Thursday, May 2, 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.
Introduction of Visitors.
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS
Hon. Ms. Hayden: I hope you and other Members will join me in welcoming the grade six class from Haines, Alaska, with their teacher Tim McDonnaugh.
Speaker: Are there any Returns or Documents for tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Mr. Webster: I have for tabling a legislative return.
Hon. Ms. Hayden: I have for tabling a legislative return.
Are there any Reports of Committees?
Introduction of Bills.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
Bill No. 44: Introduction and First Reading
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I move that Bill No. 44, entitled Highways Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Community and Transportation Services that Bill No. 44, entitled Highways Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Motion for introduction and first reading of Bill No. 44 agreed to
Speaker: Are there any Notices of Motion for the Production of Papers?
Notices of Motion.
Statements by Ministers.
Review of the Workers Compensation Act
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am pleased today to announce that the Yukon Government, in conjunction with the Yukon Workers Compensation Board, has begun a review of the Workers Compensation Act. This Act was written in 1973 and, aside from a very few minor amendments, it has not been reviewed or altered in any fundamental way.
The mandate of the workers compensation system is to provide financial protection, medical benefits and rehabilitation services to workers and their dependents in case of work related injury or death.
In the past year a number of philosophical and practical changes have taken place within the Workers Compensation Board. It has become actively involved in the direct delivery of rehabilitative services to injured workers and in the prevention of workplace accidents. There has a been a corresponding change in the organizational structure of the board. It is time to re-examine the Yukon Workers Compensation Act to ensure that it is progressive both in intent and in substance.
There are a number of compelling reasons for the review of the act.
Inconsistencies exist between this act and other pieces of Yukon legislation. Although these inconsistencies do not detract from the essential mandate of the Workers Compensation Board, they should be corrected to eliminate confusion by coordinating relevant Yukon legislation.
The act is not written in plain language. It is complex and cumbersome. It is our desire to assist employers and workers in understanding this legislation by making it concise and streamlined.
Both employers and workers have raised concerns about the application of the act. Both groups have stated that the system has grown increasingly adversarial, making the claims process longer and more complex. This is a departure from the original concepts of workers compensation, which were designed to reduce delays, costs and friction between workers and employers.
The definitions within the act have not kept pace with, and are inconsistent with, prevailing knowledge in the area of compensation. One example is the area of occupational disease.
The act must be simplified to promote more effective administration. The whole area of assessments and benefits must be reviewed to ensure that employers and workers are receiving fair and equitable treatment.
During this review, we will be consulting with employer and worker groups, including injured workers and surviving dependents. Information packages will be available to these groups prior to these consultations, which are tentatively slated for the months of July and August. The responses from these consultations will be compiled and the results submitted to a drafting committee, which will have both employer and worker representation. It is anticipated that this legislation will be ready for the 1992 spring session.
Mr. Brewster: I am, of course, very pleased to reply to this ministerial statement. This is one of the first times that I can recall agreeing with the government. I agree with them solidly. I sincerely hope this legislation goes through.
Since becoming critic in this area, I have spoken with many people. It has become increasingly apparent that many who have faced the board do not understand the situation or how the process works. Some of their criticism is unjustified, as I have found, but most of it is not.
When I first became the critic, to get answers was like moving a mountain with a shovel - it just did not move. However, I must admit that lately things have changed considerably for the better. At least I get answers now and there is cooperation, which was not there for a long time.
I also might admit that I am personally an impatient man and I am not prepared to wait two or three years for a decision - we are doing that right now and I will be very pleased when this is stopped. You only have to be involved with these people a very short time before you realize how frustrated they are. Most of them are in a very tragic situation and really just need someone to sit down and talk to them, not just about legislation and the rules that they are going through, but have someone just sit down and visit with them a while. I have them come into my office and they spend half an hour to 45 minutes. I cannot do anything for them but they go away happy because someone listened. That is very, very important and I hope that the legislation that come along takes this into account.
I could not agree more with the statement the Minister made. This act is not written in plain language; we sure know that. It is complex and cumbersome; we sure know that. When he said It is our desire to assist employers and workers in understanding this legislation by making it concise and streamlined, once again I have to agree wholeheartily with the Minister. I hope that the review board will talk to people, not just groups, but talk to the average person who has been involved in this. Some of them have had tragic results and others are now living on compensation.
In closing, I just wish the Minister all the luck in the world. He is going to need it.
Speaker: This brings us to Question Period.
Question re: Yukon Pacific Forest Products, lawsuits
Mr. Phelps: I have some questions for the Minister responsible for Yukon Development Corporation in an area I have not covered yet in Question Period, concerning the outstanding lawsuits and debts related to the ill-fated Watson Lake sawmill and Yukon Pacific Forest Products.
Firstly, I have some questions about the lawsuit against Carroll-Hatch, the firm that managed Hyland Forest Products during its final disastrous phase. I would like to know the status of this action and when does the Minister expect it to come to trial?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: As the Member is acutely aware, the matter is being addressed at a legal level. In other words, it is before the courts. I am not in a position to comment or provide status reports in this House.
Mr. Phelps: Perhaps the Minister would be so kind as to advise us on just how much has been spent to date on legal fees by Yukon Development Corporation with regard to this action.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I cannot provide the specific amount, though I do recall that figures were provided to the Public Accounts Committee two or three months ago and I am sure they are a matter of public record.
Mr. Phelps: With regard to the lawsuit against Yukon Pacific Forest Products, can the Minister tell us whether a settlement has been reached yet?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Not to my knowledge.
Question re: Yukon Pacific Forest Products
Mr. Phelps: There has been a receiver in charge of the assets of Yukon Pacific Forest Products, whose main duty seems to be that of overseeing the burning of the huge inventory of logs in the yard near Watson Lake.
Will the Minister table the amount charged to date, by the receiver, and as well table the legal fees the Yukon Development Corporation has incurred to date with respect to this court action?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I have no problem in providing that information to Members.
Mr. Phelps: Can the Minister advise this House whether the receiver has found a willing purchaser for the assets of Yukon Pacific, and if so, can he advise us approximately what the price tag will be?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The receiver is still in the process of receiving offers. My understanding, as is the Members understanding, is that there have been three offers. Specific amounts have not been disclosed and I cannot do so in the House.
Mr. Phelps: In the last annual report of the company, Yukon Development Corporation, there was in the books, a debt outstanding of $298,000, which is owed by the Yukon Indian Development Corporation, the Liard Band and the Kaska Dena Council, for the purchase of shares in Yukon Pacific. Does Yukon Development Corporation intend to collect this debt?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am sure that the Member will appreciate that I do not have that detailed information while I am on my feet. I will take notice of the question.
Question re: Contracts
Mr. Lang: I would like to turn to a subject that was debated yesterday in Question Period. That was the subject of government contracts, when it was revealed to the public that over $15 million of taxpayers money was paid for the hiring of consultants.
I had a call from a constituent of mine last night who pointed out that, if the government discontinued hiring consultants, they would have the sewage treatment plant paid for in two years.
Yesterday, the Government Leader said that the $15 million was necessary because they did not have the expertise within government to do the work required by the government. Yet, if one looks at this document, one can see that there is over $380,000 paid for hiring outside lawyers. At the same time, if one looks at the Yukon government telephone directory, which has been growing in size even with smaller print, one will find there are 10 lawyers on staff and an articling student.
Why are we spending so much money on outside legal counsel with this many staff members within the government able to do the work?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: First of all, let me respond to the Members preamble. I assume this was rhetorical as, a former Minister, he knows the answers to his own questions.
In the last year for which contracts have just been released, the expenditures of the Yukon government on this area represented 6.7 percent of the governments budget. I looked at the years when the Member opposite was a Minister, and the expenditures when his government was in power represented 7.8 percent of the budget.
Let me suggest, when the Member talks about discontinuing services in order to do any worthy project, that among the services he would have us discontinue would be physiotherapy services for the schools, snow removal from Whitehorse school sites, programs for special education students, tutoring home bound students - any number of worthy projects for which we hire people in the private sector for services we perform.
If the Member is against these services being provided by the private sector, he should say so.
Speaker: Would the Minister please conclude his answer.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: When the Member finally bootlegged all sorts of questions in his preamble, he got to a question about lawyers.
We are required to retain lawyers who have certain expertise that is not within our public service, as in the drafting of the environment act. The reasons for that have been made manifest by the kind of debate that we have had in the last few weeks.
Mr. Lang: So the Minister does not try to rewrite history - under the previous administration, not everybody in the Yukon worked for the government. If one takes a look at who works for the government and who does not, it provides very interesting statistics.
I want to ask the Government Leader this again. I hope that he does not try to bootleg comments into the record. We have 10 full-time, paid lawyers on staff, along with an articling student. I ask the Minister, why are we spending $380,000 of taxpayers money to outside law firms when we have 10 lawyers on staff?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I can only take it that the Members interest is in asking his question and not listening to the answer, because I just gave the answer to the question.
When he again bootlegged in his preamble, the question about dependency on government, it is a matter of record, that in the first term of this government we created 3,000 jobs in this territory, most of them private sector jobs. It is a matter of public record that the percentage of people on the public sector payroll is lower now than it was when the Member opposite was in government. The dependency figure has gone down, not up.
I could go through the list since I take the Member seriously in terms of the kind of answer that he wants.
There are, on the Government of Yukon payroll, no lawyers with particular expertise in the area of the environment. Lawyers were hired for that purpose. There were no lawyers on the payroll of the Government of Yukon who had particular expertise in the area of drafting education legislation. We take pride in wanting to have not only legislation in plain English, but we want to have first-class legislation.
The Education Act was a massive bill and a very important piece of legislation that formed the education system in this territory; it required expert advice. It is the kind of advice that we can afford to retain on our payroll on a permanent basis, therefore, we went to expert legal advice.
Those kinds of projects require certain kinds of legal research or drafting. They require certain kinds of expertise that not only is not available to this government, but it is not present in this community.
Mr. Lang: If one looks at the government telephone directory, they would see that it rivals the size of the public directory now. I would like to point out to the Government Leader that we now have two legislative councils on staff within the government. At the same time, these people do not have the expertise, we have to go outside for this expertise to draft legislation. Why do we have two legislative draftspeople on staff within the Government of the Yukon Territory? Why do we have to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for people to fly in from Vancouver to tell us how to live and make our laws so that they are first class and so that we can all understand them?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I notice that the Member looks to the gallary and not to the Speaker while making his presentation. This suggests to whom he is really addressing his question; it is not to me and not to Mr. Speaker.
If the Member did any research he would know that, right now, as a result of a law passed in this House and an agreement made with the federal government, we are now presenting legislation in two languages. I am sure the fact that we have more draftspeople now is not unrelated to that fact. It is also not unrelated to the fact that the legislative program of the government is far more challenging than was that of the previous government. We are doing more major reforms and bringing in many more policy initiatives than did our predecessors.
Mr. Lang: Point of order, Mr. Speaker.
Speaker: Point of order to the Member for Porter Creek East.
Mr. Lang: I just want to correct the record. I made a mistake, I said there were two legislative draftspersons; there are three.
Speaker: There is no point of order.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Mr. Speaker, on another point of order.
Speaker: There is no point of order, but a conflict between two Members.
