Tuesday, April 30, 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?
Are there any Returns or Documents for tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I have for tabling the Government Contracts Lists for 1991.
Speaker: Are there any Reports of Committees?
Introduction of Bills.
Are there any Notices of Motion for the Production of Papers?
Are there any Notices of Motion?
Are there any Statements by Ministers?
Amending the Student Financial Assistance Act
Hon. Mr. McDonald: At the beginning of this session, this government began work on amending the Student Financial Assistance Act. As work is now well under way on this project, I would like to advise this House of the underlying rationale for this action as well as to briefly discuss some of the principles on which the amendments will be based.
This process will naturally involve consultation and discussion with the people and organizations affected by this legislation, in particular past, present and future students.
This government hopes than an act to amend the Student Financial Assistance Act will be ready for the spring 1992 session of this House.
This current fiscal year, the student financial assistance office will grant more the $1.8 million to students through the Yukon grant and the Yukon training allowance. This money is apportioned among an estimated 730 students and does not include the many scholarships and Canada student loans administrated by the office as well.
The problem of equitable access to funds will be addressed. The current act requires only that the student be a dependent of a parent who has lived in the Yukon for two years. This means that financial assistance is available for students who have never lived in the Yukon - and it means that many long-term residents are denied financial assistance if they did not attend high school here.
Current demographics show that many more students now study part-time, and are thus ineligible for financial assistance under the act.
Furthermore, the act does not contain any incentives for students to train for the professions most needed in the north, nor require them to commit to a financial or service payback.
This government intends to develop an act, in consultation with stakeholders and the public, that will address these problems. It is our intent to reduce the barriers to post-secondary education for Yukon people while at the same time providing the territory with a return on its investment in post-secondary education.
A committee will be formed shortly to consider areas such as minimal residency requirements, incentives to return to the Yukon after graduation and assistance to part-time students.
Mr. Devries: This side appreciates the Minister bringing forward this ministerial statement. We will be happy to work with the Minister in any way we can in the consultation process and in the development of this act. We look forward to it being tabled next spring.
Aboriginal Justice Conference to be held in Yukon
Hon. Ms. Joe: I am very pleased to announce that the Yukon will host a National Aboriginal Justice Conference this fall. The conference, jointly sponsored by the Yukon and federal governments, will take place on September 4-7 in Whitehorse.
Federal, provincial and territorial Ministers of Justice will attend the conference with their respective Attorneys General. We anticipate that between 150 and 200 delegates will attend the Aboriginal Justice Conference. Over half the conference participants will be of aboriginal descent.
I believe this will be the first time, for a conference at this level, that such a high percentage of the participants will be First Nations people. This is as it should be. For too long, aboriginal people have been under-represented in justice system decisions that affect them and over-represented in our countrys prisons. Ways must be found to correct this imbalance.
I must stress that the objective of this conference is not to identify the issues First Nations people have with the justice system. That has been done and continues to be done.
The program for the Aboriginal Justice Conference will take a positive approach. This will be a working conference and the main objective will be to expose the participants to a range of ideas and initiatives.
We will not be concentrating on initiatives that first require legislative change. We are all aware that changes in that area will be part of the solution. The focus will be on specific aboriginal justice issues that can be, or are being, worked on.
Delegates will share their experience in projects underway across Canada. We will also hear about other approaches that are still on the drawing boards, or on the minds of native and non-native people alike.
Another major goal will be to provide Justice Ministers and their senior officials with a deeper understanding of aboriginal customs and traditions. There must be greater awareness of the fundamental connection between custom, tradition and aboriginal justice issues.
We have asked other jurisdictions for their suggestions and recommendations for the conference program. We hope to have a tentative conference agenda ready for the Deputy Attorneys General meeting in May.
I am pleased that the Yukon will be co-hosting this conference, I know that the delegates will be impressed with the Yukons beauty and its warm hospitality. I believe this will prove to be an historic conference, one that will provide the catalyst for a range of innovative and effective aboriginal justice projects throughout Canada. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mrs. Firth: In response to the Ministers announcement about the National Aboriginal Justice Conference, I would like to ask a few questions that perhaps she could respond to later on.
Firstly, I would like to know how much the conference is going to cost and I would like to ask the Minister if this is a traditional territorial-provincial-federal government conference that is attended by Ministers. I am particularly interested in the point that she makes that over half of the conference participants will be of aboriginal descent. Is she going to be inviting Yukon First Nations people to attend the conference? Perhaps she could give us a little more information on exactly how that is going to occur, because I think that may be a deviation from the past traditions of the conference participation. Otherwise, we will just look forward to seeing what the agenda presents and what part we can take in the conference.
Hon. Ms. Joe: The conference will be cost shared by the federal government and ourselves. The exact costs have not been established at this time. I will let the Member know when that information is available. There are discussions between the two governments.
There will be a conference of Ministers of Justice held two days prior to this conference in Whitehorse. At the last conference of Ministers of Justice that I attended in Ontario, at Niagara on the Lake, it was suggested by me that this conference take place here and was agreed to by the Federal Minister, Kim Campbell.
It will be an official conference that will include all other Ministers of Justice from across Canada and I have already had confirmation from the majority of those people that they will attend.
It will be traditional, in that it will be territorial, provincial and federal. There was a committee in the Yukon struck a few months ago to plan the conference here in the Yukon. We have had ongoing discussions with the federal officials in regard to the manner in which it will take place. Each jurisdiction will decide how they will include their 50 percent participation of aboriginal people.
We have involved the Council for Yukon Indians, along with other groups, to sit on the committee. The manner in which those aboriginal people will be chosen is being discussed at this time.
Speaker: This then brings us to the Question Period.
Question re: Yukon Energy Corporation, Curragh contract
Mr. Phelps: I have some questions for the Minister responsible for the Yukon Energy Corporation with regard to the secret contract with Curragh for provision of electricity.
While we have been given a glimpse into some of the terms of this contract, we have not seen the entire deal. This strikes me as being extremely unfair, since Yukon consumers are subsidizing Curragh through their electrical bill.
We have seen the rates paid by Curragh, which are substantially less than the wholesale price paid by Yukon Electrical before it sells energy to consumers. Can the Minister tell us how long the contract with Curragh is going to run?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: According to the current terms of the contract, it could run until 1993, but as the Member knows and as I have advised him and the House, we are planning to put the matter of the Curragh contract before the Utilities Board. That may well change the term of the contract but that would be speculative and not appropriate for me to comment on. The current terms of the contract are from 1986, when it was signed off between NCPC and Curragh, to March of 1993 - seven years.
Mr. Phelps: Does the contract contain any provisions that allow it to be renewable at the option of Curragh?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I cannot answer that definitively. It is unlikely. It is my understanding that the contract would expire at that time and would require renegotiation or a new arrangement for the supply of power.
Mr. Phelps: Are we to take it, then, that the Minister is not clear on that term, that it is up in the air; that it might be renewable at Curraghs option?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I explained my understanding to the Member. More accurately, I do not know if the contract has a renewable clause. I can undertake to examine it, but it is my understanding that it does not.
Question re: Yukon Energy Corporation, Curragh contract
Mr. Phelps: I will look forward to the information about the renewal clause if there is one. Does the contract deal with additional electricity needs such as the 30 per cent increase Curragh says it is going to need within the next year or so at Faro?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: That is the matter currently under dispute. I am not technically competent to interpret the contract. I have not seen it in any detail so it would be inappropriate of me to advise the Member on whether the contract definitively speaks to increased capacity over forecasted amounts. I have indicated to the Member and to the public that the dispute surrounds payment for the unanticipated increase in capacity requested by Curragh. It would logically follow that, given that this is the area of dispute, the contract is not clear on the matter.
Mr. Phelps: We do not know how long the contract is going to run. We do not know if it deals with providing a very cheap energy source for their additional needs. We know that Curragh is obtaining electricity at less than the wholesale cost that is charged to the Yukon Electrical Company from the grid. Is Curragh obtaining its electricity at less than cost to the Yukon Energy Corporation?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I will take notice of the question. In the last set of rate hearings, it was revealed that the portion of actual cost for generating electricity supplied to Curragh was 72 percent of production cost. It logically follows that that is the extent of subsidy being afforded to the operation by all other classes of consumers.
I can tell the Member now that there is no renewal clause in the current contract, established in 1986 between Curragh and NCPC.
Mr. Phelps: So, we have two years where we are going to be subsidizing more than 25 percent of the bill for electricity to Curragh. Can the Minister undertake to come back to the House with the actual dollar figure that consumers subsidized Curragh for during the calendar year 1990?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I can give the Member the undertaking that I will attempt to provide those figures.
Question re: Faro strike
Mr. Phillips: I have a question for the Minister of Economic Development regarding the ongoing strike at the Faro mine.
Some residents have already left Faro, and the rippling effect of the strike is starting to affect other sectors of the Yukon economy. The strike is now in its fourth week, and there is no indication of any serious negotiations taking place - as of the April 28 newsletter that was sent out by the union - and there are no talks scheduled.
What is this government doing to encourage both sides to get back to the table and resolve this serious matter?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: As a government, it is not our intention to involve ourselves in a contract dispute between an employer and its employees. However, we are quite concerned with the potential effects on the Yukon economy of the Faro operation being down. We are maintaining full communication with both sides. We are encouraging both sides to maintain open communications with each other.
We are encouraging them to use those lines of communication to ultimately sit down and conclude negotiations.
Mr. Phillips: We are not asking the government to intervene in the strike on one side or the other. What we are concerned about is that it is dragging on; the people of Faro are suffering and the people of the Yukon are beginning to suffer because of the shutdown of the mine. I wonder how long the Minister is prepared to wait before he asks both sides to sit down and seriously resume negotiations. I understand very little negotiation is going on at the present time.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: In the first instance, the matter of a contract dispute is federal jurisdiction and it certainly is not the initiative of this Minister to direct the parties to resume negotiations. In the strike situation that has occurred, the procedures have been followed under the federal Labour Code, under which we have the current dispute status. I reiterate to the Member that it is our intention, as a government, to monitor the situation closely, to encourage both sides to maintain open communications. We are maintaining communications with both sides. We are assessing ongoing developments insofar as economic impacts are concerned, and we will continue to do so. It only remains to remind the Member that I know too well the impacts on people of the situation at Faro.
Mr. Phillips: I do understand that it is a federal responsibility to get both sides actually negotiating or to ask both sides to negotiate. I wonder if the Minister has contacted the federal Minister and explained to him the concerns we have over the long-term economic problems that the Yukon will face if this strike goes on for a long period of time. Has he met with the federal Minister and had any discussions whatsoever with that Minister about the economic effects on Yukon of a long-term strike?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The short answer is no.
Question re: Environment act
Mr. Lang: I have a question for the Minister of Renewable Resources, who is responsible for the environment act.
Last week, we established the fact that one particular organization, mainly the mining interests in the territory, had initially recommended that there be over 50 changes made in the legislation. Then there was a private meeting with the Minister and an additional 100 changes were recommended through that process, a secret meeting.
I understand that another meeting has taken place. Can he confirm that there was another additional 25 or more changes recommended to this piece of legislation?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I want to thank the Member for asking this question as it gives me an opportunity to set the record straight on this.
First of all, I never acknowledged that 50 changes were made during the first meeting with the Chamber of Mines and a further 100 changes at a second meeting. Now he is suggesting that maybe another 25 changes have been made. I never did concede that those were the numbers of changes made.
