requirement? Anyone?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The point is that it is already legislated. The programs that exist such as the community recreation assistance grants and the entire budgeting process is part of the decision making process, the obligation of government, and the requirement that government, in its planning address operational costs. That is a criteria in capital planning. If the Member is at all familiar with capital planning, he would know that is part of the pre-feasibility and feasibility study in preparation for capital project planning.
Mr. Lang: That is absolute balderdash. What he just stated, for the record, is the fact that there is nothing legislated right now requiring an operation and maintenance agreement be struck with an organization. To tell me that the Ross River arena was going to cost $500,000 in a line item and then three years later it goes to $3 million dollars with no understanding of what the operation and maintenance costs were until we started getting all of these agreements.
The Minister is telling me that he was required to have an agreement, or the previous Minister was. That is not the case; not at all. To sit here and tell me - I guess you are speaking to the unwatched public, so to speak - because you certainly are not speaking to people who have any knowledge of the budgetary process. That is not true. All that I am saying is that you are making laws now. If the Minister does not want to put it in, he should just stand up and say he does not feel it should be put in. All that I am saying is that if you are giving a $150,000 grant or a $100,000 grant the Minister should have an operation and maintanence understanding with the authority.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: To set the record straight, the Member is obviously from a prehistoric planning period in his thinking. In the capital-planning exercise, the criteria for operational costs is part of what is addressed. It is not addressed by law in totality. The Member is correct when he says it is not legislated that the government shall ensure that operational costs of every capital infrastructure shall be addressed. The point I am making is that the existing programs, the existing criteria in the planning process, do cover operational costs in any capital planning project, period. That is a fact of life. With respect to the Ross River arena, the Member constantly refers to the $500,000 project that escalated to, he says, $3 million, but it never did reach that figure. The Member is ignoring that, and is himself trying to rewrite history.
If the Member was here in the House, he knows precisely what took place in the planning of the Ross River arena. The community requested and was desirous of a facility that would encompass more and more uses from the early stage of planning. That facility does have a multi-use capability and its costs are fully justifiable. On the operational side of it, it is fully covered in terms of meeting its own costs of operation.
To wrap it up, I do not feel it is necessary to place that into this by way of legislation, but it is an obligation that is already being met by government in planning and in existing programs.
Clause 20 agreed to
On Clause 21
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Just by way of information, clause 21(3) is the section that addresses extraordinary funding for large projects. Subsection (1) talks about the one and one-half times the comprehensive fund, which is nearly equivalent to what used to be two and one-half times the block fund under the old agreement.
Clause 21 agreed to
On Clause 22
Clause 22 agreed to
On Clause 23
Clause 23 agreed to
On Clause 24
Clause 24 agreed to
On Clause 25
Clause 25 agreed to
On Clause 26
Clause 26 agreed to
On Clause 27
Clause 27 agreed to
On Clause 28
Clause 28 agreed to
On Clause 29
Clause 29 agreed to
Title agreed to
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I move that you report Bill No. 77 out of Committee without amendment.
Motion agreed to
Bill No. 25 - Land Titles Act
Chair: Is there any general debate?
Hon. Ms. Joe: We have a bill here that is quite lengthy. As mentioned before, it was drafted as a result of the devolution of the land titles branch to the territory. There are a lot of similarities in both the acts. Some changes have been made to reflect neutral gender language, as well as some wording that is inappropriate at this time, such as idiots and lunatics, which is still in the federal act. We changed that to reflect more modern language.
In going over the act, we hoped to make all the changes with regard to the sexist language. Unfortunately, we did miss a number of them, and they will be reflected in motions to make those changes. I would like to let the Member know that I actually have 11 of those changes that I will be introducing.
Mrs. Firth: Could the Minister provide me with the changes, and I could compare it with mine. Then, we could just carry on with the bill in clause-by-clause debate.
Hon. Ms. Joe: I have 11 changes, along with the motion to make those changes. I have copies for all Members. If she has some changes that she would like to suggest to me, I do not know how we can do that in an organized manner.
Are we going through the bill clause-by-clause?
Mr. Lang: I would just like to discuss the land titles office itself. An observation I would make is that the office is very well-run. It provides a service to the public and anyone who has any dealings with it. One concern I have, however, is with respect to the situation of the land claims pending and all the requirements that will occur. What is going to happen to the volume of work that is going to go through that office?
Hon. Ms. Joe: I am not entirely sure whether or not the land claims issue would make a big difference in the land titles branch, and I do not understand how it might. I would only have to find out what possible problems may occur as a result of it but, at this point in time, I am told it should not be much different than it is now.
Chair: Would the Committee like to go through each definition?
Some Hon. Members: Yes.