Question re: Contracts
Mrs. Firth: I do not know why the Government Leader dances when he answers a question - I hear no music.
I want to follow up on the question of outside legal services with the Government Leader. A law firm, Russell DuMoulin, was hired by this government to perform some $85,000 worth of consulting contract work to do the negotiations with the PSAC for the government. I know we have local firms here in Yukon who could handle that contract and I would like to ask the Government Leader why none of the local firms were competent enough to be hired for that work.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: For the same reason that the government of which she was part never hired a local firm to do labour negotiations - there is not a single firm in Whitehorse that does that kind of work. This is a highly specialized field. When the Member opposite was in government, outside negotiators were hired by the Public Service Commission to do the negotiations with our employees. The same practice continues today - exactly as it did when the Member opposite was in government.
Mrs. Firth: I suppose the next contract I am going to mention for legal services that went out to Swinton and Company for $150,000 to do some negotiations for Yukon College is another highly specialized area and we do not have anybody who is capable or competent here in the Yukon to handle it, according to this government. Is that another highly specialized area?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Is the Member absolutely correct that the work described for that firm is as she described it because I would have to take the question as notice.
Mrs. Firth: Yes, it is on a legislative return I got from the Minister of Justice.
My final supplementary is with respect to another outside legal contract, for $50,000, to a firm Vickers and Palmer. I suppose it is just a coincidence that David Vickers happens to be a former NDP leadership candidate. This firm has been hired to get the Government Leader out of hot water from firing the former Deputy Minister of Health, Mr. Jim Davie. That retainer is $50,000. I would like to ask the Government Leader how much that whole contract is going to cost by the time the dust settles.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I have no idea, Mr. Speaker, but I will certainly take the question as notice. I take it that it is the position of the side opposite, as they have consistently expressed it - notwithstanding the fact that 45 percent-plus people of the territory happen to support the party that is now in office - and an even larger number than that in other parts of the country - that only Conservatives should ever be hired to do any work in this government. That is nonsense.
The Member opposite will know that if I wanted to get down in the ditch with her, I could name her campaign workers, and her party supporters throughout the contracts list, but I bet you dollars to doughnuts, they will not have the decency or the fair-mindedness to ever get up here once and ask questions about contracts with their friends. That would indicate how fair-minded this government is, and they will not do that.
Mrs. Firth: I am not going to dance with the Government Leader nor am I going to get in the ditch with him. I do not have to. The actions of this government speak for themselves.
I want to start a new line of questioning about local hire again, and how this government gets people locally. It is with respect to Deputy Ministers. We all know that the Deputy Minister in the Executive Council office was an old NDP friend from Saskatchewan. He got a contract here like some of the other people listed in this contract book. Now, he is the Deputy Minister of the Executive Council office.
I would like to have the Government Leader tell us why there was nobody here in the Yukon whom he could have appointed to the position of Deputy Minister of Tourism. Why is there not anyone here good enough for this government to appoint to that position?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Is it interesting, that the Member opposite does not even remember her own rhetoric. There were people here who did apply and there were people here who were interviewed for the Deputy Minister positions.
The Members opposite may recall chastising this government for not having enough women Deputy Ministers some time ago. They may remember that even though the record of the Conservative Party was absolutely terrible on that score, the Member opposite is complaining we did not have enough women Deputy Ministers. Well, in this case, the Government of Yukon happened to have hired someone with outstanding qualifications; someone who had worked for the Government of Canada, governments of other countries; a professional in the field; someone who was short-listed and interviewed. We decided to get absolutely the best candidate.
Notwithstanding the objections of the Member opposite, I have no hesitation in saying that the person who was hired as Deputy Minister for Tourism was the best candidate.
Mrs. Firth: The Government Leader always likes to make it sound like it was some big job application. The Government Leader can appoint anyone he wants to be the deputy minister of any department in this government. Let us get that straight, for the record.
Now, he is saying that there is no one here who had outstanding qualifications...
Speaker: Order, please. Will the Member please get to the supplementary question.
Mrs. Firth: ...and that we have no extremely talented women in the Yukon. I would like to know if that same theory applied when he hired the Deputy Minister of Justice from outside.
There are lots of competent women lawyers in the Yukon. He could have chosen from many of them to take that position. Why was there no one good enough for this government to be appointed as the Deputy Minister of Justice?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: For a start, the Member can distort my words as much as she likes, but at no point did I say that there was no one here who has outstanding qualifications. I take the absolute opposite view. That is why well in excess of 90 percent of the people hired by this government are hired locally.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Let me answer the precise question asked by the Member opposite, who must be so proud of her partys record on this score - and we could get into that.
The fact of the matter is that there are capable and talented women lawyers in this town. Not one of them applied for the job.
Mrs. Firth: How silly. You do not apply for the job.
This person could have phoned any of those talented women out there.
Speaker: Order, please. I would like to remind the Member to please stick to parliamentary language.
Mrs. Firth: What language did I use that was not parliamentary, Mr. Speaker?
Speaker: In our guideline, it states that unparliamentary language is any language that would cause disruption. In this case, the word was silly.
Mrs. Firth: With all due respect, Mr. Speaker, the government never likes the questions I ask. This is because they either cannot answer or because they would simply like to write all my questions.
With all due respect, Mr. Speaker, I am not trying to be unparliamentary. I am just trying to put my questions forward.
I would like to take my final supplementary question now, and ask the Government Leader about an individual who will be returning in June to be assuming a position somewhere in the government. I asked him five months ago about what that position was going to be and he could not tell me.
I am referring to Mr. Byers. I wonder if he could tell us now what position this individual is going to get, since they are scrambling around in Executive Council Office trying to find an office for the person.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: First of all, it is very interesting to have heard the Firth philosophy on senior management recruitment, which is you abandon PSC and what you do is get on the phone, phone your friends, see who you know who might like to have the job. That statement will go down on the record forever - right up with wine, aspirin and comb expense accounts for $60 a day, and the Member opposite had the gall to attack our expense accounts. Many years ago the Members opposite had one that was much higher.
To answer the precise question, the gentleman that the Member referred to, will be coming back to the Government of Yukon in a senior position. Shortly before the gentleman returns, there will be an announcement made at a time that is agreeable to him and me about his new duties.
Question re: Yukon Housing Corporation, chief financial officer
Mr. Devries: I have a question for the Minister responsible for the Yukon Housing Corporation. Has the position of chief financial officer for the Yukon Housing Corporation been filled?
Hon. Ms. Hayden: In response to the Members question, as he knows, the position was vacant for some time and in order to be able to recruit someone we went through the process of having the position reclassified by the Public Service Commission. It has recently been reclassified, an offer has been made and we are waiting to hear if the person has indeed accepted that offer.
Mr. Devries: By December of 1990, we had already paid out over $100,000 for less than six months work. How much has the Yukon Housing Corporation spent to date using this outside Vancouver accounting firm that is presently doing the financial officers work?
Hon. Ms. Hayden: The Member is asking me for figures that I could not possibly have right here, but I will take the question as notice.
Mr. Devries: When the Minister files the return, could she also include how much was spent in advertising, interviews and the whole recruitment process to fill this position?
Hon. Ms. Hayden: I will take that question under advisement.
Question re: Na Dli Youth Centre, employee training
Mr. Nordling: I have a question for the Minister of Health and Social Services with respect to Na Dli.
We have been hearing the same story over and over again about Na Dli from three different Ministers. To be fair, I should say that the first Minister, Mrs. Joe, never had much of an opportunity to deal with that facility before Mr. Penikett, in all his glory, took over, and the new Minister has not had much time to get a handle on the department and that facility.
The story is that programs are being developed and we have a wonderful facility. Last year, we on this side expressed a concern about the policies, a judge expressed a concern about the programming, and now the CYI has expressed a concern about the treatment of young offenders at that facility. Yet what message do we get from the new Minister? Everything is under control.
I would like to tell the Minister that she must look beyond the assurances of Mike McCann, that the Na Dli facility is a prison and that life and death situations are dealt with in that facility.
I do not want the Minister to put off doing anything or to sweep the problems under the carpet by saying we can all come on a tour. I want the Minister to stand up and say: yes, there are problems at the Na Dli facility and I am going to do something about them. Can the Minister do that?
Hon. Ms. Hayden: I find it interesting that the Member seems reluctant to go on the tour. Other people have been willing; we have had many tours, inviting people into the facility. It is my intention - and this is, in part, in answer to the Members question - to demystify Na Dli. Whether we like to think of it or not, it is a community facility. It is not one of the ones we want to acknowledge often as a community facility, but it is, and it is my intention to invite people from various parts of the community to visit it and to offer their suggestions to work with the staff and to work with me, and this is the light in which I invited the Member to visit. I still leave that initiation open.
Mr. Nordling: The Minister did not answer my question. What I want is an acknowledgement that there are problems at the facility. Last year, the opposition critic and I went on the tour with the former Minister. The tour did not do a bit of good. Nothing changed. There are still problems there that need to be dealt with. Last year, the young offenders went on a rampage...
Speaker: Order please. Would the Member please get to the supplementary question.
Mr. Nordling: A worker there could easily have been killed. This year a young offender almost died. Is the Minister now telling us that everything is under control and that we have a wonderful facility?
Hon. Ms. Hayden: I am not quite sure what it is the Member is trying to prove. I know what my goals are and they are to make the facility one that is of use to the people who are there and to the community from where those people come. We seem to forget that the young people that are there are people who have been wounded very severely in their life. They do not always act in appropriate ways. The one incident that the Member refers to compares to the many times that the staff has responded quickly and appropriately, even since the incident. All has gone well. It is only when we hear occasionally of something that goes wrong that there is a great hue and cry about this facility. I work very hard...
Speaker: Order, please. Would the Member please conclude her answer.
Hon. Ms. Hayden: I want to give the commitment that I will work very hard to make this facility a community facility.
Mr. Nordling: I am pleased to hear the Minister give us the commitment that she is going to work very hard to make it a unique community facility.
What I would like is a commitment that the problems are going to be dealt with. I want to know exactly what she is going to do. The young offenders who are there want assurances and we, on this side, want assurances that the parents...
Speaker: Order, please. Will the Member please get to the supplementary question.
Mr. Nordling: I am in the middle of my supplementary. I am asking the Minister what she is going to do to reassure this group of people. I will name these people. They are the young offenders, the parents, the CYI, the courts and the staff.
Hon. Ms. Hayden: As I indicated in previous responses, what I have been doing - and will continue to do - is meeting with First Nations people and any families who wish to meet with me. Some have. I have met with the Council for Yukon Indians, who have suggested an appropriate way to begin working with the facility. I will continue to do this. It is the route I intend to take.
Question re: Mendenhall subdivision
Mr. Brewster: My question is for the Minister of Community and Transportation Services.
The Minister has recognized that the people of Mendenhall did not get a fair deal in relation to the Cat trail that was provided into their lots. As a consequence, most of them have been unable to complete their homes as it has been virtually impossible to get any supplies delivered to their properties.
Last fall, I asked the government to give the lot owners a two-year extension on their leases. I will once more ask the Minister if he would consider giving the people in Mendenhall this two-year extension.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I recall the issue last fall, because it was brought up in discussions I had with the Member and with residents of Mendenhall. At the time, I did not see adequate justification to extend the time period included in the agreements of sale - that is, the portion of the agreement that requires a building to be in place within a certain time limit. This is the first representation I have had on the matter since that time.