I would like to correct the record on a statement the Member for Porter Creek East made last Tuesday, and I quote from Hansard, In view of the fact that the Ministers office refused to entertain a submission brought forward by the Canadian Bar Association.... I want to make it clear that this is not true. Our office never refused to entertain a submission from the Canadian Bar Association. A member of the resource and environmental law subsection of the Canadian Bar Associations Yukon branch did contact our office in the third week of March to inquire about the deadline for submissions of comments for the draft environment act. That person was informed that the deadline was April 5.
Mr. Lang: I guess that you will have to refer that to those within the legal community, because the information that I was given was that they were refused the opportunity of extending that deadline beyond April 5, which the Minister set as the magic target.
My concern is with the process by which we are developing this legislation and how it seems to be almost a shotgun approach, in the rush to try and provide this House with a piece of legislation. I am concerned with exactly what the final product is going to be.
I want to ask the Minister this: I understand that there are a number of Vancouver lawyers now involved in the drafting of the legislation. Prior to the hiring of the Vancouver lawyers, could the Minister tell us what legal draftsman he said he used in the territory, prior to sending for outside help, in view of the controversy that was raised over the initial draft?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I want to make clear from the very beginning, in addressing the Members preamble that it is not at all a shotgun approach we are using in this process to get comments from Yukoners on the draft environment act. It was a very well thought out process that was well advertised and promoted since the draft act was tabled in this Legislature last December.
People had three months to make their concerns known verbally at public meetings, and those comments were recorded and incorporated in the changes in the revised drafting. Of course, we established well in advance a deadline date of April 5 for receipt of written submissions. That has been followed completely.
With respect to his question as to what legal advisors from Yukon were consulted in the drafting of this act originally, I want to inform the Member that no advisors from the Yukon were involved.
Mr. Lang: This confirms how poorly planned this has been. It is the first time that I have ever heard of draft legislation being prepared without legal counsel.
I want to ask the Minister this: in view of the fact now that we are going to have legislation drafted by Vancouver lawyers, could the Minister tell us how much it is costing the taxpayer, so far, to hire legal counsel from the fair province of British Columbia?
Hon. Mr. Webster: Again, the Member in his preamble has made a misrepresentation. I have strongly stated that there is no legal counsel from the Yukon involved in the drafting of the draft environmental act. Certainly there was legal counsel involved.
The cost for using the services of a Vancouver legal firm that has extensive experience in environmental law, as has been mentioned in the past it is part of the $600,000 that this government has budgeted over a two-year process to conduct all three phases of consultation, consisting of the discussion paper, the draft act and the development of the regulations.
Question re: Environment act
Mr. Lang: I am sure the Minister is probably embarrassed to tell us exactly what these legal costs are, and that is why he is skirting around the issue. I specifically asked him how much, to date, it has cost to hire this outside legal counsel from Vancouver.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I am not skirting the issue at all. It is within the $600,000 figure I just mentioned. The Member has to concede the fact that, to draft legislation, particularly of this magnitude and being new to the Yukon, it is going to take a lot of detailed attention by lawyers. We have budgeted for that.
Mr. Lang: I am sure even if the unwashed public was listening to the Ministers response, they would realize he had not answered the question. I asked: how much has the Minister paid to date for the expertise he has hired from Vancouver?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I will endeavour to get that information for the Member. I do not have that at my fingertips. The lawyers are still meeting to make some final refinements to the act. When I have that information, I will gladly provide it to the Member opposite, as well as to the Yukon public.
Question re: Contract regulations
Mrs. Firth: My question is a follow-up with respect to the contract regulations, specifically regarding officials exceeding their authority when entering into contracts on behalf of the government.
Before a redraft of the regulations takes place, it is important to know how many times it has happened and I would like the Minister to be specific, whether it is 100 or 150 times, more or less and whether they have made any observations that it is happening more in one department than in another, or if it is widespread across government. If you recall, the Department of Education was where the incident occurred with the trailers.
It is important for us to have that information. Will the Minister of Government Services be giving that to us here in the House, or will I have to apply under access to information, as I have had to in the past for this information from Government Services.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: First of all the Member is going to have to let me in on the secret of exactly what it is she is talking about. She failed to identify the issue in her question. She mentioned something regarding exceeding authority but in what area, field or manner needs to be specified before I can answer the fundamental question. She made the allegation before that perhaps there is widespread abuse of the tendering practices and cited the Takhini trailer contract as an example of that. We disagree that it is an example and certainly, I would have a hard time trying to find more examples of the kinds of abuses that she assumes is taking place.
I have indicated once before that I will not engage in a witch-hunt with the Department of Government Services to try and determine if there is any general abuse of the contracting or tendering regulations. Consequently, I cannot provide her with the information that she is seeking.
Mrs. Firth: The Minister can be coy and go on with his witch-hunt theory again but I am only asking that he defend his governments policy. That is really what he is there for. The policy is that they are going to rewrite all the regulations. I am simply asking for the information as to why those regulations have to be rewritten and why we cannot enforce the ones that are there now as opposed to rewriting all the regulations.
If this occurred more frequently in the Department of Education, and the Minister of Government Services is also the Minister of Education, it makes for a very tidy arrangement. There is not even another Minister checking up on it.
Speaker: Would the Member please get to the supplementary question.
Mrs. Firth: I would like to ask the Minister if he has given any new direction to the department regarding enforcement of the present regulations before they go into a whole redraft for new regulations.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am operating under the assumption that the regulations are being respected by officials from both departments and, as a matter of fact, I have not been able to determine that the regulations have, in fact, been broken by anyone. The Member can appreciate it if I resent the fact that she is suggesting that because I fill both the position of Minister of Education and Minister of Government Services there is any sleaze factor associated with that situation. I think that is inappropriate and certainly unfair, based on the information she has brought forward to this Legislature.
The Member has suggested that there is at least one example of abuse of regulations, or of broken regulations. We disagree on that example. She has further requested that there be a review of all tendering practices prior to the public review taking place, on the suggestion that there is widespread abuse of regulations. She has not proven that case. She has not proven even one case. Consequently, I will not engage in what I believe very sincerely is her request for a witch-hunt through Government Services to determine whether or not I can find law-breaking public servants. I have no evidence to support that claim so consequently I will not abuse those public servants by engaging in the witch-hunt she requests.
Mrs. Firth: If all the regulations are being followed to a T by all the departments, as the Minister says, and everything is running well and there is absolutely no evidence of broken rules, why do we have to redraft all the regulations?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I will repeat the point I have been making, as perhaps the Member has not heard it: I just announced this afternoon that we will be reviewing the Student Financial Assistance Act and, for the life of me, I do not believe the officials who oversee the implementation of the existing Student Financial Assistance Act have ever broken the law once. So, I do not think it is law breaking or even the potential for law breaking that is motivating the review in the first place. As I indicated when I last answered the Members question, the Minister for Government Services, between 1985 and 1989, made a commitment to the public to review tendering regulations because they were complicated and they needed to be simplified.
My immediate predecessor, who was Minister of Government Services for the following two years, also made that commitment. As I indicated before, he, however, had other priorities to deal with.
I have continued to make that commitment and, because so many other good things have been done, I am in a position now to carry forward with that commitment.
Question re: Na Dli Youth Centre, employee training
Mr. Nordling: I have a question for the Minister of Health and Social Services.
Yesterday, I asked the Minister what training the youth workers have at Na Dli Youth Centre. I used the term youth workers because over one year ago I asked the former Minister about training and he said the staff were not trained or equipped to act as guards. The present Minister has now said the staff has had no specific training in recognizing the need for medical attention.
I would like to ask the Minister specifically what training and experience is required for an individual to become a youth worker at Na Dli?
Hon. Ms. Hayden: Firstly, I did not say the staff had no training. What I said was that I was not aware - that is at least my memory of it - of what their training was. I now have information about staff training at Na Dli and I am happy to pass it on to the Member.
The issue, I gather, is qualifications and training of front line staff working in our custody program. These statements of qualifications were worked out with the Public Service Commission, specifically to eliminate artificial barriers that inhibited the recruitment of people from our First Nations.
There are Youth Service Workers I and Youth Service Workers II. An educational requirement is not part of the qualifications for a Youth Service Worker I. They need an ability to work in a cross-cultural setting and an ability to work with people in the helping profession and need good oral and written communication skills. In the education and experience requirements for Youth Service Workers II, post-secondary course work in social sciences is necessary. They must have worked with young offenders or at-risk youth.
They must have worked in a cross-cultural environment and have training in a related field, combined with considerable experience working in a helping profession. Within six months of employment, they must obtain and keep current a standard first aid certificate and CPR at the B level.
Mr. Nordling: I have also received a number of calls at home over the past several months expressing concern with the competence and the hiring of the management at Na Dli. Is the Minister aware of what level of training the management at Na Dli is required to have?
Hon. Ms. Hayden: I do not have the specific training requirements, but I know that the manager of Na Dli has a university degree and has considerable experience in the corrections field. Beyond that, I could get back to the Member with the exact information.
Mr. Nordling: The concerns are serious, and I would appreciate receiving copies of the job descriptions the Minister has, the qualifications of the individuals in those positions, and some information on the hiring procedure used at Na Dli.
The Minister was quoted this morning on CBC, with respect to the young offender who almost died, saying that in her opinion the staff had done nothing wrong.
Is the Minister also convinced, or is it her opinion, that the Na Dli facility is doing the job that we hoped it would do, which is to help rehabilitate young offenders here in the territory?
Hon. Ms. Hayden: The Na Dli facility has nothing to hide. We are not ashamed of it. There are areas where we would like to make changes. I would like to follow that with an invitation to the Member and the Opposition critic to visit Na Dli with me, as soon as our mutual schedules can be arranged.
In terms of whether I am pleased or not pleased, he is asking for my opinion, and I am not going to give that at this time.
I will also tell him that there is ongoing orientation and training for staff after they have been hired, and it is expected that they take part in many team sessions, which includes everything from first aid, CPR, cross-cultural awareness, dealing with suicidal residents, recognizing youth who are on drugs and on and on. There is an ongoing - I hesitate to use the word review, because we are looking at the future rather than concentrating only on the past. We are looking at how we can make Na Dli and our youth facilities more appropriate for the youths who are in there. I hope that the Members will accept my invitation.
Question re: Swift River maintenance staff quarters
Mr. Devries: I have a question for the Minister of Community and Transportation Services. This question is in regard to the $635,000 Swift River staff quarters that were completed less than three years ago.
As we all know from previous debate in this House, there have been ongoing expenses trying to get this building up to standard. As I drove by this weekend I noticed that there is more construction going on. Why are these additions being done so early in the life of this building?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Good afternoon to the Member. I am working purely from memory in respect to Swift River, largely because the Member has raised that in distant budget debates, probably about two years ago.
It is my understanding that porches are being constructed on those facilities. That was budgeted and planned; it is an intended improvement to the facilities. To my knowledge, it does not constitute a reconstruction so much as an upgrading.
Mr. Devries: My understanding is that these porches are designed to deflect the snow from sliding off the roof in an effort to prevent injury to the occupants as they exit the building. Why did anyone not notice the potential for this problem when the initial plans were reviewed and approved?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: As the Member knows, the planning process for capital projects in this government is a long and arduous one. I would like to know the answer to that question, too. I am sure there must be an answer. Going back to three years ago when this was being planned or constructed - the details of that early period escape my memory, but I will take the question as notice and provide complete and full details for the Member.
Mr. Devries: Would the Minister be prepared to table a return indicating all the costs pertaining to this building from its start to the present time, and also the energy costs of the present fiscal year, both heating and utilities?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I would be curious as to what the Member wishes to gain from the information. I am sure most of it is readily available. I have no problem with providing what information is known and that we have relative to energy costs, costs related to the original construction, costs relating to upgrading - I am sure that will be no problem, but perhaps sometime, privately or otherwise, he can share with me what specifically it is he is seeking. I am surprised he has not asked for a full-fledged justice enquiry.