On Clause 1
Clause 1 agreed to
On Clause 2
Clause 2 agreed to
On Clause 3
Clause 3 agreed to
On Clause 4
Clause 4 agreed to
On Clause 5
Clause 5 agreed to
On Clause 6
Clause 6 agreed to
On Clause 7
Clause 7 agreed to
On Clause 8
Clause 8 agreed to
On Clause 9
Clause 9 agreed to
On Clause 10
Clause 10 agreed to
On Clause 11
Clause 11 agreed to
On Clause 12
Clause 12 agreed to
On Clause 13
Clause 13 agreed to
On Clause 14
Clause 14 agreed to
On Clause 15
Clause 15 agreed to
On Clause 16
Clause 16 agreed to
On Clause 17
Clause 17 agreed to
On Clause 18
Clause 18 agreed to
On Clause 19
Clause 19 agreed to
On Clause 20
Clause 20 agreed to
On Clause 21
Clause 21 agreed to
On Clause 22
Clause 22 agreed to
On Clause 23
Clause 23 agreed to
On Clause 24
Clause 24 agreed to
On Clause 25
Clause 25 agreed to
On Clause 26
Clause 26 agreed to
On Clause 27
Clause 27 agreed to
On Clause 28
Clause 28 agreed to
On Clause 29
Clause 29 agreed to
On Clause 30
Clause 30 agreed to
On Clause 31
Clause 31 agreed to
On Clause 32
Clause 32 agreed to
On Clause 33
Clause 33 agreed to
On Clause 34
Clause 34 agreed to
On Clause 35
Clause 35 agreed to
On Clause 36
Clause 36 agreed to
On Clause 37
Clause 37 agreed to
On Clause 38
Clause 38 agreed to
On Clause 39
Clause 39 agreed to
On Clause 40
Clause 40 agreed to
On Clause 41
Clause 41 agreed to
On Clause 42
Clause 42 agreed to
On Clause 43
Clause 43 agreed to
On Clause 44
Clause 44 agreed to
On Clause 45
Clause 45 agreed to
On Clause 46
Clause 46 agreed to
On Clause 47
Clause 47 agreed to
On Clause 48
Clause 48 agreed to
On Clause 49
Mr. Lang: I am just curious. Do we have any Hudsons Bay Company lands here in the territory?
Hon. Ms. Joe: I had asked that very same question in regard to that and I was told that there might be one or two parcels of land belonging to the Hudsons Bay Company.
Mr. Lang: That is not really a clear and concise answer. If we are passing this section, there has to be a reason for it. I am just wondering what areas are we speaking of that might still be in existence with the Hudsons Bay Company. I do not think that Woolco is anymore or Northern Stores.
Hon. Ms. Joe: This is one of the sections that was in the federal act and was kept in here, because we were not entirely sure. It is not a very concise answer, but that is the best answer I have. I do not have the occasion to find out that information. The best answer I have is that there might be.
Mr. Lang: Needless to say, I am flabbergasted by the response. Have the areas that were forts for the Hudson Bay Company been researched, vis-a-vis Frances Lake or up in the Forty Mile, and so on? We will be discussing a heritage act, and I would assume some work has been done in this. Could the Minister tell us whether those are still under title?
Hon. Ms. Joe: I am not aware of any existing lands in those areas, as he suggested but, as I said, I do not have the total information he would like with regard to this area. If this section is going to incur ongoing discussion, perhaps it might be a better idea if I found that information and brought it back?
Mrs. Firth: That was the point I wanted to make. Just because it is in the federal act, and we are doing whatever the federal government did, I think we should check it out before we include it, just because it is in the federal act. In all seriousness, I think it would be in our best interest to check it out. Otherwise, it leaves the question open to ask what else is in here that we might not be too clear about, whether it exists in the Yukon or not, but it was in the federal act, so we had better put it in our Yukon act. I would prefer that we were more accurate.
Perhaps we do not have any Hudson Bay lands. In that case, we do not even need this clause in the act.
I would appreciate the Minister checking this out and coming back with an answer.
Hon. Ms. Joe: The act, as the Member can see, is a very long act. As the Member for Riverdale South said, there may be sections here we are not entirely sure of, but the intention is to do a review of the whole act in the future. As we look at it now, we know that is going to be a long job.
In order to try to deal with the land titles program, we felt it was necessary to do it as quickly as we could because the agreement to devolve has been discussed for two or three years. There may be other sections for which we will have to do a bit more research, including the one on the Hudsons Bay land.
Mrs. Firth: I guess the concern that raises - and I was wondering about this when the legislation was tabled and I read through it - is that it is very cumbersome to go through it and to go through the present Land Titles Act and compare them. I have to ask the Minister if she could also come back with an explanation about why it is so immediate that the Land Titles Act had to be put on this legislative agenda. Where does it fit into the other priorities the government is bringing forward?
I appreciate there are commitments for devolution and the Northwest Territories has its all done and is ready to proceed. My preference, however, is that we proceed accurately and in a manner that all Members of the Legislature can follow and pass on to members of the public who are particularly interested and who deal with legislation on a daily basis. If the Minister could bring back that type of information, it would assist us in getting through the legislation in a more timely and less controversial fashion.
In light of the time, I would move that you report progress on Bill No. 25. We look forward to the Ministers responses tomorrow.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I move that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. May the House have the report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole?
Ms. Kassi: The Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 58, Building Standards Act, and directed me to report the same with amendment.
Further, Committee has considered Bill No. 90, An Act to Amend the Chartered Accountants Act; Bill No. 77, Municipal and Community Grants Act, and directed me to report same without amendment.
Further, Committee has considered Bill No. 25, Land Titles Act, and directed me to report progress on same.
Speaker: You have heard the report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole are you agreed?
Some Hon. Member: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I move that the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Honourable Premier that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
The House adjourned at 9:29 p.m.
The following Legislative Returns were tabled April 29, 1991:
Yukon Energy Corporation: Access to information re contract signed by NCPC and Curragh Resources (Byblow)
Oral, Hansard, p. 699
Yukon Energy Corporation: Utilization of diesel for peaking purposes (Byblow)
Oral, Hansard, p. 705
Yukon Energy Corporation: Electricity Supply Options for Yukon, and Curragh demand for increased power (Byblow)
Oral, Hansard, p. 698
Status of Mental Health Act and Health Act (Hayden)
Oral, Hansard, p. 757-58