I can tell the Member that if he can provide me with a justification as to why there ought to be an extension, I can also tell the Member I will consider it. I need more information.
Mr. Brewster: The Minister is changing his tune a little bit anyway. Will the Minister assure me that no action will be taken by the government to remove these people when the five-year term has expired and they do not have their houses completed?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member is posing a hypothetical situation. What I can tell the Member from my understanding of agreements for sale is that the government historically has been very compromising, has been very lenient, and has been very considerate of peoples problems in relation to meeting requirements under an agreement for sale.
I dare say that it certainly will not be an immediate action to remove people if they have not met requirements. Many extensions have been granted on a case-by-case basis in the past, and I expect that will be the case in the future.
Mr. Brewster: I do not know if he said yes or no, but he walked down the middle. He is getting to be a good politician, but he is not giving answers. I would also ask the Minister to give an undertaking to the House and to the people of Mendenhall that the government will provide a minimum standard road, as per the homestead policy, as soon as possible.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: My answer to that question is similar to the one I gave the Member two days ago. I made a very reasonable offer to residents to address the general problem of road conditions - not just with respect to minimum standards, but standards that would meet the requirements for year-round maintenance. I believe I committed, on behalf of the government and on behalf of all taxpayers, to absorb the majority portion of the costs of that upgrading, to the tune of at least 80 to 85 percent. That offer has been rejected and I am reconsidering what options are available to me to address the problem.
Question re: Mendenhall subdivision
Mr. Brewster: My question is to the same Minister. On December 3, 1990, on page 454 of Hansard, the Minister stated, ... there is money identified in this budget for anticipated upgrading. The longer answer is that I am still refining where the $400,000 increase that I have assigned to other roads upgrading will actually go. There is a total of $572,000 in the budget for other roads, which is a 500 percent increase. I talked about it earlier. Part of this is earmarked for Mendenhall.
It is now May 2, 1991, and I would like to ask the Minister how much money is now earmarked for upgrading the Mendenhall road?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: On the basis of my offer to the residents following the series of meetings we had last year and given to Mendenhall residents in late September, I had earmarked approximately $180,000. This was for Mendenhall upgrading on the assumption that they would have accepted option two in the proposal put to them. Given that the Mendenhall residents have rejected that option, I now have to reassess what approach to take with respect to the roads and with respect to available funding.
Mr. Brewster: The Minister recently released a rural road maintenance policy in January 1991. At that time he gave the impression that the policy would apply to the Mendenhall roads. The application by the Mendenhall residents was turned down as their road did not meet the minimum standard for maintenance. I would like to know where all the money earmarked for upgrading the Mendenhall road was spent?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The short answer to the Member about the money earmarked for Mendenhall roads is that it has not been spent yet. That was budgeted for the current fiscal year, beginning April 1. It is to be expended through the course of this next year. I identified considerable funds in the magnitude that the Member has noted, over $500,000, for the express purpose of upgrading rural roads.
At the same time, I introduced a road maintenance policy with criteria that would determine what roads are going to be maintained, but it did require that certain standards had to be in place for the graders to go down that road and maintain it year-round.
Mendenhall could not have graders go down all of the roads in the condition that they are in. My intention, my plan, my proposal and my offer to the residents was to upgrade the roads to a standard that would allow maintenance to be done, and on the other hand to ensure that the maintenance is done. Technically, that is all out the window now.
Mr. Brewster: This problem has been going on for almost three years now. I would like the Minister to state in this House, when he is going to solve this problem to the satisfaction of these 37 taxpayers in that area?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I think the Member knows that I have put considerable special effort into addressing that problem. I spent time meeting with residents, going to the subdivision to review the roads and meet with the entire community at which the Member was present. I made an offer to the residents that would have seen the roads brought up to a standard for a year-round maintenance, a pretty high and good standard. I made that offer last September. Two days ago I received a response to it. Seven months later. In that letter they rejected that offer. I am sorry I have to reassess what I should do and I am going to take a little more than two days to do it.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now lapsed.
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 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 and declare a brief recess.
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order. We will be discussing Bill No. 40, Act to Amend The Motor Vehicles Act. Then we will go to Bill No. 64, and then to Bill No. 11 and Bill No. 3.
Bill No. 40 - Act to Amend the Motor Vehicles Act -continued
Chair: Is there any general debate?
If not, we will proceed with clause-by-clause reading of the bill.
On Clause 1
Clause 1 agreed to
On Clause 2
Clause 2 agreed to
On Clause 3
Clause 3 agreed to
Mr. Brewster: On clause 3, why are new rental vehicles exempt from having seatbelts?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Clause 3 is that portion of the Motor Vehicles Act that deals with child restraint. What you see under subsection 3, that is 186.4, puts into the act those exemptions for child restraint systems only. In the Motor Vehicles Act before, we did not have an exemption section for child restraint. It was in regulations. We are flipping it out of regulation into the act.
The reason those exemptions exist is because it is an unenforceable portion of child restraint legislation. How do you enforce child restraint in a taxi or in a rental vehicle? Those are accepted and agreed-upon exemptions for child restraint only.
In 186.5(1), the definitions are quite straightforward. We are now talking about the mandatory seatbelt legislation, which this bill principally deals with. It notes that motor vehicles do not include bicycles, motorcycles, mopeds, snowmobiles or all terrain vehicles. In other words, you are not required to be restrained in those vehicles at any time.
Subsections (2) through (5) address the actual law pertaining to restraint. Subsection (2) talks about the simple fact that you cannot muck around with seatbelts in vehicles where they were put in by the manufacturer. The other three sections talk about the requirements surrounding the use of the seatbelt, essentially making it law that where they exist you shall wear them if you are in a vehicle travelling.
Clause 186.5 (6) begins the exemptions that apply to the act. Subsection (6)(a) speaks about not having to be restrained while travelling in reverse. Subsection (6)(b) talks about the delivery vehicles, meaning you do not have to be restrained if you are doing interval driving and not exceeding 30 km per hour and not driving more than 250 metres. This is the approximate length of an average block. The restriction under subsection (6)(b) also indicates that you cannot travel through an intersection without buckling up. Subsection (6)(c) talks about the opportunity for a possible exemption.
Clause 186.5(7) requires that people, who are older than those required to be in a child restraint system, up until the age of 15, being the responsibility of the driver. In other words, between five and 15, the responsibility rests with the driver of the vehicle to have those passengers buckled up. People over the age of 15 years are responsible for themselves.
Mr. Devries: I question the wisdom of that clause. Say you had a visitor from overseas, are you supposed to read him the riot act every time he gets in the car with you? I feel it should be the drivers responsibility to make sure his passengers are buckled up at all times.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I suppose the Members point is not unreasonable, but the principle of the law here is that at age 15 one is legally entitled to drive. One can assume this responsibility first under a learning licence, and then under a full operators licence at the age of 16.
This is a standard provision of the law across the country. We have simply followed it. I cannot say I agree or disagree with the Member. I accept that this is a reasonable approach to where the responsibility should be placed.
Subsection (9) is an extension of what is established under subsection (6). It is the delivery vehicles again, but where the passenger happens to be the one doing the pick-ups and jumping in and out of the vehicle. A delivery vehicle may have a formal drivers seat with seatbelts and, on the opposite side there may be a stand-up position for a passenger or worker. The provision in subsection 9(a) allows that passenger not to have to be buckled up in these cases where the vehicle does not travel more than 250 metres and does not exceed 30 kilometres. But he must buckle up if they go through an intersection.
The rationale there is that, whenever one goes through an intersection, the risk of an accident and, therefore, injury, increases.
Subsections (10) and (11) are the medical exemptions we included. Subsection (11) allows an appeal process to someone who does not agree with being turned down for an exemption.
Clause 3 agreed to
On Clause 4
Clause 4 agreed to
Title agreed to
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I move that you report Bill No. 40, Act to Amend the Motor Vehicles Act, out of Committee without amendment.
Motion agreed to
Bill No. 64 - An Act to Amend the Supreme Court Act
Hon. Ms. Joe: As I said in second reading, I have brought this amendment to the floor in order to include supernumerary status in our Supreme Court Act, and I gave an explanation as to what it would do and why we were doing it.
The Member, in second reading, asked about cost and I responded. She asked about replacement and who we would recommend; of course, we cannot do that. This government already incurs costs because the only cost to the federal government in this area is the salary for the judge, and we have always traditionally accommodated them with office space and a secretary. This supernumerary status that the judge would have would not cost us any more because the office space is available, and we will not need to get any more space. The secretary is there; she is already an employee of ours, and when deputy judges come into the Yukon, we do not get any additional staff.
This will decrease the use of deputy judges. Right now we are paying the cost of deputy judges to come here. We are paying airfare, accommodation and providing the other resources to deputy judges, such as office space and secretarial services.
The Member for Riverdale South received a copy of a letter that was addressed to me by the president of the Law Society at that time, who supported this amendment to our act. I know that we have two lawyers in the House. I am not sure whether or not they were aware of that letter. I am sure they were because the Member would have given that letter to them. We are proposing that change, along with some other minor changes in regard to sexist language that will be removed throughout the amendment to the act.
Mrs. Firth: I would like to ask the Minister what the process is for replacing the Supreme Court judge now. The Minister made reference to some committee that was going to make a recommendation, but I understand that the government also has the ability to make a recommendation about this. Perhaps you could fill us in on that.
Hon. Ms. Joe: We have not had a Supreme Court judge appointed in the Yukon for 22 years, other than deputy Supreme Court judges. The history of filling that position in the Yukon goes back a long way. If a person wants to apply for that position, the practice is to apply to the federal Minister of Justice. The federal Minister of Justice submits all of those names to the committee in the Yukon that has been struck to review those names to make sure that they are qualified and I understand to possibly make recommendations themselves. We have no authority right now. We have never been asked to make any recommendations for replacements, although I did write a letter asking that we be consulted in regard to the new position if there will be a new position in the future.
Mrs. Firth: Could the Minister tell us who is on the committee?
Hon. Ms. Joe: The individuals on the committee are from the Canadian Bar Association, the Yukon Law Society, the Government of the Yukon, and the federal government representative. If the Member needs the names, I am sure that I can give them to her in a second.
Mrs. Firth: Is it not correct that YTG has a representative on that committee, and that representative would put forward the name of the choice of the government?
Hon. Ms. Joe: The individuals on the committee are Tim Preston, from the Canadian Bar Association; Grant MacDonald, from the Yukon Law Society; John Wright, as the representative from the Yukon government; and Vicky Hancock, as the federal government representative.
I received a letter from the federal Minister letting me know that the position is going to expire and is asking for some suggestions as to who should be on it. I have not responded yet.
Mrs. Firth: Does that mean that the YTG representative can bring forward a name to the committee? Can the Canadian Bar Association, the Law Society or the federal government representative make a recommendation?
Hon. Ms. Joe: The information that I have received is that applications go directly to the federal Minister. I cannot say what the process is for announcing that the position could be available. I do not have that information at this time, but the names are all sent to this committee. The committee has been there for a long time and we do have new Deputy Supreme Court Judges that are appointed to this court here. When they had the last list of new deputies, I was sent the list. That was their way of consulting with me. The appointments were already a fact.