Question re: Mendenhall subdivision
Mr. Brewster: My question is to the Minister of Community and Transportation Services. This is the Minister responsible for the Mendenhall subdivision, commonly known as Muddy Hole. In a taped interview, I heard the Minister say, and I quote: In the Mendenhall lots we essentially ran a Cat through the brush and left what amounted to ditches, and they were abysmal roads. Can the Minister verify that he made this statement, and is he prepared to respond in a positive way to the petitions I presented in this House on April 25 on behalf of the Mendenhall residents?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I believe the Member raised two questions and a half-dozen issues. If Mr. Speaker will permit me, I would like to address them for the next half-hour.
The issue of the roads in Mendenhall is one that the Member and I have debated at length, and on which I have had meetings with the residents. Those meetings were, in part, attended by the Member opposite. He is quite familiar with the background.
Yes, Mendenhall subdivision has some sections of road that effectively amount to a Cat trail pushed through brush. In some cases, the base is quite solid and provides for an adequate roadbed. In other instances, the road has deteriorated very quickly into bog. There are sections of the entire road network in Mendenhall that are of that poor quality.
I have indicated to the residents of Mendenhall that I am quite prepared to work with them, not just to upgrade the roads to a standard that is acceptable to them, but to a standard that would meet the criteria of the rural roads maintenance policy. This means that, subsequent to an upgrade, the roads can be maintained year-round by Highways people at public expense. Unfortunately, that offer appears to have been turned down. At this point, I am reassessing my options.
Mr. Brewster: Yes, we have debated this for several years, and we will probably continue to do so. In the same interview, the Minister stated that the Mendenhall people did not get a fair deal, and that the policy regarding a minimum standard road is pretty grey. On page three of the homestead policy, it states that a minimum standard road is a 12-metre cleared and grubbed right-of-way with a drainage ditch and a layer of gravel where existing soil is inadequate, which appears to be a pretty clear definition.
Would the Minister not agree, or has he never read the homestead policy?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member has been spinning his wheels on this issue for a long time. The very question he has just asked has been debated by motion and privately. We have toured the Mendenhall subdivision together for probably an entire two-hour period and we have discussed in detail the interpretation of the homestead policy and its application to the rural homestead subdivisions.
The Member has to remember that the rural homestead policy was put in place to bring cheap land onstream for people.
The land has an absolute minimum of standards for services, but it is land that would be affordable for people without much money. We brought lots on stream in Mendenhall in the price range of $3,000 to $4,000 for several acres of land. That is a substantial accomplishment in terms of providing land for people who want the rural lifestyle and setting.
With respect to the roads, a clear majority of the roads are well above the standard called for in the homestead policy. Some portions of the road have deteriorated through use to a standard that makes the homestead policy questionable in terms of whether or not it applies any more. In the original implementation of the policy and in the original establishment of the road standard, it met the policy criteria. The rapid deterioration created a problem. I recognize this problem. I agreed with the Member and the residents that the roads required upgrading in places.
Speaker: Order, please. Will the Member pleased conclude his answer.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Yes, Mr. Speaker. I have indicated to the Member that I am positively inclined to addressing the homestead subdivision. I would appreciate a reciprocal response from the Member and residents to my efforts to address the problem seriously and reasonably.
Mr. Brewster: First, he did not bother to answer whether he read the act, and second, I think he has a burr in his saddle and he is not sitting very tight in it right now. Would not a person reading the homestead policy and subsequently purchasing a homestead lot believe they were going to get the minimum standard roads as defined in the policy on page 3?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I sincerely apologize to the Member. I did not understand the question. If you would permit him to repeat it I will try to answer it. Failing that, I will take it as notice and read it in the record.
Mr. Brewster: It is too bad he would not listen once in a while instead of whispering to the other Minister beside him. Would not a person reading the homestead policy and subsequently purchasing a homestead lot believe they were going to get the minimum standard roads as defined in the policy on page 3?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The short answer is yes.
Speaker: Time for Question Period has now lapsed.
Notice of Business
Mr. Phillips: Pursuant to the provisions of standing order 14(5), I would request the unanimous consent of the House to call the following motions under Motions Other than Government Motions when that business is called on Wednesday, May 1, 1991: Motion No. 48, Motion No. 8, Motion No. 51 and Motion No 49.
Clerk: Is there unanimous consent?
Some Hon. Member: Agreed.
Speaker: Unanimous consent has been granted
Speaker: We will now proceed to Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Bill No.40: Second Reading
Clerk Assistant: Second reading, Bill No. 40, standing in the name of Hon. Mr. Byblow.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I move that Bill No. 40, entitled Act to Amend the Motor Vehicles Act, be now read a second time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Minister of Community and Transportation Services that Bill No. 40, entitled Act to Amend the Motor Vehicles Act, be now read a second time.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The amendments to the Motor Vehicles Act that are before the House now are the product of a fairly lengthy and considerable lobby and discussion. Public interest groups, individuals and even Members have raised the issue of mandatory seatbelt legislation many times over the past several years.
You will recall, Mr. Speaker, that in December of 1989, this Assembly passed a motion that called upon the Yukon government to consider legislation to establish mandatory seatbelt use in the Yukon. The legislation before Members is a response to that motion, to the public lobbying and to the many discussions surrounding the issue over time.
We have presented this bill in an effort to address road safety and injury prevention. Continued incidents of motor vehicle accidents and fatalities in the Yukon resulting from non-seatbelt use, the extremely low seatbelt wearing rates in the Yukon - as evidenced by a recent Transport Canada survey - and the experience of other jurisdictions over the years in this area indicate that a mandatory seatbelt law in the Yukon is required.
Yukon motor vehicle accident statistics from January 1, 1989, to December 13, 1990, a period of some 23 months, indicate that there were 12 driver and passenger fatalities as a result of motor vehicle accidents. In every case, the fatally injured were not using a seatbelt system. Ten of those 12 persons were ejected from the vehicles.
Statistical data indicates that ejection from a vehicle is 25 times more lethal than being strapped inside the vehicle. Approximately one half of those fatalities likely could have been avoided through the use of seatbelts. Similarly, the frequency and severity of injuries sustained in motor vehicle accidents is substantially reduced through the use of seatbelts.
Unfortunately, however, years of very well publicized media and medical reports on the benefits of seatbelt use have had little effect in encouraging Yukon people to wear seatbelts. In fact, when Transport Canada did its first-ever survey in the Yukon of seatbelt use, we were actually shocked at the low use of seatbelts. The survey was done in October of 1990. We found that in Whitehorse 15 percent of the drivers were wearing seatbelts. In Watson Lake, the percentage was five. In Dawson it was 3.8 percent.
The most recent statistics we have on a national basis are those from late 1990. They show, exclusive of Northwest Territories and the Yukon, that the average seatbelt use in the country is 81 percent. If you include Yukon and the Northwest Territories, that rate dramatically drops off.
When one considers that over a lifetime a Canadian now has more than a 50/50 chance of being injured in a car accident, simply because of the frequency of vehicle use, these Yukon statistics mean that the majority of travellers in the Yukon run an extremely high risk of serious injury or death if involved in a motor vehicle accident. We believe this level of risk is unacceptable.
The experience of other jurisdictions has clearly shown that education and public awareness campaigns do help but they do not alone increase seatbelt use in any substantial way. Significant increase in seatbelt use can only be achieved upon the enactment and enforcement of mandatory seatbelt legislation. I believe it is for this reason that all other Canadian jurisdictions and 38 states in the United States have enacted such legislation. With Alaskas recent passage of a seatbelt law, the Yukon became land bordered on all sides by jurisdictions that have passed such legislation.
The Yukon is currently the last jurisdiction in Canada to be without a mandatory seatbelt law for people five years of age and over. Seatbelts are now installed at the time of manufacture in essentially all motor vehicles, with the exception of passenger seats in certain vehicles such as school buses and motor coaches.
In view of the alarmingly low seatbelt-wearing rate in the Yukon, the relative availability of seatbelt systems in almost all motor vehicles on the road today, and the other jurisdictions experiences in the area of seatbelt promotion, I believe the time has definitely come for us to consider a mandatory seatbelt law in the Yukon.
As part of the preparation for the legislation before Members, we created a Seatbelt Advisory Committee. It was mandated to consult with the Yukon public and advise the government on the appropriateness of a Yukon seatbelt law. It has recommended, very strongly, that such legislation be enacted.
This recommendation reflects the unanimous position of its representative members, as well as the verbal and written support for such a recommendation that it received in response to its call for public submissions during its process of review.
The Advisory Committee was made up of a number of agencies. It was chaired by the Yukon Medical Association. On the committee, there was representation from the Yukon Nurses Association, the Yukon Law Society, the Yukon Transportation Association, the Yukon Federation of Labour and the Yukon Advisory Committee on Womens Issues. It would be appropriate for me to take the opportunity to extend to these organizations my deepest appreciation for their efforts and their guidance on the issue. They have contributed immeasurably toward this governments preparation for the road safety legislation we are introducing.
Our research, as well as the committee recommendations, has given shape to the legislation that is before you.
Essentially, what it says is that all persons over the age of five, travelling in a motor vehicle, will be required to wear the seat belts provided for their safety and protection.
The existing legislative requirement for children five years of age or younger to be restrained by a child restraint system while travelling in a motor vehicle will continue to remain in force.
Provision has been made within the legislation to exempt certain persons from the requirement to be restrained at all times while travelling in a motor vehicle. At the outset, I want to emphasize that an exemption is not a prohibition against seatbelt use. Rather, persons who are exempted by legislation may choose to wear the seatbelts provided for their safety and protection. The purpose of an exemption is simply to provide a mechanism for persons to not wear a seatbelt in certain situations, as permitted and described in law.
The exemptions contained within this legislation include the three recommendations from the Seatbelt Advisory Committee. As well, we have added three additional exemptions that we feel are appropriate for inclusion at the present time.
In brief, the first exemption we are proposing addresses persons who are driving in reverse. This exemption is being provided because, in older cars, without retractable seatbelts, it is physically difficult to turn the body without unfastening the belt. Reversing the vehicle without removing the belt may, in fact, pose a safety problem. Accident frequency involving injury also tends to be minimal when people are driving in reverse simply because of the low speed of the vehicle.
The second recommendation put forward by the Seatbelt Advisory Committee addresses persons occupying seating positions that are not required by Canadian motor vehicle safety standards to be equipped with seatbelts at the time of the manufacture. In other words, this speaks to older vehicles. This exemption is being provided simple because some vehicles that are on the road today did not have seatbelts installed at the time of manufacture. An example of such vehicles would be pre-1971 vehicles and vintage vehicles, for example, used in parades.
As well, as I indicated earlier, some vehicles manufactured today do not come equipped with passenger seatbelts, such as school buses and motor coaches. So, where seatbelts are not established in manufacture, they will not be required.
The third exemption put forward by this Seatbelt Advisory Committee speaks to persons for whom seatbelts are not available as a result of all available belted seating positions being occupied. This exemption is provided to ensure that persons who cannot wear a seatbelt because all the available seatbelt positions are occupied are not subject to prosecution or the requirement to have a seatbelt. The point is that all seatbelts must be in use before you do not have to wear one if you are riding in the vehicle. The wording of this exemption in the bill before you ensures, however, that a person is not exempted from seatbelt wearing simply by choosing to occupy a position for which there is not a belt. All other belts must be used.
We included three exemptions additional to those put forward by the Seatbelt Committee. One of them speaks to persons whose physical size or build or a medical condition precludes the correct and safe use of a seatbelt. This exemption is being provided as, at the present time, at least five percent of the Canadian population continues to be unable to be accommodated by the current seatbelt technology. As well, other Canadian jurisdictions continue to provide physical and medical exemptions at the present time, so we have included that exemption in addition to the three put forward by the Seatbelt Committee.
To reduce the potential for abuse of the exemption privilege, as has been the experience in other jurisdictions, a multi-tiered approval process is being instituted under the legislation to govern the granting and period of validity of individual exemption applications. This unique feature of the Yukon legislation relative to other jurisdictions legislation is also intended to provide a balanced approach to the sharing of responsibility between the medical community and the Yukon government for granting individual exemptions.
The second exemption we put forward in addition to the three from the Seatbelt Committee speaks to attendants giving patient care in an ambulance.
This exemption is being provided because, in some instances, it is physically impossible or extremely difficult for an attendant attending to a patient in the rear compartment of an ambulance to provide the necessary medical care, if the attendant is seatbelted. The exemption provides a legal mechanism for an attendant to not wear a seatbelt if the situation so requires.
The third and last exemption that we added to the bill speaks to delivery-type vehicles. This exemption is provided to alleviate the otherwise impractical requirement for drivers or passengers of these vehicles to repeatedly buckle and unbuckle their seatbelts in the course of a working day. However, as these individuals operate under a very high accident exposure - simply by the nature of their occupation - and therefore require the safety protection afforded them through seatbelts, the specific circumstances under which they are exempted from the requirement to wear seatbelts have been very carefully defined within the legislation. This section speaks to mail delivery trucks that make frequent stops. It could apply to garbage pick-up trucks and any delivery-type vehicle. We have regulated the exemption to ensure that persons do not, for example, travel through an intersection without being belted up under that exemption.
These are the six exemptions that we are permitting. I say this to a person in the media. With this legislation we will be the jurisdiction with the second lowest number of exemptions, save for Quebec. Quebec has four exemptions; we have six proposed and all other jurisdictions have many more.
Just as I know there will be some who are disappointed with our proposal to enact a mandatory seatbelt law, I know that there will be others who will be disappointed that the proposed legislation is not more comprehensive. It is important to remember seatbelt laws are enacted with the primary intent of facilitating the widest possible use of available seatbelt systems: that is, those that are manufactured as a component of the motor vehicles.
The post-installation of seatbelt systems is not governed by federal standards. Consequently, this legislation does not require the installation of seatbelts in school buses or motor coaches. In this regard, I also feel it is important to note that Transport Canada studies on school bus safety and seatbelts have concluded that students are currently safer travelling to and from school in a school bus, than in any other type of motor vehicle.
More recent Transport Canada studies have revealed that the use of seatbelts in rearward-facing seats is feasible. Transport Canada is now considering revising its safety standards for school buses to permit the installation of rearward-facing seats with seatbelts. As a government, we are closely monitoring this and will be in a position to revisit this issue in a timely fashion, if such an amendment does proceed and appropriate standards are developed governing the manufacture and installation of school bus seatbelt usage.
It appears to be a well-established principle that the level of compliance with any particular piece of legislation is directly proportional to the level of enforcement that is applied. Concerns have been expressed to me over the level of enforcement that has been applied to child restraint legislation, since its enactment in September 1987. Correspondingly, that will be applied under the new seatbelt law.
I want to assure Members of the House the benefits of reduced injury and death that should flow from the legislation, as it is realized. There will be a high-profile enforcement and educational campaign carried out by the RCMP and the department.
I am sure that many Members are aware of the seatbelt Convincer that made its way to the Yukon this past weekend and is currently touring Yukon communities. It made its debut at the Whitehorse Trade Show. From all reports, the response to the use of the Convincer was overwhelming. I believe the demonstrations were many, and most people were impressed with the results of taking a ride on the Convincer.
My colleague from Riverdale North participated in that exercise, as perhaps did other Members. I can tell you that, when I went through the experience, it was quite shocking to feel the impact at eight kilometres per hour at the bottom of that run.
It certainly convinced me that a seatbelt is a most useful safety device.
I recall talking over the weekend to one of the people who was involved with putting on the demonstration. He related to me the story of a couple who came up to the demonstration, quite outspoken that they never wore seatbelts, never intended to, and this was all a hoax. Neither of them had ridden on a Convincer either, but they were persuaded to do so.
Later on in the day, those people made such a point of showing that they had been convinced by the demonstration that they drove past the Convincer, displaying their buckled seatbelts. I think that gesture was an example of the convincing that the Convincer did, and I hope that kind of a scenario will be repeated again and again, as the Convincer is demonstrated throughout the territory this week.
With respect to enforcement, I would like to note that this legislative package also provides for an increase in the motor vehicle accident reporting level from the present $350 level to $1,000. The accident reporting level represents the estimated cost of damage that obliges a driver to report motor vehicle accidents. The accident reporting level has not been changed for the past 12 years, and $1,000 more realistically corresponds to todays cost of motor vehicle repairs.
Statistics on Yukon motor vehicle accidents indicate that approximately 45 percent of the time spent by the RCMP investigating reported traffic accidents has been related to accidents involving relatively inconsequential vehicle damage. So, quite a bit of the RCMPs time is spent on this lower-end vehicle accident reporting. Raising the level to $1,000 will represent a more realistic level for reporting in todays costs, in light of the history of when this was changed last, and it will free-up the RCMP to do other, more important, work.
I would also point out that the $1,000 level we are putting into this bill for accident reporting was cooperatively established, by all jurisdictions in the country, as a reasonable and uniform level to be instituted and used as the basis for collection and analysis of motor vehicle accident data. It provides a more uniform basis for data exchange relating to motor vehicle information.
I expect that the ability of the RCMP to devote greater resources to other traffic enforcement and road safety patrols will help address the factors giving rise to motor vehicle accidents in the first place. In other words, poor and irresponsible driving behaviour may be more adequately addressed by the RCMP with the time freed-up from the accident reporting preoccupation.
The need for seatbelt-wearing will not diminish, even with the substantially improved drivers, roads or enforcement. Accidents can, and will continue to, happen, and the best protection people can afford themselves is to wear a seatbelt at all times when travelling in a motor vehicle.
In summary, this bill before us will enhance public safety and facilitate the governments new direction in preventive health care by reducing the frequency and severity of motor vehicle accidents and injuries resulting from the non-use of seatbelts. It will provide a balanced approach to accommodating the recommendations of the seatbelt advisory committee and the public interest expressed over the past several years. It will also affirm the Yukons commitment, along with all other Canadian jurisdictions, to participation in a national restraint effort that has, as its objective, the attainment of a 95 percent seatbelt usage rate in the country by 1995.
Mr. Phelps: While the Minister was speaking in support of the motion on second reading of this bill, I was looking at the previous debate that we had in these chambers on December 13, 1989, and looking at the issues as discussed with regard to mandatory seatbelt legislation. At that time, we on this side made it fairly clear that we would not be voting a party line on the issue, but rather it would be up to the individual Members to vote as they felt was in the best interest of Yukoners.
I made it very clear back then that I personally believe that seatbelts save lives and reduce injuries in automobile accidents. I do not need a ride on the Convincer to convince me of that. I have had rides on my own convincer - in my own vehicle - where I was saved from injury because I wore a seat belt, and on more than one occasion. I have always insisted that certainly my family and people who ride in my vehicle strap themselves in whenever I am responsible for their safety as the driver of the passenger vehicle.
The Convincer and whatever is said by the side opposite - or some Members on this side - will not be able to convince me that we have to pass a law that makes it mandatory for people to do things that are in their best self-interests.
As I said during debate on the motion, I felt then and still feel that there has not been enough education of the public with regard to the benefits of wearing a seatbelt.
I feel now, as I felt then, that this is going beyond the appropriate role and responsibility of government, the government as Big Brother. It goes beyond what my personal philosophy can support. While I do believe that everyone should buckle up when they are driving or are passengers in a motor vehicle, and while I adhere to that philosophy myself, because I do not believe that government ought to make this mandatory or be passing new laws or penalties with regard to issues such as this, I will be voting against this bill in second reading.
Mr. Lang: I want to make a couple of observations. It is not my intention to hold up the bill at second reading nor through Committee. I will have some questions about exemptions in the regulations side of the bill. I do not understand why the government would want that regulatory authority, as they have already outlined just exactly what is exempt, unless there is something there we do not know about.
I, too, share the view of the Leader of the Official Opposition. I realize that seatbelts are a safety device, and I realize that your odds are better if you have your seatbelt done up. I also could provide witnesses here who did not have their seatbelt done up and, because of the nature of the accident, they survived. Those are isolated cases, but also facts.
I voted for the manditory seatbelt legislation for children when it was brought forward that it be mandatory, but I feel that, as adults, we can make those decisions for ourselves. We do not need the government to make them for us. Session after session I see more and more legislation being passed, and the rights of individuals being taken away from them, time in and time out, and the responsibilities of individuals being taken over by the government. Here is another case, as the Leader of the Official Opposition has indicated.
I will be voting against the bill as well.
Speaker: The Hon. Member will close debate if he now speaks. Does any other Member wish to be heard?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am disappointed in the comments of the two Members opposite. I am disappointed in that they feel compelled to vote against the bill on the basis that they do not believe the government ought to be legislating this type of direction.
I believe I made it clear in my earlier comments that no amount of public education or public persuasion will affect, in any substantial way, the increased use of seatbelts. In those jurisdictions where a very concerted effort was made to encourage the public to use seatbelts without legislation, there was only a marginal increase in seatbelt use.
I indicated to Members what the statistics tell us about how seatbelts save lives, about how they reduce injury, about how they reduce costs in our health care system. It is not consistent when all of these factors support the use of seatbelts to suggest that it cannot be supported. That is in direct contradiction to what I believe is our responsibility to respond to the public interest by having a democratic vote on a motion in this House pertaining to the protection of public safety. In other jurisdictions where an education program was used alone as opposed to legislation, there was only a marginal increase in the use of seatbelts.
I indicated that from the survey in the Yukon, seatbelt use was reported to be very low. In those jurisdictions where legislation was introduced, the rise in seatbelt use within a six-month period moved dramatically from a five and 10 percent range to over 50 percent. I also indicated that the average in the provinces is now over 80 percent usage.
I would ask Members to reconsider their positions and provide this bill the kind of unanimous support that it should receive.
I would be quite willing to entertain detailed debate on exemptions in Committee regarding the question raised by the Member of Porter Creek East. Fundamentally, the six exemptions that are being prescribed in the bill are the only exemptions intended.
It is impossible for this government, for me as a Minister or for any Member in this House to predict what may be an additional exemption in the future on a timed basis. There may be legitimate additional exemptions for a short or extended period of time to be provided beyond the six we have provided in this bill.
I believe it is both prudent and wise to leave an opportunity to create new exemptions should the need arise without having to bring the bill back into the House. There is no intention to increase the number of the exemptions created beyond the six that I have outlined in the bill.
I would seek the unanimous consent of the House in support of this legislation.
Motion on second reading of Bill No. 40 agreed to
Bill No. 3: Second Reading
Clerk: Second reading, Bill No. 3, standing in the name of the Hon. Mr. Penikett.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I move that Bill No. 3, entitled Third Appropriation Act, 1990-91, be now read a second time.
Speaker: It has been moved that Bill No. 3, entitled Third Appropriation Act, 1990-91, be now read a second time.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: As all Members know, this is the second supplementary to the 1990-91 fiscal year. It is required because additional funds, over and above those previously voted, were needed for certain particular expenditures during that fiscal year.
As we are dealing with this matter after the fiscal year, we have previously asked the Commissioner to approve a special warrant covering these expenditures.