Mrs. Firth: I would like to get the process sound in my own mind as to how this committee works. Could the Minister tell us if the committee makes their own recommendations, or enter names as recommendations? I see the official shaking her head, so I will take that as a no.
Do people put their names forward to this committee saying that they are interested in having their names stand? What does the committee do with the names that come forward? Can other organizations recommend names to the committee?
When the committee gets all these names together can they pick from that and recommend to the federal minister who they think the Supreme Court judge should be? Is that how it works?
Hon. Ms. Joe: It is in the information I gave to the House just a second ago with regard to the applications. They are sent to the federal Minister and the federal Minister in turn sends them to this committee. That is the process. That is the information I have received from my department and from other places as well.
Mrs. Firth: So this committee does not work in the same way the Judicial Council does. What the Minister is saying is that anybody interested in being a Supreme Court judge can put their name forward to the Minister. The federal Minister, the Hon. Kim Campbell, takes all the names and sends them back to this committee. Does this committee then pick the successful candidate who is going to be the Supreme Court judge, or do they pick three and four and go back to the Minister to take one of these three or four?
Hon. Ms. Joe: When the committee has reviewed all applications they send in a recommendation. The recommendation could be for a number of individuals, in order of priority.
Mrs. Firth: The committee ranks the applicants according to preference. Is the job advertised nationally? How do people hear that there is a vacancy in the Yukon for a Supreme Court judge so that they would know the job was open?
Hon. Ms. Joe: As I mentioned to the Member, I am not sure whether or not the job is advertised nationally. I have never seen an ad for a Supreme Court judge. There may be a process with regard to doing that, such as through the Canadian Bar Association. Before we finish this debate, I will try to get that information.
Mrs. Firth: I think it is important that we understand the process.
The committee, then, has the ability to make recommendations. Does the Minister know whether or not they interview the interested parties? Do they make a short list and then interview the individuals or do they just look at the applications and then do it as a paper exercise?
Hon. Ms. Joe: This committee can do either. They can review the applications and make a recommendation. They do not make the final decision, as the Member knows, as that would be made by the federal Minister. They can also, if they choose, interview those individuals. They can only make recommendations, however.
Mrs. Firth: I believe this was a new process set up not too long ago - perhaps three years ago or so. I remember reading about it and examining it.
I would like to ask the Minister a question about deputy judges and what we have spent on them in, say, the last year.
Hon. Ms. Joe: That would be difficult information for us to get a hold of right now because it is a federal responsibility and the federal government pays the costs of Supreme Court judges and deputy judges.
Mrs. Firth: Perhaps I could put it another way. How many times have we had to call in deputy judges, say, in the last year? Would that be more relevant?
Hon. Ms. Joe: I can get that information but I am not sure how quickly I can do it. It would be a matter of seeking that information from the department. I know there have been more cases this year than there have been in a long time. These are longer cases and juries, of course, are larger. They have had to use juries a lot more. That would be information that I do not think I could get very quickly.
Mrs. Firth: The reason I ask the question is because the Minister is using that rationale in her argument as to why we have to proceed with this measure. She is saying it is because we use deputy judges and it is not going to cost any more because we already spend a lot of money on deputy judges. If you are going to use that rationale in an argument you should be able to support it. Obviously the Minister cannot. She cannot tell me how much or even how many times we have had deputy judges coming in.
Hon. Ms. Joe: The information that I gave to this House is that it will cut down on the use of some deputy judges. I did not say it would cut down on it all. I do know that deputy judges have been used a lot in the last little while and they have been used for many reasons. They have been used because of the work load, because the judge may be away at that time or because he may have a conflict - simply because he has been here for 22 years and is familiar with the Yukon and its people. I think that if I gave her the number of times we had to use deputy judges I am not sure whether or not it would help her in understanding why we are doing it. This is not the only reason we are doing it. It is not going to cost any more. In fact, it will lessen the use of deputy judges. It is just one of the factors included in what would happen if we had a judge here with supernumerary status.
Mrs. Firth: I guess that the reason I am asking the question is, if the Minister is using as her argument that we have to have all of these deputy judges, so it is a good idea to make this amendment to the Supreme Court Act so that we have a retired judge who can work 50 percent of the time as well as a full-time judge, I am questioning the governments rationale and explanation for needing this initiative. I would like to know just how much work there is. I find it difficult to recognize that we need a full-time judge as well as another part-time judge for 30 percent of the work as well. If I could find out how many times we need deputy judges then perhaps that might answer that question.
Hon. Ms. Joe: There are other reasons why I brought this into the House. The reasons are that there is a benefit for Supreme Court judges right across Canada through a supernumerary status. We are talking about introducing a new amendment to our act to include that. Nowhere else in Canada do they not have it.
If we are going to be looking for Supreme Court judges in the future, then of course we are going to have to have the kind of benefits that go along with the long service to accommodate that. I believe that having supernumerary status included in our act here, is a benefit to those individuals who after 10 or 15 years of service would be able to take advantage of these benefits. It would allow us to actually have good, qualified judges apply for the position in the Yukon. It is a position that one person has filled for the last 22 years. It is something new that the federal government is going to be doing in the future and we have to have up-to-date benefits that go along with the position in order to attract applicants, because like everybody else they want to be assured that there are benefits available. Not only that, they also want to be sure that after a certain period of time they will be allowed to continue to do the kind of work that they have been doing for the last 10, 15 or 20 years.
I am sure that is a benefit to them. I agree, as all people do here, that we have to have judges who can come here, who are qualified, who will have the advantages that all other judges have across Canada. That is one of the reasons why we are including it. I am not trying to justify it with the very fact that it will decrease the deputy judges, but that is another factor. The Member was worried about the cost, and I informed her that it was not going to cost us any more and that it would actually decrease the use of deputy judges here in the Yukon - which, of course, is a federal financial responsibility.
Mrs. Firth: The Minister is really mixing up the argument now. She is saying it is not because we use too many deputy judges, but it is because it is done everywhere else in Canada and we will not be able to attract people to apply to be judges here if we do not have this.
I think we would be able to get a judge here whether we had this or not - or that we would be able to attract people to apply, whether we had this or not. That is my personal opinion, but it may not be right either. People may disagree with me, but that is the way I feel about it.
We have to also ask the question: why did we have one individual here for so long? Why was a change not made? Is this common? Does it happen in other areas of Canada - where they have the same individual sit on a bench as the Supreme Court judge for so many years?
Hon. Ms. Joe: I do not have that information. I did not go and ask the judge why he is still here. I did not ask Kim Campbell why he is still here. It is a matter that is dealt with by the federal government, by the federal Minister, and it is their responsibility to appoint these people; it is not our responsibility and it is not for me to gather that personal information from anyone, including the federal Minister.
Mrs. Firth: It is not personal information. The Minister is saying it is, but it is not. The Minister has risen for the fourth or fifth time now to say we have had the same Supreme Court judge here for 22 years and that this has been part of the problem. If I was coming in to amend a piece of legislation, I certainly would be talking to the federal Minister as to whether we were going to have that problem again. Were we going to have a deputy judge here for 22 years, to the point that they had lived here so long and they got to know so many people personally that we ended up having to call in deputy judges again?
It is a Catch-22. If this person is going to serve in the capacity that the deputy judges did, they are still going to have the problem of having been here for 22 years and not being able to hear as many cases as a deputy judge who would be completely impartial. I do not buy the argument of the Minister that it is personal information. I am asking whether she made any inquiry to the federal Minister of Justice that one of the reasons for doing this was to address the problem that the Minister had cited several times about the long-term tenure for that particular position.
Hon. Ms. Joe: I was not addressing the length of the tenure of the individual in the Yukon. I was expressing it with regard to the fact that we have not done this for a long time. The information I have been able to gather is new information, because we have not had a new appointment of a Supreme Court judge in the Yukon for a long time. I was addressing it in regard to those areas.
The information I have is that the position of Supreme Court judge is not advertised anywhere right across Canada. Individuals who are interested submit their application to the federal Minister. Maybe they lobby the federal Minister, I do not know. Those names are then sent to the committee here in the Yukon. Apparently those applications come in all the time for positions all across Canada, not just the Yukon. I have no idea whether or not there are any names in right now for the Yukon.
In the last year we had 17 deputy judges come to the Yukon. I do not have comparisons for past years. One had been cancelled. That is not 17 different people but 17 times we had a deputy Supreme Court judge come to the Yukon.
Mrs. Firth: It would be interesting to compare that 17 to the numbers of cases that have gone to trial and have been tried. Have there been 100 a year, have there been 40; have there been 30? What percentage of that is 17? Could that be compared to the 30 percent of the time that the supernumerary retired judge is going to work?
I am not being obnoxious. I am just trying to rationalize how I would have rationalized this, and the questions I would have asked if I was being asked to make this legislative change. I think that would be an interesting figure. Does that 17 represent at least 30 percent of the time, otherwise the judge who is retired supernumerary, may have nothing to do. I think that would be an interesting observation.
Hon. Ms. Joe: I cannot give any information in regard to whether that would be the 30 percent of the cases handled in the Yukon. I suspect that it is not. I suspect that it is more. There are many things that have to be dealt with in a Supreme Court and it is just not trials in regard to a crime that has been committed. It is in regard to custody matters and matters regarding debts owed by people - a number of things. One only has to look at the court docket to find out the kinds of cases that are dealt with in the Supreme Court of the Yukon.
In response to a question asked prior to this one, it would be highly unusual for a Minister of Justice to try to find out information about a judge and why that person is still here. I think it would be a conflict of my position as a Minister. I do not think I should try to gather that information or be aware of that information. The Member might want to do that, but it is not for me to try to get that kind of information because of the conflict.
Mrs. Firth: I am not asking the Minister to tell us why this particular judge is still here. That is not the question I am asking. I am not asking her to breach any codes or enter into any conflicts. I am simply saying that the Minister cited the present judges long-term tenure in the Yukon as a problem and a reason for having to make this amendment to the Supreme Court Act.
If that is the case, what has she done with respect to discussing it with the federal Minister to see that we are not going to continue on with the same problem. I am not asking the Minister to go into any conflict of her position.
The Minister made a comment, just very quickly, about the 17 times that the deputy judges had to come here and that was probably more than 30 percent.
If that is the case, it gives me a great deal of concern. If the 17 times is more than the 30 percent of the time that would be needed with the supernumerary judge, what we will end up having is two judges working part-time, both making full-time salaries. I just want some justification for the rationale behind making this change.
Hon. Ms. Joe: The 70 percent of the salary would be in benefits. The other 30 percent would be in salary under the supernumerary status.
Right now, we have provision in our act for two Supreme Court judges and we only have one. The federal government, in its wisdom, has only chosen to appoint one. Twenty-two years ago, there were six resident lawyers in town. That has increased to many more now. There always has been a provision for a second Supreme Court judge but it never has been filled. For that reason, I suppose, there has been a need to bring deputy judges to the Yukon.
Perhaps some time down the road the federal Minister might decide that he or she might want to appoint a second supreme court judge. Up until now, this has not been done.