The bill represents the approval of an additional $7.3 million in spending authority for 1990-91. Of this sum, $5.5 million is required as retroactive pay for the negotiated wage settlement we have recently reached with our own employees. Members will be aware of the fact that 1990-91 is the first of the three-year term of this new contract. Despite the fact that the retroactive funds will not be paid to employees until May of the current fiscal year, we must show them as an expenditure of the previous year in order to satisfy the quaint imperatives of the accounting profession and the Auditor Generals staff.
While the total impact of this bill amounts to $7.3 million, this sum is actually comprised of a $10.4 million increase in our O&M expenditures and a $3.1 million decrease in capital outlays.
When changes in recoveries are taken into account, the net change in our financial position for the year is an apparent increase in our annual deficit of approximately $9.5 million. In theory, this would bring the annual deficit to $19 million and this sum would be financed by drawing down from our $54 million accumulated surplus.
However, this transaction is ephemeral. In fact, we usually lapse considerable sums of money, especially, in our capital votes. While it is yet too early to be able to determine those lapses with any certainty, I believe that we will in fact be fairly close to the balance between our revenues and expenditures when the final accounts for the 1990-91 year are completed. In other words, our balance sheet at the end of the year will look much like it did in the beginning.
I have already mentioned that negotiated retroactive wages account for the bulk of the funds required in the supplementary. In fact, for the majority of the operation and maintenance votes these retroactive payments account for all of the supplementary funds being requested. In the case of several of these departments, the retroactive payment actually exceeds the funds being sought, indicating that offsets were found to fund a portion of the salary increases.
Several departments, however, have found it necessary to seek additional funds for other purposes and all Ministers will be delighted to explain these in detail during the course of general debate.
For now, I will simply mention that these additional operation and maintenance costs are largely the result of a limited number of unusual factors, impacting upon several of the larger departments as follows, and I will describe them.
In Community and Transportation Services, increased fuel prices and heavy snowfalls over the past winter have resulted in the need for funds in excess of those that were required for the retroactive salary payments.
In addition to the retroactive pay required for our non-teaching employees, we have also reached an agreement with our teachers that requires payments in excess of those currently contained in our 1990-1991 budgets. These payments result in an additional requirement for funds of over $1 million dollars for the Department of Education.
Additional funds are needed in the Department of Health and Human Resources - now Health and Social Services - principally for social assistance purposes where there has been an increase both in the number and average cost of clients.
Finally, the Department of Justice requires new money for a number of purposes, especially for compensation for victims of crime and legal aid services, which are largely recoverable expenditures and for increased operating costs at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre.
Many of the additional expenditures required to be made in 1990-1991 were recoverable and Members will note that operation and maintenance recoveries have increased by almost $1.7 million dollars.
A decrease in capital expenditures is reflected in the supplementary and it occurs almost entirely within the Yukon Housing Corporation vote.
The corporation has reduced its capital expenditure projection by $3.7 million; the accompanying recoveries are reduced by $3.3 million, for a net gain of approximately $400,000 in our surplus deficit position.
There are, of course, a number of other smaller variations in both capital and O&M votes but those just mentioned cover the principal variances.
As previously mentioned, there will be lapses of expenditures above and beyond those reflected in this supplementary, as there always are - possibly construction projects, which had not progressed so far along as we had hoped by the March 31 fiscal year-end. However, as at the end of December, and in January and February when this supplementary was being prepared, this was our best estimate of the expected expenditures to year-end and represents the sums for which a special warrant was prepared.
That concludes my introductory remarks. I will, of course, be prepared to respond to any critique offered by the Finance critic at second reading as well as to whatever detail Members wish at the time of general debate and clause-by-clause reading in Committee.
Mr. Phelps: I will be quite brief in my remarks as well. I think it is important, however, to note for the record just how wild the swings become in these budgets. Right now, as the Minister has stated, we are looking at a total deficit projection of about $18 million for the year in question. We are already into the 1991-92 fiscal year, yet we know there are going to be all kinds of lapses in the capital side of the budget and that much of that deficit will be wiped out by these lapses, as occurs year after year. However, it is interesting to go back to the original forecast as in the main estimates of 1990-91, on page 6, where it states that the budgeted surplus of $6.896 million is a reserve for normal supplementaries, including wage increases to be negotiated during the course of the year.
I expect the final year-end result will be a balanced budget. That projection has proven to be way out, not because of the lack of prudent money management, but because the government does not yet have the ability to spend money as fast as it would like to.
A few more automatic cheque-writers could be leased. I am sure our critic for Government Services on this side would approve of such a budgetary expenditure on the capital side, so the cheques could get out in a more timely fashion. I do not know what direction we are going in. It is interesting to think back of the promises made in the mid-1980s. Now that Curragh is shut down, we realize just how lacking we are in terms of economic diversification, yet we seem to spend more and more money, and government is getting bigger and bigger in this jurisdiction. Perhaps some day we will be able to meet the record of the NDP in Ontario who, I understand, are going to have a $10 billion deficit for the year. With a few extra cheque-writers, this government could work on playing catch-up.
Speaker: The Hon. Member will close debate if he now speaks. Does any other Member wish to be heard?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I thank the Leader of the Official Opposition for his remarkably erudite comments and for the consistency of tone and content with which he has entered every single budget debate in which I have had the pleasure of being part. I have enjoyed seeing him be part of these debates.
The Leader of the Official Opposition noted what I had said in my speech about the expected deficit as of this moment and then noticed it would be offset by lapses, leaving us with a balanced budget at the end of the year. He conceded that that was probably true, but said it was at variance with the forecast. The forecast, of course, did note that we were setting aside a certain amount of money for salary negotiations rather than putting into the budget an amount for those negotiations, signalling what we thought the conclusions of those negotiations would be.
The Member talks about the lapses. They, of course, are regrettable. The Member will note that, with the exception of one year - I think it was last year - the pattern of lapses has been shrinking. It is our hope that this will continue to be the case - that is, as a percentage of our total budget, it will continue to get smaller - and I am sure the Leader of the Official Opposition will share our objective on that score.
The government has taken some steps, in terms of the capital planning process, to try and control or improve the ability to spend what we budgeted in the capital program; however, it would be conceded by any fair-minded individual that there was a significant amount of lapse in the budgets of the previous government. No matter how good the standard of management of this government becomes, there will be lapses in the future.
It is impossible for people in Government Services or the Department of Highways to control and to dictate the pace and progress of every single capital works program of the hundreds of construction projects that go on around the territory. It is impossible to control factors like weather that may influence progress on such work. External events such as the recent debate in the City Council of Whitehorse about the siting of a school can affect the ability of the government to implement its capital program as it was debated and approved in this House.
It is interesting that the Leader of the Official Opposition complains about the way we spend the money we have under formula financing and spending it the way we said we would, on the basis of the promises we made to the federal government when it was first obtained. It is a matter of record that there is no other provincial government, or the federal government, that spends as large a percentage of its budget on capital programs - in other words, in the building, the infrastructure and the development of the economy of its jurisdiction.
In my recent meeting with the Governor of Alaska, he assured us that we would go to heaven as we had such a large capital budget. He thoroughly approved of that direction.
We have had a pattern of balancing budgets, and I know the Leader of the Official Opposition, when he is in the country or when he is abroad in India or anywhere else, would want to brag to his ideological soulmates that this is one of two governments in the country that consistently runs a surplus. He expressed great pride in the fact that he comes from a jurisdiction where that is the case. Outside of these Chambers, where he can afford to be more fair minded, he will no doubt sing the praises of the last couple of Finance Ministers in this territory.
The fact that we have an accumulated surplus and have maintained an accumulated surplus, I am sure is something in which he shares a great deal of pride.
I will conclude on this note. The Leader of the Official Opposition did invite me, at the end of his speech, to debate the Ontario budget. I do understand that the Ontario economy is in very difficult shape and that the new government inherited a recession.
They had some tough choices to make. They had a choice of whether to fight the deficit or fight the recession. They have made a decision to fight the recession and to try to create jobs and try to protect the people of that province from the ravages of the recession that is upon them. I understand the budget they have presented will result in the increase of 70,000 jobs in Ontario. I am sure all Members here would want to compliment them for doing that.
I suspect that the proper place for debating the Ontario budget is in Ontario. If, when we get into Committee of the Whole, the Leader of the Official Opposition wishes to engage me in that diversionary tactic, I will be happy to follow him on whatever trail he decides to break.
At this time of the year, the supplementary is a traditional event. It is a modest proposal, and I would recommend the approval to all Members of the House.
Motion for second reading of Bill No. 3 agreed to
Bill No. 64: Second Reading
Clerk Assistant: Second reading, Bill No. 64, standing in the name of Ms. Joe.
Hon. Ms. Joe: I move that Bill No. 64, entitled An Act to Amend the Yukon Supreme Court Act, be now read a second time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Justice that Bill No. 64, entitled An Act to Amend the Supreme Court Act, be now read a second time.
Hon. Ms. Joe: This bill contains an amendment that establishes the office of supernumerary judge. Judges of the Supreme Court are appointed by the Governor General in Council pursuant to the Yukon Act. Our Supreme Court Judge remains in office during good behaviour, and ceases to hold office upon attaining 75 years of age. The pay, pension and other benefits of holding office as a Supreme Court Judge are specified by an act of Parliament, namely the Judges Act.
Under that act, a province or territory may establish an office of supernumerary judge. A judge of the Supreme Court can then elect to be a supernumerary judge when he, or she, has attained a combination of either 65 years of age and 15 years in office, or 70 years of age and 10 years in office.
When a judge elects to hold office as a supernumerary, the election creates a vacancy on the bench that can be filled by the appointment of another person. Instead of being obliged to work full-time at judicial duty, the supernumerary is required to be available to perform duties at the call of the Chief Justice of the court.
It will not cost this government any money to create the office of supernumerary judge. Canada pays all the salary and pension benefits of these judicial offices. We supply and equip the court building and related facilities, but there need be no increase in those as a result of creating the office of supernumerary judge. The amendment will bring Yukon in line with all the provinces and the Northwest Territories, who have amended their legislation so as to create the office of supernumerary judge.
The Yukon Supreme Court Act is established by, and obtains its jurisdiction from, the Yukon Act. The appointment of a new Supreme Court Judge is a federal responsibility, but there is consultation with the local committee. The committee reviews applications and advises the federal Minister of Justice on whether or not individual applicants are qualified. The remaining amendments remove sexist language and repeal a section that is now obsolete within the act.
Mrs. Firth: We, on this side of the Legislature, understand very well the principle of this bill, and we look forward to going through the clause-by-clause debate with the Minister.
I am interested in the Ministers comments with respect to cost because, from what I understand, we would still have to maintain some kind of office accommodations and secretarial services for the retiring judge, when he retires supernumerary. Although the federal government pays the salary of the new judge, as well as the supernumerary judge, I still think we all pay for it as taxpayers. To say it is not going to cost us anything extra is, I believe, not completely accurate, if I am not mistaken. In other jurisdictions where this has happened, they are running into some problems and difficulties because of the costs they are incurring with respect to this initiative.
The concern we have is the direction the government is taking, as the Minister said, just because everyone else has done it and the Northwest Territories have done it. It is incumbent on the government to demonstrate to us why they feel this action is necessary. I cannot see the demonstrated need for it, but perhaps the government can defend its position and reasons for going ahead with this specific initiative.
I would also like to point out to the Minister that, in the event they cannot demonstrate a specific need, the accusations of it looking political could be made. I am looking forward to hearing the Ministers reason and rationale for bringing this forward as one of the governments priorities.
I would also be interested to know if the government has a replacement in mind for the present judge. We recognize the procedure that is required to appoint the new judge, and that they have to make a recommendation to the federal government with respect to the appointment. I would be interested in knowing whether the Minister or the government has anyone in mind for that appointment, and if they would be prepared to let us know who that may be, just so we have a full understanding of what the governments intention is here.
With those brief comments, we will look forward to discussing this bill further in Committee of the Whole.
Speaker: The Hon. Member will close debate if she now speaks. Does any other Member wish to be heard?
Hon. Ms. Joe: I thank the Member for Riverdale South for her comments in regard to this act. The use of deputy judges, who have been coming to the Yukon to sit at some of these trials, will be reduced with the judge who would hold a supernumerary status.
There has been occasion when we have had to bring deputy judges to the Yukon. When you have a judge who has been here for 22 years, there does come a time when there can be some conflict and the judge may have to disqualify himself, because of his knowledge of the people and the north. In the past, the use of deputy judges has been quite high, and I think this will decrease.
The other thing that I think is very important, in regard to this amendment to the act, is that when people reach the age of retirement, many of them do not feel that they would like to retire or that retirement should be compulsory. In this case, it allows a person to continue to perform the duties of a judge, and I hope that would be something that we would support in any position that any Yukoner or other person might have. We do not like to force retirement on anybody, if they do not want to retire.
It is not for us to make any recommendations with regard to a replacement for a Supreme Court Judge. That is not done by this government.
There has been a committee, as the Member for Riverdale South knows, that has been struck to look at all of the names that have been recommended. That will be done by that committee. I would hope that there would be some consultation with this government. We are requesting that that be done. At this point in time, however, it is not for us to recommend a replacement. All we ask for is some consultation.
Motion on second reading of Bill No. 64 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 call Committee of the Whole to order.
We will now have a break.
Chair: I will call Committee to order.
We will deal with the bills in this order: Bill No. 25, Bill No. 85, 82, 40 and 3.
Bill No. 25 - Land Titles Act continued
On Clause 49 - continued
Chair: We are on clause 49.
Hon. Ms. Joe: Someone had a question in the House last night with regard to the Hudsons Bay Company and lands that they might have in the Yukon.
It is has been established that there are lands that Hudsons Bay does own in the Yukon. It is also a concern that they may also have land that they had title to prior to 1987 - possibly in their archives or whatever. If they so choose to register this land at some time in the future, then they should be able to and this paragraph would accommodate that.
There were some other questions with regard to the reason why we were doing this act at this point in time. As I mentioned last night, it is something that has been in the discussion stages for three or four years and that there was an agreement with the federal government that we would adopt their act with some necessary changes. We have indicated already that the Government of the Northwest Territories has passed their legislation in their House and are awaiting the passage of our legislation in this House so that they can do the whole transfer at the same time, rather than doing their legislation and waiting for our legislation. This will make it more convenient for all of those individuals involved.
Mrs. Firth: I understand this whole piece of legislation is probably going to be redrafted anyway one day. It is quite an ancient - is ancient a good word to use, Madam Chair - piece of legislation; all you have to do is read a few of the clauses in it to note that it is quite ancient. When are the western provinces and territories going to get together to develop these common standards and redraft the act? What is the time line on that? When does the Minister expect that to happen?
Hon. Ms. Joe: There has not been a definite time set as to when that would take place. I think what is happening right now is that we do not have our legislation in place here in the Yukon and we have not adopted the federal legislation. Once that takes place, we can at least discuss with other jurisdictions a time frame as to when we would look at reviewing the whole act. As the Member said, it is a very ancient act and it has been an interesting venture to go through it and see all the things that are still included, and to note how long it takes the federal government to change acts, as opposed to what we are doing here. We thought some of our acts were very ancient but I think this one is even more so.
Mrs. Firth: I would like to get some kind of commitment from her or some projection as to when they are going to redo it. It is great to put an ancient act on our books and let it sit there for another long period of time.
It is interesting to know that this act was drafted at the time when lawyers got paid per word, so this act is 150 pages long - I guess that is not quite accurate now, as it is in two official languages now. Anyway, it is a lot of words. I hope that the new act is not going to be drafted with the lawyers paid by the word. If it is, I hope it is considerably shorter than this one. I am sure the Minister would agree with that.
I am not going to say to the Minister that she promised to have this done in two years or three months. I just want to know what the vague time line is. Will it be a few years or is this a priority with the western provinces and territories and will be done relatively soon? Perhaps she could fill us in.
Hon. Ms. Joe: I have been told that the government has given us three years to do the necessary work. As the Member knows, we do have a schedule to deal with legislation here in the House. I suspect that it will not be on the schedule one year from now. It could possibly be two years.
Clause 49 agreed to
On Clause 50
Clause 50 agreed to
On Clause 51
Clause 51 agreed to
On Clause 52
Clause 52 agreed to
On Clause 53
Clause 53 agreed to
On Clause 54
Clause 54 agreed to
On Clause 55
Clause 55 agreed to
On Clause 56
Clause 56 agreed to
On Clause 57
Clause 57 agreed to
On Clause 58
Clause 58 agreed to
On Clause 59
Hon. Ms. Joe: There is an amendment I would like to make in this section. I move
THAT Bill No. 25, entitled Lands Titles Act, be amended in clause 59 at page 22 by removing , after may and delete the words before him. Sentence will now read A judge may in any case direct that notice of the application ...
The Member from Riverdale I am sure has picked up on that change that has to be made.
Mrs. Firth: I guess I recognize the government is making all these changes regarding the hes, shes, hims and hers. I question the prudence of doing it now when the whole bill is to be re-drafted anyway. I do not know why the Minister had someone do it as it was probably quite time consuming and put some lawyer to work for quite a few hours. I think it would have been acceptable to us if it had waited for the three years for the redraft. Perhaps the Minister can give us some explanation that indicates why they had to do it.
Hon. Ms. Joe: In the redrafting of this bill there were some changes that were made. There was also a direction to remove a lot of the sexist language and in some cases that was done. As we reviewed it after the final draft we found that we had missed 11 places where it should have been changed along with the other sexist language changes.
Mrs. Firth: That is my whole point. Somebody had to go to a lot of work to do this. The time could have been better spent drafting the new legislation. If we were going to do the whole act over within a three-year period, why did we put this poor, struggling individual to work going through all these hes and shes, hims and hers? That is the point I was trying to make.
Anyway, it has been done, the money has been spent, the person has been seeing him and her in his sleep at night for a long time, I am sure, and we will just proceed.
Amendment agreed to
Clause 59 agreed to as amended
On Clause 60
Clause 60 agreed to
On Clause 61
Clause 61 agreed to
On Clause 62
Clause 62 agreed to
On Clause 63
Clause 63 agreed to
On Clause 64
Clause 64 agreed to
On Clause 65
Clause 65 agreed to
On Clause 66
Clause 66 agreed to
On Clause 67
Clause 67 agreed to
On Clause 68
Clause 68 agreed to
On Clause 69
Clause 69 agreed to
On Clause 70
Clause 70 agreed to
On Clause 71
Clause 71 agreed to
On Clause 72
Clause 72 agreed to
On Clause 73
Clause 73 agreed to
On Clause 74
Clause 74 agreed to
On Clause 75
Clause 75 agreed to
On Clause 76
Clause 76 agreed to
On Clause 77
Clause 77 agreed to
On Clause 78
Clause 78 agreed to
On Clause 79
Clause 79 agreed to
On Clause 80
Clause 80 agreed to
On Clause 81
Clause 81 agreed to
On Clause 82
Clause 82 agreed to
On Clause 83
Clause 83 agreed to
On Clause 84
Hon. Ms. Joe: I move
THAT Bill No. 25, entitled Land Titles Act, be amended in clause 84(a) at page 33 by adding or her after through his.
Amendment agreed to
Clause 84 agreed to as amended
On Clause 85
Hon. Ms. Joe: I move
THAT Bill No. 25, entitled Land Titles Act, be amended in clause 85(1) at page 34 by adding or her after from his.
Amendment agreed to
Clause 85 agreed to as amended
On Clause 86
Clause 86 agreed to
On Clause 87
Clause 87 agreed to
On Clause 88
Clause 88 agreed to
On Clause 89
Clause 89 agreed to
On Clause 90
Clause 90 agreed to
On Clause 91
Clause 91 agreed to
On Clause 92
Clause 92 agreed to
On Clause 93
Clause 93 agreed to
On Clause 94
Clause 94 agreed to
On Clause 95
Clause 95 agreed to
On Clause 96
Clause 96 agreed to
On Clause 97
Mr. Devries: On 97(3) there is a him that should be out of here.
Chair: Are you going to amend it?
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Ms. Joe: I move
THAT Bill No. 25, entitled Land Titles Act, be amended in clause 97(3) and 97(4) by adding or her after him.
Amendment agreed to
Clause 97 agreed to as amended
On Clause 98
Clause 98 agreed to
On Clause 99
Clause 99 agreed to
On Clause 100
Clause 100 agreed to
On Clause 101
Clause 101 agreed to
On Clause 102
Clause 102 agreed to
On Clause 103
Clause 103 agreed to
On Clause 104
Clause 104 agreed to
On Clause 105
Clause 105 agreed to
On Clause 106
Clause 106 agreed to
On Clause 107
Clause 107 agreed to
On Clause 108
Clause 108 agreed to
On Clause 109
Clause 109 agreed to
On Clause 110
Clause 110 agreed to
On Clause 111
Clause 111 agreed to
On Clause 112
Clause 112 agreed to
On Clause 113
Clause 113 agreed to
On Clause 114
Clause 114 agreed to
On Clause 115
Clause 115 agreed to
On Clause 116
Clause 116 agreed to
On Clause 117
Clause 117 agreed to
On Clause 118
Clause 118 agreed to
On Clause 119
Hon. Ms. Joe: I move
THAT Bill No. 25, entitled Land Titles Act be amended in Clause 119(5) on page 51 by removing the words with him after filed.
Amendment agreed to
Clause 119 agreed to as amended
On Clause 120
Clause 120 agreed to
On Clause 121
Clause 121 agreed to
On Clause 122
Clause 122 agreed to
On Clause 123
Hon. Ms. Joe: I move
THAT Bill No. 25, entitled Land Titles Act, be amended in clause 123(2) at page 53 by deleting the word him after from or through and replacing it with the word owner.
Amendment agreed to
Clause 123 agreed to as amended
On Clause 124
Hon. Ms. Joe: I move
THAT Bill No. 25, entitled Land Titles Act, be amended in clause 124(3) at page 53 by adding or her after to him.
Amendment agreed to
Clause 124 agreed to as amended
On Clauses 125 - 137
Hon. Ms. Joe: If the Member would like to move a little more quickly on this, we could deem it to be read until the next section where I have an amendment. Is that agreeable to the Member?
Mrs. Firth: It is, but I do not know if I have to deem it to be read, or if the Minister can. It requires the unanimous consent of the House. I gather the next amendment is at page 60.
THAT Bill No. 25, entitled Land Titles Act, clauses 125 to 137 be deemed to be read.
Motion agreed to
Clauses 125 to 137 agreed to
On Clause 138
Hon. Ms. Joe: I move
THAT Bill No. 25, entitled Land Titles Act, be amended in clause 138(2) at page 60 by adding or her after executed by him.
Amendment agreed to
Clause 138 agreed to as amended
Hon. Ms. Joe: The next amendment is in clause 145.
On Clauses 138 - 144
Mrs. Firth: We have just passed the amendment and carried all of clause 138; therefore, I would move
THAT Bill No. 25, Land Titles Act, clauses 139 to clause 144 be deemed to be read.
Motion agreed to
Clauses 139 to 144 agreed to
On Clause 145
Hon. Ms. Joe: I move
THAT Bill No. 25, entitled Land Titles Act, be amended in clause 145(1), page 63, by adding or her after be recovered from him.