Mrs. Firth: Maybe the reason we only have one Supreme Court judge is because we only need one. That is what we are discussing here. It is the necessity of making this change and the rationale behind it. The government is telling us about the need for making this change, but the Minister is not putting forward any arguments that, I think, support or demonstrate the need for it. That is why I keep asking the Minister these questions. What homework has she done?
Hon. Ms. Joe: There is definitely work for more than one judge. If there were not we would not be bringing in deputy judges. The case loads have increased. Twenty-two years ago there were six resident lawyers, now there are many more. The population has increased and so have the cases that have to be heard by the Supreme Count. We also have another problem and that is regarding the decision in regard to making sure that something is heard in the court within eight months and the possibility of those charges being dismissed because of the time lag in the Supreme Court. There is enough work for more than one judge.
Mrs. Firth: I guess the concern we have on this side is will there be enough work for these two people? The Minister is nodding her head and saying Yes, there is, but she has not been able to demonstrate that there is. She told us that 17 times deputy judges had to be called here to assist. She did not say it was because of the heavy work load, she said it was because the judge who had been here for a long time had had to remove himself from the cases due to a perceived conflict because of the time he had been here. I guess the question to ask is: how many cases are there a year?
Hon. Ms. Joe: The Member really only hears what she wants to hear, unfortunately. I mentioned that there were many reasons why we were introducing this. I said there might be a concern with a conflict where the judge might have to remove himself from a case. I also said that there is an increase in the number of cases and the judges work is more demanding than it was even five or 10 years ago. There are enough cases in the Supreme Court for more than one judge and if there were not, we would not be bringing deputy judges in.
Mrs. Firth: All I am asking the Minister is for her to demonstrate the need for it, but she has not been able to do so. She has not been able to back it up with any figures or statistics to demonstrate that we need one and one-third judges here in the Yukon now.
Hon. Ms. Joe: I can talk until I am blue in the face and the Member will not believe me until I give her figures. I do not have them available at this time. I am not standing here and giving her false information; I am giving her information that I have and that I know to be facts. It would require a certain amount of time to gather the kind of information she needs. As I said, I am giving her information that is good information, but without the figures; unfortunately, she does not believe what I am telling her because she does not have the figures before her. I can understand that she has a right to have that detail before she makes a decision, but I believe the kind of information I have given, the kind of reasons for wanting to include this in our Supreme Court act, are good reasons. There is not just one reason, there are many.
Mrs. Firth: I am trying to be as cooperative as I can about this. It would have helped if the Minister had come in better prepared to defend this change and to demonstrate a need for it. In order to do that, she would have had to have asked the kinds of questions I have been asking, which are questions I would have asked.
All she has said to us is that they would not be doing it if they did not need it, and she is telling me to accept that. I would be irresponsible in my job if I accepted that explanation. All I have asked is for the Minister, if she wants us to accept this amendment, to come in here prepared and to demonstrate a need to Yukoners that we need one and one-third Supreme Court Judges here in the Yukon now or we cannot function. That is all we are asking, and she cannot do that.
Hon. Ms. Joe: As I said, the Member only hears what she wants to hear and she needs figures to prove it. Once again, there are many reasons why I have brought this into the House for amendment. As I said, it is the only jurisdiction in Canada - as has been recognized by the Canadian Bar Association - that does not have this opportunity available for Supreme Court judges. It has been reported to Parliament.
That is lacking here in the Yukon. It is no crime to want to be in tune with the rest of Canada.
If we are to look at supporting and wanting good judges in the future, judges who will want to come to the Yukon, who will want to be applying to the federal Minister to come to the Yukon, of course you have to have the same kinds of benefits here in the Yukon that are available in other parts of Canada. Anybody coming into the Yukon to sit on the bench has to be a good, qualified person and has to know the kind of things that they are dealing with and has to be able to come to a decision that is fair. If we are going to attract that kind of a person, then surely, we can be equal to whatever else is offered in other jurisdictions in Canada. One of them, of course, is a Supreme Court judge or a judge with supernumerary status.
Mrs. Firth: I understand the Minister to be saying that we are the only place in Canada that does not have this. We are also the only place in Canada who only has 30,000 people getting over $250 million from the federal government to make us just like the rest of Canada.
There are a lot of things that we could have here that the rest of Canada has, but a lot of people in the Yukon would not think that it was necessary unless we can demonstrate the need for it. That is all that we are asking.
The Minister cannot demonstrate a need for one and one-third judges in the Yukon, that there is enough work for one and one-third Supreme Court judges in the Yukon. Now she is standing up and telling us that, in addition to the fringe benefit - or perk - in order to be able to attract people to who will put their names on the list to be chosen as a Supreme Court judge. That is what she is saying. It is an added benefit to the judges package to put their name forward to be a Supreme Court judge. There is no logic, rationale or one fact or figure to substantiate and demonstrate that we have a need for this.
Hon. Ms. Joe: I do not think it would matter if I brought the statistics to the Member. I do not think it would matter if I talked until I was blue in the face. It is obvious that the Member has some problems with this bill, like they have with all the bills we bring forward in this House. Every single one. We spent two hours last night listening to silly little remarks from the other side with regard to another bill.
It does not matter what kind of a bill we bring into this House. There is always going to be opposition; there is always going to be some criticism. It is happening again. I have given the reasons; I have given many reasons. I have not come in with the figures so the Member does not believe what I am saying.
I know there is enough work for one Supreme Court judge; I know there is enough work here for more than one Supreme Court judge; I know there is enough work here to bring in 17 deputy judges to sit on the bench at different times. The need is there. As I said, there are many other reasons why I want to change this act.
Mrs. Firth: What the Minister is just saying is creating argumentative debate because it is absolutely not true.
I was prepared to be open minded about this bill. I was prepared to listen to the Ministers argument and accept the argument if a need could be demonstrated. The Minister has not been able to do that.
The other comments about us disagreeing with every single bill is not right. It is just not accurate. It is not true at all.
Again, the Minister comes into the House unprepared to defend the bill and stands and says we will not accept it because we do not believe her. That is not true. If the Minister had done some homework and brought it in to defend the bill, I would have been prepared to listen. Particularly if it could be shown that we needed one and one-third Supreme Court judges here.
The Minister has not been able to do that so we may as well proceed to clause-by-clause debate. Obviously the Minister is not going to be able to do it and we may as well just get on with the business of the Committee.
Hon. Ms. Joe: I have the sense of what goes on in this House. There is a demonstrated need for more than one judge. I have said it over and over again. There is a need for it. There are statistics that, when I gather them up and give them to the Member, will prove it.
We are using a number of deputy judges who sit on the Supreme Court cases all the time. There has been provision for two Supreme Court judges in the Yukon in the past. Perhaps the federal Minister, sometime down the road, will decide to fill that position with two Supreme Court judges. That is a possibility.
I have done my homework. I have brought information to the House. The problem is obviously the Member across the House and what she wants to believe. I have told her there is a need for it and that there have been many things taken into consideration. She can take my word or not. Apparently, she has not.
Mrs. Firth: It is not whether I believe the Minister or not. That is not the point. The Minister has said she has the numbers to prove it and that she can substantiate it. She says she will give that to me after I have asked the question. That just raises the question of why she did not just have that information here in the first place to defend her bill. It does not make any sense.
If the Minister says something to me and backs it up with statistics and figures, I will believe her. Until I see those statistics and figures, however, I have no way of judging it.
Hon. Ms. Joe: The information I have right now is that in 1990 there are 1,404 cases open right now. In 1989, there were 1,560. In 1988, there were 1,362. This information is in regard to civil matters.
Mrs. Firth: Is that the number of civil cases?
So, of those numbers, we only needed a deputy judge 17 times? The Minister stood up and told us 17 times, and that was a large number. Obviously, it is not.
Hon. Ms. Joe: When you deal with situations in the court, you do not always deal with just one criminal court indictable offense that elected to go to the Supreme Court. What you are dealing with is a number of things on a court docket in regard to several matters - perhaps 10 on the same date. You could have more than 10; I do not know.
There may be a court case that could last a week or two weeks, but there are some cases that come before the court in a package of 10 or 15, or whatever.
Chair: On Clause 1
Clause 1 agreed to
On Clause 2
Clause 2 agreed to
On Clause 3
Clause 3 agreed to
On Clause 4
Clause 4 agreed to
On Clause 5
Clause 5 agreed to
On Clause 6
Clause 6 agreed to
On Clause 7
Clause 7 agreed to
Title agreed to
Hon. Ms. Joe: I move that you report Bill No. 64 out of Committee without amendment.
Motion agreed to
Bill No. 11: - Electoral District Boundaries Commission Act
Chair: We will begin with general debate on Bill No. 11.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I explained at great length - some people may feel at an excessive length - at second reading the purpose of this legislation, which is to create an Electoral District Boundaries Commission composed of a single person, a judge of the Yukon Supreme Court and the British Columbia Supreme Court, who has experience in the Yukon and expertise in constitutional law, to hold hearings throughout the Yukon and to report later this year his recommendations as to the number, composition and boundaries of the electoral districts in Yukon, taking into consideration a number of factors, which are laid out principally in clause 2 of this bill. The purpose of the legislation is, I submit, quite clear and I hope I explained the governments intentions behind it well enough in second reading.
Mr. Phelps: Thank you. The Minister did, indeed, cover most of our queries in his comprehensive speech during second reading; we are prepared to proceed clause by clause.
On Clause 1
Hon. Mr. Penikett: This is simply the section that creates the Electoral District Boundaries Commission. It is the fundamental clause in the act.
Clause 1 agreed to
On Clause 2
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Clause 2 names the commissioner. It identifies the commissioner by name and indicates that the commission shall consist of one person.
Clause 2 agreed to
On Clause 3
Mr. Lang: I would like to go back to sub 3(1). I would like to hear what the Minister has to say in respect to the numbers of the constituencies that we have within the territory, which are presently 16. It seems he is leaving it awfully broad for the purposes of the commission to consider the electoral boundaries, as far as the number of constituencies is concerned. Normally, the decision is made by the Legislature prior to the issuance of a boundary commission, setting out to hear what the public has to say, at least to give us an idea of the numbers of seats that we envisage within the Legislature. I would like to hear what the Minister has to say about that.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The Member is quite correct. In the past the Legislature has given directions to the commission as to the precise number. The role for the Legislature has been to give directions as to the number that should be urban and the number that should be rural. Those kinds of directions have been discredited by the court. This act makes specific reference to the Yukon Act, which proscribes that the maximum number of seats that may be in our Legislature is 20. It leaves open the question for individuals and parties to make representation as to the number. The Member will know from his many years in the House that from time to time we have had lots of representation from rural areas and some of the large rural ridings that we now have should have been split and separate representation been provided for them. I think of Ross River, a community that has long felt that being lumped in with Teslin and Watson Lake was unacceptable to them. When it was lumped in with Faro it did not provide them with much community interest.
Rather than giving precise direction on that score we have left it open because clearly the direction of recent decisions would probably, just on the basis of population, add seats to Whitehorse and not to the rural areas. The commissioner, after hearing from people from all walks of life, both rural and urban, may well decide to recommend an increase in the number of seats and we have left that possibility open, up to the maximum provided in the Yukon Act.