Amendment agreed to
Clause 145 agreed to
On Clause 146
Clause 146 agreed to
On Clause 147
Clause 147 agreed to
On Clause 148
Hon. Ms. Joe: I move
THAT Bill No. 25, entitled Land Titles Act, be amended in clause 148(2), page 66, by adding the words or her after him.
Amendment agreed to
Hon. Ms. Joe: I move
THAT Bill No. 25, entitled Land Titles Act, be amended in clause 148(3) at page 66 by removing the words before him after persons appearing.
Amendment agreed to
Clause 148 agreed to as amended
Hon. Ms. Joe: The next amendment I have is in clause 168
Mrs. Firth: I move
THAT Bill No. 25, entitled Land Titles Act, clauses 149 to 167 be deemed to be read.
Motion agreed to
Clauses 149 to 167 agreed to
On Clause 168
Hon. Ms. Joe: I move
THAT Bill No. 25, entitled Land Titles Act, be amended in clause 168 at page 78 by adding or her after or proceeding in his.
While I am on my feet, the last amendment is in clause 174. That is the last one I have.
Amendment agreed to
Clause 168 agreed to as amended
On Clause 169
Clause 169 agreed to
On Clause 170
Clause 170 agreed to
On Clause 171
Clause 171 agreed to
On Clause 172
Clause 172 agreed to
On Clause 173
Clause 173 agreed to
On Clause 174
Hon. Ms. Joe: I move
THAT Bill No. 25, entitled Land Titles Act, be amended in clause 174(1) at page 80 by removing the words before him at the top of the page. The section should now read
174(1) The judge may issue a summons requiring a person or deponent referred to in section 173 to appear, at a time and place to be specified ...
Amendment agreed to
Clause 174 agreed to as amended
On Clause 175
Clause 175 agreed to
On Clause 176
Clause 176 agreed to
On Clause 177
Clause 177 agreed to
On Clause 178
Clause 178 agreed to
On Clause 179
Clause 179 agreed to
On Clause 180
Clause 180 agreed to
On Clause 181
Clause 181 agreed to
On Clause 182
Clause 182 agreed to
On Clause 183
Clause 183 agreed to
On Clause 184
Clause 184 agreed to
On Clause 185
Clause 185 agreed to
On Clause 186
Clause 186 agreed to
On Clause 187
Clause 187 agreed to
On Clause 188
Clause 188 agreed to
On Clause 189
Clause 189 agreed to
On Clause 190
Clause 190 agreed to
On Clause 191
Clause 191 agreed to
On Clause 192
Clause 192 agreed to
On Clause 193
Clause 193 agreed to
On Clause 194
Clause 194 agreed to
On Clause 195
Clause 195 agreed to
On Clause 196
Clause 196 agreed to
On Clause 197
Clause 197 agreed to
On Clause 198
Clause 198 agreed to
On Clause 199
Clause 199 agreed to
On Clause 200
Clause 200 agreed to
On Clause 201
Clause 201 agreed to
On Clause 202
Clause 202 agreed to
On Clause 203
Clause 203 agreed to
On Clause 204
Clause 204 agreed to
On Clause 205
Clause 205 agreed to
Schedule agreed to
Title agreed to
Hon. Ms. Joe: I move that you report Bill No. 25 out of Committee with amendment.
Motion agreed to
Bill No. 85 - An Act to Amend the Electrical Protection Act
Chair: Is there any general debate?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Electrical Protection Act amendments that we are introducing provide what amounts to an improved, more efficient system to address electrical installations in Yukon buildings and facilities.
As I described to Members in my previous statements in the House, in second reading and in my updates to Members in memorandums, the electrical protection amendments have been the work of a review committee. It is very similar to the work done in the Building Standards Act review.
The discussion papers that were assembled by the department were released publicly a couple of years ago. A review committee was struck that had representation from a broad cross-section of interest and professional groups related to the electrical field. They spent the last couple of years reviewing the existing legislation and talking to interested parties and organizations throughout the territory. They provided to me a set of recommendations.
Yesterday I provided to Members a package of information that summarized that history. In that package I provided some of the historical information leading up to the review, going back to 1989 when the discussion papers were first released. It provided some update information between the time of release and now. Additionally, I provided the recommendations from the review committee as well as some additional summary material of the proposals to amend the existing legislation.
I have also provided to Members a copy of the existing Electrical Protection Act that we are amending and I provided to Members the existing regulations that, in part, will be rewritten as part of the new bill.
The act itself does quite a number of things. As we get into clause-by-clause, details of the new approach will become clear.
Essentially, the whole exercise was necessitated by the rapid technological changes that have happened in the electrical field over the last decade. The last changes, or the existing act, was put into place in 1977, so it has been 14 years since there have been many substantive changes to the electrical standards.
One of the fundamental issues in the electrical field is that, under the old legislation and under the requirements of existing law, you had to be a journeyman electrician to do any kind of work anytime on anything. That is perhaps an oversimplification, but it nevertheless created problems in the industry. Due to all the technological changes, there have been much more sophisticated developments than was envisaged when the old legislation was put into place 14 years ago.
The industry and contractors were quite interested in trying to address this problem. I recall several years ago when I was working with the previous Minister, there was quite a major issue surrounding requirements for working on low voltage equipment. Under the existing legislation, a person could very well be competent and have the training and experience to do computer repair work. Yet, according to the standard, they had to be a certified journeyman to touch that equipment. That created problems and, in part, led to a need for a review of the standards and brought us to the point where we are reviewing the legislation in the House today.
One of the substantive changes in this bill is that we are going to be putting into place different levels of licensing for contractors. The bill explains how five different categories are established and, along with those categories, will be the required training and experience to become licensed at that level. The contractor will then be able to carry out work at one of those five levels, or any combination of more than one of those levels. That is a fairly new innovation.
Yes, the fees are going to be going up as a result of this bill, similar to what we have seen in the building standards. We are looking at a recovery of 60 percent of the administrative costs of the inspections in the permit fee structure. We are going to be allowing home owners to do their own work. That is somewhat innovative, in that we are setting up a mechanism, or procedure, whereby home owners can do their own electrical work, given that they are able to do so. They have to have the proven skill to do the kind of work that can be done in ones own home. The bill explains the process.
Additional points being addressed in the bill include a call system for contractors. That is part of the attached innovation creating the different categories of licensing. The call system - or declaration system, as it is referred to - is where a contractor is not required to have an inspection, but he has to call for one. In that 72 hour period, if the inspector chooses not to inspect the work, the contractor, because he is declared capable of proceeding with the work, can proceed following the 72 hour period after the call has been made for the inspection.
So, that declaration system is one where, through the licensing and the performance of the contractor, the department will be granting the contractor the ability to do all installation and not have to have an inspector look at the work.
During that call period of 72 hours, the inspector could come in and inspect his work but, if the inspector does not show, the contractor has the right to close up the work and carry on. That is a much more streamlined and efficient system than where there have been delays in construction due to waiting for an inspector, as the Member has pointed out to me.
Those are some of the principal changes that we are undertaking. I am sure there will be specifics in clause-by-clause reading, which I can address at the time we cover the specific point. By and large, I am quite pleased with the work of this committee. I compliment them on their work, and I am pleased with their presentation.
For the benefit of Members, I should note that the Review Committee has looked at the bill and reviewed it. They did not approve of an earlier version of it, and we made substantive changes. Those changes are now here, and I expect that the group of people who have worked extremely hard over the past two years are going to be quite pleased with what we are putting forward.
Mr. Brewster: I would agree with the Minister that this is probably one of the easiest bills to read that has come into this House. I would make another suggestion. If you brought information like this when you first gave us the books, you would probably not be irritated with me when I do not understand some of the lawyer language in some of these bills.
The discussion paper is in plain English that anybody could understand. You can take that and refer it back to the bill, and it is easy to see. I should compliment the Minister. This is probably the easiest read bill I have seen in eight years in this House, where you can actually read the language. He must have gotten rid of a few lawyers and got a few people to do it who have to work out there. It is very simple and easy to read, especially if you have the discussion paper with it.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I appreciate the Members comments. I suspect that if the Member sees this particular bill in simple English, it is principally because the Review Committee virtually wrote it. They are the ones who spent two years explaining what they wanted to see, trying to achieve consensus and, believe me, consensus was not easy to achieve.
If the Member takes a look at the Review Committee and looks at some of the varied interests that were in the committee, they had to go the country mile to find common ground on some very tough issues relating to electrical standards. They have been extremely successful by consensus and they have managed to come forward with a set of very sophisticated and extensive recommendations in language that the Member and I understand and is part of the bill.
In short, if the bill is simple, it is because it was written by lay people.
Mr. Brewster: Perhaps I should not have said that. Now the Minister is going to keep talking all of the time instead of getting through with the bill.
I would also like to congratulate the committee that did this. As they turned one draft down it is quite apparent that for once somebody in the know backed the government off and got the bill they wanted - not the bill that the bureaucracy wanted. Therefore, I would like to congratulate them for standing their ground. If we had more of this, we would not have as many problems out on the street.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: To cover the Members point, I think that it is not a credit just to the committee, but also to the bureaucracy that we have legislation like this.
The civil servants who worked on this, particularly Mr. Yeomans and Mr. Toews, worked very closely with the committee to achieve the kind of consensus that we have been able to and the quality of the product that we have before us.
Mr. Brewster: I am quite determined that I am going to get the last word. If he wants to keep on talking we can stay here until 5:30. I would suggest that if the people in the civil service worked with this, they should be congratulated that they did listen to the people on the streets. We now have a peoples bill here.
If you want to congratulate them, that is fine. I am assured that they have already had one bill turned down. That must have been done by the bureaucracy. They brought it back to this one.
On Clause 1
Clause 1 agreed to
On Clause 2
Hon. Mr. Byblow: This is simply a cleaning-up of wording from the existing bill.
Clause 2 agreed to
On Clause 3
Clause 3 agreed to
On Clause 4
Clause 4 agreed to
On Clause 5
Mr. Brewster: I would ask for clarification on this one. Do they have to come with 72 hours notice, the same as building inspectors? I do not see the answer here.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: This is the same requirement as in the Building Standards Act. Upon being called, the inspector is required to come within 72 hours. If he does not, and the contractor has a declaration authority - in other words, he can declare his own work - he can proceed with the work after the 72 hours, if the inspector does not show up.
Mr. Brewster: Seventy-two hours is pretty short notice, I would have to say, to get to some of the rural areas. However, it is a good thing to go for. For a private home being built, when you have to have inspections every so often, how long does he have before an inspector has to show up to do the checking before he can board in the work?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I hope I understand the Members question. If a contractor does not have the declaration authority - in other words, he or she does not have the ability to proceed with the work as if they were entitled to approve it - then the contractor would have to wait for the inspector to get there. The 72 hours is applicable under the declaration system.
I am advised that in the absence of a declaration authority by the contractor, normality will prevail. In other words, they have to wait until the inspector gets there before they can proceed with another phase of the work related to electrical work. It does not prevent them from other activity on the construction job but at various stages inspections are required, so they have to wait for approval of those respective stages before they can proceed.
Mr. Brewster: I suspect a private individual building a home would be under the same thing. I would have preferred this to be the norm. I know cases where it is two or three weeks. I would like to have a set time, within reason. I do not expect 72 hours; I agree on that. Once you have started building, there is very little you can do if you cannot board up.
Mr. Brewster: The Member makes a valid point. We have discussed this, as has the committee. There has been no specific limit put in place for the inspector to arrive within after being called. In all reasonableness, the best effort will be made. Part of what this legislation will permit is a reduction in the workload of the inspectors. They will not be inspecting a number of the authorized contractors. In other words, they will have less inspections, because some of the contractors will be technically allowed to approve their own work after 72 hours. This frees up the inspectors to spend more time going to the jobs where there is no declared authority.
In the case of a licensed contractor who does not have the declared authority and is at a stage where he must get his inspection, he should notify the branch prior to reaching that stage and let them know he is going to need an inspection on Tuesday. He plans to work through the weekend to be sure it will be ready for Tuesday. The inspector knows that and, in all reasonableness, is going to time the inspection to that Tuesday. There is a fair degree of cooperation exercised between the branch inspectors and contractors.
We believe that because we are reducing the number of inspections through the declaration of authority being granted to licenced contractors, the inspectors will have more time to spend overseeing other jobs where there is no declaration of authority by the contractor.
The short answer is that we have no time limit, but we expect the time to be much shorter for people who have to wait for the inspector to show up.
My staff is staking its reputation on that commitment.
Mr. Brewster: I would just like to make one suggestion to the Minister. Would he not think that ten days should be plenty of time for a private individual building their own house, from the time they notify inspections branch to the time someone gets there?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I guess what I would like to say to the Member is that his suggestion will be taken under consideration. The Member is suggesting that ten days is a reasonable term of notice for an inspector. I believe, also, that it is a reasonable period of time. It is probably the upper end of reasonableness. I would like to think that an inspector can do an inspection in less than ten days.
It boils down to a question of the number of inspectors available to do the work, the number of jobs going on in the industry that year and the season. I have indicated in previous debate that we have no intention to increase personnel to address the requirements to maintain the standards in this bill. We do, however, intend to reduce the number of inspections. This ought to increase our ability to do them faster.
I take the Members suggestions as a reasonable assessment of what ought to be the time limit, and the branch will address the whole question of the possibility of putting a time limit into regulation.
Mr. Brewster: The reason I am bringing this up is that the big contractors - and I can understand this, they are in the contracting business - will be putting more pressure on the inspectors to be there, especially if they are not allowed to close up in 72 hours. Everyone thinks the home owner is not losing money because he is not a contractor and so he should be able to sit and wait. I would like there to be a ten-day time limit at the longest.
The contractors are in business to make money. The home owner is not, and may get lost in the shuffle.
This is particularly bad in rural areas where more and more people are trying to build their own homes and, I agree, it takes the inspectors longer to get to them because they are all over, from Dawson up to Beaver Creek and down to Watson Lake. If they knew about it within 10 days, I think most home owners could adjust for that - at the longest; if they could come in five days, fine, but I would not suggest five; I would suggest 10.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I appreciate what the Member is saying. I can give him every assurance that the department will make every effort to reduce those time lines. That is partly why we decentralize some of our positions on the building standards side to the rural communities. It makes it easier to provide these kinds of services. I take the Members suggestion as a good-faith suggestion on behalf of the small home owner and we will see what we can do about using it as something of a barometer.
Mr. Devries: Just one question: where would these regulations fall into place for a rural home owner who, for instance, was supplying his own power with a power unit? Does he still fall under the act, or is it only if you are connected to the grid or whatever?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I believe the short answer to the Members question is yes; if a home owner is generating his own power, the provisions of the act would apply. In other words, electrical installation, by definition, would include a generating plant or small hydro facility or micro hydro installation. The ability to work on that system, or the right to work on that system as a licence requirement, would fall under the act if it was of a certain category in size and if installation work was being done.
A section later on speaks to the different licencing classifications for commercial work, but a home owner would still have to show competence to be able to do the installation off of that facility. The point is that the entire intention of the act is to provide safety for the individuals who are charged with putting in installations.
So a home owner doing his own installation off of his own plant would still have to have a permit. The permit would only be issued if he were competent to do the work and proved to the department that he does have the necessary experience and training to do the job.
The short answer is: yes, the act would apply. The longer answer is: the home owner would still be required to meet requirements of the act for safety purposes, but he could still do his own installation.
Mr. Brewster: There is one other thing that is not mentioned in here and I really do not know how you could make regulations to cover this. Many of the old lodges, let us face it, are not up to todays standards. I think we all know that; however, quite a few of them do not have the money to do the whole job and they are very scared to start and do the worst part of it, because immediately everyone moves in on them and says they have to do the whole job or be shut down.
I think some leniency and consideration should be given to places that have been there for 35 to 40 years. They know they have to change some of the wiring and they would like to do it bit by bit when they have money.
There have been instances where they have been shut down. There is nothing in the act, and really I do not know how you could put it in the act, quite frankly, but I just hope that by getting this into Hansard people will consider this when they go after some of the old lodges.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Again, the Member raises a general concern. My response on that score would be that this act would commit to doing things with lodge owners, as has historically been the case. Inspectors have constantly worked with the rural areas, in particular, and lodge owners, specifically, when they had work that took place over several years, allowing the permit system to be flexible enough that they could advance at their own pace. They were not required to meet rigid deadlines and be unable to make changes that were not originally planned.
The point is that the act is not intended to crack down. It is intended to be more flexible but, at the same time, provide safety. If the lodge owner was putting in a safe installation - that is, through competent contractors, or by his own skills- the chief inspector in particular would ensure that the greatest level of cooperation took place between the branch and the lodge owner.
Mr. Brewster: You are putting the onus on the contractor. If the contractor is accepted in 72 hours, then we have the problem that he does not want to do part of a job and not do the rest, unless there is an understanding between him and the inspector. He does not want to hurt his credibility. Yet, the lodge owner could say he could only do half his building this year. The credibility has now fallen back on the contractor. If the inspector decides something should have been fixed, but it was on next years agenda to be fixed, his credibility is risked and he might be a little afraid of going into a lodge to do these things.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: This ordinarily takes place in a situation where there is a major change in the permitting authority. It only stands to reason that the inspector, lodge owner and contractor would sit down and work out a reasonable schedule and reasonable job expectation so that no one is out in terms of credibility or stature or dollars. It would only be reasonable that that approach be taken.
I suppose one does not want to exercise this, but if there still should be objections about the process, we have set up an exhaustive appeal process here to deal with that - a right of appeal to an interpretation of the act by the inspector. The Member must realize that, in the existing act, there is essentially no appeal process. The inspectors word is final. I think the wording of the existing act talks about final and binding. The only right of appeal would be political.
We have set up an appeal board that will consist of experts in the industry to address those kinds of interpretations and possible heavy-handedness that someone may feel has taken place.
Mr. Brewster: I am not saying there is any heavy-handedness. The inspector is doing what he is supposed to be doing according to the rules. The appeal board is fine. I agree we should have one. This means that the lodge owner has to take the day off work, hear the appeal and go back. After 40 years of hearing appeals on liquor licensing and other issues, I know all about it. It costs a lot of money. That is why the lodge owners are reluctant to even start. They have more trouble than if they had just left it alone.
I feel that there should be something reasonable here so that these people understand it.
Clause 4 agreed to
On Clause 5
Clause 5 agreed to
On Clause 6
Clause 6 agreed to
On Clause 7
Mr. Devries: As the Minister may be aware, I do not think that was when the government owned the sawmill; it was when the shysters owned it. I believe there was an article in the paper where the electrical inspector had indicated that the mill needed thousands and thousands of dollars of upgrading to its electrical system. The story was that they were pushing 800 amps through a 600 amp line and were pouring buckets of water over the lines to keep them cool, and there was a lot of concern about safety. At what point do Occupational Health and Safety and the inspector work together on issues like that? Or does this not apply to industrial situations at all?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: On the first point regarding unsafe installations: I am not particularly knowledgeable about the sawmill situation the Member describes but, based on his description, the responsibility would rest with the branch, with the inspectors, to review the electrical installations and, where they are unsafe or not up to standard, to advise the owners.
As I indicated earlier to the Member, no inspector, or government wants to come down heavy and shut everything down by virtue of arbitrary acts.
In the case of the sawmill, I am advised that the inspection report showed a number of unsafe practices. The owners were advised of it and, together, the branch and the owners worked out an upgrading program to ensure the that installation met standards. That is the normal practice.
However, on the second point the Member raises with respect to potentially unsafe conditions for people who are working there, which enters the realm of occupational health and safety, I am advised that, on occasion, we do work with occupational health and safety where there are unsafe conditions for people working in the area. I do not believe that arose in this case. I do not know the reason they did not become involved, if that is correct.
In a case where you have installations that are deteriorating and inspections reveal that, the first obligation is to bring them up to a safe and adequate standard, so you do not ultimately have a fire because of faulty wiring. That is a principle throughout the entire bill, whether you are dealing with a home owner or different licensing categories of contractors. You want people to be able to install equipment and wiring in such a manner that it will be safe and that after it is closed up and operational it does not become a hazard.
Coming back to the example the Member raised, it would have been our responsibility to address those unsafe installations, advise the owners and, through a cooperative effort, address the problem. I am told there was a cooperative effort by the owners to start upgrading. Had there not been, I am sure the branch would have felt obligated under the act to take sterner action.
Mr. Devries: I have just one more question on this. Who decides what size of an operation needs qualified electricians on site? Would that be occupational health and safety or would that also be electrical protection?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: This act does not address the need for licenced electricians to be on site at a particular operation.
In other words, it is not the same as boiler standards, for example. In the case of pressure vessels, you may, for a certain size installation, require a certain certificate of competence by a person who operates the boiler. That is not the case on the electrical side.
This act does not address any requirement for any operation to have a certain certification, licencing standard or training and experience level for the people working at that operation. In other words, we do not tell people that they have to hire a particular qualified electrician to be on site to operate the facility, but if he were then everything kicks in according to the standards that we are looking at in these clauses right now. He would have to meet certain training or experience criteria to do certain levels of electrical work.
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
Title agreed to
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I move that
THAT you report Bill No.85, entitled An Act to Amend The Electrical Protection Act, out of Committee without amendment.
Motion agreed to
Chair: Given the time, what is the wish of the Committee?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: What I was going to find out was what the wish of the Leader of the Official Opposition was on the question of the next bill. I have an amendment to propose but what might be most efficacious is if I were to table it now and allow Members to look at it before we proceed to debate the matter. I have shown it to the Leader of the Official Opposition. It is essentially a short bill and the amendment I propose is simple.
What I propose is that I could move the amendment; if we then adjourn for the day, we could get back to it on a day following.
Chair: You could read it into the record.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I will do that.
Bill No. 82 - Yukon Development Corporation Loan Guarantee Act
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am tabling an amendment I intend to move when we get to the appropriate clause. I will now read it into the record prior to requesting adjournment of debate on this matter until the next day.
It reads: I move
THAT Bill No. 82, entitled Yukon Development Corporation Loan Guarantee Act, be amended in clause 1 at page 1 by substituting the following subclause for subclause (1):
(1) The Yukon Development Corporation is hereby authorized to borrow up to $21,000,000 to be used consistently with the Yukon Development Corporation Act for the construction of an electrical transmission line from the Mayo Dam to the City of Dawson."
Would you like me to read it in French?
Chair: No, thank you.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Madam Chair, I move that you report progress on Bill No. 82.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I move that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Speaker resumes the Chair
Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
May the House have a report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole?
Ms. Kassi: The Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 25, Land Titles Act, and directed me to report same with amendments.
Further, the Committee has considered Bill No. 85, An Act to Amend the Electrical Protection Act, and directed me to report same without amendment. Further, the Committee has considered Bill No. 82, Yukon Development Corporation Loan Guarantee 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. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Government House Leader that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: This House now stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. tomorrow.
The House adjourned at 5:23 p.m.
The following Sessional Paper was tabled April 30, 1991:
Government Contracts 1990/91 by Type (McDonald)