Mr. Lang: Obviously some thought has been given by the government to this bill. I just wonder what the opinion of the Minister is, as far as the numbers are concerned, if he has an opinion.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I have no firm opinion. My personal opinion, not that of the government, is that for some time I think this Legislature has been at risk as a result of having an even number of seats. I think it was quite conceivable, both in the 1985 election and the 1989 election, that we could have had a result that would have seen, for example, eight New Democrats and eight Conservatives. I think that would have made the territory ungovernable and I think some serious consideration ought to be given to whether it would be advisable to have an odd number of seats. That is just a personal view, I emphasize that I am not speaking for the government or my party on the question.
Subsection 3(2) is the meat of this bill, and I would think that it would warrant some discussion.
This legislation, as I explained at second reading, is different from previous legislation, here and elsewhere, in that it does not instruct the commissioner to do anything in terms of numbers of seats, urban, rural or anything like that. It asks the commission to take into account the following list of factors that are based on two things: the traditional factors that the legislation in this territory has previously asked commissions to always take into account, geography, distance and some of these other consideration, as well as taking note of the court decisions. That is provided for principally in clause 3(2)(a) that addresses the principle of equality of voting power amongst electoral districts. That language, as I had an opportunity to explain to the Leader of the Opposition, comes directly from the most important decision so far on this question. Madam Justice McLachlins decision, which is referenced to section 3 of the Charter, which incorporates the ideas that the Leader of the Opposition wanted to see incorporated, not just representation by population, but is believed by our lawyers to be a stronger statement of that objective than the one offered by the Leader of the Opposition.
Mr. Lang: This is an area of concern, even to the size of our ridings at present. It is going to have to be given some consideration. It will be a compromise between what is known as the community of interest versus the one-person/one-vote. This will be a difficult task for the commission to deal with.
I would ask the Government Leader if he would be prepared to table a copy of the legal interpretation of subsection 2(a) and ensure that Mr. Lysyk receives a copy. I am not a lawyer and I want the intention of this section clearly understood by the commissioner. It was not intended for urban electoral voting authority versus rural, or anything of that nature. I can interpret it a number of different ways. Would the Minister undertake that so it is clearly understood that this is how the section was interpreted by Members of the House?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: If the Member for Porter Creek will allow me to address my remarks as much to the Leader of the Official Opposition as to him, I am under general prohibition not to provide copies of legal opinions here. What I have given previously to the Leader of the Official Opposition, privately, is a copy of an opinion from a lawyer in this government. What I could offer to do, because I am absolutely sure of the facts here, is communicate to the Member and to his leader, by way of a letter from me, the information I have as to the legal interpretations that have been provided to us on this section. This would be a public document. I believe the Leader of the Official Opposition knows, and I could quote the relevant sections from the court judgment, although, since most of us here are not lawyers, I do not know if that would be useful, but I will provide a letter if that would give comfort to the Member confirming what I have already told the Leader of the Official Opposition about the legal advice we have had on exactly this point.
Mr. Lang: I feel it is important that it comes to the attention of the commissioner, if that is the terminology, or the chair of the commission, that that is the interpretation of the House. It is one thing for me to be aware of the letter of comfort, and I appreciate the Minister extending it to me, because I have seen the legal opinion. I just want to make sure that Mr. Lysyk is aware of that and what our understanding of that section means so that there is no misunderstanding.
Will a copy of the letter that was sent to us go to the commissioner? I guess I am questioning the process.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I propose to have the letter drafted. I would sign it and table it in this House as a public document. It would, therefore, be available not only to the commissioner, but to everyone else, also.
Clause 3 agreed to
On Clause 4
Clause 4 agreed to
On Clause 5
Clause 5 agreed to
On Clause 6
Clause 6 agreed to
On Clause 7
Clause 7 agreed to
On Clause 8
Clause 8 agreed to
On Clause 9
Clause 9 agreed to
On Clause 10
Mr. Lang: With respect to Clause 10(5), I just want to ask the Minister if I have read this properly. If the report is completed and we are not sitting, I assume that Mr. Speaker will get a copy and we will receive a copy as well; we will not be waiting for the next sitting of the House. Is this correct?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The intention of having the report addressed to the Speaker is exactly so that it could be available to all Members at the same time. What is contemplated is that, assuming the report is received at the deadline prescribed, that will provide sufficient time for the government to prepare legislation based on the report, and bring it in for the spring sitting of 1992.
Clause 10 agreed to
Title agreed to
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I move that you report Bill No. 11, Electoral District Boundaries Commission Act out of Committee without amendment.
Motion agreed to
Chair: We will now take a break.
Chair: I call Committee back to order.
We will be discussing Bill No. 3, Third Appropriation Act, 1990-91
Bill No. 3: - Third Appropriation Act, 1990-91
Hon. Mr. Penikett: At second reading, I spoke to the bill before us and explained that it is mainly to accommodate the settlements we have made with our employees. I also explained that the projected spending for fiscal year 1991 would exceed that approved in the main estimates and the first supplementary for that year past. This bill is required to bring in our vote of authority with that line of projection.
This bill and its accompanying supplementary reflect the following in approximate terms.
There is an increase of $11 million in 12 operation and maintenance votes. There is a decrease of $600,000 in two O&M votes. There is an increase of $1.7 million in O&M recoveries. There is an increase of $700,000 in five capital votes. There is a decrease of $3.7 million in four capital votes and a decrease of $2.7 million in capital recoveries.
Overall, our gross expenditures for the year will increase by $7.3 million as a result of the supplementary. At the same time, our recoveries will decrease by some $1 million.
Members will recall that after the first supplementary for the year in question, we were projecting a current year annual deficit of $9.6 million. As I explained at second reading, this supplementary increases that projection to approximately $19 million, to be financed out of our $54 million accumulated surplus.
In point of fact, as I pointed out at second reading, there is a long history in this territory of net under-expenditure and consequent lapses. This has been especially true in the case of capital votes.
This supplementary was, as I said in second reading, based on projections made at the end of period 9, December, of the 1990-91 fiscal year. At the time, it was a preparation that reflected our best estimate of the maximum expenditures that would be incurred for the year.
While the proportions of our budgets that lapse have been improving, with the notable exception of last year, in recent years we expect there will be lapses again in the 1990-91 fiscal year. As a consequence, the annual deficit will not be as high as the figure projected here. It is, of course, too soon after the year-end to be able to predict the magnitude of these lapses.
Members will note that our revenues are projected to increase by some $1.7 million. This is largely due to an increase in our projected income tax revenues, and reflects the generally healthy economy that we have enjoyed over the past year.
At the same time, there has been a $1 million decrease in the federal governments estimate of our 1990-91 established program financing entitlement. Part of this decrease will be due to the increase in tax revenues, since that is a factor to take into account in EPF calculations.
Our transfer payment from the federal government is currently expected to be $1.7 million less than previously thought. This is due to a number of factors, among which an increase in our locally raised revenues is the most significant.
There are many reasons for the O&M expenditure variances in this supplementary, but the recently negotiated settlement with the Yukon Government Employees Union accounts for $5.5 million, or more than one-half of the $10.4 million of the O&M requested. In addition to the Yukon Government Employees Union settlement was the settlement with the teachers union, accounting for a further $1.1 million. The majority of the departments are asking only for funds that equal, or are less than, the sum of the impact this wage settlement had on them.
There are, however, as I mentioned at second reading, several instances where non-wage O&M requirements are apparent. I would like to refer only briefly to the principle among these, as Ministers will speak in detail during Committee debate on individual departments, according to the wishes of Members in the House.
The Executive Council Office requires additional funds in the amount of approximately $100,000 for the French and aboriginal languages program. As Members will know, this is a recoverable program, and will note an increase of a like amount in O&M recoveries.
The Department of Community and Transportation Services has a requirement for an additional $1.2 million in other funds. This increase is a result of a number of factors among which the heavy snowfalls we have experienced this year, the higher fuel costs and the evacuation of Old Crow this last summer are significant.
Additional funding was also required for national safety code purposes, an expenditure that is 100 percent recoverable from the federal government.
The Department of Education requires an additional $2.9 million for operation and maintenance purposes. Approximately $1.9 million of this relates to Yukon Government Employees Union and teacher contract settlements. One-half of the remainder merely reflects a transfer from the Community and Transportation Services capital vote for training monies related to the Curragh Mine trust fund.
The Department of Health and Social Services is asking for an additional $2 million in non-wage O&M funds. There are many reasons for this increase and these can be best addressed by the responsible minister. As I indicated at second reading, the most significant cost is that for children in care and social assistance costs, which have increased significantly.
Finally, the Department of Justice has found it necessary to request approximately $500,000 in new monies that are unrelated to our recent wage settlements. Many of these monies are recoverable and relate, in the main, to compensation to victims of crime and legal aid expenditures.
For capital purposes, we are showing a reduced expenditure of over $3 million in the supplementary estimates. This reduction is almost entirely the result of reduced spending within the Yukon Housing Corporation vote and is accompanied by a significant decrease in associated recoveries.
The reduced Housing Corporation requirement is due, in large measure, to a lack of take-up in home improvement and ownership programs, although there was also a large lapse in the construction and acquisition of non-profit housing.
As I have said, Ministers are prepared to answer questions Members may have, during Committee debate on their estimates. In the meantime, we will be glad to address any matter of a general nature Members may wish to raise.
Before I conclude, I should point out the one improvement we have attempted in the supplementary estimates. There have been some comments by certain Members in the past that supplementaries do not contain the person-year detail. In an attempt to address this concern, we have attempted to include the person-year summary in the current document. This can be found on page 8. It reconciles the person-years in the main estimates to those on strength as of this supplementary.
I would appreciate any comments the Members may have on the provision of this information and would thank Members for their attention during this presentation.
Mr. Phelps: I will be rather brief on general debate. I have already made my point of concern in second reading with regard to how the budget seems to fluctuate. We had projected in the mains more than a $6 million surplus. Now the projected - and I underline projected - deficit is $18 million. There is somewhere in the neighbourhood of a $24 million or $25 million change during the period. This will be brought back close to a balanced budget by lapses, it is hoped. The net effect of this is inevitably that the mains are rather misleading with regard to the extent of the increase to the operation and maintenance each year. This occurs at the sacrifice, in my view, of the capital side of the budget.
Moving on from that, I simply wanted to follow up on the remarks of the Minister regarding the increase in revenues and how this results in the monies received because of the formula financing agreement. This will, of course, change. I am sure we all agree on that because of the current situation at Faro: the strike.
I am wondering whether or not there is any indication of how much the revenues of the territory are decreasing because of the strike, which, of course we are all aware, are made up by the formula financing provision.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: It will not surprise the Leader of the Official Opposition to know that I have requested a calculation of the impact of that situation. Of course there is a difference between whether we will have a short-term strike there or whether it will be longer. I cannot tell the Member how quickly and how precisely the numbers will come. I think we will want to take a look at it in the context of whether there is a very quick settlement or whether it goes on for a number of weeks. Hopefully, it will be a short strike.
I will ask again for the information and perhaps I can share it with the Member when it comes in whatever form it is. I know we have had some preliminary estimates done, but we will have to take a look at them because the duration of the strike does make a difference.
Mrs. Firth: I would like to ask the Minister a question about social assistance. He has indicated that in the Health and Human Resources budget specifically that there was going to be a requirement for extra social assistance money. Are the people at Faro, who are on strike right now, receiving social assistance from this government?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: No, I do not think that would be the case. I think those people would still be on strike pay. My guess is that when people who are unemployed as a result of a strike get social assistance, it is usually not the direct employees and is usually not right away. It is usually after a period of time. I will leave it until we get to that line, if the Member will permit. When we get to that department I will give a more detailed explanation. I do know that, in common with other jurisdictions, we have had an increase in the number of social assistance claimants. I do not know if the indication is a problem of single family formation or of the formation of very young families as a result of pregnancies and single parents or if it is a number of factors like that. When we get to that line in the budget, the Minister of Health and Social Services will be able to give you what information the department has.
Chair: Shall we proceed with line by line? No further general debate?
On Legislative Services
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The total amount in vote 1 is required to cover the pay increases. In the legislative service program, we have $9,000 required to cover caucus employee positions that were established by the Members Services Board pursuant to the Cabinet And Caucus Employees Act. In the Legislative Assembly Office program, $23,000 is required to cover five person years and sessional staff covered under that program. In the elections program $5,000 is required to cover the person year found in that program.
Legislative Services in the amount of $9,000 agreed to
On Legislative Assembly Office
Legislative Assembly Office in the amount of $23,000 agreed to
Elections in the amount of $5,000 agreed to
Yukon Legislative Assembly agreed to
Executive Council Office
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am assuming that the Members would like a description of the global numbers before we get into the detail if we could.
In the Executive Council Office we have $226,000 required for the wage settlement and $104,000 required for French and aboriginal languages. The latter amount is recoverable.
In the capital main estimates there is $50,000 needed for the capital in the French and aboriginal languages program. The $50,000 is required for languages equipment, which I am assuming means the usual type of recording and transcribing equipment that is part of language and translation programs.
Mr. Lang: I want to turn our attention to an issue here that is referred to as self-government. It is unclear to me where the government is taking us and the final outcome in respect to this issue as it stands today in the public domain. I think it is unclear to the general public at large, quite frankly, and when we question the Members on the other side on legislation, they say, well, we do not know, it is all being determined in another forum, although we do know that we are talking about the authority vested with the people in the territory through this Legislature and how it is going to be administered in years to come.
There was a self-government finance study done by Mr. Gary Tompkins that cost $20,000. Also, Viewpoint Research Limited was commissioned to do a number of self-government studies for a total cost of $40,800. I would like to ask the Minister if he would table these studies in the House, or make them available to us, so that we get some understanding about what the government is planning for the future.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The work in which Viewpoint is engaged in right now will not be complete until June or July. I have already given the undertaking to make that public. If the House is not sitting, I will certainly make sure that Members have a copy. This is the survey research information and I will make it public.
I have not seen the Tompkins report. The Member may understand that I will want to have a look at it before making it public because what we are involved in are negotiations with the federal government about who pays for self-government. We have the view that this is basically a federal responsibility. The principal purpose of this document is preparing us for negotiations with the federal government. I have not seen it myself. I will want to have a look at it to see whether or not the releasing of it to the public will in any way compromise our negotiating position before I made a decision.
Mr. Lang: I just want to pursue the Viewpoint Research Limited issue a little further. We had a press release that indicated that there would be a survey done across the country. I guess my first question is who is involved in paying for the survey and what is the total cost of it beyond our share of $41,000?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I will have to take the question as notice. I do not have the details in front of me. This is a cooperative venture of the Government of Yukon and the Council for Yukon Indians, both of whom share an interest in trying to persuade the federal government that the self-government provisions of the land claims settlement should be constitutionally protected and both of whom will be involved, in the next several months, in dealings with the federal government on the self-government question. This is both at the land claims table and the constitutional debates, which are now beginning in the country.
It is believed that the knowledge and understanding of Canadian attitudes on this question will be very useful in the lobbying effort with the federal government. That is the purpose of this research.
As I have said, it is our intention to make it public upon the completion of the research, but we will be much advised by this work in our dealings and in our negotiations with the federal government toward, not only seeing self-government negotiated here in the territory, but also hoping to be able to change national policy on this important field.
Mr. Lang: I would just like to pursue this a little bit longer. It depends upon whom you are speaking with what definition of self-government you get, whether you are speaking in the context of municipal authorities or if you are talking about territorial or provincial authorities accompanying the provisions of self-government. My difficulty in accepting the idea of a poll at this time, is that it is not clear to anyone what exactly is meant by self-government. Perhaps the Minister could tell us exactly what he means when he asks the general public what self-government is. Are we talking about territorial-type authorities like taxes, and that type of thing? Will this be part of the provisions for self-government? What exactly are you talking about?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Is the Member asking me what I understand and what this government understands self-government to mean?
When the Member first asked the question, I was not sure what item in the budget we were relating to, but let me begin. I do not have the documents in front of me, but I would be happy to bring them here if we are going to debate this at length.
In the umbrella final agreement, as in the agreement negotiated on behalf of the people of the Yukon by the Members colleague in 1984, there is a list of powers that the First Nations of the territory wish to enjoy - powers over their own lives; governing their own communities; powers that, as a matter of fact in Canadian history, they have never had a chance to enjoy. Among those powers are some that they will have exclusive control over. I will not use legal terms like paramountcy. Among those obvious powers is the one to write their own band constitution.
It is exclusively their power and not one they would want to share with other levels of government. There are other areas where there would be shared powers: in some cases, conceivably with the federal government, which has jurisdiction in the field, and other cases with the territorial government when it has jurisdiction. The umbrella final agreement does not describe how those things will be worked out any more than most agreements of that kind do, nor is it assumed that the powers that would be taken down or assumed by the First Nation will be the same from community to community. For example, it is quite possible that the people of the community of Old Crow might wish to take a greater measure of control or voice in wildlife management issues, and less in - this is not a good example but, off the top of my head - municipal infrastructure questions than, say, a First Nation in Whitehorse, where they might have a greater interest in asserting their right to make municipal laws on their settlement lands while, at the same time, working out practical arrangements with the local governments here, particularly the City of Whitehorse, to make sure there is coherence and blending and meshing of the two regimes so as to minimize any local inconvenience.
The Member expressed concern the other day about the creation of racially based governments. He is not alone in having expressed that point of view. It is a point of view with which most aboriginal people take great offence and, of course, ask rhetorically whether it was a racially based government for the first 70-some years of this century in this territory - when aboriginals formed a very significant part of the local population, perhaps even a majority of the permanent population at times - but we had municipal councils and territorial legislatures without a single aboriginal member. The fact that it was non-aboriginal, the fact that it was exclusively people of European or North American Caucasian origin: was that a racially based government?
I do not think most of us who are part of that majority group would argue that it was, nor would aboriginal people who wish, for the first time in Canadian history to have political control of their own lives and their own communities and not have to be petitioners to a federal minister in a colonial type of department like the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs when they want to do something in their own community.
They would regard that as quite an appropriate consequence derived historically from the fact that, prior to the coming of settlers to this land, there were people who governed and looked after themselves, made laws, managed an economy and provided, in a certain way, services to their members, had cultural traditions, had religious traditions, had practices of government and debate and, certainly among the Athapascan people here, traditions that could be described as, in the best sense of the word, broadly democratic and consultative. In fact, they had a consensual political tradition from everything I understand, very different from the adversarial one that is part of the British tradition that we observe for the most part in this House.
Since these aboriginal people, these First Nations in the Yukon, were never conquered, nor did they surrender their title to the territory by way of treaty, the argument by First Nations is that their right to self-government is inherent and that it continues to exist. There is a body of constitutional law, some case law, that is increasingly coming to support that claim.
Both the federal government and the government of this territory have indicated a willingness to negotiate self-government arrangements with the First Nations in this territory - not on the basis that we would have identical self-government relations from community to community, but based on the UFA. The powers that are identified there would be things that can be negotiated, that we would work out arrangements with the First Nations - we being the federal government, the territorial government, and the First Nations - for them to take control over things in their lives that, by right, they feel are theirs.
The other day, the Member said something about the territorial Legislature becoming irrelevant, or becoming less relevant - I do not remember the exact words he used - in terms of the powers in the aboriginal community. I think it is the case that the bands, the First Nations, are not created by an act of this Legislature. The First Nations, as original people, pre-existed Canada. As nations, in that sense of the word, their cultures continue to exist today but, as political entities under the Indian Act, they are creatures of the federal Parliament.
The powers and responsibilities that they have now are ones that, for the most part, have been devolved from the federal government in the same way that the federal government is devolving provincial-type responsibilities to the territories. At the same time, they are devolving some responsibilities for aboriginal people - which, in the Canadian Constitution, is that of the federal Crown - to the First Nations themselves. In other words, they are getting out of the business of managing.
I think in the long run, the federal government is wanting to get out of the business of Indian Affairs, in the sense that First Nations are wards of the federal state. Those two devolution processes are going on.
Our approach to self-government is that, following a settlement of land claims negotiations and the devolution processes that are going on, we have two peoples with different ancestry, traditions and cultures here who want to live and work together and share power.
You could take a typical Yukon community that may have non-aboriginal people in it and an Indian band, perhaps on one side of the river from the other or on different sides of the road within the same community. The First Nation, not only after land claims, but even now might have a right, if you like, to establish their own school. If they did, the territorial government would still have an obligation to create the school on the other side of the road or the river for the non-aboriginal population.
Even though a First Nation might have a right to do that, this territorial government has a vested interest, for all sorts of economic and social reasons, and, while recognizing that right, has the right to say to the First Nation, As a purely practical proposition, it does not make any sense in this tiny community to have two schools. It does not make sense in this tiny community to have two principals, two sets of teachers, two buildings, two heating plants, two different curriculums, et cetera. What makes sense is for us to have one school from a practical point of view.
In the Education Act that we now have and the Settlement Act that recognizes a willingness on the part of the two groups of people to share power, the aboriginal people may want, because they have great anxiety about their position and their future in this Legislature and in the governance of the territory and the governance of their community, to have a certain number of seats perhaps in the school committee or a proportionate share of the population as the non-native community, but they work together; they try to have a school program that satisfies the needs of both communities rather than just having a curriculum that is based entirely on one cultural tradition. It has not only the predominant European North American tradition, but also has in it elements of the aboriginal tradition including aboriginal languages. It also, though, as the Education Act requires, demonstrates respect for that cultural tradition and attempts to take the best of both traditions and convey those to the children.
It is my hope that there will be one school system for which both people feel some ownership, shared responsibility and shared authority.
If, however, this does not work out, one has to consider the alternative. There are plenty of places in Canada where Indian bands have established their own schools on Indian land. It has been argued by First Nations that they therefore have a claim against the government for the funding and support for those schools. Since the federal government claims that they have already given us the money as a result of an agreement made in 1964 to look after the education of Indian people in the territory, I think the Member can see we could be in some very tight, three-cornered negotiations about who pays and for what.
It is exactly that particular in each community that we will probably be trying to work out. I do not think we will be trying to work it out in terms of one paying 33 cents on the dollar and one paying 40 cents on the dollar and so forth, but it will be more of trying to get clear statements of principles - in this case, about who shall be responsible for what. In other words, there would be questions about the areas of responsibility for First Nations, the territorial government and the federal government, and which areas we share responsibility in some way that would be defined and described in the self-government agreement.
I do not know if I am helping the Member with this explanation, using the example of a school or education in a small community for the kind of thing I am describing.
There are other areas, such as renewable resources, which are much more clearly described in the UFA. In game management, as the Member knows, there is a territorial board and local resource councils. What is provided for in the agreement is that First Nations and territorial government representatives shall each have an equal number of seats and will take responsibility for allocating the harvest for each of the communities according to certain principles.
As some Members know, we have an evolving constitutional situation on this. The Sparrow decision of the Supreme Court has caused everyone to take a new look at these arrangements. I do not think the Leader of the Official Opposition would object if I said that this is an area of self-government, if you like, where people were not taking exclusive responsibility, but where we were sharing responsibility.
What we now have in law is two separate systems of game management. We have the Yukon Act, which, on the one hand, says the territory should be responsible for game management - although those are not the exact words - and we also have the Yukon Act saying that, consistent with the royal proclamation of 1763 and other documents, though I cannot remember the exact language, Indian people have the right to hunt and fish on occupied Crown land.
The Sparrow decision is about that kind of food harvest. What we are hoping to do, and what negotiators throughout the territory have tried to do from the beginning, is end up with a system of game management in the interests of conservation, which does not have these two parallel systems but tries to have an integrated system that will give enough of a voice and influence for the First Nations, so they felt confident, rather than clinging to their constitutional right, would agree to share responsibility for managing both fish and wildlife and in the public interest of the territory.
Perhaps I could end at this point. The Member may wish to pursue some particulars.
Mr. Lang: I do not wish to pursue it very much further. I listened with interest to the history lesson that the Minister gave us. I recognize the history of the Indian people in the territory, and Canada for that matter, but at the same time we are all Canadians. I, for one quite frankly do not feel like a displaced person and I see my children as Canadians. I see us hopefully working out an agreement that is not going to set up various classes of citizens to the point it is going to cause animosity among the general public. That is the concern that I want to express to the Member opposite.
I am not going to open a great debate today on this. I would like the undertaking of the Minister, in view of the fact that self government is such nebulous terminology, depending on whom you speak to, to provide a copy of the study he mentioned earlier and I would like the Minister to check on releasing that as soon as he can.
Once Viewpoint Research Limited has received the questions that they are going to be asking, I gather, in a national poll, could he make them available to Members?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I have said I will provide the results of the information, which contains the questions, when it becomes available and, since the Member has indicated a personal interest in this, I will ask my officials to take note of the fact and make sure he is communicated with directly on the question.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Of that $26,000, $23,000 is for wages and the rest relates to an expenditure for the computer work stations.
Administration/Secretariat in the amount of $26,000 agreed to
On Land Claims Secretariat
Hon. Mr. Penikett: That is all for wage settlement.
Land Claims Secretariat in the amount of $32,000 agreed to
On Public Affairs Bureau
Hon. Mr. Penikett: This all relates to wages.
Public Affairs Bureau in the amount of $26,000 agreed to
On Policy and Planning
Hon. Mr. Penikett: This all relates, again, to wages.
Policy and Planning in the amount of $15,000 agreed to
On Constitutional Development, Devolution and Intergovernmental Relations
Hon. Mr. Penikett: This also all relates to wages.
Constitutional Development, Devolution and Intergovernmental Relations in the amount of $15,000 agreed to
On French & Aboriginal Language Services
French & Aboriginal Language Services in the amount of $121,000 agreed to
On Internal Audit and Evaluation
Hon. Mr. Penikett: This is for wages.
Internal Audit and Evaluation in the amount of $14,000 agreed to
On Bureau of Statistics
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I think these professionals would call it salaries, not wages.
Bureau of Statistics in the amount of $25,000 agreed to
On Office of the Commissioner
Office of the Commissioner in the amount of $3,000 agreed to
On Cabinet Support
Hon. Mr. Penikett: That is for wages.
Cabinet Support in the amount of $48,000 agreed to
Operation and Maintenance Expenditures in the amount of $325,000 agreed to.
On Capital Recoveries for Aboriginal Language Services
Capital Recoveries for Aboriginal Language Services in the amount of $50,000 agreed to
On Capital Expenditures for Aboriginal Language Equipment
Capital Expenditures for Aboriginal Language Equipment in the amount of $50,000 agreed to
Executive Council Office agreed to
Community and Transportation Services
Chair: Is there general debate?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The supplementary under Community and Transportation Services reflects a $3.12 million expenditure offset by a corresponding increase in recoveries of $l.4292. The largest portion of the request is for funds to pay employees as per the description given by the Premier.
This single item represents about $1.6 million of the budget, more than half of the total expenditure increase in the department.
In quick summary, the transportation requirements constitute $2.041 million of the operation and maintenance supplementary, of which 50 percent of that is for the retroactive impact of the collective agreement.
An additional amount of $728,000 reflects additional work on the Campbell Highway, mostly for road surface and repairs.
There was $250,000 added to the national safety code to enhance program development. That will show up as recoverable in its entirety.
Community services reflects $647,000 in the operation and maintenance side. This includes $194,000 for wages.
A total of $288,000 is reflected for the emergency response in Old Crow. However, all of that shows up as recoverable from the federal government.
Additionally, $238,000 is reflected by Sports, Arts and Recreation. Again, it is reflected as 100 percent recoverable from Lotteries.
Directly related to the level of operation and maintenance expenditure is the $792,000 in operation and maintenance recoveries. Part of those recoveries come through the National Safety Code, as I indicated, through the emergency response from the federal government, and Lotteries.
On the capital side, there is an additional request for funding of $435,000. By far, the largest single amount affecting that increase is an increase of $514,000 for the VHF system in communications. However, we are recovering $752,000 in recoverables for the VHF system from the Government of Canada.
Capital recoveries reflected in this supplementary are $700,000.
Those are the general items of significance reflected here, primarily wages and several other items.
Mr. Brewster: I have one question in general debate. I would like to know if we have progressed at all on the Alaska Highway. We know 1992 is almost here and it appears that that road is going to be in the same shape as it is right now and it is horrible for all of the tourists coming in.
Has there been any progress made since the last debate?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: On the one hand there has been good progress in terms of getting tooled up for negotiations. I have sought from my Cabinet colleagues the mandate to proceed with negotiations and that has begun. Mr. MacKay has indicated his support for similar negotiations, so we have begun the early stages of negotiations, which is setting out the guidelines of funding.
On the downside, we have had recent indications that the federal Department of Public Works has reduced the amount of operation and maintenance expenditure for the highway this year. We are trying to procure confirmation of that, but it does not bode well for making dollars available for ongoing operations and maintenance. Those are the two points: one positive and one negative.
Mr. Brewster: I do not see anything positive about it at all. The capital is not in effect as of this year. If you happen to get it by next year - and it is quite apparent that you are not going to get it - you will be building the highway and tearing it up during the celebration.
In other words, there is nothing positive about it at all. If they drop the O&M, the road will be worse in 1992 than it is right now. That is almost impossible. Mendenhall will think they have a highway if we keep this up.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member is correct in that we have been provided with preliminary information that the O&M budget for the Alaska Highway maintenance has been reduced in excess of $1 million. We are trying to confirm that so that we can plan our maintenance program. We are the contractor for the highway maintenance. Anything we do has to be paid for by the federal government. If they cut back funding, it will have massive implications on the level of maintenance we can do, the staff we can engage and the traveler who may be forced to continue travelling over some pretty bumpy roads.
We have talked about this in the past. The principle I attempted was to take over control of the highway instead of constantly undergoing this confrontational position with the government, arguing about upgrading. The evidence indicates that they have been reducing the funding, even though we were able to get some back in; it is not a good relationship.
We have taken over control of most of our highways. It is one of the two left.
My approach was to take over management control and responsibility for the highway and have the money come with that from Public Works. So we have begun that process. That process will continue over the course of the next year or two. It will be up to our negotiators to try to get a good deal. In the meantime we have to go with the agreement we have in place, that is, to maintain it with the funds they provide to us. If they have cut back our maintenance budget for the Alaska Highway, it is not good news, for a lot of reasons.
Mr. Brewster: I guess I have been on this subject for 40-some years, and I have not gotten any further than I am right now. In fact, I am going backwards. It is a disgrace to turn around and have our celebration coming up and now we cut back on the operation and maintenance. We have not one bit of capital to improve the road anywhere. We might as well close the whole country off because tourism is our big industry and we are going to wreck it. If this road continues like this everyone who goes back probably drives 10 or 15 more tourists away by telling them what condition the road is in. Everybody sits and says the federal government does this and that.
When the revenues in the Yukon start to drop because tourism drops then we will find out whether the territorial government should have moved.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: My deputy just joined us and he tells me we have just now received in writing that the maintenance budget has been cut back from $12.2 million to $10.7 million. We now have that from the director general in the Vancouver office of Public Works.
So the news is, indeed, now confirmed. The implications, as I indicated to the Member, are going to be severe. It is going to mean that we will have to roll back our maintenance of the Alaska Highway, for which we are under contract with the federal government to maintain. I will no doubt be addressing that with the Minister of Federal Works, perhaps as early as tomorrow, now that it is confirmed.
Mr. Phillips: I just have a follow-up question on the Alaska Highway about the section near Beaver Creek. Has the Minister had any follow-up conversations with Governor Hickel of Alaska? I know he is very supportive of the Shakwak Project and he talked about getting that project moving again. Where do those plans stand now?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I was trying to remember whether the Member was with us on the Alaska exchange but I believe it was his colleague, the Member for Riverdale South.
During the month of February, during a legislative exchange between the Yukon Legislative Assembly and the Alaskan State Legislature, our delegation had the occasion to meet with Governor Hickel. We did exchange thoughts on the urgency of the Shakwak Project. I subsequently met with the transportation commissioner during that trip and we set up a comittment to continue discussions at a staff level, which is occurring. After that, the Premier was in Alaska and met with Governor Hickel and continued discussions on the urgency. The Member is correct, Governor Hickel has indicated a willingness to see funding restored it to that project. I expect some positive developments this year.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I move that we report progress on Bill No. 3.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I move that Mr. Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Motion agreed to
Speaker resumes the Chair
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. May the House have the report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole?
Ms. Kassi: Mr. Speaker, the Committee of the Whole has considered the following bills: Bill No. 40, Act to Amend the Motor Vehicles Act; Bill No. 64, An Act to Amend the Supreme Court Act and; Bill No. 11, Electoral Boundaries Commission Act, and directed me to report the same without amendments.
Further, the Committee has considered Bill No. 3, Third Appropriation Act, 1990-91 and directed me to report progress on same.
Speaker: You have heard the report from the Chair of the Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Member: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I move the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Premier that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: This House now stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. Monday next.
The House adjourned at 5:26 p.m.
The following Legislative Returns were tabled May 2, 1991:
Spruce budworm monitoring (Webster)
Oral, Hansard, p. 774-775
Young offenders: inquiry into treatment of (Hayden)
Oral, Hansard, p. 775